Mission Areas

Ecosystems

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Ecosystems provides unbiased science, tools, and decision support to our Nation’s natural resource managers, with particular focus on the science needs of the Department of Interior bureaus to conserve species, lands, and priority ecosystems; fulfill treaty obligations; provide water for irrigation and human consumption; and manage mineral and energy resources.

USGS Pollinator Research

USGS Pollinator Research

Do you eat fruits and vegetables? What about nuts? If so, you can thank an insect pollinator, usually a honey bee. Honey bee populations are declining but USGS scientists are becoming honey bee helpers.

Find out more

Leaf to Landscape

Leaf to Landscape

USGS scientists have launched a new program using California's hotter drought as a forecaster for forest vulnerability worldwide.

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Where's our Science?

Where

Find out where Ecosystems Science Centers, Field Stations, and Cooperative Research Units are located.

Browse by Location

News

Animated GIF of polar bears interacting on the ice
February 1, 2018

In June of 2014, the USGS released the first-ever polar bear point-of-view footage, offering a never-seen-before perspective from the top Arctic predator.

A sea turtle on the beach
January 19, 2018

Florida's second-largest turtle rescue of 21st century is “exhausting, inspiring,” USGS biologist says

Hibernating little brown bat with white muzzle and spots on wings typical of white-nose syndrome. (Photo by Greg Turner, Pennsyl
January 16, 2018

The fungus that causes white-nose syndrome, a deadly disease of hibernating bats, spreads rapidly by way of bats, then establishes and persists in soil and on walls of underground hibernation sites, according to a study published today.

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Fish Passage Conte
Date Published: February 15, 2018
Status: Active

A major focus of USGS-LSC is the design and evaluation of state-of the-art upstream and downstream fish passage structures for hydropower facilities of different sizes and locations and for different fish species, including endangered sturgeons and Atlantic salmon. Performance, physiology, behavior and energetics of each fish species are tested in-house for each design.

Contacts: Alexander Haro
Whiskey Island, Louisiana
Date Published: February 8, 2018
Status: Active

Barrier islands provide numerous invaluable ecosystem goods and services including storm protection and erosion control for the mainland, habitat for fish and wildlife, salinity regulation in estuaries, carbon sequestration in marshes, recreation, and tourism. These islands are dynamic environments due to their position at the land-sea interface. Storms, wave energy, tides, currents, and...

Mosquito, species not verified
Date Published: February 7, 2018
Status: Active

Mosquito control on Department of the Interior (DOI) managed lands is a resource management challenge. The pesticides used to control mosquitoes may also affect nontarget organisms whose conservation is one of the primary responsibilities of resource managers.

BBL Marked Plover
Date Published: February 1, 2018
Status: Active

The Challenge: Bird banding is one of the most indispensable techniques for studying the movement, survival and behavior of birds. The North American Bird Banding Program was established in 1920 and has evolved into the complex operation that supports the activities of approximately 2,092 Master banders and more than 9,423 subpermittees.

Radar used to see nocturnal birds migrating through the area
Date Published: January 26, 2018

USGS scientists are exploring new uses of remote sensing for monitoring and assessment.

DJI S1000 UAS flying into smoke plume
Date Published: January 26, 2018
Status: Active

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) are an innovative way to provide data for monitoring resources, especially in large-scale or remote landscapes. 

Contacts: Jake F Weltzin
Small yellow shrubs, larger green shrubs, and yucca dot a semi-arid landscape with eroded rock formations in the background.
Date Published: January 25, 2018

The Status and Trends Program provides timely, quality science about arid and semi-arid lands to meet the needs of resource management  bureaus within Interior and other science and resource management organizations.

Contacts: Jake F Weltzin
Melissa Foley, measuring sediment accumulation in the Elwha estuary
Date Published: January 25, 2018

In the 21st century, drivers such as sea level rise, extreme weather events, changes in the flow rate of rivers, and human development of coastal habitats will affect coastal landscapes and ecosystems across the region, including estuaries.

