Publications recently added to the Pubs Warehouse

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Semipermanent GPS (SPGPS) as a volcano monitoring tool: Rationale, method, and applications

Released September 25, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research (344) 40-51

Daniel Dzurisin, Michael Lisowski, Charles W. Wicks Jr.

Semipermanent GPS (SPGPS) is an alternative to conventional campaign or survey-mode GPS (SGPS) and to continuous GPS (CGPS) that offers several advantages for monitoring ground deformation. Unlike CGPS installations, SPGPS stations can be deployed quickly in response to changing volcanic conditions or earthquake activity such as a swarm or aftershock sequence. SPGPS networks can be more focused or more extensive than CGPS installations, because SPGPS equipment can be moved from station to station quickly to increase the total number of stations observed in a given time period. SPGPS networks are less intrusive on the landscape than CGPS installations, which makes it easier to satisfy land-use restrictions in ecologically sensitive areas. SPGPS observations are preferred over SGPS measurements because they provide better precision with only a modest increase in the amount of time, equipment, and personnel required in the field. We describe three applications of the SPGPS method that demonstrate its utility and flexibility. At the Yellowstone caldera, Wyoming, a 9-station SPGPS network serves to densify larger preexisting networks of CGPS and SGPS stations. At the Three Sisters volcanic center, Oregon, a 14-station SPGPS network complements an SGPS network and extends the geographic coverage provided by 3 CGPS stations permitted under wilderness land-use restrictions. In the Basin and Range province in northwest Nevada, a 6-station SPGPS network has been established in response to a prolonged earthquake swarm in an area with only sparse preexisting geodetic coverage. At Three Sisters, the estimated precision of station velocities based on annual ~ 3 month summertime SPGPS occupations from 2009 to 2015 is approximately half that for nearby CGPS stations. Conversely, SPGPS-derived station velocities are about twice as precise as those based on annual ~ 1 week SGPS measurements. After 5 years of SPGPS observations at Three Sisters, the precision of velocity determinations is estimated to be 0.5 mm/yr in longitude, 0.6 mm/yr in latitude, and 0.8 mm/yr in height. We conclude that an optimal approach to monitoring volcano deformation includes complementary CGPS and SPGPS networks, periodic InSAR observations, and measurements from in situ borehole sensors such as tiltmeters or strainmeters. This comprehensive approach provides the spatial and temporal detail necessary to adequately characterize a complex and evolving deformation pattern. Such information is essential to multi-parameter models of magmatic or tectonic processes that can help to guide research efforts, and also to inform hazards assessments and land-use planning decisions.

Factors associated with bat mortality at wind energy facilities in the United States

Released September 25, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Biological Conservation (215) 241-245

Maureen Thompson, Julie A. Beston, Matthew A. Etterson, James E. Diffendorfer, Scott R. Loss

Hundreds of thousands of bats are killed annually by colliding with wind turbines in the U.S., yet little is known about factors causing variation in mortality across wind energy facilities. We conducted a quantitative synthesis of bat collision mortality with wind turbines by reviewing 218 North American studies representing 100 wind energy facilities. This data set, the largest compiled for bats to date, provides further evidence that collision mortality is greatest for migratory tree-roosting species (Hoary Bat [Lasiurus cinereus], Eastern Red Bat [Lasiurus borealis], Silver-haired Bat [Lasionycteris noctivagans]) and from July to October. Based on 40 U.S. studies meeting inclusion criteria and analyzed under a common statistical framework to account for methodological variation, we found support for an inverse relationship between bat mortality and percent grassland cover surrounding wind energy facilities. At a national scale, grassland cover may best reflect openness of the landscape, a factor generally associated with reduced activity and abundance of tree-roosting species that may also reduce turbine collisions. Further representative sampling of wind energy facilities is required to validate this pattern. Ecologically informed placement of wind energy facilities involves multiple considerations, including not only factors associated with bat mortality, but also factors associated with bird collision mortality, indirect habitat-related impacts to all species, and overall ecosystem impacts.

Structural equation model of total phosphorus loads in the Red River of the North Basin, USA and Canada

Released September 25, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of Environmental Quality (46) 1072-1080

Karen R. Ryberg

Attribution of the causes of trends in nutrient loading is often limited to correlation, qualitative reasoning, or references to the work of others. This paper represents efforts to improve causal attribution of water-quality changes. The Red River of the North basin provides a regional test case because of international interest in the reduction of total phosphorus loads and the availability of long-term total phosphorus data and ancillary geospatial data with the potential to explain changes in water quality over time. The objectives of the study are to investigate structural equation modeling methods for application to water-quality problems and to test causal hypotheses related to the drivers of total phosphorus loads over the period 1970 to 2012. Multiple working hypotheses that explain total phosphorus loads and methods for estimating missing ancillary data were developed, and water-quality related challenges to structural equation modeling (including skewed data and scaling issues) were addressed. The model indicates that increased precipitation in season 1 (November–February) or season 2 (March–June) would increase total phosphorus loads in the basin. The effect of agricultural practices on total phosphorus loads was significant, although the effect is about one-third of the effect of season 1 precipitation. The structural equation model representing loads at six sites in the basin shows that climate and agricultural practices explain almost 60% of the annual total phosphorus load in the Red River of the North basin. The modeling process and the unexplained variance highlight the need for better ancillary long-term data for causal assessments.

Biogeographical variation of plumage coloration in the sexually dichromatic Hawai‘i ‘Amakihi (Chlorodrepanis virens)

Released September 25, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of Ornithology (158) 955-964

Jacqueline M. Gaudioso-Levita, Patrick J. Hart, Dennis Lapointe, Anne Veillet, Esther Sebastian-Gonzalez

Plumage coloration in birds can be of major importance to mate selection, social signaling, or predator avoidance. Variations in plumage coloration related to sex, age class, or seasons have been widely studied, but the effect of other factors such as climate is less known. In this study, we examine how carotenoid-based plumage coloration and sexual dichromatism of the Hawai‘i ‘Amakihi (Chlorodrepanis virens) varies with rainfall and temperature on Hawai‘i Island. We also examined whether Hawai‘i ‘Amakihi plumage coloration patterns follow Gloger’s rule, which states that animals in wetter climates have darker coloration. Hawai‘i ‘Amakihi were mist-netted and banded at 12 sites representing six major climatic zones on Hawai‘i Island. Feather samples were collected from two body regions: the breast and rump. Using spectrophotometry, we recorded coloration using measures of hue, saturation, and brightness. We conducted sex determination by polymerase chain reaction to confirm the sex of birds sampled. We found that the plumage coloration of Hawai‘i ‘Amakihi varied with both temperature and rainfall. ‘Amakihi plumage’s brightness showed a quadratic relationship with rainfall, contrary to Gloger’s rule, and decreased with temperature. Saturation depended on the interaction between temperature and rainfall. Increases in rainfall also increased saturation in warm areas, while they reduced saturation when the temperature was low. Finally, we found chromatic differences among sexes, but sexual dichromatism was not affected by the climatic conditions. This study provides evidence that rainfall and temperature play an important role in determining the plumage traits of Hawai‘i ‘Amakihi.

Coming to terms about describing Golden Eagle reproduction

Released September 25, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of Raptor Research (51) 378-390

Karen Steenhof, Michael N. Kochert, Carol L. McIntyre, Jessi L. Brown

Clearly defined terms are essential for reporting and understanding research findings, and inconsistent terminology can complicate efforts to compare findings from different studies. In this article, we reiterate and clarify recommended terms for describing Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) territory occupancy and reproduction. Several authors have provided recommendations for reporting data on raptor reproduction, but our literature review showed that authors continue to use different, often ambiguous and undefined, terms. The inconsistent use of terminology by researchers has been continued and expanded by lawmakers, regulators, and managers, perpetuating confusion. We recommend that authors clearly define and reference all terminology that they use, and we caution against use of the term “active” to describe a nest or nesting territory, because it is tainted with a history of inconsistent use. We provide a glossary of recommended terms for Golden Eagles and other large, long-lived raptors.

Refining fault slip rates using multiple displaced terrace risers—An example from the Honey Lake fault, NE California, USA

Released September 25, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Earth and Planetary Science Letters (477) 134-146

Ryan D. Gold, Richard W. Briggs, Anthony J. Crone, Christopher Duross

Faulted terrace risers are semi-planar features commonly used to constrain Quaternary slip rates along strike-slip faults. These landforms are difficult to date directly and therefore their ages are commonly bracketed by age estimates of the adjacent upper and lower terrace surfaces. However, substantial differences in the ages of the upper and lower terrace surfaces (a factor of 2.4 difference observed globally) produce large uncertainties in the slip-rate estimate. In this investigation, we explore how the full range of displacements and bounding ages from multiple faulted terrace risers can be combined to yield a more accurate fault slip rate. We use 0.25-m cell size digital terrain models derived from airborne lidar data to analyze three sites where terrace risers are offset right-laterally by the Honey Lake fault in NE California, USA. We use ages for locally extensive subhorizontal surfaces to bracket the time of riser formation: an upper surface is the bed of abandoned Lake Lahontan having an age of 15.8 ± 0.6 ka and a lower surface is a fluvial terrace abandoned at 4.7 ± 0.1 ka. We estimate lateral offsets of the risers ranging between 6.6 and 28.3 m (median values), a greater than fourfold difference in values. The amount of offset corresponds to the riser's position relative to modern stream meanders: the smallest offset is in a meander cutbank position, whereas the larger offsets are in straight channel or meander point-bar positions. Taken in isolation, the individual terrace-riser offsets yield slip rates ranging from 0.3 to 7.1 mm/a. However, when the offset values are collectively assessed in a probabilistic framework, we find that a uniform (linear) slip rate of 1.6 mm/a (1.4–1.9 mm/a at 95% confidence) can satisfy the data, within their respective uncertainties. This investigation demonstrates that integrating observations of multiple offset elements (crest, midpoint, and base) from numerous faulted and dated terrace risers at closely spaced sites can refine slip-rate estimates on strike-slip faults.

Projecting impacts of climate change on water availability using artificial neural network techniques

Released September 25, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of Water Resources Planning and Management (143)

Eric D. Swain, Julieta Gomez-Fragoso, Sigfredo Torres-Gonzalez

Lago Loíza reservoir in east-central Puerto Rico is one of the primary sources of public water supply for the San Juan metropolitan area. To evaluate and predict the Lago Loíza water budget, an artificial neural network (ANN) technique is trained to predict river inflows. A method is developed to combine ANN-predicted daily flows with ANN-predicted 30-day cumulative flows to improve flow estimates. The ANN application trains well for representing 2007–2012 and the drier 1994–1997 periods. Rainfall data downscaled from global circulation model (GCM) simulations are used to predict 2050–2055 conditions. Evapotranspiration is estimated with the Hargreaves equation using minimum and maximum air temperatures from the downscaled GCM data. These simulated 2050–2055 river flows are input to a water budget formulation for the Lago Loíza reservoir for comparison with 2007–2012. The ANN scenarios require far less computational effort than a numerical model application, yet produce results with sufficient accuracy to evaluate and compare hydrologic scenarios. This hydrologic tool will be useful for future evaluations of the Lago Loíza reservoir and water supply to the San Juan metropolitan area.

Local adaptation in Trinidadian guppies alters stream ecosystem structure at landscape scales despite high environmental variability

Released September 25, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Copeia (105) 504-513

Troy N. Simon, Ronald D. Bassar, Andrew J. Binderup, Alex S. Flecker, Mary C. Freeman, James F. Gilliam, Michael C. Marshall, Steve A. Thomas, Joseph Travis, David N. Reznick, Catherine M. Pringle

While previous studies have shown that evolutionary divergence alters ecological processes in small-scale experiments, a major challenge is to assess whether such evolutionary effects are important in natural ecosystems at larger spatial scales. At the landscape scale, across eight streams in the Caroni drainage, we found that the presence of locally adapted populations of guppies (Poecilia reticulata) is associated with reduced algal biomass and increased invertebrate biomass, while the opposite trends were true in streams with experimentally introduced populations of non-locally adapted guppies. Exclusion experiments conducted in two separate reaches of a single stream showed that guppies with locally adapted phenotypes significantly reduced algae with no effect on invertebrates, while non-adapted guppies had no effect on algae but significantly reduced invertebrates. These divergent effects of phenotype on stream ecosystems are comparable in strength to the effects of abiotic factors (e.g., light) known to be important drivers of ecosystem condition. They also corroborate the results of previous experiments conducted in artificial streams. Our results demonstrate that local adaptation can produce phenotypes with significantly different effects in natural ecosystems at a landscape scale, within a tropical watershed, despite high variability in abiotic factors: five of the seven physical and chemical parameters measured across the eight study streams varied by more than one order of magnitude. Our findings suggest that ecosystem structure is, in part, an evolutionary product and not simply an ecological pattern.

Using models to identify the best data: An example from northern Wisconsin

Released September 25, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Groundwater (55) 641-645

Andrew T. Leaf

Linear-based data-worth analysis is an efficient and straightforward method for identifying the most important data for model forecasts.

Camera traps reveal an apparent mutualism between a common mesocarnivore and an endangered ungulate

Released September 25, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Mammalian Biology (87) 143-145

Michael V. Cove, Andrew S. Maurer, Allan F. O'Connell

Camera traps are commonly used to study mammal ecology and they occasionally capture previously undocumented species interactions. The key deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium) is an endangered endemic subspecies of the Florida Keys, where it exists with few predators. We obtained a camera trap sequence of 80 photos in which a key deer interacted with two northern raccoons (Procyon lotor). One of the raccoons groomed the deer’s face for ∼1 min. This interaction is peculiar and appears mutualistic because the deer was not concerned and willingly remained still throughout the physical contact. Although mutualistic relationships between deer and birds are common, we are unaware of any previously documented mesocarnivore-deer mutualisms. Key deer have evolved in the absence of mammalian predators and we hypothesize that they exhibit reduced vigilance or concern when encountering other species because of predator naivety. Key deer and raccoons are commonly associated with humans and urbanization and an alternative hypothesis is that the interactions are a consequence of heightened deer density, causing a greater probability of sustained interactions with the common mesocarnivores.

Concentration and Trend of 1,4-Dioxane in Wells Sampled During 2002–2017 in the Vicinity of the Tucson International Airport Area Superfund Site, Arizona

Released September 25, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Scientific Investigations Map 3385

Fred D Tillman

Industrial activities causing extensive groundwater contamination led to the listing of the Tucson International Airport Area (TIAA) as a Superfund Site in 1983. Early groundwater investigations identified volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including the chlorinated solvents trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE), in wells in the area. Several responsible parties were identified and cleanup activities began in the late 1980s. In 2002, the compound 1,4-dioxane was discovered in wells in the area and has since been detected in measurable concentrations throughout the site. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) classifies 1,4-dioxane as a likely human carcinogen.

The purpose of this map is to present 1,4-dioxane concentrations in wells sampled from 2002 through mid-2017 in the TIAA Superfund Site area to indicate both the current status and trends in 1,4-dioxane groundwater contamination. This map includes data from wells in the commercial and residential community in the TIAA and does not include data from wells in suspected or confirmed source areas, such as Air Force Plant 44 and Tucson International Airport, or from wells within treatment facilities.

National Assessment of Shoreline Change—Summary Statistics for Updated Vector Shorelines and Associated Shoreline Change Data for the North Coast of Alaska, U.S.-Canadian Border to Icy Cape

Released September 25, 2017 00:00 EST

2016, Open-File Report 2017-1107

Ann E. Gibbs, Bruce M. Richmond

Long-term rates of shoreline change for the north coast of Alaska, from the U.S.-Canadian border to the Icy Cape region of northern Alaska, have been updated as part of the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Assessment of Shoreline Change Project. Short-term shoreline change rates are reported for the first time. Additional shoreline position data were used to compute rates where the previous rate-of-change assessment only included two shoreline positions at a given location. The calculation of uncertainty associated with the long-term average rates has also been updated to match refined methods used in other study regions of the National Assessment of Shoreline Change Project. The average rates of this report have a reduced amount of uncertainty compared to those presented in the first assessment for this region.

Assessment of continuous oil and gas resources in the Middle and Upper Magdalena Basins, Colombia, 2017

Released September 22, 2017 18:30 EST

2017, Fact Sheet 2017-3060

Christopher J. Schenk, Michael E. Brownfield, Marilyn E. Tennyson, Phuong A. Le, Tracey J. Mercier, Thomas M. Finn, Sarah J. Hawkins, Stephanie B. Gaswirth, Kristen R. Marra, Timothy R. Klett, Heidi M. Leathers-Miller, Cheryl A. Woodall

Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated mean undiscovered, technically recoverable continuous resources of 0.45 billion barrels of oil and 1.0 trillion cubic feet of gas in the Middle and Upper Magdalena Basins, Colombia.

Low-flow characteristics of streams in South Carolina

Released September 22, 2017 15:30 EST

2017, Open-File Report 2017-1110

Toby D. Feaster, Wladmir B. Guimaraes

An ongoing understanding of streamflow characteristics of the rivers and streams in South Carolina is important for the protection and preservation of the State’s water resources. Information concerning the low-flow characteristics of streams is especially important during critical flow periods, such as during the historic droughts that South Carolina has experienced in the past few decades.

Between 2008 and 2016, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, updated low-flow statistics at 106 continuous-record streamgages operated by the U.S. Geological Survey for the eight major river basins in South Carolina. The low-flow frequency statistics included the annual minimum 1-, 3-, 7-, 14-, 30-, 60-, and 90-day mean flows with recurrence intervals of 2, 5, 10, 20, 30, and 50 years, depending on the length of record available at the streamflow-gaging station. Computations of daily mean flow durations for the 5-, 10-, 25-, 50-, 75-, 90-, and 95-percent probability of exceedance also were included.

This report summarizes the findings from publications generated during the 2008 to 2016 investigations. Trend analyses for the annual minimum 7-day average flows are provided as well as trend assessments of long-term annual precipitation data. Statewide variability in the annual minimum 7-day average flow is assessed at eight long-term (record lengths from 55 to 78 years) streamgages. If previous low-flow statistics were available, comparisons with the updated annual minimum 7-day average flow, having a 10-year recurrence interval, were made. In addition, methods for estimating low-flow statistics at ungaged locations near a gaged location are described.

Annual estimates of recharge, quick-flow runoff, and ET for the contiguous U.S. using empirical regression equations

Released September 21, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of the American Water Resources Association (53) 961-983

Meredith Reitz, Ward E. Sanford, Gabriel Senay, J. Cazenas

This study presents new data-driven, annual estimates of the division of precipitation into the recharge, quick-flow runoff, and evapotranspiration (ET) water budget components for 2000-2013 for the contiguous United States (CONUS). The algorithms used to produce these maps ensure water budget consistency over this broad spatial scale, with contributions from precipitation influx attributed to each component at 800 m resolution. The quick-flow runoff estimates for the contribution to the rapidly varying portion of the hydrograph are produced using data from 1,434 gaged watersheds, and depend on precipitation, soil saturated hydraulic conductivity, and surficial geology type. Evapotranspiration estimates are produced from a regression using water balance data from 679 gaged watersheds and depend on land cover, temperature, and precipitation. The quick-flow and ET estimates are combined to calculate recharge as the remainder of precipitation. The ET and recharge estimates are checked against independent field data, and the results show good agreement. Comparisons of recharge estimates with groundwater extraction data show that in 15% of the country, groundwater is being extracted at rates higher than the local recharge. These maps of the internally consistent water budget components of recharge, quick-flow runoff, and ET, being derived from and tested against data, are expected to provide reliable first-order estimates of these quantities across the CONUS, even where field measurements are sparse.

Measuring the role of seagrasses in regulating sediment surface elevation

Released September 21, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Scientific Reports (7)

Maria Potouroglou, James C. Bull, Ken W. Krauss, Hilary A. Kennedy, Marco Fusi, Daniele Daffonchio, Mwita M. Mangora, Michael N. Githaiga, Karen Diele, Mark Huxham

Seagrass meadows provide numerous ecosystem services and their rapid global loss may reduce human welfare as well as ecological integrity. In common with the other ‘blue carbon’ habitats (mangroves and tidal marshes) seagrasses are thought to provide coastal defence and encourage sediment stabilisation and surface elevation. A sophisticated understanding of sediment elevation dynamics in mangroves and tidal marshes has been gained by monitoring a wide range of different sites, located in varying hydrogeomorphological conditions over long periods. In contrast, similar evidence for seagrasses is sparse; the present study is a contribution towards filling this gap. Surface elevation change pins were deployed in four locations, Scotland, Kenya, Tanzania and Saudi Arabia, in both seagrass and unvegetated control plots in the low intertidal and shallow subtidal zone. The presence of seagrass had a highly significant, positive impact on surface elevation at all sites. Combined data from the current work and the literature show an average difference of 31 mm per year in elevation rates between vegetated and unvegetated areas, which emphasizes the important contribution of seagrass in facilitating sediment surface elevation and reducing erosion. This paper presents the first multi-site study for sediment surface elevation in seagrasses in different settings and species.

Assessment of critical minerals: Updated application of an early-warning screening methodology

Released September 21, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Mineral Economics

Erin McCullough, Nedal Nassar

Increasing reliance on non-renewable mineral resources reinforces the need for identifying potential supply constraints before they occur. The US National Science and Technology Council recently released a report that outlines a methodology for screening potentially critical minerals based on three indicators: supply risk (R), production growth (G), and market dynamics (M). This early-warning screening was initially applied to 78 minerals across the years 1996 to 2013 and identified a subset of minerals as “potentially critical” based on the geometric average of these indicators—designated as criticality potential (C). In this study, the screening methodology has been updated to include data for 2014, as well as to incorporate revisions and modifications to the data, where applicable. Overall, C declined in 2014 for the majority of minerals examined largely due to decreases in production concentration and price volatility. However, the results vary considerably across minerals, with some minerals, such as gallium, recording increases for all three indicators. In addition to assessing magnitudinal changes, this analysis also examines the significance of the change relative to historical variation for each mineral. For example, although mined nickel’s R declined modestly in 2014 in comparison to that of other minerals, it was by far the largest annual change recorded for mined nickel across all years examined and is attributable to Indonesia’s ban on the export of unprocessed minerals. Based on the 2014 results, 20 minerals with the highest C values have been identified for further study including the rare earths, gallium, germanium, rhodium, tantalum, and tungsten.

Do you hear what I see? Vocalization relative to visual detection rates of Hawaiian hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus semotus)

Released September 21, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Ecology and Evolution (7) 6669-6679

Paulo Marcos Gorresen, Paul Cryan, Kristina Montoya-Aiona, Frank Bonaccorso

Bats vocalize during flight as part of the sensory modality called echolocation, but very little is known about whether flying bats consistently call. Occasional vocal silence during flight when bats approach prey or conspecifics has been documented for relatively few species and situations. Bats flying alone in clutter-free airspace are not known to forgo vocalization, yet prior observations suggested possible silent behavior in certain, unexpected situations. Determining when, why, and where silent behavior occurs in bats will help evaluate major assumptions of a primary monitoring method for bats used in ecological research, management, and conservation. In this study, we recorded flight activity of Hawaiian hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus semotus) under seminatural conditions using both thermal video cameras and acoustic detectors. Simultaneous video and audio recordings from 20 nights of observation at 10 sites were analyzed for correspondence between detection methods, with a focus on video observations in three distance categories for which accompanying vocalizations were detected. Comparison of video and audio detections revealed that a high proportion of Hawaiian hoary bats “seen” on video were not simultaneously “heard.” On average, only about one in three visual detections within a night had an accompanying call detection, but this varied greatly among nights. Bats flying on curved flight paths and individuals nearer the cameras were more likely to be detected by both methods. Feeding and social calls were detected, but no clear pattern emerged from the small number of observations involving closely interacting bats. These results may indicate that flying Hawaiian hoary bats often forgo echolocation, or do not always vocalize in a way that is detectable with common sampling and monitoring methods. Possible reasons for the low correspondence between visual and acoustic detections range from methodological to biological and include a number of biases associated with the propagation and detection of sound, cryptic foraging strategies, or conspecific presence. Silent flight behavior may be more prevalent in echolocating bats than previously appreciated, has profound implications for ecological research, and deserves further characterization and study.

Pitted terrains on (1) Ceres and implications for shallow subsurface volatile distribution

Released September 21, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Geophysical Research Letters (44) 6570-6578

H.G. Sizemore, Thomas Platz, Norbert Schorghofer, Thomas Prettyman, Maria Christina De Sanctis, David A. Crown, Nico Schmedemann, Andeas Nessemann, Thomas Kneissl, Simone Marchi, Paul M. Schenk, Michael Bland, B.E. Schmidt, Kynan H.G. Hughson, F. Tosi, F Zambon, S.C. Mest, R.A. Yingst, D.A. Williams, C.T. Russell, C.A. Raymond

Prior to the arrival of the Dawn spacecraft at Ceres, the dwarf planet was anticipated to be ice-rich. Searches for morphological features related to ice have been ongoing during Dawn's mission at Ceres. Here we report the identification of pitted terrains associated with fresh Cerean impact craters. The Cerean pitted terrains exhibit strong morphological similarities to pitted materials previously identified on Mars (where ice is implicated in pit development) and Vesta (where the presence of ice is debated). We employ numerical models to investigate the formation of pitted materials on Ceres and discuss the relative importance of water ice and other volatiles in pit development there. We conclude that water ice likely plays an important role in pit development on Ceres. Similar pitted terrains may be common in the asteroid belt and may be of interest to future missions motivated by both astrobiology and in situ resource utilization.

Multiple-source tracking: Investigating sources of pathogens, nutrients, and sediment in the Upper Little River Basin, Kentucky, water years 2013–14

Released September 20, 2017 16:00 EST

2017, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5086

Angela S. Crain, Mac A. Cherry, Tanja N. Williamson, Aubrey R. Bunch

The South Fork Little River (SFLR) and the North Fork Little River (NFLR) are two major headwater tributaries that flow into the Little River just south of Hopkinsville, Kentucky. Both tributaries are included in those water bodies in Kentucky and across the Nation that have been reported with declining water quality. Each tributary has been listed by the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet—Kentucky Division of Water in the 303(d) List of Waters for Kentucky Report to Congress as impaired by nutrients, pathogens, and sediment for contact recreation from point and nonpoint sources since 2002. In 2009, the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet—Kentucky Division of Water developed a pathogen total maximum daily load (TMDL) for the Little River Basin including the SFLR and NFLR Basins. Future nutrient and suspended-sediment TMDLs are planned once nutrient criteria and suspended-sediment protocols have been developed for Kentucky. In this study, different approaches were used to identify potential sources of fecal-indicator bacteria (FIB), nitrate, and suspended sediment; to inform the TMDL process; and to aid in the implementation of effective watershed-management activities. The main focus of source identification was in the SFLR Basin.

To begin understanding the potential sources of fecal contamination, samples were collected at 19 sites for densities of FIB (E. coli) in water and fluvial sediment and at 11 sites for Bacteroidales genetic markers (General AllBac, human HF183, ruminant BoBac, canid BacCan, and waterfowl GFD) during the recreational season (May through October) in 2013 and 2014. Results indicated 34 percent of all E. coli water samples (n=227 samples) did not meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2012 recommended national criteria for primary recreational waters. No criterion currently exists for E. coli in fluvial sediment. By use of the Spearman’s rank correlation test, densities of FIB in fluvial sediments were observed to have a statistically significant positive correlation with drainage area. As drainage area increased, so did the densities of FIB in the fluvial sediments. There was no statistically significant correlation between drainage area and FIB in water. The human-associated marker (HF183) was found above the detection limit in 26 percent of the samples (n=120 samples); a higher proportion of positive samples was in the NFLR Basin. The ruminant-associated marker (BoBac) was above the detection limit in 65 percent of samples; a higher proportion of positive samples was in the headwaters of the SFLR Basin.

