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Publications recently added to the Pubs Warehouse

(500 records max)
Marshes and mangroves as nature-based coastal storm buffers

Released September 27, 2022 13:48 EST

2023, Annual Review of Marine Science (15)

Stijn Temmerman, Eric M. Horstman, Ken Krauss, Julia C. Mullarney, Ignace Pelckmans, Ken Schoutens

Tidal marshes and mangroves are increasingly valued for nature-based mitigation of coastal storm impacts, such as flooding and shoreline erosion hazards, which are growing due to global change. As this review highlights, however, hazard mitigation by tidal wetlands is limited to certain conditions, and not all hazards are equally reduced. Tidal wetlands are effective in attenuating short-period storm-induced waves, but long-period storm surges, which elevate sea levels up to several meters for up to more than a day, are attenuated less effectively, or in some cases not at all, depending on storm conditions, wetland properties, and larger-scale coastal landscape geometry. Wetlands often limit erosion, but storm damage to vegetation (especially mangrove trees) can be substantial, and recovery may take several years. Longer-term wetland persistence can be compromised when combined with other stressors, such as climate change and human disturbances. Due to these uncertainties, nature-based coastal defense projects need to adopt adaptive management strategies.

Antimony in mine wastes: Geochemistry, mineralogy, microbiology

Released September 27, 2022 13:17 EST

2022, Economic Geology

Anežka Borčinová Radková, Heather E. Jamieson, Kate M. Campbell, Karen A. Hudson-Edwards

Antimony (Sb) is a valuable mined commodity, used mostly in fire retardants, and considered a critical element. It is also a potential environment hazard classed as a carcinogen. Antimony is concentrated in tailings and waste rock from Sb mines as well as other locations, such as precious metal deposits, where Sb is present in the ore but not recovered. This review covers the aqueous geochemistry, isotope chemistry, mineralogy, and microbiology of Sb in the context of mine waste. The primary minerals stibnite and sulfosalts may release Sb in surface and groundwaters and result in contamination of soils, plants, and river sediments. In some cases, Sb mobility is limited by its adsorption and incorporation into Fe (oxyhydr)oxides. At higher Sb concentrations, precipitation of Sb secondary hosts such as tripuhyite (FeSbO4, relatively insoluble) and brandholzite (Mg[Sb(OH)6]2 · 6H2O, highly soluble) influence Sb concentrations in water associated with mine waste. Although Sb is nonessential to organisms, microorganisms are involved in oxidation, reduction, and methylation processes that can drive biogeochemical transformations. Limited toxicological information about Sb makes it challenging to establish regulations or guidelines limiting the concentration of Sb. Antimony is frequently associated with arsenic in mine waste, and remediation design is often based on the assumption that both metalloids behave in a similar way. However, new research suggests that in some environments, this is not the case, and Sb should be considered based on its unique biogeochemical behavior.

Modeling of fire spread in sagebrush steppe using FARSITE: An approach to improving input data and simulation accuracy

Released September 27, 2022 12:56 EST

2022, Fire Ecology (18)

Samuel J. Price, Matthew Germino

Background: Model simulations of wildfire spread and assessments of their accuracy are needed for understanding and managing altered fire regimes in semiarid regions. The accuracy of wildfire spread simulations can be evaluated from post hoc comparisons of simulated and actual wildfire perimeters, but this requires information on pre-fire vegetation fuels that is typically not available. We assessed the accuracy of the Fire-Area Simulator (FARSITE) model parameterized with maps of fire behavior fuel models (FBFMs) obtained from the widely used LANDFIRE, as well as alternative means which utilized the classification of Rangeland Analysis Platform (RAP) satellite-derived vegetation cover maps to create FBFM maps. We focused on the 2015 Soda wildfire, which burned 113,000 ha of sagebrush steppe in the western USA, and then assessed the transferability of our RAP-to-FBFM selection process, which produced the most accurate reconstruction of the Soda wildfire, on the nearby 2016 Cherry Road wildfire.

Results: Parameterizing FARSITE with maps of FBFMs from LANDFIRE resulted in low levels of agreement between simulated and observed area burned, with maximum Sorensen’s coefficient (SC) and Cohen’s kappa (K) values of 0.38 and 0.36, respectively. In contrast, maps of FBFMs derived from unsupervised classification of RAP vegetation cover maps led to much greater simulated-to-observed burned area agreement (SC = 0.70, K = 0.68). The FBFM map that generated the greatest simulated-to-observed burned area agreement for the Soda wildfire was then used to crosswalk FBFMs to another nearby wildfire (2016 Cherry Road), and this FBFM selection led to high FARSITE simulated-to-observed burned area agreement (SC = 0.80, K = 0.79).

Conclusions: Using RAP to inform pre-fire FBFM selection increased the accuracy of FARSITE simulations compared to parameterization with the standard LANDFIRE FBFM maps, in sagebrush steppe. Additionally, the crosswalk method appeared to have regional generalizability. Flanking and backfires were the primary source of disagreements between simulated and observed fire spread in FARSITE, which are sources of error that may require modeling of lateral heterogeneity in fuels and fire processes at finer scales than used here.

Assessment of undiscovered conventional oil and gas resources of the Volga-Ural Basin and Timan-Pechora Basin Provinces of Russia, 2020

Released September 27, 2022 12:05 EST

2022, Fact Sheet 2022-3070

Christopher J. Schenk, Tracey J. Mercier, Geoffrey S. Ellis, Cheryl A. Woodall, Thomas M. Finn, Marilyn E. Tennyson, Phuong A. Le, Heidi M. Leathers-Miller, Ronald M. Drake II

Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated undiscovered, technically recoverable mean conventional resources of 4.9 billion barrels of oil and 21 trillion cubic feet of gas within the Volga-Ural Basin Province and technically recoverable mean conventional resources of 1.8 billion barrels of oil and 9.5 trillion cubic of gas in the Timan-Pechora Basin Province, Russia.

Field investigation of sub-isokinetic sampling by the US D-96-type suspended-sediment sampler and its effect on suspended-sediment measurements

Released September 27, 2022 09:04 EST

2022, Open-File Report 2022-1077

Thomas A. Sabol, David J. Topping, Ronald E. Griffiths, Guillaume Dramais

Collection of accurate suspended-sediment data using depth-integrating samplers requires that they operate isokinetically, that is, that they sample at the local stream velocity unaffected by the presence of the suspended-sediment sampler. Sub-isokinetic suspended-sediment sampling causes grain-size dependent positive biases in the suspended-sediment concentration measured by the suspended-sediment sampler. Collapsible bag suspended-sediment samplers like the US D-96 and the lighter US D-96-A1 depth-integrating samplers have shown a tendency to sample sub-isokinetically under low stream velocities (below ~3.5 feet per second), colder water temperatures, and longer sampling durations. Previous work concluded that the time-dependent decrease in the intake efficiency of the US D-96-type sampler could be partially overcome by increasing the venting of water from the sampler cavity by shortening the sampler tray. The standard-length sampler tray partially blocks the rear vent hole; shortening the sampler tray effectively increases the area of the sampler-cavity rear vent hole. This previous work showed that removing the partial blockage of the rear vent hole caused by the sampler tray resulted in both an increase in intake efficiency and a decrease in the positive bias in measured suspended-sand concentration.

Herein, a series of tests were conducted on the Colorado River in Arizona using different modifications to a US D-96-A1 sampler to see if physical enlargement of the rear vent hole would produce further improvements in intake efficiency. Results from these tests show that physical enlargement of the rear vent hole, beyond that already effectively achieved by shortening the sampler tray, did not result in any further improvement in intake efficiency. However, these tests also indicated that physically increasing the area of the rear vent hole did not affect the suspended-sediment data collected by the US D-96-A1 sampler. Furthermore, comparisons of suspended-sediment data collected using the US D-96-A1 sampler and the isokinetic US P-61-A1 point-integrating sampler show that the suspended-sediment data collected by the US D-96-type sampler can be accurate in certain circumstances despite the tendency of this sampler to sample sub-isokinetically over the entire depth of a sampling vertical. We surmise that this result could arise from the US D-96-A1 sampler collecting sample isokinetically when the water-sediment mixture enters the nozzle, but that the water-sediment mixture only enters the nozzle intermittently while the sampler transits a sampling vertical.

Pharmaceuticals and personal care products in passive samplers at seven coastal sites off West Maui, Hawaiʻi:

Released September 27, 2022 08:56 EST

2022, Open-File Report 2022-1065

Pamela L. Campbell, Nancy G. Prouty, Curt D. Storlazzi

Passive membrane samplers—semipermeable membrane devices and polar organic chemical integrative samplers—were deployed for 22 continuous days at 7 sites along the West Maui, Hawaiʻi, coastline in February and March 2017 to assess organic contaminants at shallow coral reef ecosystems from diverse upstream inputs. The distribution of organic compounds observed at these coastal sites showed considerable variability; high concentrations of microbially sourced organic compounds observed at all sites, with pentadecane as the predominant normal alkane, showed the relative importance of marine and microbial organic matter to the coastal carbon pool. Pharmaceuticals and personal care products, as well as flame retardants, were also detected at all sites. Of the seven sites sampled, the Kahekili Beach Park site had the highest number of unique contaminants and the Honokōwai Stream site had the highest concentrations of compounds. Two individual compounds, a flame retardant and a fragrance, were ubiquitous across the studied West Maui reefs, including at the least-developed site. A direct correlation to upstream land-use practices or legacy agricultural inputs was not readily observed since polychlorinated biphenyls, pesticides, herbicides, or insecticides were not detected. Results provide a snapshot of relative contaminant abundances as well as inputs to select nearshore environments along the West Maui coastline captured during the 2017 wet season, which was drier than expected. These data can be useful for understanding the range of stressors potentially affecting nearshore ecosystems, such as groundwater inputs and watershed runoff.

The influence of soil development on the depth distribution and structure of soil microbial communities.

Released September 27, 2022 08:50 EST

2022, Soil Biology and Biochemistry (174)

Mary-Catherine Leewis, Corey Lawrence, Marjorie S. Schulz, Malak M. Tfaily, Christian Orlando Ayala-Ortiz, Gilberto E. Flores, Rachel Mackelprang, Jack McFarland

Although it has been shown that the interaction of climate and time shape the dynamics of soil organic matter (SOM) storage and preservation in soil, the role of soil microbial communities in this dynamic remains unclear. Microbial communities are present throughout soil profiles and likely play critical roles in SOM and nutrient cycling, however the influence of other factors such as soil development (i.e., age) and the composition SOM on microbial community variation with depth has yet to be quantified. Improving our understanding of the relationship between soil development, soil depth, and microbial communities may provide insight to the critical role they play in cycling and preservation of SOM, as well as more mechanistic predictions of the response of soil communities to change, such as landscape-scale changes in available moisture or temperature regimes. Here we compare soils spanning a soil age by climate gradient (i.e., climo-chronosequence) to better understand the mechanisms which influence soil microbial community structure and the molecular composition of SOM. While we observed little depth-dependence in metrics of microbial community structure (i.e., composition, diversity, dissimilarity) across the range of soil development under a wetter climate, we found significant depth-dependent changes in community metrics under a drier climate, which became more pronounced as soils became older. This shift in bacterial and archaeal community structure and diversity is most apparent below a clay-rich argillic horizon formed in the older, drier soils. The molecular composition of SOM as measured by high resolution mass spectrometry (i.e., FTICR MS) also exhibited similar shifts in composition with soil depth and age. Our results highlight how soil moisture shapes the interaction of soil development, SOM, and microbial community composition. Differences in the moisture regime between our two study sites drives differences in biogeochemical depth gradients and subsequent variation in soil microbes and SOM. This suggests that knowledge of not just the pedogenic trajectory of soil development, but also the spatial position relative to distinct pedogenic features, are important for explaining variations in the depth-dependencies of microbial communities and associated SOM.

Groundwater and surface-water data collection for the Walla Walla River Basin, Washington, 2018–22

Released September 26, 2022 10:33 EST

2022, Data Report 1163

Elisabeth T. Fasser, Sarah B. Dunn

The semi-arid Walla Walla River Basin (WWRB) spans 1777 square miles in the states of Washington and Oregon and supports a diverse agricultural region as well as cities and rural communities that are partially reliant on groundwater. Historically, surface water and groundwater data have been collected in the WWRB by several entities including federal, state, local, and tribal governments; irrigation districts; universities; and non-profits. This report describes the surface and groundwater data collection by the U.S. Geological Survey from February 2018 to April 2022 to provide the Washington State Department of Ecology and other stakeholders basic knowledge of existing water resources in the WWRB, Washington. Additionally, the data were collected to build a long-term groundwater dataset, with the intent to provide data for better understanding to assist in informed decisions about groundwater use, management, and conservation throughout the basin, and for future inclusion in a conceptual model of the groundwater-flow system (conceptual model). Data were collected and compiled for 237 sites—191 wells and 46 surface-water discharge sites. A small annual network of deep basalt wells was established in February 2018 to commence the data collection. In March 2020 and April 2021, additional field inventories were performed by locating and measuring groundwater wells in the WWRB. A subset of the inventoried wells were selected for an annual or a quarterly water level network to be measured until July 2024. In August 2020, field reconnaissance identified 46 surface-water sites to be measured for discharge, estimating gaining and losing reaches in streams for groundwater influences.

Decision-making for managing harmful algal blooms

Released September 23, 2022 17:20 EST

2022, General Information Product 215

Jennifer L. Graham

Cyanobacteria are a global water-quality concern because these organisms can develop into harmful blooms that affect ecologic, economic, and public health. U.S. Geological Survey scientists worked with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to develop a structured decision-making template for managing cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms. This approach can help natural resource managers make decisions to manage water bodies threatened by harmful algal blooms.

Inventory of eelgrass (Zostera marina) and seaweeds at the end of the Alaska Peninsula, August–September 2012:

Released September 23, 2022 13:33 EST

2022, Open-File Report 2021-1034

David H. Ward, Kyle R. Hogrefe, Tyronne F. Donnelly, Neils C. Dau, Orville Lind, Kevin J. Payne, Sandra C. Lindstrom

Coastal communities in Alaska are undergoing rapid environmental change from increasing temperatures and baseline data are needed to monitor potential impacts. We conducted the first surveys of the abundance and distribution of eelgrass (Zostera marina) and seaweeds in the western part of Izembek National Wildlife Refuge at the end of the Alaska Peninsula. Six embayments and two offshore islands were surveyed in August–September of 2012. Biotic (percent cover of eelgrass/seaweeds, presence/absences of five sessile invertebrates), and abiotic (water temperature, salinity, and depth) data were recorded at 257 survey points (range =9–74 points per site) across all sites. Twenty-two genera/species of seaweeds were identified at the six embayments. New seaweed species for the offshore islands of Sanak and Caton were added to an existing seaweed collection accessioned at the University of British Columbia Herbarium. We also collected samples of eelgrass to be accessioned at U.S. Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center-Molecular Ecology Laboratory, for future genetic analyses. Fifty-three species of birds and 13 species of mammals were observed and recorded during the survey period.

Eelgrass (Zostera marina) and seaweed abundance along the coast of Nunivak Island, Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, 2010

Released September 23, 2022 13:19 EST

2022, Open-File Report 2020-1143

David H. Ward, Kyle R. Hogrefe, Tyrone F. Donnelly, Lucretia L. Fairchild

Eelgrass (<em>Zostera marina</em>) is a highly productive seagrass that plays an essential role in the health of the estuarine and coastal ecosystems; however, information about its abundance and distribution is insufficient in the Bering Sea along the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. We inventoried the spatial extent and abundance of eelgrass and seaweed in Duchikthluk and Shoal bays on Nunivak Island in July 2010. Using Landsat Thematic Mapper imagery, we estimated the spatial extent of eelgrass to be 1,232 hectares in Duchikthluk Bay and 40 hectares in Shoal Bay. The overall accuracy of the assessments was high (86–87 percent) based on ground truthing using field reference points. We used point-sampling methodology to assess eelgrass abundance relative to the presence of associated seaweeds and selected macro-invertebrates within each of bays. Eelgrass was found at water depths ranging from 0.1 to 2.9 meters across both bays, but the greatest density (>75 percent cover) occurred primarily in moderate to deep water (0.7–1.4 meters) in Duchikthluk Bay and deeper water (>2 meters) in Shoal Bay. The mean aboveground biomass was 39.4±4.0 grams per meter squared in Duchikthluk Bay. The eelgrass biomass was greater (67.6±11.0 grams per meter squared) in Shoal Bay, but this estimate was based on a small sample size (n=3). Seaweeds, representing six species, occurred in low abundance across both bays and were primarily associated with eelgrass. Gastropods were the most common macro-invertebrate, occurring at 45 percent of field points in Duchikthluk Bay.

Eelgrass (Zostera marina) and Seaweed Abundance along the Coast of Togiak National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, 2008–10

Released September 23, 2022 13:05 EST

2022, Open-File Report 2020-1114

David H. Ward, Kyle R. Hogrefe, Michael A. Swaim, Tyronne F. Donnelly, Lucretia L. Fairchild

We conducted a point-sampling survey to determine eelgrass (Zostera marina) and seaweed abundance in coastal waters adjacent to Togiak National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, in July 2008–10. Eelgrass was known to be abundant in protected embayments of the southeastern Bering Sea and near the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge, but prior to this study, no systematic ground surveys had been conducted in these areas. We determined mean aboveground biomass of eelgrass to be highly variable among years observed, ranging from 32–72 grams dry weight per square meter (g/m2) during successive years in Nanvak Bay and among the studied embayments in 2010: 47±4 g/m2 in Nanvak Bay, 69±7 g/m2 in Chagvan Bay, and 74±15 g/m2 in Goodnews Bay. Seaweed density, abundance, and frequency scores were also highly variable among years and among embayments and were lower for seaweeds than for eelgrass in Nanvak and Chagvan bays, but not in Goodnews Bay. For all bays, mussels (Mytilus spp.) and gastropods were the most common macro-invertebrates detected during surveys, whereas sea stars, crabs, and sponges were not observed in the embayments.

Eelgrass (Zostera marina) and seaweed assessment Alaska Peninsula-Becharof National Wildlife Refuges, 2010

Released September 23, 2022 12:42 EST

2021, Open-File Report 2020-1144

David H. Ward, Kyle R. Hogrefe, Tyronne F. Donnelly, Lucretia L. Fairchild, Ron Britton

We conducted the first assessment of eelgrass and seaweed distribution and abundance along the coast of the Alaska Peninsula-Becharof National Wildlife Refuges in Chignik Lagoon and Mud Bay. Areal extent of eelgrass, as determined from remote-sensing techniques, was estimated to be 2,414 hectares in Chignik Lagoon and 188 hectares in Mud Bay, and eelgrass was the dominant marine macrophyte in each of the embayments. During an embayment-wide point survey of Chignik Lagoon, eelgrass and seaweeds were observed on 76 and 62 percent of survey points, respectively. Average percent cover was greater for eelgrass (82 percent) than for seaweeds (37 percent) when each was present at a survey point. In contrast, eelgrass and seaweeds were distributed nearly equally in Mud Bay, occurring on 64 and 70 percent of the points, respectively, and when present, cover of eelgrass and seaweeds were 70 and 60 percent, respectively. Brown and red seaweeds, such as Polysiphonia pacifica, Saccharina latissima, Neorhodomela oregona, and Eudesme borealis, were the most common seaweeds in Chignik Lagoon, while green seaweeds, particularly Kornmannia leptoderma and Cladophora sericea, were dominant in Mud Bay. Standing crop of eelgrass was 44 percent greater in Chignik Lagoon (98.0±6.4 grams dry weight per square meter) than in Mud Bay (68.3±6.7 grams dry weight per square meter) in 2010. Five types of macro-invertebrates were assessed during the point survey. At least one of these macro-invertebrates was observed on 45 percent of points in Chignik Lagoon and 64 percent of points in Mud Bay. Gastropods were the most common of the macro-invertebrates, occurring on 40–57 percent of points in each of the embayments. This assessment of eelgrass and seaweeds can serve as a baseline for determining future changes in the distribution and abundance of these marine macrophytes in Chignik Lagoon and Mud Bay.

Distribution of eelgrass (Zostera marina) in coastal waters adjacent to Togiak National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska

Released September 23, 2022 12:19 EST

2022, Open-File Report 2020-1080

David H. Ward, Kyle R. Hogrefe, Tyronne F. Donnelly, Michael A. Swaim

Declines in the distribution and abundance of seagrasses worldwide have prompted a need for baseline distribution maps of eelgrass (Zostera marina) in Alaska. We used high-resolution digital-color aerial photography and multi-spectral satellite imagery to map the distribution and spatial extent of eelgrass at 21 sites in coastal waters adjacent to Togiak National Wildlife Refuge (TNWR) in northwestern Bristol Bay and southern Kuskokwim Bay. The total spatial extent of eelgrass meadows was estimated to be 6,489 hectare (ha) almost equally divided between Bristol Bay (3,001 ha) and Kuskokwim Bay (3,488 ha). The four largest eelgrass beds occurred in Chagvan Bay (1,933 ha), the north side of Hagemeister Island (1,168 ha), Goodnews Bay (874 ha), and Nanvak Bay (599 ha). This report provides key baseline data useful for establishing a monitoring plan to assess trends in eelgrass along the coast of TNWR.

Abundance and distribution of eelgrass (Zostera marina) and seaweeds at Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, 2007–10

Released September 23, 2022 12:11 EST

2022, Open-File Report 2020-1035

David H. Ward, Kyle R. Hogrefe, Tyronne F. Donnelly, Lucretia L. Fairchild, Kristine M. Sowl, Sandra C. Lindstrom

Eelgrass (Zostera marina) meadows are expansive along the lower Alaska Peninsula, supporting a rich diversity of marine life, yet little is known about their status and trends in the region. We tested techniques to inventory and monitor trends in the spatial extent and abundance of eelgrass in lagoons of the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. We determined if Landsat imagery could be used to assess eelgrass spatial extent in shallow (less than 4 meter water depth) coastal waters of the refuge. We determined that this seagrass could be differentiated using Landsat imagery from other cover types (that is, channels and unvegetated tidal flats) with a high degree of accuracy (greater than 80 percent) in Izembek and Kinzarof Lagoons. Eelgrass meadows represented the largest cover type in Izembek (about 16,000 hectares) and Kinzarof (about 900 hectares) Lagoons, comprising between 45 and 50 percent of the spatial extent of these lagoons, respectively. When compared to estimates of spatial extent of eelgrass from previous studies, our results suggest little change in the spatial extent of eelgrass in Izembek Lagoon during the 28-year period 1978 through 2006. Preliminary mapping of eelgrass in other embayments indicated that this seagrass was also expansive in Big Lagoon (about 900 hectares; or 34 percent of the lagoon area) and Hook Bay (about 900 hectares; or 36 percent of the bay area) but not in Cold Bay (about 100 hectares; less than 5 percent of the bay area). We conducted an embayment-wide point sampling technique to assess aboveground biomass and distribution of eelgrass and seaweeds and presence of six macro-invertebrates during a 4-year period (2007–10). We determined that, when present, mean aboveground biomass of eelgrass was greater in Kinzarof Lagoon (182.5 plus or minus 12.1 grams dry weight per square meter) than in Izembek Lagoon (152.1 plus or minus 7.1 grams dry weight per square meter) in 2008–10, possibly reflecting the warmer sea temperatures and higher salinities found on the Gulf of Alaska side of the Alaska Peninsula. Seaweeds were more abundant in Kinzarof Lagoon than in Izembek Lagoon, surpassing aboveground biomass of eelgrass in both lagoons in 2008. Gastropods (4 percent of all points) and Caprella shrimp (25 percent) were the most common of the six macro-invertebrates surveyed in Izembek Lagoon, and Telmessus crab was the most common macro-invertebrate in Kinzarof Lagoon.

Assessment of undiscovered conventional oil and gas resources of New Guinea, Papua Barat, Seram, and Timor-Leste, 2020

Released September 23, 2022 11:45 EST

2022, Fact Sheet 2022-3046

Christopher J. Schenk, Tracey J. Mercier, Marilyn E. Tennyson, Geoffrey S. Ellis, Cheryl A. Woodall, Phuong A. Le, Heidi M. Leathers-Miller, Ronald M. Drake II

Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated undiscovered resource means of 1.8 billion barrels of oil and 129.5 trillion cubic feet of gas within New Guinea, Papua Barat, Seram, and Timor-Leste.

