Scientists Identify Processes that Affect Fish Mercury Concentrations
Sulfur cycling and ecological conditions are important factors that affect fish mercury concentrations in estuarine wetlandsScience Feature
Selected Pharmaceuticals Not Likely to Persist in Wild Fish
Laboratory study shows that uptake and elimination of selected pharmaceuticals in bluegills is rapid indicating that persistence is likely to be lowScience Feature
Endocrine Active Chemical Screening Tests Optimized
Scientists optimized existing endocrine active chemical screening tests to improve their precision, accuracy, and ability to timelinessScience Feature
Simple Ways to Avoid Public Exposures to Infectious Wildlife Diseases
Disease specialists have published reports on strategies to avoid human exposure and infection for seven zoonotic diseasesScience Feature
Measuring Trace Element Exposure in Hummingbirds Without Harm
Naturally occurring trace elements, including those associated with adverse health impacts, were measured in hummingbirds without harmScience Feature
Mission Areas L2 Landing Page Tabs
USGS specializes in science at the environment-health interface, by characterizing the processes that affect the interaction among the physical environment, the living environment, and people, and the resulting factors that affect ecological and human exposure to disease agents.Our Science Strategy
The United States is one of the largest users of energy, consuming annually about one-quarter of the energy resources produced in the world. The energy industry and government regulators work to provide energy resources to the public safely and effectively. Management of energy byproducts such as waste materials (including both solid and liquid wastes) from oil and gas development are a...
Over the past 20 years, chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Wyoming has been spreading slowly outward from the southeastern corner of the state toward the Greater Yellowstone Area and Wyoming's elk feed grounds, where more than 24,000 elk are supplementally fed each winter.
Brucellosis is a nationally and internationally regulated disease of livestock with significant consequences for animal health, public health, and international trade.
Genomic and Behavioral Effects of the Neonicotinoid Imidacloprid in Birds Exposed Through Pesticide-Coated Seeds
The Challenge: Neonicotinoid pesticides act as agonists of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) and are designed to be lethal to insects while theoretically posing little to no threat to vertebrates. The perceived safety of neonicotinoids has led to a sharp increase in their use in the United States and globally, since they were first introduced in 1994. The use of the neonicotinoid...
Assessing Toxicogenomics Effects of a Synthetic Androgen on Japanese Quail and the Development of an Avian Vitellogenesis Model
The Challenge: Endocrine active chemicals (EAC) are known to interfere with hormonally regulated physiological processes, thereby affecting signaling in the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal-liver (HPGL) axis and commonly resulting in reproductive dysfunction. Computational models that relate hormonal and genomic biomarkers within the HPGL axis to the reproductive cycle and ecologically relevant...
The Challenge: Wild birds are exposed throughout their lives to natural and synthetic chemicals that are present in the environment, many of which interfere with the animal’s physiological and developmental systems. Relative concentrations, routes, frequency, and the environment in which chemical exposure occurs will determine to a large extent the bird’s response. Well-designed avian field...
The Challenge: Mercury is a highly toxic element found throughout our environment. Although it occurs naturally in some environments, human industrial pollution has greatly increased the amount of mercury and the range of environments in which mercury is found. Recent studies have confirmed clear differences in the sensitivity of various bird species to methylmercury. Because the causes of...
The Challenge: Short-Chain Chlorinated Paraffins (SCCPs) are complex technical mixtures of polychlorinated n-alkanes used in lubricants and coolants in metalworking, as flame retardants, and in paints, adhesives, sealants, textiles and polymeric materials, plastics and rubber. SCCPs are of concern because they are globally transported, bioaccumulate in wildlife and humans, and are...
The Challenge: The use of flame retardants (FRs) as additives in a variety of consumer use products, including plastics, textiles, and electronics, is projected to continue and increase for the foreseeable future. Because of unanticipated environmental problems, some FRs have either been banned, restricted, or are being phased-out and replaced by other new and presumably safer FRs. Regrettably...
The Challenge: Neonicotinoids are now the most widely applied class of insecticides in the United States, and are predominantly used in the form of seed treatments. Compared to invertebrates, neonicotinoids are less toxic to wildlife, although genotoxic, cytotoxic, immunological, behavioral and reproductive effects have been reported in studies with birds. At present, little is known about the...