Nutrient yields differed between the SFLR and NFLR Basins. Comparatively, the SFLR Basin produced the largest estimated mean yields of total nitrogen (16,000 pounds per year per square mile (lb/yr/mi2) and nitrite plus nitrate nitrogen (12,500 lb/yr/mi2), and the NFLR Basin produced the largest estimated mean yields of ammonia plus organic nitrogen (4,700 lb/yr/mi2), total phosphorus (1,100 lb/yr/mi2), and orthophosphorus (590 lb/yr/mi2).

Nitrate sources in surface water were assessed in both basins using dual-nitrate isotope (nitrogen and oxygen) ratios. Data from the different land uses in the SFLR Basin showed differences in nitrate concentrations and overlapping, but moderately distinct, isotopic signatures. Predominantly forested sites consistently had low nitrate concentrations (median = 0.233 milligrams per liter) with minimal variability, and agricultural sites had the highest nitrate concentrations (median = 7.55 milligrams per liter) with the greatest variability. The median nitrate concentration for sites with mixed land use was 2.66 milligrams per liter. Dual-isotope data for forested sites plotted within ranges characteristic of soil-derived nitrate with possible but minimal influence from recycled atmospheric nitrate. Ranges of dual-isotope data for sites with agricultural and mixed land uses were characteristic of possible mixtures of chemical fertilizer, soil-derived nitrate, and manure and septic wastes. In the NFLR Basin, a positive linear relation was observed between nitrate concentrations and nitrogen isotope ratios (δ15NNO3) (R2=0.56; p-value <0.001) that potentially suggests the NFLR Basin has a higher proportion of δ15NNO3-enriched sources, such as manure and sewage. However, mixing of other nitrate-derived sources cannot be excluded, because many values of δ15NNO3 and concentrations of nitrate showed minimal variation and plotted within dual-nitrate isotope ranges characteristic of fertilizer and soil-derived nitrate sources.

A sediment-fingerprinting approach was used to quantify the relative contribution of four upland sources in the SFLR Basin (agricultural, pasture, riparian/forest, and streambank) to understand how land management affects suspended-sediment concentration. Carbon isotope ratios (δ13C), together with calcium and carbon concentrations, were the best indicators of sediment source; the uncertainty was less than 11 percent. Fine-sediment samples collected at the SFLR Basin outlet indicated streambanks as the largest source of the fine sediment to the stream followed by cropland and riparian/forest-source areas, respectively; pasture was a minor contributing source. Streambanks and cropland were essentially equal contributors of fine sediment at the NFLR Basin outlet.

Restoring tides to reduce methane emissions in impounded wetlands: A new and potent Blue Carbon climate change intervention

Released September 20, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Scientific Reports (7)

Kevin D. Kroeger, Stephen Crooks, Serena Moseman-Valtierra, Jianwu Tang

Coastal wetlands are sites of rapid carbon (C) sequestration and contain large soil C stocks. Thus, there is increasing interest in those ecosystems as sites for anthropogenic greenhouse gas emission offset projects (sometimes referred to as “Blue Carbon”), through preservation of existing C stocks or creation of new wetlands to increase future sequestration. Here we show that in the globally-widespread occurrence of diked, impounded, drained and tidally-restricted salt marshes, substantial methane (CH4) and CO2 emission reductions can be achieved through restoration of disconnected saline tidal flows. Modeled climatic forcing indicates that tidal restoration to reduce emissions has a much greater impact per unit area than wetland creation or conservation to enhance sequestration. Given that GHG emissions in tidally-restricted, degraded wetlands are caused by human activity, they are anthropogenic emissions, and reducing them will have an effect on climate that is equivalent to reduced emission of an equal quantity of fossil fuel GHG. Thus, as a landuse-based climate change intervention, reducing CH4 emissions is an entirely distinct concept from biological C sequestration projects to enhance C storage in forest or wetland biomass or soil, and will not suffer from the non-permanence risk that stored C will be returned to the atmosphere.

Ancient lakes, Pleistocene climates and river avulsions structure the phylogeography of a large but little-known rock scorpion from the Mojave and Sonoran deserts

Released September 20, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society (122) 133-146

Matthew R. Graham, Dustin A. Wood, Jonathan A. Henault, Zachary J. Valois, Paula E. Cushing

Recent syntheses of phylogeographical data from terrestrial animals in the Mojave and Sonoran deserts have revealed a complex history of geologic and climatic vicariance events. We studied the phylogeography of Smeringurus vachoni to see how vicariance events may have impacted a large, endemic rock scorpion. Additionally, we used the phylogeographical data to examine the validity of two subspecies of S. vachoni that were described using unconventional morphological characters. Phylogenetic, network and SAMOVA analyses indicate that S. vachoni consists of 11 clades mostly endemic to isolated desert mountain ranges. Molecular clock estimates suggest that clades diversified between the Miocene and early Pleistocene. Species distribution models predict a contraction of suitable habitat during the last glacial maximum. Landscape interpolations and Migrate-n analyses highlight areas of gene flow across the Colorado River. Smeringurus vachoni does not comprise two subspecies. Instead, the species represents at least 11 mitochondrial clades that probably diversified by vicariance associated with Pleistocene climate changes and formation of ancient lakes along the Colorado River corridor. Gene flow appears to have occurred from west to east across the Colorado River during periodic river avulsions.

Food abundance, prey morphology, and diet specialization influence individual sea otter tool use

Released September 20, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Behavioral Ecology (28) 1206-1216

Jessica A. Fujii, Katherine Ralls, M. Tim Tinker

Sea otters are well-known tool users, employing objects such as rocks or shells to break open invertebrate prey. We used a series of generalized linear mixed effect models to examine observational data on prey capture and tool use from 211 tagged individuals from 5 geographically defined study areas throughout the sea otter’s range in California. Our best supported model was able to explain 75% of the variation in the frequency of tool use by individual sea otters with only ecological and demographic variables. In one study area, where sea otter food resources were abundant, all individuals had similar diets focusing on preferred prey items and used tools at low to moderate frequencies (4–38% of prey captures). In the remaining areas, where sea otters were food-limited, individuals specialized on different subsets of the available prey and had a wider range of average tool-use frequency (0–98% of prey captures). The prevalence of difficult-to-access prey in individual diets was a major predictor of tool use and increased the likelihood of using tools on prey that were not difficult to access as well. Age, sex, and feeding habitat also contributed to the probability of tool use but to a smaller extent. We developed a conceptual model illustrating how food abundance, the prevalence of difficult-to-access prey, and individual diet specialization interacted to determine the likelihood that individual sea otters would use tools and considered the model’s relevance to other tool-using species.

What mediates tree mortality during drought in the southern Sierra Nevada?

Released September 20, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Ecological Applications

Tarin Paz-Kagan, Philip Brodrick, Nicholas R Vaughn, Adrian Das, Nathan L. Stephenson, Koren R. Nydick, Gregory P. Asner

Severe drought has the potential to cause selective mortality within a forest, thereby inducing shifts in forest species composition. The southern Sierra Nevada foothills and mountains of California have experienced extensive forest dieback due to drought stress and insect outbreak. We used high-fidelity imaging spectroscopy (HiFIS) and light detection and ranging (LiDAR) from the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) to estimate the effect of forest dieback on species composition in response to drought stress in Sequoia National Park. Our aims were: (1) to quantify site-specific conditions that mediate tree mortality along an elevation gradient in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains; (2) to assess where mortality events have a greater probability of occurring; and (3) to estimate which tree species have a greater likelihood of mortality along the elevation gradient. A series of statistical models were generated to classify species composition and identify tree mortality, and the influences of different environmental factors were spatially quantified and analyzed to assess where mortality events have a greater likelihood of occurring. A higher probability of mortality was observed in the lower portion of the elevation gradient, on southwest and west-facing slopes, in areas with shallow soils, on shallower slopes, and at greater distances from water. All of these factors are related to site water balance throughout the landscape. Our results also suggest that mortality is species-specific along the elevation gradient, mainly affecting Pinus ponderosa and Pinus lambertiana at lower elevations. Selective mortality within the forest may drive long-term shifts in community composition along the elevation gradient.

Facultative parasitism by the bivalve Kurtiella pedroana in the sand crab Emerita analoga

Released September 20, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of Parasitology

Ritin Bhaduri, Paul Valentich-Scott, Mark Hilgers, Rajvir Singh, Mikaila Hickman, Kevin D. Lafferty

It is rare that an organism capable of independent or commensalistic existence can also become endoparasitic on a host. In this study, we documented a potential step toward parasitism in the commensal clam Kurtiella pedroana (Bivalvia: Galeommatoidea). Galeommatoideans are known commensals of various invertebrates, including crustaceans. Emerita analoga (Decapoda: Hippidae) is an abundant intertidal decapod inhabiting sandy beaches of the Pacific coast of North and South America. Crabs collected from Monterey Bay, California, were measured and examined externally and internally for associated molluscs. Out of the 520 crabs, 37 large female individuals harbored 49 bivalves (prevalence of 7.11% and mean intensity of 1.3). Forty-one ectocommensal clams were either inside the crab's branchial chambers or on their lateroventral surfaces, and were attached by byssal threads. Our key finding was eight clams that lacked byssal threads and were living in the hemocoel. These internal clams were significantly smaller than the ectocommensals. Because these internal clams lacked access to their normal food, we hypothesize they might have fed on their host's hemolymph as would a parasite. This clam species likely can't reproduce inside its host, implying that endoparasitism is a dead-end state for K. pedroana. Facultative parasitism in a free-living or an ectocommensal is uncommon and suggests a pathway to parasitism.

Nitrate reduction mechanisms and rates in an unconfined eogenetic karst aquifer in two sites with different redox potential

Released September 20, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences (122) 1062-1077

Wesley Henson, Laibin Huang, Wendy D. Graham, Andrew Ogram

This study integrates push-pull tracer tests (PPTT) with microbial characterization of extracted water via quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and reverse transcriptase qPCR (RT-qPCR) of selected functional N transformation genes to quantify nitrate reduction mechanisms and rates in sites with different redox potential in a karst aquifer. PPTT treatments with nitrate (AN) and nitrate-fumarate (ANC) were executed in two wells representing anoxic and oxic geochemical end-members. Oxic aquifer zero-order nitrate loss rates (mmol L−1 h−1) were similar for AN and ANC treatment, ranging from 0.03 ± 0.01 to 0.05 ± 0.01. Anoxic aquifer zero-order nitrate loss rates ranged from 0.03 ± 0.02 (AN) to 0.13 ± 0.02 (ANC). Microbial characterization indicates mechanisms influencing these rates were dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium (DNRA) at the anoxic site with AN treatment, assimilatory reduction of nitrate to ammonium (ANRA) with ANC treatment in the water column at both sites, and additional documented nitrate reduction that occurred in unsampled biofilms. With carbon treatment, total numbers of microbes (16S rRNA genes) significantly increased (fourteenfold to thirtyfold), supporting stimulated growth with resulting ANRA. Decreased DNRA gene concentrations (nrfA DNA) and increased DNRA activity ratio (nrfA-cDNA/DNA) supported the assertion that DNRA occurred in the anoxic zone with AN and ANC treatment. Furthermore, decreased DNRA gene copy numbers at the anoxic site with ANC treatment suggests that DNRA microbes in the anoxic site are chemolithoautotrophic. Increased RT-qPCR denitrification gene expression (nirK and nirS) was not observed in water samples, supporting that any observed NO3-N loss due to denitrification may be occurring in unsampled microbial biofilms.

Standardization and application of an index of community integrity for waterbirds in the Chesapeake Bay, USA

Released September 20, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Waterbirds (40) 233-251

Diann J. Prosser, Jessica L. Nagel, Paul Marban, Luo Ze, Daniel Day, R. Michael Erwin

In recent decades, there has been increasing interest in the application of ecological indices to assess ecosystem condition in response to anthropogenic activities. An Index of Waterbird Community Integrity was previously developed for the Chesapeake Bay, USA. However, the scoring criteria were not defined well enough to generate scores for new species that were not observed in the original study. The goal of this study was to explicitly define the scoring criteria for the existing index and to develop index scores for all waterbirds of the Chesapeake Bay. The standardized index then was applied to a case study investigating the relationship between waterbird community integrity and shoreline development during late summer and late fall (2012–2014) using an alternative approach to survey methodology, which allowed for greater area coverage compared to the approach used in the original study. Index scores for both seasons were negatively related to percentage of developed shorelines. Providing these updated tools using the detailed scoring system will facilitate future application to new species or development of the index in other estuaries worldwide. This methodology allows for consistent cross-study comparisons and can be combined with other community integrity indices, allowing for more effective estuarine management.

Extensive shared polymorphism at non-MHC immune genes in recently diverged North American prairie grouse

Released September 20, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Immunogenetics

Piotr Minias, Zachary W Bateson, Linda A Whittingham, Jeff A Johnson, Sara J. Oyler-McCance, Peter O Dunn

Gene polymorphisms shared between recently diverged species are thought to be widespread and most commonly reflect introgression from hybridization or retention of ancestral polymorphism through incomplete lineage sorting. Shared genetic diversity resulting from incomplete lineage sorting is usually maintained for a relatively short period of time, but under strong balancing selection it may persist for millions of years beyond species divergence (balanced trans-species polymorphism), as in the case of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes. However, balancing selection is much less likely to act on non-MHC immune genes. The aim of this study was to investigate the patterns of shared polymorphism and selection at non-MHC immune genes in five grouse species from Centrocercus and Tympanuchus genera. For this purpose, we genotyped five non-MHC immune genes that do not interact directly with pathogens, but are involved in signaling and regulate immune cell growth. In contrast to previous studies with MHC, we found no evidence for balancing selection or balanced trans-species polymorphism among the non-MHC immune genes. No haplotypes were shared between genera and in most cases more similar allelic variants sorted by genus. Between species within genera, however, we found extensive shared polymorphism, which was most likely attributable to introgression or incomplete lineage sorting following recent divergence and large ancestral effective population size (i.e., weak genetic drift). Our study suggests that North American prairie grouse may have attained relatively low degree of reciprocal monophyly at nuclear loci and reinforces the rarity of balancing selection in non-MHC immune genes.

Isolation and characterization of the fall Chinook aquareovirus

Released September 20, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Virology Journal (14) 1-7

Negar Makhsous, Nicole L. Jensen, Katherine H. Haman, William N. Batts, Keith R. Jerome, James Winton, Alexander L. Greninger


Salmon are paramount to the economy, ecology, and history of the Pacific Northwest. Viruses constitute one of the major threats to salmon health and well-being, with more than twenty known virus species that infect salmon. Here, we describe the isolation and characterization of the fall Chinook aquareovirus, a divergent member of the species Aquareovirus B within the family Reoviridae.


The virus was first found in 2014 as part of a routine adult broodstock screening program in which kidney and spleen tissue samples from healthy-appearing, adult fall Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) returning to a hatchery in Washington State produced cytopathic effects when inoculated onto a Chinook salmon embryo cell line (CHSE-214). The virus was not able to be confirmed by an RT-PCR assay using existing aquareovirus pan-species primers, and instead was identified by metagenomic next-generation sequencing. Metagenomic next-generation sequencing was used to recover the full genome and completed using 3′ RACE.


The genome of the fall Chinook aquareovirus contains 11 segments of double-stranded RNA totaling 23.3 kb, with each segment flanked by the canonical sequence termini found in the aquareoviruses. Sequence comparisons and a phylogenetic analysis revealed a nucleotide identity of 63.2% in the VP7 gene with the Green River Chinook virus, placing the new isolate in the species Aquareovirus B. A qRT-PCR assay was developed targeting the VP2, which showed rapid growth of the isolate during the initial 5 days in culture using CHSE-214 cells.


This sequence represents the first complete genome of an Aquareovirus B species. Future studies will be required to understand the potential pathogenicity and epidemiology of the fall Chinook aquareovirus.

Water-level trends and potentiometric surfaces in the Nacatoch Aquifer in northeastern and southwestern Arkansas and in the Tokio Aquifer in southwestern Arkansas, 2014–15

Released September 20, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5090

Kirk D. Rodgers

The Nacatoch Sand in northeastern and southwestern Arkansas and the Tokio Formation in southwestern Arkansas are sources of groundwater for agricultural, domestic, industrial, and public use. Water-level altitudes measured in 51 wells completed in the Nacatoch Sand and 42 wells completed in the Tokio Formation during 2014 and 2015 were used to create potentiometric-surface maps of the two areas. Aquifers in the Nacatoch Sand and Tokio Formation are hereafter referred to as the Nacatoch aquifer and the Tokio aquifer, respectively.

Potentiometric surfaces show that groundwater in the Nacatoch aquifer flows southeast toward the Mississippi River in northeastern Arkansas. Groundwater flow direction is towards the south and southeast in Hempstead, Little River, and Nevada Counties in southwestern Arkansas. An apparent cone of depression exists in southern Clark County and likely alters groundwater flow from a regional direction toward the depression.

In southwestern Arkansas, potentiometric surfaces indicate that groundwater flow in the Tokio aquifer is towards the city of Hope. Northwest of Hope, an apparent cone of depression exists. In southwestern Pike, northwestern Nevada, and northeastern Hempstead Counties, an area of artesian flow (water levels are at or above land surface) exists.

Water-level changes in wells were identified using two methods: (1) linear regression analysis of hydrographs from select wells with a minimum of 20 years of water-level data, and (2) a direct comparison between water-level measurements from 2008 and 2014–15 at each well. Of the six hydrographs analyzed in the Nacatoch aquifer, four indicated a decline in water levels. Compared to 2008 measurements, the largest rise in water levels was 35.14 feet (ft) in a well in Clark County, whereas the largest decline was 14.76 ft in a well in Nevada County, both located in southwestern Arkansas.

Of the four hydrographs analyzed in the Tokio aquifer, one indicated a decline in water levels, while the others remained relatively unchanged. Compared to 2008 measurements, the largest rise in water levels was 21.34 ft in Hempstead County, and the largest water-level decline was 39.37 ft in Clark County. Although changes in water levels since 2008 are spatially varied; long-term trends indicate an overall decline in water levels in both aquifers.

A record of change - Science and elder observations on the Navajo Nation

Released September 20, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, General Information Product 181

Margaret M. Hiza-Redsteer, Stephen M. Wessells

A Record of Change—Science and Elder Observations on the Navajo Nation is a 25-minute documentary about combining observations from Navajo elders with conventional science to determine how tribal lands and culture are affected by climate change. On the Navajo Nation, there is a shortage of historical climate data, making it difficult to assess changing environmental conditions.

This video reveals how a team of scientists, anthropologists, and translators combined the rich local knowledge of Navajo elders with recent scientific investigation to effectively document environmental change. Increasing aridity and declining snowfall in this poorly monitored region of the Southwest are accompanied by declining river flow and migrating sand dunes. The observations of Navajo elders verify and supplement this record of change by informing how shifting weather patterns are reflected in Navajo cultural practices and living conditions.

Assessment of undiscovered oil and gas resources in the Lower Indus Basin, Pakistan, 2017

Released September 19, 2017 11:00 EST

2017, Fact Sheet 2017-3034

Christopher J. Schenk, Marilyn E. Tennyson, Timothy R. Klett, Thomas M. Finn, Tracey J. Mercier, Stephanie B. Gaswirth, Kristen R. Marra, Phuong A. Le, Sarah J. Hawkins, Heidi M. Leathers-Miller

Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated mean undiscovered, technically recoverable resources of 164 million barrels of oil and 24.6 trillion cubic feet of gas in the Lower Indus Basin, Pakistan.

Fatal attraction? Intraguild facilitation and suppression among predators

Released September 19, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, The American Naturalist

Kelly J. Sivy, Casey B. Pozzanghera, James B. Grace, Laura R. Prugh

Competition and suppression are recognized as dominant forces that structure predator communities. Facilitation via carrion provisioning, however, is a ubiquitous interaction among predators that could offset the strength of suppression. Understanding the relative importance of these positive and negative interactions is necessary to anticipate community-wide responses to apex predator declines and recoveries worldwide. Using state-sponsored wolf (Canis lupus) control in Alaska as a quasi experiment, we conducted snow track surveys of apex, meso-, and small predators to test for evidence of carnivore cascades (e.g., mesopredator release). We analyzed survey data using an integrative occupancy and structural equation modeling framework to quantify the strengths of hypothesized interaction pathways, and we evaluated fine-scale spatiotemporal responses of nonapex predators to wolf activity clusters identified from radio-collar data. Contrary to the carnivore cascade hypothesis, both meso- and small predator occupancy patterns indicated guild-wide, negative responses of nonapex predators to wolf abundance variations at the landscape scale. At the local scale, however, we observed a near guild-wide, positive response of nonapex predators to localized wolf activity. Local-scale association with apex predators due to scavenging could lead to landscape patterns of mesopredator suppression, suggesting a key link between occupancy patterns and the structure of predator communities at different spatial scales.

The extremely divergent maternally- and paternally-transmitted mitochondrial genomes are co-expressed in somatic tissues of two freshwater mussel species with doubly uniparental inheritance of mtDNA

Released September 19, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, PLoS ONE (12) 1-13

Sophie Breton, Karim Bouvet, Gabrielle Auclair, Stephanie Ghazal, Bernard E. Sietman, Nathan A. Johnson, Stefano Bettinazzi, Donald T. Dtewart, Davide Guerra

Freshwater mussel species with doubly uniparental inheritance (DUI) of mtDNA are unique because they are naturally heteroplasmic for two extremely divergent mtDNAs with ~50% amino acid differences for protein-coding genes. The paternally-transmitted mtDNA (or M mtDNA) clearly functions in sperm in these species, but it is still unknown whether it is transcribed when present in male or female soma. In the present study, we used PCR and RT-PCR to detect the presence and expression of the M mtDNA in male and female somatic and gonadal tissues of the freshwater mussel species Venustaconcha ellipsiformis and Utterbackia peninsularis (Unionidae). This is the first study demonstrating that the M mtDNA is transcribed not only in male gonads, but also in male and female soma in freshwater mussels with DUI. Because of the potentially deleterious nature of heteroplasmy, we suggest the existence of different mechanisms in DUI species to deal with this possibly harmful situation, such as silencing mechanisms for the M mtDNA at the transcriptional, post-transcriptional and/or post-translational levels. These hypotheses will necessitate additional studies in distantly-related DUI species that could possess different mechanisms of action to deal with heteroplasmy.

Geospatial tools effectively estimate nonexceedance probabilities of daily streamflow at ungauged and intermittently gauged locations in Ohio

Released September 19, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies (13) 208-221

William H. Farmer, Greg Koltun

Study region

The state of Ohio in the United States, a humid, continental climate.

Study focus

The estimation of nonexceedance probabilities of daily streamflows as an alternative means of establishing the relative magnitudes of streamflows associated with hydrologic and water-quality observations.

New hydrological insights for the region

Several methods for estimating nonexceedance probabilities of daily mean streamflows are explored, including single-index methodologies (nearest-neighboring index) and geospatial tools (kriging and topological kriging). These methods were evaluated by conducting leave-one-out cross-validations based on analyses of nearly 7 years of daily streamflow data from 79 unregulated streamgages in Ohio and neighboring states. The pooled, ordinary kriging model, with a median Nash–Sutcliffe performance of 0.87, was superior to the single-site index methods, though there was some bias in the tails of the probability distribution. Incorporating network structure through topological kriging did not improve performance. The pooled, ordinary kriging model was applied to 118 locations without systematic streamgaging across Ohio where instantaneous streamflow measurements had been made concurrent with water-quality sampling on at least 3 separate days. Spearman rank correlations between estimated nonexceedance probabilities and measured streamflows were high, with a median value of 0.76. In consideration of application, the degree of regulation in a set of sample sites helped to specify the streamgages required to implement kriging approaches successfully.

The land-sea interface: A source of high-quality phytoplankton to support secondary production

Released September 19, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Limnology and Oceanography

Monika Winder, Jacob Carstensen, Aaron W.E. Galloway, Hans H. Jakobsen, James E. Cloern

Coastal-estuarine systems are among the most productive marine ecosystems and their special role in producing harvestable fish and shellfish has been attributed to high primary production fueled by nutrient runoff from land and efficient trophic transfer. Here we ask if phytoplankton species composition and their food quality based on the percentage of long-chain essential fatty acids (LCEFA) is another factor contributing to high secondary production in these ecosystems. We used long-term measurements of major phytoplankton taxonomic groups and estimated their content of LCEFA along the salinity gradient in coastal-estuarine ecosystems, with emphasis on Chesapeake Bay and the Baltic Sea, and an oceanic transect. Our data show that cyanobacteria with low nutritional quality often dominate at low-salinity regions, while intermediate to higher salinity regions produce diatoms and dinoflagellates that have a higher content of LCEFA and are thus a higher-quality food resource for consumers. Higher salinity regions have less pronounced seasonal changes in the percentage of phytoplankton LCEFA compared to low salinity regions, providing a stable supply of nutritious phytoplankton to consumers. The phytoplankton LCEFA content is similarly high in coastal upwelling systems and it decreases further offshore in oligotrophic oceanic regions dominated by picophytoplankton. Our results from a broad range of coastal-ecosystem types show that ecosystems at the land-sea interface provide a valuable service by producing phytoplankton enriched in the biochemicals essential for consumers. High primary production, coupled with high quality of that production, explain why the production of fish and shellfish is high where land and sea meet.

Characterizing Golden Eagle risk to lead and anticoagulant rodenticide exposure: A review

Released September 19, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of Raptor Research (51) 273-292

Garth Herring, Collin A. Eagles-Smith, Jeremy A. Buck

Contaminant exposure is among the many threats to Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) populations throughout North America, particularly lead poisoning and anticoagulant rodenticides (AR). These threats may act in concert with others (e.g., lead poisoning and trauma associated with striking objects) to exacerbate risk. Golden Eagles are skilled hunters but also exploit scavenging opportunities, making them particularly susceptible to contaminant exposure from ingesting tissues of poisoned or shot animals. Lead poisoning has long been recognized as an important source of mortality for Golden Eagles throughout North America. More recently, ARs have been associated with both sublethal and lethal effects in raptor species worldwide. In this review, we examine the current state of knowledge for lead and AR exposure in Golden Eagles, drawing from the broader raptor contaminant ecology literature. We examine lead and AR sources within Golden Eagle habitats, exposure routes and toxicity, effects on individuals and populations, synergistic effects, and data and information needs. Continued research addressing data needs and information gaps will help with Golden Eagle conservation planning.

