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
Associations between Mussel Productivity and Cyanotoxins in Lake Erie
Cyanobacteria and cyanotoxins were not associated with mussel mortality at the concentrations present in Lake Erie, but mussel growth was lowerScience Feature
Native Pollinator Exposure Risk to Neonicotinoids in Prairie Strips
Neonicotinoids were not detected in prairie plants next to agricultural fields several years after discontinuation of neonicotinoid seed treatmentScience 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
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...
Human Dimensions in the context of natural resource management refers to understanding attitudes, preferences, and behaviors of American citizens in order to improve conservation and management of public lands and waters managed by the Department of the Interior (DOI). Human Dimensions at the FORT also includes understanding the users and applications of data and technology in the context of...
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.
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.
Mass mortality attributed to acanthocephaliasis at a Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica) colony in coastal California
From 12 May 2013 to 29 May 2013, the Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica) colony at the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, California, experienced a mass die-off of at least 92 adults, representing 71–92% of the breeding population on the US west coast. Cause of death was determined to be peritonitis due to perforations of the intestine...Patton, Robert T.; Goodenough, Katharine S.; De La Cruz, Susan; Nevins, HannahRose M.; Cole, Rebecca A.; Bodenstein, Barbara; Shearn-Bochsler, Valerie I.; Collins, Brian; Beck, Jessie; Sadowski, Matthew; Takekawa, John Y.
Maternal transfer of mercury to songbird eggs
We evaluated the maternal transfer of mercury to eggs in songbirds, determined whether this relationship differed between songbird species, and developed equations for predicting mercury concentrations in eggs from maternal blood. We sampled blood and feathers from 44 house wren (Troglodytes aedon) and 34 tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) mothers...Ackerman, Joshua T.; Hartman, C. Alex; Herzog, Mark
Trace element contamination in feather and tissue samples from Anna’s hummingbirds
Trace element contamination (17 elements; Be, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Se, Mo, Cd, Ba, Hg, Tl, and Pb) of live (feather samples only) and deceased (feather and tissue samples) Anna's hummingbirds (Calypte anna) was evaluated. Samples were analyzed using inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS; 17 elements) and atomic...Mikoni, Nicole A.; Poppenga, Robert H.; Ackerman, Joshua T.; Foley, Janet E.; Hazlehurst, Jenny; Purdin, Güthrum; Aston, Linda; Hargrave, Sabine; Jelks, Karen; Tell, Lisa A.
Geographic and temporal patterns of variation in total mercury concentrations in blood of harlequin ducks and blue mussels from Alaska
We compared total mercury (Hg) concentrations in whole blood of harlequin ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus) sampled within and among two geographically distinct locations and across three years in southwest Alaska. Blue mussels were collected to assess correlation between Hg concentrations in locally available forage and birds. Mercury...Savoy, Lucas; Flint, Paul L.; Zwiefelhofer, Denny; Brant, Heather; Perkins, Christopher R.; Taylor, Robert J.; Lane, Oksana P.; Hall, Jefferson S.; Evers, David C.; Schamber, Jason
Mercury and water level fluctuations in lakes of northern Minnesota
Large lake ecosystems support a variety of ecosystem services in surrounding communities, including recreational and commercial fishing. However, many northern temperate fisheries are contaminated by mercury. Annual variation in mercury accumulation in fish has previously been linked to water level (WL) fluctuations, opening the possibility of...Larson, James H.; Maki, Ryan P; Christensen, Victoria G.; Sandheinrich, Mark B.; LeDuc, Jaime F.; Kissane, Claire; Knights, Brent C.
Cyanide poisoning of a Cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperii)
A Cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperii) was found dead in a ditch leading from a heap leach pad at a gold mine in Nevada. Observations at autopsy included an absence of external lesions, traces of subcutaneous and coronary fat, no food in the upper gastrointestinal tract, and no lesions in the viscera. Cyanide concentrations (µg/g ww) were 5.04 in...Franson, J. Christian
Heavy metal contamination at shooting ranges is well documented (e.g., Heier et al. 2009; Islam et al. 2016). Primarily lead, but also copper, zinc, and antimony often occur at high concentrations in shooting range soils; cadmium, nickel, silver, and arsenic may also be present (Cao et al. 2003; Islam et al. 2016). These metals represent a...Schmitt, Christopher J.
Organic contamination in tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) nestlings at United States and binational great Lakes Areas of Concern
Contaminant exposure of tree swallows, Tachycineta bicolor, nesting in 27 Areas of Concern (AOCs) in the Great Lakes basin was assessed from 2010 to 2014 to assist managers and regulators in their assessments of Great Lakes AOCs. Contaminant concentrations in nestlings from AOCs were compared with those in nestlings from nearby non-AOC sites....Custer, Thomas W.; Custer, Christine M.; Dummer, Paul; Goldberg, Diana R.; Franson, J. Christian; Erickson, Richard A.
Geologic materials and human health: Chapter 5.14
No abstract available.Plumlee, Geoffrey S.; Morman, Suzette A.
Lapland longspur mortality at an oil well drilling rig site, Laramie County, Wyoming
Two hundred fifty-one Lapland longspur (Calcarius lapponicus) carcasses were recovered around an oil well drilling rig in Laramie County, Wyoming, USA, on December 13–14, 2010, apparent victims of a winter storm and “light entrapment” from the lights on the drilling rig during foggy conditions. We found Lapland longspur carcasses distributed...Ramirez, Pedro; Dickerson, Kimberly K.; Lindstrom, Jim; Meteyer, Carol U.; Darrah, Scott
Family inspiration for my career(s) in transdisciplinary science
I have been fortunate to spend the last 31 years working for an organization that has allowed me to make multiple career shifts across earth science disciplines and to collaborate with people in fields well beyond the earth sciences. Many inspirational colleagues have guided me along this transdisciplinary science path, but perhaps my biggest...Plumlee, Geoffrey S.
Fog along the Yukon River showing a Black Spruce dominated forest in the foreground, which is prone to wildfire. Photo by Bruce Wylie, USGS
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 use helicopters and...
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 measurement.
- 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).
For more information on the movement of wild birds in Asia and how this relates to avian influenza viruses, see http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/ai. The autumn migration routes of bar-headed geese captured before the 2008 breeding season at Qinghai Lake, China, were documented using satellite tracking data. Our results showed that there were four typical...
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
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.
The U.S. Geological Survey is pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Christian Zimmerman as the new director of their Alaska Science Center in Anchorage, Alaska. Zimmerman succeeds Dr. Mark Shasby who held the position for the past six years.
A new USGS-NASA study found widespread shoreline loss along heavily oiled areas of Louisiana's coast after the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and compared the erosion from the spill with coastal changes Hurricane Isaac caused in 2012.
Studies on the aquatic food web, tree swallows, and the spread of contaminants take center stage at SETAC 2016.