The Challenge: As a rule, plants and animals contain lower concentrations of lead than are present in soils that support them. Lead does not biomagnify along trophic levels in ecosystems but instead remains relatively immobile in soil. The exposure of wildlife to soil lead depends mainly on the incidental ingestion of soil. The native earthworm, Eisenoides lonnbergi, is anomalous in its...
The Challenge: Black-tailed prairie dogs are considered a keystone species for the prairie habitat. Many avian species are associated with black-tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) in winter. Raptors feed on prairie dogs and non-raptor avian species forage within prairie dog colonies. However prairie dogs are also considered agricultural pests. The first generation anticoagulant...
The Environmental Health Mission Area develops methods and tools to measure and assess the environmental health of watersheds and the organisms living in them. Our investigations generate and interpret environmental contaminant, biological activity, and effects data. All of which is provided to the public in our publications.
Examination of contaminant exposure and reproduction of ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) nesting in Delaware Bay and River in 2015
Data collected as part of a large ecotoxicology study to assess concentrations, geographic gradients and temporal trends in contaminant exposure of ospreys nesting in Delaware River and Bay.
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
Exposure of wildlife to Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) is likely to occur but evidence of hazard and risk is limited. One exposure pathway that has received attention is trophic transfer of APIs in a water-fish-osprey food chain.
Toxicity Assessment of Sediments Collected Upstream and Downstream of the White Dam in Clarke County, Georgia
A breach in the White Dam has been proposed to facilitate fish passage. As a Technical Assistance project, the U.S. Geological Survey provided toxicity assessments of sediment samples collected by USEPA personnel.
The exposure of white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) to lead and cadmium and the potential associated toxic effects were examined at three sites contaminated with lead in the Southeast Missouri Lead Mining District and at a reference site.
Nutrient levels in surface waters of the Conasauga River and other tributaries within the Coosa River Watershed
Data Release for Report describes surface-water nutrient concentrations from multiple sites on the Conasauga River in northern Georgia in comparison with rivers in adjacent watersheds
The Sediment-bound Contaminant Resiliency and Response (SCoRR) Mapping Application was developed to allow users to visualize and view information generated during this study. Additional datasets including Census data, the National Land Cover Database, and National Hydrography data are also provided for users to generate custom maps.
Examination of contaminant exposure and reproduction of ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) nesting in Delaware Bay and River in 2015
A study of ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) nesting in the coastal Inland Bays of Delaware, and the Delaware Bay and Delaware River in 2015 examined spatial and temporal trends in contaminant exposure, food web transfer and reproduction. Concentrations of organochlorine pesticides and metabolites, polychlorinated biphenyls...Rattner, Barnett A.; Lazarus, Rebecca S.; Bean, Thomas G.; McGowan, Peter C.; Callahan, Carl R.; Erickson, Richard A.; Hale, Robert
Female hatchling American kestrels have a larger hippocampus than males: A link with sexual size dimorphism?
The brain and underlying cognition may vary adaptively according to an organism’s ecology. As with all raptor species, adult American kestrels (Falco sparverius) are sexually dimorphic with females being larger than males. Related to this sexual dimorphism, kestrels display sex differences in hunting and migration, with females ranging more widely...Guigueno, Melanie F.; Karouna-Renier, Natalie K.; Henry, Paula F. P.; Head, Jessica A.; Peters, Lisa E.; Palace, Vince P.; Letcher, Robert J.; Fernie, Kimberly J.
Toxicity assessment of sediments collected upstream and downstream from the White Dam in Clarke County, Georgia
The White Dam in Clarke County, Georgia, has been proposed for breaching. Efforts to determine potential risks to downstream biota included assessments of sediment collected in the vicinity of the dam. Sediments collected from sites upstream and downstream from the dam were evaluated for toxicity in 42-day exposures using the freshwater amphipod...Lasier, Peter J.
Anomalous bioaccumulation of lead in the earthworm Eisenoides lonnbergi (Michaelsen)
Lead concentrations in soil organisms are usually well below those in the associated soil and tend to decrease with each higher trophic level in a food chain. Earthworms of the species Eisenoides lonnbergi provide an exception to this observation, accumulating very high concentrations of lead from acidic soils. Earthworms belonging to...Beyer, W. Nelson; Codling, Eton E.; Rutzke, Michael A.