Morphologic evolution of the wilderness area breach at Fire Island, New York—2012–15

Released September 18, 2017 11:00 EST

2017, Open-File Report 2017-1116

Cheryl J. Hapke, Timothy R. Nelson, Rachel E. Henderson, Owen T. Brenner, Jennifer L. Miselis


Hurricane Sandy, which made landfall on October 29, 2012, near Atlantic City, New Jersey, had a significant impact on the coastal system along the south shore of Long Island, New York. A record significant wave height of 9.6 meters (m) was measured at wave buoy 44025, approximately 48 kilometers offshore of Fire Island, New York. Surge and runup during the storm resulted in extensive beach and dune erosion and breaching of the Fire Island barrier island system at two locations, including a breach that formed within the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness area on the eastern side of Fire Island.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has a long history of conducting morphologic change and processes research at Fire Island. One of the primary objectives of the current research effort is to understand the morphologic evolution of the barrier system on a variety of time scales (from storm scale to decade(s) to century). A number of studies that support the project objectives have been published. Prior to Hurricane Sandy, however, little information was available on specific storm-driven change in this region. The USGS received Hurricane Sandy supplemental funding (project GS2–2B: Linking Coastal Processes and Vulnerability, Fire Island, New York, Regional Study) to enhance existing research efforts at Fire Island. The existing research was greatly expanded to include inner continental shelf mapping and investigations of processes of inner shelf sediment transport; beach and dune response and recovery; and observation, analysis, and modeling of the newly formed breach in the Otis Pike High Dune Wilderness area, herein referred to as the wilderness breach. The breach formed at the site of Old Inlet, which was open from 1763 to 1825. The location of the initial island breaching does not directly correspond with topographic lows of the dunes, but instead the breach formed in the location of a cross-island boardwalk that was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy.

From 2013 to November 2015, bathymetric data were collected by the USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center during three surveys of the breach channel and tidal shoals, and shoreline positions on each side of the breach (also collected by the National Park Service). Additionally, pre-storm topography/bathymetry EAARL–B light detection and ranging (lidar) data were collected by the USGS the day prior to Hurricane Sandy’s landfall. These data serve as a baseline for change analyses during four subsequent periods: June 2013, June 2014, October 2014, and May 2015. The June 2013 single-beam bathymetry data were collected in collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), using the Lighter Amphibious Resupply Cargo (LARC) vessel, and included the ebb shoal and breach channel. The USGS collected and processed the three additional bathymetric datasets using personal watercraft equipped with single-beam echo sounders and backpack Global Positioning System (GPS) over shallow flood shoals.

Eastern and western breach shorelines were surveyed weekly to monthly beginning on November 6, 2012 (by the National Park Service [NPS], and USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center), with measurements made every few weeks for the first year and every few months after October 2013. The NPS and researchers from Stony Brook University monitored the breach by collecting field data of the breach channel bathymetry, conducting aerial photographic overflights, and performing water-quality analyses (see The aerial photography collected and rectified by Stony Brook University is used extensively in our morphologic change description to examine changes to breach shorelines (supplementing shoreline data collected in the field), channel width, and orientation. Due to the uncertainties and the variation in survey methods, a rigorous quantitative analysis was not performed. However, average calculations of various breach metrics allow a qualitative analysis of breach development and evolution.

This report presents an overview of the data collected and a summary discussion of the observed changes to the breach system and the seasonal wave climatology associated with the breach morphodynamic response.

No evidence for ecological segregation protecting native trout from invasive hybridization

Released September 18, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Global Change Biology

Ryan Kovach, Clint C. Muhlfeld, Robert K. Al-Chokhachy, Stephen J. Amish, Jeffrey L. Kershner, Robb F. Leary, Winsor H. Lowe, Gordon Luikart, Phil Matson, David Schmetterling, Bradley Shepard, Peter A. H. Westley, Diane Whited, Andrew R. Whiteley, Fred W. Allendorf

We appreciate the comments of Young et al. (2017) on our recent
paper (Muhlfeld et al., 2017) concerning spatiotemporal dynamics of
hybridization between native westslope cutthroat trout (Oncor-
hynchus clarkii lewisi; WCT) and introduced coastal rainbow trout
(Oncorhynchus mykiss irideus; RBT). Nevertheless, we believe there is
no evidence for ecological segregation protecting WCT from hybri-
dization with invasive RBT. Here we consider their three major argu-
ments for ecological segregation and find their conclusions invalid.

Evaluating the role of land cover and climate uncertainties in computing gross primary production in Hawaiian Island ecosystems

Released September 18, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, PLoS ONE (12)

Heather L. Kimball, Paul Selmants, Alvaro Moreno, Running Steve W, Christian P. Giardina

Gross primary production (GPP) is the Earth’s largest carbon flux into the terrestrial biosphere and plays a critical role in regulating atmospheric chemistry and global climate. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS)-MOD17 data product is a widely used remote sensing-based model that provides global estimates of spatiotemporal trends in GPP. When the MOD17 algorithm is applied to regional scale heterogeneous landscapes, input data from coarse resolution land cover and climate products may increase uncertainty in GPP estimates, especially in high productivity tropical ecosystems. We examined the influence of using locally specific land cover and high-resolution local climate input data on MOD17 estimates of GPP for the State of Hawaii, a heterogeneous and discontinuous tropical landscape. Replacing the global land cover data input product (MOD12Q1) with Hawaii-specific land cover data reduced statewide GPP estimates by ~8%, primarily because the Hawaii-specific land cover map had less vegetated land area compared to the global land cover product. Replacing coarse resolution GMAO climate data with Hawaii-specific high-resolution climate data also reduced statewide GPP estimates by ~8% because of the higher spatial variability of photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) in the Hawaii-specific climate data. The combined use of both Hawaii-specific land cover and high-resolution Hawaii climate data inputs reduced statewide GPP by ~16%, suggesting equal and independent influence on MOD17 GPP estimates. Our sensitivity analyses within a heterogeneous tropical landscape suggest that refined global land cover and climate data sets may contribute to an enhanced MOD17 product at a variety of spatial scales.

Sediment unmixing using detrital geochronology

Released September 17, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Earth and Planetary Science Letters (477) 183-194

Glenn R. Sharman, Samuel Johnstone

Sediment mixing within sediment routing systems can exert a strong influence on the preservation of provenance signals that yield insight into the influence of environmental forcings (e.g., tectonism, climate) on the earth’s surface. Here we discuss two approaches to unmixing detrital geochronologic data in an effort to characterize complex changes in the sedimentary record. First we summarize ‘top-down’ mixing, which has been successfully employed in the past to characterize the different fractions of prescribed source distributions (‘parents’) that characterize a derived sample or set of samples (‘daughters’). Second we propose the use of ‘bottom-up’ methods, previously used primarily for grain size distributions, to model parent distributions and the abundances of these parents within a set of daughters. We demonstrate the utility of both top-down and bottom-up approaches to unmixing detrital geochronologic data within a well-constrained sediment routing system in central California. Use of a variety of goodness-of-fit metrics in top-down modeling reveals the importance of considering the range of allowable mixtures over any single best-fit mixture calculation. Bottom-up modeling of 12 daughter samples from beaches and submarine canyons yields modeled parent distributions that are remarkably similar to those expected from the geologic context of the sediment-routing system. In general, mixture modeling has potential to supplement more widely applied approaches in comparing detrital geochronologic data by casting differences between samples as differing proportions of geologically meaningful end-member provenance categories.

A rare and cryptic endemic of the Central Rocky Mountains, U.S.A: The distribution of the Arapahoe snowfly, Arsapnia arapahoe (Nelson & Kondratieff, 1988) (Plecoptera: Capniidae)

Released September 17, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Illiesia (13) 50-58

Matthew P. Fairchild, Thomas P. Belcher III, Robert E. Zuellig, Nicole K.M. Vieira, Boris C. Kondratieff

The Arapahoe snowfly, Arsapnia arapahoe (Nelson & Kondratieff, 1988) (Plecoptera: Capniidae) is a candidate species warranted for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Prior to this study, A. arapahoe was known from only two tributaries of the Cache la Poudre River in Larimer County, Colorado: Young Gulch and Elkhorn Creek. The objectives of this study were to determine the distribution of this endemic stonefly, and to identify sympatric species as possible surrogate indicators of its occurrence. Eighty-four streams were sampled within the expected geographical range and emergence time-period from 2013 to 2017. Adults of A. arapahoe were discovered in 19 first-, second-, and fourth-order streams beyond the original type localities tributary to the Cache la Poudre River. The new and recently recorded localities were discovered in the Big Thompson River, St. Vrain River, Boulder Creek, and Upper South Platte River Watersheds. Two species, A. decepta (Banks, 1897) and Capnia gracilaria Claassen, 1924, always co-occurred with A. arapahoe, suggesting this species pair may serve as a surrogate indicator of suitable stream habitat for A. arapahoe. Suggestions for future investigation into the distribution, life-history, and habitat of A. arapahoe are presented to aid the conservation of this rare and endemic Colorado stonefly.

Observations of raccoon (Procyon lotor) predation on the invasive Maculata apple snail (Pomacea maculata) in southern Louisiana

Released September 17, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Southeastern Naturalist (16) N14-N18

Jacoby Carter, Sergio Merino, Drew Prejean, Gary Jr. LaFleur

We used camera traps to determine which predators were responsible for depredated Pomacea maculata (Maculata Apple Snail) shells at 2 different study sites. Evidence of predation at these sites included operculums near the shells with a small amount of flesh attached and shells accumulating a meter or more from the water’s edge with no evidence of recent flooding. In both locations, the most frequently observed potential predators were Procyon lotor (Raccoon), which was the only species directly observed capturing and eating Apple Snails.

Sensitivity of the downward to sweeping velocity ratio to the bypass flow percentage along a guide wall for downstream fish passage

Released September 17, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Ecological Engineering (109) 10-14

Kevin Mulligan, Brett Towler, Alexander J. Haro, David P. Ahlfeld

Partial-depth impermeable guidance structures (or guide walls) are used as a method to assist in the downstream passage of fish at a hydroelectric facility. However, guide walls can result in a strong downward velocity causing the approaching fish to pass below the wall and into the direction of the turbine intakes. The objective of this study was to describe how the ratio of the vertical velocity to the sweeping velocity magnitude changes along the full length and depth of a guide wall under a wide range of bypass flow percentages within a power canal. This paper focused on two guide wall configurations, each set at an angle of 45 ° to the approaching flow field and at a depth of 10 and 20 ft (3.05 and 6.10 m). The hydraulic conditions upstream of each guide wall configuration were shown to be impacted by a change in the bypass flow percentage, not only near the bypass but also at upstream sections of the guide wall. Furthermore, the effect of changing the bypass flow percentage was similar for both guide wall depths. In both cases, the effect of increasing the bypass flow percentage was magnified closer to the bypass and deeper in the water column along the guide wall.

Investigating the landscape of Arroyo Seco—Decoding the past—A teaching guide to climate-controlled landscape evolution in a tectonically active region

Released September 15, 2017 17:00 EST

2017, Circular 1425

Emily M. Taylor, Donald S. Sweetkind, Jeremy C. Havens


Arroyo Seco is a river that flows eastward out of the Santa Lucia Range in Monterey County, California. The Santa Lucia Range is considered part of the central California Coast Range. Arroyo Seco flows out of the Santa Lucia Range into the Salinas River valley, near the town of Greenfield, where it joins the Salinas River. The Salinas River flows north into Monterey Bay about 40 miles from where it merges with Arroyo Seco. In the mountain range, Arroyo Seco has cut or eroded a broad and deep valley. This valley preserves a geologic story in the landscape that is influenced by both fault-controlled mountain building (tectonics) and sea level fluctuations (regional climate).

Broad flat surfaces called river terraces, once eroded by Arroyo Seco, can be observed along the modern drainage. In the valley, terraces are also preserved like climbing stairs up to 1,800 feet above Arroyo Seco today. These terraces mark where Arroyo Seco once flowed.The terraces were formed by the river because no matter how high they are, the terraces are covered by gravel deposits exactly like those that can be observed in the river today. The Santa Lucia Range, Arroyo Seco, and the Salinas River valley must have looked very different when the highest and oldest terraces were forming. The Santa Lucia Range may have been lower, the Arroyo Seco may have been steeper and wider, and the Salinas River valley may have been much smaller.

Arroyo Seco, like all rivers, is always changing. Some-times rivers flow very straight, and sometimes they are curvy. Sometimes rivers are cutting down or eroding the landscape, and sometimes they are not eroding but depositing material. Sometimes rivers are neither eroding nor transporting material. The influences that change the behavior of Arroyo Seco are mountain uplift caused by fault moment and sea level changes driven by regional climate change. When a stream is affected by one or both of these influences, the stream accommodates the change by eroding, depositing, and (or) changing its shape.

In the vicinity of Arroyo Seco, the geologically young faulting history is relatively well understood. Geologists have some sense of the most recent faulting event and of the faulting in the recent geologic past. The timing of regional climate changes is also well accepted. In this area, warm climate cycles tend to cause the sea level to rise, and cool climate cycles tend to cause the sea level to fall. If we understand the way the terraces form and their ages in Arroyo Seco, we can draw conclusions about whether faulting and (or) climate contributed to their formation.

This publication serves as a descriptive companion to the formal geologic map of Arroyo Seco (Taylor and Sweetkind, 2014) and is intended for use by nonscientists and students. Included is a discussion of the processes that controlled the evolution of the drainage and the formation of the terraces in Arroyo Seco. The reader is guided to well-exposed landscape features in an easily accessible environment that will help nonscientists gain an understanding of how features on a geologic map are interpreted in terms of earth processes.

Results of hydrologic monitoring of a landslide-prone hillslope in Portland’s West Hills, Oregon, 2006–2017

Released September 15, 2017 16:00 EST

2017, Data Series 1050

Joel B. Smith, Jonathan W. Godt, Rex L. Baum, Jeffrey A. Coe, William L. Ellis, Eric S. Jones, Scott F. Burns

The West Hills of Portland, in the southern Tualatin Mountains, trend northwest along the west side of Portland, Oregon. These silt-mantled mountains receive significant wet-season precipitation and are prone to sliding during wet conditions, occasionally resulting in property damage or casualties. In an effort to develop a baseline for interpretive analysis of the groundwater response to rainfall, an automated monitoring system was installed in 2006 to measure rainfall, pore-water pressure, soil suction, soil-water potential, and volumetric water content at 15-minute intervals. The data show a cyclical pattern of groundwater and moisture content levels—wet from October to May and dry between June and September. Saturated soil conditions tend to last throughout the wet season. These data show the hydrologic response of the monitored area to rainfall and provide insight into the dynamics of rainfall-initiated landsliding. This report details the monitoring methods and presents data collected from January 10, 2006, through January 23, 2017.

Estimated fecal coliform bacteria concentrations using near real-time continuous water-quality and streamflow data from five stream sites in Chester County, Pennsylvania, 2007–16

Released September 15, 2017 14:30 EST

2017, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5075

Lisa A. Senior

Several streams used for recreational activities, such as fishing, swimming, and boating, in Chester County, Pennsylvania, are known to have periodic elevated concentrations of fecal coliform bacteria, a type of bacteria used to indicate the potential presence of fecally related pathogens that may pose health risks to humans exposed through water contact. The availability of near real-time continuous stream discharge, turbidity, and other water-quality data for some streams in the county presents an opportunity to use surrogates to estimate near real-time concentrations of fecal coliform (FC) bacteria and thus provide some information about associated potential health risks during recreational use of streams.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Chester County Health Department (CCHD) and the Chester County Water Resources Authority (CCWRA), has collected discrete stream samples for analysis of FC concentrations during March–October annually at or near five gaging stations where near real-time continuous data on stream discharge, turbidity, and water temperature have been collected since 2007 (or since 2012 at 2 of the 5 stations). In 2014, the USGS, in cooperation with the CCWRA and CCHD, began to develop regression equations to estimate FC concentrations using available near real-time continuous data. Regression equations included possible explanatory variables of stream discharge, turbidity, water temperature, and seasonal factors calculated using Julian Day with base-10 logarithmic (log) transformations of selected variables.

The regression equations were developed using the data from 2007 to 2015 (101–106 discrete bacteria samples per site) for three gaging stations on Brandywine Creek (West Branch Brandywine Creek at Modena, East Branch Brandywine Creek below Downingtown, and Brandywine Creek at Chadds Ford) and from 2012 to 2015 (37–38 discrete bacteria samples per site) for one station each on French Creek near Phoenixville and White Clay Creek near Strickersville. Fecal coliform bacteria data collected by USGS in 2016 (about nine samples per site) were used to validate the equations. The best-fit regression equations included log turbidity and seasonality factors computed using Julian Day as explanatory variables to estimate log FC concentrations at all five stream sites. The adjusted coefficient of determination for the equations ranged from 0.61 to 0.76, with the strength of the regression equations likely affected in part by the limited amount and variability of FC bacteria data. During summer months, the estimated and measured FC concentrations commonly were greater than the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection established standards of 200 and 400 colonies per 100 milliliters for water contact from May through September at the 5 stream sites, with concentrations typically higher at 2 sites (White Clay Creek and West Branch Brandywine Creek at Modena) than at the other 3 sites. The estimated concentrations of FC bacteria during the summer months commonly were higher than measured concentrations and therefore could be considered cautious estimates of potential human-health risk. Additional water-quality data are needed to maintain and (or) improve the ability of regression equations to estimate FC concentrations by use of surrogate data.

Documentation of a daily mean stream temperature module—An enhancement to the Precipitation-Runoff Modeling System

Released September 15, 2017 13:00 EST

2017, Techniques and Methods 6-D4

Michael J. Sanders, Steven L. Markstrom, R. Steven Regan, R. Dwight Atkinson

A module for simulation of daily mean water temperature in a network of stream segments has been developed as an enhancement to the U.S. Geological Survey Precipitation Runoff Modeling System (PRMS). This new module is based on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Stream Network Temperature model, a mechanistic, one-dimensional heat transport model. The new module is integrated in PRMS. Stream-water temperature simulation is activated by selection of the appropriate input flags in the PRMS Control File and by providing the necessary additional inputs in standard PRMS input files.This report includes a comprehensive discussion of the methods relevant to the stream temperature calculations and detailed instructions for model input preparation.

The state of the world’s mangroves in the 21st century under climate change

Released September 14, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Hydrobiologia

Ilka C. Feller, Daniel A. Friess, Ken W. Krauss, Roy R. Lewis III

Concerted mangrove research and rehabilitation efforts over the last several decades have prompted a better understanding of the important ecosystem attributes worthy of protection and a better conservation ethic toward mangrove wetlands globally. While mangroves continue to be degraded and lost in specific regions, conservation initiatives, rehabilitation efforts, natural regeneration, and climate range expansion have promoted gains in other areas, ultimately serving to curb the high mangrove habitat loss statistics from the doom and gloom of the 1980s. We highlight those trends in this article and introduce this special issue of Hydrobiologia dedicated to the important and recurring Mangrove and Macrobenthos Meeting. This collection of papers represents studies presented at the fourth such meeting (MMM4) held in St. Augustine, Florida, USA, on July 18–22, 2016. Our intent is to provide a balanced message about the global state of mangrove wetlands by describing recent reductions in net mangrove area losses and highlighting primary research studies presented at MMM4 through a collection of papers. These papers serve not only to highlight on-going global research advancements, but also provide an overview of the vast amount of data on mangrove ecosystem ecology, biology and rehabilitation that emphasizes the uniqueness of the mangrove community.

Secondary invasions of noxious weeds associated with control of invasive Tamarix are frequent, idiosyncratic and persistent

Released September 14, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Biological Conservation (213) 106-114

Eduardo González, Anna A. Sher, Robert M. Anderson, Robin F. Bay, Daniel W. Bean, Gabriel J. Bissonnete, David J. Cooper, Kara Dohrenwend, Kim D. Eichhorst, Hisham El Waer, Deborah K. Kennard, Rebecca Harms-Weissinger, Annie L. Henry, Lori J. Makarick, Steven M. Ostoja, Lindsay V. Reynolds, W. Wright Robinson, Patrick B. Shafroth, Erich Tabacchi

Control of invasive species within ecosystems may induce secondary invasions of non-target invaders replacing the first alien. We used four plant species listed as noxious by local authorities in riparian systems to discern whether 1) the severity of these secondary invasions was related to the control method applied to the first alien; and 2) which species that were secondary invaders persisted over time. In a collaborative study by 16 research institutions, we monitored plant species composition following control of non-native Tamarix trees along southwestern U.S. rivers using defoliation by an introduced biocontrol beetle, and three physical removal methods: mechanical using saws, heavy machinery, and burning in 244 treated and 79 untreated sites across six U.S. states. Physical removal favored secondary invasions immediately after Tamarix removal (0–3 yrs.), while in the biocontrol treatment, secondary invasions manifested later (> 5 yrs.). Within this general trend, the response of weeds to control was idiosyncratic; dependent on treatment type and invader. Two annual tumbleweeds that only reproduce by seed (Bassia scoparia and Salsola tragus) peaked immediately after physical Tamarix removal and persisted over time, even after herbicide application. Acroptilon repens, a perennial forb that vigorously reproduces by rhizomes, and Bromus tectorum, a very frequent annual grass before removal that only reproduces by seed, were most successful at biocontrol sites, and progressively spread as the canopy layer opened. These results demonstrate that strategies to control Tamarix affect secondary invasions differently among species and that time since disturbance is an important, generally overlooked, factor affecting response.

Vegetation response to invasive Tamarix control in southwestern U.S. rivers: A collaborative study including 416 sites

Released September 14, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Ecological Applications (27) 1789-1804

Eduardo González, Anna A Sher, Robert M. Anderson, Robin F. Bay, Daniel W. Bean, Gabriel J. Bissonnete, Bérenger Bourgeois, David J. Cooper, Kara Dohrenwend, Kim D. Eichhorst, Hisham El Waer, Deborah K. Kennard, Rebecca Harms-Weissinger, Annie L. Henry, Lori J. Makarick, Steven M. Ostoja, Lindsay V. Reynolds, W. Wright Robinson, Patrick B. Shafroth

Most studies assessing vegetation response following control of invasive Tamarix trees along southwestern U.S. rivers have been small in scale (e.g., river reach), or at a regional scale but with poor spatial-temporal replication, and most have not included testing the effects of a now widely used biological control. We monitored plant composition following Tamarix control along hydrologic, soil, and climatic gradients in 244 treated and 172 reference sites across six U.S. states. This represents the largest comprehensive assessment to date on the vegetation response to the four most common Tamarix control treatments. Biocontrol by a defoliating beetle (treatment 1) reduced the abundance of Tamarix less than active removal by mechanically using hand and chain-saws (2), heavy machinery (3) or burning (4). Tamarix abundance also decreased with lower temperatures, higher precipitation, and follow-up treatments for Tamarix resprouting. Native cover generally increased over time in active Tamarix removal sites, however, the increases observed were small and was not consistently increased by active revegetation. Overall, native cover was correlated to permanent stream flow, lower grazing pressure, lower soil salinity and temperatures, and higher precipitation. Species diversity also increased where Tamarix was removed. However, Tamarix treatments, especially those generating the highest disturbance (burning and heavy machinery), also often promoted secondary invasions of exotic forbs. The abundance of hydrophytic species was much lower in treated than in reference sites, suggesting that management of southwestern U.S. rivers has focused too much on weed control, overlooking restoration of fluvial processes that provide habitat for hydrophytic and floodplain vegetation. These results can help inform future management of Tamarix-infested rivers to restore hydrogeomorphic processes, increase native biodiversity and reduce abundance of noxious species.

Holistic assessment of occurrence and fate of metolachlor within environmental compartments of agricultural watersheds

Released September 14, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Science of the Total Environment (612) 708-719

Claire E. Rose, Richard H. Coupe, Paul D. Capel, Richard M. Webb

Background: Metolachlor [(RS)-2-Chloro-N-(2-ethyl-6-methyl-phenyl)-N-(1-methoxypropan-2-yl)acetamide] and two degradates (metolachlor ethane-sulfonic acid and metolachlor oxanilic acid) are commonly observed in surface and groundwater. The behavior and fate of these compounds were examined over a 12-year period in seven agricultural watersheds in the United States. They were quantified in air, rain, streams, overland flow, groundwater, soil water, subsurface drain water, and water at the stream/groundwater interface. The compounds were frequently detected in surface and groundwater associated with agricultural areas. A mass budget approach, based on all available data from the study and literature, was used to determine a percentage-wise generalized distribution and fate of applied parent metolachlor in typical agricultural environments.

Results: In these watersheds, about 90% of applied metolachlor was taken up by plants or degraded, 10% volatilized, and 0.3% returned as rainfall. One percent was transported to surface water, while an equal amount infiltrated into the unsaturated zone soil water. < 0.02% reached the groundwater. Subsurface flow paths resulted in greater degradation of metolachlor because degradation reactions had more time to proceed.

Conclusions: An understanding of the residence times of water in the different environmental compartments, and the important processes affecting metolachlor as it is transported along flowpaths among the environmental compartments allows for a degree of predictability of metolachlor's fate. Degradates with long half-lives can be used (in a limited capacity) as tracers of metolachlor, because of their persistence and widespread occurrence in the environment.

Assessing coastal wetland vulnerability to sea-level rise along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast: Gaps and opportunities for developing a coordinated regional sampling network

Released September 14, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, PLoS ONE (12)

Michael J. Osland, Kereen T. Griffith, Jack C. Larriviere, Laura C. Feher, Donald R. Cahoon, Nicholas M. Enwright, David A. Oster, John M. Tirpak, Mark S. Woodrey, Renee C. Collini, Joseph J. Baustian, Joshua L. Breithaupt, Julia A Cherry, Jeremy R. Conrad, Nicole Cormier, Carlos A. Coronado-Molina, Joseph F. Donoghue, Sean A. Graham, Jennifer W. Harper, Mark W. Hester, Rebecca J. Howard, Ken W. Krauss, Daniel Kroes, Robert R. Lane, Karen L. Mckee, Irving A. Mendelssohn, Beth A. Middleton, Jena A. Moon, Sarai Piazza, Nicole M. Rankin, Fred H. Sklar, Gregory D. Steyer, Kathleen M. Swanson, Christopher M. Swarzenski, William Vervaeke, Jonathan M Willis, K. Van Wilson

Coastal wetland responses to sea-level rise are greatly influenced by biogeomorphic processes that affect wetland surface elevation. Small changes in elevation relative to sea level can lead to comparatively large changes in ecosystem structure, function, and stability. The surface elevation table-marker horizon (SET-MH) approach is being used globally to quantify the relative contributions of processes affecting wetland elevation change. Historically, SET-MH measurements have been obtained at local scales to address site-specific research questions. However, in the face of accelerated sea-level rise, there is an increasing need for elevation change network data that can be incorporated into regional ecological models and vulnerability assessments. In particular, there is a need for long-term, high-temporal resolution data that are strategically distributed across ecologically-relevant abiotic gradients. Here, we quantify the distribution of SET-MH stations along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast (USA) across political boundaries (states), wetland habitats, and ecologically-relevant abiotic gradients (i.e., gradients in temperature, precipitation, elevation, and relative sea-level rise). Our analyses identify areas with high SET-MH station densities as well as areas with notable gaps. Salt marshes, intermediate elevations, and colder areas with high rainfall have a high number of stations, while salt flat ecosystems, certain elevation zones, the mangrove-marsh ecotone, and hypersaline coastal areas with low rainfall have fewer stations. Due to rapid rates of wetland loss and relative sea-level rise, the state of Louisiana has the most extensive SET-MH station network in the region, and we provide several recent examples where data from Louisiana’s network have been used to assess and compare wetland vulnerability to sea-level rise. Our findings represent the first attempt to examine spatial gaps in SET-MH coverage across abiotic gradients. Our analyses can be used to transform a broadly disseminated and unplanned collection of SET-MH stations into a coordinated and strategic regional network. This regional network would provide data for predicting and preparing for the responses of coastal wetlands to accelerated sea-level rise and other aspects of global change.