A century of drought in Hawai‘i: Geospatial analysis and synthesis across hydrological, ecological, and socioeconomic scales

Released September 23, 2022 07:13 EST

2022, Sustainability (14)

Abby G. Frazier, Christian P. Giardina, Thomas W Giambelluca, Laura Brewington, Yi-Leng Chen, Pao-Shin Chu, Lucas Fortini, David Helweg, Victoria W. Keener, Ryan J Longman, Matthew P Lucas, Alan Mair, Delwyn S. Oki, Julian J Reyes, Stephanie G. Yelenik, Clay Trauernicht

Drought is a prominent feature of Hawaiʻi’s climate. However, it has been over 30 years since the last comprehensive meteorological drought analysis, and recent drying trends have emphasized the need to better understand drought dynamics and multi-sector effects in Hawaiʻi. Here, we provide a comprehensive synthesis of past drought effects in Hawaiʻi that we integrate with geospatial analysis of drought characteristics using a newly developed 100-year (1920–2019) gridded Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI) dataset. The synthesis examines past droughts classified into five categories: Meteorological, agricultural, hydrological, ecological, and socioeconomic drought. Results show that drought duration and magnitude have increased significantly, consistent with trends found in other Pacific Islands. We found that most droughts were associated with El Niño events, and the two worst droughts of the past century were multi-year events occurring in 1998–2002 and 2007–2014. The former event was most severe on the islands of O’ahu and Kaua’i while the latter event was most severe on Hawaiʻi Island. Within islands, we found different spatial patterns depending on leeward versus windward contrasts. Droughts have resulted in over $80 million in agricultural relief since 1996 and have increased wildfire risk, especially during El Niño years. In addition to providing the historical context needed to better understand future drought projections and to develop effective policies and management strategies to protect natural, cultural, hydrological, and agricultural resources, this work provides a framework for conducting drought analyses in other tropical island systems, especially those with a complex topography and strong climatic gradients.

A sagebrush conservation design to proactively restore America’s sagebrush biome

Released September 22, 2022 10:55 EST

2022, Open-File Report 2022-1081

Kevin Doherty, David M. Theobald, John B. Bradford, Lief A. Wiechman, Geoffrey Bedrosian, Chad S. Boyd, Matthew Cahill, Peter S. Coates, Megan K. Creutzburg, Michele R. Crist, Sean P. Finn, Alexander V. Kumar, Caitlin E. Littlefield, Jeremy D. Maestas, Karen L. Prentice, Brian G. Prochazka, Thomas E. Remington, William D. Sparklin, John C. Tull, Zachary Wurtzebach, Katherine A. Zeller

A working group of experts with diverse professional backgrounds and disciplinary expertise was assembled to conceptualize a spatially explicit conservation design to support and inform the Sagebrush Conservation Strategy Part 2. The goal was to leverage recent advancements in remotely sensed landcover products to develop spatially and temporally explicit maps of sagebrush rangeland condition and landscape threats. In addition, the group sought to provide a common basis for understanding the state of sagebrush rangelands through time.

First, the study team developed a spatially explicit model to assess geographic patterns in sagebrush ecological integrity and used this model to identify core sagebrush areas (CSAs), growth opportunity areas (GOAs), and other rangeland areas (ORAs) across the biome. Among the identified rangelands, 33.4 million acres were classified as CSAs; 84.3 million acres as GOAs; and 127.2 million acres as ORAs as of 2020. Second, the team sought to demonstrate the ecological relevance of the identified CSAs and GOAs by comparing these data with independent datasets for sagebrush obligate species of conservation concern. Geographical patterns in sagebrush ecological integrity were strongly associated with the occurrence of high-priority species and also displayed clear links to population performance for greater sage-grouse. Third, the team parsed out the type, location, and acres of primary threats within the different categories (CSAs, GOAs, and ORAs) to help focus active management by identifying places where multiagency and organization efforts can protect CSAs and GOAs that have higher levels of integrity with lower cumulative threats. The assessment of the condition of the sagebrush biome (that is, the location, amount, and conservation status) indicated that complex ecosystem function problems are driving ~73 percent of the demonstrated threats within the CSAs and GOAs (rather than point-source problems, such as human development). Fourth, the team developed trend estimates for the identified CSAs and GOAs and three selected primary threats (invasive annual grasses, conifer encroachment, and human modification) to the sagebrush biome from 2001 to 2020. Results showed that an average of 1.3 million acres per year have transitioned to ORAs at an annual rate of −1.34 percent. Fifth, the team developed an approach to integrate climate change effects into the threat-based landscape conservation design and conducted an initial assessment on the magnitude of near-term climate effects in the context of observed historical trends. The team’s analysis suggests that climate change alone is unlikely to be the dominant threat to sagebrush ecological integrity in the next few decades, although interactions of climate with wildfire and invasive annual grasses may be an important threat, especially in the longer term.

A spatial overlap analysis was performed and highlighted 45.8 million acres of shared priorities among existing conservation frameworks to help anchor and guide collaborative landscape-scale conservation of areas that still have no to low threats. This information is critical to provide context for decisions about the volume and nature of conservation actions and funding requirements.

Estimating Pacific walrus abundance and survival with multievent mark-recapture models

Released September 22, 2022 10:34 EST

2022, Marine Ecology Progress Series (697) 167-182

William Starnes Beatty, Patrick R. Lemons, Jason P. Everett, Cara J. Lewis, Rebecca L. Taylor, Robert J. Lynn, Suresh A. Sethi, Lori T. Quakenbush, John J. Citta, Michelle Kissling, Natalia Kryukova, John K. Wennburg

Arctic marine ecosystems are undergoing rapid physical and biological change associated with climate warming and loss of sea ice. Sea ice loss will impact many species through altered spatial and temporal availability of resources. In the Bering and Chukchi Seas, the Pacific walrus Odobenus rosmarus divergens is one species that could be impacted by rapid environmental change, and thus, population assessments are needed to monitor changes in the status of this ecologically and culturally important marine mammal. We conducted a 5 yr genetic mark-recapture study to estimate demographic parameters for the Pacific walrus. We developed a Bayesian multievent mark-recapture model to estimate walrus survival and abundance while accounting for age misclassification. We estimated the probability of juvenile annual survival as 0.63 (95% credible interval [CrI]: 0.39-0.87) and adult female annual survival as 0.90 (95% CrI: 0.74-1.00). We estimated total abundance as 256434 (95% CrI: 171047-364659). We provide the first estimate of total Pacific walrus abundance since an aerial survey in 2006, which generated a substantially less precise total population size estimate (129000; 95% CI: 55000-507000). The emerging ecosystem state in the northern Bering and Chukchi Seas will likely result in a decline in Pacific walrus abundance, but there is substantial uncertainty regarding the magnitude of the anticipated decline. Our demographic estimates provide critical information to evaluate future population trends of this subsistence resource vital to communities that border the Bering and Chukchi Seas in the USA and Russia.

Perceptions of conservation introduction to inform decision support among U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees

Released September 21, 2022 17:15 EST

2022, Scientific Investigations Report 2022-5092

Nicholas Cole, Julia B. Goolsby, Amanda E. Cravens

Executive Summary

Around the globe, fish and wildlife managers are facing increasingly complex management issues because of multiscale ecological effects like climate change, species invasion, and land-use change. Managers seeking to prevent extinctions or preserve ecosystems are increasingly considering more interventionist techniques to overcome the resulting changes. Among those techniques, translocation methods that intentionally move species into new, less impacted habitats are being considered. These types of translocations are known by a range of terms, including “managed relocation” and “assisted migration,” but the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Species Survival Commission (IUCN SSC, 2013) has proposed “conservation introduction” (CI) as a standard term.

As defined by the IUCN SSC, CI is the intentional movement of a species or population outside its indigenous range for conservation purposes. CI can be divided into two forms: assisted colonization and ecological replacement. Assisted colonization is moving species outside its indigenous range to prevent extinction or extirpation of a population. Ecological replacement is moving species to fulfill an important niche that is necessary within an ecosystem. Proponents suggest these methods are necessary to address the ecological challenges managers are trying to overcome. Opponents point out the potential for species to become invasive, introduce disease or parasites, and cause other cascading impacts throughout the ecosystem. The result is controversy and disagreement. As such, it will be imperative to develop clear guidelines and best practices to be followed within wildlife management agencies to prevent potential

To this end, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) partnered with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to develop the current project. The intent was to describe the perceptions of USFWS personnel across many aspects of CI so that the USFWS could use this information in the planning and development of their own internal decision-support framework for CI.

This report is presented in five sections. Section 1 introduces the project and provides an in-depth overview of background literature related to CI. Section 2 describes the study design, methods, and study participant characteristics. Section 3 describes key results and recommendations related to the development of a USFWS decision framework. Section 4 investigates a range of perceptions held by participants and establishes baseline information for how USFWS personnel may view CI and its application. Types of viewpoints surveyed include preferred terms and definitions, perceived barriers, perceived risks and tradeoffs, and aspects of success. Perceived barriers refers to factors that may prevent successful implementation of CI and perceived risks refers to potential negative outcomes that may occur as a result of implementing CI. Section 5 provides an overview of our conclusions for this project.

Overall, we found that CI is likely to be viewed positively within the USFWS, but employees offered cautions and caveats. Most participants we interviewed feel that it is a necessary tool that will be indispensable in certain situations but also feel that there is more risk associated than with more traditional methods. For this reason, many participants are concerned about the assessment and planning that should be conducted prior to any CI effort. Our results indicate that many USFWS personnel will be open to CI being adopted more regularly but will be looking for clear guidance on how it should be implemented.

Loss of street tree canopy increases stormwater runoff

Released September 21, 2022 14:01 EST

2022, Fact Sheet 2022-3074

William R. Selbig, Steven P. Loheide II, William Shuster, Bryant C. Scharenbroch, Robert C. Coville, James Kruegler, William Avery, Ralph Haefner, David Nowak

Urban forests have largely been overlooked for the role they play in reducing stormwater runoff volume by using hydrologic processes such as interception (rainfall intercepted by tree canopy), evapotranspiration (the transfer of water from vegetation into the atmosphere) and infiltration (percolation of rainwater into the Earth’s soil). Early research into the effects of trees on urban stormwater runoff used simple estimates based on assumptions of canopy coverage and design storm criteria. In a review of available literature on how capable urban trees are at reducing runoff, the Center for Watershed Protection (2017) found only six studies; three of them used measured data from a single plot, and the other three used models. When identifying gaps in research on the role of trees in stormwater management, Kuehler and others (2017) highlighted the need for studies that scale the local effects of urban trees to the larger sewershed catchment area, allowing a more holistic understanding of the urban tree canopy effects on hydrology.

For these reasons, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Forest Service, and the University of Wisconsin, quantified the effect of removing urban street trees and their canopy on stormwater generation in a medium-density residential area. Using a paired-catchment experimental design, rainfall-runoff relations were characterized in two medium-density residential catchments in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, during May through September in 2018–20. Results of the study are detailed in Selbig and others (2022).

During the calibration phase, hydrograph metrics from paired runoff events were used to develop the relation between the control and test catchments with street trees in place. The ability to measure changes to the rainfall-runoff response after removal of tree canopy was made possible by an aggressive tree removal program by the city as a response to rapid infestation from the Agrilus planipennis (emerald ash borer). In March 2020, a total of 31 street trees were removed at the onset of the treatment period, resulting in a loss of 2,990 square meters of canopy over streets, driveways, sidewalks, and grassed areas.

Water-level data for the Albuquerque Basin and adjacent areas, central New Mexico, period of record through September 30, 2021

Released September 20, 2022 10:17 EST

2022, Data Report 1162

Meghan T. Bell, Natalia Y. Montero

The Albuquerque Basin, located in central New Mexico, is about 100 miles long and 25–40 miles wide. The basin is hydrologically defined as the extent of consolidated and unconsolidated deposits of Tertiary and Quaternary age that encompasses the structural Rio Grande Rift between San Acacia to the south and Cochiti Lake to the north. A 20-percent population increase in the basin from 1990 to 2000 and a 22-percent population increase from 2000 to 2010 resulted in an increased demand for water in areas within the basin. Drinking-water supplies throughout the basin were obtained primarily from groundwater resources until December 2008, when the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) began treatment and distribution of surface water from the Rio Grande through the San Juan-Chama Drinking Water Project.

An initial network of wells was established by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the City of Albuquerque from April 1982 through September 1983 to monitor changes in groundwater levels throughout the Albuquerque Basin. In 1983, this network consisted of 6 wells with analog-to-digital recorders and 27 wells where water levels were measured monthly. As of water year 2021, the network consisted of 120 wells and piezometers at 54 locations. The USGS, in cooperation with the ABCWUA, the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer, and Bernalillo County, measures water levels at the wells and piezometers in the network; this report, prepared in cooperation with the ABCWUA, presents water-level data collected by USGS personnel at the sites through water year 2021 (October 1, 2020, through September 30, 2021). Water-level data that were collected in previous water years from wells that were later discontinued were published in previous USGS reports.

Survival and reproduction in Arctic caribou are associated with summer forage and insect harassment

Released September 20, 2022 06:45 EST

2022, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution

Heather E. Johnson, Beth Lenart, Dave Gustine, Layne G. Adams, Perry Barboza

Investigators have speculated that the climate-driven “greening of the Arctic” may benefit barren-ground caribou populations, but paradoxically many populations have declined in recent years. This pattern has raised concerns about the influence of summer habitat conditions on caribou demographic rates, and how populations may be impacted in the future. The short Arctic summer provides caribou with important forage resources but is also the time they are exposed to intense harassment by insects, factors which are both being altered by longer, warmer growing seasons. To better understand the effects of summer forage and insect activity on Arctic caribou demographic rates, we investigated the influence of estimated forage biomass, digestible energy (DE), digestible nitrogen (DN), and mosquito activity on the reproductive success and survival of adult females in the Central Arctic Herd on the North Slope of Alaska. We tested the hypotheses that greater early summer DN would increase subsequent reproduction (parturition and late June calving success) while greater biomass and DE would increase adult survival (September–May), and that elevated mosquito activity would reduce both demographic rates. Because the period when abundant forage DN is limited and overlaps with the period of mosquito harassment, we also expected years with low DN and high harassment to synergistically reduce caribou reproductive success. Examining these relationships at the individual-level, using GPS-collared females, and at the population-level, using long-term monitoring data, we generally found support for our expectations. Greater early summer DN was associated with increased subsequent calving success, while greater summer biomass was associated with increased adult survival. Mosquito activity was associated with reductions in adult female parturition, late June calving success, and survival, and in years with low DN, had compounding effects on subsequent late June calving success. Our findings indicate that summer nutrition and mosquito activity collectively influence the demographic rates of Arctic caribou, and may impact the dynamics of populations in the future under changing environmental conditions.

Sixty years of channel adjustments to dams in the two segments of the Missouri National Recreational River, South Dakota and Nebraska

Released September 20, 2022 06:44 EST

2022, Scientific Investigations Report 2022-5087

Caroline M. Elliott, Robert B. Jacobson

The Missouri National Recreational River (MNRR) consists of two Missouri River segments managed by the National Park Service on the border of South Dakota and Nebraska. Both river segments are unchannelized and maintain much of their pre-dam channel form, but upstream dams have caused reductions in peak flow magnitudes and sediment supply. The 39-mile segment is located between Fort Randall and Gavins Point Dams, transitioning from a riverine process domain to a distributary delta process domain in the headwaters of Lewis and Clark Lake. The 59-mile segment, an entirely riverine process domain, is downstream from Gavins Point Dam, the most downstream main channel dam on the Missouri River, and upstream from a highly altered navigation channel extending more than 1,000 kilometers downstream to St. Louis, Missouri. The National Park Service seeks to preserve the outstandingly remarkable natural, cultural, and recreational values of the MNRR. There is a particular need to understand bank-erosion processes to guide management decisions related to bank-erosion controls.

Changes in channel shape, as measured in topographic cross sections surveyed every 5–10 years since the mid-20th century, document bed incision (bed-elevation lowering) in riverine process domains, a mix of aggradation and incision in the delta, and aggradation in Lewis and Clark Lake. Channel incision is greatest in the 59-mile segment, where mean thalweg (deepest point in a cross section) incision is 3.5 meters, and net incision in the thalweg greater than 5 meters was observed at a cross section 93 kilometers downstream from Gavins Point Dam. Analysis of topographic cross sections also indicates that rates of bed-elevation change since 1960 were lowest in the 39-mile river segment and in Lewis and Clark Lake. Rates of bed-elevation change were higher in the delta and 59-mile segments but lower in cross sections near Gavins Point Dam where the channel is confined by bank revetment on both banks and the bed has coarsened substantially since completion of the dam. Several large floods in recent decades, including a post-dam record flood event in 2011, scoured the bed and deposited large high-elevation sandbars in both river segments, especially in the 59-mile segment. Analysis of topographic cross-sections indicates the 2011 flood event caused substantial erosion and deposition, low magnitude net incision in the river segments and delta, and considerable sediment aggradation in the lake. Surveys taken after the 2011 flood in the 59-mile segment indicate a trend of sediment rearrangement and channel recovery following large floods, with the highest parts of the bed, sandbars, eroding and lowering while sediment was deposited on the deepest parts of the channel, which increased in elevation.

Inundation modeling results indicate that the narrower valley in the 39-mile segment results in a higher percentage of the flood plain being inundated by flooding relative to the 59-mile segment, which has a much wider valley. Likewise, bed incision in the 59-mile segment has increased channel capacity and resulted in a modern channel corridor inset into a higher flood-plain surface. The inset flood plain was inundated by the 2011 flood, but the pre-dam flood plain is rarely inundated. Analysis of channel boundaries over time indicates that pre-dam channel-migration rates were as much as five times larger than modern channel-migration rates in the 59-mile segment. Bank erosion in the 59-mile segment has primarily been into post-1894 channel deposits; bank-erosion rates are comparably very low in the 39-mile segment. Analysis of channel-migration zones indicates that most erosion is isolated to local hot spots and is used to establish predictions for 10 and 20 years into the future based on past movement rates in both MNRR segments. Long-term bed-elevation and planform trends indicate that rates of adjustment in the 59-mile segment are slowing and may be approaching a new equilibrium, but recent large floods and spatial variability contribute to considerable uncertainty. Additional monitoring of channel morphology would be needed to confirm trends observed in this analysis.

Potential health effects of contaminant mixtures from point and nonpoint sources on fish and frogs in the New Jersey Pinelands

Released September 19, 2022 10:34 EST

2022, Science of the Total Environment (851)

Sara Breitmeyer, Heather L. Walsh, Vicki S. Blazer, John F. Bunnell, Patrick M. Burritt, Jeff Dragon, Michelle Hladik, Paul Bradley, Kristin Romanok, Kelly Smalling

Aquatic ecosystems convey complex contaminant mixtures from anthropogenic pollution on a global scale. Point (e.g., municipal wastewater) and nonpoint sources (e.g., stormwater runoff) are both drivers of contaminant mixtures in aquatic habitats. The objectives of this study were to identify the contaminant mixtures present in surface waters impacted by both point and nonpoint sources, to determine if aquatic biota (amphibian and fish) health effects (testicular oocytes and parasites) occurred at these sites, and to understand if differences in biological and chemical measures existed between point (on-stream) and nonpoint sources (off-stream). To accomplish this, water chemistry, fishes, and frogs were collected from 21 sites in the New Jersey Pinelands, United States. Off-stream sites consisted of 3 reference and 10 degraded wetlands. On-stream sites consisted of two reference lakes and six degraded steams/lakes (four sites above and two sites below wastewater outfalls). Surface water was collected 4 times at each site and analyzed for 133 organic and inorganic contaminants. One native and five non-native fish species were collected from streams/lakes and native green frogs from wetlands (ponds and stormwater basins). Limited differences in contaminant concentrations were observed in reference and degraded wetlands but for streams/lakes, results indicated that landscape alteration, (upland agricultural and developed land) was the primary driver of contaminant concentrations rather than municipal wastewater. Incidence of estrogenic endocrine disruption (intersex) was species dependent with the highest prevalence observed in largemouth bass and black crappie and the lowest prevalence observed in green frogs and tessellated darters. Parasite prevalence was site and species dependent. Prevalence of eye parasites increased with increasing concentrations of industrial, mycotoxin, and cumulative inorganic contaminants. These findings are critical to support the conservation, protection, and management of a wide range of aquatic species in the Pinelands and elsewhere as habitat loss, alteration, and fragmentation increase with increasing development.

Manatee population traits elucidated through photo-identification

Released September 19, 2022 09:59 EST

2022, Mammalian Biology

Cathy Beck

Data on the demography and distribution of wildlife populations are important for informing conservation and management decisions; however, determination of life history traits and population trends often are elusive. All four extant species in the order Sirenia are deemed vulnerable to extinction; therefore, determining the demography and distribution for populations worldwide is crucial. Aerial surveys, radio-tagging and tracking, genetic sampling and analyses, health assessments, carcass examination, and photographic documentation are all techniques used to study sirenian populations. A 40 +-year computer-aided catalog of images and demography data collected on Florida manatees enables searches of individuals by descriptions of feature (scar) types and has enabled estimates of annual survival and reproductive rates, documented extra-limital movements, and advanced modeling designs. Photography is discussed as a method for the documentation of unique and acquired features specifically on Florida manatees. By means of these features, individual Florida manatees have been re-identified as far from their established range as Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Houston, Texas, and in Cuba, The Bahamas, and Mexico. The length of gestation (11–13 months) and calf dependency (1–3 years), and potential longevity in the wild (> 50 years), have been verified. To meet the challenge of an increasing number of images collected with the advent of digital photography, there has been an increasing interest and potential for new techniques to assist with individual identification. Several researchers are utilizing drones and artificial intelligence to find, photograph, and streamline the individual identification of sirenians as well as other marine mammal species. New techniques have potential to simplify the photographic identification of Florida manatees. Photographic documentation could be a model for demographic and distribution research of sirenian populations outside of Florida and as a tool to monitor the viability of sirenian populations, particularly as threats emerge due to anthropogenic pressures and global climate change.

Categorizing active marine acoustic sources based on their potential to affect marine animals

Released September 19, 2022 09:46 EST

2022, Journal of Marine Science and Engineering (10)

Carolyn D. Ruppel, T.S. Weber, Erica Staaterman, Stanley Labak, Patrick E. Hart

Marine acoustic sources are widely used for geophysical imaging, oceanographic sensing, and communicating with and tracking objects or robotic vehicles in the water column. Under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act and similar regulations in several other countries, the impact of controlled acoustic sources is assessed based on whether the sound levels received by marine mammals meet the criteria for harassment that causes certain behavioral responses. This study describes quantitative factors beyond received sound levels that could be used to assess how marine species are affected by many commonly deployed marine acoustic sources, including airguns, high-resolution geophysical sources (e.g., multibeam echosounders, sidescan sonars, subbottom profilers, boomers, and sparkers), oceanographic instrumentation (e.g., acoustic doppler current profilers, split-beam fisheries sonars), and communication/tracking sources (e.g., acoustic releases and locators, navigational transponders). Using physical criteria about the sources, such as source level, transmission frequency, directionality, beamwidth, and pulse repetition rate, we divide marine acoustic sources into four tiers that could inform regulatory evaluation. Tier 1 refers to high-energy airgun surveys with a total volume larger than 1500 in3 (24.5 L) or arrays with more than 12 airguns, while Tier 2 covers the remaining low/intermediate energy airgun surveys. Tier 4 includes most high-resolution geophysical, oceanographic, and communication/tracking sources, which are considered unlikely to result in incidental take of marine mammals and therefore termed de minimis. Tier 3 covers most non-airgun seismic sources, which either have characteristics that do not meet the de minimis category (e.g., some sparkers) or could not be fully evaluated here (e.g., bubble guns, some boomers). We also consider the simultaneous use of multiple acoustic sources, discuss marine mammal field observations that are consistent with the de minimis designation for some acoustic sources, and suggest how to evaluate acoustic sources that are not explicitly considered here.

Floodplain ecology: A novel wetland community of the Amazon

Released September 19, 2022 09:28 EST

2022, Current Biology (32) R879-R881

Ken Krauss

An expedition to the upper estuarine reaches of the Amazon River reveals intriguing overlap of tropical mangrove wetlands with riverine floodplain forests. This newly discovered type of forested wetland assemblage may provide a uniquely process-rich carbon hotspot.

Future changes in habitat availability for two specialist snake species in the imperiled rocklands of South Florida, U.S.A.

