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Publications recently added to the Pubs Warehouse

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Potential effects of out-of-basin groundwater transfers on spring discharge, base flow, and groundwater storage pertaining to the Rush Springs aquifer in and near the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma Tribal jurisdictional area, western Oklahoma

Released May 25, 2022 11:41 EST

2022, Scientific Investigations Report 2022-5044

Laura G. Labriola, Cory A. Russell, John H. Ellis

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma and Bureau of Indian Affairs, assessed four groundwater-withdrawal scenarios and their potential effects on the Rush Springs aquifer in and near the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma Tribal jurisdictional area in western Oklahoma. Increases in industrial and public water supply needs have led to increased development of water resources within the Rush Springs aquifer. As new areas within the aquifer are developed, increased water withdrawals may result in decreases in available groundwater resources and conflicts among water users.

For this study, a previously published numerical groundwater-flow model of the Rush Springs aquifer was modified to simulate the potential effects of four groundwater withdrawal scenarios. For the previously published calibrated model, groundwater flow was simulated from 1979 through 2015. In this study, groundwater flow simulations were extended through 2035. The period from 2016 through 2035 is referred to as the “20-year projection.” Four groundwater withdrawal scenarios starting in 2007 and continuing through 2035 were evaluated. Scenario 1 simulated no groundwater withdrawals; scenario 2 simulated no withdrawals allocated for out-of-basin water-use transfers; scenario 3 simulated withdrawals based on reported withdrawals during the 2007–15 simulation period and compounded annual increases in groundwater use during the subsequent 20-year projection; and scenario 4 simulated maximum permitted withdrawals for allocation to out-of-basin water-use transfers. Out-of-basin water transfers were classified as withdrawals that are not returned back to the aquifer.

At the springs of interest, changes in water-level altitudes in response to different groundwater withdrawal scenarios were simulated by comparing the results from different model cells. Between 2007 and 2015, scenarios 2–4 yielded similar simulated water-level altitudes in the model cells containing springs of interest, with water-level altitudes decreasing to below the land surface altitude at 13 of the total 25 springs of interest, whereas under scenario 1 there were only two model cells containing springs of interest where the simulated water-level altitudes of a spring decreased to below land surface altitude. For the 20-year projection, water-level altitudes at springs simulated in model cells in scenarios 2–4 decreased to below land surface altitude for 13 of the total 25 model cells containing springs of interest, whereas under scenario 1 there were only two model cells containing springs of interest where the simulated water-level altitudes of a spring decreased to below land surface altitude.

The potential effects of groundwater withdrawals were evaluated by comparing changes in groundwater storage between the four scenarios. The 2007–15 groundwater withdrawal scenarios were used to simulate the potential effects of groundwater withdrawal rates on groundwater storage of the Rush Springs aquifer. The simulated groundwater storage change in the Rush Springs aquifer ranged from an increase of 2.8 percent for scenario 1 to an increase of 1.0 percent for scenario 4. Projected 20-year groundwater withdrawal scenarios were used to simulate the potential effects of selected groundwater withdrawal rates on groundwater storage of the Rush Springs aquifer. Simulated groundwater storage changes ranged from a decrease of 0.5 percent for scenario 1 to a decrease of 0.7 percent for scenario 4.

Underwater videographic observations of domesticated Delta smelt in field enclosures

Released May 24, 2022 12:57 EST

2022, Open-File Report 2022-1028

Ethan Enos, Oliver Patton, Frederick Feyrer

The delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus) is a small, euryhaline fish species endemic to the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta; it is protected under the U.S. and California Endangered Species Acts, and because of declines in population abundance, the delta smelt may be vulnerable to extinction. The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) is conducting studies to test the viability of using domesticated fish to supplement the wild population of delta smelt. These studies have focused on examining the health and survival of domesticated delta smelt placed inside enclosures (circular cages that are approximately 1.5 meters tall by 1 meter in diameter) into the wild. We completed two parts within this study using underwater cameras inside the enclosures to observe fish behavior and their responses to certain stimuli. In both parts of the study, delta smelt behaviors were broadly categorized into two basic categories: (1) normal and (2) alarm. Normal behavior was characterized as calm, non-polarized, and docile swimming behavior. Alarm behavior was characterized by sudden and rapid darting, polarized frantic swimming activity, and tighter schooling polarization of individuals.

The first part of the study took place in a semi-controlled agricultural pond on the campus of the University of California, Davis. At this agricultural pond, we developed methods of observation and documented how fish behaved in response to enclosure disturbances associated with routine cleaning and service that is required during extended field deployments of the enclosures. We observed that delta smelt behavior changed from normal to alarm at the onset of an enclosure service and from alarm to normal within about 2 minutes after the service ended.

The second part of the study was completed in cooperation with the DWR. In October 2019, DWR deployed three enclosures in the Sacramento River near Rio Vista, California. To monitor survival rate of delta smelt, DWR permitted us to deploy cameras in one enclosure to document the frequency and duration of alarm behaviors exhibited by delta smelt and the frequency, duration, and intensity of three types of disturbances: (1) noise generated from passing boats, (2) noise generated from the enclosure moving in response to wave energy, and (3) vertical movements of the enclosure generated from wave energy. Alarm behaviors averaged about 2 minutes in duration and occurred most frequently during the evening compared to midday or morning. Each disturbance variable exhibited substantial variability in duration and intensity and occurred least frequently during the morning and evening compared to midday. Alarm behaviors appeared to be most associated with high intensity enclosure noises and vertical movements; however, limited replicate samples prohibited developing a statistical relation. Alarm behaviors did not directly contribute to injury or mortality of individual delta smelt; however, indirect or sublethal effects of alarm behaviors were not examined.

New model of the Barry Arm landslide in Alaska reveals potential tsunami wave heights of 2 meters, values much lower than previously estimated

Released May 24, 2022 12:10 EST

2022, Fact Sheet 2022-3020

Marísa A. Macías, Katherine R. Barnhart, Dennis M. Staley

The retreat of Barry Glacier has contributed to the destabilization of slopes in Barry Arm, creating the possibility that a landslide could rapidly enter the fjord and trigger a tsunami.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recently released a report documenting potential tsunami wave heights in the event of a large, fast-moving landslide at the Barry Arm fiord near Prince William Sound, Alaska (Barnhart and others, 2021). This new work shows that the largest plausible wave height is smaller than initial estimates published in Dai and others (2020), but waves still represent a substantial hazard to the people who live, work, and recreate in Prince William Sound. Thus, it is important that residents and visitors remain informed about this hazard and prepare accordingly.

Selenium in the Kootenai River Basin, Montana and Idaho, United States, and British Columbia, Canada

Released May 23, 2022 06:58 EST

2022, Fact Sheet 2022-3033

U.S. Geological Survey

Selenium entering the 90-mile long transboundary Koocanusa Reservoir (also called Lake Koocanusa) in southeastern British Columbia, Canada, and northwestern Montana, United States, has been measured at concentrations above State and Federal water-quality and aquatic life standards. The reservoir is within the international Kootenai (or “Kootenay” in Canada) drainage basin, which contains critical habitat for native fish species and is impounded by Libby Dam 16 miles upstream from Libby, Montana. Since 1984, selenium concentrations have ranged from below detection to greater than 8 micrograms per liter in the Elk River, measured 2.2 miles above its discharge into Koocanusa Reservoir at a British Columbia environmental monitoring station (site 0200016). Selenium is a required micro-nutrient, but elevated concentrations in water bioaccumulate in egg-laying fish and birds, causing various sublethal effects and death. One possible source of selenium in the Kootenai River Basin is the excavation of bedrock in the Elk River Valley to access coal seams for metallurgical steelmaking and coal production. Five open-pit coal mines are operating in this region of southeastern British Columbia that produce about 21 million tons of metallurgical coal annually.

Site-specific selenium standards were established for the reservoir in 2020 following collaborative work by the U.S. Geological Survey, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, the British Columbia Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, the Lake Koocanusa Monitoring and Research Working Group, and the Selenium Technical Subcommittee. The standards of 0.8 microgram per liter for dissolved selenium in the water column and 15.1 milligrams per kilogram dry weight for fish egg (ovary) tissue (in addition to the muscle and wholebody standards) were adopted into Montana State law in 2020 and approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2021.

A critical review of bioaccumulation and biotransformation of organic chemicals in birds

Released May 20, 2022 10:20 EST

2022, Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology (260)

Dave T. F. Kuo, Barnett A. Rattner, Sarah C. Marteinson, Robert J. Letcher, Kim J. Fernie, Gabriele Treu, Markus Deutsch, Mark S. Johnson, Sandrine Deglin, Michelle Embry

A literature review of bioaccumulation and biotransformation of organic chemicals in birds was undertaken, aiming to support scoping and prioritization of future research. The objectives were to characterize available bioaccumulation/biotransformation data, identify knowledge gaps, determine how extant data can be used, and explore the strategy and steps forward. An intermediate approach balanced between expediency and rigor was taken given the vastness of the literature. Following a critical review of > 500 peer-reviewed studies, > 25,000 data entries and 2 million information bytes were compiled on > 700 organic compounds for ~ 320 wild species and 60 domestic breeds of birds. These data were organized into themed databases on bioaccumulation and biotransformationfield surveymicrosomal enzyme activitymetabolic pathway, and bird taxonomy and diet. Significant data gaps were identified in all databases at multiple levels. Biotransformation characterization was largely fragmented over metabolite/pathway identification and characterization of enzyme activity or biotransformation kinetics. Limited biotransformation kinetic data constrained development of an avian biotransformation model. A substantial shortage of in vivo biotransformation kinetics has been observed as most reported rate constants were derived in vitro. No metric comprehensively captured all key contaminant classes or chemical groups to support broad-scope modeling of bioaccumulation or biotransformation. However, metrics such as biota-feed accumulation factor, maximum transfer factor, and total elimination rate constant were more readily usable for modeling or benchmarking than other reviewed parameters. Analysis demonstrated the lack of bioaccumulation/biotransformation characterization of shorebirds, seabirds, and raptors. In the study of bioaccumulation and biotransformation of organic chemicals in birds, this review revealed the need for greater chemical and avian species diversity, chemical measurements in environmental media, basic biometrics and exposure conditions, multiple tissues/matrices sampling, and further exploration on biotransformation. Limitations of classical bioaccumulation metrics and current research strategies used in bird studies were also discussed. Forward-looking research strategies were proposed: adopting a chemical roadmap for future investigations, integrating existing biomonitoring data, gap-filling with non-testing approaches, improving data reporting practices, expanding field sampling scopes, bridging existing models and theories, exploring biotransformation via avian genomics, and establishing an online data repository.

Assessing climate change impacts on Pacific salmon using bioenergetics and spatiotemporal explicit river temperature predictions under varying riparian conditions

Released May 20, 2022 09:56 EST

2022, PLoS ONE (17)

Andrew Spanjer, Andrew S. Gendaszek, Elyse J. Wulfkuhle, Robert W. Black, Kristin Jaeger

Pacific salmon and trout populations are affected by timber harvest, the removal and alteration of riparian vegetation, and the resulting physical changes to water quality, temperature, and associated delivery of high-quality terrestrial prey. Juvenile salmon and trout growth, a key predictor of survival, is poorly understood in the context of current and future (climate-change mediated) conditions, with resource managers needing information on how land use will impact future river conditions for these commercially and culturally important species. We used the Heat Source water temperature modeling framework to develop a spatiotemporal model to assess how riparian canopy and vegetation preservation and addition could influence river temperatures under future climate predictions in a coastal river fed by a moraine-dammed lake: the Quinault River in Washington State. The model predicted higher water temperatures under future carbon emission projections, representative concentration pathway (RCP) 4.5 and 8.5, with varying magnitude based on different riparian vegetation scenarios. We used the daily average temperature output from these scenarios to predict potential juvenile fish growth using the Wisconsin bioenergetics model. A combination of riparian vegetation removal and continued high carbon emissions resulted in a predicted seven-day average daily maximum temperature (7DADM) increase of 1.7°C in the lower river by 2080; increases in riparian shading mitigate this 7DADM increase to only 0.9°C. Under the current thermal regime, bioenergetics modeling predicts juvenile fish lose weight in the lower river; this loss of potential growth worsens by an average of 20–83% in the lower river by 2080, increasing with the loss of riparian shading. This study assess the impact of riparian vegetation management on future thermal habitat for Pacific salmon and trout under warming climates and provide a useful spatially explicit modeling framework that managers can use to make decisions regarding riparian vegetation management and its mechanistic impact to water temperature and rearing juvenile fish.

Fish ear stones offer climate change clues in Alaska's lakes

Released May 20, 2022 06:50 EST

2022, Frontiers for Young Minds

Krista K. Bartz, Vanessa R. von Biela, Bryan A. Black, Daniel B. Young, Peter van der Sleen, Christian E. Zimmerman

Otoliths, also known as ear stones, are small body parts that help fish with hearing and balance. Like tree rings, otoliths form one light and one dark band per year, creating rings. These rings can be measured to understand fish growth. The wider the ring, the greater the growth. In our study, we used otoliths to understand how one fish species—lake trout—responds to rising temperature in the state of Alaska. We found that warmer spring air temperature and earlier lake ice melt were related to faster lake trout growth. This finding is consistent with other studies that link warmer water temperature and earlier lake ice melt to increased plankton in Alaska’s lakes. Together, these findings suggest that climate-driven increases at the bottom of the food web might benefit top predators like lake trout. However, the relationship between warmer temperature and faster growth may not last.

Satellites quantify the spatial extent of cyanobacterial blooms across the United States at multiple scales

Released May 20, 2022 06:41 EST

2022, Ecological Indicators (140)

Blake Schaeffer, Erin Urquhart, Megan Coffer, Wilson Salls, Richard Stumpf, Keith Loftin, P. Jeremy Werdell

Previous studies indicate that cyanobacterial harmful algal bloom (cyanoHAB) frequency, extent, and magnitude have increased globally over the past few decades. However, little quantitative capability is available to assess these metrics of cyanoHABs across broad geographic scales and at regular intervals. Here, the spatial extent was quantified from a cyanobacteria algorithm applied to two European Space Agency satellite platforms—the MEdium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) onboard Envisat and the Ocean and Land Colour Instrument (OLCI) onboard Sentinel-3. CyanoHAB spatial extent was defined for each geographic area as the percentage of valid satellite pixels that exhibited cyanobacteria above the detection limit of the satellite sensor. This study quantified cyanoHAB spatial extent for over 2,000 large lakes and reservoirs across the contiguous United States (CONUS) during two time periods: 2008–2011 via MERIS and 2017–2020 via OLCI when cloud-, ice-, and snow-free imagery was available. Approximately 56% of resolvable lakes were glaciated, 13% were headwater, isolated, or terminal lakes, and the rest were primarily drainage lakes. Results were summarized at national-, regional-, state-, and lake-scales, where regions were defined as nine climate regions which represent climatically consistent states. As measured by satellite, changes in national cyanoHAB extent did have a strong increase of 6.9% from 2017 to 2020 (|Kendall’s tau (τ)| = 0.56; gamma (γ) = 2.87 years), but had negligible change (|τ| = 0.03) from 2008 to 2011. Two of the nine regions had moderate (0.3 ≤ |τ| < 0.5) increases in spatial extent from 2017 to 2020, and eight of nine regions had negligible (|τ| < 0.2) change from 2008 to 2011. Twelve states had a strong or moderate increase from 2017 to 2020 (|τ| ≥ 0.3), while only one state had a moderate increase and two states had a moderate decrease from 2008 to 2011. A decrease, or no change, in cyanoHAB spatial extent did not indicate a lack of issues related to cyanoHABs. Sensitivity results of randomly omitted daily CONUS scenes confirm that even with reduced data availability during a short four-year temporal assessment, the direction and strength of the changes in spatial extent remained consistent. We present the first set of national maps of lake cyanoHAB spatial extent across CONUS and demonstrate an approach for quantifying past and future changes at multiple spatial scales. Results presented here provide water quality managers information regarding current cyanoHAB spatial extent and quantify rates of change.

Airborne electromagnetic survey results near the Poso Creek oil field, San Joaquin Valley, California, fall 2016

Released May 19, 2022 15:50 EST

2022, Data Report 1155

Katrina D. Zamudio, Lyndsay B. Ball, Michael J. Stephens

An airborne electromagnetic survey west of the Poso Creek oil field, located in the southeastern San Joaquin Valley, California, was flown in October 2016 to improve understanding of the hydrogeologic setting and the distribution of groundwater salinity in the area. The airborne electromagnetic data were used to develop resistivity models of the subsurface, where the mean depth of investigation is about 300 meters below the land surface and thus characterizes parts of the Kern River Formation and overlying sediments. Resistivity models along with water table elevation, historical total dissolved solids measurements of water samples from wells, well lithologic records, borehole geophysical logs, and mapped surface geology were used to develop an understanding of local hydrogeologic controls on resistivity. Interpretation of these data indicate the resistivity structure primarily reflects the general lithologic character and geologic structure of the study area, with more subtle influences from variations in saturation and salinity.

Opportunities for businesses to use and support development of SEEA-aligned natural capital accounts

Released May 19, 2022 10:01 EST

2022, Ecosystem Services (55)

Jane Carter Ingram, Kenneth J. Bagstad, Michael Vardon, Charles R. Rhodes, Stephen M. Posner, Clyde F. Casey, Pierre D. Glynn, Carl D. Shapiro

Global understanding of the interconnections between the environment and economy has increased, driving the development of frameworks and standards that support the measurement and valuation of natural capital and ecosystem services by both governments and businesses. This paper outlines how businesses can use natural capital accounts (NCA) aligned to the System of Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA) standard described in this special issue to support identification, management, and valuation of natural capital not typically listed on corporate balance sheets. Such accounts have direct applications for business strategic planning, investment decisions, supply chain management, operations management, risk management, and corporate reporting. Businesses also have important roles to play in advancing SEEA-aligned NCA by providing information that would be useful to include in the accounts and by helping to shape accounts to provide decision-relevant information for both the private and the public sectors. Current pilot SEEA-aligned NCA data and analyses developed for the United States can help address some of the common challenges that businesses face in using natural capital data such as accessibility, quality, and credibility, important for business decision making. However, improvements are needed to fill data gaps and produce more frequent and timely estimates aligned to the temporal resolution needed by businesses.

Streambank and floodplain geomorphic change and contribution to watershed material budgets

Released May 19, 2022 06:50 EST

2022, Environmental Research Letters (17)

Gregory B. Noe, Kristina G. Hopkins, Peter R. Claggett, Edward R. Schenk, Marina Metes, Labeeb Ahmed, Tom Doody, Cliff R. Hupp

Stream geomorphic change is highly spatially variable but critical to landform evolution, human infrastructure, habitat, and watershed pollutant transport. However, measurements and process models of streambank erosion and floodplain deposition and resulting sediment fluxes are currently insufficient to predict these rates in all perennial streams over large regions. Here we measured long-term lateral streambank and vertical floodplain change and sediment fluxes using dendrogeomorphology in streams around the U.S. Mid-Atlantic, and then statistically modeled and extrapolated these rates to all 74 133 perennial, nontidal streams in the region using watershed- and reach-scale predictors. Measured long-term rates of streambank erosion and floodplain deposition were highly spatially variable across the landscape from the mountains to the coast. Random Forest regression identified that geomorphic change and resulting fluxes of sediment and nutrients, for both streambank and floodplain, were most influenced by urban and agricultural land use and the drainage area of the upstream watershed. Modeled rates for headwater streams were net erosional whereas downstream reaches were on average net depositional, leading to regional cumulative sediment loads from streambank erosion (−5.1 Tg yr−1) being nearly balanced by floodplain deposition (+5.3 Tg yr−1). Geomorphic changes in stream valleys had substantial influence on watershed sediment, phosphorus, carbon, and nitrogen budgets in comparison to existing predictions of upland erosion and delivery to streams and of downstream sediment loading. The unprecedented scale of these novel findings provides important insights into the balance of erosion and deposition in streams within disturbed landscapes and the importance of geomorphic change to stream water quality and carbon sequestration, and provides vital understanding for targeting management actions to restore watersheds.

Integrating data types to estimate spatial patterns of avian migration across the Western Hemisphere

Released May 19, 2022 06:43 EST

2022, Ecological Applications

Timothy Meehan, Sarah P. Saunders, William DeLuca, Nicole L Michel, Joanna Grand, JIll Deppe, MIguel JImenez, Erika Knight, Nathaniel E. Seavy, Melanie A. Smith, Lotem Taylor, Chad Witko, Michael Akresh, David S. Barber, David Bayne, James Beasley, Jerrold L. Belant, Richard O Bierregaard Jr., Keith L. Bildstein, Than J. Boves, John N. Brzorad, Steven B. Campbell, Antonio Celis-Murillo, Hillary Cooke, Robert Domenech, Laurie J. Goodrich, Elizabeth A. Gow, Aaron Haines, Michael T. Hallworth, Jason M. Hill, Amanda E. Holland, Scott Jennings, Roland Kays, Tommy King, Kent MacFarland, Stewart Mckenzie, Peter P. Marra, Rebbeca McCabe, Kent P. McFarland, Michael J. McGrady, John Melcer Jr., Ryan Norris, Russell Norvell, Olin Rhodes Jr., Christopher C. Rimmer, Amy L. Scarpignato, Adam Shreading, Jesse Watson, Chad Wilsey

For many avian species, spatial migration patterns remain largely undescribed, especially across hemispheric extents. Recent advancements in tracking technologies and high-resolution species distribution models (i.e., eBird Status and Trends products) provide new insights into migratory bird movements and offer a promising opportunity for integrating independent data sources to describe avian migration. Here, we present a three-stage modeling framework for estimating spatial patterns of avian migration. First, we integrate tracking and band re-encounter data to quantify migratory connectivity, defined as the relative proportions of individuals migrating between breeding and nonbreeding regions. Next, we use estimated connectivity proportions along with eBird occurrence probabilities to produce probabilistic least-cost path (LCP) indices. In a final step, we use generalized additive mixed models (GAMMs) both to evaluate the ability of LCP indices to accurately predict (i.e., as a covariate) observed locations derived from tracking and band re-encounter datasets versus pseudo-absence locations during migratory periods, and to create a fully integrated (i.e., eBird occurrence, LCP, and tracking/band re-encounter data) spatial prediction index for mapping species-specific seasonal migrations. To illustrate this approach, we apply this framework to describe seasonal migrations of 12 bird species across the Western Hemisphere during pre- and post-breeding migratory periods (i.e., spring and fall, respectively). We found that including LCP indices with eBird occurrence in GAMMs generally improved the ability to accurately predict observed migratory locations, when compared to models with eBird occurrence alone. Using three performance metrics, the eBird + LCP model demonstrated equivalent or superior fit relative to the eBird-only model for 22 of 24 species-season GAMMs. In particular, the integrated index filled in spatial gaps for species with over-water movements and those that migrated over land where there were few eBird sightings, and thus, low predictive ability of eBird occurrence probabilities (e.g., Amazonian rainforest in South America). This methodology of combining individual-based seasonal movement data with temporally dynamic species distribution models provides a comprehensive approach for integrating multiple data types to describe broad-scale spatial patterns of animal movement. Further development and customization of this approach will continue to advance knowledge about the full annual cycle and conservation of migratory birds.