Novel analyses of long-term data provide a scientific basis for chlorophyll-a thresholds in San Francisco Bay

Released September 14, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science (197) 107-118

Martha Sutula, Raphael Kudela, James D. Hagy III, Lawrence W. Harding Jr., David Senn, James E. Cloern, Suzanne B. Bricker, Marcus W. Beck, Gry Mine Berg

San Francisco Bay (SFB), USA, is highly enriched in nitrogen and phosphorus, but has been resistant to the classic symptoms of eutrophication associated with over-production of phytoplankton. Observations in recent years suggest that this resistance may be weakening, shown by: significant increases of chlorophyll-a (chl-a) and decreases of dissolved oxygen (DO), common occurrences of phytoplankton taxa that can form Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB), and algal toxins in water and mussels reaching levels of concern. As a result, managers now ask: what levels of chl-a in SFB constitute tipping points of phytoplankton biomass beyond which water quality will become degraded, requiring significant nutrient reductions to avoid impairments? We analyzed data for DO, phytoplankton species composition, chl-a, and algal toxins to derive quantitative relationships between three indicators (HAB abundance, toxin concentrations, DO) and chl-a. Quantile regressions relating HAB abundance and DO to chl-a were significant, indicating SFB is at increased risk of adverse HAB and low DO levels if chl-a continues to increase. Conditional probability analysis (CPA) showed chl-a of 13 mg m−3 as a “protective” threshold below which probabilities for exceeding alert levels for HAB abundance and toxins were reduced. This threshold was similar to chl-a of 13–16 mg m−3 that would meet a SFB-wide 80% saturation Water Quality Criterion (WQC) for DO. Higher “at risk” chl-a thresholds from 25 to 40 mg m−3 corresponded to 0.5 probability of exceeding alert levels for HAB abundance, and for DO below a WQC of 5.0 mg L−1 designated for lower South Bay (LSB) and South Bay (SB). We submit these thresholds as a basis to assess eutrophication status of SFB and to inform nutrient management actions. This approach is transferrable to other estuaries to derive chl-a thresholds protective against eutrophication.

U.S. Geological Survey geohydrologic studies and monitoring at the Idaho National Laboratory, southeastern Idaho

Released September 14, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Fact Sheet 2017-3070

Roy C. Bartholomay


The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) geohydrologic studies and monitoring at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) is an ongoing, long-term program. This program, which began in 1949, includes hydrologic monitoring networks and investigative studies that describe the effects of waste disposal on water contained in the eastern Snake River Plain (ESRP) aquifer and the availability of water for long-term consumptive and industrial use. Interpretive reports documenting study findings are available to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its contractors; other Federal, State, and local agencies; private firms; and the public at Information contained within these reports is crucial to the management and use of the aquifer by the INL and the State of Idaho. USGS geohydrologic studies and monitoring are done in cooperation with the DOE Idaho Operations Office.

A reservoir morphology database for the conterminous United States

Released September 13, 2017 12:00 EST

2017, Data Series 1062

Kirk D. Rodgers

The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Reservoir Fisheries Habitat Partnership, combined multiple national databases to create one comprehensive national reservoir database and to calculate new morphological metrics for 3,828 reservoirs. These new metrics include, but are not limited to, shoreline development index, index of basin permanence, development of volume, and other descriptive metrics based on established morphometric formulas. The new database also contains modeled chemical and physical metrics. Because of the nature of the existing databases used to compile the Reservoir Morphology Database and the inherent missing data, some metrics were not populated. One comprehensive database will assist water-resource managers in their understanding of local reservoir morphology and water chemistry characteristics throughout the continental United States.

Fine-resolution repeat topographic surveying of dryland landscapes using UAS-based structure-from-motion photogrammetry: Assessing accuracy and precision against traditional ground-based erosion measurements

Released September 13, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Remote Sensing (9)

Jeffrey K. Gillian, Jason W. Karl, Ahmed Elaksher, Michael C. Duniway

Structure-from-motion (SfM) photogrammetry from unmanned aerial system (UAS) imagery is an emerging tool for repeat topographic surveying of dryland erosion. These methods are particularly appealing due to the ability to cover large landscapes compared to field methods and at reduced costs and finer spatial resolution compared to airborne laser scanning. Accuracy and precision of high-resolution digital terrain models (DTMs) derived from UAS imagery have been explored in many studies, typically by comparing image coordinates to surveyed check points or LiDAR datasets. In addition to traditional check points, this study compared 5 cm resolution DTMs derived from fixed-wing UAS imagery with a traditional ground-based method of measuring soil surface change called erosion bridges. We assessed accuracy by comparing the elevation values between DTMs and erosion bridges along thirty topographic transects each 6.1 m long. Comparisons occurred at two points in time (June 2014, February 2015) which enabled us to assess vertical accuracy with 3314 data points and vertical precision (i.e., repeatability) with 1657 data points. We found strong vertical agreement (accuracy) between the methods (RMSE 2.9 and 3.2 cm in June 2014 and February 2015, respectively) and high vertical precision for the DTMs (RMSE 2.8 cm). Our results from comparing SfM-generated DTMs to check points, and strong agreement with erosion bridge measurements suggests repeat UAS imagery and SfM processing could replace erosion bridges for a more synoptic landscape assessment of shifting soil surfaces for some studies. However, while collecting the UAS imagery and generating the SfM DTMs for this study was faster than collecting erosion bridge measurements, technical challenges related to the need for ground control networks and image processing requirements must be addressed before this technique could be applied effectively to large landscapes.

Hydrologic impacts of landslide disturbances: Implications for remobilization and hazard persistence

Released September 13, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Water Resource Reseach

Benjamin B. Mirus, Joel B. Smith, Rex L. Baum

Landslides typically alter hillslope topography, but may also change the hydrologic connectivity and subsurface water-storage dynamics. In settings where mobile materials are not completely evacuated from steep slopes, influences of landslide disturbances on hillslope hydrology and susceptibility to subsequent failures remain poorly characterized. Since landslides often recur at the site of previous failures, we examine differences between a stable vegetated hillslope (VH) and a recent landslide (LS). These neighboring hillslopes exhibit similar topography and are situated on steep landslide-prone coastal bluffs of glacial deposits along the northeastern shore of Puget Sound, Washington. Our control hillslope, VH, is mantled by a heterogeneous colluvium, supporting a dense forest. In early 2013, our test hillslope, LS, also supported a forest before a landslide substantially altered the topography and disturbed the hillslope. In 2015, we observed a clay-rich landslide deposit at LS with sparse vegetation and limited root reinforcement, soil structures, and macropores. Our characterization of the sites also found matrix porosity and hydraulic conductivity are both lower at LS. Continuous monitoring during 2015-2016 revealed reduced effective precipitation at VH (due to canopy interception), an earlier seasonal transition to near-saturated conditions at LS, and longer persistence of positive pore pressures and slower drainage at LS (both seasonally and between major storm events). These differences, along with episodic, complex slope failures at LS support the hypothesis that, despite a reduced average slope, other disturbances introduced by landsliding may promote the hydrologic conditions leading to slope instability, thus contributing to the persistence of landslide hazards.

Deep-sea coral research and technology program: Alaska deep-sea coral and sponge initiative final report

Released September 13, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-OHC-2

Chris Rooper, Robert P. Stone, Peter Etnoyer, Christina Conrath, Jennifer Reynolds, H. Gary Greene, Branwen Williams, Enrique Salgado, Cheryl Morrison, Rhian G. Waller, Amanda Demopoulos

Deep-sea coral and sponge ecosystems are widespread throughout most of Alaska’s marine waters. In some places, such as the central and western Aleutian Islands, deep-sea coral and sponge resources can be extremely diverse and may rank among the most abundant deep-sea coral and sponge communities in the world. Many different species of fishes and invertebrates are associated with deep-sea coral and sponge communities in Alaska. Because of their biology, these benthic invertebrates are potentially impacted by climate change and ocean acidification. Deepsea coral and sponge ecosystems are also vulnerable to the effects of commercial fishing activities. Because of the size and scope of Alaska’s continental shelf and slope, the vast majority of the area has not been visually surveyed for deep-sea corals and sponges. NOAA’s Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program (DSCRTP) sponsored a field research program in the Alaska region between 2012–2015, referred to hereafter as the Alaska Initiative. The priorities for Alaska were derived from ongoing data needs and objectives identified by the DSCRTP, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC), and Essential Fish Habitat-Environmental Impact Statement (EFH-EIS) process.

This report presents the results of 15 projects conducted using DSCRTP funds from 2012-2015. Three of the projects conducted as part of the Alaska deep-sea coral and sponge initiative included dedicated at-sea cruises and fieldwork spread across multiple years. These projects were the eastern Gulf of Alaska Primnoa pacifica study, the Aleutian Islands mapping study, and the Gulf of Alaska fish productivity study. In all, there were nine separate research cruises carried out with a total of 109 at-sea days conducting research. The remaining projects either used data and samples collected by the three major fieldwork projects or were piggy-backed onto existing research programs at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC).

Maximizing establishment and survivorship of field-collected and greenhouse-cultivated biocrusts in a semi-cold desert

Released September 13, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Plant and Soil

Anita Antoninka, Matthew A. Bowker, Peter Chuckran, Nicole N. Barger, Sasha C. Reed, Jayne Belnap


Biological soil crusts (biocrusts) are soil-surface communities in drylands, dominated by cyanobacteria, mosses, and lichens. They provide key ecosystem functions by increasing soil stability and influencing soil hydrologic, nutrient, and carbon cycles. Because of this, methods to reestablish biocrusts in damaged drylands are needed. Here we test the reintroduction of field-collected vs. greenhouse-cultured biocrusts for rehabilitation.


We collected biocrusts for 1) direct reapplication, and 2) artificial cultivation under varying hydration regimes. We added field-collected and cultivated biocrusts (with and without hardening treatments) to bare field plots and monitored establishment.


Both field-collected and cultivated cyanobacteria increased cover dramatically during the experimental period. Cultivated biocrusts established more rapidly than field-collected biocrusts, attaining ~82% cover in only one year, but addition of field-collected biocrusts led to higher species richness, biomass (as assessed by chlorophyll a) and level of development. Mosses and lichens did not establish well in either case, but late successional cover was affected by hardening and culture conditions.


This study provides further evidence that it is possible to culture biocrust components from later successional materials and reestablish cultured organisms in the field. However, more research is needed into effective reclamation techniques.

Improving predictions of tropical forest response to climate change through integration of field studies and ecosystem modeling

Released September 13, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Global Change Biology

Xiaohui Feng, María Uriarte, Grizelle González, Sasha C. Reed, J. Thompson, Jess K. Zimmerman, Lora Murphy

Tropical forests play a critical role in carbon and water cycles at a global scale. Rapid climate change is anticipated in tropical regions over the coming decades and, under a warmer and drier climate, tropical forests are likely to be net sources of carbon rather than sinks. However, our understanding of tropical forest response and feedback to climate change is very limited. Efforts to model climate change impacts on carbon fluxes in tropical forests have not reached a consensus. Here we use the Ecosystem Demography model (ED2) to predict carbon fluxes of a Puerto Rican tropical forest under realistic climate change scenarios. We parameterized ED2 with species-specific tree physiological data using the Predictive Ecosystem Analyzer workflow and projected the fate of this ecosystem under five future climate scenarios. The model successfully captured inter-annual variability in the dynamics of this tropical forest. Model predictions closely followed observed values across a wide range of metrics including above-ground biomass, tree diameter growth, tree size class distributions, and leaf area index. Under a future warming and drying climate scenario, the model predicted reductions in carbon storage and tree growth, together with large shifts in forest community composition and structure. Such rapid changes in climate led the forest to transition from a sink to a source of carbon. Growth respiration and root allocation parameters were responsible for the highest fraction of predictive uncertainty in modeled biomass, highlighting the need to target these processes in future data collection. Our study is the first effort to rely on Bayesian model calibration and synthesis to elucidate the key physiological parameters that drive uncertainty in tropical forests responses to climatic change. We propose a new path forward for model-data synthesis that can substantially reduce uncertainty in our ability to model tropical forest responses to future climate.

Assessing condition of macroinvertebrate communities and bed sediment toxicity in the Rochester Embayment Area of Concern, New York, USA

Released September 13, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of Great Lakes Research (43) 890-898

Brian Duffy, Scott D. George, Barry P. Baldigo, Alexander J. Smith

The United States and Canada agreed to restore the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Great Lakes ecosystem under the first Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement in 1972. The lowest reach of the Genesee River and the Rochester Embayment on Lake Ontario between Bogus Point and Nine Mile Point, including Braddock Bay, were designated as an Area of Concern (AOC) due to effects of contaminated sediments and physical disturbance on several beneficial uses. Following sediment remedial efforts and with conditions improving in the AOC, the present study was conducted to reevaluate the status of the benthic macroinvertebrate (benthos) beneficial use impairment (BUI). Benthic macroinvertebrate community assessments and 10-day Chironomus dilutus bioassays were used to test the hypotheses that sediments within the AOC were no more toxic than sediments from surrounding reference areas. The study was separated into three discrete systems (Genesee River, Lake Ontario, and Braddock Bay) and non-parametric analyses determined that a multimetric index of benthic macroinvertebrate community integrity was significantly higher at AOC sites compared to reference sites on the Genesee River and in Braddock Bay while AOC and reference sites on Lake Ontario did not differ significantly. Survival and growth of C. dilutus were also similar between AOC and reference sites for each system with the exception of significantly higher growth at reference sites on Lake Ontario. Results generally indicated that the condition of benthos and toxicity of sediment of the Rochester Embayment AOC are similar to or better than that in the surrounding area.

A digital reference collection for aquatic macroinvertebrates of North America

Released September 13, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Freshwater Science

David Walters, Morgan A Ford, Robert E. Zuellig

Aquatic invertebrates are a key component of freshwater ecosystems, and understanding aquatic invertebrate taxonomy is a cornerstone of freshwater science. Physical reference collections of expertly identified voucher specimens are the ‘gold-standard’ used to confirm specimen identifications. However, most biologists lack access to such collections, which themselves tend to be highly regionalized and somewhat limited in terms of taxonomic scope. The North American Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Digital Reference Collection (NAAMDRC; was developed by the US Geological Survey (USGS) to overcome these limitations of physical collections. NAAMDRC provides users with public-domain, high-quality digital photographs to help verify specimen identifications.

Atoll groundwater movement and its response to climatic and sea-level fluctuations

Released September 13, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Water (9)

Ferdinand Oberle, Peter Swarzenski, Curt Storlazzi

Groundwater resources of low-lying atoll islands are threatened due to short-term and long-term changes in rainfall, wave climate, and sea level. A better understanding of how these forcings affect the limited groundwater resources was explored on Roi-Namur in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. As part of a 16-month study, a rarely recorded island-overwash event occurred and the island’s aquifer’s response was measured. The findings suggest that small-scale overwash events cause an increase in salinity of the freshwater lens that returns to pre-overwash conditions within one month. The overwash event is addressed in the context of climate-related local sea-level change, which suggests that overwash events and associated degradations in freshwater resources are likely to increase in severity in the future due to projected rises in sea level. Other forcings, such as severe rainfall events, were shown to have caused a sudden freshening of the aquifer, with salinity levels retuning to pre-rainfall levels within three months. Tidal forcing of the freshwater lens was observed in electrical resistivity profiles, high-resolution conductivity, groundwater-level well measurements and through submarine groundwater discharge calculations. Depth-specific geochemical pore water measurements further assessed and confirmed the distinct boundaries between fresh and saline water masses in the aquifer. The identification of the freshwater lens’ saline boundaries is essential for a quantitative evaluation of the aquifers freshwater resources and help understand how these resources may be impacted by climate change and anthropogenic activities.

Neotectonics of interior Alaska and the late Quaternary slip rate along the Denali fault system

Released September 13, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Geosphere (13) 1-19

Peter J. Haeussler, Ari Matmon, David P. Schwartz, Gordon G. Seitz

The neotectonics of southern Alaska (USA) are characterized by a several hundred kilometers–wide zone of dextral transpressional that spans the Alaska Range. The Denali fault system is the largest active strike-slip fault system in interior Alaska, and it produced a Mw 7.9 earthquake in 2002. To evaluate the late Quaternary slip rate on the Denali fault system, we collected samples for cosmogenic surface exposure dating from surfaces offset by the fault system. This study includes data from 107 samples at 19 sites, including 7 sites we previously reported, as well as an estimated slip rate at another site. We utilize the interpreted surface ages to provide estimated slip rates. These new slip rate data confirm that the highest late Quaternary slip rate is ∼13 mm/yr on the central Denali fault near its intersection with the eastern Denali and the Totschunda faults, with decreasing slip rate both to the east and west. The slip rate decreases westward along the central and western parts of the Denali fault system to 5 mm/yr over a length of ∼575 km. An additional site on the eastern Denali fault near Kluane Lake, Yukon, implies a slip rate of ∼2 mm/yr, based on geological considerations. The Totschunda fault has a maximum slip rate of ∼9 mm/yr. The Denali fault system is transpressional and there are active thrust faults on both the north and south sides of it. We explore four geometric models for southern Alaska tectonics to explain the slip rates along the Denali fault system and the active fault geometries: rotation, indentation, extrusion, and a combination of the three. We conclude that all three end-member models have strengths and shortcomings, and a combination of rotation, indentation, and extrusion best explains the slip rate observations.

Loads and yields of deicing compounds and total phosphorus in the Cambridge drinking-water source area, Massachusetts, water years 2009–15

Released September 12, 2017 12:00 EST

2017, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5047

Kirk P. Smith

The source water area for the drinking-water supply of the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, encompasses major transportation corridors, as well as large areas of light industrial, commercial, and residential land use. Because of the large amount of roadway in the drinking-water source area, the Cambridge water supply is affected by the usage of deicing compounds and by other constituents that are flushed from such impervious areas. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has monitored surface-water quality in the Cambridge Reservoir and Stony Brook Reservoir Basins, which compose the drinking-water source area, since 1997 (water year 1998) through continuous monitoring and the collection of stream-flow samples.

In a study conducted by the USGS, in cooperation with the City of Cambridge Water Department, concentrations and loads of calcium (Ca), chloride (Cl), magnesium (Mg), sodium (Na), and sulfate (SO4) were estimated from continuous records of specific conductance and streamflow for streams and tributaries at 10 continuous water-quality monitoring stations. These data were used to characterize current (2015) water-quality conditions, estimate loads and yields, and describe trends in Cl and Na in the tributaries and main-stem streams in the Cambridge Reservoir and Stony Brook Reservoir Basins. These data also were used to describe how stream-water quality is related to various basin characteristics and provide information to guide future management of the drinking-water source area.

Water samples from 2009–15 were analyzed for physical properties and concentrations of Ca, Cl, Mg, Na, potassium (K), SO4, and total phosphorus (TP). Values of physical properties and constituent concentrations varied widely, particularly in composite samples of stormflow from tributaries that have high percentages of constructed impervious areas. Median concentrations of Ca, Cl, Mg, Na, and K in samples collected from the tributaries in the Cambridge Reservoir Basin (27.2, 273, 4.7, 154.5, and 2.8 milligrams per liter (mg/L), respectively) were higher than those for the Stony Brook Reservoir Basin (22.2, 128, 4.3, 77.1, and 2.5, respectively). Differences between tributary samples for concentrations of Cl and Na were related to the percentage of developed land and constructed impervious area in the drinking-water source area. Median concentrations of SO4 in samples collected from the tributaries in the Cambridge Reservoir Basin (10.7 mg/L) were lower than those for the Stony Brook Reservoir Basin (18.0 mg/L).

Concentrations of dissolved Cl and Na in samples and those concentrations estimated from continuous records of specific conductance (particularly during base flow) often were greater than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) secondary drinking-water standard for Cl (250 mg/L), the chronic aquatic-life guideline for Cl (230 mg/L), and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection drinking-water guideline for Na (20 mg/L). Concentrations of TP (range from 0.008 to 0.69 mg/L in all subbasins) in tributary samples did not differ substantially between the Cambridge Reservoir and Stony Brook Reservoir Basins. About one-half of the concentrations of TP in samples collected during water years 2013–15 exceeded the EPA proposed reference concentration of 0.024 mg/L.

For most tributaries, about 70 percent of the annual loads of Ca, Cl, Mg, Na, and SO4 were associated with base flow. Concentrations of major ions were negatively correlated with streamflow, indicating that these constituents were diluted during stormflow and tend to increase during the summer when streamflow is low. In contrast, between 57 and 92 percent of the annual load for TP was transported during stormflows.

Mean annual yields of Ca, Cl, Mg, Na, and SO4 in the drinking-water source area were 13, 75, 2.6, 40, and 6.9 metric tons per square kilometer, respectively, for water years 2009–15. The mean annual yield of TP in the drinking-water source area for water years 2013–15 was 0.012 metric tons per square kilometer. Yields for major ions and TP were highest in tributary subbasins adjacent to Interstate 95.

Temporal trends in mean annual concentrations for Cl and Na were not significant for water years 1998‒2015 (period of record by the USGS) for the outlet of the Cambridge Reservoir and for the main stem of Stony Brook downstream from the reservoir. Median values of base-flow concentrations of TP at three stations were higher for samples collected during base-flow conditions during water years 2005–7 than for samples collected during water years 2013–15. However, the results were not significant for statistical tests between concentrations in samples collected during storms for the same periods, indicating that the quality of stormwater remains similar.

Temporal variation in survival and recovery rates of lesser scaup: A response

Released September 12, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of Wildlife Management (81) 1142-1148

Todd W. Arnold, Alan D. Afton, Michael J. Anteau, David N. Koons, Chris A. Nicolai

We recently analyzed long-term (1951–2011) continental band-recovery data from lesser scaup (Aythya affinis) and demonstrated that harvest rates declined through time, but annual survival rates exhibited no such trends; moreover, annual harvest and survival rates were uncorrelated for all age-sex classes. We therefore concluded that declining fecundity was most likely responsible for recent population declines, rather than changes in harvest or survival. Lindberg et al. (2017) critiqued our conclusions, arguing that we did little more than fail to reject a null hypothesis of compensatory mortality, postulated ecologically unrealistic changes in fecundity, and failed to give sufficient consideration to additive harvest mortality. Herein, we re-summarize our original evidence indicating that harvest has been compensatory, or at most weakly additive, and demonstrate that our analysis had sufficient power to detect strongly additive mortality if it occurred. We further demonstrate that our conclusions were not confounded by population size, band loss, or individual heterogeneity, as suggested by Lindberg et al. (2017), and we provide additional support for our conjecture that low fecundity played a major role in declining scaup populations during 1983–2006. We therefore reiterate our original management recommendations: given low harvest rates and lack of demonstrable effect on scaup survival, harvest regulations could return to more liberal frameworks, and waterfowl biologists should work together to continue banding lesser scaup and use these data to explore alternative hypotheses to identify the true ecological causes of population change, given that it is unlikely to be excessive harvest. 

Effects of tow transit on the efficacy of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal Electric Dispersal Barrier System

Released September 12, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of Great Lakes Research

Jeremiah J. Davis, Jessica Z. LeRoy, Matthew R. Shanks, Patrick Ryan Jackson, Frank Engel, Elizabeth Murphy, Carey L. Baxter, Michael K. McInerney, Nicholas A. Barkowski

In 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers undertook a field study in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal near Romeoville, Illinois to determine the influence of tow transit on the efficacy of the Electric Dispersal Barrier System (EDBS) in preventing the passage of juvenile fish (total length < 100 millimeters (mm)). Dual-frequency identification sonar data showed that large schools of juvenile fish (mean school size of 120 fish; n = 19) moved upstream and crossed the electric field of an array in the EDBS concurrent with downstream-bound (downbound) loaded tows in 89.5% of trials. Smaller schools of juvenile fish (mean school size of 98 fish; n = 15) moved downstream and crossed the electric field of an array in the EDBS concurrent with upstream-bound (upbound) loaded tows in 73.3% of trials. Observed fish passages through the EDBS were always opposite to the direction of tow movement, and not associated with propeller wash. These schools were not observed to breach the EDBS in the absence of a tow and showed no signs of incapacitation in the barrier during tow passage. Loaded tows transiting the EDBS create a return current of water flowing between the tow and the canal wall that typically travels opposite the direction of tow movement, and cause a decrease in the voltage gradient of the barrier of up to 88%. Return currents and decreases in voltage gradients induced by tow passage likely contributed to the observed fish passage through the EDBS. The efficacy of the EDBS in preventing the passage of small, wild fish is compromised while tows are moving across the barrier system. In particular, downbound tows moving through the EDBS create a pathway for the upstream movement of small fish, and therefore may increase the risk of transfer of invasive fishes from the Mississippi River Basin to the Great Lakes Basin.

Stress hormones predict a host superspreader phenotype in the West Nile virus system

Released September 12, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Proceedings of the Royal Society B (284)

Stephanie Gervasi, Sarah Burgan, Erik K. Hofmeister, Thomas R. Unnasch, Lynn B. Martin

Glucocorticoid stress hormones, such as corticosterone (CORT), have profound effects on the behaviour and physiology of organisms, and thus have the potential to alter host competence and the contributions of individuals to population- and community-level pathogen dynamics. For example, CORT could alter the rate of contacts among hosts, pathogens and vectors through its widespread effects on host metabolism and activity levels. CORT could also affect the intensity and duration of pathogen shedding and risk of host mortality during infection. We experimentally manipulated songbird CORT, asking how CORT affected behavioural and physiological responses to a standardized West Nile virus (WNV) challenge. Although all birds became infected after exposure to the virus, only birds with elevated CORT had viral loads at or above the infectious threshold. Moreover, though the rate of mortality was faster in birds with elevated CORT compared with controls, most hosts with elevated CORT survived past the day of peak infectiousness. CORT concentrations just prior to inoculation with WNV and anti-inflammatory cytokine concentrations following viral exposure were predictive of individual duration of infectiousness and the ability to maintain physical performance during infection (i.e. tolerance), revealing putative biomarkers of competence. Collectively, our results suggest that glucocorticoid stress hormones could directly and indirectly mediate the spread of pathogens.

An examination of the effect of aerosolized permanone insecticide on zebra finch susceptibility to West Nile virus

Released September 12, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry

Mark D. Jankowski, E. Moore Murray, Erik K. Hofmeister

West Nile virus is primarily maintained cryptically primarily in avian (Passerine) populations where it is transmitted by Culex spp. mosquitoes. Mosquito control measures currently include physical activities to reduce mosquito breeding sites, the application of mosquito larvicides, or aerosolized insecticides to kill adults (adulticides) when arboviral diseases such as West Nile virus (WNV) or Zika virus are detected in mosquito populations. Organochlorine, organohosphorus, carbamate and pyrethroid insecticides are often used. Previous work suggests an effect of pyrethroids on the immune system in a variety of vertebrates. We examined the effects of exposure to aerosolized Permanone® 30:30 insecticide (permethrin and piperonyl butoxide in soy oil vehicle) at ∼103−106x potential environmental concentrations on the response of captive zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) to experimental challenge with WNV. Compared to vehicle control birds, WNV outcome was unchanged (65% of birds produced a viremia) in the ‘low’ exposure (9.52 mg/m3±3.13 SD permethrin) group, but reduced in the ‘high’ exposure (mean 376.5 mg/m3±27.9 SD permethrin) group (30% were viremic) (p < 0.05). After clearing WNV infection, birds treated with Permanone regained less body mass than vehicle treated birds (p < 0.001). Our study suggests that exposure to aerosolized Permanone insecticide at levels exceeding typical application rates has the potential to not change or mildly enhance a bird's resistance to WNV.