Released September 19, 2022 08:30 EST

2022, Conservation Science and Practice

Suresh C. Subedi, Susan C. Walls, William Barichivich, Ryan Boyles, Michael S. Ross, J. Aaron Hogan, John A. Tupy

Rockland habitat in South Florida, USA, is a threatened ecosystem that has been lost, fragmented, or degraded because of urbanization or other anthropogenic disturbance. Furthermore, low-lying islands and coastal areas are experiencing sea level rise (SLR) and an increased frequency and intensity of tidal flooding, putting rockland habitats there at increasing risk of ecological change. We evaluated changes in the extent of rockland habitat under various scenarios of future SLR, tidal flooding, and human development for two endemic state-listed threatened species of snakes, the Rim Rock Crowned Snake (Tantilla oolitica) and the Key Ring-necked Snake (Diadophis punctatus acricus). Both snakes are restricted to South Florida. We used recent and historical species' records to determine each species' habitat range. We then estimated the extent of future habitat loss due to SLR and continued human development, as well as degradation of the remaining habitat. We also asked whether the future potential drivers of habitat loss and degradation differ between the two species and across their habitat ranges. We predicted that saltwater intrusion could negatively affect rocklands by 2050, resulting in degradation of 80% of the existing habitat because of an anticipated 42 cm of SLR. Moreover, our model suggests short-term stochastic events such as storm surge and high tides may increasingly saturate the root zone of rockland vegetation before complete inundation. Under the extreme scenario, we predict most of the rockland habitat used by these two species of snakes may be inundated by 2080. Under the extreme SLR scenario, current rocklands are likely to convert to more halophytic habitat (mangrove or salt marsh wetland) within 50–60 years. Under the low scenario, 31% of rockland habitat may be lost due to human development by 2030. Therefore, mitigation actions may help to conserve specialist species within rockland habitat threatened by human activities and climate change.

Comparative susceptibilities of selected California Chinook salmon and steelhead populations to isolates of L Genogroup Infectious Hematopoietic Necrosis Virus (IHNV)

Released September 19, 2022 08:09 EST

2022, Animals (12)

Christin M. Bendorf, Susan C. Yun, Gael Kurath, Ronald P. Hedrick

Salmonid species demonstrate varied susceptibility to the viral pathogen infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV). In California conservation hatcheries, juvenile Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) have experienced disease outbreaks due to L genogroup IHNV since the 1940s, while indigenous steelhead (anadromous O. mykiss) appear relatively resistant. To characterize factors contributing to the losses of California salmonid fish due to IHNV, three populations of Chinook salmon and two populations of steelhead native to California watersheds were compared in controlled waterborne challenges with California L genogroup IHNV isolates at viral doses of 104–106 pfu mL−1. Chinook salmon fry were moderately to highly susceptible (CPM = 47–87%) when exposed to subgroup LI and LII IHNV. Susceptibility to mortality decreased with increasing age and also with a higher temperature. Mortality for steelhead fry exposed to two IHNV isolates was low (CPM = 1.3–33%). There was little intraspecies variation in susceptibility among populations of Chinook salmon and no differences in virulence between viruses strains. Viral persistence was demonstrated by the isolation of low levels of infectious IHNV from the skin of two juvenile Chinook salmon at 215 d post exposure. The persistence of the virus among Chinook salmon used for stocking into Lake Oroville may be an explanation for the severe epidemics of IHN at the Feather River hatchery in 1998–2002.

Understanding the Avian-Impact Offset Method—A tutorial

Released September 19, 2022 07:22 EST

2022, Open-File Report 2022-1049

Jill A. Shaffer, Charles R. Loesch, Deborah A. Buhl

Biodiversity offsetting, or compensatory mitigation, is increasingly being used in temperate grassland and wetland ecosystems to compensate for unavoidable environmental damage from anthropogenic disturbances such as energy development and road construction. Energy-extraction and -generation facilities continue to proliferate across the natural landscapes of the United States, yet mitigation tools to ameliorate the negative behavioral effects on wildlife from these types of facilities are rarely implemented. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey conducted a 10-year before-after-control-impact (commonly referred to as BACI) study that evaluated the displacement effects of wind facilities on breeding grassland birds. The study determined behavioral avoidance for 7 of 9 species. This research is notable because of its design, geographical scope, and duration, which allowed for the determination of immediate, short-term effects; delayed or sustained effects; and discrete distances at which effects occurred. In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Ducks Unlimited conducted a 3-year concurrent-year paired-reference study to determine behavioral avoidance for five species of dabbling ducks. By quantifying displacement rate from these two studies, U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service scientists developed the Avian-Impact Offset Method (AIOM) to quantify and compensate for loss in value of breeding habitat. The AIOM converts the biological value (that is, number of bird pairs) lost by way of avoidance and estimates the site-specific number of hectares of grasslands and number of wetlands needed to compensate for displaced pairs of grassland birds and waterfowl. By converting biological value to traditional units of measure in which land is described and purchased or sold, the AIOM lends itself readily to the delivery of offsetting measures such as easement protections and restoration projects. The AIOM tool is applicable to wind, solar, oil, gas, and transportation infrastructure.

This tutorial was designed to increase awareness of the AIOM and to promote its proper application. The tutorial is divided into four sections, each of which explains a discrete topic concerning aspects of behavioral displacement. The first section provides geographical and biological context, and the second section describes the field and statistical methods and results. The third section provides step-by-step instructions for applying the AIOM to several scenarios involving grassland birds or waterfowl at wind or oil facilities. The fourth section describes decision-support tools created to implement the AIOM. The appendices provide the actual field protocols constituting the methods for the research, provide detailed results by species and wind facility for that research, and provide detailed instructions for downloading and applying the decision-support tools.

GPS velocity field of the Western United States for the 2023 National Seismic Hazard Model update

Released September 19, 2022 06:50 EST

2022, Seismological Research Letters

Yuehua Zeng

Global Positioning System (GPS) velocity solutions of the western United States (WUS) are compiled from several sources of field networks and data processing centers for the 2023 U.S. Geological Survey National Seismic Hazard Model (NSHM). These solutions include both survey and continuous‐mode GPS velocity measurements. I follow the data processing procedure of Parsons et al. (2013) for the Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast, version 3 and McCaffrey, Bird, et al. (2013) and Zeng and Shen (2013) for their WUS deformation models in support of the 2014 NSHM update. All GPS velocity vectors are first rotated to a common North American reference frame. I edit the velocities to remove outliers and data with significant influence from volcanism. The solutions are then combined into a final GPS velocity field consisting of 4979 horizontal velocity vectors. I compute strain rates based on these GPS velocities using the method of Shen et al. (2015). These strain rates correlate closely with seismicity rates in the WUS. The results are used for WUS geodetic and geologic deformation modeling in support of the 2023 NSHM update.

Relating systematic compositional variability to the textural occurrence of solid bitumen in shales

Released September 18, 2022 07:18 EST

2022, International Journal of Coal Geology (261)

Martha (Rebecca) Stokes, Brett J. Valentine, Aaron M. Jubb, Paul C. Hackley

This study presents Raman spectroscopic data paired with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) images to assess solid bitumen composition as a function of solid bitumen texture and association with minerals. A series of hydrous pyrolysis experiments (1–103 days, 300–370 °C) using a low maturity (0.25% solid bitumen reflectance, BRo), high total organic carbon [(TOC), 14.0 wt%] New Albany Shale sample as the starting material yielded pyrolysis residues designed to evaluate the evolution of solid bitumen aromaticity with increasing temperature and heating duration. Solid bitumen was analyzed by Raman spectroscopy wherein point data were collected from accumulations that ranged in size and degree of association with the mineral matrix. Raman spectroscopy results show that with increasing temperature and experimental duration, solid bitumen aromaticity increases and compositional variability decreases. With regards to texture and composition, coarser-grained solid bitumen (>1.3 μm from nearest mineral grain) has consistently higher, but less variable aromaticity than thinner, wispy solid bitumen which is more intimately associated with the mineral matrix. Collocated scanning electron microscope images were used to provide qualitative assessments of porosity hosted by the organic matter. These paired data sets suggest that solid bitumen porosity development and molecular composition are linked, and these parameters are related to the textural relationships of the organic matter within the whole rock. These results are discussed with perspective towards understanding how rock fabric and texture can influence organic matter evolution during thermal maturation of organic-rich marine shales and inform our broader understanding of these important energy resources.

Quality assurance report for Loch Vale Watershed, 2010–19

Released September 16, 2022 16:10 EST

2022, Techniques and Methods 1-D9

Timothy Weinmann, Jill S. Baron, Amanda Jayo

The Loch Vale Watershed Research and Monitoring Program collects long-term datasets of ecological and biogeochemical parameters in Rocky Mountain National Park to support both (1) management of this protected area and (2) research into watershed-scale ecosystem processes as those processes respond to atmospheric deposition and climate variability. The program collects data on precipitation depth and atmospheric deposition chemistry—as well as surface water biogeochemistry—within the watershed and in other areas of the park. These data are used by resource managers, scientists, policy makers, and students, so it is important that all collected data meet high quality standards. This report presents an evaluation of data quality for precipitation, atmospheric ammonia, and surface water quality samples collected from 2010 to 2019. This report also presents changes made to the monitoring and laboratory equipment used during the study period and describes new data streams added to the project, including atmospheric ammonia, surface water chlorophyll-a, and dissolved oxygen in two lakes: The Loch and Sky Pond.

Quality-assurance procedures looked at the accuracy and precision of measurements made over the study period and found that precipitation and surface water chemistry data were 99 percent accurate and precise. Records that failed to meet quality standards were removed from published databases. From 2010 to 2014, a colocated precipitation gauge and deposition collector were installed on site as quality checks. From 2014 to 2018, power loss at the site resulted in significant loss of precipitation data records during the snow seasons. Those problems were addressed by installing new solar-power equipment in 2019. Measurements of deposition chemistry, atmospheric ammonia deposition, and surface water biogeochemistry were all sufficiently complete and consistent to support project data needs.

A summary of water-quality and salt marsh monitoring, Humboldt Bay, California

Released September 16, 2022 11:44 EST

2022, Open-File Report 2022-1076

Jennifer A. Curtis, Karen M. Thorne, Chase M. Freeman, Kevin J. Buffington, Judith Z. Drexler

This report summarizes data-collection activities associated with the U.S. Geological Survey Humboldt Bay Water-Quality and Salt Marsh Monitoring Project. This work was undertaken to gain a comprehensive understanding of water-quality conditions, salt marsh accretion processes, marsh-edge erosion, and soil-carbon storage in Humboldt Bay, California. Multiparameter sondes recorded water temperature, specific conductance, and turbidity at a 15-minute timestep at two U.S. Geological Survey water-quality stations: (1) Mad River Slough near Arcata, California (U.S. Geological Survey station 405219124085601) and (2) Hookton Slough near Loleta, California (U.S. Geological Survey station 404038124131801). At each station, discrete water samples were collected to develop surrogate regression models that were used to compute a continuous time series of suspended-sediment concentration from continuously measured turbidity. Data loggers recorded water depth at a 6-minute timestep in the primary tidal channels (Mad River Slough and Hookton Slough) in two adjacent marshes (Mad River marsh and Hookton marsh). The marsh monitoring network included five study marshes. Three marshes (Mad River, Manila, and Jacoby) are in the northern embayment of Humboldt Bay and two marshes (White and Hookton) are in the southern embayment. Surface deposition and elevation change were measured using deep rod surface elevation tables and feldspar marker horizons. Sediment characteristics and soil-carbon storage were measured using a total of 10 shallow cores, distributed across 5 study marshes, collected using an Eijkelkamp peat sampler. Rates of marsh edge erosion (2010–19) were quantified in four marshes (Mad River, Manila, Jacoby, and White) by estimating changes in the areal extent of the vegetated marsh plain using repeat aerial imagery and light detection and ranging (LiDAR)-derived elevation data. During the monitoring period (2016–19), the mean suspended-sediment concentration computed for Hookton Slough (50±20 milligrams per liter [mg/L]) was higher than Mad River Slough (18±7 mg/L). Uncertainty in mean suspended-sediment concentration values is reported using a 90-percent confidence interval. Across the five study marshes, elevation change (+1.8±0.6 millimeters per year [mm/yr]) and surface deposition (+2.5±0.5 mm/yr) were lower than published values of local sea-level rise (4.9±0.8 mm/yr), and mean carbon density was 0.029±0.005 grams of carbon per cubic centimeter. From 2010 to 2019, marsh edge erosion and soil carbon loss were greatest in low-elevation marshes with the marsh edge characterized by a gentle transition from mudflat to vegetated marsh (herein, ramped edge morphology) and larger wind-wave exposure. Jacoby Creek marsh experienced the greatest edge erosion. In total, marsh edge erosion was responsible for 62.3 metric tons of estuarine soil carbon storage loss across four study marshes. Salt marshes are an important component of coastal carbon, which is frequently referred to as “blue carbon.” The monitoring data presented in this report provide fundamental information needed to manage blue carbon stocks, assess marsh vulnerability, inform sea-level rise adaptation planning, and build coastal resiliency to climate change.

Preliminary models relating lake level gate operation and discharge at Reelfoot Lake in Tennessee and Kentucky

Released September 16, 2022 11:15 EST

2022, Open-File Report 2022-1073

Elizabeth Heal, Timothy H. Diehl, Jerry W. Garrett

Preliminary models for gate operations at the new outlet control structure for Reelfoot Lake were developed by the U.S. Geological Survey, using calibrated ratings of the lift gates, to support the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in managing lake level. In 2018, the old structure at the outlet of Reelfoot Lake was buried and lake level control was transferred to a new structure. The transition from lake-level management of the old control structure to the new control structure was documented using historical lake level and discharge measurements and records of stop-log management from March 7, 2013, to August 12, 2018. Discharge into Running Reelfoot Bayou was determined using a standard stage-discharge rating curve. Discharge measured using an acoustic Doppler current profiler was used to calibrate gate-discharge equations for free and submerged orifice flow at the new structure.

Two lake operation models, one for the summer season and another for the winter season, are provided for the new structure based on data from this period. The summer operation model is based on operation of the gates once the lake level exceeds an elevation of 282.7 feet (ft) above the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD 88). Free flow begins when lake level reaches 282.3 ft above NAVD 88 and becomes transitional once the lake level exceeds 282.8 ft above NAVD 88. Submerged flow begins once the lake level reaches 283 ft above NAVD 88 and the tail-water depth is above critical flow depth. The winter operation model is based on operation of the gates once the lake level exceeds 283.2 ft above NAVD 88. Submerged flow begins when the lake rises to an elevation of 283.5 ft above NAVD 88 and the tail-water depth is above critical flow depth.

Multi-decadal sandbar response to flow management downstream from a large dam—The Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River in Marble and Grand Canyons, Arizona

Released September 16, 2022 09:44 EST

2022, Professional Paper 1873

Joseph E. Hazel Jr., Matthew A. Kaplinski, Daniel Hamill, Daniel Buscombe, Erich R. Mueller, Robert P. Ross, Keith Kohl, Paul E. Grams

Sandbars are an important resource in the Colorado River corridor in Marble and Grand Canyons, Arizona, downstream from Glen Canyon Dam. Sandbars provide aquatic and riparian habitat and are used as campsites by river runners and hikers. The study area is the Colorado River between Glen Canyon Dam and Diamond Creek, which is about 388 kilometers (241 miles) downstream from the dam. Closure of Glen Canyon Dam in 1963 and subsequent flow regulation reduced the sediment supply, limited the magnitude and frequency of floods, and increased the magnitude of baseflows. The result has been widespread erosion of sandbars and expansion of native and non-native vegetation on previously bare sand deposits in this debris-fan dominated canyon river. This study reports on the on-going long-term measurement program of Northern Arizona University, initiated in 1990 with the Bureau of Reclamation, and now also with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center. We report on all sandbar measurements made between 1990 and 2020 to demonstrate the multi-decadal response of the sandbar monitoring sites resulting from flow regulation by Glen Canyon Dam. Because only one study site is located in Glen Canyon, the 25 kilometer (15.5 miles) reach just below Glen Canyon Dam, analyses of sandbar response are only made for the next two canyon segments in the down-river direction, Marble Canyon (388 kilometers [99 miles]) and Grand Canyon (265 kilometers [165 miles]), respectively, where the majority of study sites are located.

We show that a majority of monitoring sites increased in volume during a period of frequent controlled floods intended to rebuild sandbars. In the period from 2004 to 2020, which included seven controlled floods, a median discharge of 350 cubic meters per second (m3/s), and greater than average tributary sand inputs in more than half of the years, net deposition occurred at 86 percent of long-term monitoring sites. This period was preceded by a period of net erosion (1990–2003) when there was one controlled flood greater than the nominal powerplant capacity of 940 m3/s. During this period the median discharge from Glen Canyon Dam was 376 m3/s and greater than average sand inputs occurred in only 36 percent of those years. At the end of the monitoring period in 2020, 61 percent of the study sites measured since 1990 underwent a net increase in sand volume. For the entire 31-year period, these trends were statistically significant for all six sandbar types studied, indicating that increased frequency of controlled flooding maintained sandbar volume at the majority of sites monitored. These floods, also referred to as high-flow experiments (HFEs), are part of a decision-making protocol approved in 2012 for coordinating dam releases timed to occur following large sand inputs to the Colorado River by a major tributary.

These findings are based on digital elevation models (DEMs) derived from approximately (~)1,800 repeat surveys of sandbar and channel bed topography made annually, or more frequently, at the 45 long-term monitoring sites, of which 31 have been monitored since 1990 and 14 were added between 1990 and 2008. This large collection of monitoring sites comprises just 7 to 9 percent of all sandbars in Marble and Grand Canyons, respectively. Nevertheless, when compared with measurements of a larger sample, these sites provide consistent characterization of average sandbar response, despite the local variability in channel and debris fan geometry. We use sand volume and normalized sand volume for tracking geomorphic changes of sandbars, because these metrics are sensitive to both changes in sandbar area and sandbar elevation. Based on checkpoint comparisons and repeat measurements, DEM elevation uncertainty was determined to be ±0.05 meter (m) and this uncertainty was used in a spatially uniform estimate of volume uncertainty. We find that the magnitudes of the topographic changes were substantially greater than the measurement uncertainty.

Sandbars of similar type throughout both Marble and Grand Canyons have responded similarly during the period of the HFE protocol, despite variations in sand supply and longitudinal extent of those inputs. It should be noted that tributary-supplied sand to Glen Canyon is negligible, much of the riverbed is now armored with cobbles, and the channel bed degradation is irreversible in the current flow and sediment supply regime. Because all these HFEs have been conducted during periods of sediment enrichment, other factors such as vegetation and geomorphic setting are likely the primary causes of variation among the monitoring sites. A larger percentage of the sandbar population, predominantly located in narrow reaches where stage changes are greater, is composed of sandbar types that remain dynamic and consistently aggrade during HFEs. In contrast, wide reaches of the river corridor where stage change is not as great are characterized by sandbars that have been stabilized by vegetation and progressive aggradation during floods. In the former case, a majority of sandbars are likely to remain dynamic, requiring continued use of HFEs to achieve desired management goals. In the latter case, HFEs can do no better than replace the sediment eroded during normal dam operation between high-flow events, as they become less effective because of a diminishing amount of accommodation space available for deposition. Long-term sandbar trajectory and the continued effectiveness of HFEs are related to the differential vegetation establishment at each bar type. Future sandbar monitoring may need to consider the effects of riparian vegetation removal.

You vs. us: Framing adaptation behavior in terms of private or social benefits

Released September 16, 2022 07:10 EST

2022, Climatic Change (174)

Hilary Byerly Flint, Paul Cada, Patricia A. Champ, Jamie Gomez, Danny Margoles, James Meldrum, Hannah Brenkert-Smith

Private actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change may have benefits to both the individual and society. In some cases, an individual may be motivated by appeals that highlight benefits to others, rather than to oneself. We test whether such prosocial framing influences information-seeking behavior to address wildfire risk among homeowners. In a field experiment across ten communities in western Colorado, property owners (n = 2977) received a postcard from their local fire department highlighting the impact of risk mitigation to either “your property” (private benefits) or “our community” (social benefits). The postcard directed recipients to visit a personalized webpage on wildfire risk. Overall, 10.5% of property owners visited their personalized risk webpage. There was little difference in webpage visitation between those who received the social (11.3%) rather than the private (9.7%) benefits message (χ2 = 1.74, p = 0.19). However, response may depend on a property owner’s relationship to the community. Those who reside within the community (as opposed to out-of-town owners) or who were in an evacuation zone during a recent wildfire were more likely to visit their webpages after receiving the social benefits message. How homeowners view their contributions to shared risk and whether simple changes in messaging influence prosocial behavior can inform efforts to address climate-exacerbated hazards.

Evaluation of sample preservation methods for analysis of selected volatile organic compounds in groundwater at the Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho

Released September 15, 2022 10:37 EST

2022, Scientific Investigations Report 2022-5076

Kerri C. Treinen, Roy C. Bartholomay

During 2020, water samples were collected from 25 wells completed in the eastern Snake River Plain aquifer and from 1 well completed in perched groundwater above the aquifer at the Idaho National Laboratory to determine the effect of different sample-preservation methods on the laboratory determinations of concentrations of volatile organic compounds. Paired-sample sets were collected at each well. One sample in each set was preserved with hydrochloric acid, and one sample without. Both samples were chilled after collection and during shipping to the laboratory for analysis. The samples were analyzed for 61 volatile organic compounds at the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Laboratory in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy. A comparison of the reproducibility of the analyses of co-located unpreserved and preserved samples by a relative percent difference method determined that all sample pairs were statistically equivalent. Using a normalized absolute difference method, 81 percent of the analyses were found to be statistically equivalent. This study confirms that the results of analyses of historical collected samples, which were preserved by chilling only, are statistically comparable to the analyses of samples being currently collected and preserved by both hydrochloric acid and chilling, and thus are valid for use in future geochemical evaluations.

Memo to all banders 101

Released September 15, 2022 09:48 EST

2022, Newsletter

Kyra Harvey, Jennifer L. Mckay

No abstract available.

Intra-site sources of restoration variability in severely invaded rangeland: Strong temporal effects of herbicide-weather interactions; weak spatial effects of plant-community patch type and litter

Released September 15, 2022 09:32 EST

2022, Ecological Solutions and Evidence (3)

Rebecca Donaldson, Matthew Germino

  1. Invasions by exotic annual grasses (EAGs) are replacing native perennials in semiarid areas globally, including the vast sagebrush-steppe rangelands of western North America. Efforts to eradicate EAGs and restore perennials have had mixed success, especially in relatively warm and dry areas where EAGs had high dominance prior to intervention. Greater consideration of the ecological sources of variability in EAG treatment outcomes may improve success.
  2. We hypothesized that herbicide and restoration outcomes would be influenced by restoration strategy (type of herbicide, seeding or planting, timing of treatment) and underlying spatial variability associated with plant community patch type and litter, all applied in a landscape-scale experiment in a severely invaded area in Southern Idaho, USA.
  3. EAGs, specifically medusahead (Taeniatherum caput-medusae [L.] Nevski), were strongly reduced for up to 3 years (maximum observation period) by the pre-emergent herbicide indaziflam, whereas the pre/post-emergent imazapic reduced EAGs only when applied twice. Indaziflam effects were greater when post-spray moisture was greater, and also when co-applied with imazapic, but reapplying indaziflam did not lead to additional reduction of EAGs.
  4. Imazapic and indaziflam each stimulated species-specific, secondary invasion by exotic and/or invasive tall forbs. Application of the broadleaf herbicide aminopyralid provided only a fleeting 1 year of control of a dominant, highly noxious forb skeletonweed (Chondrilla juncea L.).
  5. Underlying heterogeneity in plant community patch type (dominant herb species) explained only ∼5% of variation in the herbicide effects, and manipulation of litter prior to spraying had no effect. Several years of seedings and planting resulted in no establishment of native perennials.
  6. Herbicides, especially indaziflam, appear to be an effective tool for reducing EAGs for multiple years in the challenging restoration conditions we evaluated, particularly if their application coincides with suitable moisture. However, restoring the perennials required for longer term resistance to reinvasion is a serious challenge that could be avoided with preservation of perennials.