Contacts: Jake F Weltzin
This is the Adobe Town Wilderness Study Area in Southwest Wyoming.
Date Published: January 25, 2018

The USGS Status and Trends program develops information and tools used by our partners to assess, conserve, and enhance fish and wildlife habitat.

Contacts: Jake F Weltzin
Photo a natural mid-elevation community in the Mojave
Date Published: January 25, 2018

Information about the status and trends of natural resources is required at a variety of spatial and temporal scales to detect changes that may signal degradation or improvement of natural systems, such as habitat, or to identify new or emerging conditions that signal the need for management action or further investigative research.

Contacts: Jake F Weltzin
Lake Michigan with Storm Clouds
Date Published: January 24, 2018

The status and trends of organisms, habitats and ecosystems is often controlled by environmental and anthropogenic stressors that have the potential to impact the health and productivity of lands and waters of management concern.

Contacts: Jake F Weltzin
Image: Wetlands from Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve
Date Published: January 24, 2018

Wetlands provide goods and services that have been valued at up to $78,500 per acre per year (R. Costanza and others, Global  Environmental Change 2014). In addition to providing fish and wildlife habitat, coastal ecosystems protect coastlines from storms, store carbon in sediments, improve water quality, and maintain productive coastal fisheries. In the 21st century, drivers such as sea level...

Contacts: Jake F Weltzin
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Map of marsh shoreline change rates for Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge
February 12, 2018

Shoreline change rates in salt marsh units in Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, New Jersey

This dataset displays shoreline change rates at the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge (EBFNWR), which spans over Great Bay, Little Egg Harbor, and Barnegat Bay in New Jersey, USA

Gulf of Mexico Dashboard Real-time Stream Data with Live Storm Radar
December 11, 2017

Gulf of Mexico Dashboard

The USGS Southeast Regional Office has funded a cross-center collaboration between the Wetland and Aquatic Research Center and the Texas Water Science Center for the development of the Gulf of Mexico Water Dashboard. 

USGS
December 7, 2017

A Baseline Assessment of Contaminant Concentrations in Sediment and Biota in Proximity to Coal Transport Tracks in the Pacific Northwest (2014)

This dataset provides baseline concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), other aromatic organic compounds, mercury (Hg), and trace metal concentrations in sediment and biota collected from two sites along an existing rail line used for coal transport in the Columbia River Gorge, Washington.

Image: Stranded Sea Otters Offer Valuable Data
November 21, 2017

Annual California sea otter stranding data

The California Sea Otter Stranding Network is part of the USGS effort to monitor southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) and provide data to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Since 1985, stranded otters from throughout their California coastal range have been collected and analyzed to inform resource management on recovery and conservation of the species.

Graphic of the Guide to Plants of Louisiana Website
October 31, 2017

Guide to the Plants of Louisiana

This guide to the vascular plants of Louisiana includes a database of plant characters, a search engine and plant images. Photographs include images of leaves, fruit, flower, stem, bark and other key identification features. Information about plants can be accessed by searching plant lists either by scientific name or common name.

area map
October 30, 2017

Movement Maps for Suisun Marsh Waterfowl and Waterbird Studies

Suisun Marsh is a critical habitat for wintering and breeding waterbirds in California. USGS is working with the California DWR to examine the trends in bird decline and to assess the habitat factors driving long-term survival of waterfowl, rails, and other birds in this important area.

The Little Missouri River, flood plain
October 17, 2017

Shapefiles and Historical Aerial Photographs, Little Missouri River, 1939-2003

The data archive contains the aerial photographs and channel delineations used in our analysis. The images have been geo-referenced to the 1995 digital orthophoto quarter quadrangles as described by Miller and Friedman (2009). The channel delineations for all photo years (including 2003) and the delineation of the outer flood-plain boundary are stored as shapefiles.