Selection of the InSight landing site

Released September 12, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Space Science Reviews

M. Golombek, D. Kipp, N. Warner, Ingrid J. Daubar, Robin L. Fergason, Randolph L. Kirk, R. Beyer, A. Huertas, Sylvain Piqueux, N.E. Putzig, B.A. Campbell, G. A. Morgan, C. Charalambous, W. T. Pike, K. Gwinner, F. Calef, D. Kass, M A Mischna, J. Ashley, C. Bloom, N. Wigton, T. Hare, C. Schwartz, H. Gengl, L. Redmond, M. Trautman, J. Sweeney, C. Grima, I. B. Smith, E. Sklyanskiy, M. Lisano, J. Benardini, S.E. Smrekar, P. Lognonne, W. B. Banerdt

The selection of the Discovery Program InSight landing site took over four years from initial identification of possible areas that met engineering constraints, to downselection via targeted data from orbiters (especially Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) Context Camera (CTX) and High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) images), to selection and certification via sophisticated entry, descent and landing (EDL) simulations. Constraints on elevation (2.5 km≤−2.5 km for sufficient atmosphere to slow the lander), latitude (initially 15°S–5°N and later 3°N–5°N for solar power and thermal management of the spacecraft), ellipse size (130 km by 27 km from ballistic entry and descent), and a load bearing surface without thick deposits of dust, severely limited acceptable areas to western Elysium Planitia. Within this area, 16 prospective ellipses were identified, which lie ∼600 km north of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover. Mapping of terrains in rapidly acquired CTX images identified especially benign smooth terrain and led to the downselection to four northern ellipses. Acquisition of nearly continuous HiRISE, additional Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), and High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) images, along with radar data confirmed that ellipse E9 met all landing site constraints: with slopes <15° at 84 m and 2 m length scales for radar tracking and touchdown stability, low rock abundance (<10 %) to avoid impact and spacecraft tip over, instrument deployment constraints, which included identical slope and rock abundance constraints, a radar reflective and load bearing surface, and a fragmented regolith ∼5 m thick for full penetration of the heat flow probe. Unlike other Mars landers, science objectives did not directly influence landing site selection.

Green tree frog (Hyla cinerea) and ground squirrel (Xerospermophilus spilosoma) mortality attributed to inland brevetoxin transportation at Padre Island National Seashore, Texas, 2015

Released September 12, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of Wildlife Diseases

Danielle E. Buttke, Alicia Walker, I-Shuo Huang, Leanne Flewelling, Julia S. Lankton, Anne E. Ballmann, Travis Clapp, James Lindsay, Paul V. Zimba

On 16 September 2015, a red tide (Karenia brevis) bloom impacted coastal areas of Padre Island National Seashore Park. Two days later and about 0.9 km inland, 30–40 adult green tree frogs (Hyla cinerea) were found dead after displaying tremors, weakness, labored breathing, and other signs of neurologic impairment. A rainstorm, accompanied by high winds, rough surf, and high tides, which could have aerosolized brevetoxin, occurred on the morning of the mortality event. Frog carcasses were healthy but contained significant brevetoxin in tissues. Tissue brevetoxin was also found in two dead or dying spotted ground squirrels (Xerospermophilus spilosoma) and a coyote (Canis latrans). Rainwater collected from the location of the mortality event contained brevetoxin. Mortality of green tree frog and ground squirrel mortality has not been previously attributed to brevetoxin exposure and such mortality suggested that inland toxin transport, possibly through aerosols, rainfall, or insects, may have important implications for coastal species.

A hydrologic drying bias in water-resource impact analyses of anthropogenic climate change

Released September 12, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of the American Water Resources Association (53) 822-838

Paul Milly, Krista A. Dunne

For water-resource planning, sensitivity of freshwater availability to anthropogenic climate change (ACC) often is analyzed with “offline” hydrologic models that use precipitation and potential evapotranspiration (Ep) as inputs. Because Ep is not a climate-model output, an intermediary model of Ep must be introduced to connect the climate model to the hydrologic model. Several Ep methods are used. The suitability of each can be assessed by noting a credible Ep method for offline analyses should be able to reproduce climate models’ ACC-driven changes in actual evapotranspiration in regions and seasons of negligible water stress (Ew). We quantified this ability for seven commonly used Ep methods and for a simple proportionality with available energy (“energy-only” method). With the exception of the energy-only method, all methods tend to overestimate substantially the increase in Ep associated with ACC. In an offline hydrologic model, the Ep-change biases produce excessive increases in actual evapotranspiration (E), whether the system experiences water stress or not, and thence strong negative biases in runoff change, as compared to hydrologic fluxes in the driving climate models. The runoff biases are comparable in magnitude to the ACC-induced runoff changes themselves. These results suggest future hydrologic drying (wetting) trends likely are being systematically and substantially overestimated (underestimated) in many water-resource impact analyses.

USA National Phenology Network’s volunteer-contributed observations yield predictive models of phenological transitions

Released September 12, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, PLoS ONE (12) 1-17

Theresa M. Crimmins, Michael A. Crimmins, Katherine L. Gerst, Alyssa H. Rosemartin, Jake Weltzin

In support of science and society, the USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN) maintains a rapidly growing, continental-scale, species-rich dataset of plant and animal phenology observations that with over 10 million records is the largest such database in the United States. Contributed voluntarily by professional and citizen scientists, these opportunistically collected observations are characterized by spatial clustering, inconsistent spatial and temporal sampling, and short temporal depth. We explore the potential for developing models of phenophase transitions suitable for use at the continental scale, which could be applied to a wide range of resource management contexts. We constructed predictive models of the onset of breaking leaf buds, leaves, open flowers, and ripe fruits – phenophases that are the most abundant in the database and also relevant to management applications – for all species with available data, regardless of plant growth habit, location, geographic extent, or temporal depth of the observations. We implemented a very basic model formulation - thermal time models with a fixed start date. Sufficient data were available to construct 107 individual species × phenophase models. Of these, fifteen models (14%) met our criteria for model fit and error and were suitable for use across the majority of the species’ geographic ranges. These findings indicate that the USA-NPN dataset holds promise for further and more refined modeling efforts. Further, the candidate models that emerged could be used to produce real-time and short-term forecast maps of the timing of such transitions to directly support natural resource management.

Behavior of a wave-driven buoyant surface jet on a coral reef

Released September 12, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of Geophysical Research C: Oceans (122) 4088-4109

Liv Herdman, James L. Hench, Oliver Fringer, Stephen G. Monismith

A wave-driven surface buoyant jet exiting a coral reef was studied in order to quantify the amount of water re-entrained over the reef crest. Both moored observations and Lagrangian drifters were used to study the fate of the buoyant jet. To investigate in detail the effects of buoyancy and along-shore flow variations, we developed an idealized numerical model of the system. Consistent with previous work, the ratio of along-shore velocity to jet-velocity and the jet internal Froude number were found to be important determinants of the fate of the jet. In the absence of buoyancy, the entrainment of fluid at the reef crest, creates a significant amount of retention, keeping 60% of water in the reef system. However, when the jet is lighter than the ambient ocean-water, the net effect of buoyancy is to enhance the separation of the jet from shore, leading to a greater export of reef water. Matching observations, our modeling predicts that buoyancy limits retention to 30% of the jet flow for conditions existing on the Moorea reef. Overall, the combination of observations and modeling we present here shows that reef-ocean temperature gradients can play an important role in reef-ocean exchanges.

Yolo Bypass Juvenile Salmon Utilization Study 2016—Summary of acoustically tagged juvenile salmon and study fish release, Sacramento River, California

Released September 12, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Data Series 1066

Theresa L. Liedtke, William R. Hurst

The Yolo Bypass is a flood control bypass in Sacramento Valley, California. Flood plain habitats may be used for juvenile salmon rearing, however, the potential value of such habitats can be difficult to evaluate because of the intermittent nature of inundation events. The Yolo Bypass Juvenile Salmon Utilization Study (YBUS) used acoustic telemetry to evaluate the movements and survival of juvenile salmon adjacent to and within the Yolo Bypass during the winter of 2016. This report presents numbers, size data, and release data (times, dates, and locations) for the 1,197 acoustically tagged juvenile salmon released for the YBUS from February 21 to March 18, 2016. Detailed descriptions of the surgical implantation of transmitters are also presented. These data are presented to support the collaborative, interagency analysis and reporting of the study findings.

Risk assessment for the reintroduction of anadromous salmonids upstream of Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee Dams, Northeastern Washington

Released September 12, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Open-File Report 2017-1113

Jill M. Hardiman, Rachel B. Breyta, Craig A. Haskell, Carl O. Ostberg, James R. Hatten, Patrick J. Connolly

The Upper Columbia United Tribes (UCUT; Spokane, Colville, Kootenai, Coeur d’Alene, and Kalispel Tribes) and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife want to reintroduce anadromous salmonids to their historical range to restore ecosystem function and lost cultural and spiritual relationships in the upper Columbia River, northeastern Washington. The UCUT contracted with the U.S. Geological Survey to assess risks to resident taxa (existing fish populations in the reintroduction area upstream of Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee Dams) and reintroduced salmon associated with reintroduction. We developed a risk assessment framework for reintroduction of anadromous salmonids upstream of Chief Joseph and Grand Coulee Dams. To accomplish this goal, we applied strategies identified in previous risk assessment frameworks for reintroduction. The risk assessment is an initial step towards an anadromous reintroduction strategy. An initial list of potential donor sources for reintroduction species was developed from previous published sources for Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) donors in the Transboundary Reach of the Columbia River, British Columbia; an ecological risk assessment of upper Columbia River hatchery programs on non-target taxa of concern; and a review of existing hatchery programs

During two workshops, we further identified and ranked potential donor sources of anadromous Redband Trout (steelhead; O. mykiss), Chinook Salmon, Sockeye Salmon (O. nerka), and Coho Salmon (O. kisutch). We also identified resident fish populations of interest and their primary habitat, location, status, and pathogen concerns to determine the potential risks of reintroduction. Species were deemed of interest based on resource management and potential interactions (that is, genetics, competition, and predation) with introduced species. We developed tables of potential donors by species and characterized potential sources (hatchery and natural origins), populations (individual runs), broodstock management and history, and potential constraints (that is, Endangered Species Act [ESA] listing, Evolutionarily Significant Unit concerns, pathogens, and availability). During the workshops, a group of regional fisheries and topic experts subjectively ranked the relative risks of pathogens, genetic effects, predation, and competition to resident fish and reintroduced salmonids. We assessed the pathogen risk of each potential donor for introducing new pathogens and the increased burden to existing pathogens for resident species upstream of the dams. We considered genetic risks to resident and downstream conspecifics and ecological impacts, including competition for food and space, predator-prey interactions, and ecosystem benefits/impacts. Each reintroduced species donor source was ranked based on abundance/viability (demographic risk to source and feasibility of collection), ancestral/genetic similarity (evolutionary similarity to historical populations), local adaptation (geographic proximity/similarity of source conditions to reintroduction conditions), and life history compatibility (including migration; spawn timing; and relative usage of reservoir, main-stem, or tributary habitats) with environmental conditions in the reintroduction area. We synthesized this information by species for all potential donors, in which an overall score and ranking system was established for decision support in donor selection for reintroduction into the upper Columbia River. We also provided information outside the ranking process by:

  1. Identifying predator-prey interactions and competition for food and space among species,
  2. Developing a decision support framework for donor selection, and
  3. Providing decision support for reintroduction strategies.

Long-term trends in midwestern milkweed abundances and their relevance to monarch butterfly declines

Released September 11, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, BioScience (67) 343-356

David N. Zaya, Ian Pearse, Gregory Spyreas

Declines in monarch butterfly populations have prompted investigation into the sensitivity of their milkweed host plants to land-use change. Documented declines in milkweed abundance in croplands have spurred efforts to promote milkweeds in other habitats. Nevertheless, our current understanding of milkweed populations is poor. We used a long-term plant survey from Illinois to evaluate whether trends in milkweed abundance have caused monarch decline and to highlight the habitat-management practices that promote milkweeds. Milkweed abundance in natural areas has not declined precipitously, although when croplands are considered, changes in agricultural weed management have led to a 68% loss of milkweed available for monarchs across the region. Midsuccessional plant communities with few invasive species provide optimal milkweed habitat. The augmentation of natural areas and the management of existing grasslands, such as less frequent mowing and woody- and exotic-species control, may replace some of the milkweed that has been lost from croplands.

qfasar: quantitative fatty acid signature analysis with R

Released September 11, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Methods in Ecology and Evolution (8) 1158-1162

Jeffrey Bromaghin

  1. Knowledge of predator diets provides essential insights into their ecology, yet diet estimation is challenging and remains an active area of research.
  2. Quantitative fatty acid signature analysis (QFASA) is a popular method of estimating diet composition that continues to be investigated and extended. However, software to implement QFASA has only recently become publicly available.
  3. I summarize a new R package, qfasar, for diet estimation using QFASA methods. The package also provides functionality to evaluate and potentially improve the performance of a library of prey signature data, compute goodness-of-fit diagnostics, and support simulation-based research. Several procedures in the package have not previously been published.
  4. qfasar makes traditional and recently published QFASA diet estimation methods accessible to ecologists for the first time. Use of the package is illustrated with signature data from Chukchi Sea polar bears and potential prey species.

Studies of wolf x coyote hybridization via artificial insemination

Released September 11, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, PLoS ONE (12) 1-12

L. David Mech, Cheryl S. Asa, Margaret Callahan, Bruce W. Christensen, Fran Smith, Julie K. Young

Following the production of western gray wolf (Canis lupus) x western coyote (Canis latrans) hybrids via artificial insemination (AI), the present article documents that the hybrids survived in captivity for at least 4 years and successfully bred with each other. It further reports that backcrossing one of the hybrids to a male gray wolf by AI also resulted in the birth of live pups that have survived for at least 10 months. All male hybrids (F1 and F2) produced sperm by about 10 months of age, and sperm quality of the F1 males fell within the fertile range for domestic dogs, but sperm motility and morphology, in particular, were low in F2 males at 10 months but improved in samples taken at 22 months of age. These studies are relevant to a long-standing controversy about the identity of the red wolf (Canis rufus), the existence of a proposed new species (Canis lycaon) of gray wolf, and to the role of hybridization in mammalian evolution.

Bathymetric survey of the Cayuga Inlet flood-control channel and selected tributaries in Ithaca, New York, 2016

Released September 08, 2017 17:30 EST

2017, Open-File Report 2017-1109

John F. Wernly, Elizabeth A. Nystrom, William F. Coon

From July 14 to July 20, 2016, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the City of Ithaca, New York, and the New York State Department of State, surveyed the bathymetry of the Cayuga Inlet flood-control channel and the mouths of selected tributaries to Cayuga Inlet and Cayuga Lake in Ithaca, N.Y. The flood-control channel, built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1965 and 1970, was designed to convey flood flows from the Cayuga Inlet watershed through the City of Ithaca and minimize possible flood damages. Since that time, the channel has infrequently been maintained by dredging, and sediment accumulation and resultant shoaling have greatly decreased the conveyance of the channel and its navigational capability.

U.S. Geological Survey personnel collected bathymetric data by using an acoustic Doppler current profiler. The survey produced a dense dataset of water depths that were converted to bottom elevations. These elevations were then used to generate a geographic information system bathymetric surface. The bathymetric data and resultant bathymetric surface show the current condition of the channel and provide the information that governmental agencies charged with maintaining the Cayuga Inlet for flood-control and navigational purposes need to make informed decisions regarding future maintenance measures.

Three-dimensional hydrogeologic framework model of the Rio Grande transboundary region of New Mexico and Texas, USA, and northern Chihuahua, Mexico

Released September 08, 2017 15:00 EST

2017, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5060

Donald S. Sweetkind

As part of a U.S. Geological Survey study in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation, a digital three-dimensional hydrogeologic framework model was constructed for the Rio Grande transboundary region of New Mexico and Texas, USA, and northern Chihuahua, Mexico. This model was constructed to define the aquifer system geometry and subsurface lithologic characteristics and distribution for use in a regional numerical hydrologic model. The model includes five hydrostratigraphic units: river channel alluvium, three informal subdivisions of Santa Fe Group basin fill, and an undivided pre-Santa Fe Group bedrock unit. Model input data were compiled from published cross sections, well data, structure contour maps, selected geophysical data, and contiguous compilations of surficial geology and structural features in the study area. These data were used to construct faulted surfaces that represent the upper and lower subsurface hydrostratigraphic unit boundaries. The digital three-dimensional hydrogeologic framework model is constructed through combining faults, the elevation of the tops of each hydrostratigraphic unit, and boundary lines depicting the subsurface extent of each hydrostratigraphic unit. The framework also compiles a digital representation of the distribution of sedimentary facies within each hydrostratigraphic unit. The digital three-dimensional hydrogeologic model reproduces with reasonable accuracy the previously published subsurface hydrogeologic conceptualization of the aquifer system and represents the large-scale geometry of the subsurface aquifers. The model is at a scale and resolution appropriate for use as the foundation for a numerical hydrologic model of the study area.

U.S. Geological Survey sage-grouse and sagebrush ecosystem research annual report for 2017

Released September 08, 2017 12:30 EST

2017, Circular 1436

Steven E. Hanser, editor(s)

The sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) ecosystem extends across a large portion of the Western United States, and the greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) is one of the iconic species of this ecosystem. Greater sage-grouse populations occur in 11 States and are dependent on relatively large expanses of sagebrush-dominated habitat. Sage-grouse populations have been experiencing long-term declines owing to multiple stressors, including interactions among fire, exotic plant invasions, and human land uses, which have resulted in significant loss, fragmentation, and degradation of landscapes once dominated by sagebrush. In addition to the sage-grouse, over 350 species of plants and animals are dependent on the sagebrush ecosystem.

Increasing knowledge about how these species and the sagebrush ecosystem respond to these stressors and to management actions can inform and improve strategies to maintain existing areas of intact sagebrush and restore degraded landscapes. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has a broad research program focused on providing the science needed to inform these strate-gies and to help land and resource managers at the Federal, State, Tribal, and local levels as they work towards sustainable sage-grouse populations and restored landscapes for the broad range of uses critical to stakeholders in the Western United States.

USGS science has provided a foundation for major land and resource management decisions including those that precluded the need to list the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act. The USGS is continuing to build on that foundation to inform science-based decisions to help support local economies and the continued conservation, management, and restoration of the sagebrush ecosystem.

This report contains descriptions of USGS sage-grouse and sagebrush ecosystem research projects that are ongoing or were active during 2017 and is organized into five thematic areas: Fire, Invasive Species, Restoration, Sagebrush and Sage-Grouse, and Climate and Weather.

U.S. Geological Survey—Energy and wildlife research annual report for 2017

Released September 08, 2017 01:00 EST

2017, Circular 1435

Mona Khalil, editor(s)


Terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems provide valuable services to humans and are a source of clean water, energy, raw materials, and productive soils. The Nation’s food supply is more secure because of wildlife. For example, native pollinators enhance agricultural crops, and insect-eating bats provide pest control services worth billions of dollars to farmers annually. Fish and wildlife are also vital to a vibrant outdoor recreation and tourism industry. Recreational activities, such as hunting, shooting, boating, and angling, generated \$1.1 billion in excise taxes paid to State wildlife agencies in 2017. National parks, wildlife refuges, and monuments accounted for $35 billion in economic output and 318,000 jobs nationwide in 2016. Additional economic benefits are generated from the use and enjoyment of wildlife in State-owned lands and waters.

Although the United States is rich in natural resources, human activity continues to place new pressures on fish and wildlife and the habitats they rely on. The United States became the world’s top producer of petroleum and natural gas products in 2012, surpassing Russia’s natural gas production levels in 2009 and Saudi Arabia’s petroleum production in 2013. The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that the demand for liquid fuel, natural gas, and renewable energy will show strong growth in the next 20 years. Wind energy has demonstrated consistent growth since 2007 with now more than 53,000 wind turbines contributing to power grids in 41 States, Guam, and Puerto Rico. Solar energy has seen rapid growth since 2013 and made up nearly one-third of the total electricity generation additions in 2016. Yet as our Nation works to advance energy security and sustain wildlife, some conflicts have surfaced. Impacts of an expanding energy infrastructure include fragmentation and loss of habitat as well as mortality of birds, bats, fish, and other animals from interactions with energy generation facilities. Because energy development can often occur in wildlife habitats, ecological science can help guide project siting and operational decisions to areas that present the lowest risk to wildlife and energy developers.

To address these challenges and make the most of new opportunities, the U.S. Geological Survey is producing innovative science to develop workable solutions that can help sustain wildlife and the habitat they rely upon, while allowing informed development.

Evaluation of the U.S. Geological Survey Landsat burned area essential climate variable across the conterminous U.S. using commercial high-resolution imagery

Released September 08, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Remote Sensing (9) 1-24

Melanie Vanderhoof, Nicole M. Brunner, Yen-Ju G. Beal, Todd J. Hawbaker

The U.S. Geological Survey has produced the Landsat Burned Area Essential Climate Variable (BAECV) product for the conterminous United States (CONUS), which provides wall-to-wall annual maps of burned area at 30 m resolution (1984–2015). Validation is a critical component in the generation of such remotely sensed products. Previous efforts to validate the BAECV relied on a reference dataset derived from Landsat, which was effective in evaluating the product across its timespan but did not allow for consideration of inaccuracies imposed by the Landsat sensor itself. In this effort, the BAECV was validated using 286 high-resolution images, collected from GeoEye-1, QuickBird-2, Worldview-2 and RapidEye satellites. A disproportionate sampling strategy was utilized to ensure enough burned area pixels were collected. Errors of omission and commission for burned area averaged 22 ± 4% and 48 ± 3%, respectively, across CONUS. Errors were lowest across the western U.S. The elevated error of commission relative to omission was largely driven by patterns in the Great Plains which saw low errors of omission (13 ± 13%) but high errors of commission (70 ± 5%) and potentially a region-growing function included in the BAECV algorithm. While the BAECV reliably detected agricultural fires in the Great Plains, it frequently mapped tilled areas or areas with low vegetation as burned. Landscape metrics were calculated for individual fire events to assess the influence of image resolution (2 m, 30 m and 500 m) on mapping fire heterogeneity. As the spatial detail of imagery increased, fire events were mapped in a patchier manner with greater patch and edge densities, and shape complexity, which can influence estimates of total greenhouse gas emissions and rates of vegetation recovery. The increasing number of satellites collecting high-resolution imagery and rapid improvements in the frequency with which imagery is being collected means greater opportunities to utilize these sources of imagery for Landsat product validation. 

Validation of the USGS Landsat Burned Area Essential Climate Variable (BAECV) across the conterminous United States

Released September 08, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Remote Sensing of Environment (198) 393-406

Melanie Vanderhoof, Nicole Fairaux, Yen-Ju G. Beal, Todd J. Hawbaker

The Landsat Burned Area Essential Climate Variable (BAECV), developed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), capitalizes on the long temporal availability of Landsat imagery to identify burned areas across the conterminous United States (CONUS) (1984–2015). Adequate validation of such products is critical for their proper usage and interpretation. Validation of coarse-resolution products often relies on independent data derived from moderate-resolution sensors (e.g., Landsat). Validation of Landsat products, in turn, is challenging because there is no corresponding source of high-resolution, multispectral imagery that has been systematically collected in space and time over the entire temporal extent of the Landsat archive. Because of this, comparison between high-resolution images and Landsat science products can help increase user's confidence in the Landsat science products, but may not, alone, be adequate. In this paper, we demonstrate an approach to systematically validate the Landsat-derived BAECV product. Burned area extent was mapped for Landsat image pairs using a manually trained semi-automated algorithm that was manually edited across 28 path/rows and five different years (1988, 1993, 1998, 2003, 2008). Three datasets were independently developed by three analysts and the datasets were integrated on a pixel by pixel basis in which at least one to all three analysts were required to agree a pixel was burned. We found that errors within our Landsat reference dataset could be minimized by using the rendition of the dataset in which pixels were mapped as burned if at least two of the three analysts agreed. BAECV errors of omission and commission for the detection of burned pixels averaged 42% and 33%, respectively for CONUS across all five validation years. Errors of omission and commission were lowest across the western CONUS, for example in the shrub and scrublands of the Arid West (31% and 24%, respectively), and highest in the grasslands and agricultural lands of the Great Plains in central CONUS (62% and 57%, respectively). The BAECV product detected most (> 65%) fire events > 10 ha across the western CONUS (Arid and Mountain West ecoregions). Our approach and results demonstrate that a thorough validation of Landsat science products can be completed with independent Landsat-derived reference data, but could be strengthened by the use of complementary sources of high-resolution data.

The role of alluvial aquifer sediments in attenuating a dissolved arsenic plume

Released September 08, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of Contaminant Hydrology (204) 90-101

Brady A. Ziegler, Madeline E. Schreiber, Isabelle M. Cozzarelli

In a crude-oil-contaminated sandy aquifer at the Bemidji site in northern Minnesota, biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons has resulted in release of naturally occurring As to groundwater under Fe-reducing conditions. This study used chemical extractions of aquifer sediments collected in 1993 and 2011–2014 to evaluate the relationship between Fe and As in different redox zones (oxic, methanogenic, Fe-reducing, anoxic-suboxic transition) of the contaminated aquifer over a twenty-year period. Results show that 1) the aquifer has the capacity to naturally attenuate the plume of dissolved As, primarily through sorption; 2) Fe and As are linearly correlated in sediment across all redox zones, and a regression analysis between Fe and As reasonably predicted As concentrations in sediment from 1993 using only Fe concentrations; 3) an As-rich “iron curtain,” associated with the anoxic-suboxic transition zone, migrated 30 m downgradient between 1993 and 2013 as a result of the hydrocarbon plume evolution; and 4) silt lenses in the aquifer preferentially sequester dissolved As, though As is remobilized into groundwater from sediment after reducing conditions are established. Using results of this study coupled with historical data, we develop a conceptual model which summarizes the natural attenuation of As and Fe over time and space that can be applied to other sites that experience As mobilization due to an influx of bioavailable organic matter.

Management implications of broadband sound in modulating wild silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) behavior

Released September 08, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Management of Biological Invasions (8) 371-376

Brooke J. Vetter, Robin D. Calfee, Allen F. Mensinger

Invasive silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) dominate large regions of the Mississippi River drainage, outcompete native species, and are notorious for their prolific and unusual jumping behavior. High densities of juvenile and adult (~25 kg) carp are known to jump up to 3 m above the water surface in response to moving watercraft. Broadband sound recorded from an outboard motor (100 hp at 32 km/hr) can modulate their behavior in captivity; however, the response of wild silver carp to broadband sound has yet to be determined. In this experiment, broadband sound (0.06–10 kHz) elicited jumping behavior from silver carp in the Spoon River near Havana, IL independent of boat movement, indicating acoustic stimulus alone is sufficient to induce jumping. Furthermore, the number of jumping fish decreased with subsequent sound exposures. Understanding silver carp jumping is not only important from a behavioral standpoint, it is also critical to determine effective techniques for controlling this harmful species, such as herding fish into a net for removal.