Environmental contaminants of health-care origin: Exposure and potential effects in wildlife
A diverse range of fauna could be exposed to active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) via diet, dermal absorption or bioconcentration. Low level exposures of free-ranging wildlife to APIs has only been demonstrated for a few pathways (e.g., ingestion of fish in estuaries by piscivorous birds), and many remain hypothetical (e.g., ingestion of...Bean, Thomas; Rattner, Barnett A.
Biomarker responses of Peromyscus leucopus exposed to lead and cadmium in the Southeast Missouri Lead Mining District
Biomarker responses and histopathological lesions have been documented in laboratory mammals exposed to elevated concentrations of lead and cadmium. The exposure of white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) to these metals and the potential associated toxic effects were examined at three contaminated sites in the Southeast Missouri Lead Mining...Beyer, W. Nelson; Casteel, Stan W.; Friedrichs, Kristen R.; Gramlich, Eric; Houseright, Ruth A.; Nichols, John W.; Karouna-Renier, Natalie K.; Kim, Dae Young; Rangen, Kathleen; Rattner, Barnett A.; Schultz, Sandra
Anticoagulant rodenticide toxicity to non-target wildlife under controlled exposure conditions
Much of our understanding of anticoagulant rodenticide toxicity to non-target wildlife has been derived from molecular through whole animal research and registration studies in domesticated birds and mammals, and to a lesser degree from trials with captive wildlife. Using these data, an adverse outcome pathway identifying molecular initiating and...van den Brink, Nico; Elliott, J.; Shore, R.; Rattner, B.; Rattner, Barnett A.; Mastrota, F. Nicholas
Anticoagulant rodenticides and wildlife: Concluding remarks
Rodents are known to affect human society globally in various adverse ways, resulting in a widespread demand for their continuous control. Anticoagulant rodenticides (ARs) have been, and currently remain, the cornerstone of rodent control throughout the world. Although alternative control methods exist, they are generally less effective. ARs work...van den Brink, Nico W.; Elliott, John E.; Shore, Richard F.; Rattner, Barnett A.
Anticoagulant rodenticides and wildlife: Introduction
Rodents have interacted with people since the beginning of systematic food storage by humans in the early Neolithic era. Such interactions have had adverse outcomes such as threats to human health, spoiling and consumption of food sources, damage to human infrastructure and detrimental effects on indigenous island wildlife (through inadvertent...van den Brink, Nico W.; Elliott, John E.; Shore, Richard F.; Rattner, Barnett A.; van den Brink, Nico W.; Elliott, John E.; Shore, Richard F.; Rattner, Barnett A.
Cobalt—Styles of deposits and the search for primary deposits
Cobalt (Co) is a potentially critical mineral. The vast majority of cobalt is a byproduct of copper and (or) nickel production. Cobalt is increasingly used in magnets and rechargeable batteries. More than 50 percent of primary cobalt production is from the Central African Copperbelt. The Central African Copperbelt is the only sedimentary rock-...Hitzman, Murray W.; Bookstrom, Arthur A.; Slack, John F.; Zientek, Michael L.
Contact and contagion: Probability of transmission given contact varies with demographic state in bighorn sheep
Understanding both contact and probability of transmission given contact are key to managing wildlife disease. However, wildlife disease research tends to focus on contact heterogeneity, in part because the probability of transmission given contact is notoriously difficult to measure. Here, we present a first step towards empirically investigating...Manlove, Kezia R.; Cassirer, E. Frances; Plowright, Raina K.; Cross, Paul C.; Hudson, Peter J.
Gene transcription patterns in response to low level petroleum contaminants in Mytilus trossulus from field sites and harbors in southcentral Alaska
The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill damaged a wide range of natural resources, including intertidal communities, and post-spill studies demonstrated acute and chronic exposure and injury to an array of species. Standard toxicological methods to evaluate petroleum contaminants have assessed tissue burdens, with fewer assays providing...Bowen, Lizabeth; Miles, A. Keith; Ballachey, Brenda E.; Waters, Shannon C.; Bodkin, James L.; Lindeberg, Mandy; Esler, Daniel N.
Landsat 8 captured satellite views of California’s largest wildfire on record in the summer of 2018. The Mendocino Complex Fire in northern California is a combination of two fires: the Ranch Fire and the River Fire.
Both fires started July 27, and hot, dry, windy conditions caused them to spread rapidly. Landsat 8 imaged the area the day before the fires broke out...