In-reservoir physical processes modulate aqueous and biological methylmercury export from a seasonally anoxic reservoir

Released September 15, 2022 09:08 EST

2022, Environmental Science and Technology

Austin K. Baldwin, Collin Eagles-Smith, James Willacker, Brett Poulin, David P. Krabbenhoft, Jesse Naymik, Michael T. Tate, Dain Bates, Nick Gastelecutto, Charles Hoovestol, Christopher F. Larsen, Alysa Muir Yoder, James A. Chandler, Ralph Myers

Anoxic conditions within reservoirs related to thermal stratification and oxygen depletion lead to methylmercury (MeHg) production, a key process governing the uptake of mercury in aquatic food webs. Once formed within a reservoir, the timing and magnitude of the biological uptake of MeHg and the relative importance of MeHg export in water versus biological compartments remain poorly understood. We examined the relations between the reservoir stratification state, anoxia, and the concentrations and export loads of MeHg in aqueous and biological compartments at the outflow locations of two reservoirs of the Hells Canyon Complex (Snake River, Idaho-Oregon). Results show that (1) MeHg concentrations in filter-passing water, zooplankton, suspended particles, and detritus increased in response to reservoir destratification; (2) zooplankton MeHg strongly correlated with MeHg in filter-passing water during destratification; (3) reservoir anoxia appeared to be a key control on MeHg export; and (4) biological MeHg, primarily in zooplankton, accounted for only 5% of total MeHg export from the reservoirs (the remainder being aqueous compartments). These results improve our understanding of the role of biological incorporation of MeHg and the subsequent downstream release from seasonally stratified reservoirs and demonstrate that in-reservoir physical processes strongly influence MeHg incorporation at the base of the aquatic food web.

Evaluation of select velocity measurement techniques for estimating discharge in small streams across the United States

Released September 15, 2022 06:39 EST

2022, Journal of the American Water Resources Association

Tyler Victor King, Stephen Hundt, Amy E. Simonson, Kyle Blasch

Multiple instruments and methods exist for collecting discrete streamflow measurements in small streams with low flows, defined here as less than 5.7 m3/s (200 ft3/s). Included in the available methods are low-cost approaches that are infrequently used, in part, because their uncertainty is not well known. In this work, we evaluated the accuracy and suitability of three low-cost velocity measurement methods (surface float [SF], velocity head rod [VR], and rising body [RB]) and three conventional current meters (acoustic Doppler velocimeter, and mechanical Price type AA and Price Pygmy meters) relative to discharge calculated from stable artificial hydraulic controls. A total of 231 measurements were made by 20 individuals during 88 site visits to 24 sites in eight states. Accuracies were assessed for all methods and precision was evaluated for the low-cost methods. The median percent error was below 5% for conventional methods, and below 20% for the low-cost methods. The SF was the most accurate (median absolute percent error 14%) and precise (mean percent precision of 11%) low-cost method. The RB and VR, respectively, had 15% and 20% median absolute percent error and 29% and 12% mean percent precision. Results suggest that low-cost methods, when used appropriately, can be used to estimate discharge data under low flow conditions when measurements with conventional methods are not feasible and the associated accuracies meet end-user measurement objectives.

Distribution and abundance of Southwestern Willow Flycatchers (Empidonax traillii extimus) on the Upper San Luis Rey River, San Diego County, California—2021 data summary

Released September 14, 2022 12:29 EST

2022, Data Report 1158

Scarlett L. Howell, Barbara E. Kus

We surveyed for Southwestern Willow Flycatchers (Empidonax traillii extimus; flycatcher) along the upper San Luis Rey River near Lake Henshaw in Santa Ysabel, California, in 2021. Surveys were completed at four locations: three downstream from Lake Henshaw, where surveys occurred from 2015 to 2020 (Rey River Ranch [RRR], Cleveland National Forest [CNF], Vista Irrigation District [VID]), and one at VID Lake Henshaw (VLH) that has been surveyed annually since 2018. There were 78 territorial flycatchers detected at 3 locations (RRR, CNF, VLH), and 1 transient flycatcher of unknown subspecies was detected at VID. Downstream from Lake Henshaw, five flycatchers, including three males and two females, were detected at RRR and CNF. In total, three territories were established, consisting of two pairs and one male of undetermined breeding status. At VLH, we detected 73 flycatchers, including 32 males, 38 females, and 3 flycatchers of unknown sex. In total, 43 territories were established, containing 38 pairs (22 monogamous pairings, 7 confirmed polygynous groups consisting of 7 males each pairing with 2 different females, and 1 suspected polygynous group consisting of 1 male and 2 females), and 5 flycatchers of undetermined breeding status (2 males and 3 flycatchers of unknown sex). Brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater; cowbird) were detected at all four survey locations.

Flycatchers used five habitat types in the survey area: (1) mixed willow riparian, (2) willow-cottonwood, (3) willow-oak, (4) willow-ash, and (5) sycamore-oak. Eighty-seven percent of the flycatchers were detected in habitat characterized as mixed willow riparian, and 94 percent of the flycatchers were detected in habitat with greater than 95-percent native plant cover. Exotic vegetation was not prevalent in the survey area.

There were 15 nests incidentally located during surveys: 1 was successful, 2 were seen with eggs or nestlings on the last visit, 9 failed, and the outcome of the remaining 3 nests was unknown. Three of these nests were parasitized by cowbirds. There were 13 juveniles detected at VLH during surveys; no juveniles were detected at RRR or CNF.

Of the 10 banded flycatchers detected during surveys, 7 were resighted and confirmed to be adults that held territories in previous years. Three flycatchers with a single dark blue federal band, indicating that they were banded as nestlings in the former demographic study area downstream from Lake Henshaw, were resighted during surveys.

In 2021, we documented both adult and natal flycatchers moving from the former demographic study area downstream from Lake Henshaw upstream to the habitat surrounding Lake Henshaw. Three natal flycatchers that were originally banded as nestlings and three adults that previously held territories downstream dispersed to Lake Henshaw in 2021.

Quantifying flow and nonflow management impacts on an endangered fish by integrating data, research, and expert opinion

Released September 14, 2022 10:24 EST

2022, Ecosphere (13)

Charles Yackulic, Thomas P Archdeacon, Richard A. Valdez, Monika Hobbs, Michael D. Porter, Joel Lusk, Ashley M. Tanner, Eric J Gonzales, Debbie Y Lee, Grace M Haggerty

Managers charged with recovering endangered species in regulated river segments often have limited flexibility to alter flow regimes and want estimates of the expected population benefits associated with both flow and nonflow management actions. Disentangling impacts on different life stages from concurrently applied actions is essential for determining the effectiveness of each action, but difficult without models that integrate multiple information sources. Here, we develop and fit an integrated population model for endangered Rio Grande Silvery Minnow (Hybognathus amarus) in the Middle Rio Grande, New Mexico. We integrate catch per unit effort monitoring data collected during 2002–2018 with population estimates, data collected during rescue of minnow from drying pools, habitat availability estimates, laboratory results, releases of hatchery reared minnow, and expert opinion. We use expert elicitation to develop a larval carrying capacity index as an informed proxy for the complex interactions among flow, habitat, and life history in this species. We evaluate the model using out-of-sample forecasts of 2019 and 2020, develop an algorithm to identify supplemental water releases that maximize benefits to the minnow, and quantify the effectiveness of various actions. Experts generally agreed on the duration and timing of flow requirements and disagreed regarding the importance of different magnitudes. The integrated model with the larval carrying capacity index outperformed two alternative models in forecasting catch in 2019 and 2020. The model estimates that minnow abundance varied by more than three orders of magnitude between 2002 and 2018 and that in a few years recruitment was limited by spawner abundance. Evaluation of the expected benefits of flow and nonflow management actions to fall population abundance across different years suggests that efficient addition of water to the base hydrograph is the most effective action in most, but not all years. Many actions are effective only under certain hydrologic and population conditions and the effectiveness of different actions varies in different sections of the study area. Widespread water extraction and river regulation combined with periodic drought and ongoing climate change may necessitate creative management of federally listed fish species in arid systems informed by thorough analyses of management effectiveness.

Development of the LCMAP annual land cover product across Hawai'i

Released September 14, 2022 09:22 EST

2022, International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation (113)

Congcong Li, George Z. Xian, Danika F. Wellington, Kelcy Smith, Josephine Horton, Qiang Zhou

Following the completion of land cover and change (LCC) products for the conterminous United States (CONUS), the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS’s) Land Change Monitoring, Assessment, and Projection initiative has broadened the capability of characterizing continuous historical land change across the full Landsat records for Hawaiʻi at 30-meter resolution. One of the challenges of implementing the LCMAP framework to process annual land cover maps in Hawaiʻi is to collect sufficient high-quality training data. Although multiple datasets depicting land cover information are available in Hawaiʻi, they covered limited time frames and were produced from various remote sensing sources with different, classification categories, spatial resolution, and mapping accuracies. No solo product is suitable to provide LCMAP training data labels on its own. In this paper, we focused on enhancing the LCMAP training datasets to generate land cover products from 2000 to 2019 in Hawaiʻi. A total of 200 independent reference data plots were generated and manually interpreted for validating the mapping results produced by the training datasets. The results revealed that using the appropriate filter of multiple products as training data pools improved the classification model performance. The effect of training datasets (e.g., spatial coverage, quality) on accuracies for different land cover types were summarized. The LCMAP land surface change products for Hawaiʻi are available at

Influence of riparian thinning on trophic pathways supporting stream food webs in forested watersheds

Released September 13, 2022 09:11 EST

2022, Ecosphere (13)

David A. Roon, Jason B. Dunham, J. Ryan Bellmore, Deanna H. Olson, Bret C. Harvey

Resource managers seek to thin second-growth riparian forests to address multiple stream and riparian management objectives, including enhancing aquatic productivity via light-mediated trophic pathways in watersheds of the Pacific Northwest (USA). However, such increases in aquatic productivity depend on complex food web dynamics that link riparian forests and streams. To evaluate how riparian forest thinning influences stream food webs, we conducted a replicated, manipulative field experiment in three northern California watersheds composed of second-growth redwood forests and tracked responses across multiple trophic levels (periphyton, macroinvertebrates, amphibians, and fish) 1 year pre- and post-treatment. Riparian thinning treatments increased light to the stream channel, yet we observed mixed responses by stream food webs. Thinning did not change stream periphyton biomass on natural substrates but increased periphyton accrual on ceramic tiles. Periphyton accrual appeared to be partially muted by top-down effects from invertebrate scrapers, which were more abundant in thinned reaches. Prey in the diets of top predators—coastal giant salamanders (Dicamptodon tenebrosus) and coastal cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii clarkii)—did not change in biomass, composition, or structure in response to thinning and instead varied more seasonally and between predators. Stable isotope analysis indicated that shifts in carbon (δ13C) signatures of stream periphyton associated with thinning were reflected to varying extents by primary consumers but did not propagate up to top predators. Top predator biomass responses varied between species, where salamander biomass remained unchanged, but cutthroat trout biomass increased slightly in thinned reaches. However, trout biomass responses were not supported by diets or isotopes and correlated weakly with changes in light associated with thinning, suggesting little evidence that responses could be attributed directly to changes in autotrophic pathways. Furthermore, we found no evidence that local trophic responses to thinning propagated into downstream reaches. Taken together, we observed that trophic pathways supporting stream food webs remained largely intact immediately after riparian thinning treatments. Collectively, these results suggest that riparian thinning does not necessarily enhance aquatic productivity in forested streams, indicating that contextual factors driving realized ecological responses should be accounted for when considering thinning as a restoration strategy for stream–riparian ecosystems.

Potential effects of energy development on environmental resources of the Williston Basin in Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota — Water resources

Released September 13, 2022 06:05 EST

2022, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5070-C

Timothy T. Bartos, Steven K. Sando, Todd M. Preston, Gregory C. Delzer, Robert F. Lundgren, Rochelle A. Nustad, Rodney R. Caldwell, Zell E. Peterman, Bruce D. Smith, Kathleen M. Macek-Rowland, David A. Bender, Jill D. Frankforter, Joel M. Galloway

The Williston Basin has been a leading oil and gas producing area for more than 50 years. While oil production initially peaked within the Williston Basin in the mid-1980s, production rapidly increased in the mid-2000s, largely because of improved horizontal (directional) drilling and hydraulic fracturing methods. In 2012, energy development associated with the Bakken Formation was identified as a priority requiring collaboration toward improved timeliness of issuing permits for new wells combined with reasonable measures to maintain environmental quality. Shortly thereafter, the Bakken Federal Executive Group was created to address common challenges associated with energy development. The Bakken Federal Executive Group partner agencies identified a gap in current understanding of the cumulative environmental challenges attributed to energy development throughout the area, resulting in an effort to aggregate scientific data and identify additional research and information needs related to natural resources within areas of energy development in the Williston Basin. As part of this effort, water resources in the area (including groundwater; streams and rivers; and lakes, reservoirs, and wetlands) were characterized and described in terms of physical occurrence, flow characteristics, recharge, water quality, and water use. Similarly, waters produced during energy-development activities also were characterized even though these waters are not considered usable resources within the area. Groundwater resources were characterized by the major hydrogeologic units, or aquifers, identifying the units that supply most groundwater used for domestic, stock, agricultural, and industrial purposes. The groundwater characterization included other deeper hydrogeologic units in the Williston Basin that may be a useable source of water with treatment, have utility as a reservoir for reinjection of produced waters, or be a source of minerals and energy resources. A generalized groundwater budget and flow system identifying the sources of recharge (stream infiltration, precipitation, and movement [leakage] from other aquifers) and the general groundwater flow direction is included for each of the major hydrogeologic units. Rivers and streams within the Williston Basin with 10 or more years of continuous streamflow data were identified. For a subset of these sites, streamflow characteristics, including the monthly and annual mean flow, were generated to identify seasonal and interannual changes in streamflow and thus provide information on the drivers and reliability of streamflow at the seasonal or multiyear scale. Daily streamflow and annual extreme flows (peak and low flow) also were estimated for the subset of sites. The daily streamflow and annual extreme flow values provide information on short-term or extreme events that are relevant to infrastructure design and evaluating spills, leaks, or accidental discharges of water or petroleum products. Surface-water features (lakes, ponds, and wetlands) were classified using the Cowardin system and identified on the National Wetlands Inventory maps generated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The spatial distribution of the surface-water features was analyzed by State, county, and specifically in comparison to the Prairie Pothole Region. The proximity of the surface-water features to energy development infrastructure (specifically oil or gas well pads) was evaluated. It was determined that, although oil or gas wells are often near a surface-water feature, most surface-water features do not have wells nearby, with the exception of wells in the Prairie Pothole Region. Water-quality data were aggregated from two data sources: (1) the Water-Quality Portal, sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and National Water Quality Monitoring Council; and (2) a data compilation completed as part of the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment project. The Water-Quality Portal integrates publicly available water-quality data from databases maintained by the USGS, EPA, and U.S. Department of Agriculture, including water-quality data from Tribal, State, and local databases. Water-quality data for 15 commonly measured water-quality constituents were aggregated for groundwater, rivers and streams, and lakes and reservoirs. For each aggregated dataset (groundwater, rivers and streams, and lakes and reservoirs), analyses of the water-quality data included summary statistics, maps of spatial distribution of constituent values, boxplots of constituent values by timeframe or hydrogeologic unit, spatial comparisons of site locations and constituent values to petroleum well density, and comparisons of the constituent values measured to EPA drinking-water standards/guidelines. Produced water includes all fluids brought to the surface along with the targeted hydrocarbons as part of the oil and gas exploration and extraction processes. These fluids may include formation water (waters that co-exist with rock/oil/gas), hydraulic fracturing fluids, and other combinations of water and chemicals used during oil and gas well drilling, development, treatments, recompletions, and workovers. Produced water datasets were aggregated from two sources: the USGS National Produced Waters Geochemical database (ver. 2.1) and a series of projects focused specifically on sampling produced water in the Williston Basin from 2010 to 2014. The National Produced Waters Geochemical database was useful for a general understanding of produced-water chemistry. Produced waters are characterized by extreme salinity and contain elevated concentrations of other constituents (including arsenic, barium, cadmium, lead, zinc, radium-226/radium-228, and ammonia) that could negatively affect water and aquatic resources if released. Produced waters also have a generally unique chemical (isotopic) signature that may be useful in tracking water from different geologic units; for example, the oxygen/deuterium and strontium ratio values measured in brine waters from the Bakken Formation are distinct from brines collected from other geologic units in the Williston Basin.

Water-use information related to energy production in the area also was aggregated and summarized. The summary of water use is not limited to oil and gas production but includes water used to produce all types of energy resources in the Williston Basin, including coal/lignite, thermoelectric power, oil and gas, hydropower, biomass and biofuels, wind, geothermal, and solar. Each State has its own methods for regulating and reporting water usage within its jurisdiction. These methods can introduce problems when examining water use from sources, such as the Missouri River or Fox Hills aquifer, that are shared across political boundaries. Without the one-to-one match for usage types and amounts used from a water source, it is difficult to develop a comprehensive water budget for the water source being evaluated. A large amount of freshwater is required to prepare a well for oil and gas well production; in some cases, 3 to 7 million gallons of water are needed per well. The EPA estimates that hydraulic fracturing in the Williston Basin uses between 70 to 140 billion gallons per year. Water also is used for myriad other purposes related to ancillary oil and gas extraction. In addition to water used for immediate energy development, the expanded human workforce migrating into the area and other support staff who have moved into the area during the development also use water.

Research and information needs were identified that could be relevant in the evaluation of the effects of energy development on water resources. Information needs related to the evaluation of groundwater resources include the following: improved potentiometric-surface maps for glacial units; availability of a uniform stream network digital geographic coverage that spans the international boundary with Canada; enhanced surface-water use information with regards to the gain and loss of streamflow to shallow groundwater, which would increase understanding groundwater and surface-water interactions; and expanded geophysical assessments. Gaps in the availability of streamflow data include the lack of information on ice-jam flooding despite potential for effects to infrastructure (pipelines, roads, and facilities) and an understanding of the cumulative effects of largely undocumented stock and diversion dams. Although this study resulted in the aggregation of a large quantity of water-quality data, the availability of consistently collected, systematically processed and reported data over large parts of the Williston Basin is sparse. Few samples have been analyzed for constituents that may indicate the effect of energy development on water resources. Constituents that could be considered include boron, chloride, bromide, iodine, fluoride, manganese, lithium, radium, strontium isotopes, volatile organic compounds, and isotopes of inorganic ions (such as hydrogen and carbon). Collaboration between Tribal, Federal, State, and local entities to identify a common study design, common monitoring constituents, and consistent sampling locations would generate datasets with broad utility and would likely result in overall cost savings for monitoring over time. Similarly, there is a need for standardized sample collection, processing, laboratory analytical methods, and the collection of ancillary data for produced waters sampling. Additional characterization of the range of chemical, microbial, and isotopic compositions and quantities of “end-member” produced waters, and the collection of time-series datasets to document the changes in produced waters during and after well development also were needs identified during this study. Water-use estimates would be improved through the implementation of comprehensive studies of water use from groundwater and surface-water sources using consistent methodologies across the Williston Basin. The submission of chemical and water data related to hydraulic fracturing collected by the oil and gas industry would add to the quantity of available data. Consistent implementation of regulations and monitoring controls across political boundaries (State, county, and international) would further improve the consistency of data available for the estimates of water use.

Potential effects of energy development on environmental resources of the Williston Basin in Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota — Physiography, climate, land use, and demographics

Released September 13, 2022 06:03 EST

2022, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5070-B

Kevin C. Vining, Joanna N. Thamke, Max Post van der Burg

The Williston Basin has been a leading domestic oil and gas producing region. As energy demands have increased, so has energy development. A group of 13 Federal agencies and Tribal groups formed the Bakken Federal Executive Group to address common challenges associated with energy development, with a focus on understanding the cumulative environmental challenges attributed to oil and gas development throughout the basin. To better understand the natural resources in the Williston Basin, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management, began work to synthesize existing information on science topics that will support management decisions related to energy development. This report is a compilation of information regarding the natural setting, energy development history, demographics, and related investigations related to energy development in the Williston Basin of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Completed and ongoing investigations include the topical areas of unconventional oil and gas assessments, water quality, water availability, air quality, effects on human health, and ecological effects.

Potential effects of energy development on environmental resources of the Williston Basin in Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota — Executive summary

Released September 13, 2022 06:02 EST

2022, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5070-A

Max Post van der Burg, Kevin C. Vining, Jill D. Frankforter

Executive Summary

The Williston Basin, which includes parts of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota in the United States and parts of Manitoba and Saskatchewan in Canada, has been explored as a potential source of energy resources since the early 20th century; however, commercially viable petroleum drilling and recovery began in earnest in the 1950s. When oil prices rose in the mid-1980s, the number of wells also increased and then subsequently declined. Interest in the Williston Basin increased again in the mid-2000s with the application of new drilling technology. Since then, development has increased rather quickly. Most of this new development has been facilitated by advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies. The North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources reported an increase of more than 10,000 producing wells between 2000 and the spring of 2016. In total, 84 percent of those 10,000 wells target the Bakken Formation, which is now home to one of the Nation’s largest energy booms. Current estimates suggest that exploration and drilling activities are expected to continue for the next 20 to 50 years; however, future activity will likely ebb and flow in response to energy prices.

Although most energy has been developed on non-Federal property, more than 2,000 wells were started on federally managed lands in the three States that contain the Williston Basin between 2004 and 2015, though these numbers do not reflect whether or not these wells targeted the Bakken Formation. Executive Order no. 13604 (March 22, 2012) directs Federal agencies to improve the timeliness of the permitting process for extracting publically owned minerals, while minimizing negative environmental effects. This means that Federal agencies need information about how energy development may affect other resources they are tasked with managing. One example of where information about potential effects of development may be useful is the Bureau of Land Management’s permitting process. Permits may include stipulations or special conditions that limit unforeseen negative consequences or ameliorate potential conflicts of future development. Federal agencies also need to coordinate permitting actions to ensure that development complies with existing regulations (for example, the Endangered Species Act [16 U.S.C. § 1531 et seq.] or the National Environmental Protection Act [42 U.S.C. § 4321 et seq.]) without unnecessarily restricting or delaying development. Part of this coordination entails agreeing on the information that will be used to assess the potential effects of energy development, which should also improve efficiency of the permitting process. Within the Williston Basin, a group of Federal agencies called the Bakken Federal Executive Group is developing coordination strategies for numerous energy-related issues on Federal lands. This report was developed in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management to provide them with the best available scientific information to support documentation of potential effects on resources that Federal agencies manage. This report summarizes information about the effects of energy development on air, water, and biological resources within the U.S. part of the Williston Basin.

The topics discussed in the report were based on a prioritized list of information needs elicited from the Bakken Federal Executive Group. The list was developed using a process known as structured decision making or decision analysis. This process began with an initial scoping workshop to determine the range of decisions made by those involved directly in managing energy development and resources on public land. U.S. Geological Survey staff then developed a simple quantitative ranking tool to assess which information needs were of greatest importance to those decisions.

Potential effects of energy development on environmental resources of the Williston Basin in Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota

Released September 13, 2022 00:00 EST

2022, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5070

About this volume

The Williston Basin, which includes parts of Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota in the United States, has been a leading domestic oil and gas producing area. To better understand the potential effects of energy development on environmental resources in the Williston Basin, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management, and in support of the needs identified by the Bakken Federal Executive Group (consisting of representatives from 13 Federal agencies and Tribal groups), began work to synthesize existing information on science topics to support management decisions related to energy development. This report is divided into four chapters (A–D). Chapter A provides an executive summary of the report and principal findings from chapters B–D. Chapter B provides a brief compilation of information regarding the history of energy development, physiography, climate, land use, demographics, and related studies in the Williston Basin. Chapter C synthesizes current information about water resources, identifies potential effects from energy development, and summarizes water resources research and information needs in the Williston Basin. Chapter D summarizes information about ecosystems, species of conservation concern, and potential effects to those species from energy development in the Williston Basin.

Potential effects of energy development on environmental resources of the Williston Basin in Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota — Species of conservation concern

Released September 13, 2022 00:00 EST

2022, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5070-D

Max Post van der Burg, Amy J. Symstad, Lawrence D. Igl, David M. Mushet, Diane L. Larson, Glen A. Sargeant, David D. Harper, Aïda M. Farag, Brian A. Tangen, Michael J. Anteau

The ecosystems of the Williston Basin provide direct and indirect benefits to society. These benefits include carbon sequestration, flood control, nutrient rich soils for agricultural productivity, and habitat for wildlife. This chapter’s main focus is on the effects of energy development on species that occupy the ecosystems in the Williston Basin. We compiled a list of documented species of conservation concern that are of most interest to Federal regulators and resource managers. Species of concern were either listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act or listed by States as species of concern in Natural Heritage Program checklists or State Wildlife Action Plans. All told, we determined that 357 species of concern likely occupy the Williston Basin. These species represented seven different taxonomic groups: plants (native and nonnative), terrestrial invertebrates, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, and fish and mussels.