Pathogenic lineage of Perkinsea associated with mass mortality of frogs across the United States

Released September 08, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Scientific Reports (7) 1-10

Marcos Isidoro Ayza, Jeffrey M. Lorch, Daniel Grear, Megan Winzeler, Daniel L. Calhoun, William J. Barichivich

Emerging infectious diseases such as chytridiomycosis and ranavirus infections are important contributors to the worldwide decline of amphibian populations. We reviewed data on 247 anuran mortality events in 43 States of the United States from 1999–2015. Our findings suggest that a severe infectious disease of tadpoles caused by a protist belonging to the phylum Perkinsea might represent the third most common infectious disease of anurans after ranavirus infections and chytridiomycosis. Severe Perkinsea infections (SPI) were systemic and led to multiorganic failure and death. The SPI mortality events affected numerous anuran species and occurred over a broad geographic area, from boreal to subtropical habitats. Livers from all PCR-tested SPI-tadpoles (n = 19) were positive for the Novel Alveolate Group 01 (NAG01) of Perkinsea, while only 2.5% histologically normal tadpole livers tested positive (2/81), suggesting that subclinical infections are uncommon. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that SPI is associated with a phylogenetically distinct clade of NAG01 Perkinsea. These data suggest that this virulent Perkinsea clade is an important pathogen of frogs in the United States. Given its association with mortality events and tendency to be overlooked, the potential role of this emerging pathogen in amphibian declines on a broad geographic scale warrants further investigation.

Plateaus and sinuous ridges as the fingerprints of lava flow inflation in the Eastern Tharsis Plains of Mars

Released September 07, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research (342) 29-46

Jacob E. Bleacher, Tim Orr, Andrew P. de Wet, James R. Zimbelman, Christopher W. Hamilton, W. Brent Garry, Larry S. Crumpler, David A. Williams

The Tharsis Montes rift aprons are composed of outpourings of lava from chaotic terrains to the northeast and southwest flank of each volcano. Sinuous and branching channel networks that are present on the rift aprons suggest the possibility of fluvial processes in their development, or erosion by rapidly emplaced lavas, but the style of lava flow emplacement throughout rift apron development is not clearly understood. To better characterize the style of lava emplacement and role of fluvial processes in rift apron development, we conducted morphological mapping of the Pavonis Mons southwest rift apron and the eastern Tharsis plains using images from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC), Context Camera (CTX), Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), and High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) along with the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) Precision Experiment Data Records (PEDRs) and gridded data. Our approach was to: (1) search for depositional fans at the slope break between the rift apron and adjacent low slope plains; (2) determine if there is evidence that previously formed deposits might have been buried by plains units; (3) characterize the Tharsis plains morphologies east of Pavonis Mons; and (4) assess their relationship to the rift apron units. We have not identified topographically significant depositional fans, nor did we observe evidence to suggest that plains units have buried older rift apron units. Flow features associated with the rift apron are observed to continue across the slope break onto the plains. In this area, the plains are composed of a variety of small fissures and low shield vents around which broad channel-fed and tube-fed flows have been identified. We also find broad, flat-topped plateaus and sinuous ridges mixed among the channels, tubes and vents. Flat-topped plateaus and sinuous ridges are morphologies that are analogous to those observed on the coastal plain of Hawai‘i, where lava flows have advanced from the volcano's several degree flank onto the nearly zero degree coastal plain. When local volumetric flow rates are low, flow fronts tend to spread laterally and often thicken via endogenous growth, or inflation, of the sheet-like flow units. If flow advance is restricted by existing topography into narrow pathways, inflation can be focused into sinuous, elongate ridges. The presence of plateaus and ridges—emplaced from the rift zones, across the plains to the east of Pavonis Mons—and a lack of fan-like features, or evidence for their burial, are consistent with rift apron lavas crossing a slope break with low local volumetric flow rates that led to inflation of sheet-like and tube-fed lava flows.

Mammalian mesocarnivore visitation at tortoise burrows in a wind farm

Released September 07, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of Wildlife Management (81) 1117-1124

Mickey Agha, Amanda L. Smith, Jeffrey E. Lovich, David F. Delaney, Joshua R. Ennen, Jessica R. Briggs, Leo J. Fleckenstein, Laura A. Tennant, Shellie R. Puffer, Andrew D. Walde, Terry Arundel, Steven J. Price, Brian D. Todd

There is little information on predator–prey interactions in wind energy landscapes in North America, especially among terrestrial vertebrates. Here, we evaluated how proximity to roads and wind turbines affect mesocarnivore visitation with desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) and their burrows in a wind energy landscape. In 2013, we placed motion-sensor cameras facing the entrances of 46 active desert tortoise burrows in a 5.2-km2 wind energy facility near Palm Springs, California, USA. Cameras recorded images of 35 species of reptiles, mammals, and birds. Counts for 4 species of mesocarnivores at desert tortoise burrows increased closer to dirt roads, and decreased closer to wind turbines. Our results suggest that anthropogenic infrastructure associated with wind energy facilities could influence the general behavior of mammalian predators and their prey. Further investigation of proximate mechanisms that underlie road and wind turbine effects (i.e., ground vibrations, sound emission, and traffic volume) and on wind energy facility spatial designs (i.e., road and wind turbine configuration) could prove useful for better understanding wildlife responses to wind energy development. © 2017 The Wildlife Society.

Importance of measuring discharge and sediment transport in lesser tributaries when closing sediment budgets

Released September 07, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Geomorphology (296) 59-73

Ronald Griffiths, David Topping

Sediment budgets are an important tool for understanding how riverine ecosystems respond to perturbations. Changes in the quantity and grain size distribution of sediment within river systems affect the channel morphology and related habitat resources. It is therefore important for resource managers to know if a river reach is in a state of sediment accumulation, deficit or stasis. Many sediment-budget studies have estimated the sediment loads of ungaged tributaries using regional sediment-yield equations or other similar techniques. While these approaches may be valid in regions where rainfall and geology are uniform over large areas, use of sediment-yield equations may lead to poor estimations of loads in regions where rainfall events, contributing geology, and vegetation have large spatial and/or temporal variability.

Previous estimates of the combined mean-annual sediment load of all ungaged tributaries to the Colorado River downstream from Glen Canyon Dam vary by over a factor of three; this range in estimated sediment loads has resulted in different researchers reaching opposite conclusions on the sign (accumulation or deficit) of the sediment budget for particular reaches of the Colorado River. To better evaluate the supply of fine sediment (sand, silt, and clay) from these tributaries to the Colorado River, eight gages were established on previously ungaged tributaries in Glen, Marble, and Grand canyons. Results from this sediment-monitoring network show that previous estimates of the annual sediment loads of these tributaries were too high and that the sediment budget for the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam is more negative than previously calculated by most researchers. As a result of locally intense rainfall events with footprints smaller than the receiving basin, floods from a single tributary in semi-arid regions can have large (≥ 10 ×) differences in sediment concentrations between equal magnitude flows. Because sediment loads do not necessarily correlate with drainage size, and may vary by two orders of magnitude on an annual basis, using techniques such as sediment-yield equations to estimate the sediment loads of ungaged tributaries may lead to large errors in sediment budgets.

2014 volcanic activity in Alaska: Summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory

Released September 07, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5077

Cheryl E. Cameron, James P. Dixon, Christina A. Neal, Christopher F. Waythomas, Janet R. Schaefer, Robert G. McGimsey

The Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) responded to eruptions, possible eruptions, volcanic unrest or suspected unrest, and seismic events at 18 volcanic centers in Alaska during 2014. The most notable volcanic activity consisted of intermittent ash eruptions from long-active Cleveland and Shishaldin Volcanoes in the Aleutian Islands, and two eruptive episodes at Pavlof Volcano on the Alaska Peninsula. Semisopochnoi and Akutan volcanoes had seismic swarms, both likely the result of magmatic intrusion. The AVO also installed seismometers and infrasound instruments at Mount Cleveland during 2014.

Characterization of sediment transport upstream and downstream grom Lake Emory on the Little Tennessee River near Franklin, North Carolina, 2014–15

Released September 06, 2017 09:30 EST

2017, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5081

Brad A. Huffman, William F. Hazell, Carolyn J. Oblinger

Federal, State, and local agencies and organizations have expressed concerns regarding the detrimental effects of excessive sediment transport on aquatic resources and endangered species populations in the upper Little Tennessee River and some of its tributaries. In addition, the storage volume of Lake Emory, which is necessary for flood control and power generation, has been depleted by sediment deposition. To help address these concerns, a 2-year study was conducted in the upper Little Tennessee River Basin to characterize the ambient suspended-sediment concentrations and suspended-sediment loads upstream and downstream from Lake Emory in Franklin, North Carolina. The study was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with Duke Energy. Suspended-sediment samples were collected periodically, and time series of stage and turbidity data were measured from December 2013 to January 2016 upstream and downstream from Lake Emory. The stage data were used to compute time-series streamflow. Suspended-sediment samples, along with time-series streamflow and turbidity data, were used to develop regression models that were used to estimate time-series suspended-sediment concentrations for the 2014 and 2015 calendar years. These concentrations, along with streamflow data, were used to compute suspended-sediment loads. Selected suspended-sediment samples were collected for analysis of particle-size distribution, with emphasis on high-flow events. Bed-load samples were also collected upstream from Lake Emory.

The estimated annual suspended-sediment loads (yields) for the upstream site for the 2014 and 2015 calendar years were 27,000 short tons (92 short tons per square mile) and 63,300 short tons (215 short tons per square mile), respectively. The annual suspended-sediment loads (yields) for the downstream site for 2014 and 2015 were 24,200 short tons (75 short tons per square mile) and 94,300 short tons (292 short tons per square mile), respectively. Overall, the suspended-sediment load at the downstream site was about 28,300 short tons greater than the upstream site over the study period.

As expected, high-flow events (the top 5 percent of daily mean flows) accounted for the majority of the sediment load; 80 percent at the upstream site and 90 percent at the downstream site. A similar relation between turbidity (the top 5 percent of daily mean turbidity) and high loads was also noted. In general, when instantaneous streamflows at the upstream site exceeded 5,000 cubic feet per second, increased daily loads were computed at the downstream site. During low to moderate flows, estimated suspended-sediment loads were lower at the downstream site when compared to the upstream site, which suggests that sediment deposition may be occurring in the intervening reach during those conditions. During the high-flow events, the estimated suspended-sediment loads were higher at the downstream site; however, it is impossible to say with certainty whether the increase in loading was due to scouring of lake sediment, contributions from the additional source area, model error, or a combination of one or more of these factors. The computed loads for a one-week period (December 24–31, 2015), during which the two largest high-flow events of the study period occurred, were approximately 52 percent of the 2015 annual sediment load (36 percent of 2-year load) at the upstream site and approximately 72 percent of the 2015 annual sediment load (57 percent of 2-year load) at the downstream site. Six bedload samples were collected during three events; two high-flow events and one base-flow event. The contribution of bedload to the total sediment load was determined to be insignificant for sampled flows. In general, streamflows for long-term streamgages in the study area were below normal for the majority of the study period; however, flows during the last 3 months of the study period were above normal, including the extreme events during the last week of the study period.

Fine-scale habitat preference of green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris) within three spawning locations in the Sacramento River, California

Released September 06, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences

Megan T. Wyman, Michael J. Thomas, Richard R. McDonald, Alexander R. Hearn, Ryan D. Battleson, Eric D. Chapman, Paul J. Kinzel, J. Tobey Minear, Ethan A. Mora, Jonathan M. Nelson, Matthew D. Pagel, A. Peter Klimley

Vast sections of the Sacramento River have been listed as critical habitat by the National Marine Fisheries Service for green sturgeon spawning (Acipenser medirostris), yet spawning is known to occur at only a few specific locations. This study reveals the range of physical habitat variables selected by adult green sturgeon during their spawning period. We integrated fine-scale fish positions, physical habitat characteristics, discharge, bathymetry, and simulated velocity and depth using a 2-dimensional hydraulic model (FaSTMECH). The objective was to create habitat suitability curves for depth, velocity, and substrate type within three known spawning locations over two years. An overall cumulative habitat suitability score was calculated that averaged the depth, velocity, and substrate scores over all fish, sites, and years. A weighted usable area (WUA) index was calculated throughout the sampling periods for each of the three sites. Cumulative results indicate that the microhabitat characteristics most preferred by green sturgeon in these three spawning locations were velocities between 1.0-1.1 m/s, depths of 8-9 m, and gravel and sand substrate. This study provides guidance for those who may in the future want to increase spawning habitat for green sturgeon within the Sacramento River.

Climate, wildfire, and erosion ensemble foretells more sediment in western USA watersheds

Released September 06, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Geophysical Research Letters

Joel B. Sankey, Jason R. Kreitler, Todd Hawbaker, Jason L. McVay, Mary Ellen Miller, Erich R. Mueller, Nicole M. Vaillant, Scott E. Lowe, Temuulen T. Sankey

The area burned annually by wildfires is expected to increase worldwide due to climate change. Burned areas increase soil erosion rates within watersheds, which can increase sedimentation in downstream rivers and reservoirs. However, which watersheds will be impacted by future wildfires is largely unknown. Using an ensemble of climate, fire, and erosion models, we show that post-fire sedimentation is projected to increase for nearly nine-tenths of watersheds by > 10% and for more than one-third of watersheds by > 100% by the 2041 to 2050 decade in the western USA. The projected increases are statistically significant for more than eight-tenths of the watersheds. In the western USA, many human communities rely on water from rivers and reservoirs that originates in watersheds where sedimentation is projected to increase. Increased sedimentation could negatively impact water supply and quality for some communities, in addition to affecting stream channel stability and aquatic ecosystems.

Effects of backpacker use, pack stock trail use, and pack stock grazing on water-quality indicators, including nutrients, E. coli, hormones, and pharmaceuticals, in Yosemite National Park, USA

Released September 06, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Environmental Management (60) 526-543

Harrison Forrester, David W. Clow, James W. Roche, Alan C. Heyvaert, William A. Battaglin

We investigated how visitor-use affects water quality in wilderness in Yosemite National Park. During the summers of 2012–2014, we collected and analyzed surface-water samples for water-quality indicators, including fecal indicator bacteria Escherichia coli, nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, carbon), suspended sediment concentration, pharmaceuticals, and hormones. Samples were collected upstream and downstream from different types of visitor use at weekly to biweekly intervals and during summer storms. We conducted a park-wide synoptic sampling campaign during summer 2014, and sampled upstream and downstream from meadows to evaluate the mitigating effect of meadows on water quality. At pack stock stream crossings, Escherichia coli concentrations were greater downstream from crossings than upstream (median downstream increase in Escherichia coli of three colony forming units 100 mL−1), with the greatest increases occurring during storms (median downstream increase in Escherichia coli of 32 CFU 100 mL−1). At backpacker use sites, hormones, and pharmaceuticals (e.g., insect repellent) were detected at downstream sites, and Escherichia coli concentrations were greater at downstream sites (median downstream increase in Escherichia coli of 1 CFU 100 mL−1). Differences in water quality downstream vs. upstream from meadows grazed by pack stock were not detectable for most water-quality indicators, however, Escherichia coli concentrations decreased downstream, suggesting entrapment and die-off of fecal indicator bacteria in meadows. Our results indicate that under current-use levels pack stock trail use and backpacker use are associated with detectable, but relatively minor, effects on water quality, which are most pronounced during storms.

From coseismic offsets to fault-block mountains

Released September 06, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (114) 9820-9825

George A. Thompson, Thomas E. Parsons

In the Basin and Range extensional province of the western United States, coseismic offsets, under the influence of gravity, display predominantly subsidence of the basin side (fault hanging wall), with comparatively little or no uplift of the mountainside (fault footwall). A few decades later, geodetic measurements [GPS and interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR)] show broad (∼100 km) aseismic uplift symmetrically spanning the fault zone. Finally, after millions of years and hundreds of fault offsets, the mountain blocks display large uplift and tilting over a breadth of only about 10 km. These sparse but robust observations pose a problem in that the coesismic uplifts of the footwall are small and inadequate to raise the mountain blocks. To address this paradox we develop finite-element models subjected to extensional and gravitational forces to study time-varying deformation associated with normal faulting. Stretching the model under gravity demonstrates that asymmetric slip via collapse of the hanging wall is a natural consequence of coseismic deformation. Focused flow in the upper mantle imposed by deformation of the lower crust localizes uplift, which is predicted to take place within one to two decades after each large earthquake. Thus, the best-preserved topographic signature of earthquakes is expected to occur early in the postseismic period.

Current-use flame retardants in the water of Lake Michigan tributaries

Released September 06, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Environmental Science & Technology (51) 9960-9969

Jiehong Guo, Kevin Romanak, Stephen M. Westenbroek, Ronald A. Hites, Marta Venier

In this study, we measured the concentrations of 65 flame retardants in water samples from five Lake Michigan tributaries. These flame retardants included organophosphate esters (OPEs), brominated flame retardants (BFRs), and Dechlorane-related compounds. A total of 59 samples, including both the particulate and the dissolved phases, were collected from the Grand, Kalamazoo, Saint Joseph, and Lower Fox rivers and from the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal (IHSC) in 2015. OPEs were the most abundant among the targeted compounds with geometric mean concentrations ranging from 20 to 54 ng/L; OPE concentrations were comparable among the five tributaries. BFR concentrations were about 1 ng/L, and the most-abundant compounds were bis(2-ethylhexyl) tetrabromophthalate, 2-ethylhexyl 2,3,4,5-tetrabromobenzoate, and decabromodiphenyl ether. The highest BFR concentrations were measured in either the IHSC or the Saint Joseph River. The dechlorane-related compounds were detected at low concentrations (<1 pg/L). The fraction of target compounds in the particulate phase relative to the dissolved phase varied by chemical and tended to increase with their octanol–water partition coefficient. The chemical loading from all the five tributaries into Lake Michigan were <10 kg/year for the BFRs and about 500 kg/year for the OPEs.

Long-term trends in restoration and associated land treatments in the southwestern United States

Released September 06, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Restoration Ecology

Stella M. Copeland, Seth M. Munson, David S. Pilliod, Justin L. Welty, John B. Bradford, Bradley J. Butterfield

Restoration treatments, such as revegetation with seeding or invasive species removal, have been applied on U.S. public lands for decades. Temporal trends in these management actions have not been extensively summarized previously, particularly in the southwestern United States where invasive plant species, drought, and fire have altered dryland ecosystems. We assessed long-term (1940–2010) trends in restoration using approximately 4,000 vegetation treatments conducted on Bureau of Land Management lands across the southwestern United States. We found that since 1940, the proportions of seeding and vegetation/soil manipulation (e.g. vegetation removal or plowing) treatments have declined, while the proportions of prescribed burn and invasive species treatments have increased. Treatments in pinyon-juniper and big sagebrush communities declined in comparison to treatments in desert scrub, creosote bush, and riparian woodland communities. Restoration-focused treatment objectives increased relative to resource extraction objectives. Species richness and proportion of native species used in seeding treatments also increased. Inflation-adjusted costs per area rose 750% for vegetation/soil manipulation, 600% for seeding, and 400% for prescribed burn treatments in the decades from 1981 to 2010. Seeding treatments were implemented in warmer and drier years when compared to the climate conditions of the entire study period and warmer and wetter years relative to several years before and after the treatment. These results suggest that treatments over a 70-year period on public lands in the southwestern United States are shifting toward restoration practices that are increasingly large, expensive, and related to fire and invasive species control.

Development of a robust analytical framework for assessing landbird trends, dynamics and relationships with environmental covariates in the North Coast and Cascades Network

Released September 06, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Report

Chris Ray, Kurt J. Jenkins, Mark Huff, Patricia J. Happe, Jason I. Ransom

During 2015-2016, we completed development of a new analytical framework for landbird population monitoring data from the National Park Service (NPS) North Coast and Cascades Inventory and Monitoring Network (NCCN). This new tool for analysis combines several recent advances in modeling population status and trends using point-count data and is designed to supersede the approach previously slated for analysis of trends in the NCCN and other networks, including the Sierra Nevada Network (SIEN). Advances supported by the new model-based approach include 1) the use of combined data on distance and time of detection to estimate detection probability without assuming perfect detection at zero distance, 2) seamless accommodation of variation in sampling effort and missing data, and 3) straightforward estimation of the effects of downscaled climate and other local habitat characteristics on spatial and temporal trends in landbird populations. No changes in the current field protocol are necessary to facilitate the new analyses. We applied several versions of the new model to data from each of 39 species recorded in the three mountain parks of the NCCN, estimating trends and climate relationships for each species during 2005-2014. Our methods and results are also reported in a manuscript in revision for the journal Ecosphere (hereafter, Ray et al.). Here, we summarize the methods and results outlined in depth by Ray et al., discuss benefits of the new analytical framework, and provide recommendations for its application to synthetic analyses of long-term data from the NCCN and SIEN. All code necessary for implementing the new analyses is provided within the Appendices to this report, in the form of fully annotated scripts written in the open-access programming languages R and JAGS.

A field study of selected U.S. Geological Survey analytical methods for measuring pesticides in filtered stream water, June - September 2012

Released September 06, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5049

Jeffrey D. Martin, Julia E. Norman, Mark W. Sandstrom, Claire E. Rose

U.S. Geological Survey monitoring programs extensively used two analytical methods, gas chromatography/mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry, to measure pesticides in filtered water samples during 1992–2012. In October 2012, the monitoring programs began using direct aqueous-injection liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry as a new analytical method for pesticides. The change in analytical methods, however, has the potential to inadvertently introduce bias in analysis of datasets that span the change.

A field study was designed to document performance of the new method in a variety of stream-water matrices and to quantify any potential changes in measurement bias or variability that could be attributed to changes in analytical methods. The goals of the field study were to (1) summarize performance (bias and variability of pesticide recovery) of the new method in a variety of stream-water matrices; (2) compare performance of the new method in laboratory blank water (laboratory reagent spikes) to that in a variety of stream-water matrices; (3) compare performance (analytical recovery) of the new method to that of the old methods in a variety of stream-water matrices; (4) compare pesticide detections and concentrations measured by the new method to those of the old methods in a variety of stream-water matrices; (5) compare contamination measured by field blank water samples in old and new methods; (6) summarize the variability of pesticide detections and concentrations measured by the new method in field duplicate water samples; and (7) identify matrix characteristics of environmental water samples that adversely influence the performance of the new method. Stream-water samples and a variety of field quality-control samples were collected at 48 sites in the U.S. Geological Survey monitoring networks during June–September 2012. Stream sites were located across the United States and included sites in agricultural and urban land-use settings, as well as sites on major rivers.

The results of the field study identified several challenges for the analysis and interpretation of data analyzed by both old and new methods, particularly when data span the change in methods and are combined for analysis of temporal trends in water quality. The main challenges identified are large (greater than 30 percent), statistically significant differences in analytical recovery, detection capability, and (or) measured concentrations for selected pesticides. These challenges are documented and discussed, but specific guidance or statistical methods to resolve these differences in methods are beyond the scope of the report. The results of the field study indicate that the implications of the change in analytical methods must be assessed individually for each pesticide and method.

Understanding the possible causes of the systematic differences in concentrations between methods that remain after recovery adjustment might be necessary to determine how to account for the differences in data analysis. Because recoveries for each method are independently determined from separate reference standards and spiking solutions, the differences might be due to an error in one of the reference standards or solutions or some other basic aspect of standard procedure in the analytical process. Further investigation of the possible causes is needed, which will lead to specific decisions on how to compensate for these differences in concentrations in data analysis. In the event that further investigations do not provide insight into the causes of systematic differences in concentrations between methods, the authors recommend continuing to collect and analyze paired environmental water samples by both old and new methods. This effort should be targeted to seasons, sites, and expected concentrations to supplement those concentrations already assessed and to compare the ongoing analytical recovery of old and new methods to those observed in the summer and fall of 2012.

The Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover Mastcam instruments: Preflight and in-flight calibration, validation, and data archiving

Released September 05, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Earth and Space Science (4) 396-452

James F. Bell III, A. Godber, S. McNair, M.A. Caplinger, J.N. Maki, M.T. Lemmon, J. Van Beek, M.C. Malin, D. Wellington, K.M. Kinch, M.B. Madsen, C. Hardgrove, M.A. Ravine, E. Jensen, D. Harker, Ryan Anderson, Kenneth E. Herkenhoff, R.V. Morris, E. Cisneros, R.G. Deen

The NASA Curiosity rover Mast Camera (Mastcam) system is a pair of fixed-focal length, multispectral, color CCD imagers mounted ~2 m above the surface on the rover's remote sensing mast, along with associated electronics and an onboard calibration target. The left Mastcam (M-34) has a 34 mm focal length, an instantaneous field of view (IFOV) of 0.22 mrad, and a FOV of 20° × 15° over the full 1648 × 1200 pixel span of its Kodak KAI-2020 CCD. The right Mastcam (M-100) has a 100 mm focal length, an IFOV of 0.074 mrad, and a FOV of 6.8° × 5.1° using the same detector. The cameras are separated by 24.2 cm on the mast, allowing stereo images to be obtained at the resolution of the M-34 camera. Each camera has an eight-position filter wheel, enabling it to take Bayer pattern red, green, and blue (RGB) “true color” images, multispectral images in nine additional bands spanning ~400–1100 nm, and images of the Sun in two colors through neutral density-coated filters. An associated Digital Electronics Assembly provides command and data interfaces to the rover, 8 Gb of image storage per camera, 11 bit to 8 bit companding, JPEG compression, and acquisition of high-definition video. Here we describe the preflight and in-flight calibration of Mastcam images, the ways that they are being archived in the NASA Planetary Data System, and the ways that calibration refinements are being developed as the investigation progresses on Mars. We also provide some examples of data sets and analyses that help to validate the accuracy and precision of the calibration

Climate variability and vadose zone controls on damping of transient recharge

Released September 05, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of Hydrology

Claudia R. Corona, Jason J. Gurdak, Jesse Dickinson, T.P.A. Ferré, Edwin P. Maurer

Increasing demand on groundwater resources motivates understanding of the controls on recharge dynamics so model predictions under current and future climate may improve. Here we address questions about the nonlinear behavior of flux variability in the vadose zone that may explain previously reported teleconnections between global-scale climate variability and fluctuations in groundwater levels. We use hundreds of HYDRUS-1D simulations in a sensitivity analysis approach to evaluate the damping depth of transient recharge over a range of periodic boundary conditions and vadose zone geometries and hydraulic parameters that are representative of aquifer systems of the conterminous United States (U.S). Although the models were parameterized based on U.S. aquifers, findings from this study are applicable elsewhere that have mean recharge rates between 3.65 and 730 mm yr–1. We find that mean infiltration flux, period of time varying infiltration, and hydraulic conductivity are statistically significant predictors of damping depth. The resulting framework explains why some periodic infiltration fluxes associated with climate variability dampen with depth in the vadose zone, resulting in steady-state recharge, while other periodic surface fluxes do not dampen with depth, resulting in transient recharge. We find that transient recharge in response to the climate variability patterns could be detected at the depths of water levels in most U.S. aquifers. Our findings indicate that the damping behavior of transient infiltration fluxes is linear across soil layers for a range of texture combinations. The implications are that relatively simple, homogeneous models of the vadose zone may provide reasonable estimates of the damping depth of climate-varying transient recharge in some complex, layered vadose zone profiles.