Yuma Ridgway’s rail selenium exposure and occupancy within managed and unmanaged emergent marshes at the Salton Sea

Released May 18, 2022 12:28 EST

2022, Open-File Report 2022-1045

Mark A. Ricca, Cory T. Overton, Thomas W. Anderson, Angela Merritt, Eamon Harrity, Elliott Matchett, Michael L. Casazza

Yuma Ridgway’s rail (Rallus obsoletus yumanensis, hereafter, rail) is an endangered species for which patches of emergent marsh within the Salton Sea watershed comprise a substantial part of habitat for the species’ disjointed range in the southwestern United States. These areas of emergent marsh include (1) marshes managed by federal (particularly the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge), state (California Department of Fish and Wildlife), and local (Imperial Irrigation District) resource agencies that are sustained by direct deliveries of Colorado River water and (2) unmanaged marshes sustained by agricultural drainage water. Management of rail habitat in this arid environment is complicated by increasingly limited availability of unimpaired freshwater owing to water management decisions associated with the Quantification Settlement Agreement and risks posed by potentially harmful concentrations of selenium found in agricultural drainage water that can readily bioaccumulate in aquatic food webs.

To provide timely science for managers, herein we report summary statistics for managed and unmanaged emergent marshes sampled at the Salton Sea during the rail breeding season of 2016 pertaining to (1) selenium concentrations in food webs representing dietary pathways of selenium exposure and (2) patterns of rail occupancy and inter-marsh movements, estimated abundance, and regional population size of rail. For selenium-specific objectives, we sampled unfiltered surface water, midge larvae (Chironomidae), water boatmen (Corixidae), mosquitofish (Gambusia spp.), and crayfish (Astacidae). Selenium samples were collected from 15 fixed sampling points, each in managed and unmanaged marshes, during late February, April, and June 2016, which corresponded to rail pre-nesting, nesting, and fledgling reproductive life-stages, respectively. Two areas within the two treatment types (managed versus unmanaged marsh) were of particular interest to help assess risks associated with changing sea dynamics and different water-management strategies: (1) a large unmanaged marsh (Morton Bay) unintentionally created in approximately 2008 when it became separated from the Salton Sea as water inflows began to drop and a berm formed from accumulated sediment and (2) a restored marsh (HZ9A) managed by the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge, which is currently supplied with Colorado River water but may be sustained in the future by a blend of clean (that is, low selenium) Colorado River and agricultural drainage water with higher selenium from the Alamo River. Hence, baseline data for these marshes are important for future management decisions. We also report selenium concentrations in rail blood, head feathers, and breast feathers from rails captured as part of the movement study. Results indicated relatively higher risks from dietary selenium exposure for rails occupying unmanaged marshes compared to managed marshes and similar risks among unmanaged marshes. However, risks also were potentially elevated for rails occupying some managed marshes (that is, the Hazard Marshes), where relatively high proportions of Chironomidae and mosquitofish exceeded dietary thresholds for selenium effects on avian reproduction.

For rail-specific objectives, we quantified occupancy and spatial distribution using call count data analyzed with imperfect detection models. Imperfect detection models allowed us to jointly estimate detection probability and abundance of detected rails in association with habitats. We then used estimates of detection probability and abundance at the habitat level to extrapolate rail population abundance for the Salton Sea region. Inter- and intra-marsh movements were described from over 5,000 locations obtained from 15 radio-marked rails. Resultant space use patterns indicated that, in general, selenium risk to individuals is not equally shared because of high levels of territoriality and very limited movement throughout the landscape. Moreover, the largest contiguous blocks of habitat are associated with unmanaged marshlands located on the former southeastern shoreline and outside traditional management areas and authorities. Thus, a substantial proportion of the rail population that is using unmanaged marsh on the southeastern shoreline may have disproportionate risk of elevated selenium exposure, yet how that risk translates to population-level effects remains unknown.

Oklahoma and Landsat

Released May 18, 2022 10:48 EST

2022, Fact Sheet 2022-3032

U.S. Geological Survey

Oklahoma benefits from a varied landscape abundant in resources. Mountains, grasslands, reservoirs, rivers, fields, and forests offer employment and enjoyment in a State that epitomizes the transition from north to south and east to west. Wheat grows in northern Oklahoma; cotton grows in the south. Wetter deciduous forest lands in the southeast contrast with drier mesas in the northwest. Among the many lakes and reservoirs, the Great Salt Plains Lake on the Arkansas River has thousands of acres of salt flats with unique hourglass-shaped selenite crystals.

Grassland and grazing permeate the Sooner State, which is the second largest cattle producer in the country. Oil, natural gas, and coal have long played a key role in Oklahoma’s economy and energy industry, whereas wind farms in western Oklahoma are a more recent addition.

The Landsat series of Earth observation satellites has allowed analysts to search for oil in Oklahoma from hundreds of miles above the Earth. The satellite program also helps Oklahoma’s agriculture industry keep an eye on the condition of crops and grazing land.

Here are just a few ways Landsat has benefited Oklahoma.

Geospatial analysis delineates lode gold prospectivity in Alaska

Released May 18, 2022 09:20 EST

2022, Fact Sheet 2022-3008

Susan M. Karl, Douglas C. Kreiner, George N.D. Case, Keith A. Labay

Comprehensive, data-driven geographic information system analyses utilize publicly available lithologic, geochemical, geophysical, and mineral occurrence datasets to delineate gold resource potential in Alaska. These prospectivity analyses successfully identify areas containing known lode gold occurrences, expand areas of high prospectivity around known occurrences, improve the precision of delineation of areas of high prospectivity for lode gold deposit types, and determine new areas that may have potential for gold deposits. These analyses indicate prospectivity in areas where exposure is good and in areas where exposure is poor, which provide useful guidance for land-use decisions and exploration strategies.

Continuous stream discharge, salinity, and associated data collected in the lower St. Johns River and its tributaries, Florida, 2020

Released May 17, 2022 14:31 EST

2022, Open-File Report 2022-1024

Patrick J. Ryan

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District, is deepening the St. Johns River channel in Jacksonville, Florida, from 40 to 47 feet along 13 miles of the river channel beginning at the mouth of the river at the Atlantic Ocean, in order to accommodate larger, fully loaded cargo vessels. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, monitored stage, discharge, and (or) water temperature and salinity at 26 continuous data collection stations in the St. Johns River and its tributaries.

This is the fifth annual report by the U.S. Geological Survey on data collection for the Jacksonville Harbor deepening project. The report contains information pertinent to data collection during the 2020 water year, from October 2019 to September 2020. The addition of water-quality data collection at St. Johns River at Buffalo Bluff near Satsuma was the only modification to the previously installed network.

Discharge and salinity varied widely during the data collection period, which included above-average rainfall for 3 of the 5 counties in the study area. Total annual rainfall for all counties ranked third among the annual totals computed for the 5 years considered for this study. Annual mean discharge at Clapboard Creek was highest among the tributaries, followed by Ortega River, Durbin Creek, Pottsburg Creek at U.S. 90, Cedar River, Trout River, Julington Creek, Pottsburg Creek near South Jacksonville, Dunn Creek, and Broward River, whose annual mean was lowest. Annual mean discharge at 8 of the 10 tributary monitoring sites was higher for the 2020 water year than for the 2019 water year, and the computed annual mean flow at Clapboard Creek was the highest over the 5 years considered for this study. The annual mean discharge for each of the main-stem sites was higher for the 2020 water year than for the 2019 water year except for Buffalo Bluff, which remained the same.

Among the tributary sites, annual mean salinity was highest at Clapboard Creek, the site closest to the Atlantic Ocean, and was lowest at Durbin Creek, the site farthest from the ocean. Annual mean salinity data from the main-stem sites on the St. Johns River indicate that salinity decreased with distance upstream from the ocean, which was expected. Relative to annual mean salinity calculated for the 2019 water year, annual mean salinity at all monitoring locations was higher for the 2020 water year except at the tributary sites of Trout River, Dunn Creek, and Clapboard Creek, which were lower, and Durbin Creek, which remained the same. The 2020 annual mean salinity on the main-stem of the St. Johns River was the highest since the beginning of the study in 2016 at Dancy Point, Racy Point, Shands Bridge, below Shands Bridge, above Buckman Bridge, and Jacksonville (Acosta Bridge). Among the tributary sites, annual mean salinity rankings for 2020 were highest for Julington Creek and Ortega River, which were the second-highest on record for those sites.

Water quality in the Missouri River alluvial aquifer near the Independence, Missouri, well field, 1997–2018

Released May 17, 2022 14:15 EST

2022, Scientific Investigations Report 2022-5027

Robert T. Kay, Heather M. Krempa, Katie M. Hulsey

Groundwater-quality data collected from 1997 through 2018 from 68 monitoring locations open to the Missouri River alluvial aquifer (hereafter referred to as the “alluvial aquifer”) near the Independence, Missouri, well field were analyzed by the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the City of Independence, Missouri. This analysis was done to assess the quality of the water in the alluvial aquifer near the well field, identify trends in water quality in the alluvial aquifer from 1997 through 2018, assess hydraulic interaction between the Missouri River and the groundwater system, identify potential threats to the potability of the water extracted from the well field, and identify ways to improve the monitoring effort. Water-quality data indicate that water from the Missouri River recharges the alluvial aquifer. Recharge is exacerbated by pumping from the well field so that the quality of the water pumped from the well field is similar to that of the river for many constituents. Water-quality data indicate that the alluvial aquifer is under oxygen- and nitrate-reducing conditions, and iron- and manganese-reducing conditions are present in most of the alluvial aquifer. Sulfate-reducing conditions are present along the northern and western parts of the monitoring network north of the Missouri River. Maximum contaminant levels for antimony, arsenic, barium, lead, selenium, and uranium were exceeded in at least one sample, and the median concentrations of arsenic exceeded the maximum contaminant level in several monitoring wells on the periphery of the well field. Secondary maximum contaminant levels were exceeded for iron, manganese, and sulfate in multiple wells. Low concentrations of a variety of organic compounds, primarily derived from recharge from the Missouri River with lesser amounts potentially derived from application at land surface in the study area, are present in the alluvial aquifer and in water extracted from the well field.

Aqueous geochemistry of waters and hydrogeology of alluvial deposits, Pinnacles National Park, California

Released May 17, 2022 13:38 EST

2022, Open-File Report 2022-1026

Kathleen Scheiderich, Claire R. Tiedeman, Paul A. Hsieh

A cooperative study between the National Park Service (NPS) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) characterized groundwater quality and hydrogeology in parts of Pinnacles National Park. The water-quality investigation assessed the geochemistry of springs, wells, surface water, and precipitation and analyzed geochemistry of rock formations that affect the water chemistry through water-rock interaction. The hydrogeology investigation used geophysical and groundwater level data to characterize groundwater-flow processes in the alluvial deposits of Bear Valley and the Chalone Creek watershed.

Analysis of aqueous geochemical parameters in water samples from perennial springs, water-supply wells, and surface waters was conducted for samples collected after the dry season (autumnal) and after the wet season (vernal) to assess changes in geochemistry due to changes in groundwater levels or flow resulting from precipitation. The chemistry of bulk precipitation collected during the wet season was also analyzed. Bedrock samples were analyzed for geochemical parameters to help constrain groundwater sources, flow paths, and weathering. The geochemical investigations show a correspondence between the source rock and the spring-water chemistry that can be attributed to the mineralogy of the source rock. The narrow range of strontium isotopes in water samples, sourced in geochemically and mineralogically disparate rocks, indicates that the bedrock groundwater is relatively old and has reached quasi-steady state with respect to weathering of susceptible minerals.

Groundwater-level monitoring indicated that the water table is shallow—from 0 to 10 meters (m) below land surface. In southern Bear Valley and in the Chalone Creek alluvium, water levels rose and declined by several meters over each annual cycle of this study. In northern Bear Valley, water levels rose modestly over two wet seasons but declined during a third wet season. In Bear Valley, groundwater/surface-water interaction occurs along the perennial reach of Sandy Creek. Groundwater discharges to the upstream part of the reach, becomes surface water and is partly consumed by evapotranspiration, and infiltrates farther downstream. In the Chalone Creek alluvium, runoff-generated surface-water flow in intermittent stream reaches is a major component of groundwater recharge. After the onset of significant streamflow, creek water rapidly recharges groundwater until water levels rise to nearly the creek level. Groundwater levels generally remain high throughout the wet season, then gradually decline after the creek becomes dry.

2022 Emergency Assistance Act — USGS recovery activities

Released May 17, 2022 11:32 EST

2022, Fact Sheet 2022-3031

Jo Ellen Hinck, Joseph Stachyra

The Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act (Public Law 117-43) was enacted on September 30, 2021. The U.S. Geological Survey received $26.3 million in supplemental funding to repair and replace facilities and equipment, collect high-resolution elevation data, and complete scientific assessments to support direct recovery and rebuilding decisions in areas affected by declared disasters—earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes, and floods—that occurred between 2019 and 2021.

Combining process-based and data-driven approaches to forecast beach and dune change

Released May 17, 2022 09:01 EST

2022, Environmental Modelling & Software (153)

Michael Christopher Itzkin, Laura J. Moore, Peter Ruggiero, Paige A. Hovenga, Sally D. Hacker

Producing accurate hindcasts and forecasts with coupled models is challenging due to complex parameterizations that are difficult to ground in observational data. We present a calibration workflow that utilizes a series of machine learning algorithms paired with Windsurf, a coupled beach-dune model (Aeolis, the Coastal Dune Model, and XBeach), to produce hindcasts and forecasts of morphologic change along Bogue Banks, North Carolina. Neural networks paired with genetic algorithms allow us to fine tune calibration parameters for the hindcast, and then a long short-term memory neural network, trained on the hindcast, produces a 4-year forecast. We compare our hindcasts to observations from 2016 to 2017 and find they successfully reproduce observed modes of dune and beach change except for seaward growth of the dune face. We compare our forecasts to observations from 2016 to 2020 and find that they produce reasonably accurate predictions of dune change except when there are significant instances of erosion during the forecast period.

Decadal trends of mercury cycling and bioaccumulation within Everglades National Park

Released May 17, 2022 06:45 EST

2022, Science of the Total Environment

Sarah E. Janssen, Michael T. Tate, Brett Poulin, David P. Krabbenhoft, John F DeWild, Jacob M. Ogorek, Matthew S. Varonka, William H. Orem, Jeffrey D Kline

Mercury (Hg) contamination has been a persistent concern in the Florida Everglades for over three decades due to elevated atmospheric deposition and the system's propensity for methylation and rapid bioaccumulation. Given declines in atmospheric Hg concentrations in the conterminous United States and efforts to mitigate nutrient release to the greater Everglades ecosystem, it was vital to assess how Hg dynamics responded on temporal and spatial scales. This study used a multimedia approach (water and biota) to examine Hg and methylmercury (MeHg) dynamics across a 76-site network within the southernmost portion of the region, Everglades National Park (ENP), from 2008 to 2018. Atmospheric Hg deposition was evaluated over time using a long-term monitoring station. Hg concentrations across matrices showed that air, water, and biota from the system were inextricably linked. Temporal patterns across matrices were driven primarily by hydrologic and climatic changes in the park and no evidence of a decline in atmospheric Hg deposition from 2008 to 2018 was observed, unlike other regions of the United States. In the Shark River Slough (SRS), excess dissolved organic carbon and sulfate were also consistently delivered from upgradient canals and showed no evidence of decline over the study period. Within the SRS a strong positive correlation was observed between MeHg concentrations in surface water and resident fish. Within distinct geographic regions of ENP (SRS, Marsh, Coastal), the geochemical controls on MeHg dynamics differed and highlighted regions susceptible to higher MeHg bioaccumulation, particularly in the SRS and Coastal regions. This study demonstrates the strong influence that dissolved organic carbon and sulfate loads have on spatial and temporal distributions of MeHg across the ENP. Importantly, improved water quality and flow rates are two key restoration targets of the nearly 30-year Everglades restoration program, which if achieved, this study suggests would lead to reduced MeHg production and exposure.

A collaborative agenda for archaeology and fire science

Released May 16, 2022 08:39 EST

2022, Nature Ecology and Evolution

Grant J. Snitker, Christopher Roos, Allen Sullivan, S. Yoshi Maezumi, Douglas Bird, Michael Coughlan, Kelly Derr, Linn Gassaway, Anna Klimaszewski-Patterson, Rachel A. Loehman

Humans have influenced global fire activity for millennia and will continue to do so into the future. Given the long-term interaction between humans and fire, we propose a collaborative research agenda linking archaeology and fire science that emphasizes the socioecological histories and consequences of anthropogenic fire in the development of fire management strategies today.

Assessing private well contamination in Grant, Iowa, and Lafayette Counties, Wisconsin: The southwest Wisconsin groundwater and geology study

Released May 16, 2022 08:14 EST

2022, Report

Joel P. Stokdyk, Mark A. Borchardt, Aaron Firnstahl, Ken Bradbury, Moe Muldoon, Burney A Kieke

Rural residents of Grant, Iowa, and Lafayette Counties in Wisconsin rely on private wells for their water. Contaminants like nitrate and bacteria from septic systems, fertilizer, and manure can contaminate the groundwater that residents use. Groundwater is vulnerable to contamination where the soil layer is thin and the bedrock is fractured, which is the case for much of the study region. This study includes five objectives that were designed to assess and understand private well water contamination in the three counties.

Geologic maps of the Stephenson and Winchester quadrangles, Frederick and Clarke Counties, Virginia, and Inwood and White Hall quadrangles, Berkeley and Jefferson Counties, West Virginia

Released May 13, 2022 11:20 EST

2022, Scientific Investigations Map 3487

David J. Weary, Daniel H. Doctor, Randall C. Orndorff

The study area consists of four contiguous 7.5-minute quadrangles and is located in Frederick and Clarke Counties, Virginia, and Berkeley and Jefferson Counties, West Virginia. The individual quadrangles are Stephenson, Winchester, Inwood, and White Hall. The study area lies within the Great Valley subprovince of the Valley and Ridge physiographic province where about 23,000 feet (ft) (7,000 meters [m]) of Middle Cambrian to Upper Devonian sedimentary rocks are exposed and are overlain by Holocene and older surficial deposits. The area of the four maps is divided into three geologic regions based on the following primary lithologies: (1) Cambrian and Ordovician carbonate rocks of the Great Valley southeast of the North Mountain fault zone and east and west of the core of the Massanutten synclinorium; (2) shale, graywacke, and calcareous shale of the Ordovician Martinsburg Formation of the Great Valley and Massanutten synclinorium; and (3) Ordovician through Devonian clastic rocks and minor limestone and dolostone northwest of and within the North Mountain fault zone. Rocks of all three regions were folded and faulted during the late Paleozoic Alleghanian orogeny (roughly 320 to 250 million years before present). The terrain of this portion of the Great Valley generally is gently to moderately rolling with low local relief with elevations in the study area ranging from about 425 ft (130 m) where Opequon Creek flows out of the eastern edge of the Inwood quadrangle to about 950 ft (290 m) adjacent to Round Hill in the western part of the Winchester quadrangle. Sinkholes and other karst features are common in the carbonate rocks of the Great Valley. The area west of the North Mountain fault zone is underlain by middle Paleozoic strata and consists of a series of ridges and valleys with higher local relief, with elevations ranging from about 785 ft (240 m) in the vicinity of Green Spring in the central part of the White Hall quadrangle to about 1,435 ft (437 m) at the summit of North Mountain in the northeastern part of the White Hall quadrangle.

Value of information: Exploring behavioral and social factors

Released May 13, 2022 08:28 EST

2022, Frontiers in Environmental Science (10)

Pierre D. Glynn, Scott J. Chiavacci, Charles R. Rhodes, Jennifer Helgeson, Carl D. Shapiro, Crista L. Straub

There is growing interest within and beyond the economics community in assessing the value of information (VOI) used in decision making. VOI assessments often do not consider the complex behavioral and social factors that affect the perception, valuation, and use of information by individuals and groups. Additionally, VOI assessments frequently do not examine the full suite of interactions and outcomes affecting different groups or individuals. The behavioral and social factors that we mention are often (but not always) innately-derived, less-than-conscious influences that reflect human and societal adaptations to the past. We first discuss these concepts in the context of the recognition and use of information for decision making. We then find fifteen different aspects of value and information pertinent to VOI assessments. We examine methodologies and issues related to current VOI estimation practices in economics. Building on this examination, we explore the perceptions, social factors, and behavioral factors affecting information sharing, prioritization, valuation, and discounting. Information and valuation issues are then considered in the context of information production, information trading and controls, and information communication pathologies. Lastly, we describe issues relating to information useability and actionability. Our examples mention the value and use of geospatial information, and more generally concern societal issues relating to the management of natural resources, environments, and natural and anthropogenic hazards. Our paper aims to be instrumentally relevant to anyone interested in the use and value of science.

Using a multi-model ensemble approach to determine biodiversity hotspots with limited occurrence data in understudied areas: An example using freshwater mussels in México

Released May 13, 2022 07:20 EST

2022, Ecology and Evolution (15)

Alexander H. Kiser, Kevin S. Cummings, Jeremy S. Tiemann, Chase H. Smith, Nathan Johnson, Roel R. Lopez, Charles R. Randklev

Species distribution models (SDMs) are an increasingly important tool for conservation particularly for difficult-to-study locations and with understudied fauna. Our aims were to (1) use SDMs and ensemble SDMs to predict the distribution of freshwater mussels in the Pánuco River Basin in Central México; (2) determine habitat factors shaping freshwater mussel occurrence; and (3) use predicted occupancy across a range of taxa to identify freshwater mussel biodiversity hotspots to guide conservation and management. In the Pánuco River Basin, we modeled the distributions of 11 freshwater mussel species using an ensemble approach, wherein multiple SDM methodologies were combined to create a single ensemble map of predicted occupancy. A total of 621 species-specific observations at 87 sites were used to create species-specific ensembles. These predictive species ensembles were then combined to create local diversity hotspot maps. Precipitation during the warmest quarter, elevation, and mean temperature were consistently the most important discriminatory environmental variables among species, whereas land use had limited influence across all taxa. To the best of our knowledge, our study is the first freshwater mussel-focused research to use an ensemble approach to determine species distribution and predict biodiversity hotspots. Our study can be used to guide not only current conservation efforts but also prioritize areas for future conservation and study.

Hybrid enrichment of adaptive variation revealed by genotype-environment associations in montane sedges

Released May 13, 2022 06:07 EST

2022, Molecular Ecology

Richard G.J. Hodel, Robert Massatti, L Lacey Knowles

The role of hybridization in diversification is complex and may result in many possible outcomes. Not only can hybridization produce new lineages, but those lineages may contain unique combinations of adaptive genetic variation derived from parental taxa that allow hybrid-origin lineages to occupy unique environmental space relative to one (or both) parents. We document such a case of hybridization between two sedge species, Carex nova and Carex nelsonii (Cyperaceae), that occupy partially overlapping environmental space in the southern Rocky Mountains, USA. In the region hypothesized to be the origin of the hybrid lineage, one parental taxon (C. nelsonii) is at the edge of its environmental tolerance. Hybrid-origin individuals display mixed ancestry between the parental taxa – of nearly 7,000 unlinked loci sampled, almost 30% showed evidence of excess ancestry from one parental lineage – approximately half displayed a genomic background skewed towards one parent, and half skewed towards the other. To test whether excess ancestry loci may have conferred an adaptive advantage to the hybrid-origin lineage, we conducted genotype-environment association analyses on different combinations of loci – with and without excess ancestry – and with multiple contrasts between the hybrids and parental taxa. Loci with skewed ancestry showed significant environmental associations distinguishing the hybrid lineage from one parent (C. nelsonii), whereas loci with relatively equal representation of parental ancestries showed no such environmental associations. Moreover, the overwhelming majority of candidate adaptive loci with respect to environmental gradients also had excess ancestry from a parental lineage, implying these loci have facilitated the persistence of the hybrid lineage in an environment unsuitable to at least one parent.