Long-tailed duck swimming
August 7, 2017

Atypical Feeding Behavior of Long-tailed Ducks in the Wake of a Commercial Fishing Boat while Clamming

Data represents analyses of gizzard and gullet (esophagus and proventriculus) of nine ducks using traditional techniques

An Online Database for IHN Virus
July 27, 2017

An Online Database for IHN Virus in Pacific Salmonid Fish: MEAP-IHNV

The Molecular Epidemiology of Aquatic Pathogens (MEAP)-IHNV Database

The MEAP-IHNV database provides access to detailed data for anyone interested in IHNV molecular epidemiology, such as fish health professionals, fish culture facility managers, and academic researchers.

New England Salt Marsh
July 12, 2017

Development of a Multimetric Index for Integrated Assessment of Salt Marsh Ecosystem Condition

This dataset is comprised of eight files related to salt marsh monitoring data or measures of of human disturbance (i.e. human impacts in terms of physical, chemical, and land-use stressors) collected at 33 marsh study units (MSUs) in five National Parks within the NPS Northeast Coastal and Barrier Network (NCBN) along the NE coast of the US.

USGS
July 11, 2017

Analysis of Land Disturbance and Pygmy Rabbit Occupancy Values Associated With Oil and Gas Extraction in Southwestern Wyoming, 2012

Germaine, S.S., Carter, S.K., Ignizio, D.A., and Freeman, A.T., 2017, Analysis of Land Disturbance and Pygmy Rabbit Occupancy Values Associated With Oil and Gas Extraction in Southwestern Wyoming, 2012: U.S. Geological Survey data release, https://doi.org/10.5066/F7BR8QDD. DOI: 10.5066/F7BR8QDD

Janet Ruth releasing a color-banded male Grasshopper Sparrow. Photo by Noel Snyder.
July 6, 2017

Life history attributes data for Arizona Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum ammolegus) in Arizona 2013

The Arizona Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum ammolegus) occurs in the desert and plains grasslands of southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and northern Sonora, Mexico. This data was produced as part of the first intensive study of its life history and breeding ecology, providing baseline data and facilitating comparisons with other North American Grasshopper Sparrow subspecies.

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area map
October 30, 2017

Suisun Marsh is a critical habitat for wintering and breeding waterbirds in California. USGS is working with the California DWR to examine the trends in bird decline and to assess the habitat factors driving long-term survival of waterfowl, rails, and other birds in this important area.

WERC Locations
July 20, 2017

WERC headquarters, field stations, and sub-stations strategically located in or near California and Nevada bioregions, form the core of the WERC science program.

Brown bear (Ursus arctos) and Chum Salmon (Oncorhynchus keta)
February 15, 2017

In this Year in Review report, you will find details on staffing, vacancies, research funding, and other pertinent information. You will also see snapshots of Unit projects with information on how results have been or are being applied by cooperators. That is the essence of what we do: science that matter.

 

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 7, 2016

Multiple search functions: State, major drainage area (HUC2), drainage area (HUC6), drainage area (HUC8), Zebra Mussel Collections, and fact sheets.

Mule deer
February 1, 2016

The Cooperative Research Unit mission is our hallmark: meeting the actionable science needs of our cooperators, providing them technical guidance and assistance in interpreting and applying new advances in science, and developing the future workforce through graduate education and mentoring. 

WERC SOLAR map
September 2, 2014

Multiple large scale solar, wind, and geothermal energy development projects are currently proposed across the Mojave and Sonoran deserts of the southwestern U.S., and these development needs are likely to continue or increase into the future. Agencies tasked with managing biological resources must understand the potential impacts in order to select appropriate sites and to mitigate effects. 

Extinct Taxa in States/Provinces of North America (2012)
April 22, 2012

Extinct Taxa in States/Provinces of North America (2012)

Extinct Taxa in Ecoregions of North America (2012)
April 22, 2012

Extinct Taxa in Ecoregions of North America (2012)

Numbered Ecoregions of North America (2008)
April 22, 2008

Numbered Ecoregions of North America (2008)

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Year Published: 2018

Greater sage-grouse science (2015–17)—Synthesis and potential management implications

Executive SummaryThe greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereafter called “sage-grouse”), a species that requires sagebrush (Artemisia spp.), has experienced range-wide declines in its distribution and abundance. These declines have prompted substantial research and management investments to improve the understanding of sage-grouse and...