East African weathering dynamics controlled by vegetation-climate feedbacks

Released September 05, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Geology (45) 823-826

Sarah J. Ivory, Michael M. McGlue, Geoffrey S. Ellis, Adam Boehlke, Anne-Marie Lézine, Annie Vincens, Andrew S. Cohen

Tropical weathering has important linkages to global biogeochemistry and landscape evolution in the East African rift. We disentangle the influences of climate and terrestrial vegetation on chemical weathering intensity and erosion at Lake Malawi using a long sediment record. Fossil pollen, microcharcoal, particle size, and mineralogy data affirm that the detrital clays accumulating in deep water within the lake are controlled by feedbacks between climate and hinterland forest composition. Particle-size patterns are also best explained by vegetation, through feedbacks with lake levels, wildfires, and erosion. We develop a new source-to-sink framework that links lacustrine sedimentation to hinterland vegetation in tropical rifts. Our analysis suggests that climate-vegetation interactions and their coupling to weathering/erosion could threaten future food security and has implications for accurately predicting petroleum play elements in continental rift basins.

Effects of an extreme flood on trace elements in river water—From urban stream to major river basin

Released September 05, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Environmental Science & Technology (51) 10344-10356

Larry B. Barber, Suzanne Paschke, William A. Battaglin, Chris Douville, Kevin C. Fitzgerald, Steffanie H. Keefe, David A. Roth, Alan M. Vajda

Major floods adversely affect water quality through surface runoff, groundwater discharge, and damage to municipal water infrastructure. Despite their importance, it can be difficult to assess the effects of floods on streamwater chemistry because of challenges collecting samples and the absence of baseline data. This study documents water quality during the September 2013 extreme flood in the South Platte River, Colorado, USA. Weekly time-series water samples were collected from 3 urban source waters (municipal tap water, streamwater, and wastewater treatment facility effluent) under normal-flow and flood conditions. In addition, water samples were collected during the flood at 5 locations along the South Platte River and from 7 tributaries along the Colorado Front Range. Samples were analyzed for 54 major and trace elements. Specific chemical tracers, representing different natural and anthropogenic sources and geochemical behaviors, were used to compare streamwater composition before and during the flood. The results differentiate hydrological processes that affected water quality: (1) in the upper watershed, runoff diluted most dissolved constituents, (2) in the urban corridor and lower watershed, runoff mobilized soluble constituents accumulated on the landscape and contributed to stream loading, and (3) flood-induced groundwater discharge mobilized soluble constituents stored in the vadose zone.

Analyzing land-use change scenarios for trade-offs among culturalecosystem services in the Southern Rocky Mountains

Released September 05, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Ecosystem Services (26) 431-444

Ben C. Sherrouse, Darius J. Semmens, Zachary H. Ancona, Nicole M. Brunner

Significant increases in outdoor recreation participants are projected over the next 50 years for national forests across the United States, with even larger increases possible for forests located in the Southern Rocky Mountains. Forest managers will be challenged to balance increasing demand for outdoor recreation with other ecosystem services. Future management needs could be better anticipated with information describing how and where stakeholders value these forests’ cultural ecosystem services, as well as how management might impact these values. We analyzed land-use change scenarios to quantify changes in aesthetic and recreational ecosystem service values and assessed trade-offs between these values relative to forest stakeholder groups defined by their attitudes regarding motorized recreation. We adapted the GIS tool, Social Values for Ecosystem Services (SolVES), for scenario analysis and applied it to two national forests in the Southern Rocky Mountains to examine impacts of road-network expansion on stakeholder values. Our approach allowed us to quantify changes in the spatial distribution and intensity of aesthetic and recreation values. Trade-off assessments between the two values indicated that areas of conflicting value changes were limited, even when accounting for different user groups. However, this approach could be an important means of conflict resolution for multi-use management.

Survivorship across the annual cycle of a migratory passerine, the willow flycatcher

Released September 05, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of Avian Biology (48) 1126-1131

Eben Paxton, Scott L Durst, Mark K. Sogge, Thomas J. Koronkiewicz, Kristina L. Paxton

Annual survivorship in migratory birds is a product of survival across the different periods of the annual cycle (i.e. breeding, wintering, and migration), and may vary substantially among these periods. Determining which periods have the highest mortality, and thus are potentially limiting a population, is important especially for species of conservation concern. To estimate survival probabilities of the willow flycatcher Empidonax traillii in each of the different periods, we combined demographic data from a 10-year breeding season study with that from a 5-year wintering grounds study. Estimates of annual apparent survival for breeding and wintering periods were nearly identical (65–66%), as were estimates of monthly apparent survival for both breeding and wintering stationary periods (98–99%). Because flycatchers spend at least half the year on the wintering grounds, overall apparent survivorship was lower (88%) on the wintering grounds than on the breeding grounds (97%). The migratory period had the highest mortality rate, accounting for 62% of the estimated annual mortality even though it comprises only one quarter or less of the annual cycle. The migratory period in the willow flycatcher and many other neotropical migrants is poorly understood, and further research is needed to identify sources of mortality during this crucial period.

Viscous relaxation of Ganymede's impact craters: Constraints on heat flux

Released September 05, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Icarus (296) 275-288

Michael Bland, Kelsi N. Singer, William B. McKinnon, Paul M. Schenk

Measurement of crater depths in Ganymede’s dark terrain have revealed substantial numbers of unusually shallow craters indicative of viscous relaxation [see companion paper: Singer, K.N., Schenk, P. M., Bland, M.T., McKinnon, W.B., (2017). Relaxed impact craters on Ganymede: Regional variations and high heat flow. Icarus, submitted]. These viscously relaxed craters provide insight into the thermal history of the dark terrain: the rate of relaxation depends on the size of the crater and the thermal structure of the lithosphere. Here we use finite element simulations of crater relaxation to constrain the heat flux within the dark terrain when relaxation occurred. We show that the degree of viscous relaxation observed cannot be achieved through radiogenic heating alone, even if all of the relaxed craters are ancient and experienced the high radiogenic fluxes present early in the satellite’s history. For craters with diameter ≥ 10 km, heat fluxes of 40–50 mW m-2 can reproduce the observed crater depths, but only if the fluxes are sustained for ∼1 Gyr. These craters can also be explained by shorter-lived “heat pulses” with magnitudes of ∼100 mW m-2 and timescales of 10–100 Myr. At small crater diameters (4 km) the observed shallow depths are difficult to achieve even when heat fluxes as high as 150 mW m-2 are sustained for 1 Gyr. The extreme thermal conditions required to viscously relax small craters may indicate that mechanisms other than viscous relaxation, such as topographic degradation, are also in play at small crater diameters. The timing of the relaxation event(s) is poorly constrained due to the sparsity of adequate topographic information, though it likely occurred in Ganymede’s middle history (neither recently, nor shortly after satellite formation). The consistency between the timing and magnitude of the heat fluxes derived here and those inferred from other tectonic features suggests that a single event caused both Ganymede’s tectonic deformation and its crater relaxation. Future observations should permit more robust determination of the relative timing of the heating event that caused viscous relaxation.

Experimental observations on the decay of environmental DNA from bighead and silver carps

Released September 05, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Management of Biological Invasions (8) 343-359

Richard F. Lance, Katy E. Klymus, Cathy Richter, Xin Guan, Heather L. Farrington, Matthew R. Carr, Nathan Thompson, Duane C. Chapman, Kelly L. Baerwaldt

Interest in the field of environmental DNA (eDNA) is growing rapidly and eDNA surveys are becoming an important consideration for aquatic resource managers dealing with invasive species. However, in order for eDNA monitoring to mature as a research and management tool, there are several critical knowledge gaps that must be filled. One such gap is the fate of eDNA materials in the aquatic environment. Understanding the environmental factors that influence the decay of eDNA and how these factors impact detection probabilities over time and space could have significant implications for eDNA survey design and data interpretation. Here we experimentally explore decay of eDNA associated with bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis) biological waste collected from an aquaculture filtration system and with sperm collected from captive silver carp (H. molitrix), and how decay may be influenced by differing levels of water turbulence, temperature, microbial load, and pH. We found that the decay patterns of eDNA associated with both H. nobilis biological waste and H. molitrix milt significantly fit monophasic exponential decay curves. Secondly, we observed that the highest temperature we tested resulted in a decay half-life as much as 5.5× more rapid than the lowest temperature we tested. When we suppressed microbial loads in eDNA samples, we observed that overall losses of eDNA were reduced by about 2.5×. When we amended eDNA samples with pond water the half-life of eDNA was reduced by about 2.25×, despite relatively little apparent increase in the overall microbial load. This pattern indicated that species constituency of the microbial community, in addition to microbial load, might play a critical role in eDNA degradation. A shift in pH from 6.5 to 8.0 in the samples resulted in a 1.6× reduction in eDNA halflife. Water turbulence in our study had no apparent effect on eDNA decay. When we combined different temperature, pH, and microbial load treatments to create a rapid decay condition and a slow decay condition, and tracked eDNA decay over 91 days, we observed a 5.0× greater loss of eDNA by Day 5 under rapid decay conditions than under slow decay conditions. At the end of the trials, the differences in eDNA loss between the rapid decay and baseline and slow decay conditions were 0.1× and 3.3×, respectively. Our results strongly demonstrate the potential for environmental factors to influence eDNA fate and, thus, the interpretation of eDNA survey results.

Simulation and assessment of groundwater flow and groundwater and surface-water exchanges in lakes of the northeast Twin Cities Metropolitan Area, Minnesota, 2003 through 2013: Chapter B of Water levels and groundwater and surface-water exchanges in lakes of the northeast Twin Cities Metropolitan Area, Minnesota, 2002 through 2015

Released September 05, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Scientific Investigations Report 2016-5139-B

Perry M. Jones, Jason L. Roth, Jared J. Trost, Catherine A. Christenson, Aliesha L. Diekoff, Melinda L. Erickson

Water levels during 2003 through 2013 were less than mean water levels for the period 1925–2013 for several lakes in the northeast Twin Cities Metropolitan Area in Minnesota. Previous periods of low lake-water levels generally were correlated with periods with less than mean precipitation. Increases in groundwater withdrawals and land-use changes have brought into question whether or not recent (2003–13) lake-water-level declines are solely caused by decreases in precipitation. A thorough understanding of groundwater and surface-water exchanges was needed to assess the effect of water-management decisions on lake-water levels. To address this need, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Metropolitan Council and the Minnesota Department of Health, developed and calibrated a three-dimensional, steady-state groundwater-flow model representing 2003–13 mean hydrologic conditions to assess groundwater and lake-water exchanges, and the effects of groundwater withdrawals and precipitation on water levels of 96 lakes in the northeast Twin Cities Metropolitan Area.

Lake-water budgets for the calibrated groundwater-flow model indicated that groundwater is flowing into lakes in the northeast Twin Cities Metropolitan Area and lakes are providing water to underlying aquifers. Lake-water outflow to the simulated groundwater system was a major outflow component for Big Marine Lake, Lake Elmo, Snail Lake, and White Bear Lake, accounting for 45 to 64 percent of the total outflows from the lakes. Evaporation and transpiration from the lake surface ranged from 19 to 52 percent of the total outflow from the four lakes. Groundwater withdrawals and precipitation were varied from the 2003‒13 mean values used in the calibrated model (30-percent changes in groundwater withdrawals and 5-percent changes in precipitation) for hypothetical scenarios to assess the effects of groundwater withdrawals and precipitation on water budgets and levels in Big Marine Lake, Snail Lake, and White Bear Lake. Simulated lake-water levels and budgets for Snail Lake and White Bear Lake were affected by 30-percent changes in groundwater withdrawals and 5-percent changes in precipitation in the area, whereas the water level in Big Marine Lake was mainly affected by 5-percent precipitation changes. The effects of groundwater withdrawals on the lake-water levels depend on the number of wells and amount of withdrawals from wells near the lakes. Although lake-water levels are sensitive to precipitation changes, increases in groundwater withdrawals during dry periods exacerbate lake-water level declines. The calibrated, groundwater-flow model is a tool that water-resources managers can use to address future water management issues in the northeast Twin Cities Metropolitan Area.

Wildlife on the Nevada National Security Site

Released September 05, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, General Information Product 180

Kathleen Longshore, Stephen M. Wessells

Mountain lions, desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, and a variety of other wildlife live on and pass through the Nevada National Security Site each day. It is a highly restricted area that is free of hunting and has surprisingly pristine areas. This 22-minute program highlights an extraordinary study on how mountain lions interact with their prey. It shows how the scientists use helicopters and classical lion tracking to check on these animals' health, follow their movements, and fit them with GPS collars. Results from this work provide impressive insight into how these animals survive. The video is also available at the following YouTube link: Wildlife on the Nevada National Security Site.

Characterization of water quality and suspended sediment during cold-season flows, warm-season flows, and stormflows in the Fountain and Monument Creek watersheds, Colorado, 2007–2015

Released September 01, 2017 16:00 EST

2017, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5084

Lisa D. Miller, Robert W. Stogner, Sr.

From 2007 through 2015, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with Colorado Springs City Engineering, conducted a study in the Fountain and Monument Creek watersheds, Colorado, to characterize surface-water quality and suspended-sediment conditions for three different streamflow regimes with an emphasis on characterizing water quality during storm runoff. Data collected during this study were used to evaluate the effects of stormflows and wastewater-treatment effluent discharge on Fountain and Monument Creeks in the Colorado Springs, Colorado, area. Water-quality samples were collected at 2 sites on Upper Fountain Creek, 2 sites on Monument Creek, 3 sites on Lower Fountain Creek, and 13 tributary sites during 3 flow regimes: cold-season flow (November–April), warm-season flow (May–October), and stormflow from 2007 through 2015. During 2015, additional samples were collected and analyzed for Escherichia coli (E. coli) during dry weather conditions at 41 sites, located in E. coli impaired stream reaches, to help identify source areas and scope of the impairment.

Concentrations of E. coli, total arsenic, and dissolved copper, selenium, and zinc in surface-water samples were compared to Colorado in-stream standards. Stormflow concentrations of E. coli frequently exceeded the recreational use standard of 126 colonies per 100 milliliters at main-stem and tributary sites by more than an order of magnitude. Even though median E. coli concentrations in warm-season flow samples were lower than median concentrations in storm-flow samples, the water quality standard for E. coli was still exceeded at most main-stem sites and many tributary sites during warm-season flows. Six samples (three warm-season flow and three stormflow samples) collected from Upper Fountain Creek, upstream from the confluence of Monument Creek, and two stormflow samples collected from Lower Fountain Creek, downstream from the confluence with Monument Creek, exceeded the acute water-quality standard for total arsenic of 50 micrograms per liter. All concentrations of dissolved copper, selenium, and zinc measured in samples were below the water-quality standard.

Concentrations of dissolved nitrate plus nitrite generally increased from upstream to downstream during all flow periods. The largest downstream increase in dissolved nitrate plus nitrite concentration was measured between sites 07103970 and 07104905 on Monument Creek. All but one tributary that drain into Monument Creek between the two sites had higher median nitrate plus nitrite concentrations than the nearest upstream site on Monument Creek, site 07103970 (MoCr_Woodmen). Increases in the concentration of dissolved nitrate plus nitrite were also evident below wastewater treatment plants located on Fountain Creek.

Most stormflow concentrations of dissolved trace elements were smaller than concentrations from cold-season flow or warm-season samples. However, median concentrations of total arsenic, lead, manganese, nickel, and zinc generally were much larger during periods of stormflow than during cold-season flow or warm-season fl. Median concentrations of total arsenic, total copper, total lead, dissolved and total manganese, total nickel, dissolved and total selenium, and dissolved and total zinc concentrations increased from 1.5 to 28.5 times from site 07103700 (FoCr_Manitou) to 07103707 (FoCr_8th) during cold-season and warm-season flows, indicating a large source of trace elements between these two sites. Both of these sites are located on Fountain Creek, upstream from the confluence with Monument Creek.

Median suspended-sediment concentrations and median suspended-sediment loads increased in the downstream direction during all streamflow regimes between Monument Creek sites 07103970 (MoCr_Woodmen) and 07104905 (MoCr_Bijou); however, statistically significant increase (p-value less than 0.05) were only present during warm-season flow and stormflow. Significant increases in median suspended sediment concentrations were measured during cold-season flow and warm-season flow between Upper Fountain Creek site 07103707 (FoCr_8th) and Lower Fountain Creek site 07105500 (FoCr_Nevada) because of inflows from Monument Creek with higher suspended-sediment concentrations. Median suspended-sediment concentrations between sites 07104905 (MoCr_Bijou) and 07105500 (FoCr_Nevada) increased significantly during warm-season flow but showed no significant differences during cold-season flow and stormflow. Significant decreases in median suspended-sediment concentrations were measured between sites 07105500 (FoCr_Nevada) and 07105530 (FoCr_Janitell) during all flow regimes.

Suspended-sediment concentrations, discharges, and yields associated with stormflow were significantly larger than those associated with warm-season flow. Although large spatial variations in suspended-sediment yields occurred during warm-season flows, the suspended-sediment yield associated with stormflow were as much as 1,000 times larger than the suspended-sediment yields that occurred during warm-season flow.


A detailed risk assessment of shale gas development on headwater streams in the Pennsylvania portion of the Upper Susquehanna River Basin, U.S.A.

Released September 01, 2017 00:00 EST

2018, Science of the Total Environment (610-611) 154-166

Kelly O. Maloney, John A. Young, Stephen Faulkner, Atesmachew Hailegiorgis, E. Terrence Slonecker, Lesley Milheim

The development of unconventional oil and gas (UOG) involves infrastructure development (well pads, roads and pipelines), well drilling and stimulation (hydraulic fracturing), and production; all of which have the potential to affect stream ecosystems. Here, we developed a fine-scaled (1:24,000) catchment-level disturbance intensity index (DII) that included 17 measures of UOG capturing all steps in the development process (infrastructure, water withdrawals, probabilistic spills) that could affect headwater streams (< 200 km2 in upstream catchment) in the Upper Susquehanna River Basin in Pennsylvania, U.S.A. The DII ranged from 0 (no UOG disturbance) to 100 (the catchment with the highest UOG disturbance in the study area) and it was most sensitive to removal of pipeline cover, road cover and well pad cover metrics. We related this DII to three measures of high quality streams: Pennsylvania State Exceptional Value (EV) streams, Class A brook trout streams and Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture brook trout patches. Overall only 3.8% of all catchments and 2.7% of EV stream length, 1.9% of Class A streams and 1.2% of patches were classified as having medium to high level DII scores (> 50). Well density, often used as a proxy for development, only correlated strongly with well pad coverage and produced materials, and therefore may miss potential effects associated with roads and pipelines, water withdrawals and spills. When analyzed with a future development scenario, 91.1% of EV stream length, 68.7% of Class A streams and 80.0% of patches were in catchments with a moderate to high probability of development. Our method incorporated the cumulative effects of UOG on streams and can be used to identify catchments and reaches at risk to existing stressors or future development.

The fascinating and complex dynamics of geyser eruptions

Released September 01, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences (45) 31-59

Shaul Hurwitz, Michael Manga

Geysers episodically erupt liquid and vapor. Despite two centuries of scientific study, basic questions persist—why do geysers exist? What determines eruption intervals, durations, and heights? What initiates eruptions? Through monitoring eruption intervals, analyzing geophysical data, taking measurements within geyser conduits, performing numerical simulations, and constructing laboratory models, some of these questions have been addressed. Geysers are uncommon because they require a combination of abundant water recharge, magmatism, and rhyolite flows to supply heat and silica, and large fractures and cavities overlain by low-permeability materials to trap rising multiphase and multicomponent fluids. Eruptions are driven by the conversion of thermal to kinetic energy during decompression. Larger and deeper cavities permit larger eruptions and promote regularity by isolating water from weather variations. The ejection velocity may be limited by the speed of sound of the liquid + vapor mixture.

Comparing automated classification and digitization approaches to detect change in eelgrass bed extent during restoration of a large river delta

Released September 01, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Northwest Science (91) 272-282

Anna Elizabeth Davenport, Jerry D. Davis, Isa Woo, Eric Grossman, Jesse B. Barham, Christopher S. Ellings, John Takekawa

Native eelgrass (Zostera marina) is an important contributor to ecosystem services that supplies cover for juvenile fish, supports a variety of invertebrate prey resources for fish and waterbirds, provides substrate for herring roe consumed by numerous fish and birds, helps stabilize sediment, and sequesters organic carbon. Seagrasses are in decline globally, and monitoring changes in their growth and extent is increasingly valuable to determine impacts from large-scale estuarine restoration and inform blue carbon mapping initiatives. Thus, we examined the efficacy of two remote sensing mapping methods with high-resolution (0.5 m pixel size) color near infrared imagery with ground validation to assess change following major tidal marsh restoration. Automated classification of false color aerial imagery and digitized polygons documented a slight decline in eelgrass area directly after restoration followed by an increase two years later. Classification of sparse and low to medium density eelgrass was confounded in areas with algal cover, however large dense patches of eelgrass were well delineated. Automated classification of aerial imagery from unsupervised and supervised methods provided reasonable accuracies of 73% and hand-digitizing polygons from the same imagery yielded similar results. Visual clues for hand digitizing from the high-resolution imagery provided as reliable a map of dense eelgrass extent as automated image classification. We found that automated classification had no advantages over manual digitization particularly because of the limitations of detecting eelgrass with only three bands of imagery and near infrared.

Mathematical models for plant-herbivore interactions

Released September 01, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Book

Zhilan Feng, Donald L. DeAngelis

Mathematical Models of Plant-Herbivore Interactions addresses mathematical models in the study of practical questions in ecology, particularly factors that affect herbivory, including plant defense, herbivore natural enemies, and adaptive herbivory, as well as the effects of these on plant community dynamics.

 The result of extensive research on the use of mathematical modeling to investigate the effects of plant defenses on plant-herbivore dynamics, this book describes a toxin-determined functional response model (TDFRM) that helps explains field observations of these interactions.

 This book is intended for graduate students and researchers interested in mathematical biology and ecology.

Geomorphic responses to dam removal in the United States – a two-decade perspective

Released September 01, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Book chapter, Gravel bed rivers: Processes and disasters

Jon J. Major, Amy East, James O'connor, Gordon E. Grant, Andrew C. Wilcox, Christopher S. Magirl, Matthias J. Collins, Desiree D. Tullos

Daizo Tsutsumi, Jonathan B. Laronne, editor(s)

Recent decades have seen a marked increase in the number of dams removed in the United States. Investigations following a number of removals are beginning to inform how, and how fast, rivers and their ecosystems respond to released sediment. Though only a few tens of studies detail physical responses to removals, common findings have begun to emerge. They include: (1) Rivers are resilient and respond quickly to dam removals, especially when removals are sudden rather than prolonged. Rivers can swiftly evacuate large fractions of reservoir sediment (≥50% within one year), especially when sediment is coarse grained (sand and gravel). The channel downstream typically takes months to years—not decades—to achieve a degree of stability within its range of natural variability. (2) Modest streamflows (<2-year return interval flows) can erode and transport large amounts of reservoir sediment. Greater streamflows commonly are needed to access remnant reservoir sediment and transport it downstream. (3) Dam height, sediment volume, and sediment caliber strongly influence downstream response to dam removal. Removals of large dams (≥10 m tall) have had longer-lasting and more widespread downstream effects than more common removals of small dams. (4) Downstream valley morphology and position of a dam within a watershed influence the distribution of released sediment. Valley confinement, downstream channel gradient, locations and depths of channel pools, locations and geometries of extant channel bars, and locations of other reservoirs all influence the downstream fate of released sediment.

The geologic, geomorphic, and hydrologic context underlying options for long-term management of the Spirit Lake outlet near Mount St. Helens, Washington

Released September 01, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, General Technical Report PNW-GTR-954

Gordon E. Grant, Jon J. Major, Sarah L. Lewis

The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens produced a massive landslide and consequent pyroclastic currents, deposits of which blocked the outlet to Spirit Lake. Without an outlet, the lake began to rise, threatening a breaching of the blockage and release of a massive volume of water. To mitigate the hazard posed by the rising lake and provide an outlet, in 1984–1985 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers bored a 2.6-km (8,500-ft) long tunnel through a bedrock ridge on the western edge of the lake. Locally, the tunnel crosses weak rock along faults, and external pressures in these weak zones have caused rock heave and support failures, which have necessitated periodic major repairs. During its more than 30-year lifetime, the tunnel has maintained the level of Spirit Lake at a safe elevation. The lake approaches its maximum safe operating level only when the tunnel closes for repair. The most recent major repair in early 2016 highlights the need for a reliable outlet that does not require repeated and expensive interventions and extended closures. The U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Geological Survey developed, reviewed, and analyzed an array of options for a long-term plan to remove the threat of catastrophic failure of the tunnel. In this report, we (1) provide background on natural hazards that can affect existing and alternative infrastructure; (2) evaluate the potential for tunnel failure and consequent breaching of the blockage posed by the current tunnel infrastructure; (3) evaluate potential consequences to downstream communities and infrastructure in the event of a catastrophic breaching of the blockage; (4) evaluate potential risks associated with alternative lake outlets; and (5) identify data and knowledge gaps that need to be addressed to fully evaluate options available to management.

Contact and contagion: Probability of transmission given contact varies with demographic state in bighorn sheep

Released September 01, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of Animal Ecology (86) 908-920

Kezia R. Manlove, E. Frances Cassirer, Raina K. Plowright, Paul C. Cross, Peter J. Hudson

  1. Understanding both contact and probability of transmission given contact are key to managing wildlife disease. However, wildlife disease research tends to focus on contact heterogeneity, in part because the probability of transmission given contact is notoriously difficult to measure. Here, we present a first step towards empirically investigating the probability of transmission given contact in free-ranging wildlife.
  2. We used measured contact networks to test whether bighorn sheep demographic states vary systematically in infectiousness or susceptibility to Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae, an agent responsible for bighorn sheep pneumonia.
  3. We built covariates using contact network metrics, demographic information and infection status, and used logistic regression to relate those covariates to lamb survival. The covariate set contained degree, a classic network metric describing node centrality, but also included covariates breaking the network metrics into subsets that differentiated between contacts with yearlings, ewes with lambs, and ewes without lambs, and animals with and without active infections.
  4. Yearlings, ewes with lambs, and ewes without lambs showed similar group membership patterns, but direct interactions involving touch occurred at a rate two orders of magnitude higher between lambs and reproductive ewes than between any classes of adults or yearlings, and one order of magnitude higher than direct interactions between multiple lambs.
  5. Although yearlings and non-reproductive bighorn ewes regularly carried M. ovipneumoniae, our models suggest that a contact with an infected reproductive ewe had approximately five times the odds of producing a lamb mortality event of an identical contact with an infected dry ewe or yearling. Consequently, management actions targeting infected animals might lead to unnecessary removal of young animals that carry pathogens but rarely transmit.
  6. This analysis demonstrates a simple logistic regression approach for testing a priorihypotheses about variation in the odds of transmission given contact for free-ranging hosts, and may be broadly applicable for investigations in wildlife disease ecology.

Abundant carbon in the mantle beneath Hawai`i

Released September 01, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Nature Geoscience (10) 704-708

Kyle R. Anderson, Michael Poland

Estimates of carbon concentrations in Earths mantle vary over more than an order of magnitude, hindering our ability to understand mantle structure and mineralogy, partial melting, and the carbon cycle. CO2 concentrations in mantle-derived magmas supplying hotspot ocean island volcanoes yield our most direct constraints on mantle carbon, but are extensively modified by degassing during ascent. Here we show that undegassed magmatic and mantle carbon concentrations may be estimated in a Bayesian framework using diverse geologic information at an ocean island volcano. Our CO2 concentration estimates do not rely upon complex degassing models, geochemical tracer elements, assumed magma supply rates, or rare undegassed rock samples. Rather, we couple volcanic CO2 emission rates with probabilistic magma supply rates, which are obtained indirectly from magma storage and eruption rates. We estimate that the CO2content of mantle-derived magma supplying Hawai‘is active volcanoes is 0.97−0.19+0.25 wt%—roughly 40% higher than previously believed—and is supplied from a mantle source region with a carbon concentration of 263−62+81ppm. Our results suggest that mantle plumes and ocean island basalts are carbon-rich. Our data also shed light on helium isotope abundances, CO2/Nb ratios, and may imply higher CO2 emission rates from ocean island volcanoes.

