Science for a Changing World

Biological Threats

USGS scientists have unique expertise in investigating biological threats such as wildlife diseases, chemical contaminants, pathogens, invasive species, and other environmental challenges. A better understanding of these issues and conditions informs decisions that support a healthy and resilient America.

Filter Total Items: 11
Date published: January 31, 2017

Tracking the Bad Guys: Toxic Algal Blooms

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.

Date published: January 23, 2017

Busy as Bees to Help Protect Pollinators

In late 2006, beekeepers across the United States reported sudden, dramatic losses in honey bee colonies. Similar losses were reported in 2007 and for several subsequent years. The reasons for these losses were unclear. 

Date published: January 18, 2017

Protecting California’s Bay-Delta with Innovative Science

California's Bay-Delta is facing ongoing drought and declining fish populations. The water in the Delta arrives primarily from the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, supplying water for more than 22 million people. This water source supports California’s trillion-dollar economy—the sixth largest in the world—and its $27 billion agricultural industry.

Date published: January 11, 2017

A Breakthrough in Controlling Invasive Fish

On a windy July morning on Lake Superior’s Whitefish Bay, fisherman Ralph Wilcox of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and his son, Dan, netted 300 pounds of wriggling whitefish. The mild-flavored salmon relative is served in restaurants, in smoked fish spreads, and as gefilte fish at Passover. However, two of the fish in the Michigan fishermen’s nets were badly wounded.

Date published: January 10, 2017

Advancing Wind Energy and Avoiding Wildlife Conflicts

Our Nation works to advance renewable energy and to avoid conflicts with and conserve wildlife.

Date published: January 4, 2017

Protecting the Sagebrush Landscape of the Quintessential West

The sagebrush landscape has long been valued by humans; first by the Native Americans, who lived off the resources in this vast landscape, then the European colonizers, who established large-scale livestock operations. Local economies throughout the West are supported by the many unique aspects of the sagebrush landscape.

Date published: December 13, 2016

Saving Salamanders: Vital to Ecosystem Health

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. 

Date published: November 29, 2016

Tracking Oil Spills: Before, During, and Decades Later

On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling nearly 11 million gallons of crude oil. At the time, the spill was the Nation’s largest environmental disaster.

Date published: November 2, 2016

Walrus Sea-Ice Habitats Melting Away

Habitat for the Pacific walrus in the Chukchi Sea is disappearing from beneath them as the warming climate melts away Arctic sea ice in the spring, forcing the large mammals to “haul out” of the ocean and temporarily live on land.

Date published: November 1, 2016

Grappling with Pythons in Florida

In 2003, wildlife scientists carrying out regular nighttime road surveys in Everglades National Park started to see fewer medium-sized mammals. Over the next few years, rabbits disappeared completely, and populations of foxes, raccoons, possums, bobcats, and white-tailed deer were either small or absent.

Date published: November 1, 2016

Protecting Mule Deer from Thin Ice

Every so often, wildlife managers in Pinedale, Wyoming, discover carcasses of mule deer floating in Fremont Lake, outside of town. The deer drown while crossing thin ice during their spring migration to the mountains. Exactly where they came from was unknown—until recently.