We reviewed the existing scientific information pertaining to potential effects of energy development on these taxonomic groups. Currently, little is known about the abundance and distribution of many of these species. But some information exists that may be useful in predicting the potential effects of energy development on certain taxonomic groups. Most of this information has been developed through scientific research focused on effects to mammal and bird populations. Effects to other taxonomic groups seems to be understudied. In general, it seems that disturbances and modifications associated with development have the potential to negatively affect a wide range of species; however, many studies produce uncertain results because they are not designed to compare populations before and after energy development takes place. Most of these studies also do not monitor resources over multiple years and thus cannot detect population trends. Likewise, there are few examples of landscape-scale assessments of the cumulative effects of energy development that could be used for species or habitat management purposes. We suggest that more research needs to be completed to measure potential effects to a broad range of species in multiple taxonomic groups. This may require also developing some understanding about the basic ecology of many of the species covered in this report. In concert with this more basic research, we also suggest that more comprehensive assessments of potential negative cumulative effects across the Williston Basin should be developed in an effort to guide more strategic management of biological resources.

Assessment of undiscovered conventional oil and gas resources in Paleozoic total petroleum systems of the Central European Basin system, 2019

Released September 12, 2022 11:45 EST

2022, Fact Sheet 2022-3066

Christopher J. Schenk, Tracey J. Mercier, Cheryl A. Woodall, Heidi M. Leathers-Miller, Phuong A. Le, Ronald M. Drake II, Michael E. Brownfield

Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated undiscovered, technically recoverable mean resources of 278 million barrels of oil and 25.7 trillion cubic feet of gas in Paleozoic total petroleum systems of the Central European Basin System.

Integrated modeling of dynamic marsh feedbacks and evolution under sea-level rise in a mesotidal estuary (Plum Island, MA, USA)

Released September 12, 2022 08:30 EST

2022, Water Resources Research (58)

Karim Alizad, James T. Morris, Matthew V. Bilskie, Davina Passeri, Scott C. Hagen

Around the world, wetland vulnerability to sea-level rise (SLR) depends on different factors including tidal regimes, topography, creeks and estuary geometry, sediment availability, vegetation type, etc. The Plum Island estuary (PIE) is a mesotidal wetland system on the east coast of the United States. This research applied a newly updated Hydro-MEM (integrated hydrodynamic-marsh) model to assess the impacts of intermediate-low (50 cm), intermediate (1 m), and intermediate-high (1.5 m) SLR on marsh evolution by the year 2100. Model advancements include capturing vegetation change, inorganic and below and aboveground organic matter portion of marsh platform accretion, and mudflat creation. Although the results indicate a low vulnerability marsh at the PIE, the vegetation changes from high to low marsh under all SLR scenarios (2%–22%), with the higher bounds belonging to higher rise scenarios. Lower SLR produces more productive marsh (13% gain in high productivity regions), whereas the highest SLR scenario causes increased tidal inundation, which leads to loss in productivity (12% change from high to low productivity regions), generation of mudflats (17% of the domain land), and marsh migration to higher lands. Sensitive nonlinear tidal flow changes, which may be increased or decreased with SLR as a result of mudflat creation, marsh migration, and bottom friction change, emphasize the importance of integrated modeling approaches that include dynamic marsh feedbacks in hydrodynamic modeling and varying hydrodynamic effects on the marsh system.

Climate change weakens the impact of disturbance interval on the growth rate of natural populations of Venus flytrap

Released September 12, 2022 08:18 EST

2022, Ecological Monographs

Allison M Louthan, Melina Keighron, Elsita Kiekebusch, Heather Cayton, Adam Terando, William F. Morris

Disturbances elicit both positive and negative effects on organisms; these effects vary in their strength and their timing. Effects of disturbance interval (i.e., the length of time between disturbances) on population growth will depend on both the timing and strength of positive and negative effects of disturbances. Climate change can modify the relative strengths of these positive and negative effects, leading to altered optimal disturbance intervals (the disturbance interval at which population growth rate is highest) and changes in the sensitivity of population growth rate to disturbance interval. While we know that climate may alter impacts of disturbance in some systems, we have a poor understanding of which effects of disturbance and which vital rates might drive an altered response to disturbance interval in a changing climate. We use demographic monitoring of natural populations of Dionaea muscipula, the Venus flytrap, that have experienced natural and managed fires, combined with realistic past and future climate projections, to construct climate- and fire-driven integral projection models (IPMs). We use these IPMs to compare the effect of fire return interval (FRI) on population growth rate in past and future climates. To dissect the mechanisms driving FRI response, we then construct IPMs with demographic data from an experimental manipulation of fire effects (ash addition, neighbor removal) and an accidental fire. Our results show that an FRI of 10 years is optimal for D. muscipula in past climate conditions, but a longer FRI (12 years) is optimal in future climate conditions. Further, deviations from optimal FRI reduce population growth rate dramatically in the past climate, but this reduction is muted in a future climate (future minus past sensitivity = 0.006, 95% CI [0.002, 0.011]). Finally, our experimental work suggests that fire effects are driven in part by positive, additive effects of competitor removal and ash addition immediately following a fire; for one population, both these treatments significantly increased population growth rate. Our work suggests that climate change can alter the response of populations to disturbance, highlighting the need to consider the interacting effects of multiple abiotic drivers when projecting future population growth and geographical distributions.

A machine learning approach to predicting equilibrium ripple wavelength

Released September 12, 2022 08:11 EST

2022, Environmental Modeling and Software

Ryan E. Phillip, Allison M. Penko, Margaret Louise Palmsten, Carter B. DuVal

Sand ripples are geomorphic features on the seafloor that affect bottom boundary layer dynamics including wave attenuation and sediment transport. We present a new equilibrium ripple predictor using a machine learning approach that outputs a probability distribution of wave-generated equilibrium wavelengths and statistics including an estimate of ripple height, the most probable ripple wavelength, and sediment and flow parameterizations. The Bayesian Optimal Model System (BOMS) is an ensemble machine learning system that combines two machine learning algorithms and two deterministic empirical ripple predictors with a Bayesian meta-learner to produce probabilistic wave-generated equilibrium ripple wavelength estimates in sandy locations. A ten-fold cross validation of BOMS resulted in an adjusted R-squared value of 0.93 and an average root mean square error (RMSE) of 8.0 cm. During both cross validation and testing on three unique field datasets, BOMS provided more accurate wavelength predictions than each individual base model and other common ripple predictors.

The influence of satellite-derived environmental and oceanographic parameters on marine turtle time at surface in the Gulf of Mexico

Released September 11, 2022 06:39 EST

2022, Remote Sensing (14)

Kelsey E. Roberts, Lance P. Garrison, Joel G. Ortega-Ortiz, Chuanmin Hu, Yingjun Zhang, Christopher R. Sasso, Margaret Lamont, Kristen Hart

The aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill highlighted the lack of baseline spatial, behavioral, and abundance data for many species, including imperiled marine turtles, across the Gulf of Mexico. The ecology of marine turtles is closely tied to their vertical movements within the water column and is therefore critical knowledge for resource management in a changing ocean. A more comprehensive understanding of diving behavior, specifically surface intervals, can improve the accuracy of density and abundance estimates by mitigating availability bias. Here, we focus on the proportion of time marine turtles spend at the top 2 m of the water column to coincide with depths where turtles are assumed visible to observers during aerial surveys. To better understand what environmental and oceanographic conditions influence time at surface, we analyzed dive and spatial data from 136 satellite tags attached to three species of threatened or endangered marine turtles across 10 years. We fit generalized additive models with 11 remotely sensed covariates, including sea surface temperature (SST), bathymetry, and salinity, to examine dive patterns. Additionally, the developed model is the first to explicitly examine the potential connection between turtle dive patterns and ocean frontal zones in the Gulf of Mexico. Our results show species-specific associations of environmental covariates related to increased time at surface, particularly for depth, salinity, and frontal features. We define seasonal and spatial variation in time-at-surface patterns in an effort to contribute to marine turtle density and abundance estimates. These estimates could then be utilized to generate correction factors for turtle detection availability during aerial surveys.

How USGS gages are used in flood forecasting

Released September 09, 2022 14:03 EST

2022, Fact Sheet 2022-3076

Steven Sobieszczyk

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) operates an extensive nationwide network of stream, rain, and groundwater gages. These instruments are used to monitor how much water there is across the Nation at any given moment. Stream data are collected at streamgages every 15 minutes, transmitted to USGS servers, and updated online in real time. To improve awareness of current water conditions and possible flooding, stream data are combined with rain data collected at nearby USGS rain gages. The National Weather Service uses the USGS stream and rain data to forecast when flooding might occur and issue flood warnings.

Assessment of undiscovered conventional oil and gas resources of the West Siberian Basin Province, Russia, 2020

Released September 09, 2022 11:45 EST

2022, Fact Sheet 2022-3047

Christopher J. Schenk, Tracey J. Mercier, Geoffrey S. Ellis, Cheryl A. Woodall, Phuong A. Le, Heidi M. Leathers-Miller, Ronald M. Drake II

Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated undiscovered, technically recoverable mean conventional resources of 12.9 billion barrels of oil and 684.3 trillion cubic feet of gas in the West Siberian Basin Province of Russia.

Avian influenza antibody prevalence increases with mercury contamination in wild waterfowl

Released September 08, 2022 08:53 EST

2022, Proceedings of the Royal Society B (289)

Claire Stewart Teitelbaum, Joshua T. Ackerman, Mason A. Hill, Jaqueline M. Satter, Michael L. Casazza, Susan E. W. De La Cruz, Walter M. Boyce, Evan James Buck, John M. Eadie, Mark P. Herzog, Elliott Matchett, Cory T. Overton, Sarah H. Peterson, Magdalena Plancarte, Andrew M. Ramey, Jeffery D. Sullivan, Diann Prosser

Environmental contamination is widespread and can negatively impact wildlife health. Some contaminants, including heavy metals, have immunosuppressive effects, but prior studies have rarely measured contamination and disease simultaneously, which limits our understanding of how contaminants and pathogens interact to influence wildlife health. Here, we measured mercury concentrations, influenza infection, influenza antibodies, and body condition in 749 individuals from 11 species of wild ducks overwintering in California. We found that the odds of prior influenza infection increased more than five-fold across the observed range of blood mercury concentrations, while accounting for species, age, sex, and date. The prevalence of influenza infection was also higher in species with higher average mercury concentrations. We detected no relationship between influenza infection and body fat content. This positive relationship between influenza prevalence and mercury concentrations in migratory waterfowl suggests that immunotoxic effects of mercury contamination could promote the spread of avian influenza along migratory flyways, especially if influenza has minimal effects on bird health and mobility. More generally, these results show that the effects of environmental contamination could extend beyond the geographic area of contamination itself by altering the prevalence of infectious diseases in highly mobile hosts.

Direct and indirect influences of macrophyte cover on abundance and growth of juvenile Atlantic salmon

Released September 08, 2022 08:36 EST

2022, Freshwater Biology

Jessica E Marsh, J. Iwan Jones, Rasmus B. Lauridsen, James Grace, Pavel Kratina

1. The relationships between macrophytes and the physical and biological characteristics of the environments that aquatic organisms inhabit are complex. Previous studies have shown that the macrophytes, Ranunculus (subgenus Batrachium), which are dominant in lowland chalk streams and widespread across Europe, can enhance juvenile Atlantic salmon abundance and growth to a greater degree than other physical and biological habitat characteristics. However, mechanistic understanding of how this effect might arise requires consideration of the direct and indirect relationships among habitat characteristics that are likely to be influenced by the presence of macrophyte cover.
2. We applied structural equation modelling to data collected during a 2-year in-river manipulative experiment in the River Frome (southern England, U.K.) designed to quantify the magnitude and the relative importance of direct and indirect influences of Ranunculus cover and other physical and biological variables, including water velocity, water depth, prey biomass and body size, and abundance of con- and hetero-specifics, on abundance and somatic growth of 0+ salmon.
3. Results indicated a strongly positive direct influence of Ranunculus cover on salmon abundance, as well as positive influences of Ranunculus on velocity heterogeneity and water depth that are indirectly related to decreased salmon abundance. Interestingly, there was no indication of a direct influence of Ranunculus cover on salmon growth, although Ranunculus was indirectly related to increased salmon growth through its positive influence on prey biomass, an effect mediated by velocity heterogeneity and proportion of fast velocities.
4. These findings provide novel mechanistic insights into the key role of Ranunculus in their native lowland rivers to enhance abundance and improve conditions for multiple food web components. Strategies to maintain or enhance naturally occurring Ranunculus in these rivers are therefore likely to return wide ranging ecosystem benefits, including for species of high conservation value, such as salmon. These mechanistic impacts on habitat heterogeneity and ecosystem productivity could generalise to native macrophytes in other river systems, particularly where habitat is dominated by vegetation in the absence of large substrates.

Social effects of rabies infection in male vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus)

Released September 08, 2022 08:12 EST

2022, Biology Letters (18)

Elsa M. Cárdenas-Canales, Sebastian Stockmaier, Eleanor Cronin, Tonie E. Rocke, Jorge E. Osorio, Gerald G. Carter

Rabies virus (RABV) transmitted by the common vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus) poses a threat to agricultural development and public health throughout the Neotropics. The ecology and evolution of rabies host-pathogen dynamics are influenced by two infection-induced behavioral changes. RABV-infected hosts often exhibit increased aggression which facilitates transmission, and rabies also leads to reduced activity and paralysis prior to death. Although several studies document rabies-induced behavioral changes in rodents and other dead-end hosts, surprisingly few studies have measured these changes in vampire bats, the key natural reservoir throughout Latin America. Here, we take advantage of an experiment designed to test the safety and efficacy of an oral rabies vaccine in captive male vampire bats to quantify for the first time how rabies affects allogrooming and aggressive behaviors in the vampire bat. Compared to non-rabid vampire bats, rabid individuals reduced their allogrooming prior to death, but we did not detect increases in aggression among bats. To put our results in context, we review what is known and what remains unclear about behavioral changes of rabid vampire bats.

Monitoring framework to evaluate effectiveness of aquatic and floodplain habitat restoration activities for native fish along the Willamette River, northwestern Oregon

Released September 07, 2022 10:20 EST

2022, Open-File Report 2022-1037

Mackenzie K. Keith, J. Rose Wallick, Rebecca L Flitcroft, Tobias J. Kock, Laura A. Brown, Rich Miller, Joan C. Hagar, Kathleen Guillozet, Krista L. Jones

Since 2008, large-scale restoration programs have been implemented along the Willamette River, Oregon, to address historical losses of floodplain habitats caused by dam construction, bank protection, large wood removal, land conversion, and other anthropogenic influences. The Willamette Focused Investment Partnership (WFIP) restoration initiative brings together more than 16 organizations to improve floodplain habitats on more than 35,000 hectares upstream from Willamette Falls with the overarching goal to expand and enhance native fish habitats through the following restoration activities implemented along the floodplains and off-channel areas of the Willamette River: (A) modify floodplain topography and human-made barriers to inundation; (B) enhance gravel pits; (C) remove revetments; (D) construct off-channel features; (E) increase and enhance floodplain forest vegetation; and (F) treat aquatic invasive plant species (AIS). The WFIP Effectiveness Monitoring Program was initiated to inform future refinement of Willamette River restoration program goals and activities and has three goals: (1) evaluate the effectiveness of different restoration activities at increasing and enhancing native fish habitat, (2) improve overall understanding of the physical and ecological responses associated with different restoration activities undertaken by the WFIP, and (3) relate site-scale responses to restoration with broader patterns of fish communities, hydrogeomorphology, stream temperature, and vegetation across the Willamette River floodplain, so that the relative importance of restoration activities on habitat availability for native fish can be assessed.

A monitoring framework was developed to evaluate effectiveness of floodplain restoration activities at increasing and enhancing habitat for native fish in the Willamette River corridor, northwestern Oregon. This framework describes monitoring indicators, metrics, and approaches for evaluating responses in native fish communities and physical habitat conditions to restoration activities and determining effectiveness of restoration activities at improving habitats for native fish. The monitoring indicators and approaches are grouped into five restoration monitoring categories that are useful for characterizing ecological and physical habitat responses to restoration activities: fish, hydrogeomorphology, floodplain forest vegetation, birds, and AIS. This monitoring framework provides a common science foundation to support collaborative decisions on future interdisciplinary effectiveness monitoring activities for Willamette River restoration programs. To evaluate restoration effectiveness, data must be evaluated according to metrics and thresholds that permit direct comparison between habitat conditions at the restoration site and restoration program goals; this framework provides examples of metrics and thresholds for evaluating data, recognizing that the precise evaluation criteria for a particular site or program will need to be tailored to meet program questions and available resources. Refining restoration goals and activities as part of an adaptively managed process requires addressing critical uncertainties between restoration goals, restoration activities, and outcomes for habitats used by native fish. Although the monitoring activities of this framework will generate important datasets useful for evaluating restoration effectiveness, additional research, syntheses, and reporting is ultimately necessary to provide a common science foundation to support adaptively managed restoration programs. This report is intended as a resource for restoration program managers, practitioners, scientists, and contractors as they develop detailed annual monitoring plans for data collection and identify the monitoring indicators, metrics, and approaches that are appropriate for evaluating effectiveness of different restoration activities.

Earthquakes in the shadows: Why aftershocks occur at surprising locations

Released September 07, 2022 09:41 EST

2022, The Seismic Record (2) 207-216

Jeanne L. Hardebeck, Ruth A. Harris

For decades there has been a debate about the relative effects of dynamic versus static stress triggering of aftershocks. According to the static Coulomb stress change hypothesis, aftershocks should not occur in stress shadows—regions where static Coulomb stress has been reduced. We show that static stress shadows substantially influence aftershock occurrence following three M ≥ 7 California mainshocks. Within the modeled static Coulomb stress shadows, the aftershock rate is an order of magnitude lower than in the modeled increase regions. However, the earthquake rate in the stress shadows does not decrease below the background rate, as predicted by Coulomb stress change models. Aftershocks in the stress shadows exhibit different spatial–temporal characteristics from aftershocks in the stress increase regions. The aftershock rate in the stress shadows decays as a power law with distance from the mainshock, consistent with a simple model of dynamic stress triggering. These aftershocks begin with a burst of activity during the first few days after the mainshock, also consistent with dynamic stress triggering. Our interpretation is that aftershock sequences are the combined result of static and dynamic stress triggering, with an estimated ∼34% of aftershocks due to dynamic triggering and ∼66% due to static triggering.

Eastern Ecological Science Center — Fish and aquatic animal health

Released September 07, 2022 07:58 EST

2022, Fact Sheet 2022-3073

Christine L. Densmore, Jennifer S. Malpass

Science provided by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Eastern Ecological Science Center (EESC) helps to protect fish and aquatic animal health and support disease management of our Nation’s fisheries and aquatic animal populations. Our capabilities and expertise span diverse, yet highly integrated disciplines related to all aspects of biology, ecology, and animal health. Our scientists work to identify novel and emerging pathogens and diseases to assess fish and aquatic animal responses to parasites, pathogens, adverse environmental conditions, and chemical exposures. Eastern Ecological Science Center research is conducted both in laboratories and in the field in various aquatic environments ranging from headwater streams to the ocean. The EESC team provides science leadership and support for fisheries and aquatic species specialists nationwide.

Socioeconomic resilience to climatic extremes in a freshwater fishery

Released September 07, 2022 07:14 EST

2022, Science Advances (8)

Timothy Joseph Cline, Clint C. Muhlfeld, Ryan P. Kovach, Robert Al-Chokhachy, David Schmetterling, Diane Whited, Abigail Lynch

Heterogeneity is a central feature of ecosystem resilience, but how this translates to socioeconomic resilience depends on people’s ability to track shifting resources in space and time. Here, we quantify how climatic extremes have influenced how people (fishers) track economically valuable ecosystem services (fishing opportunities) across a range of spatial scales in rivers of the northern Rocky Mountains, USA, over the past three decades. Fishers opportunistically shifted from drought-sensitive to drought-resistant rivers during periods of low streamflows and warm temperatures. This adaptive behavior stabilized fishing pressure and expenditures by a factor of 2.6 at the scale of the regional fishery (i.e., portfolio effect). However, future warming is predicted to homogenize habitat options that enable adaptive behavior by fishers, putting ~30% of current spending at risk across the region. Maintaining a diverse portfolio of fishing opportunities that enable people to exploit shifting resources provides an important resilience mechanism for mitigating the socioeconomic impacts of climate change on fisheries.

Using a vegetation index to assess wetland condition in the Prairie Pothole Region of North America

Released September 07, 2022 07:01 EST

2022, Frontiers in Environmental Science (10)

Brian Tangen, Sheel Bansal, Seth Jones, Cami S. Dixon, Amanda M. Nahlik, Edward S. DeKeyser, Christina L. M. Hargiss, David M. Mushet

Wetlands deliver a suite of ecosystem services to society. Anthropogenic activities, such as wetland drainage, have resulted in considerable wetland loss and degradation, diminishing the intrinsic value of wetland ecosystems worldwide. Protecting remaining wetlands and restoring degraded wetlands are common management practices to preserve and reclaim wetland benefits to society. Accordingly, methods for monitoring and assessing wetlands are required to evaluate their ecologic condition and outcomes of restoration activities. We used an established methodology for conducting vegetation-based assessments and describe a case study consisting of a wetland condition assessment in the Prairie Pothole Region of the North American Great Plains. We provide an overview of an existing method for selecting wetlands to sample across broad geographic distributions using a spatially balanced statistical design. We also describe site assessment protocols, including vegetation survey methods, and how field data were applied to a vegetation index that categorized wetlands according to ecologic condition. Results of the case study indicated that vegetation communities in nearly 50% of the surveyed wetlands were in very poor or poor condition, while only about 25% were considered good or very good. Approximately 70% of wetlands in native grasslands were categorized as good or very good compared to only 12% of those in reseeded grasslands (formerly cropland). In terms of informing restoration and management activities, results indicated that improved restoration practices could include a greater focus on establishing natural vegetation communities, and both restored and native prairie wetlands would benefit from enhanced management of invasive species.

Long-term apparent survival of a cold-stunned subpopulation of juveniles green turtles

Released September 06, 2022 11:50 EST

2022, Ecosphere

Robert Michael Mollenhauer, Margaret Lamont, Allen M. Foley

Understanding the effects of extreme weather on animal populations is fundamental to ecological and conservation sciences and species management. Climate change has resulted in both warm and cold temperature extremes, including an increased frequency of severe cold snaps at middle latitudes in North America. These unusually cold air masses cause rapid declines in nearshore ocean temperatures in coastal areas, with detrimental effects on marine organisms. Acute cold-stun events (hereafter cold stuns) occur when hundreds to thousands of resident juvenile sea turtles fail to escape shallow water during cold snaps. Human intervention through rescue and recovery largely mitigates direct juvenile sea turtle mortality, but delayed effects of cold stuns on rescued individuals are not well understood. Our objective was to examine long-term juvenile green turtle (Chelonia mydas) survival across four cold stuns of varying severity in St. Joseph Bay, Florida, between 2010 and 2018. We used the classic Cormack–Jolly–Seber model in a hierarchical Bayesian framework to estimate apparent survival (i.e., emigration and mortality) of rescued turtles at different time intervals. Our results indicated about half of a cohort rescued during a severe cold stun in January 2010 likely remained in the population 1 year later, with 10%–20% remaining 4 years later, and as few as 5% by 2018. The results also suggested higher apparent survival for cohorts rescued during two subsequent milder cold stuns. Emigration was a more plausible ecological explanation for low apparent survival than delayed mortality. Potential ecological mechanisms underlying emigration include a reduction in food availability and a behavioral response to either the severe weather event or handling during rescue (or both). However, the typical annual turnover of juvenile green turtles, though assumed low, is not well known in St. Joseph Bay. Thus, our apparent survival estimates may be reflective of higher-than-expected emigration in the broader population. Our study provides important baseline information about long-term juvenile sea turtle survival after cold stuns in temperate regions. We also highlight the importance of strategic monitoring between cold stuns to examine additional ecological questions.

Distribution and demography of coastal Cactus Wrens (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) in southern San Diego County, California — 2021 Data summary

Released September 06, 2022 09:13 EST

2022, Data Report 1159

Suellen Lynn, Barbara E. Kus

We surveyed for coastal Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) in 378 established plots in southern San Diego County in 2021, encompassing 3 genetic clusters (Otay, Lake Jennings, and Sweetwater/Encanto). Two surveys were completed at each plot between March 1 and July 31. Cactus Wrens were detected in 130 plots (34 percent of plots), remaining virtually the same as the percentage of plots occupied in 2020 (35 percent). There were 113 Cactus Wren territories detected across all survey plots in 2021, an increase from 109 in 2020. At least 86 percent of Cactus Wren territories were occupied by pairs, and 50 fledglings were observed in 2021.