Central Midwest Water Science Center— Harmful Algal Blooms team

Released May 12, 2022 15:37 EST

2022, Fact Sheet 2022-3011

Katherine M. Summers, Heather M. Krempa, Jessica D. Garrett

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Central Midwest Water Science Center (CMWSC) includes three States—Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri. USGS water science centers across the Nation provide information on water resources including streamflow, water use, water availability, and the quality of surface water and groundwater (

The USGS CMWSC Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) team is dedicated to studying the complexity of HABs and is currently (2021) researching ways to better predict the timing, magnitude, and toxicity of HABs. Updated information about the HABs team including current projects, data releases, and publications are available on the CMWSC website (

Estimating stream temperature in the Willamette River Basin, northwestern Oregon—A regression-based approach

Released May 12, 2022 12:56 EST

2022, Scientific Investigations Report 2021-5022

Laurel E. Stratton Garvin, Stewart A. Rounds, Norman L. Buccola

The alteration of thermal regimes, including increased temperatures and shifts in seasonality, is a key challenge to the health and survival of federally protected cold-water salmonids in streams of the Willamette River basin in northwestern Oregon. To better support threatened fish species, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and other water managers seek to improve the thermal regime in the Willamette River and key tributaries downstream of USACE dams by utilizing strategically timed flow releases from USACE dams. To inform flow management decisions, regression relations were developed for 12 Willamette River basin locations below USACE dams relating stream temperature with streamflow and air temperature utilizing publicly available datasets spanning 2000–18. The resulting relations provide simple tools to investigate stream temperature responses to changes in streamflow and climatic conditions in the Willamette River system.

Regression relations on the Willamette River and key tributaries show that, at locations sufficiently distant from the direct temperature influence of upstream dam releases, air temperature and streamflow are reasonable proxies to predict the 7-day average of the daily mean (7dADMean) and 7-day average of the daily maximum (7dADMax) water temperature with errors generally ≤1 degrees Celsius (°C). To account for seasonal variations in the relation between air temperature, streamflow, and stream temperature, a transition-smoothed, seasonal regression approach was used. Stream temperature is inversely correlated with streamflow in all seasons except “winter” (January–March), when it is relatively independent. Stream temperature is positively correlated with air temperature in all seasons, but the slope decreases at very low or very high air temperatures. Generally, fit is best for seasonal models “winter” (January–March), “spring” (April–May), “summer” (June–August), and “early autumn” (September–October). Error in “autumn” (November–December) is larger, probably due to variation in the onset timing of winter storms.

Simulated results from a climatological analysis of predicted stream temperature suggest that, excluding extremes and accounting for some seasonal variability, the 7dADMean and 7dADMax stream temperature sensitivity to air temperature and streamflow varies by location on the river. To investigate the potential range of stream temperature variability based on historical air temperature and streamflow conditions, stream temperature predictions were calculated using synthetic time series comprised of daily temperature values representing the 0.10, 0.33, 0.50, 0.67, and 0.90 quantile of air temperature and streamflow from 1954 (the year meaningful streamflow augmentation began) to 2018. Results show that from a “very hot” (0.90 quantile) and “very dry” (0.10 quantile) year to a “very cool” (0.10 quantile) and “very wet” (0.90; all quantiles from 1954 to 2018) year, the stream temperature sensitivity to air temperature and streamflow is about 3 °C at Harrisburg (river mile 161.0) and increases to about 5 °C at Keizer (river mile 82.2). While the number of days exceeding regulatory criteria are fewer in cooler, wetter years than in warmer, dryer years, the models suggest that the Willamette River will likely continue to exceed the State of Oregon maximum water-temperature criterion of 18 °C for sustained periods from late spring to early autumn and that the flow management practices evaluated in this study, while effective at influencing stream temperature, likely cannot prevent many or all such exceedances.

As modeled for 2018, a representative very hot year with normal to below-normal streamflow, stream temperature sensitivity to changes in streamflow of ±100 to ±1000 cubic feet per second produced mean monthly temperature changes from 0.0 to 1.4 °C at Keizer, Albany, and Harrisburg during summer. For a specified change in flow, temperature sensitivity is greater at upstream locations where streamflow is less than that at downstream locations because the change in streamflow is a greater percentage of total streamflow at upstream locations. Similarly, temperature response to a set change in flow is greater in the summer and early autumn low-flow season than in spring when flows are higher. The regression models developed in this study thus indicate that flow management is likely to have a greater effect on stream temperature at upstream locations (such as Harrisburg or Albany) and during the low-flow season than at downstream locations (such as Keizer) or during periods of higher streamflow.

Leading change with diverse stakeholders

Released May 12, 2022 08:30 EST

2022, Book chapter, Wildlife population health

Catherine Machalaba, Jonathan M. Sleeman

The shift to holistic approaches to managing wildlife health, and the complex landscape of partners and stakeholders, has led to a focus on the development of leadership skills in addition to technical expertise. This chapter introduces key elements and core skills for successful cross-sectoral and transdisciplinary leadership that will help wildlife health practitioners effectively lead change toward integrated, mutually beneficial health outcomes for all sectors. Leading change benefits from having good individual leadership skills, including emotional intelligence or the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. Driving multi-sectoral change is facilitated by wildlife health professionals becoming champions for change and being empowered to form and lead teams and participate effectively on governance structures such as interagency committees or working groups. Finally, the four main elements in leading change are envisioning the future state, engaging key stakeholders and coalition building, identifying barriers and breaking down resistance to change, and institutionalizing change. Effective leadership can be enabled by being open to new ideas, constantly questioning the effectiveness of one’s approach, and a commitment to lifelong learning. Application of these leadership skills and approaches can help effect change, resulting in improved wildlife population health.

Estimating occupancy from autonomous recording unit data in the presence of misclassifications and detection heterogeneity

Released May 12, 2022 07:23 EST

2022, Methods in Ecology and Evolution

Matt Clement, Andy Royle, Ronald Mixan

1. Autonomous Recording Units (ARUs) are now widely used to survey communities of species. These surveys generate spatially and temporally replicated counts of unmarked animals, but such data typically include false negatives and misclassified detections, both of which may vary across sites in proportion to abundance. These data challenges can bias estimates of occupancy, and the typical approach of verifying individual detections is expensive.

2. We developed a Bayesian implementation of a two-species, false-positive N-mixture model for estimating occupancy from ARU data or other counts of unmarked animals that does not require manual verification. The model accounts for species misclassification and abundance-induced detection heterogeneity, as well as false negatives. To evaluate this model, we simulated 200 data sets for each of 29 scenarios, including scenarios in which misclassifications outnumbered correct classifications for rare species. We also applied the model to acoustic surveys of bats conducted on Fort Carson Army Post and Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site, Colorado, USA.

3. In the simulation study, bias, coverage, and root mean square error for occupancy estimates obtained from the two-species false-positive N-mixture model were superior to metrics obtained from two competing two-species false-positive occupancy models. Across 29 scenarios, absolute bias was consistently low (range: -0.03–0.07), while coverage averaged 93% (range: 74%–98%). For alternative occupancy models, absolute bias was often high (range: -0.36–0.39), and coverage averaged from 47%–65%. Although our model included an abundance parameter, abundance estimates were not reliable. For two species of Myotis bats, we estimated that 1%–5% of field-recorded detections were misclassified. Estimated occupancy (0.91 and 0.76) was lower than naïve estimates (1.00 and 0.94). Competing occupancy models implausibly estimated local occupancy of 0.00 at sites with numerous detections.

4. Our two-species, false-positive N-mixture model is significant because it accounts for detection heterogeneity and improves occupancy estimates without expensive manual verification of detections. Our field application indicated that misclassifications were not common, yet affected occupancy inferences. Given that ARUs are increasingly used to survey a broad range of taxa, such an occupancy model could be widely useful.

A validation of satellite derived cyanobacteria detections with state reported events and recreation advisories across U.S. lakes

Released May 12, 2022 06:20 EST

2022, Harmful Algae (115)

Peter Whitman, Blake Schaeffer, Wilson Salls, Megan Coffer, Sachidananda Mishra, Bridget Seegers, Keith Loftin, Richard Stumpf, P. Jeremy Werdell

Cyanobacteria harmful algal blooms (cyanoHABs) negatively affect ecological, human, and animal health. Traditional methods of validating satellite algorithms with data from water samples are often inhibited by the expense of quantifying cyanobacteria indicators in the field and the lack of public data. However, state recreation advisories and other recorded events of cyanoHAB occurrence reported by local authorities can serve as an independent and publicly available dataset for validation. State recreation advisories were defined as a period delimited by a start and end date where a warning was issued due to detections of cyanoHABs over a state's risk threshold. State reported events were defined as any event that was documented with a single date related to cyanoHABs. This study examined the presence-absence agreement between 160 state reported cyanoHAB advisories and 1,343 events and cyanobacteria biomass estimated by a satellite algorithm called the Cyanobacteria Index (CIcyano). The true positive rate of agreement with state recreation advisories was 69% and 60% with state reported events. CIcyano detected a reduction or absence in cyanobacteria after 76% of the recreation advisories ended. CIcyano was used to quantify the magnitude, spatial extent, and temporal frequency of cyanoHABs; each of these three metrics were greater (r > 0.2) during state recreation advisories compared to non-advisory times with effect sizes ranging from small to large. This is the first study to quantitatively evaluate satellite algorithm performance for detecting cyanoHABs with state reported events and advisories and supports informed management decisions with satellite technologies that complement traditional field observations.

Fuel reduction treatments reduce modeled fire intensity in the sagebrush steppe

Released May 12, 2022 06:03 EST

2022, Ecosphere (13)

Lisa M. Ellsworth, Beth A. Newingham, Scott Shaff, C. F. Rick Williams, Eva K. Strand, Matt Reeves, David A. Pyke, Eugene W. Schupp, Jeanne C. Chambers

Increased fire size and frequency coupled with annual grass invasion pose major challenges to sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) ecosystem conservation, which is currently focused on protecting sagebrush community composition and structure. A common strategy for mitigating potential fire is to use fuel treatments that alter the structure and amount of burnable material, thus reducing fire behavior and creating access points for fire suppression resources. While there is some recent information on the impacts of fuel treatments on ecological communities, we have little information on fuel treatment effectiveness at modifying fire behavior in sagebrush ecosystems. We present 10 years of data on fuel accumulation and the resultant modeled fire behavior in prescribed fire, mowed, herbicide (tebuthiuron or imazapic), and untreated control plots in the Sagebrush Treatment Evaluation Project (SageSTEP) network in the Great Basin, USA. Fuel data (i.e., aboveground burnable live and dead biomass) were collected in each treatment plot at Years 0 (pretreatment), 1, 2, 3, 6, and 10 posttreatment. We used the Fuel and Fire Tool fire behavior modeling program to test whether treatments impacted potential fire behavior. Prescribed fire initially removed 49% of the total fuel load and 75% of shrubs, and fuel loads remained reduced through Year 10. Mowing shifted fuels from the shrub canopy to the ground surface but did not change the total fuel amount. Prescribed fire and mowing increased herbaceous fuel by the second posttreatment year and that trend persisted through Year 10. Tebuthiuron treatments were ineffective at altering fuel loads. Imazapic suppressed herbaceous vegetation by 30% in Years 2 and 3 following treatment. The modified fuel beds in fire and mow treatments resulted in modeled flame lengths that were significantly lower than untreated control plots for the duration of the study, with shorter term reductions in reaction intensity and rate of spread. Understanding fuel treatment effectiveness will allow natural resource managers to evaluate trade-offs between protecting wildlife habitat and reducing the potential for high-intensity wildfire.

Characterization of and relations among precipitation, streamflow, suspended-sediment, and water-quality data at the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson and Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site, Colorado, water years 2016–18

Released May 11, 2022 14:34 EST

2022, Scientific Investigations Report 2022-5018

William A. Battaglin, Zachary D. Kisfalusi

Frequent and prolonged military training maneuvers are an intensive type of land use that may disturb land cover, compact soils, and have lasting effects on adjacent stream hydrology and ecosystems. To better understand the potential effect of military training on hydrologic and environmental processes, the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the U.S. Army established hydrologic and water-quality data-collection networks at the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Carson (AGFC) in 1978 and at the Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site (PCMS) in 1982. The purpose of this report is to present precipitation, streamflow, suspended-sediment, and water-quality data collected by the U.S. Geological Survey at the AGFC and PCMS for water years (WYs) 2016–18 and to evaluate those data in relation to long-term data from the AGFC and PCMS. In WYs 2016–18, the U.S. Geological Survey monitored 26 sites on the AGFC and 17 sites on the PCMS for precipitation amount, streamflow, suspended sediment, and (or) water quality.

On the AGFC, total annual precipitation in WYs 2016–18 was larger than the long-term mean for all 3 years at Rod and Gun Meteorologic Station at Fort Carson, CO (Rod and Gun). There were statistically significant upward trends in annual precipitation at Rod and Gun and Young Hollow Meteorologic Station at Fort Carson, CO (Young Hollow) with slopes of 1.25 and 0.66 inches per year (in/yr), respectively. The precipitation totals for WY 2017 were either the largest on record or in the top three for both sites and at Sullivan Park Meteorologic Station at Fort Carson, CO. On the PCMS, total annual precipitation was larger than the long-term mean in WYs 2016–18 at Brown Sheep Camp Meteorologic Station near Tyrone, CO; CIG Pipeline South Meteorologic Station near Simpson, CO; Bear Springs Hills Meteorologic Station near Houghton, CO (Bear Springs); and Upper Red Rock Canyon Meteorologic Station near Houghton, CO (Upper Red Rock). There were statistically significant upward trends in precipitation at Bear Springs and Upper Red Rock with slopes of 0.16 and 0.19 in/yr, respectively. The precipitation totals for WY 2017 were the largest on record for all sites except for Upper Bent Canyon Meteorological Station near Delhi, CO.

Streamflow was calculated at 18 sites on the AGFC and 7 sites on the PCMS in at least 1 of WYs 2016–18. At AGFC, mean annual (or seasonal) streamflow in WYs 2016–18 was less than the long-term mean at 7 sites and greater than the long-term mean at 3 sites. There were statistically significant downward trends in mean annual or seasonal streamflow at Womack Ditch from Little Fountain Creek near Fort Carson, CO, and Ripley Ditch from Little Fountain Creek at Fort Carson, CO, with slopes of −0.036 and −0.028 cubic feet per second per year (ft3/s/y), respectively; and a significant upward trend in streamflow at Turkey Creek West Seepage below Teller Reservoir near Stone City, CO, with a slope of less than 0.001 ft3/s/y. Unlike for precipitation, the mean annual or seasonal streamflow for WY 2017 was not in the top 3 for any of the 12 sites with measured flow.

At the PCMS, mean annual (or seasonal) streamflow was less than the long-term mean streamflow in WYs 2016–18 at the Taylor Arroyo below Rock Crossing near Thatcher, CO, and Bent Canyon Creek at Mouth near Timpas, CO, sites; and in WYs 2016 and 2018 at the Purgatoire River near Thatcher, CO (Purgatoire Thatcher), and Purgatoire River at Rock Crossing near Timpas, CO (Purgatoire Rock Crossing). There were no statistically significant trends in mean annual (or seasonal) streamflow at sites on the PCMS, and unlike for precipitation, the mean streamflow for WY 2017 was not in the top three for any sites except Purgatoire Rock Crossing. In WYs 2016–18, streamflow from sites on the AGFC and PCMS represented only a small fraction of streamflow in Fountain Creek or the Purgatoire River, and changes in streamflow that resulted from military maneuvers on the AGFC and PCMS were not likely to be detected in the downstream receiving waters.

Suspended-sediment concentrations, loads, and yields for WYs 2016–18, were analyzed at two sites on the AGFC and five sites on the PCMS. On the AGFC, mean seasonal suspended-sediment concentrations ranged from 3.10 to 155 milligrams per liter (mg/L), mean seasonal suspended-sediment loads ranged from 0.04 to 27.1 tons per day (t/d), and seasonal suspended-sediment yields ranged from 0.28 to 216 tons per season per square mile (t/s/mi2). Suspended-sediment yields at the two AGFC sites in WYs 2016–18 were all less than the long-term means. On the PCMS, mean seasonal suspended-sediment concentrations (at sites with some streamflow during a WY) ranged from 1.12 to 41.8 mg/L, mean suspended-sediment loads ranged from 0.01 to 13.1 t/d, and seasonal suspended-sediment yields ranged from 0.06 to 57.4 t/s/mi2. Suspended-sediment yields at the five PCMS sites in WYs 2016–18 were all less than the long-term means. In WYs 2016–18, mean daily suspended-sediment loads at Little Fountain were 1.3, 2.5, and 7.6 percent, respectively, of the mean daily suspended-sediment load at Fountain Creek at Security, Colorado. Likewise, the total of mean daily suspended-sediment loads from the five tributary sites to the Purgatoire River in WYs 2016–18 were about 0.25, 0.17, and 3.2 percent, respectively, of the historical mean daily suspended-sediment load at Purgatoire Thatcher.

Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient was used to evaluate the strength and form of the relations between daily total precipitation and daily mean streamflow and between daily mean streamflow and suspended-sediment concentration and load for WYs 2016–18. For the sites on the AGFC and PCMS, there were weak or statistically insignificant positive correlations between precipitation and streamflow at nearby streamgauges, but strong statistically significant positive correlations between streamflow and suspended-sediment concentration and load. The ephemeral nature of the streams, quantity and timing of precipitation, air temperature, seasonal soil-moisture deficits, and effective runoff detention in erosion-control ponds could all contribute to inconsistent conversion of precipitation to streamflow.

Water-quality data were analyzed for as many as 43 parameters from 9 samples collected from 3 sites on the AGFC and from 37 samples collected from 4 sites on PCMS during WYs 2016–18. The concentrations of selected water-quality parameters were compared to regulatory standards for aquatic life from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) or aquatic-life criteria from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). There is at least 1 CDPHE standard or EPA criterion for 30 of the 43 water-quality parameters.

For all samples from both the AGFC and the PCMS in WYs 2016–18, the concentrations of most water-quality parameters were compliant with the associated standards or criteria. However, there were some exceedances of standards or criteria: 11 samples exceeded the CDPHE recreational class standard for Escherichia coli concentration, 9 samples exceeded the CDPHE chronic unfiltered phosphorus aquatic-life standard, 36 samples exceeded the CDPHE chronic sulfate aquatic-life standard, 5 samples exceeded the EPA criterion for selenium, 7 samples exceeded the EPA criterion for aluminum, 2 samples exceeded the CDPHE chronic standard for iron, and 15 samples exceeded the CDPHE chronic standard for manganese.

Identifying potential effects of military training on water quality in adjacent streams on the AGFC and PCMS is difficult due to the ephemeral nature of streamflow, limited number of sampling locations and samples, and limited access to the study areas. At the PCMS, pairs of water-quality samples were collected in March and May 2017 before and after an April–May 2017 military training event. At the Purgatoire Rock Crossing site, streamflow at the time of the May sample was approximately 35 times larger than streamflow for the March sample. The absolute percent differences of concentrations for 27 parameters ranged from −71.7 to 183 percent, and 7 parameters had increases in concentration whereas 22 parameters had no change or decreases in concentrations. The absolute percent differences of loads for 24 parameters ranged from 141 to 198 percent. The generally lower concentrations and higher loads were expected given the higher streamflows at the time of collection of the May compared to the March samples.

Trophic interactions and feedbacks maintain intact and degraded states of Hawaiian tropical forests

Released May 11, 2022 07:01 EST

2022, Ecosphere (13)

Stephanie G. Yelenik, Eli T. Rose, Eben H. Paxton

Feedbacks within ecosystems can lead to internal reinforcement of the current state providing ecosystem resilience. Often, multiple biotic interactions across trophic levels play a role in such feedbacks, yet these are generally studied independently, obscuring the relative importance of interactions among different factors. We look at various potential feedbacks in intact and degraded mesic forests on Hawaiʻi Island where managers have planted native Acacia koa (koa) trees in an attempt to jumpstart succession in former cattle pastures. These restoration forests, however, have not undergone secondary succession, instead maintaining a koa overstory with an exotic pasture grass understory. We contrasted different trophic level processes that influence the capacity for natural understory regeneration: feedbacks between bird-mediated seed rain and fruiting understory (“top-down”), as well as links between understory composition and microhabitats for native seed germination (“bottom-up”). We quantified bird-mediated seed rain under canopy trees along transects spanning intact, fragmented, and restoration forests. Along these transects, we established plots around focal overstory trees to measure abundance of fruiting understory species, ground cover (e.g., exotic grass, bryophyte), and obtained estimates of bird density to evaluate the contribution of each of these factors to seedling abundance. We also used a factorial seed addition/grass removal experiment to directly compare the influence of seed rain and germination substrate. We found evidence of both top-down and bottom-up feedbacks that reinforced the current state of each forest type. In the intact and fragmented forests, the combination of comparatively high seed rain and ample germination substrate is likely critical for maintaining a diverse forest system. In contrast, exotic grasses exhibit priority effects in restoration forests, inhibiting seed germination and effectively negating any benefits that could be derived from bird-mediated seed rain. Such internal reinforcement suggests that active, rather than passive, restoration would be beneficial to increase forest diversity in restoration areas.

Marine mammal hotspots across the circumpolar Arctic

Released May 11, 2022 06:44 EST

2022, Diversity and Distributions

Charmain Hamilton, Christian Lydersen, Jon Aars, Mario Acquarone, Todd C. Atwood, Alastair Baylis, Martin Biuw, Andrei N. Boltunov, Erik W. Born, Peter L. Boveng, Tanya M. Brown, Michael Cameron, John J. Citta, Justin A. Crawford, Rune Dietz, Jim Elias, Steven H. Ferguson, Aaron T. Fisk, Lars P. Folkow, Kathryn J. Frost, Dmitri M. Glazov, Sandra M. Granquist, Rowenna Gryba, Lois A. Harwood, Tore Haug, Mads Peter Heide-Jørgensen, Nigel E. Hussey, Jimmy Kalinek, Kristin L. Laidre, Dennis I. Litovka, Josh M. London, Lisa Loseto, Shannon MacPhee, Marianne Marcoux, Cory J. D. Matthews, Kjell J Nilssen, Erling S. Nordøy, Greg O’Corry-Crowe, Nils Øien, Morten Tange Olsen, Lori T. Quakenbush, Aqqalu Rosing-Asvid, Varvara Semenova, Kim E. W. Shelden, Olga V. Shpak, Garry Stenson, Luke Storrie, Signe Sveegaard, Jonas Teilmann, Fernando Ugarte, Andrew L. Von Duyke, Cortney Watt, Øystein Wiig, Ryan R. Wilson, David J. Yurkowski, Kit M. Kovacs


Identify hotspots and areas of high species richness for Arctic marine mammals.


Circumpolar Arctic.


A total of 2115 biologging devices were deployed on marine mammals from 13 species in the Arctic from 2005 to 2019. Getis-Ord Gi* hotspots were calculated based on the number of individuals in grid cells for each species and for phylogenetic groups (nine pinnipeds, three cetaceans, all species) and areas with high species richness were identified for summer (Jun-Nov), winter (Dec-May) and the entire year. Seasonal habitat differences among species’ hotspots were investigated using Principal Component Analysis.


Hotspots and areas with high species richness occurred within the Arctic continental-shelf seas and within the marginal ice zone, particularly in the “Arctic gateways” of the north Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Summer hotspots were generally found further north than winter hotspots, but there were exceptions to this pattern, including bowhead whales in the Greenland-Barents Seas and species with coastal distributions in Svalbard, Norway and East Greenland. Areas with high species richness generally overlapped high-density hotspots. Large regional and seasonal differences in habitat features of hotspots were found among species but also within species from different regions. Gap analysis (discrepancy between hotspots and IUCN ranges) identified species and regions where more research is required.

Main conclusions

This study identified important areas (and habitat types) for Arctic marine mammals using available biotelemetry data. The results herein serve as a benchmark to measure future distributional shifts. Expanded monitoring and telemetry studies are needed on Arctic species to understand the impacts of climate change and concomitant ecosystem changes (synergistic effects of multiple stressors). While efforts should be made to fill knowledge gaps, including regional gaps and more complete sex and age coverage, hotspots identified herein can inform management efforts to mitigate the impacts of human activities and ecological changes, including creation of protected areas.