Hanser, Steven E.; Deibert, Patricia A.; Tull, John C.; Carr, Natasha B.; Aldridge, Cameron L.; Bargsten, Travis D.; Christiansen, Thomas J.; Coates, Peter S.; Crist, Michele R.; Doherty, Kevin E.; Ellsworth, Ethan A.; Foster, Lee J.; Herren, Vicki A.; Miller, Kevin H.; Moser, Ann; Naeve, Robin M.; Prentice, Karen L.; Remington, Thomas E.; Ricca, Mark A.; Shinneman, Douglas J.; Truex, Richard L.; Wiechman , Lief A. ; Wilson, Dereck C.; Bowen, Zachary H.
Attribution: Ecosystems
Hanser, S.E., Deibert, P.A., Tull, J.C., Carr, N.B., Aldridge, C.L., Bargsten, T.C., Christiansen, T.J., Coates, P.S., Crist, M.R., Doherty, K.E., Ellsworth, E.A., Foster, L.J., Herren, V.A., Miller, K.H., Moser, Ann, Naeve, R.M., Prentice, K.L., Remington, T.E., Ricca, M.A., Shinneman, D.J., Truex, R.L., Wiechman, L.A., Wilson, D.C., and Bowen, Z.H., 2018, Greater sage-grouse science (2015–17)—Synthesis and potential management implications: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2018–1017, 46 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20181017.

Year Published: 2018

Development and release of phenological data products—A case study in compliance with federal open data policy

In Autumn 2015, USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN) staff implemented new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) data-management policies intended to ensure that the results of Federally funded research are made available to the public. The effort aimed both to improve USA-NPN data releases and to provide a model for similar programs within the USGS....

Rosemartin, Alyssa H.; Langseth, Madison L.; Crimmins, Theresa M.; Weltzin, Jake F.
Attribution: Ecosystems
Rosemartin, A., Langseth, M.L., Crimmins, T.M., and Weltzin, J.F., 2018, Development and release of phenological data products—A case study in compliance with federal open data policy: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2018–1007, 13 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20181007.

Year Published: 2017

Biological and ecological science for Nevada—The Silver State

Nevada is rich in minerals, energy, rangelands, mountains, deserts, lakes, fish, and wildlife. Many enterprises critical to Nevada's economy are based on natural resources including solar energy, livestock production, hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreation. Nevada is a national leader in both geothermal and solar utility-scale energy...

Attribution: Ecosystems
U.S. Geological Survey, 2017, Biological and ecological science for Nevada—The Silver State: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2017-3075, 2 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20173075.

Year Published: 2017

USGS microbiome research

Microbiomes are the communities of microorganisms (for example, bacteria, viruses, and fungi) that live on, in, and around people, plants, animals, soil, water, and the atmosphere. Microbiomes are active in the functioning of diverse ecosystems, for instance, by influencing water quality, nutrient acquisition 
and stress tolerance in plants, and...

Kellogg, Christina A.; Hopkins, M. Camille
Attribution: Ecosystems
Kellogg, C.A., and Hopkins, M.C., 2017, USGS microbiome research: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2017–3074, 4 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20173074.

Year Published: 2017

U.S. Geological Survey sage-grouse and sagebrush ecosystem research annual report for 2017

The sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) ecosystem extends across a large portion of the Western United States, and the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) is one of the iconic species of this ecosystem. Greater sage-grouse populations occur in 11 States and are dependent on relatively large expanses of sagebrush-dominated habitat. Sage-grouse...

Hanser, Steven E.
Hanser, S.E., ed., 2017, U.S. Geological Survey sage-grouse and sagebrush ecosystem research annual report for 2017: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1436, 54 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/cir1436.