We observed 48 color-banded Cactus Wrens in 2021, 44 of which we could identify to individual. Adults of known age ranged from 2 to at least 7 years old. Adult Cactus Wrens moved, on average, 0.1 kilometers (maximum 0.5 kilometers) from their 2020 territories to their 2021 territories. No known-identity Cactus Wrens moved between genetic clusters from 2020 to 2021.

Vegetation at Cactus Wren plots typically was dominated by coastal sage scrub shrubs, such as California sagebrush (Artemisia californica), California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), lemonadeberry (Rhus integrifolia), and San Diego sunflower (Bahiopsis laciniata). Twenty-nine percent of plots contained blue elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea), and Cactus Wrens occupied proportionally more plots with elderberry than plots without elderberry. Very little dead or unhealthy cactus was observed within all survey plots, and the plots that were occupied by Cactus Wrens were likely to contain more healthy cactus than plots that were not occupied by Cactus Wrens. Thirteen percent of plots had 5 percent or less of the cactus crowded or overtopped by vines and shrubs. Although in 2020, Cactus Wrens occupied proportionally more plots with 5 percent or less of cactus crowded or overtopped by vines and shrubs, this pattern was not found in 2021. Non-native annual cover was 5 percent or less at 29 percent of plots and, unlike in 2020, Cactus Wrens appeared to occupy proportionally more plots with less non-native annual cover than plots with more than 5-percent annual cover.

Rapid ʻŌhiʻa Death in Hawaiʻi

Released September 05, 2022 11:15 EST

2022, Book chapter, Forest microbiology: Forest tree health

Philip Cannon, James B. Friday, Thomas Harrington, Lisa Keith, Marc Hughes, Rob Hauff, Flint Hughes, Ryan L. Perroy, David Benitez, Kylle Roy, Robert W. Peck, Sheri L. Smith, Blaine Luiz, Susan Cordell, Christian Giardina, Jennifer Juzwik, Stephanie G. Yelenik, Zachary Cook

Fred O. Asiegbu, Andriy Kovalchuk, editor(s)

Ceratocystis lukuohia and Ceratocystis huliohia are two newly recognized fungi that have arrived in Hawai‘i and are causing a serious vascular wilt and canker disease, respectively, of ‘ōhi‘a trees (Metrosideros polymorpha), the most common and important tree species in Hawai‘i. Management of these diseases has presented challenges due to unique etiological aspects and the exceptionally pathogenic nature of one of these fungi (C. lukuohia) once it gains access to the tree’s vascular tissue. Careful study of the spread of the pathogens has resulted in an understanding of the role of ambrosia beetles and the frass they produce that carries the pathogen, as well as the wounding of trees by many different agents by which the pathogen can access and infect the vascular tissue.

A variety control measures are being used. These include a state-of-the-art monitoring program to detect diseased and recently killed trees and molecular biology approaches that can confirm if a given tree was infected by Ceratocystis. Based on monitoring more than one million trees have been estimated as killed by the diseases to date. A major part of the program includes the deployment of a field crew that seeks out and fells large infected ‘ōhi‘a trees as these trees are the main source of most of the infective Ceratocystis-laden frass. Long-term control measures also include fencing of some forests to reduce the amount of wounding to ‘ōhi‘a trees by feral cattle and pigs that allows entry of the fungi and quarantine restrictions to ensure there will be no inter-island movement of the pathogens in ‘ōhi‘a products. Finally, methods are also being developed to restore ‘ōhi‘a forests affected by these diseases by determining effective regeneration practices and developing genetically resistant ‘ōhi‘a stock.

Hawai‘i has an active extension program dedicated to providing information on how residents and visitors can contribute to protecting ‘ōhi‘a trees from these diseases. More than 500,000 people have participated in this program. Hawai‘i residents have a very deep appreciation for this tree species and do what they can to help prevent these diseases from destroying more of their most treasured tree species.

A conceptual framework to integrate biodiversity, ecosystem function, and ecosystem service models

Released September 05, 2022 11:06 EST

2022, BioScience

Sarah R. Weiskopf, Bonnie J.E. Myers, Maria Isabel Arce-Plata, Julia L. Blanchard, Simon Ferrier, Elizabeth A. Fulton, Mike Harfoot, Forest Isbell, Justin A. Johnson, Akira S. Mori, Ensheng Weng, Zuzana Harmáčková, Maria Cecilia Londoño-Murcia, Brian W. Miller, Laura Pereira, Isabel M.D. Rosa

Global biodiversity and ecosystem service models typically operate independently. Ecosystem service projections thus may be overly optimistic because they do not account for the role of biodiversity in maintaining ecological functions underpinning their provision. We review models used in recent global model intercomparison projects and develop a novel model integration framework to more fully account for the role of biodiversity in ecosystem function, a key gap for linking biodiversity changes to ecosystem services. We propose two model integration pathways. The first uses empirical data on biodiversity-ecosystem function relationships to bridge biodiversity and ecosystem function models and could currently be implemented at the global scale. We also propose a trait-based approach involving greater incorporation of biodiversity into ecosystem function models that can be applied to more systems and taxa than the first pathway. Integrating biodiversity, ecosystem function, and ecosystem service modeling will enhance development of policies to meet global sustainability goals.

Coupling near-surface geomorphology with mangrove community diversity at the estuarine scale: A case study at Dongzhaigang Bay, China

Released September 05, 2022 10:48 EST

2022, Sedimentology

Guogui Chen, Wei Hong, Xuan Gu, Ken Krauss, Kaiyuan Zhao, Haifeng Fu, Luzhen Chen, Mao Wang, Wenqing Wang

Coastal wetlands are key features of the Earth’s surface and are characterized by a diverse array of coupled geomorphological and biological processes. However, the links between the distribution of biodiversity (e.g., species and structural diversity) and the formation of coastal geomorphology are not well understood on a landscape scale most useful to coastal zone managers. This study describes the relationship between select geomorphological and biological mangrove community features (i.e., species composition and functional root type) in a landscape-distributed coastal zone of Dongzhaigang Bay, Northeastern Hainan Island, China. A total of 11 mangrove species and five functional aerial root types were encountered, with the location of species by root types being controlled by the elevation of the soil surface. Plank roots, prop roots, and pneumatophores occupied the lowest intertidal elevations, while knee roots and fibrous roots of the mangrove fern, Acrostichum aureum, preferred the highest intertidal elevations. Surface sediment deposition in areas with mangroves was greater than deposition in non-mangrove forest zones, establishing an important biological mechanism for this large-area response as surface erosion/compaction was also more prominent within mangrove roots. Indeed, functional root type influenced the magnitude of deposition, erosion, and compaction, with knee roots and pneumatophores being more effective in promoting deposition and preventing surface erosion/compaction than prop roots. These results indicate a potential role for vegetation type (especially functional root type) to influence coastal geomorphological processes at large landscape scales. While soil surface elevation is correlated to the distribution of mangrove species and functional root types, a significant feedback exists between elevation change and the capacity of those root types to influence coastal geomorphological differentiation within sustainable intertidal elevations. An enhanced understanding of geomorphological development, mangrove species distribution, and functional root type may improve management to support nature-based solutions that adjust more effectively to sea-level rise through feedbacks.

Impacts of ocean-atmosphere teleconnection patterns on the south-central United States

Released September 05, 2022 10:39 EST

2022, Frontiers in Earth Science (10)

Robert V. Rohli, Gregg Snedden, Elinor R. Martin, Kristine L. DeLong

Bin Yu, editor(s)

Recent research has linked the climate variability associated with ocean-atmosphere teleconnections to impacts rippling throughout environmental, economic, and social systems. This research reviews recent literature through 2021 in which we identify linkages among the major modes of climate variability, in the form of ocean-atmosphere teleconnections, and the impacts to temperature and precipitation of the South-Central United States (SCUSA), consisting of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. The SCUSA is an important areal focus for this analysis because it straddles the ecotone between humid and arid climates in the United States and has a growing population, diverse ecosystems, robust agricultural and other economic sectors including the potential for substantial wind and solar energy generation. Whereas a need exists to understand atmospheric variability due to the cascading impacts through ecological and social systems, our understanding is complicated by the positioning of the SCUSA between subtropical and extratropical circulation features and the influence of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, and the adjacent Gulf of Mexico. The Southern Oscillation (SO), Pacific-North American (PNA) pattern, North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the related Arctic Oscillation (AO), Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation/Atlantic Multidecadal Variability (AMO/AMV), and Pacific Decadal Oscillation/Pacific Decadal Variability (PDO/PDV) have been shown to be important modulators of temperature and precipitation variables at the monthly, seasonal, and interannual scales, and the intraseasonal Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) in the SCUSA. By reviewing these teleconnection impacts in the region alongside updated seasonal correlation maps, this research provides more accessible and comparable results for interdisciplinary use on climate impacts beyond the atmospheric-environmental sciences.

Characterization of vegetated and ponded wetlands with implications towards coastal wetland marsh collapse

Released September 05, 2022 10:14 EST

2022, Catena (218)

Jack A. Cadigan, Navid H. Jafari, Camille Stagg, Claudia Laurenzano, Brian D. Harris, Amina E. Meselhe, Jason Dugas, Brady Couvillion

Coastal wetlands provide numerous ecosystem services; yet these ecosystems are increasingly vulnerable to climate change stressors, especially excessive flooding from sea-level rise and storm events. This study highlights the important contribution of vegetation belowground biomass to marsh stability and identifies loss of vegetation as a critical driver of marsh collapse. We investigated the shear strength of salt marshes and unvegetated interior ponds using a modified cone penetrometer along a chronosequence of wetland marsh collapse (0 to 21 + years following pond formation) to characterize changes in the structural integrity of the marsh soil. Following conversion from vegetated marsh to open water pond, the surficial soils experienced a dramatic loss in shear strength resulting from the loss of vegetation and compaction of soil pore space. The Cone Penetrometer Testing (CPT) data indicate that higher shear strength in the surficial layers of the vegetated marsh sites were never recovered, up to 21 + years following marsh collapse. Coupled with significant elevation loss from marsh collapse, additional sea-level rise, deep subsidence, and reduced sedimentation may contribute to conditions that can exceed critical flooding thresholds, making recovery from marsh collapse difficult or impossible. Therefore, characterizing mechanisms and thresholds of marsh collapse are critical for identifying those coastal marshes that are vulnerable to collapse before conversion from vegetated marsh to open water occurs.

The vegetation dynamics of the monsoonal wetland of the Keoladeo National Park, India: A reassessment

Released September 05, 2022 09:25 EST

2022, Hydrobiologia

Arnold G. van der Valk, Beth Middleton

Andre A. Padial, Dennis F. Whigham, Ken W. Krauss, Emily M. Dangremond, editor(s)

As a result of a field trip in 1980 to the monsoonal wetland of the Keoladeo National Park, India, which was organized by Dr. Brij Gopal, a study of the vegetation dynamics of this wetland was initiated. The original hypothesis for this study was that the seasonal vegetation changes caused by the annual summer monsoon was a compressed habitat cycle. Habitat cycles are a characteristic of prairie potholes in North America. Habitat cycles are the result of wet–dry cycles that last from 5 to 25 years during which the vegetation of a pothole changes from dense emergent vegetation (dry years) to open water with only submerged vegetation (wet years). In retrospect, our field studies were not consistent with our hypothesis. The increase in water level caused by the monsoon was not large enough to kill the emergent vegetation, as happens during prolonged high-water years in prairie potholes. However, both wetland types have significant seed banks that allow their plant species to survive adverse conditions. We now believe that the vegetation dynamics of monsoonal wetlands are best described as seasonal shifts between a wet marsh phase when the wetland is flooded and a dry grassland phase when it is not.

From data to interpretable models: Machine learning for soil moistureforecasting

Released September 05, 2022 09:13 EST

2022, International Journal of Data Science and Analytics

Aniruddha Basak, Kevin Schmidt, Ole Mengshoel

Soil moisture is critical to agricultural business, ecosystem health, and certain hydrologically driven natural disasters. Monitoring data, though, is prone to instrumental noise, wide ranging extrema, and nonstationary response to rainfall where ground conditions change. Furthermore, existing soil moisture models generally forecast poorly for time periods greater than a few hours. To improve such forecasts, we introduce two data-driven models, the Naive Accumulative Representation (NAR) and the Additive Exponential Accumulative Representation (AEAR). Both of these models are rooted in deterministic, physically based hydrology, and we study their capabilities in forecasting soilmoisture over time periods longer than a fewhours. Learned model parameters represent the physically based unsaturated hydrological redistribution processes of gravity and suction. We validate our models using soil moisture and rainfall time series data collected from a steep gradient, post-wildfire site in southern California. Data analysis is complicated by rapid landscape change observed in steep, burned hillslopes in response to even small to moderate rain events. The proposed NAR and AEAR models are, in forecasting experiments, shown to be competitive with several established and state-of-the-art baselines. The AEAR model fits the data well for three distinct soil textures at variable depths below the ground surface (5, 15, and 30 cm). Similar robust results are demonstrated in controlled, laboratory-based experiments. Our AEAR model includes readily interpretable hydrologic parameters and provides more accurate forecasts than existing models for time horizons of 10–24 h. Such extended periods of warning for natural disasters, such as floods and landslides, provide actionable knowledge to reduce loss of life and property.

Stratigraphy and eruption history of maars in the Clear Lake Volcanic Field, California

Released September 05, 2022 08:24 EST

2022, Frontiers in Earth Science (10)

Jessica L. Ball

Alison Hollomon Graettinger, editor(s)

The Clear Lake Volcanic Field (CLVF) is the northernmost and youngest field in a chain of volcanic provinces in the California Coast Range mountains. Effusive and explosive volcanic activity in the field has spanned at least 2.1 million years, with the youngest eruptions comprising a series of maar craters at the edges of, and within, Clear Lake itself. This work documents the first direct ages for many of these maar deposits, and builds the stratigraphic basis for interpreting eruptive processes and dynamics of the young eruptions which produced them. Detailed stratigraphy has distinguished maar eruption products from pyroclastic deposits (monolithologic falls and flows, previously mapped together with maars as a single unit), and established a set of 6 eruption facies from maar deposit lithology, grain size parameters, and depositional structures. Radiocarbon dates from carbon films found on clasts at 3 outcrops have constrained several of these maar eruptions to ~8500-13,500 years BP, coinciding with eruptive periods previously estimated based on lake core tephrachronology. Part of this period also coincides with indigenous occupation (< 12,000 years BP), which suggests that oral histories of Pomo and other local tribes may contain descriptions of volcanic phenomena experienced by local residents of the CLVF. Collaboration between volcanologists and indigenous historians may add a valuable human dimension to the youngest eruptions of the Clear Lake Volcanic Field; combined, geologic and ethnographic avenues of research will help build a richer eruption history for future volcanic hazard assessment.

Balancing future renewable energy infrastructure siting and associated habitat loss for migrating whooping cranes

Released September 05, 2022 08:18 EST

2022, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution (10)

Kristen S. Ellis, Aaron T. Pearse, David A. Brandt, Mark T. Bidwell, Wade C. Harrell, Matthew J. Butler, Max Post van der Burg

Diana Hamilton, editor(s)

The expansion of human infrastructure has contributed to novel risks and disturbance regimes in most ecosystems, leading to considerable uncertainty about how species will respond to altered landscapes. A recent assessment revealed that whooping cranes (Grus americana), an endangered migratory waterbird species, avoid wind-energy infrastructure during migration. However, uncertainties regarding collective impacts of other types of human infrastructure, such as power lines on migration, variable drought conditions, and continued construction of wind energy infrastructure may compromise ongoing recovery efforts for whooping cranes. Droughts are increasing in frequency and severity throughout the whooping crane migration corridor, and the impacts of drought on stopover habitat use are largely unknown. Moreover, decision-based analyses are increasingly advocated to guide recovery planning for endangered species, yet applications remain rare. Using GPS locations from 57 whooping cranes from 2010 through 2016 in the United States Great Plains, we assessed habitat selection and avoidance of potential disturbances during migration relative to drought conditions, and we used these results in an optimization analysis to select potential sites for new wind energy developments that minimize relative habitat loss for whooping cranes and maximize wind energy potential. Drought occurrence and severity varied spatially and temporally across the migration corridor during our study period. Whooping cranes rarely used areas <5 km from human settlements and wind energy infrastructure under both drought and non-drought conditions, and <2 km from power lines during non-drought conditions, with the lowest likelihood of use near wind energy infrastructure. Whooping cranes differed in their selection of wetland and cropland land cover types depending on drought or non-drought conditions. We identified scenarios for wind energy expansion across the migration corridor and in select states, which are robust to uncertain drought conditions, where future loss of highly selected stopover habitats could be minimized under a common strategy. Our approach was to estimate functional habitat loss while integrating current disturbances, potential future disturbances, and uncertainty in drought conditions. Therefore, dynamic models describing potential costs associated with risk-averse behaviors resulting from future developments can inform proactive conservation before population impacts occur.

Predictive models of selective cattle use of large, burned landscapes in semiarid sagebrush-steppe

Released September 05, 2022 07:10 EST

2022, Rangeland Ecology and Management (85) 1-8

Christopher R. Anthony, Matthew Germino

The fire-exotic annual grass cycle is a severe threat to shrub-steppe rangelands, and a greater understanding of how livestock grazing relates to the problem is needed to guide effective management interventions. Grazing effects vary throughout shrub-steppe rangelands because livestock are selective in their use within pastures. Thus, knowing where cattle are located and concentrate their use in a postfire landscape is important for enhancing plant community resiliency to disturbance and resistance to exotic annual grass invasion. We asked how the distribution and intensity of cattle use varied across 113 000 ha of recently burned, environmentally varied shrub-steppe. Generalized linear mixed effects models were used to determine the relationship of cattle dung (presence/absence and counts), which was recorded during the third to fifth postfire year (after grazing deferment) on 1166 (531-m2) plots, to water sources, burn severity, grass cover, and topographic predictors. Our distribution and intensity of use models revealed similar relationships between cattle use and landscape predictors. Cattle use was greater in areas that were flatter and closer to water and that had moderate burn severity and less heat load and ruggedness. Slope had the strongest effect on cattle use of the predictors. The probability of cattle being present decreased by 10% for every 5° increase in slope until slope exceeded 15°, and then the effect of slope weakened. Despite moderate slopes χ¯ = 14°), cattle use was greater in areas of moderate burn severity, presumably because these areas provided greater perennial grass production. While there was much unexplained variation, these models suggest that cooler climate, water access, topographic factors, and burn severity affect maneuverability to create greater livestock use of certain areas within grazing pastures. Restoration investment planning or assessments and expectations of restoration success could be improved by considering that these livestock hotspots may recover differently from the surrounding landscape.

Incremental caldera collapse at Kīlauea Volcano recorded in ground tilt and high-rate GNSS data, with implications for collapse dynamics and the magma system

Released September 03, 2022 07:16 EST

2022, Bulletin of Volcanology (84)

Kyle R. Anderson, Ingrid Johanson

Ground deformation during caldera collapse at Kīlauea Volcano in 2018 was recorded in unprecedented detail on a network of real-time GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) and tilt instruments. Observations informed hazard assessments during the eruption and now yield insight into collapse dynamics and the magma system. The caldera grew in size over 78 days in a series of repeating, quasi-periodic day-long cycles. During abrupt seconds-long collapse events, fault-bounded caldera blocks subsided by meters, while the surrounding edifice moved upwards and outwards by as much as tens of centimeters. Between collapses, stations outside of the caldera moved inwards and downwards at decreasing rates, largely reversing co-collapse deformations. In total, the caldera subsided >500 m at its deepest point while the surrounding edifice subsided mostly less than 2 m chiefly in a region south of the new caldera. Ground deformation reflects magma withdrawal from the broader summit magma system and faulting processes related to collapse. Deformation cycles were caused by step-like pressurization of Kīlauea’s subcaldera magma system due to episodic, stick-slip roof rock subsidence, followed by gradual pressure reduction as magma continued to drain from the summit, stressing faults and leading to subsequent collapses. A model of piston-like subsidence implies that larger collapses increased pressure in a compressible subcaldera magma reservoir by several MPa, driving flow to the rift through a relatively wide conduit. Collapses did not fully recover precollapse pressure loss in the reservoir, and excess pressure driving the eruption was very low; the eruption was thus tenuously sustained by collapses. Important open questions remain about the relation between caldera floor subsidence and ground deformation, the role of other magma storage zones, and the interplay of summit and rift processes in controlling the evolution of the eruption.

Indicators of fish population responses to avian predation with focus on double-crested cormorants

Released September 03, 2022 06:47 EST

2022, Journal of Great Lakes Research

Douglas W Schultz, Brian S. Dorr, David G. Fielder, James R. Jackson, Robin L. DeBruyne

Double-crested cormorants (Nannopterum auritum) have been implicated as causes of fish population declines in many locations across their breeding range. Two challenges facing managers are identifying fisheries population metrics indicative of cormorant impacts and determining when this evidence becomes actionable. Building upon existing studies, we conducted a meta-analysis of eight data-rich systems across the Laurentian Great Lakes region of the United States for common fish population responses to changes in cormorant abundance. Specifically, we examined trends in mean total female length at age-3 (TL3), female mean length and age at 50 % maturity, and mean age evenness as indicated by Shannon’s Equitability Index. Annual observations for these metrics were independently regressed linearly against cormorant density by system for walleye (Sander vitreus), yellow perch (Perca flavescens), smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieu), and northern pike (Esox lucius) populations. TL3 was the most sensitive with 9 of the 14 datasets statistically significant (r2 range 0.29 to 0.86). Maturity metrics were moderately sensitive to trends in cormorant predation with mean total length at 50 % maturity significant in 4 out of 11 datasets (r2 range 0.27–0.41) and mean age at 50 % maturity significant in 3 out of 11 datasets (r2 range 0.12 – 0.51). Least sensitive was age evenness with the Shannon Index significant in 3 out of 12 datasets (r2 typically < 0.25). Of metrics tested, TL3 was the most reliable indicator of changes in cormorant effects despite varying system changes and management responses among locations.

Measured efficacy, bioaccumulation, and leaching of a transfluthrin-based insecticidal paint: A case study with a nuisance, nonbiting aquatic insect

Released September 03, 2022 06:40 EST

2022, Pest Management Science

Michael C. Cavallaro, Corey Sanders, Michelle Hladik


Pest management professionals will require a diverse, adaptive abatement toolbox to combat advanced challenges from disease vector and nuisance insect populations. Designed for post-application longevity, insecticidal paints offer extended residual effects on targeted insect pest populations; a measured understanding of active ingredient bioavailability over time is valuable to fully assess treatment efficacy and potential environmental risks. This study was initiated because a nuisance net-spinning caddisfly, Smicridea fasciatella, is lowering the quality of life for riverfront residents at the type locality.


We tested the efficacy and potential mobility of a transfluthrin-based paint (a.i. 0.50%), comparing the impacts of UV exposure and substrate texture over time. Direct UV exposure decreased efficacy (β ± S.E. = 0.008 ± 0.001, P < 0.001) and a coarse texture maintained greater efficacy (β ± S.E. = −3.7 ± 1.3, P = 0.004) over time. Notably, the coarse texture + indirect UV treatment maintained 100% mortality after 240 days. UV exposure and substrate texture did not have a significant impact on leachate concentrations over time, and successive immersion tests indicated a two-phase emission pattern. Bioaccumulation increased with time on the cuticle of dead adult S. fasciatella; after 24 h of direct exposure the concentration of transfluthrin was 25.3 ± 0.9 ng/caddisfly with a maximum concentration of 345 ng/caddisfly after 7 days.


Our predictions were validated with measured, time-dependent impacts on efficacy, leachability, and bioaccumulation. Because of the mobility of active ingredient in the environment, insecticidal paints merit low-impact protocols to improve public health outcomes and environmental safety. © 2022 Society of Chemical Industry.

Assessment of undiscovered conventional oil and gas resources of the Montana Thrust Belt Province, 2021

Released September 02, 2022 11:50 EST

2022, Fact Sheet 2022-3048

Christopher J. Schenk, Tracey J. Mercier, Cheryl A. Woodall, Phuong A. Le, Andrea D. Cicero, Ronald M. Drake II, Geoffrey S. Ellis, Thomas M. Finn, Michael H. Gardner, Sarah E. Gelman, Jane S. Hearon, Benjamin G. Johnson, Jenny H. Lagesse, Heidi M. Leathers-Miller, Kristen R. Marra, Kira K. Timm, Scott S. Young

Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated means of 783 million barrels of conventional oil and 17,606 billion (17.6 trillion) cubic feet of conventional gas in the Montana Thrust Belt Province.