Abundance and productivity of Marbled Murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus) off central California during the 2020 and 2021 breeding seasons

Released May 10, 2022 14:56 EST

2022, Data Report 1157

Jonathan J. Felis, Josh Adams, Cheryl Horton, Emily C. Kelsey, Laney M. White

Marbled murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus) have been listed as “endangered” by the State of California and “threatened” by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since 1992 in California, Oregon, and Washington. Information regarding marbled murrelet abundance, distribution, population trends, and habitat associations is critical for risk assessment, effective management, evaluation of conservation efficacy, and ultimately, to meet federal- and state-mandated recovery efforts for this species. During June–August 2020 and 2021, the U.S. Geological Survey Western Ecological Research Center continued previously established, long-term (1999–present), at-sea surveys to estimate abundance and productivity of marbled murrelets in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Conservation Zone 6 (San Francisco Bay to Point Sur in central California). The abundance estimated for the entire study area was 470 birds (95-percent confidence interval, 313–707 birds) in 2020 and 402 birds (95-percent confidence interval, 219–737 birds) in 2021. Estimated abundances for both years are comparable with most prior years of study. We estimated reproductive productivity (calculated as the hatch-year to after-hatch-year ratio) after date-correcting hatch-year and after-hatch-year counts to account for birds expected to be absent from the water while inland at nests. The date-corrected juvenile ratio was 0.018±0.011 standard error in 2020 and 0.041±0.024 standard error in 2021. We updated a comprehensive database of all Zone 6 marbled murrelet survey data since 1999 with 2020–21 data to allow scientists and managers to evaluate established survey methods and assess trends in abundance and productivity estimates.

Assessment of well yield, dominant fractures, and groundwater recharge in Wake County, North Carolina

Released May 10, 2022 11:35 EST

2022, Scientific Investigations Report 2022-5041

Dominick J. Antolino, Laura N. Gurley

A cooperative study led by the U.S. Geological Survey and Wake County Environmental Services was initiated to characterize the fractured-rock aquifer system and assess the sustainability of groundwater resources in and around Wake County. This report contributes to the development of a comprehensive groundwater budget for the study area, thereby helping to enable resource managers to make sound and sustainable water-supply and water-use decisions.

Construction information was used to analyze the well depth, casing depth, and reported well yield of more than 7,500 inventoried wells. The median well depth and casing depth were 265 feet (ft) below land surface (bls) and 68 ft bls, respectively, and the median well yield was 10 gallons per minute. Generally, well yield increased with depth to around 200 ft bls and then began to decrease with depth within the fractured-rock aquifer.

Borehole geophysical logging methods were used to characterize the fractured-rock aquifer by mapping the orientation of geologic structures within the subsurface. Structure measurements were made on resulting log data and mapped to observed general spatial trends within the regional groundwater system and more distinct hydrogeologic units. Many of the fractures observed within the borehole logs are steeply dipping across Wake County, although open fractures with shallow dip angles were also observed in most rock classes. Regional geologic structural trends were observed in proximity to the Jonesboro Fault.

Potential groundwater recharge in the study area was estimated using a Soil-Water-Balance (SWB) model, as well as using base flow hydrograph separation. The SWB model calculated net infiltration below the root zone for 1981 through 2019 for a 5,402-square-mile area that extends to the counties surrounding Wake County. The mean annual net infiltration rate for the 39-year period was about 8.6 inches per year for the study area. The mean annual net infiltration results from the SWB model were comparable to annual base flow estimates using the PART hydrograph-separation method at six U.S. Geological Survey streamgages within the study area. Mean annual base flow for all six drainage basins was near 7.5 inches per year and estimates ranged from 2.9 to 8.9 inches. Comparisons of mean annual potential recharge from the SWB model and base flow estimates were generally within 2 inches, except during high flows for most of the drainage basins in the study area.

Social and reproductive behaviors

Released May 10, 2022 06:57 EST

2022, Book chapter, Ethology and Behavioral Ecology of Sirenia

Thomas J. O'Shea, Cathy Beck, Amanda J. Hodgson, Lucy W Keith-Diagne, Miriam Marmontel

Sirenian social and reproductive behaviors lack much complexity or diversity. Whereas sirenians are usually sighted as solitary, or as cows with single calves, aggregations of many individuals can occur. Persistent social groupings are unknown. Home ranges are widely overlapping. Mating systems of dugongs (Dugong dugon) have been variously described as leks or as scramble promiscuity (mating herds ) and lone mating pairs have been observed in areas of low density, but further research into the hypothesized leks is needed (especially because scramble promiscuity has been observed in the same region). Dugongs and all manatees (Trichechus) show scramble promiscuity, wherein males form groups that escort single females with much physical contact for many days. The strongest social bonds are between females and nursing calves. Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris) show natal philopatry for years after weaning. Socially transmitted knowledge (tradition) appears important to Florida manatees and perhaps all species of sirenians, particularly in regions where seasonal movements during winter are necessary for survival, such as in winter for Florida manatees, and dugongs at the high latitude limits of their range. Some populations of Antillean, Amazonian, and African manatees have regular movements in response to seasonal flooding and access to food, which also may be learned through tradition . Dugongs may rely on group movements based on traditional knowledge in response to regional loss of food supply from extreme weather events. Communication is most obvious through vocalizations, which can show individual distinctiveness. Vocal communication is most prevalent between mothers and calves. Allomaternal care occurs in Florida manatees at shared aggregation sites. Florida manatees occupying a given region can consist of multiple matrilines that develop through the early bonding of calves to mothers and subsequent natal philopatry. Population genetics research supports male-biased dispersal and possible female-based philopatry in other trichechids, but perhaps not as strongly in dugongids. Considerable further research is needed on these and related topics to more comprehensively understand sirenian social and reproductive behavior.

A new indicator approach to reconstruct agricultural land use in Europe from sedimentary pollen assemblages

Released May 10, 2022 06:39 EST

2022, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology

Mara Deza-Araujo, César Morales-Molino, Marco Conedera, Paul D. Henne, Patrick Krebs, Martin Hinz, Caroline Heitz, Albert Hafner, Willy Tinner

The reconstruction of human impact is pivotal in palaeoecological studies, as humans are among the most important drivers of Holocene vegetation and ecosystem change. Nevertheless, separating the anthropogenic footprint on vegetation dynamics from the impact of climate and other environmental factors (disturbances such as fire, erosion, floods, landslides, avalanches, volcanic eruptions) is a challenging and still largely open issue. For this purpose, palynologists mostly rely on cultural indicator pollen types and related indices that consist of sums or ratios of these pollen types. However, the high environmental and biogeographical specificity of cultural indicator plants hinders the application of the currently available indices to wide geographical settings. Furthermore, the achievable taxonomic resolution of cultural indicator pollen types may hamper their indicative capacity. In this study, we propose the agricultural land use probability (LUP) index, a novel approach to quantify human impact intensity on European ecosystems based on cultural indicator pollen types. From the ‘classic’ cultural indicators, we construct the LUP index by selecting those with the best indicator capacity based on bioindication criteria. We first train the LUP index using twenty palynological sequences along a broad environmental gradient, spanning from treeless alpine to subtropical mediterranean evergreen plant communities. We then validate the LUP index using independent pollen datasets and archaeological proxies. Finally, we discuss the suitability of the selected pollen types and the potential of the LUP index for quantifying Holocene human impact in Europe, concluding that careful application of the LUP index may significantly contribute to refining pollen-based land-use reconstructions.

Controlling invasive fish in fluctuating environments: Model analysis of common carp (Cyprinus carpio) in a shallow lake

Released May 10, 2022 06:38 EST

2022, Ecosphere (13)

James B Pearson, J. Ryan Bellmore, Jason B. Dunham

Climate change can act to facilitate or inhibit invasions of non-native species. Here, we address the influence of climate change on control of non-native common carp (hereafter, carp), a species recognized as one of the “world's worst” invaders across the globe. Control of this species is exceedingly difficult, as it exhibits rapid population growth and compensatory density dependence. In many locations where carp have invaded, however, climate change is altering hydrologic regimes and may influence population demography and efficacy of human control efforts. To further evaluate these processes, we employed a modified version of an age-based population model (CarpMOD), to investigate how hydrologic variability (change in lake area) influences carp population dynamics and control efforts in Malheur Lake, southeastern Oregon, USA. We explored how changes in lake area influence carp populations under three control scenarios: (1) no carp removal, (2) carp removal during low water years, and (3) carp removal during all years. Lake area fluctuations strongly influenced carp populations and the efficacy of carp control. Modeled carp biomass peaked when the lake transitioned from high-to-low levels, and carp biomass declined when lake area transitioned from low-to-high. Removing carp during low water periods—when fish were concentrated into a smaller area—reduced carp populations almost as much as removing carp every year. Furthermore, the effectiveness of control efforts increased with the prevalence and severity of low lake conditions (longer durations of very low lake area). These simulations suggest that a drier climate may naturally decrease carp populations and make them easier to control. However, drier conditions may also negatively affect aquatic ecosystems and potentially have a greater impact than non-native species themselves.

Laurentia in transition during the Mesoproterozoic: Observations and speculation on the ca. 1500–1340 Ma tectonic evolution of the southern Laurentian margin

Released May 10, 2022 06:35 EST

2022, Book chapter, Laurentia: Turning points in the evolution of a continent

Christopher G. Daniel, Ruth Aronoff, Aphrodite Indares, James V. Jones III

An accretionary tectonic model for the Mesoproterozoic ca. 1500–1340 Ma tectonic evolution of the southern Laurentian margin is presented. The tectonic model incorporates key observations about the nature and timing of Mesoproterozoic deposition, magmatism, regional metamorphism, and deformation across the 5000-km-long southern Laurentian margin. This time period was one of transition in the supercontinent cycle and occurred between the breakup of Columbia and the formation of Rodinia, and the southern Laurentian margin was a significant component of a much greater accretionary margin extending into Baltica and Amazonia and possibly parts of Antarctica and Australia. However, fundamental questions and contradictions remain in our understanding of the tectonic evolution of Laurentia and paleogeography during this time interval.

Summary of the midchannel springflows in Jackson River below Gathright Dam between April 24, 2010, and May 7, 2019

Released May 09, 2022 14:45 EST

2022, Open-File Report 2022-1047

Bryan Pula, Shaun Wicklein

Between April 2010 and May 2019, springflow was determined for a midchannel spring in Jackson River below Gathright Dam near Hot Springs, Virginia. The springflow was measured to assess if the spring was influenced by the elevation of Lake Moomaw. Local precipitation was also reviewed to determine whether variations in springflow were influenced by rainfall. The spring is approximately 250 feet downstream from the dam’s discharge race channel, where the water is carried away from the base of the dam, and its flow was determined by the gain in streamflow between concurrent measurements made upstream and downstream from the spring. Throughout the study period, the springflow showed little variation over time, and no direct correlations were determined between the observed springflow and the elevation of Lake Moomaw or local precipitation data.

Age and water-quality characteristics of groundwater discharge to the South Loup River, Nebraska, 2019

Released May 09, 2022 09:35 EST

2022, Scientific Investigations Report 2022-5042

Christopher M. Hobza, John E. Solder

Streams in the Loup River Basin are sensitive to groundwater withdrawals because of the close hydrologic connection between groundwater and surface water. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Upper Loup and Lower Loup Natural Resources Districts, and the Nebraska Environmental Trust, studied the age and water-quality characteristics of groundwater near the South Loup River to assess the possible effects of a multiyear drought on streamflow.

Groundwater sampled in wells screened in Quaternary-age deposits displayed a wide range of mean ages (27 to 2,100 years), fraction modern, and susceptibility index values. Groundwater with higher concentrations of chloride and higher specific conductance was indicative of younger groundwater with a narrower age distribution and is more sensitive to climatic disturbances such as short-term drought conditions, based on the calculated susceptibility index. Groundwater samples from wells and springs in Pliocene-age deposits were categorized into two groups with different geochemical and age characteristics. One sample group of springs and wells, called the Western Pliocene, had higher concentrations of chloride and nitrate with young mean ages (18 to 77 years) and narrow age distributions. Groundwater in the Western Pliocene sample group is susceptible to short-term drought. In contrast, the other sample group from Pliocene-age deposits to the east (called Pliocene) had lower concentrations of nitrate, chloride, and mean groundwater ages ranging from 1,900 to 2,900 years old and is less likely to be affected by short-term drought conditions. Groundwater sampled from three wells screened in the Ogallala Formation was shown to have the oldest mean ages ranging from 8,700 to 23,000 years and the lowest calculated susceptibility index values observed in this study. Strong upward hydraulic gradients measured in wells indicated that groundwater from the Ogallala Formation is likely contributing to streamflow of the South Loup River.

Continuously measured gage height and specific conductance data indicated groundwater discharge from Quaternary-age deposits was highly responsive to precipitation events. In contrast, groundwater discharge from Pliocene-age deposits (Pliocene sample group) was far less responsive, indicating groundwater discharge from Pliocene-age deposits is likely more resilient to short-term drought conditions.

Classifying Worldwide Standardized Seismograph Network records using a simple convolution neural network

Released May 09, 2022 06:55 EST

2022, Seismological Research Letters

Nagle Nagle-McNaughton, Adam T. Ringler, Robert E. Anthony, Alexis Casondra Bianca Alejandro, David C. Wilson, Justin Thomas Wilgus

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) maintains an archive of 189,180 digitized scans of analog seismic records from the World‐Wide Standardized Seismograph Network (WWSSN). Although these scans have been made public, the archive is too large to manually review, and few researchers have utilized large numbers of these records. To facilitate further research using this historical dataset, we develop a simple convolutional neural network (CNN) that rapidly (∼4.75 s/film chip) classifies scanned film chip images (called “chips,” because they are individually cut segments of 70 mm film) into four categories of “interestingness” to earthquake seismologists based on the presence of earthquakes and other seismic signals in the record: “no interest,” “little interest,” “interest,” and “high interest.” The CNN, dubbed “Seismic Analog Record Network” (SARNet), can identify four types of seismic traces (“no events,” “minor events,” “major events,” and “errors”) in 200 × 200 pixel subcrops with an accuracy of 92% using a confidence threshold of 85%. SARNet then converts 100 random subcrops from each film chip into the overall classification of interestingness. In this task, SARNet performed as well as expert human classifiers in determining the film chip’s overall interest grade. Applying SARNet to 34,000 film chips in the WWSSN archive found that 21% of the images were of “high interest” and had an “indeterminate” rate of only 4%. Thus, the need for the manual review of images was reduced by 79%. Sorting of film chips derived from SARNet will expedite further exploration of the archive of digitized analog seismic records stored at the USGS.

Minimizing extinction risk in the face of uncertainty: Developing conservation strategies for 2 rapidly declining forest bird species on Kaua‘i Island

Released May 08, 2022 06:55 EST

2022, Wildlife Society Bulletin (46)

Eben H. Paxton, Lisa H. Crampton, John Vetter, Megan Laut, Lainie Berry, Steve Morey

Many species around the world are declining precipitously as a result of multiple threats and changing climate. Managers tasked with protecting species often face difficult decisions in regard to identifying which threats should be addressed, given limited resources and uncertainty in the success of any identified management action. On Kaua‘i Island, Hawai‘i, USA, forest bird species have experienced accelerated declines over the last 20 years, and 2 species, the ‘akikiki (Oreomystis bairdi) and ‘akeke‘e (Loxops caeruleirostris), are now at the brink of extinction. Both species face multiple threats, and managers face difficult decisions on whether to mitigate threats in the wild, establish a captive population as insurance against extinction, translocate birds to novel locations, or some combination of these actions. Each set of actions (alternatives) would require substantial resources with considerable uncertainty in success. In 2014, we brought together 14 experts representing biologists and managers familiar with the species and island to develop a conservation strategy under a structured decision making (SDM) framework, an approach for making complex decisions under uncertainty. The group's challenge was to identify a set of alternatives that reduces the risk of extinction, set the foundation for one or more genetically viable, reproducing, stable to increasing populations in 10 years, and promote conditions for long-term persistence in the wild. Multiple alternatives were evaluated, via expert judgement, in terms of the probability they would achieve the objectives concerning immediate extinction risk, near-term viability, and adequacy of habitat. Factors that might impede the success of each action were also evaluated. The process identified the establishment of a captive population and efforts to stabilize the existing wild population as the approach most likely to meet the objectives of preventing imminent extinction and ensuring long-term viability.

Exposure to crop production alters cecal prokaryotic microbiota, inflates virulome and resistome in wild prairie grouse

Released May 08, 2022 06:44 EST

2022, Environmental Pollution (306)

Serguei Vyacheslavovich Drovetski, Brian K. Schmidt, Jonas Ethan Lai, Michael S. Gross, Michelle Hladik, Kenan Oguz Matterson, Natalie K. Karouna-Renier

Chemically intensive crop production depletes wildlife food resources, hinders animal development, health, survival, and reproduction, and it suppresses wildlife immune systems, facilitating emergence of infectious diseases with excessive mortality rates. Gut microbiota is crucial for wildlife's response to environmental stressors. Its composition and functionality are sensitive to diet changes and environmental pollution associated with modern crop production. In this study we use shotgun metagenomics (median 8,326,092 sequences/sample) to demonstrate that exposure to modern crop production detrimentally affects cecal microbiota of sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus: 9 exposed, 18 unexposed and greater prairie chickens (T. cupido; 11, 11). Exposure to crop production had greater effect on microbiota richness (t = 6.675, P < 0.001) and composition (PERMANOVA r2 = 0.212, P = 0.001) than did the host species (t = 4.762, P < 0.001; r2 = 0.070, P = 0.001) or their interaction (t = 3.449; r2 = 0.072, both P = 0.001), whereas sex and age had no effect. Although microbiota richness was greater in exposed (T. cupido chao1 = 152.8 ± 20.5; T. phasianellus 115.3 ± 17.1) than in unexposed (102.9 ± 15.1 and 101.1 ± 17.2, respectively) birds, some beneficial bacteria dropped out of exposed birds' microbiota or declined and were replaced by potential pathogens. Exposed birds also had higher richness and load of virulome (mean ± standard deviation; T. cupido 24.8 ± 10.0 and 10.1 ± 5.5, respectively; T. phasianellus 13.4 ± 6.8/4.9 ± 2.8) and resistome (T. cupido 46.8 ± 11.7/28.9 ± 10.2, T. phasianellus 38.3 ± 16.7/18.9 ± 14.2) than unexposed birds (T. cupido virulome: 14.2 ± 13.5, 4.5 ± 4.2; T. cupido resistome: 31.6 ± 20.2 and 13.1 ± 12.0; T. phasianellus virulome: 5.2 ± 4.7 and 1.4 ± 1.5; T. phasianellus resistome: 13.7 ± 16.1 and 4.0 ± 6.4).

Incorporating snowmelt into daily estimates of recharge using a state-space model of infiltration

Released May 07, 2022 06:50 EST

2022, Groundwater

Allen M. Shapiro, Frederick Day-Lewis, William M. Kappel, John H. Williams

A State-Space Model (SSM) of infiltration estimates daily groundwater recharge using time-series of groundwater-level altitude and meteorological inputs (liquid precipitation, snowmelt, and evapotranspiration). The model includes diffuse and preferential flow through the unsaturated zone, where preferential flow is a function of liquid precipitation and snowmelt rates and a threshold rate, above which there is direct recharge to the water table. Model parameters are estimated over seasonal periods and the SSM is coupled with the Kalman Filter (KF) to assimilate recent observations (hydraulic head) and meteorological inputs into recharge estimates. The approach can take advantage of real-time hydrologic and meteorological data to deliver real-time recharge estimates. The model is demonstrated on daily observations from two bedrock wells in carbonate aquifers of northwestern New York (USA) between 2013 and 2018. Meteorological inputs for liquid precipitation and snowmelt are compiled from SNODAS [2021]. Results for recharge during winter and spring seasons show preferential flow events to the water table from liquid precipitation, snowmelt, or a combination of the two. Recharge estimates summed annually are consistent with previous estimates of recharge reported from groundwater flow and surface-process models. Results from the SSM and KF point to errors in meteorological inputs, such as the snowmelt rate, that are not compatible with hydraulic head observations. Whereas liquid and solid precipitation are measured at discrete stations and extrapolated to 1-km2 grid cells, snowmelt is a meteorological modeled outcome that may not represent conditions in the vicinity of monitoring well locations.

U.S. Geological Survey national shoreline change— Summary statistics for updated vector shorelines (1800s–2010s) and associated shoreline change data for the Georgia and Florida coasts

Released May 06, 2022 11:45 EST

2022, Data Report 1156

Meredith G. Kratzmann

Rates of shoreline change have been updated for the open-ocean sandy coastlines of Georgia and Florida as part of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Coastal Change Hazards programmatic focus. This work was formerly within the National Assessment of Shoreline Change project. Shorelines were compiled from the original report published in 2005, recent update reports, and additional light detection and ranging (lidar) shorelines which were extracted from lidar data collected prior to and following Hurricane Irma, which made landfall in September 2017. These shorelines were used to compute long- and short-term rates that incorporate the proxy-datum bias on a transect-by-transect basis. The proxy-datum bias accounts for the unidirectional onshore bias of proxy-based high water line shorelines relative to datum-based mean high water shorelines. In this study, the coast of Georgia exhibited the highest average rates of erosion and accretion in both the long term (approximately 150 years) and the short term (approximately 30 years). Shoreline positions from the mid-1800s through 2018 were used to update the shoreline change rates for Florida and Georgia using the Digital Shoreline Analysis System (DSAS) software.

Compression behavior of hydrate-bearing sediments

Released May 06, 2022 09:22 EST

2022, AAPG Bulletin (106) 1101-1126

Yi Fang, Peter Flemings, John Germaine, Hugh Daigle, Stephen C. Phillips, Joshua O'Connell

This work experimentally explores porosity, compressibility, and the ratio of horizontal to vertical effective stress (K0) in hydrate-bearing sandy silts from Green Canyon Block 955 in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico. The samples have an in situ porosity of 0.38 to 0.40 and a hydrate saturation of more than 80%. The hydrate-bearing sediments are stiffer than the equivalent hydrate-free sediments; the K0 stress ratio is greater for hydrate-bearing sediments relative to the equivalent hydrate-free sediments. The porosity decreases by 0.01 to 0.02 when the hydrate is dissociated at the in situ effective stress. We interpret that the hydrate in the sediment pores is a viscoelastic material that behaves like a fluid over experimental time scales, yet it cannot escape the sediment skeleton. During compression, the hydrate bears a significant fraction of the applied vertical load and transfers this load laterally, resulting in the apparent increased stiffness and a larger apparent K0 stress ratio. When dissociation occurs, the load carried by the hydrate is transferred to the sediment skeleton, resulting in further compaction and a decrease in the lateral stress. The viewpoint that the hydrate is a trapped viscous phase provides a mechanism for how stiffness and stress ratio (K0) are greater when hydrate is present in the porous media. This study provides insight into the initial stress state of hydrate-bearing reservoirs and the geomechanical evolution of these reservoirs during production.