Year Published: 2017

U.S. Geological Survey—Energy and wildlife research annual report for 2017

IntroductionTerrestrial and aquatic ecosystems provide valuable services to humans and are a source of clean water, energy, raw materials, and productive soils. The Nation’s food supply is more secure because of wildlife. For example, native pollinators enhance agricultural crops, and insect-eating bats provide pest control services worth billions...

Khalil, Mona
Attribution: Ecosystems
Khalil, Mona, ed., 2017, U.S. Geological Survey—Energy and wildlife research annual report for 2017: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1435, 91 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/cir1435.

Year Published: 2017

Biological and ecological science for Florida—The Sunshine State

Florida is rich in sunshine and other natural resources essential to the State's economy. More than 100 million tourists visit Florida's beaches, wetlands, forests, oceans, lakes, and streams where they generate billions of dollars and sustain more than a million jobs. Florida also provides habitat for several thousand freshwater and marine fish,...

Attribution: Ecosystems
U.S. Geological Survey, 2017, Biological and ecological science for Florida—The Sunshine State: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2017-3066, 2 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20173066.

Year Published: 2017

Hierarchical population monitoring of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in Nevada and California—Identifying populations for management at the appropriate spatial scale

Population ecologists have long recognized the importance of ecological scale in understanding processes that guide observed demographic patterns for wildlife species. However, directly incorporating spatial and temporal scale into monitoring strategies that detect whether trajectories are driven by local or regional factors is challenging and...

Coates, Peter S.; Prochazka, Brian G.; Ricca, Mark A.; Wann, Gregory T.; Aldridge, Cameron L.; Hanser, Steven E.; Doherty, Kevin E; O'Donnell, Michael S.; Edmunds, David R.; Espinosa, Shawn P.
Coates, P.S., Prochazka, B.G., Ricca, M.A., Wann, G.T., Aldridge, C.L., Hanser, S.E., Doherty, K.E., O’Donnell, M.S., Edmunds, D.R., and, Espinosa, S.P., 2017, Hierarchical population monitoring of greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) in Nevada and California—Identifying populations for management at the appropriate spatial scale: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2017-1089, 49 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20171089.

Year Published: 2017

Integrating Breeding Bird Survey and demographic data to estimate Wood Duck population size in the Atlantic Flyway

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) uses data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) to assist in monitoring and management of some migratory birds. However, BBS analyses provide indices of population change rather than estimates of population size, precluding their use in developing abundance-based objectives and limiting...

Zimmerman, Guthrie S.; Sauer, John; Boomer, G. Scott; Devers, Patrick K.; Garrettson, Pamela R.
Zimmerman, G. S., Sauer, J. R., Boomer, G. S., Devers, P. K., and Garrettson, P. R., 2017, Integrating Breeding Bird Survey and demographic data to estimate Wood Duck population size in the Atlantic Flyway: Condor, v. 119, no. 3, p. 616-628.

Year Published: 2017

Biological and ecological science for Montana—The Treasure State

Montana is rich in minerals, energy, and soils, as well as prairies, forests, mountains, rivers, lakes, fish, and wildlife. Many enterprises that drive the economy are based on natural resources, including tourism, hunting, fishing, agriculture, and energy development. The outdoor-recreation economy alone supports 64,000 Montana jobs and generates...

U.S. Geological Survey, 2017, Biological and ecological science for Montana—The Treasure State: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2017-3052, 2 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20173052.

Year Published: 2017

Response of bird community structure to habitat management in piñon-juniper woodland-sagebrush ecotones

Piñon (Pinus spp.) and juniper (Juniperus spp.) woodlands have been expanding their range across the intermountain western United States into landscapes dominated by sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) shrublands. Management actions using prescribed fire and mechanical cutting to reduce woodland cover and control expansion provided opportunities to...