Fog along the Yukon River showing a Black Spruce dominated forest in the foreground, which is prone to wildfire. Photo by Bruce Wylie, USGS
A U.S. Geological Survey scientist sits next to a biological safety cabinet in the cell bioassay laboratory at Columbia Environmental Research Center. Scientists optimized existing endocrine active chemical screening tests to improve their precision, accuracy, and...
Landsat satellites captured this image of Lake Erie during a harmful algal bloom event.
Scientists optimized existing methods to collect and identify microorganisms including Bacillus anthracis, a pathogenic microorganism, in 4,800 soil samples across the United States, and developed a...
Curt Storlazzi of the USGS explains how the water cycle pulled him into oceanography, and how his personal interests parallel his profession.
Dr. Bethany K. Kunz sets up a mobile-mounted dust meter, which measures concentrations of particulate matter across a range of particle sizes. She and her team use the meter to determine the effectiveness of dust control treatments on roads and estimate human exposure to dust in the inhalable size range....
Mountain lions, desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, and a variety of other wildlife live on and pass through the Nevada National Security Site each day. It’s a highly restricted area that is free of hunting and has surprisingly pristine areas.This 22-minute program highlights an extraordinary study on how mountain lions interact with their prey. It shows how the scientists...
USGS NMWSC Hydrologists Johanna Blake and Jeb Brown attended the 2nd Annual Conference on Environmental Conditions of the Animas and San Juan Watersheds with Emphasis on Gold King Mine and other Mine Waste Issues in Farmington, NM from June 20-21. Johanna and Jeb presented on the USGS long-term monitoring work of continuous monitoring sondes, water quality, and sediment...
- Corrosive groundwater, if untreated, can dissolve lead and other metals from pipes.
- National maps have been prepared to identify the occurrence of potentially corrosive groundwater in the U.S.
- These findings have the greatest implication for the 44 million people dependent on domestic wells for drinking water.
Drone footage of a prescribed fire at Tall Timbers Research Station, Tallahassee, Florida (April 19, 2017).
See the actual drone footage at: https://www.usgs.gov/media/videos/prescribed-burn-tall-timbers-research-...
Footage of drone during a prescribed fire at Tall Timbers Research Station, Tallahassee, Florida (April 19, 2017).
In addition to news releases on our latest papers, we provide Science Feature Articles that highlight results from environmental health science activities across the U.S. Geological Survey.See Our Science Feature Articles
The public can now access information about active wildfires across the country using a smartphone.
The Cosumnes River watershed has seasonal, non-point source hotspots for total mercury and methylmercury production, which discharge to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta in north-central California. To reduce mercury loads to the Delta, researchers created open-water deep cells at the downstream end of wetlands.
Lower levels of environmental contaminants—including pesticides, flame retardants and other pollutants—were recently found in osprey eggs in the Delaware Estuary compared to those tested from the 1970s through the early 2000s.
Lead exposure in wildlife is a widespread management and conservation concern. Low-cost, portable lead analyzers have improved access and cost-effectiveness of determining lead concentrations in animal blood samples, yet analytical bias and lack of quality-assurance–quality-control measures can confound results.
New research has revealed significant changes to Alaska’s landscape in recent decades
U.S. Geological Survey scientists and partners have created an onsite, time-saving technique for building inspectors to ascertain whether vermiculite insulation contains amphibole asbestos. The findings are featured in the April 2 edition of American Mineralogist.
Six years ago, veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan had trouble breathing normally. The list of potential causes that soldiers were exposed to seemed endless: smoke from burn pits used for trash disposal, desert dust, diesel generator exhaust, humidity and temperature extremes, explosives, and city trash and sewage.
Every few days, a fleet of satellites orbiting 700 kilometers above the Earth scans the continental United States to help keep Americans safe. But these eyes in the sky aren’t seeking terrorists or enemy combatants: they scrutinize lakes to locate problems of the microbial variety, namely cyanobacteria.
A joint collaboration between EPA, NOAA, NASA, and USGS scientists has demonstrated that satellite imagery can be used to track the frequency of harmful algal blooms. The satellites can accomplish this by measuring certain algal pigments in the water.
New USGS Science Plan Designed to Help Plan for Drought Effects on People, Communities, and Ecosystems
The U. S. Geological Survey is poised to bring a dynamic array of science and tools to help decision-makers manage and offset effects of increased drought across the United States, according to a drought plan report released today.
U.S. Geological Survey scientists and partners are taking technology to the next level, using unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly called drones, to acquire both fire intensity and emissions data during prescribed burns.