Permeability of methane hydrate-bearing sandy silts in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico (Green Canyon Block 955)

Released May 06, 2022 09:17 EST

2022, AAPG Bulletin (106) 1071-1100

Yi Fang, Peter Flemings, Hugh Daigle, Stephen C. Phillips, Joshua O'Connell

Permeability is one of the most crucial properties governing fluid flow in methane hydrate reservoirs. This paper presents a comprehensive permeability analysis of hydrate-bearing sandy silt pressure-cored from Green Canyon Block 955 (GC 955) in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico. We developed an experimental protocol to systematically characterize the transport and petrophysical properties in pressure cores. The in situ effective permeability ranges from 0.1 md (1.0 × 10−16 m2) to 2.4 md (2.4 × 10−15 m2) in these natural sandy silts cores with hydrate occupying 83%–93% of the pore space. When hydrate dissociates from these cores, the measured intrinsic permeability (k0) is 0.3 md (3.0 × 10−16 m2) to 9.3 md (9.3 × 10−15 m2); these results are affected by fines migration during hydrate dissociation. We analyzed samples reconstituted from these sandy silts and found k0 to range from ∼12 md (∼1.2 × 10−14 m2) to ∼41 md (∼4.1 × 10−14 m2). The water relative permeabilities (krw) of GC 955 pressure cores are large relative to other natural pressure cores from offshore Japan, offshore India, and onshore Alaska. These krw values are also higher than predicted by current conceptual relative permeability models where hydrate fills the pores or coats the grains of the sediments. This fundamental conundrum requires further study. Our work provides essential parameters to reservoir simulation models seeking to predict hydrate formation in geological systems, evaluate the gas production potential, and explore the best way to produce this energy resource in sandy silt reservoirs.

Assessing conservation and management actions with ecosystem services better communicates conservation value to the public

Released May 06, 2022 09:08 EST

2022, Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management (13)

David M. Mushet, Max Post van der Burg, Michael J. Anteau

Fish and wildlife populations are under unprecedented threats from changes in land use and climate. With increasing threats comes a need for an expanded constituency that can contribute to the public support and financial capital needed for habitat conservation and management. Using an ecosystem services approach can provide a framework for a more holistic accounting of conservation benefits. Our objective here is to provide a greater understanding of the role that taking an ecosystem services approach can have in expanding the public constituency that supports the use of financial capital required to conserve and manage the nation’s natural capital. To demonstrate a methodology and the usefulness of taking an ecosystem services approach when communicating the value of conserving and managing fish and wildlife habitats, we performed an evaluation of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-owned Waterfowl Production Areas, National Wildlife Refuges, and easement lands (both wetland and grassland) in Stutsman County, North Dakota. We quantified amphibian habitat, grassland bird habitat, floral resources for pollinators, and carbon storage services under various scenarios of conservation. While we did not include all possible ecosystem services in our model, our case study shows how this process can provide a more complete picture of the collateral benefits of conservation directed primarily toward waterfowl. Using this ecosystem services approach, we documented marked losses in all services modeled if current conservation lands were developed for the production of agricultural crops. By having access to a more complete picture of benefits provided by conservation lands, decision makers can better communicate their value. By garnering greater public support through a more accurate accounting of societal benefits, conservation and management of dwindling natural capital may someday attain the same level of thought and consideration that is put into the conservation and management of the nation’s financial capital.

Integrated geochemical approach to determine the source of methane in gas hydrate from Green Canyon Block 955 in the Gulf of Mexico

Released May 06, 2022 09:01 EST

2022, AAPG Bulletin (106) 949-980

Myles T. Moore, Stephen C. Phillips, Ann Cook, Thomas H. Darrah

Massive volumes of gas are sequestered within gas hydrate in subsurface marine sediments in the Gulf of Mexico. Methane associated with gas hydrate is a potentially important economic resource and a significant reservoir of carbon within the global carbon cycle. Nevertheless, uncertainties remain about the genetic source (e.g., microbial, thermogenic) and possible migration history of natural gas incorporated into hydrate. Previous studies have primarily used the hydrocarbon molecular (CH4/C2H6+) and isotopic (δ13C-CH4, δ2H-CH4) compositions of natural gas to address these uncertainties. However, hydrocarbon tracers are altered by mixing, oxidation, secondary methanogenesis, or fluid migration, which presents challenges when deciphering the mechanisms responsible for methane formation and accumulation. To evaluate the genetic source of natural gases from Green Canyon Block 955 (GC 955), east of the Sigsbee escarpment, we collected and analyzed samples from the first pressurized hydrate-bearing sediment cores collected from a coarse-grained hydrate reservoir in the Gulf of Mexico. Gas samples were analyzed for hydrocarbon gas (C1–C5), major gas (e.g., N2, CO2), and noble gas (He-Xe) abundance and isotopic (e.g., δ13C-CH4, δ2H-CH4, δ13C-CO2, δ15N-N2, 3He/4He, 4He/20Ne) compositions. We determined that natural gas in hydrates from this location are predominantly of primary microbial origin (conservatively at least 76%) and are formed by the hydrogenotrophic (CO2 reduction) methanogenesis pathway. We also note increased thermogenic proportions (∼6%) in a hydrate-bearing layer below the main hydrate-bearing interval (separated by a 5-m water-bearing layer). Our results suggest that microbial methane may be abundant below the base of gas hydrate stability at GC 955.

A forested wetland at a climate-induced tipping-point: 17-year demographic evidence of widespread tree recruitment failure

Released May 06, 2022 08:46 EST

2022, Forest Ecology and Management (517)

Jonathan Evans, Sarah McCarthy-Neumann, Angus Pritchard, Jennifer M. Cartwright, William J. Wolfe

Regeneration and survival of forested wetlands are affected by environmental variables related to the hydrologic regime. Climate change, specifically alterations to precipitation patterns, may have outsized effects on these forests. In Tennessee, USA, precipitation has increased by 15% since 1960. The goal of our research was to assess the evidence for whether this change in precipitation patterns resulted in shorter growing seasons and recruitment failure in common canopy trees for a forest wetland. In 2001 and 2018, the density of Quercus lyrata (overcup oak), Liquidambar styraciflua (sweetgum), Quercus phellos (willow oak), and Betula nigra (river birch) seedling, sapling and adult density were mapped in an area of 2.3 ha within a seasonally flooded karst depression. Overall, the percentage of the growing season experiencing inundation was 26% greater in the deep than in shallow areas between 2001 and 2018. Saplings and small adults of all four species were restricted to shallow areas, and their abundance has declined substantially. Overcup oak and sweetgum individuals that were recruited into the adult life history stage were repelled from the deep zone. Overcup oak and sweetgum adults experienced lower mortality across the 2.3-ha study area (11% and 26%, respectively) relative to willow oak (56%) and river birch (64%) over the 17-year study. Growing-season inundation showed no relation to mortality in adult sweetgum and willow oak, a positive relation to mortality among adult river birch across size classes and among small adult overcup oak, and an inverse relation to mortality among large adult overcup oak. In shallow regions, overcup oak and sweetgum adults had greater basal area increment relative to the intermediate and deep regions of the pond. Results of hydrologic modeling for the study area, based on rainfall and temperature records covering 1855–2019, show ponding durations after 1970 considerably longer than the historical baseline, across ponding-depth classes. Our results strongly suggest that climate change is a driving factor suppressing tree regeneration since 1970 in this seasonally flooded karst depression.

Toxicity of wildland fire-fighting chemicals in pulsed exposures to rainbow trout and fathead minnows

Released May 06, 2022 08:43 EST

2022, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry

Holly J. Puglis, Michael G. Iacchetta, Christina M. Mackey

Intrusions of fire-fighting chemicals in streams can result from containment and suppression of wildfires and may be harmful to native biota. We investigated the toxicity of seven current-use fire-fighting chemicals to juvenile rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and fathead minnows (Pimephales promelas) by simulating chemical intrusions under variable field conditions to provide insight on the potential damage these chemicals may cause in waterways. We manipulated water flow rate, water hardness, and concentration of the chemicals in three separate attenuated exposure assays where chemical concentrations decreased throughout the 96-hour exposure period. Concentration of retardant, temperature, duration of chemical exposure, and the number of exposures were manipulated in four pulsed assays where up to one-hour exposures were followed by an observation period in control water to determine delayed toxicity or recovery. Mortality of rainbow trout was higher across treatments at a warmer temperature and also increased with increasing concentration rate, increasing exposure duration, and with sequential exposures across assays. For fathead minnows, mortality increased with increasing concentration of fire retardant and longer exposure durations. Chemical exposure can exert additional stress during wildfire events that may impact stream fishes. Since the ratio of toxic unionized ammonia to ionized ammonia is greater with increasing temperature and pH, future studies could investigate the effects of water temperature and pH on native fishes under environmentally relevant concentrations of fire-fighting chemicals.

Microtremor array method using spatial autocorrelation analysis of Rayleigh‑wave data

Released May 06, 2022 08:33 EST

2022, Journal of Seismology

Koichi Hayashi, Michael W. Asten, William J. Stephenson, Cécile Cornou, Manuel Hobiger, Marco Pilz, Hiroaki Yamanaka

Microtremor array measurements (MAM) and passive surface wave methods in general, have been increasingly used to non-invasively estimate shear-wave velocity structures (Vs) for various purposes. The methods estimate dispersion curves and invert them for retrieving S-wave velocity profiles. This paper summarizes principles, limitations, data collection and processing methods. It intends to enable students and practitioners to understand the principles needed to plan a microtremor array investigation, record and process the data, and evaluate the quality of investigation result. The paper focuses on the spatial autocorrelation (SPAC) processing method among microtremor array processing methods because of its relatively simple calculation and stable applicability.

Statewide quantitative microbial risk assessment for waterborne viruses, bacteria, and protozoa in public water supply wells in Minnesota

Released May 06, 2022 08:22 EST

2022, Environmental Science & Technology

Tucker R. Burch, Joel P. Stokdyk, Nancy Rice, Anita C. Anderson, James F. Walsh, Sue Spencer, Aaron Firnstahl, Mark A. Borchardt

Infection risk from waterborne pathogens can be estimated via quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) and forms an important consideration in the management of public groundwater systems. However, few groundwater QMRAs use site-specific hazard identification and exposure assessment, so prevailing risks in these systems remain poorly defined. We estimated the infection risk for 9 waterborne pathogens based on a 2-year pathogen occurrence study in which 964 water samples were collected from 145 public wells throughout Minnesota, USA. Annual risk across all nine pathogens combined was 3.3 × 10–1 (95% CI: 2.3 × 10–1 to 4.2 × 10–1), 3.9 × 10–2 (2.3 × 10–2 to 5.4 × 10–2), and 1.2 × 10–1 (2.6 × 10–2 to 2.7 × 10–1) infections person–1 year–1 for noncommunity, nondisinfecting community, and disinfecting community wells, respectively. Risk estimates exceeded the U.S. benchmark of 10–4 infections person–1 year–1 in 59% of well-years, indicating that the risk was widespread. While the annual risk for all pathogens combined was relatively high, the average daily doses for individual pathogens were low, indicating that significant risk results from sporadic pathogen exposure. Cryptosporidium dominated annual risk, so improved identification of wells susceptible to Cryptosporidium contamination may be important for risk mitigation.

Presence of the herbaceous marsh species Schoenoplectus americanus enhances surface elevation gain in transitional coastal wetland communities exposed to elevated CO2 and sediment deposition events

Released May 06, 2022 07:00 EST

2022, Plants (11)

Camille Stagg, Claudia Laurenzano, William C. Vervaeke, Ken Krauss, Karen L. McKee

Coastal wetlands are dynamic ecosystems that exist along a landscape continuum that can range from freshwater forested wetlands to tidal marsh to mudflat communities. Climate-driven stressors, such as sea-level rise, can cause shifts among these communities, resulting in changes to ecological functions and services. While a growing body of research has characterized the landscape-scale impacts of individual climate-driven stressors, little is known about how multiple stressors and their potential interactions will affect ecological functioning of these ecosystems. How will coastal wetlands respond to discrete climate disturbances, such as hurricane sediment deposition events, under future conditions of elevated atmospheric CO2? Will these responses vary among the different wetland communities? We conducted experimental greenhouse manipulations to simulate sediment deposition from a land-falling hurricane under future elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations (720 ppm CO2). We measured responses of net primary production, decomposition, and elevation change in mesocosms representing four communities along a coastal wetland landscape gradient: freshwater forested wetland, forest/marsh mix, marsh, and mudflat. When Schoenoplectus americanus was present, above- and belowground biomass production was highest, decomposition rates were lowest, and wetland elevation gain was greatest, regardless of CO2 and sediment deposition treatments. Sediment addition initially increased elevation capital in all communities, but post-deposition rates of elevation gain were lower than in mesocosms without added sediment. Together these results indicate that encroachment of oligohaline marshes into freshwater forested wetlands can enhance belowground biomass accumulation and resilience to sea-level rise, and these plant-mediated ecosystem services will be augmented by periodic sediment pulses from storms and restoration efforts.

Major point and nonpoint sources of nutrient pollution to surface water have declined throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed

Released May 06, 2022 06:53 EST

2022, Environmental Research Communications (4)

Robert D. Sabo, Breck Maura Sullivan, Cuiyin Wu, Emily M. Trentacoste, Qian Zhang, Gary W. Shenk, Gopal Bhatt, Lewis C. Linker

Understanding drivers of water quality in local watersheds is the first step for implementing targeted restoration practices. Nutrient inventories can inform water quality management decisions by identifying shifts in nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) balances over space and time while also keeping track of the likely urban and agricultural point and nonpoint sources of pollution. The Chesapeake Bay Program's Chesapeake Assessment Scenario Tool (CAST) provides N and P balance data for counties throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and these data were leveraged to create a detailed nutrient inventory for all the counties in the watershed from 1985–2019. This study focuses on three primary watershed nutrient balance components—agricultural surplus, atmospheric deposition, and point source loads—which are thought to be the leading anthropogenic drivers of nutrient loading trends across the watershed. All inputs, outputs, and derived metrics (n=53) like agricultural surplus and nutrient use efficiency, were subjected to short- and long-term trend analyses to discern how sources of pollution to surface water have changed over time. Across the watershed from 1985–2019, downward trends in atmospheric deposition were ubiquitous. Though there are varying effects, long-term declines in agricultural surplus were observed, likely because nutrients are being managed more efficiently. Multiple counties' point source loads declined, primarily associated with upgrades at major cities that discharge treated wastewater directly to tidal waters. Despite all of these positive developments, recent increases in agricultural surpluses from 2009–2019 highlight that water quality gains may soon be reversed in many agricultural areas of the basin. Besides tracking progress and jurisdictional influence on pollution sources, the nutrient inventory can be used for retrospective water quality analysis to highlight drivers of past improvement/degradation of water quality trends and for decision makers to develop and track their near- and long-term watershed restoration strategies.

Structured elicitation of expert judgement in real-time eruption scenarios: An exercise for Piton de la Fournaise volcano, La Réunion island

Released May 05, 2022 10:07 EST

2022, Volcanica (5) 105-131

Alessandro Tadini, Andrew J. L. Harris, Julie Morin, Andrea Bevilacqua, Aline Peltier, Willy Aspinall, Stefano Ciolli, Patrick Bachèlery, Benjamin Bernard, Jonas Biren, António Brum da Silveira, Valéry Cayol, Oryaëlle Chevrel, Diego Coppola, Hannah R. Dietterich, Amy Donovan, Olaya Dorado, Stéphane Drenne, Olivier Dupéré, Lucia Gurioli, Stephan Kolzenburg, Jean-Christophe Komorowski, Philippe Labazuy, Domenico Mangione, Stefano Mannini, François Martel-Asselin, Etienne Médard, Sophie Pailot-Bonnétat, Victoria Rafflin, Michael Ramsey, Nicole Richter, Silvia Vallejo-Vargas, Nicolas Villeneuve, Silvia Zafrilla

Formalised elicitation of expert judgements has been used to help tackle several problematic societal issues, including volcanic crises and pandemic threats. We present an expert elicitation exercise for Piton de la Fournaise volcano, La Réunion island, held remotely in April 2021. This involved 28 experts from nine countries who considered a hypothetical effusive eruption crisis involving a new vent opening in a high-risk area. The tele-elicitation presented several challenges, but is a promising and workable option for application to future volcanic crises. Our exercise considered an “uncommon” eruptive scenario with a vent outside the present caldera and within inhabited areas, and provided uncertainty ranges for several hazard-related questions for such a scenario (e.g. probability of eruption within a defined timeframe; elapsed time until lava flow reaches a critical location, and other hazard management issues). Our exercise indicated that such a scenario would probably present very different characteristics compared to recent eruptions, and that it is fundamental to include well-prepared expert elicitations in updated civil protection evacuation plans to improve disaster response procedures.

Hydroclimate response of spring ecosystems to a two-stage Younger Dryas event in western North America

Released May 05, 2022 09:26 EST

2022, Scientific Reports (12)

Jeffrey S. Pigati, Kathleen B. Springer

The Younger Dryas (YD) climate event is the preeminent example of abrupt climate change in the recent geologic past. Climate conditions during the YD were spatially complex, and high-resolution sediment cores in the North Atlantic, western Europe, and East Asia have revealed it unfolded in two distinct stages, including an initial stable climatic period between ~ 12.9 and 12.2 ka associated with a weakened Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) and a second phase characterized by variable conditions until 11.7 ka as the AMOC recovered. Decades of investigations into the climate of western North America during the YD have failed to identify this stepped phenomenon. Here we present hydroclimate data from paleospring deposits in Death Valley National Park (California, USA) that demonstrate unequivocal evidence of two-stage partitioning within the YD event. High groundwater levels supported persistent and long-lived spring ecosystems between ~ 13.0 and 12.2 ka, which were immediately replaced by alternating wet and dry environments until ~ 11.8 ka. These results establish the mid-YD climate transition extended into western North America at approximately the same time it was recorded by hydrologic systems elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere and show that even short-lived changes in the AMOC can have profound consequences for ecosystems worldwide.

The effect of changing sea ice on wave climate trends along Alaska's central Beaufort Sea coast

Released May 05, 2022 06:39 EST

2021, The Cryosphere (16) 1609-1629

Kees Nederhoff, Li H. Erikson, Anita C Engelstad, Peter A. Bieniek, Jeremy L. Kasper

Diminishing sea ice is impacting the wave field across the Arctic region. Recent observation- and model-based studies highlight the spatiotemporal influence of sea ice on offshore wave climatologies, but effects within the nearshore region are still poorly described. This study characterizes the wave climate in the central Beaufort Sea coast from 1979 to 2019 by utilizing a wave hindcast model that uses ERA5 winds, waves, and ice concentrations as input. The spectral wave model SWAN (Simulating Waves Nearshore) is calibrated and validated based on more than 10 000 in situ time point measurements collected over a 13-year time period across the region, with friction variations and empirical coefficients for newly implemented empirical ice formulations for the open-water and shoulder seasons. Model results and trends are analyzed over the 41-year time period using the non-parametric Mann–Kendall test, including an estimate of Sen's slope. The model results show that the reduction in sea ice concentration correlates strongly with increases in average and extreme wave conditions. In particular, the open-water season extended by ∼96 d over the 41-year time period (∼2.4 d yr−1), resulting in a 5-fold increase in the yearly cumulative wave power. Moreover, the open-water season extends later into the year, resulting in relatively more open-water conditions during fall storms with high wind speeds. The later freeze-up results in an increase in the annual offshore median wave heights of 1 % yr−1 and an increase in the average number of rough wave days (defined as days when maximum wave heights exceed 2.5 m) from 1.5 in 1979 to 13.1 d in 2019. Trends in the nearshore areas deviate from the patterns offshore. Model results indicate a saturation limit for high wave heights in the shallow areas of Foggy Island Bay. Similar patterns are found for yearly cumulative wave power.

U.S. Geological Survey Hydrologic Toolbox — A graphical and mapping interface for analysis of hydrologic data

Released May 04, 2022 13:00 EST

2022, Techniques and Methods 4-D3

Paul M. Barlow, Amy R. McHugh, Julie E. Kiang, Tong Zhai, Paul Hummel, Paul Duda, Scott Hinz

The Hydrologic Toolbox is a Windows-based desktop software program that provides a graphical and mapping interface for analysis of hydrologic time-series data with a set of widely used and standardized computational methods. The software combines the analytical and statistical functionality provided in the U.S. Geological Survey Groundwater and Surface-Water Toolboxes and provides several enhancements to these programs. The main analytical methods are the computation of hydrologic-frequency statistics such as the 7-day minimum flow that occurs on average only once every 10 years (7Q10); the computation of design flows, including biologically based flows; the computation of flow-duration curves and duration hydrographs; eight computer-programming methods for hydrograph separation of a streamflow time series, including the Base-Flow Index (BFI), HYSEP, PART, and SWAT Bflow methods and Eckhardt’s two-parameter digital-filtering method; and the RORA recession-curve displacement method and associated RECESS program to estimate groundwater-recharge values from streamflow data. Several of the statistical methods provided in the Hydrologic Toolbox are used primarily for computation of critical low-flow statistics. The Hydrologic Toolbox also facilitates retrieval of streamflow and groundwater-level time-series data from the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Information System and outputs text reports that describe their analyses.

The Hydrologic Toolbox was developed by use of the DotSpatial geographic information system (GIS) programming library, which is part of the MapWindow project. DotSpatial is a nonproprietary, open-source program written for the .NET framework that includes a spatial data viewer and GIS capabilities. Advantages of the DotSpatial system include its pure .NET implementation for both the user interface and the GIS mapping engine, and thus the DotSpatial system simplifies software deployment and installation. In addition to combining the functionality of the separate Groundwater and Surface-Water Toolboxes, the Hydrologic Toolbox also organizes the functionality by theme (Groundwater Tools, Surface-Water Tools, and general Time-Series Tools).

This report provides a description of how to build a Hydrologic Toolbox project and to download and manage hydrologic time-series data. It includes an overview of the analytical and statistical capabilities of the Hydrologic Toolbox and highlights the primary differences between the Hydrologic Toolbox and the Groundwater and Surface-Water Toolboxes. The report supplements information available in an extensive online Help manual and is intended to provide a set of instructions that will allow users to quickly develop skills to use the mapping, data-retrieval, and computational tools of the program.

Hawaii and Landsat

Released May 04, 2022 11:10 EST

2022, Fact Sheet 2022-3024

U.S. Geological Survey

Hawaii stands apart from the rest of the United States, literally and figuratively. The nearest of the eight islands that make up the Hawaiian archipelago is 2,000 miles from the U.S. mainland. Like every bit of land mass within the State, it emerged from the Pacific Ocean after thousands of years of undersea volcanic activity. Kona International Airport, on the “Big Island” of Hawai‘i, was built atop 220-year-old lava flows from the Hualālai volcano.

The volcanic soils and tropical vegetation that stretch across Hawaii’s postcard-perfect peaks and valleys, as well as the trade winds that blow precipitation northeast across the islands and the warm Kona winds that move in from the south, are among the factors that make the study of the State’s landscapes distinct from the rest of the Nation.

Six active volcanoes continue to alter the land surface. Some of them, like the constantly erupting Kīlauea or Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, can threaten human life and property. Man-made changes to the islands, such as the long-term agricultural production of sugar cane or pineapple, along with the introduction of non-native species, have also affected the health of the State’s ecosystems.

Landsat satellites, with 50 years of repeat Earth observations and decades of data from infrared and thermal instruments capable of tracking lava flows, can offer unique opportunities for the study of Hawaii’s ever-changing landscapes. Here are a few examples of how Landsat benefits the State.