Knick, Steven T.; Hanser, Steve; Grace, James B.; Hollenbeck, Jeff P.; Leu, Matthias
Knick, S.T., Hanser, S.E., Grace, J.B., Hollenbeck, J.P., Leu, M., 2017, Responses of bird community structure to habitat management in piñon-juniper woodland-sagebrush ecotones: Forest Ecology and Management, v. 400, p. 256-268

Year Published: 2017

USGS integrated drought science

Project Need and OverviewDrought poses a serious threat to the resilience of human communities and ecosystems in the United States (Easterling and others, 2000). Over the past several years, many regions have experienced extreme drought conditions, fueled by prolonged periods of reduced precipitation and exceptionally warm temperatures. Extreme...

Ostroff, Andrea C.; Muhlfeld, Clint C.; Lambert, Patrick M.; Booth, Nathaniel L.; Carter, Shawn L.; Stoker, Jason M.; Focazio, Michael J.
Attribution: Ecosystems
Ostroff, A.C., Muhlfeld, C.C., Lambert, P.M., Booth, N.L., Carter, S.L., Stoker, J.M., and Focazio, M.J., 2017, USGS integrated drought science: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1430, 24 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/cir1430.

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USGS
January 23, 2017

Estimates patch occupancy rates and related parameters.

USGS
July 14, 2016

fatalityCMR - capture-recapture software to correct raw counts of wildlife fatalities using trial experiments for carcass detecition probability and persistence time. Version 3.0

Colorado State University Logo
May 2, 2016

A suite of software tools and models developed by Colorado State University and the USGS Colorado Cooperative Fish And Wildlife Research Unit.

University of Vermont Logo
May 2, 2016

Tools for automated acoustic monitoring of nature.

FITS Logo
May 2, 2016

Software from the American Fisheries Society

Oregon State University Logo
May 2, 2016

FW599: An introduction to data management and R for Fisheries and Wildlife applications--- a lighthearted look

InVEST logo
May 2, 2016

The InVEST tool allows researchers to evaluate relationships between land management actions and wild bee populations.

Wind turbines at the Altamont Pass Wind Farm
December 11, 2012

Tool to Evaluate Wildlife Fatalities at Wind-Power Facilities

USGS visual identity - green
January 1, 1999

CloseTest is a Windows program for testing capture-recapture data

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Picture of field water-level monitoring gage EDEN 13
2018 (approx.)
Field water-level monitoring gage EDEN 13. Photograph by Michael Oliver, U.S. Geological Survey. U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2017–3069 Version 1.1, January 2018
USGS
2017 (approx.)
Bats produce a variety of vocalizations that are used for navigation, feeding, and social communication. Most vocalizations are pitched well above the range of human hearing and are referred to as ultrasonic. These calls are often known as echolocation calls since bats use the echoes produced when a sound bounces off a bug or a building to determine what is in the area.
USGS
2017 (approx.)
Bats produce a variety of vocalizations that are used for navigation, feeding, and social communication. Most vocalizations are pitched well above the range of human hearing and are referred to as ultrasonic. These calls are often known as echolocation calls since bats use the echoes produced when a sound bounces off a bug or a building to determine what is in the area.
Blue SPV bait
2017 (approx.)
This image shows the blue version of sylvatic plague vaccine bait for prairie dogs. Prairie dogs in the wild are less likely to succumb to a deadly disease called sylvatic plague after they ingest peanut-butter-flavored bait that contains a vaccine against the disease. In an effort to increase populations of endangered black-footed ferrets and conserve the prairie dogs they rely on for survival,...
Measuring sea urchins 3
2017 (approx.)
When it comes to collecting data, sometimes scientists have to look beneath the surface. Here, USGS scientists count and measure sea urchins to better understand the species' demographics off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii. This information will help managers best respond to urchin die-offs, should they occur in the future.
Frog liver with SPI
2017 (approx.)
This photomicrograph shows a liver of a frog with a severe Perkinsea infection.
USGS
2017 (approx.)
Bats produce a variety of vocalizations that are used for navigation, feeding, and social communication. Most vocalizations are pitched well above the range of human hearing and are referred to as ultrasonic. These calls are often known as echolocation calls since bats use the echoes produced when a sound bounces off a bug or a building to determine what is in the area.
Hibernating little brown bat
2017 (approx.)
A little brown bat ( Myotis lucifugus ) with white-nose syndrome hibernating in a Virginia cave during late spring of 2016. Patches of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome can be seen growing out of the skin (white areas) near the nose and across the folded wing skin of this bat. Spherical drops of water condensation coat the bat's outer fur, a normal condition that illustrates the cold and...
Sea Lamprey Larvae in Hand
2017 (approx.)
This image shows a sea lamprey in its larvae phase. Slower sea lamprey growth rates during the larval phase of development may increase the odds of sea lampreys becoming male, according to a USGS study. S ea lamprey s are an invasive, parasitic species of fish damaging the Great Lakes.
Phragmites, an invasive grass
2017 (approx.)
Introduced Phragmites australis, also called the common reed, is an invasive grass in the Great Lakes.
Southeastern Bat with P. destructans Fungus
2017 (approx.)
This southeastern bat (Myotis austroriparius) from Alabama shows signs of infection from the Pseudogymnoascus destructans fungus that causes white-nose syndrome in bats. The USGS National Wildlife Health Center later confirmed white-nose syndrome in this animal, marking the first time that WNS was found in a southeastern bat. As of June 2017, the species joins eight other hibernating bat species...
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Animated GIF of polar bears interacting on the ice
February 1, 2018