Brief oil exposure reduces fitness in wild Gulf of Mexico mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus)

Released September 02, 2022 08:59 EST

2022, Environmental Science and Technology

Lela S. Schlenker, John D. Stieglitz, Justin Blaine Greer, Robin Faillettaz, Chi Hin Lam, Ronald H. Hoenig, Rachael M. Heuer, Charles J. McGuigan, Christina Pasparakis, Emma B. Esch, Gabrielle M. Ménard, Alexandra L. Jaroszewski, Claire B. Paris, Daniel Schlenk, Daniel D. Benetti, Martin Grosell

The Deepwater Horizon (DWH) disaster released 3.19 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) in 2010, overlapping the habitat of pelagic fish populations. Using mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus)─a highly migratory marine teleost present in the GOM during the spill─as a model species, laboratory experiments demonstrate injuries to physiology and behavior following oil exposure. However, more than a decade postspill, impacts on wild populations remain unknown. To address this gap, we exposed wild mahi-mahi to crude oil or control conditions onboard a research vessel, collected fin clip samples, and tagged them with electronic tags prior to release into the GOM. We demonstrate profound effects on survival and reproduction in the wild. In addition to significant changes in gene expression profiles and predation mortality, we documented altered acceleration and habitat use in the first 8 days oil-exposed individuals were at liberty as well as a cessation of apparent spawning activity for at least 37 days. These data reveal that even a brief and low-dose exposure to crude oil impairs fitness in wild mahi-mahi. These findings offer new perspectives on the lasting impacts of the DWH blowout and provide insight about the impacts of future deep-sea oil spills.

Water-level and recoverable water in storage changes, High Plains aquifer, predevelopment to 2017 and 2015–17

Released September 02, 2022 07:50 EST

2022, Scientific Investigations Report 2022-5080

Virginia L. McGuire, Kellan R. Strauch

The High Plains aquifer underlies 111.8 million acres (about 175,000 square miles) in parts of eight States—Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming. Water-level declines began in parts of the High Plains aquifer soon after the beginning of substantial groundwater irrigation (about 1950). This report presents water-level changes and change in recoverable water in storage in the High Plains aquifer from predevelopment (about 1950) to 2017 and from 2015 to 2017.

Water-level changes from predevelopment to 2017, by well, ranged from a rise of 84 feet to a decline of 262 feet; the range for 99 percent of the wells was from a rise of 39 feet to a decline of 200 feet. Water-level changes from 2015 to 2017, by well, ranged from a rise of 41 feet to a decline of 21 feet; the range for 99 percent of the wells was from a rise of 14 feet to a decline of 10 feet. The area-weighted, average water-level changes in the aquifer were an overall decline of 16.8 feet from predevelopment to 2017 and a rise of 0.1 foot from 2015 to 2017. Total recoverable water in storage in the aquifer in 2017 was about 2.91 billion acre-feet, which was a decline of about 291.8 million acre-feet since predevelopment and a rise of 0.1 million acre-feet from 2015 to 2017.

Exploring and mitigating plague for One Health purposes

Released September 02, 2022 07:14 EST

2022, Current Tropical Medicine Reports

David A. Eads, Dean E. Biggins, Jeffrey Wimsatt, Rebecca J. Eisen, B. Joseph Hinnebusch, Marc R. Matchett, Amanda R. Goldberg, Travis Livieri, Gregory Hacker, Mark Novak, Danielle Buttke, Shaun M. Grassel, John Hughes-Clarke, Linda Atiku

Purpose of Review

In 2020, the Appropriations Committee for the U.S. House of Representatives directed the CDC to develop a national One Health framework to combat zoonotic diseases, including sylvatic plague, which is caused by the flea-borne bacterium Yersinia pestis. This review builds upon that multisectoral objective. We aim to increase awareness of Y. pestis and to highlight examples of plague mitigation for One Health purposes (i.e., to achieve optimal health outcomes for people, animals, plants, and their shared environment). We draw primarily upon examples from the USA, but also discuss research from Madagascar and Uganda where relevant, as Y. pestis has emerged as a zoonotic threat in those foci.

Recent Findings

Historically, the bulk of plague research has been directed at the disease in humans. This is not surprising, given that Y. pestis is a scourge of human history. Nevertheless, the ecology of Y. pestis is inextricably linked to other mammals and fleas under natural conditions. Accumulating evidence demonstrates Y. pestis is an unrelenting threat to multiple ecosystems, where the bacterium is capable of significantly reducing native species abundance and diversity while altering competitive and trophic relationships, food web connections, and nutrient cycles. In doing so, Y. pestis transforms ecosystems, causing “shifting baselines syndrome” in humans, where there is a gradual shift in the accepted norms for the condition of the natural environment. Eradication of Y. pestis in nature is difficult to impossible, but effective mitigation is achievable; we discuss flea vector control and One Health implications in this context.


There is an acute need to rapidly expand research on Y. pestis, across multiple host and flea species and varied ecosystems of the Western US and abroad, for human and environmental health purposes. The fate of many wildlife species hangs in the balance, and the implications for humans are profound in some regions. Collaborative multisectoral research is needed to define the scope of the problem in each epidemiological context and to identify, refine, and implement appropriate and effective mitigation practices.

A process-model perspective on recent changes in the carbon cycle of North America

Released September 01, 2022 09:43 EST

2022, Journal of Geophysical Research Biogeosciences (127)

Guillermo Murray-Tortarolo, Benjamin Poulter, Rodrigo Vargas, Daniel B. Hayes, Anna M. Michalak, Christopher J. Williams , Lisamarie Windham-Myers, Jonathan Wang, Kimberly Wickland, David Butman, Hanqin Tian, Stephen Sitch, Pierre Friedlingstein, Michael O'Sullivan, Peter Briggs, Vivek Arora, Danielle Lombardozzi, Atul Jain, Wenping Yuan, Roland Seferian, Julia Nabel, Andrea Wiltshire, Almuth Arneth, Sebastian Lienerte, Sonke Zaehle, Vladislov Bastrikov, Daniel Goll, Nicholas Vuichard, Anthony P. Walker, Etushi Kato, Yue Xu, Zhen Zhang, Abishek Chaterjee, Werner A. Kurz

Continental North America has been found to be a carbon (C) sink over recent decades by multiple studies employing a variety of estimation approaches. However, several key questions and uncertainties remain with these assessments. Here we used results from an ensemble of 19 state-of-the-art dynamic global vegetation models from the TRENDYv9 project to improve these estimates and study the drivers of its interannual variability. Our results show that North America has been a C sink with a magnitude of 0.37 ± 0.38 (mean and one standard deviation) PgC year−1 for the period 2000–2019 (0.31 and 0.44 PgC year−1 in each decade); split into 0.18 ± 0.12 PgC year−1 in Canada (0.15 and 0.20), 0.16 ± 0.17 in the United States (0.14 and 0.17), 0.02 ± 0.05 PgC year−1 in Mexico (0.02 and 0.02) and 0.01 ± 0.02 in Central America and the Caribbean (0.01 and 0.01). About 57% of the new C assimilated by terrestrial ecosystems is allocated into vegetation, 30% into soils, and 13% into litter. Losses of C due to fire account for 41% of the interannual variability of the mean net biome productivity for all North America in the model ensemble. Finally, we show that drought years (e.g., 2002) have the potential to shift the region to a small net C source in the simulations (−0.02 ± 0.46 PgC year−1). Our results highlight the importance of identifying the major drivers of the interannual variability of the continental-scale land C cycle along with the spatial distribution of local sink-source dynamics.

Integrating climate-informed planning into State Wildlife Action Plans in the north central United States

Released September 01, 2022 09:34 EST

2022, Report

Kimberly E Szcodronski, Indigo Bannister, Blake R. Hossack, Alisa Wade

State fish and wildlife agencies are required to submit a State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) every 10 years to be eligible for grants through the State Wildlife Grant Program. With the next round of revisions due in 2025, the U.S. Geological Survey North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center is evaluating how to best support states with further integrating climate-informed planning in their SWAPs. Here, we summarize how states in the North Central region, which includes Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming, addressed adaptation planning in their 2015 SWAPs. We review climate adaptation considerations in required SWAP elements one through five, including species, habitats, threats, conservation actions, and conservation monitoring, respectively. We also include a list of potential strategies that the North Central Climate Adaptation Science Center could use to support states in the North Central region with further advancing the integration of climate informed planning in ongoing and future SWAP revisions. These strategies were primarily identified during meetings in 2021 with six of seven state fish and wildlife agencies in the North Central region where we discussed their priority needs relating to climate-informed planning. Our hope is that these strategies will enhance existing efforts in the region to advance the integration of climate change in conservation planning.

Comparing root cohesion estimates from three models at a shallow landslide in the Oregon Coast Range

Released September 01, 2022 09:13 EST

2022, GeoHazards (3) 428-451

Collin Cronkite-Ratcliff, Kevin Schmidt, Charlotte Wirion

Although accurate root cohesion model estimates are essential to quantify the effect of vegetation roots on shallow slope stability, few means exist to independently validate such model outputs. One validation approach for cohesion estimates is back-calculation of apparent root cohesion at a landslide site with well-documented failure conditions. The catchment named CB1, near Coos Bay, Oregon, USA, which experienced a shallow landslide in 1996, is a prime locality for cohesion model validation, as an abundance of data and observations from the site generated broad insights related to hillslope hydrology and slope stability. However, previously published root cohesion values at CB1 used the Wu and Waldron model (WWM), which assumes simultaneous root failure and therefore likely overestimates root cohesion. Reassessing published cohesion estimates from this site is warranted, as more recently developed models include the fiber bundle model (FBM), which simulates progressive failure with load redistribution, and the root bundle model-Weibull (RBMw), which accounts for differential strain loading. We applied the WWM, FBM, and RBMw at CB1 using post-failure root data from five vegetation species. At CB1, the FBM and RBMw predict values that are less than 30% of the WWM-estimated values. All three models show that root cohesion has substantial spatial heterogeneity. Most parts of the landslide scarp have little root cohesion, with areas of high cohesion concentrated near plant roots. These findings underscore the importance of using physically realistic models and considering lateral and vertical spatial heterogeneity of root cohesion in shallow landslide initiation and provide a necessary step towards independently assessing root cohesion model validity.

Geochemical studies of the Green River Formation in the Piceance Basin, Colorado: II. Chemofacies from hierarchical cluster analysis

Released September 01, 2022 08:41 EST

2022, Book chapter, The lacustrine Green River Formation: Hydrocarbon potential and Eocene climate record

Tengfei Wu, Jeremy Boak, Justin E. Birdwell

Hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) was applied to a geochemical dataset representing the Eocene Green River Formation in the Piceance Basin of Colorado to identify chemofacies in core and outcrop samples from the basin margin and the basin center. The input dataset consisted of inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy and mass spectrometry and total organic carbon (TOC) content analyses of 186 basin margin outcrop samples and 190 basin center core samples discussed in Part 1 of this study (this volume). TOC values and twenty-five major and trace elements were used as variables to define statistical clusters of samples for the overall dataset, for the two basin center cores, and for each separate core or outcrop dataset by HCA applying Euclidean distance and Ward’s method algorithms. For each dataset, five cluster-defined chemofacies were identified. The chemofacies for each dataset show chemical affinities with five informally defined rock types– mudstone, marlstone, carbonate-rich mudstone, siliciclastic-rich mudstone/siltstone/sandstone, and Na-rich (saline) mudstone, with each showing variations in TOC content and abundance of redox sensitive minor and trace elements. A close relationship between enrichment of redox sensitive elements, particularly As and Mo, and TOC is identified in the basin center. Whereas enrichment factors (relative to average shale) are relatively low for many Period IV (PIV) transition metals, as discussed in Part 1 of this study, their consistent coherence in enrichment or depletion in HCA-defined chemofacies demonstrates the expected relationship between redox state and organic richness. Enrichment in PIV transition metals also shows a correlation to enrichment in elements with affinity for siliciclastic sediment. Enrichment/depletion among several groups of redox indicators is not everywhere consistent, with some chemofacies showing, for example, enrichment of PIV transition metals and depletion of sulfur and arsenic. Early timing of saline conditions in the basin margin is clearly displayed in the chemofacies log display, consistent with observations based on geochemical interpretations of concentrations and elemental ratios discussed in Part 1. Overall, the chemofacies are consistent with major mineralogical units and lake history stages defined in previous work, but provide more detail on the fluctuations in lake chemistry that occurred during deposition of Green River oil shale in the Piceance Basin.

Geologic characterization and depositional history of the Uteland Butte member, Green River Formation, southwestern Uinta Basin, Utah

Released September 01, 2022 08:33 EST

2022, Book chapter, The lacustrine Green River Formation: Hydrocarbon potential and Eocene climate record

Ryan D. Gall, Justin E. Birdwell, Riley Brinkerhoff, Michael D. Vanden Berg

The 15- to 65-m-thick informal Uteland Butte member of the Eocene Green River Formation represents the first widespread transgression of Lake Uinta in the Uinta Basin, Utah. This study assesses the spatial and temporal variation of Uteland Butte member deposits along a 40-km transect in the southwestern margin of the Uinta Basin using detailed measured sections, organic and inorganic geochemical data, and outcrop gamma ray logs. Fourteen lithofacies are identified, which comprise seven facies associations linked to with lacustrine, palustrine, and deltaic depositional settings. Facies associations are traceable laterally across the study area, where five 4- to 12-m-thick depositional cycles are identified. Each shallowing upwards cycle is defined by a >1.5-m-thick basal package of organic-rich, argillaceous laminated mudstone, and is capped by thick packages of bedded carbonate. In the far western study area (Kyune Creek Canyon), thick deposits of organic-rich mudstone are present and represent the most distal outcrop section; time-equivalent strata in the eastern study area (Minnie Maud Creek Canyon) are relatively organic lean with higher silt and clay content, interpreted to represent proximal lake margin deposits influenced by a nearby delta. The outcrop belt is correlated to more distal cores and well logs across the western Uinta Basin. Similar lithological and petrophysical patterns across the western Uinta Basin are used to subdivide stratigraphy into nine laterally contiguous sub-units based on nomenclature from the oil-producing area of the central basin (from base to top: lower Uteland Butte, D Bench, D Shale, C Bench, C Shale, B Bench, B Shale, A Bench, and A Shale). Siliciclastic clay-rich and carbonaterich intervals are correlated across the region and indicate distinct siliciclastic- and carbonate-dominated lake phases during Uteland Butte member deposition. Climate is interpreted to be the dominant driver of these claycarbonate cycles, in which relatively humid periods resulted in increased fluvially derived siliciclastic sediment into the basin (clay-rich periods), and arid periods resulted in evaporative conditions with decreased fluvial sediment input that favor carbonate accumulation. Climatically driven depositional cycles within the Uteland Butte member reflect, to a smaller degree, the larger scale climatically driven depositional cycles observed at the member- and formation levels of Paleocene and Eocene Uinta Basin stratigraphy. Importantly, the Uteland Butte member clay-carbonate cycles showcase how relatively small-scale climate shifts can impact basin-scale lacustrine deposition.

Geochemical studies of the Green River Formation in the Piceance Basin, Colorado: I. Major, minor, and trace elements

Released September 01, 2022 08:22 EST

2022, Book chapter, The lacustrine Green River Formation: Hydrocarbon potential and Eocene climate record

Jeremy Boak, Tengfei Wu, Justin E. Birdwell

C. J. Hurst, editor(s)

The Eocene Green River Formation contains the largest oil shale deposits in the world and is a welldocumented example of a lacustrine depositional system. In addition, mineral resources associated with oil shale in the Piceance Basin nahcolite [NaHCO3] and dawsonite [NaAl(CO3)(OH)2)] are of current and potential economic value, respectively. Detailed geochemical analysis across the basin can aid in the understanding of the depositional environment, sedimentary processes, and water-chemistry evolution in this system. Quantitative geochemical data for Green River oil shale from the Piceance Basin of Colorado were collected by inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy and mass spectrometry as part of this study. The basin margin is represented by samples from exposures at Douglas Pass (Garfield County) and the basin center area is characterized by core samples from two drilled wells: the Shell 23X-2 and John Savage 24-1 (Rio Blanco County). Major elements and groups of elements are used as proxies for clastic influx (Si, Al, K, Ti), carbonate deposition (Ca, Mg), salinity (Na), paleo-productivity (P), and redox state (Fe, S), respectively. Minor and trace elements reinforce observations based on major elements, including Rb, Zr, Nb for clastic influx and Mn, Sr for carbonate. Trace elements are used to characterize redox conditions (As, Mo, U, V, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn) and salinity (Rb/K, B/Ga). Chemical distinctions between the basin margin and the basin center, in terms of these components and total organic carbon concentrations, support the model of a permanently stratified lake through most of the depositional interval. A primary purpose of the study was to conduct more extensive sampling to confirm conclusions of a previous reconnaissance study. Geochemical data from this study indicates elevated Na around the basin margin occurring earlier than in the deeper basin. Early in the history of Lake Uinta, the salinity may have been elevated first in the shallower marginal waters, due to increased evaporation, which then led to elevated salinity in the basin center through transport of saline density currents. Other indicators of salinity (Rb/K, B/Ga) do not track Na content in intervals where clay minerals are absent due to diagenetic alteration under hypersaline conditions but may be used to indicate the salinities at which authigenic Na-bearing minerals begin to form. Most Na-rich samples show high proportions of clastic constituents (Si, Al, K, Ti) compared to conventional carbonate constituents (Ca, Mg). Redox-sensitive period IV transition metal elements (V, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn) show only local occurrence of significant enrichment relative to average shale abundances. Analysis of Fe/Al ratios for this dataset suggests that the depletion of these elements may be related to source rocks depleted in mafic constituents, with apparent redox-related enrichments subdued by this effect. The basin margin samples reflect generally oxic bottom waters, with some intervals deposited under more reducing, possibly dysoxic to anoxic conditions. The basin center results indicate more reducing conditions, with Mo and U enrichment factors suggesting operation of a particulate shuttle mechanism that scavenged Mo on Fe/Mn-oxyhydroxides that redissolved at depth, with Mo precipitating along with sulfides and/or organic matter at or near the sediment/water interface.

Explainable machine learning improves interpretability in the predictive modeling of biological stream conditions in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, USA

Released September 01, 2022 07:07 EST

2022, Journal of Environmental Management (322)

Kelly O. Maloney, Claire Buchanan, Rikke Jepsen, Kevin P. Krause, Matthew J. Cashman, Benjamin Paul Gressler, John A. Young, Matthias Schmid

Anthropogenic alterations have resulted in widespread degradation of stream conditions. To aid in stream restoration and management, baseline estimates of conditions and improved explanation of factors driving their degradation are needed. We used random forests to model biological conditions using a benthic macroinvertebrate index of biotic integrity for small, non-tidal streams (upstream area ≤200 km2) in the Chesapeake Bay watershed (CBW) of the mid-Atlantic coast of North America. We utilized several global and local model interpretation tools to improve average and site-specific model inferences, respectively. The model was used to predict condition for 95,867 individual catchments for eight periods (2001, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2019). Predicted conditions were classified as Poor, FairGood, or Uncertain to align with management needs and individual reach lengths and catchment areas were summed by condition class for the CBW for each period. Global permutation and local Shapley importance values indicated percent of forest, development, and agriculture in upstream catchments had strong impacts on predictions. Development and agriculture negatively influenced stream condition for model average (partial dependence [PD] and accumulated local effect [ALE] plots) and local (individual condition expectation and Shapley value plots) levels. Friedman's H-statistic indicated large overall interactions for these three land covers, and bivariate global plots (PD and ALE) supported interactions among agriculture and development. Total stream length and catchment area predicted in FairGood conditions decreased then increased over the 19-years (length/area: 66.6/65.4% in 2001, 66.3/65.2% in 2011, and 66.6/65.4% in 2019). Examination of individual catchment predictions between 2001 and 2019 showed those predicted to have the largest decreases in condition had large increases in development; whereas catchments predicted to exhibit the largest increases in condition showed moderate increases in forest cover. Use of global and local interpretative methods together with watershed-wide and individual catchment predictions support conservation practitioners that need to identify widespread and localized patterns, especially acknowledging that management actions typically take place at individual-reach scales.

Evaluating the effect of nuclear inclusion X (NIX) infections on Pacific razor clam populations

Released September 01, 2022 06:50 EST

2022, Diseases of Aquatic Organisms (151) 1-9

Maya Groner, Paul Hershberger, Steven C. Fradkin, Carla M. Conway, Aine Marie Alice Campbell Hawthorn, Maureen K. Purcell

ABSTRACT: Nuclear inclusion X (NIX), the etiological agent of bacterial gill disease in Pacific razor clams Siliqua patula, was associated with host mortality events in coastal Washington State, USA, during the mid-1980s. Ongoing observations of truncated razor clam size distributions in Kalaloch Beach, Washington, raised concerns that NIX continues to impact populations. We conducted a series of spatial and longitudinal NIX surveillances, examined archived razor clam gill tissue, and used population estimates from stock assessments to test whether (1) the prevalence and intensity of NIX infections is higher at Kalaloch Beach relative to nearby beaches, (2) infected gill tissue has features consistent with historical descriptions of NIX-associated histopathology, and (3) annual clam survival is inversely related to NIX infection prevalence and intensity. NIX prevalence exceeded 85% at all sampled locations, and infection intensity was the highest at Kalaloch Beach by 0.9-2.6 orders of magnitude. Kalaloch Beach clams revealed histopathology consistent with previous NIX epidemics, including enlarged and/or rupturing branchial epithelial cells, branchial necrosis, and high hemocyte densities. Estimated annual survival was 22% at Kalaloch Beach, and ranged between 57 and 99% at other study sites. NIX infection intensity (via quantitative PCR) was not significantly correlated with annual survival; however, annual survival was lowest at Kalaloch Beach, where infection intensities were highest, suggesting that clams can tolerate infections up to a lethal threshold. Collectively these data support the hypothesis that high NIX intensities are associated with host mortality. NIX-associated mortality appears to be more pronounced at Kalaloch Beach relative to other Washington beaches.

Evaluation of machine learning approaches for predicting streamflow metrics across the conterminous United States

Released August 31, 2022 14:10 EST

2022, Scientific Investigations Report 2022-5058

Ken Eng, David M. Wolock

Few regional or national scale studies have evaluated machine learning approaches for predicting streamflow metrics at ungaged locations. Most such studies are limited by the number of dimensions of the streamflow regime investigated. This study, in contrast, provides a comprehensive evaluation of the streamflow regime based on three widely available machine learning approaches (support vector regression, random forest, and cubist regression) and on multiple linear regression to predict 106 natural streamflow metrics at ungaged locations. This evaluation is done for 545 streamgages across the northwest United States for recurrence-interval flood metrics and for 1,851 sites in the conterminous United States for non-flood metrics. The results indicate that for flood metrics, predictions by cubist regression and support vector regressions have substantially less error than the other approaches. For all the remaining streamflow metrics, random forest models outperform the other methods.