Implementing landscape connectivity with topographic filtering model: A simulation of suspended sediment delivery in an agricultural watershed

Released May 04, 2022 08:57 EST

2022, Science of the Total Environment (836)

Se Jong Cho, Peter R Wilcock, Karen B. Gran

The widespread availability of high-fidelity topography combined with advances in geospatial analysis offer the opportunity to reimagine approaches to the difficult problem of predicting sediment delivery from watersheds. Here we present a model that uses high-resolution topography to filter sediment sources to quantify sediment delivery to the watershed outlet. It is a reduced-complexity, top-down model that defines transfer functions—topographic filters—between spatially distributed sediment sources and spatially integrated sediment delivery. The goal of the model is to forecast changes in watershed suspended sediment delivery in response to spatially distributed changes in sediment source magnitude or delivery, whether a result of watershed drivers or intentional management actions. Such an application requires the context of a watershed model that accounts for all sediment sources, enforces sediment mass balance throughout the spatial domain, and accommodates sediment storage and delivery over time. The model is developed for a HUC-8 watershed with a flat upland dominated by corn-soybean agriculture and deeply incised valleys near the watershed outlet with large sediment contributions from near-channel sources. Topofilter computes delivery and storage of field-derived sediment according to its spatial and structural connectivity to the stream channel network; subsequently, delivery of both field- and near-channel-derived sediment along with floodplain storage are computed in the stream channel network to the watershed outlet. The model outputs provide a spatially rich representation of sediment delivery and storage on field and along the stream that is consistent with available independent information on sediment accumulations and fluxes. Rather than a single best-calibrated solution, Topofilter uses the Generalized Likelihood Uncertainty Estimate (GLUE) approach to develop many possible solutions with sediment delivery rates expressed as probability distributions across the watershed. The ensemble of simulation outputs provides a useful basis for estimating uncertainty in sediment delivery and the effectiveness of different landscape management allocation across a watershed.

Pennsylvania and Landsat

Released May 04, 2022 08:45 EST

2022, Fact Sheet 2022-3025

U.S. Geological Survey

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania straddles an array of landscapes. From east to west, its 46,055 square miles connect the sea-level lowlands of the Atlantic seaboard with the rolling hills of the Midwest. It also acts as a bridge between regions from north to south, with the Appalachian Mountains swooping through its center from its northern border with New York to its southern borders with Maryland and West Virginia.

The Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were signed in the Commonwealth’s largest city, Philadelphia, and it was the second of the original 13 colonies to ratify the Constitution. The pivotal Civil War battle of Gettysburg took place in the southern part of Pennsylvania. Western Pennsylvania was an early hub for the coal, oil, and steel industries that fueled the Nation’s growth in the 20th century and still factor into Pennsylvania’s economy. The varied natural features of Pennsylvania have been an important proving ground for the value of satellite imagery from the USGS Landsat Program. Scientists began to lean on Landsat observations early in the program’s history to map the effect of invasive moths on Commonwealth forests. That activity continues to this day. Space-based imagery has also contributed to the study and management of land change from energy development, urban growth, and shifting land use patterns.

The Landsat Program’s unparalleled 50-year archive of repeat Earth observations remains a critical public resource for Pennsylvania as climate change and land use patterns present new challenges to land managers and urban planners in the Keystone State.

Here are just a few examples of how Landsat has benefited Pennsylvania.

Amphibian mucus triggers a developmental transition in the frog-killing chytrid fungus

Released May 04, 2022 08:40 EST

2022, Current Biology (32)

Kristyn A. Robinson, Sarah M. Prostak, Evan H. Campbell Grant, Lillian K. Fritz-Laylin

The frog-killing chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) is decimating amphibian populations around the world. Bd has a biphasic life cycle, alternating between motile zoospores that disperse within aquatic environments and sessile sporangia that grow within the mucus-coated skin of amphibians. Zoospores lack cell walls and swim rapidly through aquatic environments using a posterior flagellum and crawl across solid surfaces using actin structures similar to those of human cells. Bd transitions from this motile dispersal form to its reproductive form by absorbing its flagellum, rearranging its actin cytoskeleton, and rapidly building a chitin-based cell wall—a process called “encystation.” The resulting sporangium increases in volume by two or three orders of magnitude while undergoing rounds of mitosis without cytokinesis to form a large ceonocyte. The sporangium then cellurizes by dividing its cytoplasm into dozens of new zoospores. After exiting the sporangium through a discharge tube onto the amphibian skin, daughter zoospores can then reinfect the same individual or find a new host. Although encystation is critical to Bd growth, whether and how this developmental transition is triggered by external signals was previously unknown. We discovered that exposure to amphibian mucus triggers rapid and reproducible encystation within minutes. This response can be recapitulated with purified mucin, the bulk component of mucus, but not by similarly viscous methylcellulose or simple sugars. Mucin-induced encystation does not require gene expression but does require surface adhesion, calcium signaling, and modulation of the actin cytoskeleton. Mucus-induced encystation may represent a key mechanism for synchronizing Bd development with the arrival at the host.

Surface parameters and bedrock properties covary across a mountainous watershed: Insights from machine learning and geophysics

Released May 04, 2022 08:09 EST

2022, Science Advances (8)

Sebastian Uhlemann, Baptiste Dafflon, Haruko Murakami Wainwright, Kenneth Hurst Williams, Burke J. Minsley, Katrina D. Zamudio, Bradley Carr, Nicola Falco, Craig Ulrich, Susan S. Hubbard

Bedrock property quantification is critical for predicting the hydrological response of watersheds to climate disturbances. Estimating bedrock hydraulic properties over watershed scales is inherently difficult, particularly in fracture-dominated regions. Our analysis tests the covariability of above- and belowground features on a watershed scale, by linking borehole geophysical data, near-surface geophysics, and remote sensing data. We use machine learning to quantify the relationships between bedrock geophysical/hydrological properties and geomorphological/vegetation indices and show that machine learning relationships can estimate most of their covariability. Although we can predict the electrical resistivity variation across the watershed, regions of lower variability in the input parameters are shown to provide better estimates, indicating a limitation of commonly applied geomorphological models. Our results emphasize that such an integrated approach can be used to derive detailed bedrock characteristics, allowing for identification of small-scale variations across an entire watershed that may be critical to assess the impact of disturbances on hydrological systems.

Determination of optimal set of spatio-temporal features for predicting burn probability in the state of California, USA

Released May 04, 2022 07:03 EST

2022, Conference Paper, Proceedings of the 2022 ACM Southeast Conference

Javier Andres Pastorino Gonzalez, Joseph Willliams Director, Ashis K Biswas, Todd J. Hawbaker

Wildfires play a critical role in determining ecosystem structure and function and pose serious risks to human life, property and ecosystem services. Burn probability (BP) models the likelihood that a location could burn. Simulation models are typically used to predict BP but are computationally intensive. Machine learning (ML) pipelines can predict BP and reduce computational intensity. In this work, we tested approaches to reduce the set of input features used in an ML model to estimate BP for the state of California, USA, without loss of predictive performance. We used Principal Component Analysis (PCA) to determine the optimal set of features to use in our ML pipeline. Then, we mapped BP and compared model performance when using the reduced set and when using the whole set of features. Models using optimized input achieved similar prediction performance while using less than 50% of the input features.

Refining sources of polychlorinated biphenyls in the Back River watershed, Baltimore, Maryland, 2018–2020

Released May 03, 2022 13:30 EST

2022, Scientific Investigations Report 2022-5012

Emily Majcher, Upal Ghosh, Trevor Needham, Nathalie Lombard, Ellie Foss, Mandare Bokare, Sarahana Joshee, Louis Cheung, Jada Damond, Michelle Lorah

Older urban landscapes present unique and complex stressors to urban streams and their habitats through the introduction of legacy and emerging toxic contaminants. Contaminant sources are often associated with various developed land uses such as older residential areas, active and former industrial sites, contaminated sites, and effluents from municipal wastewater treatment plant discharges. These landscapes have a history of legacy contaminant use such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) resulting in impacts to sediment and water in these complex environments. Despite the ban of PCBs in new commercial use in 1979, PCB contamination is still widespread in the environment, with many fish consumption advisories throughout the Chesapeake Bay region based on elevated PCBs. Several watersheds in the Baltimore region have mandated reductions in PCBs per total maximum daily loads in tidal waters of the watersheds in order to promote compliance with water quality standards. Some of these mandated reductions (for example, regulated watershed runoff) specified in the total maximum daily loads are the responsibility of the local jurisdictions as part of their phase 1 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System municipal separate storm sewer system permit. In cooperation with the Baltimore City Department of Public Works and Maryland Department of the Environment, the U.S. Geological Survey and University of Maryland, Baltimore County conducted a study from 2018 to 2020 to refine the sources of PCBs from the City of Baltimore into Back River and to use the results to improve the conceptual site model of PCBs in the Back River watershed.

PCB concentrations in the water column of the nontidal streams in Back River watershed are relatively consistent throughout both tributaries, with greater concentrations detected in samples collected from Moores Run but greater loads estimated in samples collected from Herring Run. PCB concentrations measured in the bed sediments and analysis of the flux between sediment porewater (hereafter porewater) and surface water within the tributaries suggest that there are no stationary legacy sources within the stream channels.

The bulk of PCB mass entering the system from these nontidal tributaries appears to be introduced primarily during storm events. While only one storm event was sampled and concentrations were quantified only in Herring Run, solids captured during the storm were characterized by increases in PCB mass and overall suspended solids concentrations. Although the bioavailability of the PCB-associated sediment is unknown, this mechanism appears to warrant additional attention to better understand how concentrations vary under different storm conditions and temporally. The importance of contaminated stormwater in loading to Herring Run is further supported by the PCB concentrations in storm drain sediments collected near the tributary, which were present in higher concentrations and were characterized by different homolog signatures compared to that in bed sediments.

The observations in the tributaries differed from PCB concentrations and sediment characteristics downstream from the City of Baltimore boundary, in the upper tidal area of the main stem of Back River, particularly at the passive sampler locations BRT–1 and BRT–3. This depositional environment is characterized by higher organic content in sediments and higher concentrations of PCBs in porewater, which result in the possible flux of contaminants from sediment to the water column. This flux is generally opposite of that observed in the nontidal tributaries and the farthest upstream tidal site (BRT–2) and may be a result of the possible settling of sediment particles introduced via suspended solids in stormwater.

Despite an observed considerable reduction in overall PCB mass loading to and from the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant (BRWWTP) (and similar reductions observed in biosolids) compared to the estimates previously reported from 2015, effluent from the BRWWTP continues to be a primary source of PCBs to Back River. The current study confirmed the likeliness of fat, oil, and grease deposits within the miles of sewer pipe as a source of PCBs to the BRWWTP influent. The differences between PCB concentrations in fat, oil, and grease deposits found in pipes (during replacement) compared to that of the BRWWTP suggest that legacy deposits may contain higher PCB concentrations and may act as a source of PCBs to passing sewage, eventually entering the BRWWTP. Variation in freely dissolved concentrations in the sewer system was apparent through the analysis of PCBs in the primary pump stations using passive sampling, with the largest contribution to the influent attributed to a single pump station and associated piping.

The contribution of PCBs to Herring Run and Moores Run via sanitary sewer overflows compared to the BRWWTP effluent is negligible, similar to reports from another large urban wastewater treatment plant. Therefore, decreased occurrence of sanitary sewer overflows is not expected to largely decrease PCB loads.

Results of this study suggest that targeted, sediment-capture best management practices in Back River watershed could be an effective way to reduce PCB mass loading assuming that deposited contaminated sediments are effectively isolated. Recent studies of some common urban best management practices such as bioretention have shown removal of PCBs within the stormwater control structures. In addition, appropriately timed street sweeping practices with appropriate collection equipment may be an effective way to reduce contaminants such as PCBs from road runoff sources. Reductions in concentrations and mass loading within the sewer system measured in this study compared to that estimated 5 years prior reflect the possible success of ongoing gray infrastructure management actions. Reductions may be attributable to enhanced nutrient reduction upgrades to the BRWWTP and extensive capital improvements and maintenance to the sewer system.

This study employed a combined sampling approach and a variety of sampling methods to include low-density polyethylene passive samplers, high-volume water samples, and grab samples of both water and sediment to characterize the PCB inputs to Herring Run, Moores Run, and Back River. Incorporating the passive samplers provided a time-weighted average of the freely dissolved concentration in the surface water, porewater, WWTP influent and effluent, and pump station influent over the deployment period with picogram per liter detection limits. A similar monitoring approach from this study could be implemented within other subwatersheds or municipal separate storm sewer system jurisdictions to assist in refining primary sources of PCBs in order to inform appropriate mitigation approaches.

Nevada and Landsat

Released May 03, 2022 13:01 EST

2022, Fact Sheet 2022-3026

U.S. Geological Survey

Nevada’s geography is colorful—and contradictory. As one of the most mountainous States, Nevada shares the country’s second-deepest lake, Lake Tahoe, with neighboring California. It is also the driest State and largely covered by desert. Northern Nevada has long, cold winters, whereas the south has long, hot summers. It is the seventh-largest State, but it ranks in the bottom one-half of States for population. More than 72 percent of its 3.1 million residents live in the Las Vegas area.

In Nevada, the desert is not dull. An extraordinary variety of wildflowers bloom in the spring, and other plants include mesquite, cacti, creosote, and yucca such as Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia). Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) is more than the State flower; it is a hardy, enduring shrub foundational to a vast ecosystem in the Great Basin that feeds and shelters hundreds of wildlife species. The Silver State has a strong mining tradition, and agriculture centers around livestock ranching and irrigated crops. Although mining and agriculture once formed the base of Nevada’s economy, tourism now leads the way, mostly from gambling and entertainment in Las Vegas, Reno, and other cities. Water is a critical resource for supporting residents, visitors, and industries, and Lake Mead behind Hoover Dam on the Colorado River supplies most of it for southern Nevada.

Nevada has significant natural resources, but they face threats—especially in a warming climate. Here are a few ways Landsat benefits Nevada.

Wyoming and Landsat

Released May 03, 2022 09:59 EST

2022, Fact Sheet 2022-3027

U.S. Geological Survey

Wyoming has the smallest population of any State—fewer than 600,000 people—but an abun­dance of wildlife. The largest number of pronghorn (Antilocapra americana), often called antelope, and the biggest public bison (Bison bison) herd in the United States live in Wyoming, which also hosts elk (Cervus elaphus), moose (Alces americanus), bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis), black bears (Ursus americanus), and grizzly bears (U. arctos). The terrain of the Nation’s 10th largest State varies from the Black Hills to the Rocky Mountains, and from Great Plains grassland to Wyoming Basin desert sagebrush.

Natural resources attract millions of visitors annually, especially to the country’s first national park, Yellowstone, and the ski slopes in Grand Teton National Park and elsewhere. Natural resources account for much of the employment in the Cowboy State, from tourism and ranching to coal, natural gas, and oil mining.

To help monitor these natural resources, researchers and land managers have relied on USGS Landsat imagery and data. The scale of images from the first Landsat satellites helped geologists detect previously unknown uranium deposits in Wyoming, which is the leading State for uranium production. Today, land managers and researchers take advantage of Landsat and its 50-year archive to explore landscape change over time—and continue to make new discoveries.

Monitoring fish abundance and behavior, using multi-beam acoustic imaging sonar, at a Selective Water Withdrawal structure in Lake Billy Chinook, Deschutes River, Oregon, 2020

Released May 03, 2022 09:07 EST

2022, Open-File Report 2022-1038

Collin D. Smith, Tyson W. Hatton, Noah S. Adams

Collection of juvenile salmonids at Round Butte Dam is a critical part of the effort to enhance populations of anadromous fish species in the upper Deschutes River because fish that are not collected at the dam may either incur increased mortality during dam passage or remain landlocked and lost to the anadromous fish population. Adaptive resolution imaging sonar systems were used to assess the behavior, abundance, and timing of fish at the entrance to the Selective Water Withdrawal (SWW) intake and fish collection structure located in the forebay of Round Butte Dam during the spring of 2020. The purpose of the SWW is to direct surface currents in the forebay to attract and collect downriver migrating juvenile salmonid smolts (Chinook salmon [Oncorhynchus tshawytscha], sockeye salmon [O. nerka], and steelhead [O. mykiss]) from Lake Billy Chinook and to enable operators of the SWW to withdraw water from surface and benthic elevations in the reservoir to manage downriver water temperatures. The objective of this study was to assess the abundance and behaviors of smolt-size fish (95–300 millimeters) observed near the SWW and to determine if the presence of bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus; >350 millimeters), the predominant predator of juvenile salmonids, influenced the behavior of downriver migrants.

Two imaging sonar units were deployed during the spring of 2020 smolt out-migration period. One unit monitored fish movements near the entrances and one unit monitored in one of the collection flumes of the SWW. The imaging sonar technology was informative for assessing abundance and spatial and temporal behaviors of smolt and bull trout-size fish. Smolt and bull trout-size fish were regularly observed near the entrance to and in the collection flume. Increased abundances were observed during the night, with corresponding increased discharge through the SWW, compared to during the day when discharge was reduced. Behavioral differences also were observed at different discharge rates, with smolt-size fish exhibiting more directed movement toward the collector during periods of increased discharge. Additionally, the presence of bull trout-size fish may have affected the behavior of smolt-size fish because a greater percentage of smolt-size fish were observed traveling away from the SWW when bull trout-size fish were present than when bull trout-size fish were absent. Increased counts of bull trout-size fish coincided with the increased abundances of smolt-size fish. Overall, the results indicate that smolt-size fish are more abundant near the entrance and in the flume of the SWW during periods of increased discharge, and bull trout-size fish were present at the SWW and may have affected smolt collection.

Water priorities for the Nation—U.S. Geological Survey Integrated Water Prediction science program

Released May 03, 2022 08:45 EST

2022, Fact Sheet 2022-3028

Mark P. Miller, Katherine Skalak, David P. Lesmes

The U.S. Geological Survey Integrated Water Prediction science program focuses on the development of advanced models for forecasting water use and other components of the water cycle along with water quality attributes such as temperature, water constituents, and ecological conditions. The program also is developing the cyberinfrastructure required to implement national and local-scale models to be used by water resource managers over the decades ahead.

Risk assessment for bull trout introduction into Sullivan Lake and Harvey Creek, northeastern Washington

Released May 03, 2022 08:23 EST

2022, Open-File Report 2022-1032

Jill M. Hardiman, Rachel B. Breyta, Carl O. Ostberg

The Kalispel Tribe of Indians (KT), U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife are engaged in conservation of bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) in the Lake Pend Oreille (LPO) Core Area. The LPO is a complex habitat core area which falls within three states (Montana, Idaho, and Washington) and a tribal entity. As part of the conservation process, KT worked in cooperation with the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) to complete a risk assessment for introduction of bull trout into Sullivan Lake/Harvey Creek, northeastern, Washington. The risk assessment was designed to evaluate potential risks to resident fish species, to bull trout introduced into Sullivan Lake, and to bull trout donor source populations. This risk assessment describes the potential risks associated with pathogens (introduction of pathogens and increased pathogen burden), genetics (such as risk to donor sources, straying and breeding with native bull trout, and introduction of bull-brook hybrids), and ecological interactions (such as predation and competition). Potential donor source populations were identified and evaluated using a qualitative approach based on expert opinion and a decision framework.

Literature reviews were completed for fish species composition and abundance in Sullivan Lake basin to assess potential ecological interactions and risks to these populations and to the introduced bull trout. The USGS assessed pathogen risks through two major questions: (1) whether introduced bull trout might bring pathogens into the Sullivan Lake basin that were not previously present and (2) whether the health of introduced bull trout could be adversely affected by pathogens already present in the basin. Assessment of genetic risks included demographic risks to donor source populations, potential for hybridization with native bull trout, and the risk of introducing bull-brook hybrids. Literature reviews were used in conjunction with discussions among regional biologists to identify potential donor source populations and their population attributes. A decision framework was developed by USGS in collaboration with KT biologists that identified desirable population attributes (life history behavior, abundance, population viability, feasibility of collection, and environmental match) associated with donor source populations and established ranking criteria. The population attribute information was used with the (1) decision framework, (2) established ranking criteria, and (3) expert opinion of regional biologists, to assign scores for overall ranking of donor source populations.

The LPO source population was the highest ranked and is considered a robust and stable population. The risk of introducing pathogens from LPO into Sullivan Lake via a bull trout introduction program seems low, and indirect pathogen burden risks to resident species can be mitigated using established pathogen surveillance methods. The likelihood that bull trout, introduced into Sullivan Lake, stray and spawn with native bull trout is low. Nearest-neighbor donor source populations, such as LPO, could minimize negative fitness impacts that might occur from straying and interbreeding of individuals that become entrained and help maintain natural patterns of genetic diversity in native populations. The ecological risk that a bull trout introduction presents to resident species seems to be low but with some uncertainty. Pygmy whitefish, a Washington State Sensitive species, is likely most vulnerable to extirpation with increased predation pressure with introduction of an additional piscivore into the ecosystem. The status of the pygmy whitefish in Sullivan Lake is unknown. The ecological risks most likely to reduce the viability of introduced bull trout are predation by burbot and an adequate forage base in Sullivan Lake. Prior fish surveys provided data on resident species abundance, provided an established baseline for effective monitoring, and identifying ecosystem changes post-bull trout introduction to inform future adaptive management decisions.

Global groundwater solute composition and concentrations

Released May 03, 2022 06:48 EST

2022, Groundwater

Warren W. Wood, Pauline L. Smedley, Bruce D. Lindsey, Warren T. Wood, Roberto E. Kirchheim, John A. Cherry

Informed analysis of policies related to food security, global climate change, wetland ecology, environmental nutrient flux, element cycling, groundwater weathering, continental denudation, human health, etc. depends to a large extent on quantitative estimates of solute mass fluxes into and out of all global element pools including the enigmatic global aquifer systems. Herein for the first time, we proffer the mean global solute concentration of all major and selected minor and trace solutes in the active groundwater that represents 99% of liquid fresh water on Earth. Concentrations in this significant element pool have yielded to a geospatial machine learning kNN-nearest neighbors’ algorithm with numerous geospatial predictors utilizing a large new lithology/climate/aquifer age/elevation based solute database. The predicted concentrations are consistent with traditional solute ratios, concentrations, and thermodynamic saturation indices.

Areas contributing recharge to priority wells in valley-fill aquifers in the Neversink River and Rondout Creek drainage basins, New York

Released May 02, 2022 14:55 EST

2022, Scientific Investigations Report 2021-5112

Nicholas Corson-Dosch, Michael N. Fienen, Jason S. Finkelstein, Andrew T. Leaf, Jeremy T. White, Joshua C. Woda, John H. Williams

In southeastern New York, the villages of Ellenville, Wurtsboro, Woodridge, the hamlet of Mountain Dale, and surrounding communities in the Neversink River and Rondout Creek drainage basins rely on wells that pump groundwater from valley-fill glacial aquifers for public water supply. Glacial aquifers are vulnerable to contamination because they are highly permeable and have a shallow depth to water table. To protect the quality of these water resources, water managers need accurate information about the areas that contribute recharge to production wells that pump from these aquifers. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York State Department of Health designated eight priority wells in this region for which water supply protection is of primary concern.

The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York State Department of Health, began an investigation in 2019 with the general objectives of (1) improving understanding of regional groundwater-flow system, (2) delineating areas contributing recharge to eight priority production wells, and (3) quantifying the uncertainty of these contributing areas in a probabilistic way that can be used to inform decision-making related to priority well source-water protection. To complete these objectives, a MODFLOW 6 groundwater model was created encompassing the eight priority wells and the surrounding flow system, which includes parts of the Neversink River and Rondout Creek Basins in Sullivan County and Ulster County, New York. The model was built using Python tools (such as flopy, modflow-setup, and sfrmaker) that facilitate transparent and repeatable model development using existing datasets. The model parameters were estimated with a stepwise approach using an iterative ensemble smoother implementation of the Parameter ESTimation software PEST++ (version 5.0.0). We evaluated initial “best guess” parameter bounds with a prior Monte Carlo analysis. Results of the first prior Monte Carlo analysis were used to make informed adjustments to model parameter bounds (typically resulting in expanded bounds), and a second prior Monte Carlo analysis was run to identify improved ranges for model parameters during history matching.