In June of 2014, the USGS released the first-ever polar bear point-of-view footage, offering a never-seen-before perspective from the top Arctic predator.

A sea turtle on the beach
January 19, 2018

Florida's second-largest turtle rescue of 21st century is “exhausting, inspiring,” USGS biologist says

Hibernating little brown bat with white muzzle and spots on wings typical of white-nose syndrome. (Photo by Greg Turner, Pennsyl
January 16, 2018

The fungus that causes white-nose syndrome, a deadly disease of hibernating bats, spreads rapidly by way of bats, then establishes and persists in soil and on walls of underground hibernation sites, according to a study published today.

Prairie dog and SPV bait
December 13, 2017

About 70 percent of wild prairie dogs successfully ingested baits containing an oral sylvatic plague vaccine, or SPV, that were distributed throughout their habitats, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study.

Eft stage of red-spotted newt
December 12, 2017

Amphibians—the big-eyed, swimming-crawling-jumping-climbing group of water and land animals that includes frogs, toads, salamanders and worm-like caecilians—are the world’s most endangered vertebrates. 

Blue-winged teal in Texas with an inset that shows the avian influenza virus
December 4, 2017

Some avian influenza, or bird flu, viruses that are able to enter North America from other continents through migrating birds can be deadly to poultry and can infect waterfowl populations, according to a recently published U.S. Geological Survey study.

Image: USGS Science Aids Manatees
November 24, 2017

It may be hard to believe the legend that sailors long-at-sea once considered manatees to be mermaids. The manatee nickname – the “Sea Cow” – which comes from the herbivores’ affinity for grazing on vegetation and their slow, ambling way just makes more sense. But a U.S. Geological Survey video reveals that while they may be cow-like, they also have more than a bit of the magical mermaid to them.

California condor soaring
October 27, 2017

Scavenging birds are at risk of lead poisoning from consuming carcasses of animals killed with lead ammunition. Methods to identify lead exposure typically require capturing an animal to collect a blood sample; however, USGS and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service researchers sought to design a less costly, noninvasive behavioral test to identify lead exposure in California condors.

Hurricane Hole, St. John, US Virgin Islands
October 25, 2017

Coral reef expert Caroline Rogers was the only USGS employee in the Virgin Islands when the Category 5 storm hit.

Ecosystems provides scientific information and decision support to meet Interior’s shared responsibility to manage land and species, fulfill treaty obligations, develop energy and mineral resources on Interior lands, and supply water for irrigation and other human needs. Our main Interior Department partners are listed below. Additional partners are listed throughout our web pages.

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