What did they just say? Building a Rosetta stone for geoscience and machine learning

Released August 31, 2022 09:17 EST

2022, Conference Paper, Using the earth to save the earth

Stanley Paul Mordensky, John Lipor, Erick Burns, Cary Ruth Lindsey

Modern advancements in science and engineering are built upon multidisciplinary projects that bring experts together from different fields. Within their respective disciplines, researchers rely on precise terminology for specific ideas, principles, methods, and theories. Hence, the potential for miscommunication is substantial, especially when common words have been adopted by one (or both) group(s) to represent very specific, precise, but, perhaps, different concepts. Under the best circumstances, misunderstanding key terms will lead toward a breakdown of efficiency. Under less optimal conditions, miscommunication will sow frustration, lead to errors, and inhibit scientific breakthroughs. Here, our research group of geoscientists and machine learning experts presents a process to help geoscientists understand the fundamentals of supervised learning by describing the general workflow (i.e., a conceptual pipeline) for supervised learning that must be understood by all the parties involved in a geoscience-machine learning endeavor. Terms critical for machine learning are introduced, defined, and used within the context of an overly simplified mock hydrological study to illustrate their appropriate usage, and then used again in the context of a published geothermal-machine learning study. These key terms are divided into two groups, which are 1) essential to the field of machine learning but are predominantly absent in geoscience or 2) homonyms (i.e., words with the same spelling or pronunciation but with different meanings) between the fields. Lastly, we discuss a few other important homonyms that were not introduced in the general workflow but arise regularly in machine learning applications

Upper Rio Grande Basin water-resource status and trends: Focus area study review and synthesis

Released August 31, 2022 06:58 EST

2022, Journal of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (65) 881-901

Kyle R. Douglas-Mankin, Christine Rumsey, Graham A. Sexstone, Tamara I. Ivahnenko, Natalie Houston, Shaleene Chavarria, Gabriel B. Senay, Linzy K. Foster, Jonathan V. Thomas, Allison K. Flickinger, Amy E. Galanter, C. David Moeser, Toby L. Welborn, Diana E. Pedraza, Patrick M. Lambert, Michael Scott Johnson

The Upper Rio Grande Basin (URGB) is a critical international water resource under pressure from a myriad of climatic, ecological, infrastructural, water-use, and legal constraints. The objective of this study is to provide a comprehensive assessment of the spatial distribution and temporal trends of selected water-budget components (snow processes, evapotranspiration (ET), streamflow processes, and groundwater storage) using integrated analyses, such as watershed modeling and water availability and use data in the URGB over the past three decades. A spatially distributed snow evolution modeling system simulated snowpack processes over 34 years (1984–2017). It highlighted snow water equivalent declines from -35 to -77 mm/decade with widespread variability across elevation zones and land cover types. Gridded actual ET data from the SSEBop model were developed and tested for the URGB and demonstrated that all land-cover types had significant decreasing trends (1986-2015) ranging from -14 to -80 mm/decade. Conductivity-mass-balance (CMB) hydrograph separation results found that baseflow forms a large component of total streamflow, ranging from 29 to 69% (49% average) of total streamflow at 17 URGB sites upstream of Albuquerque, NM. Three of 4 graphical hydrograph separation methods in the U.S. Geological Survey Groundwater Toolbox were found to be inappropriate for estimating baseflow in the URGB; the most promising method, baseflow index (BFI) Standard, was optimized using CMB data and tested at three URGB sites, with resulting overestimation of 0 to 47%. Simulated changes in groundwater storage were extracted from historical and recent groundwater-flow models of select alluvial basins (San Luis, Española, Middle Rio Grande, and Tularosa-Hueco). In general, decreases in groundwater storage were observed from 1903 to 2013 except for the San Luis alluvial basin (Colorado), where periods of recovery are observed. The PRMS hydrologic model was successfully calibrated for 9 near-native subbasins (Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency 0.47 to 0.85) and parameters translated to the remaining subbasins; compared to simulated near-native flows (with minimal influence of reservoirs or diversions), observed Rio Grande streamgage flows demonstrated reductions of 40% or more for New Mexico and Texas areas of the basin. Significant decreasing trends (1980-2015) in precipitation, snowmelt rate, streamflow, and baseflow were observed at many of the 12 streamgage basins studied, which suggests that the decreasing trends for actual ET may be related to overall decreasing water availability in the basin, with negative implications for agricultural production and groundwater abstraction. Water security concerns arise from our findings of higher fraction precipitation as rain, slower snowmelt rates leading to decreasing streamflow production, and an increasing fraction of baseflow, all of which will affect the timing and magnitude of water available for human needs in the basin.

ECCOE Landsat Quarterly Calibration and Validation report—Quarter 1, 2022

Released August 31, 2022 06:56 EST

2022, Open-File Report 2022-1072

Md Obaidul Haque, Rajagopalan Rengarajan, Mark Lubke, Md Nahid Hasan, Fatima Tuz Zafrin Tuli, Jerad L. Shaw, Alex Denevan, Shannon Franks, Esad Micijevic, Michael J. Choate, Cody Anderson, Brian Markham, Kurt Thome, Ed Kaita, Julia Barsi, Raviv Levy, Lawrence Ong

Executive Summary

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Calibration and Validation (Cal/Val) Center of Excellence (ECCOE) focuses on improving the accuracy, precision, calibration, and product quality of remote-sensing data, leveraging years of multiscale optical system geometric and radiometric calibration and characterization experience. The ECCOE Landsat Cal/Val Team continually monitors the geometric and radiometric performance of active Landsat missions and makes calibration adjustments, as needed, to maintain data quality at the highest level.

This report provides observed geometric and radiometric analysis results for Landsats 7–8 for quarter 1 (January–March), 2022. All data used to compile the Cal/Val analysis results presented in this report are freely available from the USGS EarthExplorer website:

One specific activity that the Cal/Val Team continued to closely monitor this quarter was the Landsat 8 Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) response degradation, which has been observed since the two November 2020 safehold events. Detailed analysis results characterizing this degradation have been included in this report. Additional information about the safehold events is here:

What makes wildfires destructive in California?

Released August 31, 2022 06:53 EST

2022, Fire (5)

Alexandra D. Syphard, Jon Keeley, Mike Gough, Mitchell Lazarz, John Rogan

As human impacts from wildfires mount, there is a pressing need to understand why structures are lost in destructive fires. Despite growing research on factors contributing to structure loss, fewer studies have focused on why some fires are destructive and others are not. We characterized overall differences between fires that resulted in structure loss (“destructive fires”) and those that did not (“non-destructive wildfires”) across three California regions. Then, we performed statistical analyses on large fires only (≥100 ha) to distinguish the primary differences between large destructive large fires and large non-destructive fires. Overall, destructive fires were at least an order of magnitude larger than non-destructive fires, with the largest area burned varying by season in different regions. Fire severity was also significantly higher in destructive than non-destructive fires. The statistical analysis showed that, in the San Francisco Bay Area and the northern Sierra Nevada foothills, proximity to the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) was by far the most important factor differentiating destructive and non-destructive wildfires, followed by different combinations of short-term weather, seasonal climate, topography, and vegetation productivity. In Southern California, wind velocity on the day of the fire ignition was the top factor, which is consistent with previous assumptions that wind-driven fires tend to be most destructive and most of the destruction occurs within the first 24 h. Additionally, Southern California’s high population density increases the odds that a human-caused wildfire may occur during a severe fire-weather event. The geographical differences among regions and the variation of factors explaining the differences between large destructive and large non-destructive fires reflects the complexity inherent in decision-making for reducing wildfire risk. Land use planning to reduce future exposure of housing development to fire and increased focus on wildfire ignition prevention emerge as two approaches with substantial potential. 

Restoration of Gavia immer (common loon) in Minnesota—2021 annual report

Released August 30, 2022 14:27 EST

2022, Open-File Report 2022-1074

William S. Beatty, Luke J. Fara, Steven C. Houdek, Kevin P. Kenow, Brian R. Gray

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill caused extensive injury to natural resources in the Gulf of Mexico, and Gavia immer (common loon) were negatively affected from the spill. The Open Ocean Trustee Implementation Group funded the project Restoration of Common Loons in Minnesota to restore common loons lost to the spill. In 2020–21, priority lakes in an eight-county region in north-central Minnesota were identified to focus project activities. In 2021, surveys on these lakes were started to monitor common loon territory occupancy, nest success, and chick survival. We surveyed 62 lakes and identified 110 common loon territories that will be included in the project. At least 1 nest attempt was observed in 78 of 110 territories, and a second nest attempt was observed in 23 territories. A third nest attempt was observed in one territory. Successful nesting was observed in 32 of 110 territories. We present no formal data analysis and plan to analyze the data after the collection of all field data in subsequent years.

Distribution and demography of Coastal Cactus Wrens in Southern California, 2015–19

Released August 30, 2022 13:38 EST

2022, Open-File Report 2022-1044

Suellen Lynn, Alexandra Houston, Barbara E. Kus

Surveys and monitoring for the coastal Cactus Wren (Campylorhynchus brunneicapillus) were completed in San Diego County between March 2015 and July 2019. A total of 383 plots were surveyed across 3 genetic clusters (Otay, Lake Jennings, and Sweetwater/Encanto). From 2015 to 2019, 317 plots were surveyed 8 times (twice per year in 2015, 2017–19). Additional plots were added in later years as wrens were discovered in new locations. We found differences in the proportion of plots occupied in the genetic clusters, with a lower proportion of plots occupied in the Otay cluster than in the Lake Jennings and Sweetwater/Encanto clusters in all years. Plot occupancy increased each year in the Otay and Sweetwater/Encanto clusters but not in the Lake Jennings cluster. The number of Cactus Wren territories increased from 2015 through 2018, and then decreased in 2019 in all three genetic clusters.

We monitored nesting activities for two populations of Cactus Wrens in southern San Diego County. The Otay population consisted of two sites within the Otay genetic cluster, and the San Diego population consisted of two sites within the Sweetwater/Encanto and Lake Jennings genetic clusters. Nest monitoring occurred at 10–13 territories per year in the Otay population and 14–18 territories in the San Diego population from 2015 through 2019. All territories were occupied by pairs except two territories in 2015, five in 2016, and two in 2019. Between 46 and 74 Cactus Wren nests were monitored each year, which totaled 295 monitored nests from 2015 to 2019. To evaluate the direct influence of precipitation on breeding success, bio-year precipitation (“precipitation”) was calculated from July 1 of the prior year through June 30 of the breeding season year. Overall apparent nest success was positively influenced by precipitation with the lowest apparent nest success of 50 percent in 2015 and the highest apparent nest success of 72 percent in 2017, corresponding to the second lowest and the highest precipitation years, respectively. Apparent nest success also was higher in the Otay population than in the San Diego population. The number of brood nests initiated per pair and the number of renesting attempts per pair also were higher in years with more precipitation. Other metrics of Cactus Wren nesting success and productivity were positively influenced by the amount of precipitation, including clutch size and egg hatching success. The percent of hatchlings that fledged was greater in the Otay population than in the San Diego population but was not influenced by precipitation. The number of fledglings per pair was higher in years with more precipitation and was greater in the Otay population than in the San Diego population. Predation was the predominant cause of nest failure in both populations.

Analysis of Cactus Wren daily nest survival rate indicated that there was a population, and possibly a precipitation effect on nest survival, with the daily survival rate for the Otay population significantly higher than for the San Diego population and weak increase in the daily survival rate with more precipitation.

A total of 629 Cactus Wrens were banded during the course of the study, 360 in the San Diego population and 269 in the Otay population. Between 2015 and 2019, we resighted 301 color-banded adult birds that ranged between 1 and 8 years old. One additional color-banded bird was resighted in San Pasqual Valley (as part of a separate study); this bird originated in the San Diego population and was excluded from our analyses.

Annual survival was higher for adult Cactus Wrens (ranging from 60 to 70 percent) than for first-year wrens (ranging from 20 to 28 percent) and varied by year. Annual survival was also weakly but positively correlated with precipitation. Annual survival was higher for first year and adult Cactus Wrens following years with increased precipitation. We found no evidence that survival differed by population.

Banding also allowed us to examine whether there were differences in movement of adult and first-year Cactus Wrens by year or by population. We found that average dispersal distance for first-year Cactus Wrens was 1.9 kilometers in the Otay population and 1.6 kilometers in the San Diego population and did not differ by population or year. Dispersal between populations was not common. We detected five instances of movement of first-year wrens between the San Diego and Otay populations. All movements into and out of the San Diego population were from or into territories in the Sweetwater area. We detected no movement between the Lake Jennings site and either of the Sweetwater or Otay sites; however, we did detect one wren that dispersed from Lake Jennings to the San Pasqual Valley population in 2019, which was a distance of 26.4 kilometers. Adult Cactus Wrens were site-faithful, with 87 percent of adults remaining on the same territory between breeding seasons. Precipitation may be a weak driver of movement for adult Cactus Wrens, with adults more likely to remain on the same territory following years of increased precipitation. There was no difference in adult movement between populations.

Arthropods were collected in pitfall traps and by vacuum in 23 Cactus Wren territories during 3 sampling periods in 2016 (early nesting, peak nesting, and late nesting). Arthropods of 19 orders and at least 128 families were collected. Analysis of 43 Cactus Wren fecal samples identified 10 arthropod orders that were present in more than 10 percent of fecal samples. The most abundant arthropod order collected was Hymenoptera; however, Cactus Wrens consumed arthropods in the order Hymenoptera significantly less than their availability, suggesting that this order was avoided. No other orders were significantly selected or avoided; however, selection indices of arthropod families identified that two families of arthropods (Isopoda Porcellionidae [woodlice] and Hymenoptera Formicidae [ants]) were avoided. After excluding the taxa that were avoided or not represented in fecal samples, 95 percent of Cactus Wren prey items were collected in pitfall traps and 5 percent were collected by vacuum. The most abundant prey orders captured were Diptera, Coleoptera, Hemiptera, Hymenoptera, and Aranea.

Analysis of the abundance of Cactus Wren prey items by vegetation type and sampling period indicated that vegetation type by itself was not a significant predictor of arthropod abundance but interacted with sampling period. Seasonal availability of arthropods was highest in the peak nesting period, followed by early and late nesting periods for California sagebrush (Artemisia californica), lemonadeberry (Rhus integrifolia), non-native grass, and bare ground, whereas availability increased from early to late nesting periods for blue elderberry (Sambucus mexicana spp. caerulea), cactus (Opuntia spp. and Cylindropuntia spp.), California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum), native bunch grasses, and black mustard (Brassica nigra). During the early nesting period, arthropods were most abundant in native bunch grasses and least abundant in lemonadeberry. During the peak nesting period, arthropods were most abundant in native bunch grasses and in areas of bare ground and were least abundant in cactus and blue elderberry. During late nesting, arthropods were most abundant in blue elderberry and non-native grass and least abundant in lemonadeberry and mustard.

Each year from 2015 to 2019, vegetation data were collected at the same 23 territories where arthropods were sampled: 9 territories in the Otay population and 14 territories in the San Diego population. Cactus, California buckwheat, and non-native grasses were detected within at least 60 percent of sampling points in the Otay population. Cactus, California sagebrush, California buckwheat, non-native grass, and black mustard each were detected within an average of 40 percent of sampling points in the San Diego population. No native bunch grass or lemonadeberry were recorded at the Lake Jennings site within the San Diego population. The cover of shrub species was relatively stable throughout the 5 years. Cover of herbaceous species and bare ground had greater annual variation than shrub species.

We found that vegetation cover varied widely among territories, with territory accounting for 69 percent of the variation in vegetation cover. Redundancy analysis allowed us to identify the vegetation types that accounted for the most variation. We used the top scores from the redundancy analysis to identify six vegetation types to be used in generalized linear mixed models analyzing the relationships between vegetation type, precipitation, and Cactus Wren breeding productivity. Three vegetation variables influenced the number of fledglings produced per pair. California sagebrush had a positive effect on the number of fledglings per pair whereas non-native grass and black mustard had a negative effect.

Breeding productivity, survival, and movements of adult and first-year Cactus Wrens indicated that the Otay population behaved similarly to, if not out-performed, the San Diego population during the span of our project, suggesting that the driving forces behind low numbers of Cactus Wrens in the Otay population before 2015 were no longer in effect. The Cactus Wren populations in Otay and San Diego reached a peak in 2018, which followed a year of high productivity and survivorship, both of which were correlated with high precipitation. This peak in population size was consistent with reproductive timing and productivity in other bird populations in semi-arid ecosystems that were linked to precipitation and arthropod abundance. We did not find a strong link among arthropod abundance, vegetation composition, and Cactus Wren breeding productivity, likely in part because arthropod abundance varied by vegetation type and sampling period, suggesting that different vegetation types provided important sources of prey at different periods of the breeding season. Arthropod abundance also may not represent arthropod availability when vegetation structure discourages the ground foraging behavior of species such as Cactus Wrens. Cover of non-native grass negatively influenced breeding productivity, although arthropods were abundant in non-native grass. Other factors that could have influenced differential breeding productivity between the Otay and San Diego populations were habitat restoration, control of annual herbaceous vegetation, human disturbance, lingering effects of wildfire, and nest predation. Overall, precipitation appeared to be a driver of Cactus Wren breeding productivity and possibly survival, potentially obscuring proximate effects of arthropod or vegetation composition.

Simulated global coastal ecosystem responses to a half-century increase in river nitrogen loads

Released August 30, 2022 09:01 EST

2022, Geophysical Research Letters (48)

Xiao Liu, Charles A. Stock, John P. Dunne, Minjin Lee, Elena Shevliakova, Sergey Malyshev, Paul C. D. Milly

Coastal ecosystems are increasingly threatened by anthropogenic stressors such as harmful algal blooms and hypoxia projected to intensify through the combined effects of eutrophication and warming. As a major terrestrial nitrogen (N) source to the ocean, rivers play a critical role in shaping both coastal and global biogeochemical cycling. Combining an enhanced-resolution (1/4°), global ocean physical-biogeochemical model with dynamic river inputs, we estimate that elevated river nitrogen loads alone resulted in an increase of 16.6 Tg (+5.8%) in the global coastal nitrogen inventory (CNI) over the half century between 1961 and 2010. This change was accompanied by increases in coastal net primary productivity (NPP, +4.6%) and benthic detrital flux (BDF, +7.3%), the latter of which is indicative of an overall higher oxygen demand in coastal sediments. After normalization by area, the ecosystems most sensitive to added river nitrogen (g N m-2 yr-1) were those with long residence times and strong nitrogen limitation. While even enhanced-resolution global models remain limited in their capacity to resolve near-shore responses, these basic sensitivity factors provide two relevant axes for frameworks assessing the comparative susceptibility of globally distributed coastal ecosystems to enhanced nitrogen loading, and the effectiveness of mitigation strategies.

Over the hills and through the farms: Land use and topography influence genetic connectivity of northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens) in the Prairie Pothole Region

Released August 30, 2022 06:44 EST

2022, Landscape Ecology

Justin M. Waraniak, David M. Mushet, Craig A. Stockwell


Agricultural land-use conversion has fragmented prairie wetland habitats in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR), an area with one of the most wetland dense regions in the world. This fragmentation can lead to negative consequences for wetland obligate organisms, heightening risk of local extinction and reducing evolutionary potential for populations to adapt to changing environments.


This study models biotic connectivity of prairie-pothole wetlands using landscape genetic analyses of the northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens) to (1) identify population structure and (2) determine landscape factors driving genetic differentiation and possibly leading to population fragmentation.


Frogs from 22 sites in the James River and Lake Oahe river basins in North Dakota were genotyped using Best-RAD sequencing at 2868 bi-allelic single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Population structure was assessed using STRUCTURE, DAPC, and fineSTRUCTURE. Circuitscape was used to model resistance values for ten landscape variables that could affect habitat connectivity.


STRUCTURE results suggested a panmictic population, but other more sensitive clustering methods identified six spatially organized clusters. Circuit theory-based landscape resistance analysis suggested land use, including cultivated crop agriculture, and topography were the primary influences on genetic differentiation.


While the R. pipiens populations appear to have high gene flow, we found a difference in the patterns of connectivity between the eastern portion of our study area which was dominated by cultivated crop agriculture, versus the western portion where topographic roughness played a greater role. This information can help identify amphibian dispersal corridors and prioritize lands for conservation or restoration.

Going beyond low flows: Streamflow drought deficit and duration illuminate distinct spatiotemporal drought patterns and trends in the U.S. during the last century

Released August 30, 2022 06:32 EST

2022, Water Resources Research (58)

John C. Hammond, Caelan E. Simeone, Jory Seth Hecht, Glenn A. Hodgkins, Melissa Lombard, Gregory J. McCabe, David M. Wolock, Michael Wieczorek, Carolyn G Olson, Todd Caldwell, Robert W. Dudley, Adam N. Price

Streamflow drought is a recurring challenge, and understanding spatiotemporal patterns of past droughts is needed to manage future water resources. We examined regional patterns in streamflow drought metrics and compared these metrics to low flow timing and magnitude using long-term daily records for 555 minimally disturbed watersheds. For each streamgage, we calculated streamflow drought duration (number of days) and deficit (flow volume below a specified threshold) for each climate year (April 1–March 31). We identified drought using five thresholds (2%–30%) and two approaches: variable thresholds with unique values for each day of the year, and a fixed threshold based on all period-of-record flows. We then analyzed drought trends using the Mann-Kendall test with persistence adjustment for 1921–2020, 1951–2020, and 1981–2020, and computed correlations between annual streamflow drought metrics and climate metrics using values from a monthly water balance model. Spatial patterns in drought metrics were consistent between variable and fixed approaches, though fixed threshold durations were typically longer and variable threshold deficits larger. High interannual variability in drought duration emerged in the central, interior west, and southwestern U.S., with high deficit variability in the interior west. Drought metrics were weakly correlated with low flow magnitude and timing, providing unique information. Drought duration and deficit increased in the southern and western U.S. for both 1951–2020 and 1981–2020, particularly using fixed thresholds, and paralleled trends in aridity. Projections of continued aridification for the southern and western U.S. may increase drought durations and deficits and intensify water availability impacts.

Methods for evaluating Gap Analysis Project habitat distribution maps with species occurrence data

Released August 29, 2022 14:10 EST

2022, Techniques and Methods 2-A19

Matthew J. Rubino, Alexa J. McKerrow, Nathan M. Tarr, Steven G. Williams

The National Gap Analysis Project created species habitat distribution models for all terrestrial vertebrates in the United States to support conservation assessments and explore patterns of species richness. Those models link species to specific habitats throughout the range of each species. For most vertebrates, there are not enough occurrence data to drive inductive, range-wide species habitat distribution models at high spatial and thematic resolution. However, it is possible to use occurrence data for model evaluation. The combination of citizen science, formal species survey work, and digitized specimen archives are making millions of observations available to the scientific community. Our challenge is to combine the mostly unstructured data into metrics that help us characterize and understand patterns of biodiversity. In this work, we propose two model-evaluation metrics. The first, a buffer proportion assessment, is based on the proportion of habitat in the range relative to the mean proportion of habitat around each of the species’ occurrence records. The second is a measure of the sensitivity (proportion of true presence) to buffer distances around occurrence records. The buffer proportion is a modification of model prevalence versus point prevalence metric, whereby comparison to a null model allows us to determine if the model performs better or worse than random.

In this report, we describe the workflow used to compile and filter the species occurrence records from online resources (for example, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility) and show results for a single species, Desmognathus quadramaculatus (black-bellied salamander). For the salamander, 222 occurrence points met our criteria for inclusion in the evaluation. We found the model performed better than random with a buffer proportion index of 1.745, indicating about 5 times as much habitat was found adjacent to known occurrence records than would be expected from randomly located sites throughout the range. Sensitivity increased with larger buffer distances and leveled off to around 0.7 between 1,000- and 2,000-meter buffer distances, indicating the model is likely best suited for scales exceeding 1,000 meters. We plan to report the buffer proportion assessment and sensitivity metrics along with the full species model reports to increase understanding of the model’s performance and to use the metrics to help prioritize revisions to the models.

Diminishing Arctic lakes

Released August 29, 2022 07:12 EST

2022, Nature Climate Change

Rebecca A Finger-Higgens

The Arctic is home to the largest surface water fraction of any terrestrial biome, containing thousands of low-lying lakes. Now, it appears that some Arctic lakes are drying due to rising air temperatures and autumn rains, causing permafrost to thaw and water bodies to drain.

Hot, wet and rare: Modelling the occupancy dynamics of the narrowly distributed Dixie Valley toad

Released August 29, 2022 07:04 EST

2022, Wildlife Research

Jonathan P. Rose, Patrick M. Kleeman, Brian J. Halstead

Context: Small population sizes and no possibility of metapopulation rescue put narrowly distributed endemic species under elevated risk of extinction from anthropogenic change. Desert spring wetlands host many endemic species that require aquatic habitat and are isolated by the surrounding xeric terrestrial habitat.

Aims: We sought to model the occupancy dynamics of the Dixie Valley toad (Anaxyrus williamsi), a recently described species endemic to a small desert spring wetland complex in Nevada, USA.

Methods: We divided the species’ range into 20 m × 20 m cells and surveyed for Dixie Valley toads at 60 cells during six primary periods from 2018 to 2021, following an occupancy study design. We analysed our survey data by using a multi-state dynamic occupancy model to estimate the probability of adult occurrence, colonisation, site survival, and larval occurrence and the relationship of each to environmental covariates.

Key results: The detection probabilities of adult and larval toads were affected by survey length and time of day. Adult Dixie Valley toads were widely distributed, with detections in 75% of surveyed cells at some point during the 3-year study, whereas larvae were observed only in 20% of cells during the study. Dixie Valley toad larvae were more likely to occur in cells far from spring heads with a high coverage of surface water, low emergent vegetation cover, and water temperatures between 20°C and 28°C. Adult toads were more likely to occur in cells with a greater coverage of surface water and water depth >10 cm. Cells with more emergent vegetation cover and surface water were more likely to be colonised by adult toads.

Conclusions: Our results showed that Dixie Valley toads are highly dependent on surface water in both spring and autumn. Adults and larvae require different environmental conditions, with larvae occurring farther from spring heads and in fewer cells.

Implications: Disturbances to the hydrology of the desert spring wetlands in Dixie Valley could threaten the persistence of this narrowly distributed toad.