The history matching effort produced an ensemble of parameter values for the groundwater-flow model that spans the range of values within prior uncertainty bounds. The ensemble is informed by the historical observation data, within a reasonable range of uncertainty on those observations. This history-matched ensemble was used in a particle tracking Monte Carlo analysis to delineate the areas contributing recharge to priority wells. The groundwater-flow and particle tracking (MODPATH7) models were run once for each ensemble member. Deterministic contributing areas computed for each ensemble member were aggregated to produce maps showing the probability that a location contributes recharge to priority wells. Finally, the particle tracking Monte Carlo analysis was repeated for six pumping scenarios, representing a wide range of possible pumping levels, to incorporate uncertainty in future pumping rates related to population growth or other management decisions. Increasing pumping rates generally led to larger contributing recharge areas and larger areas of high probability that a location contributes recharge to priority wells. These maps show the overall uncertainty of the areas contributing recharge to priority wells in the study area and provide a tool for risk-based decision making for protection of well source water.

Areas contributing recharge to selected production wells in unconfined and confined glacial valley-fill aquifers in Chenango River Basin, New York

Released May 02, 2022 14:55 EST

2022, Scientific Investigations Report 2021-5083

Paul J. Friesz, John H. Williams, Jason S. Finkelstein, Joshua C. Woda

In the Chenango River Basin of central New York, unconfined and confined glacial valley-fill aquifers are an important source of drinking-water supplies. The risk of contaminating water withdrawn by wells that tap these aquifers might be reduced if the areas contributing recharge to the wells are delineated and these areas protected from land uses that might affect the water quality. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York State Department of Health, began an investigation in 2019 to improve understanding of groundwater flow and delineate areas contributing recharge to 16 production wells clustered in three study areas in the basin as part of an effort to protect the source of water to these wells. Areas contributing recharge were delineated on the basis of numerical steady-state groundwater-flow models representing long-term average hydrologic conditions.

In the Cortland study area, four water suppliers operate 10 production wells that withdraw a total average rate of 2,480 gallons per minute from an unconfined aquifer consisting of well-sorted sand and gravel deposits. Simulated areas contributing recharge to these wells at their average pumping rates covered a total area of 6.93 square miles. Simulated areas contributing recharge extend upgradient from the wells to upland till deposits and to groundwater divides. Some simulated areas contributing recharge include isolated areas remote from the wells. Short simulated groundwater traveltimes from recharging locations to discharging wells indicated that the wells are vulnerable to contamination from land-surface activities; 50 percent of the traveltimes were 10 years or less. Land cover in some of the areas contributing recharge included a substantial amount of urban and agriculture land use.

The groundwater-flow model of the Cortland study area was calibrated to available hydrologic data by inverse modeling using nonlinear regression. The parameter variance-covariance matrix from model calibration was used to create parameter sets that reflect the uncertainty of the parameter estimates and the correlation among parameters to evaluate the uncertainty associated with the single, predicted contributing areas to the wells. This analysis led to contributing areas expressed as a probability distribution. Because of the effects of parameter uncertainty, the size of the probabilistic contributing areas was larger than the size of the single, predicted contributing area for the wells. Thus, some areas not in the single, predicted contributing area might actually be in the contributing area, including additional areas of urban and agriculture land use that have the potential to contaminate groundwater. Additional areas that might be in the contributing area included recharge originating near the pumping wells that have relatively short groundwater-flow paths and traveltimes.

In each of the Greene and Cincinnatus study areas, one water supplier operates three wells that are screened near the top of the bedrock surface in a confined aquifer consisting of poorly to well-sorted sand and gravel deposits. This confined aquifer is overlain by a lacustrine confining unit of very fine sand, silt, and clay, which in turn is overlain by a thin unconfined aquifer of sand and gravel. The groundwater-flow models for these two areas were manually calibrated because of the limited hydrologic data. Simulated areas contributing recharge to the Greene study area wells covered a total area of 0.35 square mile for the average pumping rate of 170 gallons per minute. The contributing areas extended southeastward of the wells to the groundwater divide in the till uplands. The contributing areas also included remote, isolated areas on the opposite side of the Chenango River from the wells primarily in the till uplands. For the Cincinnatus study area wells, which have a low average pumping rate (34 gallons per minute), the simulated contributing areas totaled 0.06 square mile and were on the same side of the river as the wells, but they are isolated areas remote from the wells primarily in the till-covered bedrock uplands. Land cover in these contributing areas for both study areas is primarily agriculture and forested, with the contributing areas to the Greene study area wells also including some urban land uses. Because the Greene and Cincinnatus study area wells are screened relatively deep and some flow paths to the wells partly travel through the confining unit, which impedes the connection with surface sources of recharge, overall groundwater traveltimes are greater than for wells in the Cortland study area. Fifty percent of Cortland study area wells, but only 9 and 44 percent of Greene and Cincinnatus study area wells, respectively, have groundwater traveltimes of 10 years or less.

Data sources and methods for digital mapping of eight valley-fill aquifer systems in upstate New York

Released May 02, 2022 14:55 EST

2022, Scientific Investigations Report 2022-5024

Jason S. Finkelstein, Joshua C. Woda, John H. Williams

Digital hydrogeologic maps were developed in eight study areas in upstate New York by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The digital maps define the hydrogeologic framework of the valley-fill aquifers and surrounding till-covered uplands in the vicinity of the villages of Ellenville and Wurtsboro and hamlets of Woodbourne and South Fallsburg in Sullivan and Ulster Counties, town of Greene in Chenango County, city of Cortland and town of Cincinnatus in Cortland County, city of Jamestown in Chautauqua County, city of Olean and village of Ellicottville in Cattaraugus County, and villages of Fishkill and Wappinger Falls in Dutchess County. The hydrogeologic framework provided the foundation for groundwater-flow models that were used in the delineation of areas contributing groundwater flow to production wells screened in four of the eight valley-fill aquifers considered in this study. The hydrogeologic framework for the other four study areas was developed for potential future use in groundwater contributing-area studies.

Data used in the creation of all digital surfaces and thicknesses included published surficial geology; aquifer maps and hydrogeologic sections; light detection and ranging (lidar) datasets; the Soil Survey Geographic Database; and lithologic well logs from the National Water Information System, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Department of Transportation, and Empire State Organized Geologic Information System databases. Digital maps of the surficial geology; thickness of the surficial sand and gravel aquifers; and tops of the confining lacustrine silt and clay units, confined sand and gravel aquifers, and bedrock surfaces were created by using ArcGIS (a geographic information system). All surfaces and thicknesses were generated by using one of the following ArcGIS interpolation tools: Topo to Raster, Natural Neighbors, Kriging, or Empirical Bayesian Kriging. The datasets developed in this study provide a greater understanding of the underlying hydrogeologic framework in glacial valley-fill aquifers and can be applied in the evaluation of groundwater-supply development and protection.

Distribution of bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) in conjunction with habitat and trout assemblages in creeks within the Klamath Basin, Oregon 2010–16

Released May 02, 2022 13:45 EST

2022, Open-File Report 2022-1022

Barbara A. Martin, Nolan Banish, David A. Hewitt, Brian S. Hayes, Amari Dolan-Caret, Alta C. Harris, Caylen Kelsey

Bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) in the Klamath Basin are on the southernmost border of the range of the species, where threats are most severe and where bull trout are most imperiled. In their recovery plan the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (2015, suggested that Klamath Basin bull trout are at increased risk of extirpation due to habitat fragmentation, degradation of habitat complexity, and introduction of non-native trout species that often outcompete bull trout. The goals of this study were to determine if there was a lack of connectivity between habitat areas impeding migration, habitat differences, or interference by non-native species affecting bull trout distribution in the Klamath Basin. This study examined three populations of bull trout in conjunction with a concurrent native species (redband trout [Oncorhynchus mykiss gairdnerii]), and a concurrent non-native species (brown trout [Salmo trutta]) in tributaries of the upper Sprague River within the Klamath Basin. Culverts present at the beginning of the study may have impeded migration of bull trout, but culvert upgrades made during the study appeared to eliminate the impediments to migration. The presence of non-native brown trout appeared to cause bull trout to use a smaller portion of Leonard Creek, whereas the low numbers of brown trout in the studied portion of Brownsworth Creek did not appear to interfere with the local distribution of bull trout. Downstream migration of bull trout may have been impeded if there were increased numbers of brown trout or increased temperatures in the lower portions of the creeks outside of the study area. Although habitat complexity was not examined in detail during this study, there was an attempt to enhance the habitat for bull trout by introducing large woody debris into treatment sections of the creeks. We compared bull trout numbers between the treatment sections and nearby control sections prior to and after introduction of the large woody debris. The introduction of large woody debris did not appear to enhance the use of those areas by bull trout, but the large woody debris may not have been of suitable size to enhance the habitat for bull trout.

Gravity surveys for estimating possible width of enhanced porosity zones across structures on the Coconino Plateau, Coconino County, north-central Arizona

Released May 02, 2022 11:04 EST

2022, Scientific Investigations Report 2022-5031

Libby M. Wildermuth

The U.S. Geological Survey completed gravity transects in 2015, 2018, and 2019 over four features: the Bright Angel Fault, Bright Angel Monocline, Tusayan Graben, and Redlands Ranch Fault Zone in the Coconino Plateau, Coconino County, Arizona, to determine if the existence and width of high porosity (low density) zones could be inferred from the resulting gravity contrasts, which could be used to update groundwater models of the region. Faults and other geological structures in the Coconino Plateau are commonly thought to play a role in the movement of groundwater in the area, but limited data exist to constrain their influence. Some groundwater models of the region have used zones of enhanced permeability and porosity along or near features to model their effect on groundwater flow but have not shown sensitivity to the width of the zones used. Enhanced porosity zones in the subsurface, such as those included along or near features in some groundwater models of the region, could create small mass deficiencies detectable by microgravity methods. However, 3 of the 4 gravity transects, the Bright Angel Fault, Bright Angel Monocline, and Tusayan Graben, showed no negative gravity anomaly over the features that could indicate the presence of a low-density zone. Only the Redlands Ranch Fault Zone that had nearby collapse features showed a negative gravity anomaly that was modeled as a zone of 0.017 increased porosity about 800 meters wide, corresponding to the relative dimension and enhanced porosity used in groundwater models of the area. This study was unable to verify the existence of enhanced porosity zones at the selected locations along the other features. However, faults and other features may affect groundwater flow in different ways at different locations, and this work does not preclude the existence of enhanced porosity zones at other places along these faults.

Economic benefits supported by surface water in eastern Oregon’s Harney Basin

Released May 01, 2022 09:12 EST

2022, Western Economics Forum (20) 30-42

Christopher Huber, Matthew Flyr, Lucas S. Bair

The Harney Basin is a closed river basin in southeastern Oregon. Surface water in the basin is used for a variety of social, economic, and ecological benefits. While some surface water uses compete with one another, others are complementary or jointly produce multiple beneficial outcomes. The objective of this study is to conduct a baseline economic assessment of surface water in the Basin as it relates to wet meadow pasture production and outdoor recreation. Given the complex interactions between surface water management on public and private land, identifying and quantifying these economic outcomes can be used to assist future decision making in the Basin.

Visualizing climate change

Released May 01, 2022 06:56 EST

2022, Ecotone

Adam Terando

Humans are profoundly affecting the planet, and human-caused, or anthropogenic, climate change is the most visible manifestation of this today. In the graph above, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, trends in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) are shown from the present (at far right) back through several ice age cycles, to eight hundred thousand years ago (800 kyBCE, or thousands of years before the Common Era). On this longer timescale, the carbon that humans have added to the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels is seen to be more akin to an instantaneous shock rather than a gradual, inexorable increase that is observed over a person’s lifetime.

Aerial dispersal of Lygodium microphyllum spores within Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge

Released May 01, 2022 06:53 EST

2022, Florida Scientist (84) 245-251

Alison G. Snow, Laura A. Brandt, Ryan L. Lynch, Erynn M. Call, Scott M. Duke-Sylvester, Don DeAngelis

Native across the Old World tropics from Africa to Southeast Asia and Australia, Lygodium microphyllum (Cav.) R. Br. (Old World Climbing Fern) is one of the most invasive plant species threatening South Florida ecosystems (Rodgers et al. 2014). This invasive fern was first collected as a naturalized plant in South Florida in the late 1960s (Beckner 1968). Subsequent populations were observed in the late 1970s in both Martin and Palm Beach Counties (Nauman and Austin 1978). In 1989 L. microphyllum was observed by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) in the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge (LNWR). In 1995, a survey by SFWMD indicated that 12% of LNWR was colonized by L. microphyllum. By 1997 this had increased to 36% (Ferriter 2001). Ten years later, Systematic Reconnaissance Flights conducted over LNWR estimated that 44% of LNWR had sparse (> a single individual tree, shrub or stem to <50%) or dense (>50%) infestations of L. microphyllum

Circa 1.50–1.45 Ga metasedimentary rocks in southwestern Laurentia provide distinctive records of Mesoproterozoic regional orogenesis and craton interactions

Released May 01, 2022 06:45 EST

2022, GSA Memoirs (220)

James V. Jones III, Christopher G. Daniel

The discovery of multiple deformed and metamorphosed sedimentary successions in southwestern Laurentia that have depositional ages between ca. 1.50 and 1.45 Ga marked a turning point in our understanding of the Mesoproterozoic tectonic evolution of the continent and its interactions with formerly adjacent cratons. Detrital zircon U-Pb ages from metasedimentary strata and igneous U-Pb zircon ages from interbedded metavolcanic rocks in Arizona and New Mexico provide unequivocal evidence for ca. 1.50–1.45 Ga deposition and burial, followed by ca. 1.45 and younger deformation, metamorphism, and plutonism. These events reflect regional shortening and crustal thickening that are most consistent with convergent to collisional orogenesis—the Mesoproterozoic Picuris orogeny—in southwestern Laurentia. Similar metasedimentary successions documented in the midcontinent of the United States and in eastern Canada help to establish ca. 1.45 Ga orogenesis as a continent-scale phenomenon associated with a complex and evolving convergent margin along southern Laurentia. Metasedimentary successions of similar age are also exposed across ~5000 km of the western Laurentian margin and contain distinctive 1.6–1.5 Ga detrital zircon populations that are globally rare except in select cratonic provinces in Australia and Antarctica. The recognition of these distinctive detrital zircon ages provides a transient record of plate interactions prior to breakup of Nuna or Columbia ca. 1.45 Ga and provides key constraints on global plate reconstructions.

Depth to water and water quality in groundwater wells in the Ogallala aquifer within the North Plains Groundwater Conservation District, Texas Panhandle, 2019–20, and comparison to 2012–13 conditions

Released April 29, 2022 12:54 EST

2022, Scientific Investigations Report 2022-5026

Craig A. Mobley, Patricia B. Ging

The Ogallala aquifer is the primary source of water for agricultural and municipal purposes in the Texas Panhandle. Because most of the groundwater in the Texas Panhandle is withdrawn from the Ogallala aquifer, information on the quality of groundwater in the Ogallala aquifer in this part of Texas is useful for resource characterization. During 2012–13, the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the North Plains Groundwater Conservation District (NPGCD), collected and analyzed water-quality samples from 30 groundwater monitoring wells in the Texas Panhandle. The results of the initial 2012–13 synoptic sampling were published in 2014 to help provide an initial characterization of the spatial and temporal variability of water quality in the NPGCD management area. This report documents the results of a followup synoptic sampling completed between March 2019 and July 2020 by the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the NPGCD, to further characterize the spatial and temporal characteristics of groundwater in the NPGCD management area; measurements of the depth to water, in feet below land surface, and water-quality samples were obtained from the same 30 monitoring wells that were sampled during 2012–13. The water-quality samples were analyzed for major ions, nutrients, trace elements, and selected organic compounds. Results from the 2019–20 synoptic sampling were compared to drinking-water standards and to the results from the 2012–13 synoptic sampling.

Between the 2012–13 and 2019–20 sampling periods, the depth to water increased in 28 of the 30 wells, with a median difference of 18.17 feet. Results from major ion analyses indicate that most of the groundwater samples collected during 2019–20 were classified as magnesium-bicarbonate type, the same water type indicated for most samples during 2012–13. Dissolved-solids concentrations for the wells sampled during 2019–20 ranged from 260 to 774 milligrams per liter (mg/L) with a median dissolved-solids concentration of 316 mg/L, which was slightly higher than the median dissolved-solids concentration of 311 mg/L for the 2012–13 sampling period. Of the four nutrients analyzed, nitrate was the dominant nitrogen species, with a median nitrate concentration of 2.25 mg/L for the 2019–20 sampling period, which was a slight increase relative to the median nitrate concentration of 2.05 mg/L for the 2012–13 sampling period. Accounting for variability in analyses, median major ion concentrations and median concentrations for nutrient species were similar during the 2012–13 and 2019–20 sampling periods. None of the trace element concentrations exceeded any maximum contaminant level or secondary drinking-water standards. Median concentrations of trace elements from the 2012–13 sampling period were compared to those from the 2019–20 sampling period for constituents in cases where at least 50 percent of concentrations measured in the samples were detected at concentrations greater than the highest applicable laboratory reporting level, and variability in analyses was accounted for. Comparison results indicated that that median concentrations of two trace elements (lithium and uranium) increased, whereas median concentrations for two of the other trace elements measured (barium and molybdenum) decreased. Atrazine and deethylatrazine were the only organic compounds detected; both were detected in four of the six samples collected from different wells and analyzed for organic compounds. Concentrations of atrazine and deethylatrazine detections were all less than 0.05 micrograms per liter.

Methylmercury stable isotopes: New insights on assessing aquatic food web bioaccumulation in legacy impacted regions

Released April 29, 2022 09:43 EST

2022, ACS ES&T Water (2) 701-709

Tylor Rosera, Sarah E. Janssen, Michael T. Tate, Ryan F. Lepak, Jacob M. Ogorek, John F. DeWild, David P. Krabbenhoft, James P. Hurley

Through stable isotope measurements of total mercury (HgT), identification of crucial processes and transformations affecting different sources of mercury (Hg) has become possible. However, attempting to use HgT stable isotopes to track bioaccumulation of Hg sources among different food web compartments can be challenging, if not impossible, when tissues have varying methylmercury (MeHg) contents. We measured HgT and MeHg stable isotope ratios within the lower Fox River to examine how these values differed across the food web and if isotope values in biota were influenced by legacy contamination. We showed that seston, invertebrates, and fish had a large range of δ202HgT (−0.74 to 0.15 ‰, n = 11) due to varying MeHg contents in tissues but a commonly conserved MeHg isotope value (δ202MeHgave = 0.01 ± 0.12 ‰, 1 standard deviation, n = 11). We also examined some mathematical approaches to estimate the MeHg isotope values, which were mostly comparable to measured MeHg isotope values in the Fox River, with some exceptions. In this study, we observed that the MeHg isotope values can elucidate links between different food web compartments and provide insight on aquatic Hg cycling that can be masked by the sole use of HgT isotopes in contaminated sites.

Aftershocks preferentially occur in previously active areas

Released April 29, 2022 08:34 EST

2022, The Seismic Record (2) 100-106

Morgan T. Page, Nicholas van der Elst

The clearest statistical signal in aftershock locations is that most aftershocks occur close to their mainshocks. More precisely, aftershocks are triggered at distances following a power‐law decay in distance (Felzer and Brodsky, 2006). This distance decay kernel is used in epidemic‐type aftershock sequence (ETAS) modeling and is typically assumed to be isotropic, even though individual sequences show more clustered aftershock occurrence. The assumption of spatially isotropic triggering kernels can impact the estimation of ETAS parameters themselves, such as biasing the magnitude‐productivity term, alpha, and assigning too much weight to secondary rather than primary (direct) triggering. Here we show that aftershock locations in southern California, at all mainshock–aftershock distances, preferentially occur in the areas of previous seismicity. For a given sequence, the scaling between aftershock rates and the previous seismicity rate is approximately linear. However, the total number of aftershocks observed for a given sequence is independent of background rate. We explain both of these observations within the framework of rate‐and‐state friction (Dieterich, 1994).

Life history strategies of stream fishes linked to predictors of hydrologic stability

Released April 29, 2022 07:13 EST

2022, Ecology and Evolution (12)

Nathaniel P. Hitt, Andrew P Landsman, Richard L. Raesly

Life history theory provides a framework to understand environmental change based on species strategies for survival and reproduction under stable, cyclical, or stochastic environmental conditions. We evaluated environmental predictors of fish life history strategies in 20 streams intersecting a national park within the Potomac River basin in eastern North America. We sampled stream sites during 2018–2019 and collected 3801 individuals representing 51 species within 10 taxonomic families. We quantified life history strategies for species from their coordinates in an ordination space defined by trade-offs in spawning season duration, fecundity, and parental care characteristic of opportunistic, periodic, and equilibrium strategies. Our analysis revealed important environmental predictors: Abundance of opportunistic strategists increased with low-permeability soils that produce flashy runoff dynamics and decreased with karst terrain (carbonate bedrock) where groundwater inputs stabilize stream flow and temperature. Conversely, abundance of equilibrium strategists increased in karst terrain indicating a response to more stable environmental conditions. Our study indicated that fish community responses to groundwater and runoff processes may be explained by species traits for survival and reproduction. Our findings also suggest the utility of life history theory for understanding ecological responses to destabilized environmental conditions under global climate change.

Identifying monitoring information needs that support the management of fish in large rivers

Released April 29, 2022 06:33 EST

2022, Environmental Management (17)

Timothy Counihan, Kristen L. Bouska, Shannon K. Brewer, R. B. Jacobson, Andrew F. Casper, Colin G. Chapman, Ian R. Waite, Kenneth R. Sheehan, Mark Pyron, Elise R. Irwin, Karen Riva-Murray, Alexa J. McKerrow, Jennifer M. Bayer

Management actions intended to benefit fish in large rivers can directly or indirectly affect multiple ecosystem components. Without consideration of the effects of management on non-target ecosystem components, unintended consequences may limit management efficacy. Monitoring can help clarify the effects of management actions, including on non-target ecosystem components, but only if data are collected to characterize key ecosystem processes that could affect the outcome. Scientists from across the U.S. convened to develop a conceptual model that would help identify monitoring information needed to better understand how natural and anthropogenic factors affect large river fishes. We applied the conceptual model to case studies in four large U.S. rivers. The application of the conceptual model indicates the model is flexible and relevant to large rivers in different geographic settings and with different management challenges. By visualizing how natural and anthropogenic drivers directly or indirectly affect cascading ecosystem tiers, our model identified critical information gaps and uncertainties that, if resolved, could inform how to best meet management objectives. Despite large differences in the physical and ecological contexts of the river systems, the case studies also demonstrated substantial commonalities in the data needed to better understand how stressors affect fish in these systems. For example, in most systems information on river discharge and water temperature were needed and available. Conversely, information regarding trophic relationships and the habitat requirements of larval fishes were generally lacking. This result suggests that there is a need to better understand a set of common factors across large-river systems. We provide a stepwise procedure to facilitate the application of our conceptual model to other river systems and management goals.

Modeling the dynamics of lahars that originate as landslides on the west side of Mount Rainier, Washington

Released April 28, 2022 12:36 EST

2022, Open-File Report 2021-1118

David L. George, Richard M. Iverson, Charles M. Cannon

Large lahars pose substantial threats to people and property downstream from Mount Rainier volcano in Washington State. Geologic evidence indicates that these threats exist even during the absence of volcanic activity and that the threats are highest in the densely populated Puyallup and Nisqually River valleys on the west side of the volcano. However, the precise character of these threats can be difficult to anticipate.

To help predict depths and rates of possible lahar inundation in the area, this report presents the results of simulations of hypothetical future lahars that originate high on the west side of Mount Rainier and travel downstream into the Puyallup and Nisqually River valleys. Many of the results portrayed as still images in the figures of this report are also available as animated files that can be accessed at the web address provided in the figure captions. We simulated eight scenarios, including worst-case scenarios in which the simulated lahars are similar in size and mobility to the approximately 260 million cubic meter (Mm3; 340 million cubic yard) Electron Mudflow lahar that descended from Mount Rainier and inundated the Puyallup River valley about 500 years ago. The other six scenarios place the worst-case scenarios in perspective by simulating lahars that originate from the same source areas but have smaller volumes or lesser mobilities.

We perform our simulations using an open-source software package that we developed called D-Claw. The numerical model composing the kernel of D-Claw solves a system of five hyperbolic partial differential equations that describe the depth-averaged dynamics of static or flowing grain-fluid mixtures interacting with three-dimensional topography. In D-Claw, the volume fraction occupied by solid grains is a dependent variable that can freely evolve, enabling simulation of landslide liquefaction and of lahar interaction with static bodies of water. The latter feature facilitates a seamless simulation of a lahar in the Nisqually River valley entering Alder Lake reservoir.

In the event of an approximately 260 Mm3 high-mobility lahar originating on the west side of Mount Rainier, our results point to two areas of pronounced hazard. One area, comprising the densely populated lowlands of Orting, Washington, and environs, could be inundated by lahars originating from either the Sunset Amphitheater or Tahoma Glacier headwall areas. In the worst-case scenario we consider for the Orting lowlands, which involves a 260 Mm3 high-mobility lahar originating from a landslide in the Sunset Amphitheater, a flow front approximately 4 meters deep and traveling about 4 meters per second reaches the Orting lowlands about 1 hour after the onset of slope failure. After passing through the Orting lowlands, the simulated lahar slows down and comes to rest in the valleys surrounding Sumner and Puyallup. A second area of pronounced hazard is the stretch of the Nisqually River valley beginning in Mount Rainier National Park and extending downstream to Alder Lake reservoir and Alder Dam. This area would be substantially affected in the worst-case scenario that involves a 260 Mm3 high-mobility lahar originating from the Tahoma Glacier headwall area—the locality identified by a previous study as the sector of Mount Rainier most prone to large-scale gravitational collapse. The simulated lahar passes through the area of Ashford, Washington, within about 20 minutes of the onset of slope failure and reaches the head of Alder Lake within about 50 minutes. The lahar ultimately displaces enough reservoir water to cause overtopping of the 100 meter (330 foot) tall Alder Dam, but consequences of such dam overtopping are not addressed in this report.

Ungulate migration in a changing climate—An initial assessment of climate impacts, management priorities, and science needs

Released April 28, 2022 10:40 EST

2022, Circular 1493

Katherine C. Malpeli

Executive Summary

Migratory behavior among ungulates in the Western United States occurs in response to changing forage quality and quantity, weather patterns, and predation risk. As snow melts and vegetation green-up begins in late spring and early summer, many migratory ungulates leave their winter range and move to higher elevation summer ranges to access high-quality forage and areas with vegetative cover for protection during fawning. Ungulates remain on these ranges until the fall when increasing snowfall and decreasing temperatures trigger them to migrate back to their lower elevation winter ranges. While researchers have begun to assess the effects of physical barriers such as roads and energy infrastructure on migration, less attention has been paid to understanding how changing climate conditions might affect ungulate movements and range habitats. Does earlier spring green-up make ungulates leave their winter ranges sooner? Do persistent drought conditions reduce the carrying capacity of seasonal range habitats or lead to shifts in migration pathways? These and other questions remain largely unanswered but could have cascading effects on ungulate population dynamics and migratory behavior.

In February 2018, the Secretary of the Interior signed Department of the Interior Secretarial Order 3362 (SO3362), “Improving Habitat Quality in Western Big-Game Winter Range and Migration Corridors.” The order, which focuses on elk, mule deer, and pronghorn in 11 Western States, directs the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the National Park Service (NPS), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to partner with State wildlife agencies on their priorities and objectives for identifying and conserving ungulate migration corridors and winter-range habitat. The USGS Climate Adaptation Science Centers (CASCs) were established to help managers of the Nation’s fish, wildlife, waters, and lands understand the effects of climate change and adapt to changing conditions. To support the recent Department of the Interior (DOI) emphasis on ungulate migration corridors and winter-range habitat, this report assesses current information on how climate change could affect elk, mule deer, and pronghorn migration. The report synthesizes the drivers of migration, outlines what is known about how climate change might affect these drivers, and summarizes management priorities and science needs related to ungulate migration corridors and range habitat.

A review of the literature on ungulate migration shows that the core drivers of spring migration are the timing of spring green-up and snowmelt, and the core driver of fall migration is winter severity. After exploring what is known about how these drivers affect or could be affected by climate change, several pathways through which ungulate migration could be altered were identified: (1) ungulates alter migration timing to better track plant phenology or in response to changes in winter conditions; (2) ungulates change their migration route or distance traveled during migration to accommodate changes in environmental conditions; and (3) ungulate populations that are currently migratory may begin to demonstrate interannual variability in whether they migrate, depending on environmental conditions and density-dependence, and may remain resident for sets of consecutive years.

Through discussions with managers, physical barriers to movement such as roads and fences were identified as a core concern. In addition, the primary research needs of States are the acquisition and analysis of data on ungulate movements, to refine delineation of winter range, summer range, and corridors, and to support a better understanding of how ungulates use these habitats. When it comes to understanding climate effects, managers were more concerned with understanding the vulnerability of winter- and summer-range habitats than the vulnerability of migration corridors because of the influence of summer and winter forage on ungulate condition and reproductive success. Managers were also concerned about how forage quality and quantity might change because of stressors such as drought, wildfire, and invasive species and how they might need to alter habitat-treatment strategies as a result.

More baseline data are needed before effective projections of ungulate migration, at a West-wide scale under climate change, can be made. These data needs include (1) more clearly defined corridors and seasonal range habitats; (2) a comprehensive understanding of the ecological drivers of migration across ungulate species and populations; and (3) the identification of environmental thresholds for key variables that influence migration, above which ungulates alter migratory behavior.

The CASCs have several opportunities to play a role in addressing these needs. The CASCs could initiate projects to identify past and potential future changes and trends in key variables known to affect ungulate migration, such as plant phenology, forage quality, or winter severity. However, it would be difficult to use this information to determine what those trends mean for ungulate migration due to the lack of knowledge about environmental thresholds for ungulates. Additional projects would be required to compare multiple years of movement data with key variables to define thresholds. Once available, information on environmental thresholds could be integrated with projections of key variables to forecast the likelihood that the migration routes or the distance traveled could change—another area in which the CASCs could contribute.

A more immediate role for the CASCs would be to carry out synthesis projects. One such project could summarize the “state of the science” on the drivers of ungulate migration. Although there are dozens of population- and location-specific studies on this topic, collating this information could help highlight trends in migration drivers that span species and geographies: a necessary first step toward determining the extent to which migration drivers could be affected by climate change. A second project could focus on what is known about how climate variability and change affect ungulate life-histories, population dynamics, and migration in the Western United States. The goal of this effort could be to identify knowledge clusters and information gaps that require further investigation. Together, these synthesized products could focus future scientific activities on the most pressing issues of ungulate migration and climate change in the Western United States.

Yellowstone Volcano Observatory 2021 annual report

Released April 27, 2022 13:29 EST

2022, Circular 1494

Yellowstone Volcano Observatory

The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) monitors volcanic and hydrothermal activity associated with the Yellowstone magmatic system, carries out research into magmatic processes occurring beneath Yellowstone Caldera, and issues timely warnings and guidance related to potential future geologic hazards. This report summarizes the activities and findings of YVO during the year 2021, focusing on the Yellowstone volcanic system. Highlights of YVO research and related activities during 2021 include deployments of seismometers in Norris Geyser Basin and Upper Geyser Basin to investigate geyser plumbing systems, semipermanent Global Positioning System array deployment from May to October, geological studies of post-glacial hydrothermal activity, refining the ages of Yellowstone volcanic units and updating existing maps of geologic deposits, installation of a new continuous gas monitoring station near Mud Volcano, sampling of thermal waters around Yellowstone National Park to monitor water chemistry over space and time, and assessment of thermal output based on satellite imagery and chloride flux in rivers.

Steamboat Geyser, in Norris Geyser Basin, continued the pattern of frequent eruptions that began in 2018 with 20 water eruptions in 2021—a significant decrease from the 48 eruptions that occurred in both 2019 and 2020. Total seismicity—2,773 located earthquakes—was elevated compared to the 1,722 earthquakes located in 2020, but not significantly outside the historical average of about 1,500–2,500 earthquakes per year. Overall subsidence of the caldera floor, ongoing since late 2015 or early 2016, continued at rates of a few centimeters (1–2 inches) per year, whereas deformation in the Norris Geyser Basin area was below detection levels. Satellite deformation measurements indicate the possibility of slight uplift amounting to about 1 centimeter (less than 1 inch) along the north caldera rim, south of Norris Geyser Basin. The deformation is similar to that which occurred in the late 1990s. Throughout 2021, the aviation color code for Yellowstone Caldera remained at “green” and the volcano alert level remained at “normal.”

The Volcano Hazards Program — Strategic science plan for 2022–2026

Released April 27, 2022 10:00 EST

2022, Circular 1492

Charles W. Mandeville, Peter F. Cervelli, Victoria F. Avery, Aleeza M. Wilkins

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Volcano Hazards Program (VHP) Strategic Science Plan, developed through discussion with scientists-in-charge of the USGS volcano observatories and the director of the USGS Volcano Science Center, specifies six major strategic goals to be pursued over the next 5 years. The purpose of these goals is to help fulfill the USGS VHP mission to enhance public safety and to minimize social and economic disruption caused by volcanic eruptions in the United States and its territories, through delivery of effective forecasts, warnings, and information on volcano hazards based on scientific understanding of volcanic processes. These six major strategic goals are to (1) continue—and when possible, accelerate—implementation of the National Volcano Early Warning System (NVEWS); (2) improve community preparedness for volcanic hazards by updating and standardizing essential components of volcano hazard assessments and providing training to land managers, emergency responders, and State and local communities; (3) develop the next generation of volcano hazard assessments using geographic information systems and other digital tools; (4) make observations with new instrumentation and take advantage of advances in real-time gas sensors; (5) rebuild the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and its monitoring capabilities; and (6) form new partnerships and strengthen existing partnerships with other government agencies and with academia and industry, to advance volcano monitoring, increase understanding of volcanic processes, and disseminate USGS information.

In its effort to advance volcano science and monitoring techniques, the VHP has identified six scientific targets to pursue over the next 5 years, including: (1) increased understanding of volcano seismicity; (2) improved probabilistic forecasting; (3) deepened grasp of volcano eruption histories and geochronology; (4) newly developed and refined physical models of magmatic systems, leading to better situational awareness and accuracy of eruption forecasts; (5) improved warnings and forecasts of volcanic ash and gas clouds and characterization of volcanic smog sources; and (6) refined lava-flow modeling and forecasting of lava-flow paths.

Barkley Canyon gas hydrates: A synthesis based on two decades of seafloor observation and remote sensing

Released April 27, 2022 08:47 EST

2022, Frontiers in Earth Science (10)

M. Reidel, M. Scherwath, M. Romer, C. K. Paull, E. Lundsten, D. W. Caress, P. Brewer, John Pohlman, L. L. Lapham, N. R. Chapman, M. Whiticar, G. D. Spence, R. Enkin, K. Douglas

Barkley Canyon is one of the few known sites worldwide with the occurrence of thermogenic gas seepage and formation of structure-II and structure-H gas hydrate mounds on the seafloor. This site is the location of continuous seafloor monitoring as part of the Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) cabled observatory off the west coast off Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. We combine repeat remotely operated vehicle (ROV) seafloor video observations, mapping with an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), ship-, ROV-, and AUV-based identification of gas flares, as well as seismic and Chirp data to investigate the distribution of fluid migration pathways. Geologically, the site with the prominent gas hydrate mounds and associated fluid seepage is covering an area of ∼0.15 km2 and is situated on a remnant of a rotated fault block that had slipped off the steep flanks of the north-east facing canyon wall. The gas hydrate mounds, nearly constant in dimension over the entire observation period, are associated with gas and oil seepage and surrounded by debris of chemosynthetic communities and authigenic carbonate. The formation of gas hydrate at and near the seafloor requires additional accommodation space created by forming blisters at the seafloor that displace the regular sediments. An additional zone located centrally on the rotated fault block with more diffuse seepage (∼0.02 km2 in extent) has been identified with no visible mounds, but with bacterial mats, small carbonate concretions, and clam beds. Gas venting is seen acoustically in the water column up to a depth of ∼300 m. However, acoustic water-column imaging during coring and ROV dives showed rising gas bubbles to much shallower depth, even <50 m, likely a result of degassing of rising oil droplets, which themselves cannot be seen acoustically. Combining all observations, the location of the gas hydrate mounds is controlled by a combination of fault-focused fluid migration from a deeper reservoir and fluid seepage along more permeable strata within the rotated slope block. Fluids must be provided continuously to allow the sustained presence of the gas hydrate mounds at the seafloor.

Protocols for collecting and processing macroinvertebrates from the benthos and water column in depressional wetlands

Released April 27, 2022 08:31 EST

2022, Open-File Report 2022-1029

Breanna R. Keith, Jake D. Carleen, Danelle M. Larson, Michael J. Anteau, Megan J. Fitzpatrick

Freshwater aquatic macroinvertebrates are key links in food webs and nutrient cycles, and thus often serve as biological indicators of ecosystem health. Macroinvertebrate investigations in research and monitoring require consistent and reliable field and laboratory procedures. Comprehensive standard operating procedures for sampling macroinvertebrates from depressional wetlands, which can range from riverine floodplain lakes to wetlands of any size and hydrologic regime, remain relatively sparse. This report provides step-by-step protocols for efficient use of time and resources while collecting and processing aquatic macroinvertebrate samples; for example, a single wetland can typically be field surveyed in less than 1 hour, and the samples can be processed in the laboratory in less than 2 hours. Samples can be collected from inside a motorboat or canoe or while wading. This procedures manual describes dip netting to collect macroinvertebrates from the wetland bottom and water column separately to facilitate investigations of habitat use by species occupying different areas of the wetland. This report also provides descriptive supplemental materials and data sheets to assist with the preparation of survey maps, the acquisition of field and laboratory equipment, and the calculation of macroinvertebrate densities from the wetland bottom and water column. These procedures can be applied to most macroinvertebrate species and communities that inhabit a variety of wetland sizes and types. Uses and applications can range from elementary and secondary environmental education to rigorous scientific evaluations of community abundance, diversity, distribution, or species-habitat relations.

Utah and Landsat

Released April 26, 2022 13:58 EST

2022, Fact Sheet 2022-3023

U.S. Geological Survey

Utah’s list of notable features runs long, but scenery rises to the top. The Colorado River does not simply run through southeastern Utah; it meanders through steep canyons of the eroded sedimentary rock that colors the sweeping vistas of the Colorado Plateau. Stone arches, spires, hoodoos, cliffs, and bridges in hues of red enchant residents and tourists. Mountain ranges extending through the State add dynamic views—and skiing opportunities.

The Great Salt Lake in northern Utah is the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere. The western part of Utah, including the Great Salt Lake, lies in the Great Basin, a multi-State drainage area with no outlet. Because the lake has no outlet to flush out any salt, evaporation produces a higher concentration of salts in the water or soils, called salinity. The lake lacks fish but supports algae and brine shrimp, and extensive wetlands around the lake attract millions of migratory birds.

Landsat imagery is useful for showing surface changes, such as the fluctuating water levels of the shallow Great Salt Lake. The lake flooded in the 1980s, but the southern part dropped to its lowest level in recorded history in 2021. Landsat data also can take a much deeper look at land and water conditions. Here are several ways Landsat benefits Utah.

Hydraulics of freshwater mussel habitat in select reaches of the Big River, Missouri

Released April 26, 2022 13:37 EST

2022, Scientific Investigations Report 2022-5002

Maura O. Roberts, Robert B. Jacobson, Susannah O. Erwin

The Big River is a tributary to the Meramec River in south-central Missouri. It drains an area that has been historically one of the largest lead producers in the world, and associated mine wastes have contaminated sediments in much of the river corridor. This study investigated hydraulic conditions in four study reaches to evaluate the potential contribution of physical habitat dynamics to mechanical and physiological stress on native mussel populations. We quantified hydraulic conditions and relative bed stability in previously identified and delineated mussel habitats (MHs) and in the surrounding reaches to refine understanding of the reach-scale (about 1 kilometer) hydraulic characteristics that affect the distribution of mussel aggregations in the river. Two-dimensional hydrodynamic models were compiled for discharge scenarios from base flow (90-percent flow exceedance) to the approximate bankfull discharge (2-year mean return interval peak flow) for the reaches. Discharge, velocity, and water-surface elevation data were collected at all four study reaches at various discharges to calibrate the models across a range of discharges. Shields values to predict incipient motion of the substrate were computed for the MHs and surrounding reaches using bed-surface sediment data collected during this study and previous studies.

The distributions of hydraulic values at the range of simulated discharge scenarios were significantly different among the MHs. Depth values in the MHs ranged from 0.03 to 5.7 meters, with parts remaining dry at some lower flow scenarios (for example, 90- and 50-percent flow exceedance). MH velocities and bed shear stresses (shear stresses) reached 3.1 meters per second and 31 newtons per square meter, respectively. Through the range of simulated discharges, velocity and shear stress within the MHs were limited by reach-scale hydraulic behavior.

Our calculations predicted sand mobility within at least 50 percent of the wetted area of all four MHs for discharges from the 50-percent exceedance flow to the approximate bankfull discharge, whereas 50th-percentile (median) particle size fraction mobility was only predicted within a small area of one of the MHs at the 2-year peak discharge. These results indicate that finer size fractions are mobile within the four MHs, but the larger framework grains of the substrate are predominantly stable at the most frequent discharges.

Our results indicate that suitable mussel habitat on the Big River cannot be identified within a narrow range of velocities, depths, and shear stresses. However, the consistent patterns of sediment mobility and the slow increase of hydraulic forces with increasing discharge within all the MHs indicate that flushing flows at low discharges and coarse sediment stability at higher discharges are important for habitat suitability in the Big River. These patterns of sediment mobility are comparable among the robust and depauperate MHs, indicating that the depauperate beds are likely not impaired by bed instability or siltation. Coarse sediment stability up to bankfull discharges further indicates that bed instability is not widespread in these modeled reaches and is likely not related to the spatial distribution of mussels in these locations.

Susceptibility of beavers to chronic wasting disease

Released April 26, 2022 06:43 EST

2022, Biology (11)

Allen Jeffrey Herbst, Serene Wohlgemuth, Jing-Feng Yang, Andrew Castle, Diana Martinez Moreno, Alicia Otero, Judd M. Aiken, David Westaway, Debbie I. McKenzie

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a contagious, fatal, neurodegenerative prion disease of cervids. The expanding geographical range and rising prevalence of CWD are increasing the risk of pathogen transfer and spillover of CWD to non-cervid sympatric species. As beavers have close contact with environmental and food sources of CWD infectivity, we hypothesized that they may be susceptible to CWD prions. We evaluated the susceptibility of beavers to prion diseases by challenging transgenic mice expressing beaver prion protein (tgBeaver) with five strains of CWD, four isolates of rodent-adapted prions and one strain of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease. All CWD strains transmitted to the tgBeaver mice, with attack rates highest from moose CWD and the 116AG and H95+ strains of deer CWD. Mouse-, rat-, and especially hamster-adapted prions were also transmitted with complete attack rates and short incubation periods. We conclude that the beaver prion protein is an excellent substrate for sustaining prion replication and that beavers are at risk for CWD pathogen transfer and spillover.

Detection and characterization of coastal tidal wetland change in the northeastern US using Landsat time series

Released April 26, 2022 06:39 EST

2022, Remote Sensing of Environment (276)

Xiucheng Yang, Zhe Zhu, Shirley Qiu, Kevin D. Kroeger, Zhiliang Zhu, Scott Covington

Coastal tidal wetlands are highly altered ecosystems exposed to substantial risk due to widespread and frequent land-use change coupled with sea-level rise, leading to disrupted hydrologic and ecologic functions and ultimately, significant reduction in climate resiliency. Knowing where and when the changes have occurred, and the nature of those changes, is important for coastal communities and natural resource management. Large-scale mapping of coastal tidal wetland changes is extremely difficult due to their inherent dynamic nature. To bridge this gap, we developed an automated algorithm for DEtection and Characterization of cOastal tiDal wEtlands change (DECODE) using dense Landsat time series. DECODE consists of three elements, including spectral break detection, land cover classification and change characterization. DECODE assembles all available Landsat observations and introduces a water level regressor for each pixel to flag the spectral breaks and estimate harmonic time-series models for the divided temporal segments. Each temporal segment is classified (e.g., vegetated wetlands, open water, and others – including unvegetated areas and uplands) based on the phenological characteristics and the synthetic surface reflectance values calculated from the harmonic model coefficients, as well as a generic rule-based classification system. This harmonic model-based approach has the advantage of not needing the acquisition of satellite images at optimal conditions (i.e., low tide status) to avoid underestimating coastal vegetation caused by the tidal fluctuation. At the same time, DECODE can also characterize different kinds of changes including land cover change and condition change (i.e., land cover modification without conversion). We used DECODE to track status of coastal tidal wetlands in the northeastern United States from 1986 to 2020. The overall accuracy of land cover classification and change detection is approximately 95.8% and 99.8%, respectively. The vegetated wetlands and open water were mapped with user's accuracy of 94.6% and 99.0%, and producer's accuracy of 98.1% and 93.5%, respectively. The cover change and condition change were mapped with user's accuracy of 68.0% and 80.0%, and producer's accuracy of 80.5% and 97.1%, respectively. Approximately 3283 km2 of the coastal landscape within our study area in the northeastern United States changed at least once (12% of the study area), and condition changes were the dominant change type (84.3%). Vegetated coastal tidal wetland decreased consistently (~2.6 km2 per year) in the past 35 years, largely due to conversion to open water in the context of sea-level rise.

Integration of satellite-based optical and synthetic aperture radar imagery to estimate winter cover crop performance in cereal grasses

Released April 26, 2022 06:35 EST

2022, Remote Sensing (14)

Jyoti Jennewein, Brian T Lamb, W. Dean Hively, Alison Thieme, Resham Thapa, Avi Goldsmith, Phillip Dennison

The magnitude of ecosystem services provided by winter cover crops is linked to their performance (i.e., biomass and associated nitrogen content, forage quality, and fractional ground cover), although few studies quantify these characteristics across the landscape. Remote sensing can produce landscape-level assessments of cover crop performance. However, commonly employed optical vegetation indices (VI) saturate, limiting their ability to measure high-biomass cover crops. Contemporary VIs that employ red-edge bands have been shown to be more robust to saturation issues. Additionally, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data have been effective at estimating crop biophysical characteristics, although this has not been demonstrated on winter cover crops. We assessed the integration of optical (Sentinel-2) and SAR (Sentinel-1) imagery to estimate winter cover crops biomass across 27 fields over three winter–spring seasons (2018–2021) in Maryland. We used log-linear models to predict cover crop biomass as a function of 27 VIs and eight SAR metrics. Our results suggest that the integration of the normalized difference red-edge vegetation index (NDVI_RE1; employing Sentinel-2 bands 5 and 8A), combined with SAR interferometric (InSAR) coherence, best estimated the biomass of cereal grass cover crops. However, these results were season- and species-specific (R2 = 0.74, 0.81, and 0.34; RMSE = 1227, 793, and 776 kg ha−1, for wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), triticale (Triticale hexaploide L.), and cereal rye (Secale cereale), respectively, in spring (March–May)). Compared to the optical-only model, InSAR coherence improved biomass estimations by 4% in wheat, 5% in triticale, and by 11% in cereal rye. Both optical-only and optical-SAR biomass prediction models exhibited saturation occurring at ~1900 kg ha−1; thus, more work is needed to enable accurate biomass estimations past the point of saturation. To address this continued concern, future work could consider the use of weather and climate variables, machine learning models, the integration of proximal sensing and satellite observations, and/or the integration of process-based crop-soil simulation models and remote sensing observations.