Carbon dynamics of river corridors and the effects of human alterations

Released September 01, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Ecological Monographs (87) 379-409

Ellen Wohl, Robert O. Hall Jr., Katherine B Lininger, Nicholas A. Sutfin, David Walters

Research in stream metabolism, gas exchange, and sediment dynamics indicates that rivers are an active component of the global carbon cycle and that river form and process can influence partitioning of terrestrially derived carbon among the atmosphere, geosphere, and ocean. Here we develop a conceptual model of carbon dynamics (inputs, outputs, and storage of organic carbon) within a river corridor, which includes the active channel and the riparian zone. The exchange of carbon from the channel to the riparian zone represents potential for storage of transported carbon not included in the “active pipe” model of organic carbon (OC) dynamics in freshwater systems. The active pipe model recognizes that river processes influence carbon dynamics, but focuses on CO2 emissions from the channel and eventual delivery to the ocean. We also review how human activities directly and indirectly alter carbon dynamics within river corridors. We propose that dams create the most significant alteration of carbon dynamics within a channel, but that alteration of riparian zones, including the reduction of lateral connectivity between the channel and riparian zone, constitutes the most substantial change of carbon dynamics in river corridors. We argue that the morphology and processes of a river corridor regulate the ability to store, transform, and transport OC, and that people are pervasive modifiers of river morphology and processes. The net effect of most human activities, with the notable exception of reservoir construction, appears to be that of reducing the ability of river corridors to store OC within biota and sediment, which effectively converts river corridors to OC sources rather than OC sinks. We conclude by summarizing knowledge gaps in OC dynamics and the implications of our findings for managing OC dynamics within river corridors.

Conservation endocrinology

Released September 01, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, BioScience (67) 429-442

Stephen McCormick, Michael Romero

Endocrinologists can make significant contributions to conservation biology by helping to understand the mechanisms by which organisms cope with changing environments. Field endocrine techniques have advanced rapidly in recent years and can provide substantial information on the growth, stress, and reproductive status of individual animals, thereby providing insight into current and future responses of populations to changes in the environment. Environmental stressors and reproductive status can be detected nonlethally by measuring a number of endocrine-related endpoints, including steroids in plasma, living and nonliving tissue, urine, and feces. Information on the environmental or endocrine requirements of individual species for normal growth, development, and reproduction will provide critical information for species and ecosystem conservation. For many taxa, basic information on endocrinology is lacking, and advances in conservation endocrinology will require approaches that are both “basic” and “applied” and include integration of laboratory and field approaches.

It is the time for oceanic seabirds: Tracking year-round distribution of gadfly petrels across the Atlantic Ocean

Released September 01, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Diversity and Distributions (23) 794-805

Raul Ramos, Nicholas Carlile, Jeremy Madeiros, Ivan Ramirez, Vitor H. Paiva, Herculano A. Dinis, Francis Zino, Manuel Biscoito, Gustavo R. Leal, Leandro Bugoni, Patrick G. Jodice, Peter G. Ryan, Jacob Gonzalez-Solis


Anthropogenic activities alter and constrain the structure of marine ecosystems with implications for wide-ranging marine vertebrates. In spite of the environmental importance of vast oceanic ecosystems, most conservation efforts mainly focus on neritic areas. To identify relevant oceanic areas for conservation, we assessed the year-round spatial distribution and spatio-temporal overlap of eight truly oceanic seabird species of gadfly petrels (Pterodroma spp.) inhabiting the Atlantic Ocean.


Atlantic Ocean.


Using tracking data (mostly from geolocators), we examined year-round distributions, the timing of life-cycle events, and marine habitat overlap of eight gadfly petrel species that breed in the Atlantic Ocean.


We compiled 125 year-round tracks. Movement strategies ranged from non-migratory to long-distance migrant species and from species sharing a common non-breeding area to species dispersing among multiple non-breeding sites. Gadfly petrels occurred throughout the Atlantic Ocean but tended to concentrate in subtropical regions. During the boreal summer, up to three species overlapped spatio-temporally over a large area around the Azores archipelago. During the austral summer, up to four species coincided in a core area in subtropical waters around Cape Verde, and three species shared habitat over two distinct areas off Brazil. The petrels used many national Exclusive Economic Zones, although they also exploited offshore international waters.

Main conclusions

Tracking movements of highly mobile vertebrates such as gadfly petrels can provide a powerful tool to evaluate and assess the potential need for and location of protected oceanic areas. As more multispecies, year-round data sets are collected from wide-ranging vertebrates, researchers and managers will have greater insight into the location of biodiversity hotspots. These can subsequently inform and guide marine spatial planning efforts that account for both conservation and sustainable use of resources such as commercial fisheries.

Characterization of Monkeypox virus infection in African rope squirrels (Funisciurus sp.)

Released September 01, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases (11) 1-23

Elizabeth Falendysz, Juan G. Lopera, Jeffrey B. Doty, Yoshinori J. Nakazawa, Colleen Crill, Faye Lorenzsonn, Lem's N. Kalemba, Monica Ronderos, Andres Meija, Jean M. Malekani, Kevin L. Karem, Darrin Caroll, Jorge E. Osorio, Tonie E. Rocke

Monkeypox (MPX) is a zoonotic disease endemic in Central and West Africa and is caused by Monkeypox virus (MPXV), the most virulent Orthopoxvirus affecting humans since the eradication of Variola virus (VARV). Many aspects of the MPXV transmission cycle, including the natural host of the virus, remain unknown. African rope squirrels (Funisciurus spp.) are considered potential reservoirs of MPXV, as serosurveillance data in Central Africa has confirmed the circulation of the virus in these rodent species [1,2]. In order to understand the tissue tropism and clinical signs associated with infection with MPXV in these species, wild-caught rope squirrels were experimentally infected via intranasal and intradermal exposure with a recombinant MPXV strain from Central Africa engineered to express the luciferase gene. After infection, we monitored viral replication and shedding via in vivo bioluminescent imaging, viral culture and real time PCR. MPXV infection in African rope squirrels caused mortality and moderate to severe morbidity, with clinical signs including pox lesions in the skin, eyes, mouth and nose, dyspnea, and profuse nasal discharge. Both intranasal and intradermal exposures induced high levels of viremia, fast systemic spread, and long periods of viral shedding. Shedding and luminescence peaked at day 6 post infection and was still detectable after 15 days. Interestingly, one sentinel animal, housed in the same room but in a separate cage, also developed severe MPX disease and was euthanized. This study indicates that MPXV causes significant pathology in African rope squirrels and infected rope squirrels shed large quantities of virus, supporting their role as a potential source of MPXV transmission to humans and other animals in endemic MPX regions.

Optimization of human, animal, and environmental health by using the One Health approach

Released September 01, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of Veterinary Science (18) 263-268

Jonathan M. Sleeman, Thomas DeLiberto, Natalie Nguyen

Emerging diseases are increasing burdens on public health, negatively affecting the world economy, causing extinction of species, and disrupting ecological integrity. One Health recognizes that human, domestic animal, and wildlife health are interconnected within ecosystem health and provides a framework for the development of multidisciplinary solutions to global health challenges. To date, most health-promoting interventions have focused largely on single-sector outcomes. For example, risk for transmission of zoonotic pathogens from bush-meat hunting is primarily focused on human hygiene and personal protection. However, bush-meat hunting is a complex issue promoting the need for holistic strategies to reduce transmission of zoonotic disease while addressing food security and wildlife conservation issues. Temporal and spatial separation of humans and wildlife, risk communication, and other preventative strategies should allow wildlife and humans to co-exist. Upstream surveillance, vaccination, and other tools to prevent pathogen spillover are also needed. Clear multi-sector outcomes should be defined, and a systems-based approach is needed to develop interventions that reduce risks and balance the needs of humans, wildlife, and the environment. The ultimate goal is long-term action to reduce forces driving emerging diseases and provide interdisciplinary scientific approaches to management of risks, thereby achieving optimal outcomes for human, animal, and environmental health.

Assessment of forest degradation in Vietnam using Landsat time series data

Released September 01, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Forests (8) 1-22

James Vogelmann, Phung Van Khoa, Do Xuan Lan, Jacob S. Shermeyer, Hua Shi, Michael C. Wimberly, Hoang Tat Duong, Le Van Huong

Landsat time series data were used to characterize forest degradation in Lam Dong Province, Vietnam. We conducted three types of image change analyses using Landsat time series data to characterize the land cover changes. Our analyses concentrated on the timeframe of 1973–2014, with much emphasis on the latter part of that range. We conducted a field trip through Lam Dong Province to develop a better understanding of the ground conditions of the region, during which we obtained many photographs of representative forest sites with Global Positioning System locations to assist us in our image interpretations. High-resolution Google Earth imagery and Landsat data of the region were used to validate results. In general, our analyses indicated that many land-use changes have occurred throughout Lam Dong Province, including gradual forest to non-forest transitions. Recent changes are most marked along the relatively narrow interfaces between agricultural and forest areas that occur towards the boundaries of the province. One important observation is that the most highly protected national reserves in the region have not changed much over the entire Landsat timeframe (1972–present). Spectral changes within these regions have not occurred at the same levels as those areas adjacent to the reserves. 

Results of hydrologic monitoring on landslide-prone coastal bluffs near Mukilteo, Washington

Released August 31, 2017 12:00 EST

2017, Open-File Report 2017-1095

Joel B. Smith, Rex L. Baum, Benjamin B. Mirus, Abigail R. Michel, Ben Stark

A hydrologic monitoring network was installed to investigate landslide hazards affecting the railway corridor along the eastern shore of Puget Sound between Seattle and Everett, near Mukilteo, Washington. During the summer of 2015, the U.S. Geological Survey installed monitoring equipment at four sites equipped with instrumentation to measure rainfall and air temperature every 15 minutes. Two of the four sites are installed on contrasting coastal bluffs, one landslide scarred and one vegetated. At these two sites, in addition to rainfall and air temperature, volumetric water content, pore pressure, soil suction, soil temperature, and barometric pressure were measured every 15 minutes. The instrumentation was designed to supplement landslide-rainfall thresholds developed by the U.S. Geological Survey with a long-term goal of advancing the understanding of the relationship between landslide potential and hydrologic forcing along the coastal bluffs. Additionally, the system was designed to function as a prototype monitoring system to evaluate criteria for site selection, instrument selection, and placement of instruments. The purpose of this report is to describe the monitoring system, present the data collected since installation, and describe significant events represented within the dataset, which is published as a separate data release. The findings provide insight for building and configuring larger, modular monitoring networks.

Northern tamarisk beetle (Diorhabda carinulata) and tamarisk (Tamarix spp.) interactions in the Colorado River basin

Released August 31, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Restoration Ecology

Pamela L. Nagler, Uyen Nguyen, Heather L. Bateman, Christopher Jarchow, Edward P. Glenn, William J. Waugh, Charles Van Riper

Northern tamarisk beetles (Diorhabda carinulata) were released in the Upper Colorado River Basin in the United States in 2004–2007 to defoliate introduced tamarisk shrubs (Tamarix spp.) in the region’s riparian zones. The primary purpose was to control the invasive shrub and reduce evapotranspiration (ET) by tamarisk in an attempt to increase stream flows. We evaluated beetle–tamarisk interactions with MODIS and Landsat imagery on 13 river systems, with vegetation indices used as indicators of the extent of defoliation and ET. Beetles are widespread and exhibit a pattern of colonize–defoliate–emigrate, so that riparian zones contain a mosaic of completely defoliated, partially defoliated, and refoliated tamarisk stands. Based on satellite data and ET algorithms, mean ET before beetle release (2000–2006) was 416 mm/year compared to postrelease (2007–2015) ET of 355 mm/year (p<0.05) for a net reduction of 61 mm/year. This is lower than initial literature projections that ET would be reduced by 300–460 mm/year. Reasons for the lower-than-expected ET reductions are because baseline ET rates are lower than initially projected, and percentage ET reduction is low because tamarisk stands tend to regrow new leaves after defoliation and other plants help maintain canopy cover. Overall reductions in tamarisk green foliage during the study are 21%. However, ET in the Upper Basin has shown a steady decline since 2007 and equilibrium has not yet been reached. Defoliation is now proceeding from the Upper Basin into the Lower Basin at a rate of 40 km/year, much faster than initially projected.

Extension of the analytical window for characterizing aromatic compounds in oils using a comprehensive suite of high-resolution mass spectrometry techniques and double bond equivalence versus carbon number plot

Released August 31, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Energy & Fuels (31) 7874-7883

Yunju Cho, Justin E. Birdwell, Manhoi Hur, Joonhee Lee, Byungjoo Kim, Sunghwan Kim

In this study, comprehensive two-dimensional (2D) gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS), atmospheric pressure photoionization (APPI) quadrupole-Orbitrap mass spectrometry (MS), and Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR MS) were used to study the aromatic fractions of crude oil and oil shale pyrolysates (shale oils). The collected data were compared and combined in the double bond equivalence (DBE) versus carbon number plot to obtain a more complete understanding of the composition of the oil fractions. The numbers of peaks observed by each technique followed the order 2D GC–MS < Orbitrap MS < FT-ICR MS. The class distributions observed by Orbitrap MS and FT-ICR MS were similar to each other but different from that observed by 2D GC–MS. The DBE and carbon number distributions of the 2D GC–MS and Orbitrap MS data were similar for crude oil aromatics. The FT-ICR MS plots of DBE and carbon number showed an extended range of higher values relative to the other methods. For the aromatic fraction of an oil shale pyrolysate generated by the Fischer assay, only a few nitrogen-containing compounds were observed by 2D GC–MS but a large number of these compounds were detected by Orbitrap MS and FT-ICR MS. This comparison clearly shows that the data obtained from these three techniques can be combined to more completely characterize oil composition. The data obtained by Orbitrap MS and FT-ICR MS agreed well with one another, and the combined DBE versus carbon number plot provided more complete coverage of compounds present in the fractions. In addition, the chemical structure information provided by 2D GC–MS could be matched with the chemical formulas in the DBE versus carbon number plots, providing information not available in ultrahigh-resolution MS results. It was therefore concluded that the combination of 2D GC–MS, Orbitrap MS, and FT-ICR MS in the DBE versus carbon number space facilitates structural assignment of heavy oil components.

Lessons from the Tōhoku tsunami: A model for island avifauna conservation prioritization

Released August 31, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Ecology and Evolution (7) 5873-5890

Michelle H. Reynolds, Paul Berkowitz, John Klavitter, Karen Courtot

Earthquake-generated tsunamis threaten coastal areas and low-lying islands with sudden flooding. Although human hazards and infrastructure damage have been well documented for tsunamis in recent decades, the effects on wildlife communities rarely have been quantified. We describe a tsunami that hit the world's largest remaining tropical seabird rookery and estimate the effects of sudden flooding on 23 bird species nesting on Pacific islands more than 3,800 km from the epicenter. We used global positioning systems, tide gauge data, and satellite imagery to quantify characteristics of the Tōhoku earthquake-generated tsunami (11 March 2011) and its inundation extent across four Hawaiian Islands. We estimated short-term effects of sudden flooding to bird communities using spatially explicit data from Midway Atoll and Laysan Island, Hawai'i. We describe variation in species vulnerability based on breeding phenology, nesting habitat, and life history traits. The tsunami inundated 21%–100% of each island's area at Midway Atoll and Laysan Island. Procellariformes (albatrosses and petrels) chick and egg losses exceeded 258,500 at Midway Atoll while albatross chick losses at Laysan Island exceeded 21,400. The tsunami struck at night and during the peak of nesting for 14 colonial seabird species. Strongly philopatric Procellariformes were vulnerable to the tsunami. Nonmigratory, endemic, endangered Laysan Teal (Anas laysanensis) were sensitive to ecosystem effects such as habitat changes and carcass-initiated epizootics of avian botulism, and its populations declined approximately 40% on both atolls post-tsunami. Catastrophic flooding of Pacific islands occurs periodically not only from tsunamis, but also from storm surge and rainfall; with sea-level rise, the frequency of sudden flooding events will likely increase. As invasive predators occupy habitat on higher elevation Hawaiian Islands and globally important avian populations are concentrated on low-lying islands, additional conservation strategies may be warranted to increase resilience of island biodiversity encountering tsunamis and rising sea levels.

Long-term dynamics and characteristics of snags created for wildlife habitat

Released August 31, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Forest Ecology and Management (403) 145-151

Amy M. Barry, Joan Hagar, James W. Rivers

Snags provide essential habitat for numerous organisms and are therefore critical to the long-term maintenance of forest biodiversity. Resource managers often use snag creation to mitigate the purposeful removal of snags at the time of harvest, but information regarding how created snags change over long timescales (>20 y) is absent from the literature. In this study, we evaluated the extent to which characteristics of large (>30 cm diameter at breast height [DBH]) Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) snags created by topping had changed after 25–27 y. We also tested whether different harvest treatments and snag configurations influenced present-day snag characteristics. Of 690 snags created in 1989–1991, 91% remained standing during contemporary surveys and 65% remained unbroken along the bole. Although most snags were standing, we detected increased bark loss and breaking along the bole relative to prior surveys conducted on the same pool of snags. Although snag characteristics were not strongly influenced by snag configuration, we found that snags in one harvest treatment (group selection) experienced less bark loss and had lower evidence of use by cavity-nesting birds (as measured by total cavity cover) relative to snags created with clearcut and two-story harvest treatments. Our results indicate that Douglas-fir snags created by topping can remain standing for long time-periods (≥25 y) in managed forests, and that the influence of harvest treatment on decay patterns and subsequent use by wildlife is an important consideration when intentionally creating snags for wildlife habitat.

Logistic quantile regression provides improved estimates for bounded avian counts: A case study of California Spotted Owl fledgling production

Released August 30, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, The Auk (134) 783-801

Brian S. Cade, Barry R. Noon, Rick D. Scherer, John J. Keane

Counts of avian fledglings, nestlings, or clutch size that are bounded below by zero and above by some small integer form a discrete random variable distribution that is not approximated well by conventional parametric count distributions such as the Poisson or negative binomial. We developed a logistic quantile regression model to provide estimates of the empirical conditional distribution of a bounded discrete random variable. The logistic quantile regression model requires that counts are randomly jittered to a continuous random variable, logit transformed to bound them between specified lower and upper values, then estimated in conventional linear quantile regression, repeating the 3 steps and averaging estimates. Back-transformation to the original discrete scale relies on the fact that quantiles are equivariant to monotonic transformations. We demonstrate this statistical procedure by modeling 20 years of California Spotted Owl fledgling production (0−3 per territory) on the Lassen National Forest, California, USA, as related to climate, demographic, and landscape habitat characteristics at territories. Spotted Owl fledgling counts increased nonlinearly with decreasing precipitation in the early nesting period, in the winter prior to nesting, and in the prior growing season; with increasing minimum temperatures in the early nesting period; with adult compared to subadult parents; when there was no fledgling production in the prior year; and when percentage of the landscape surrounding nesting sites (202 ha) with trees ≥25 m height increased. Changes in production were primarily driven by changes in the proportion of territories with 2 or 3 fledglings. Average variances of the discrete cumulative distributions of the estimated fledgling counts indicated that temporal changes in climate and parent age class explained 18% of the annual variance in owl fledgling production, which was 34% of the total variance. Prior fledgling production explained as much of the variance in the fledgling counts as climate, parent age class, and landscape habitat predictors. Our logistic quantile regression model can be used for any discrete response variables with fixed upper and lower bounds.

Simultaneous estimation of diet composition and calibration coefficients with fatty acid signature data

Released August 30, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Ecology and Evolution (7) 6103-6113

Jeffrey Bromaghin, Suzanne M. Budge, Gregory W. Thiemann, Karyn D. Rode

Knowledge of animal diets provides essential insights into their life history and ecology, although diet estimation is challenging and remains an active area of research. Quantitative fatty acid signature analysis (QFASA) has become a popular method of estimating diet composition, especially for marine species. A primary assumption of QFASA is that constants called calibration coefficients, which account for the differential metabolism of individual fatty acids, are known. In practice, however, calibration coefficients are not known, but rather have been estimated in feeding trials with captive animals of a limited number of model species. The impossibility of verifying the accuracy of feeding trial derived calibration coefficients to estimate the diets of wild animals is a foundational problem with QFASA that has generated considerable criticism. We present a new model that allows simultaneous estimation of diet composition and calibration coefficients based only on fatty acid signature samples from wild predators and potential prey. Our model performed almost flawlessly in four tests with constructed examples, estimating both diet proportions and calibration coefficients with essentially no error. We also applied the model to data from Chukchi Sea polar bears, obtaining diet estimates that were more diverse than estimates conditioned on feeding trial calibration coefficients. Our model avoids bias in diet estimates caused by conditioning on inaccurate calibration coefficients, invalidates the primary criticism of QFASA, eliminates the need to conduct feeding trials solely for diet estimation, and consequently expands the utility of fatty acid data to investigate aspects of ecology linked to animal diets.

Prediction of forest canopy and surface fuels from Lidar and satellite time series data in a bark beetle-affected forest

Released August 30, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Forests (9) 1-22

Benjamin C. Bright, Andrew T. Hudak, Arjan J.H. Meddens, Todd J. Hawbaker, Jenny S. Briggs, Robert E. Kennedy

Wildfire behavior depends on the type, quantity, and condition of fuels, and the effect that bark beetle outbreaks have on fuels is a topic of current research and debate. Remote sensing can provide estimates of fuels across landscapes, although few studies have estimated surface fuels from remote sensing data. Here we predicted and mapped field-measured canopy and surface fuels from light detection and ranging (lidar) and Landsat time series explanatory variables via random forest (RF) modeling across a coniferous montane forest in Colorado, USA, which was affected by mountain pine beetles (Dendroctonus ponderosae Hopkins) approximately six years prior. We examined relationships between mapped fuels and the severity of tree mortality with correlation tests. RF models explained 59%, 48%, 35%, and 70% of the variation in available canopy fuel, canopy bulk density, canopy base height, and canopy height, respectively (percent root-mean-square error (%RMSE) = 12–54%). Surface fuels were predicted less accurately, with models explaining 24%, 28%, 32%, and 30% of the variation in litter and duff, 1 to 100-h, 1000-h, and total surface fuels, respectively (%RMSE = 37–98%). Fuel metrics were negatively correlated with the severity of tree mortality, except canopy base height, which increased with greater tree mortality. Our results showed how bark beetle-caused tree mortality significantly reduced canopy fuels in our study area. We demonstrated that lidar and Landsat time series data contain substantial information about canopy and surface fuels and can be used for large-scale efforts to monitor and map fuel loads for fire behavior modeling at a landscape scale.

Trophic structure of mesopelagic fishes in the Gulf of Mexico revealed by gut content and stable isotope analyses

Released August 30, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Marine Ecology (38)

Jennifer P. McClain-Counts, Amanda W.J. Demopoulos, Steve W. Ross

Mesopelagic fishes represent an important component of the marine food web due to their global distributions, high abundances and ability to transport organic material throughout a large part of the water column. This study combined stable isotope (SIAs) and gut content analyses (GCAs) to characterize the trophic structure of mesopelagic fishes in the North-Central Gulf of Mexico. Additionally, this study examined whether mesopelagic fishes utilized chemosynthetic energy from cold seeps. Specimens were collected (9–25 August 2007) over three deep (>1,000 m) cold seeps at discrete depths (surface to 1,503 m) over the diurnal cycle. GCA classified 31 species (five families) of mesopelagic fishes into five feeding guilds: piscivores, large crustacean consumers, copepod consumers, generalists and mixed zooplanktivores. However, these guilds were less clearly defined based on stable isotope mixing model (MixSIAR) results, suggesting diets may be more mixed over longer time periods (weeks–months) and across co-occurring species. Copepods were likely important for the majority of mesopelagic fishes, consistent with GCA (this study) and previous literature. MixSIAR results also identified non-crustacean prey items, including salps and pteropods, as potentially important prey items for mesopelagic fishes, including those fishes not analysed in GCA (Sternoptyx spp. and Melamphaidae). Salps and other soft-bodied species are often missed in GCAs. Mesopelagic fishes had δ13C results consistent with particulate organic matter serving as the baseline organic carbon source, fueling up to three trophic levels. Fishes that undergo diel vertical migration were depleted in 15N relative to weak migrators, consistent with depth-specific isotope trends in sources and consumers, and assimilation of 15N-depleted organic matter in surface waters. Linear correlations between fish size and δ15N values suggested ontogenetic changes in fish diets for several species. While there was no direct measure of mesopelagic fishes assimilating chemosynthetic material, detection of infrequent consumption of this food resource may be hindered by the assimilation of isotopically enriched photosynthetic organic matter. By utilizing multiple dietary metrics (e.g. GCA, δ13C, δ15N, MixSIAR), this study better defined the trophic structure of mesopelagic fishes and allowed for insights on feeding, ultimately providing useful baseline information from which to track mesopelagic trophodynamics over time and space.

Biological and ecological science for Florida—The Sunshine State

Released August 30, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Fact Sheet 2017-3066

U.S. Geological Survey

Florida is rich in sunshine and other natural resources essential to the State's economy. More than 100 million tourists visit Florida's beaches, wetlands, forests, oceans, lakes, and streams where they generate billions of dollars and sustain more than a million jobs. Florida also provides habitat for several thousand freshwater and marine fish, mammals, birds, and other wildlife that are viewed, hunted, or fished, or that provide valuable ecological services. Fertile soils and freshwater supplies support agriculture and forest industries and generate more than $8 billion of revenue annually and sustain thousands of jobs.

Monitoring the southwestern Wyoming landscape—A foundation for management and science

Released August 29, 2017 12:15 EST

2017, Fact Sheet 2017-3030

Daniel J. Manier, Patrick J. Anderson, Timothy J. Assal, Geneva W. Chong, Cynthia P. Melcher

Natural resource monitoring involves repeated collections of resource condition data and analyses to detect possible changes and identify underlying causes of changes. For natural resource agencies, monitoring provides the foundation for management and science. Specifically, analyses of monitoring data allow managers to better understand effects of land-use and other changes on important natural resources and to achieve their conservation and management goals. Examples of natural resources monitored on public lands include wildlife habitats, plant productivity, animal movements and population trends, soil chemistry, and water quality and quantity. Broader definitions of monitoring also recognize the need for scientifically valid data to help support planning efforts and informed decisions, to develop adaptive management strategies, and to provide the means for evaluating management outcomes.

Polar bears and sea ice habitat change

Released August 29, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Book chapter, Marine mammal welfare: Human induced change in the marine environment and its impacts on marine mammal welfare

George M. Durner, Todd C. Atwood

Andy Butterworth, editor(s)

The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is an obligate apex predator of Arctic sea ice and as such can be affected by climate warming-induced changes in the extent and composition of pack ice and its impacts on their seal prey. Sea ice declines have negatively impacted some polar bear subpopulations through reduced energy input because of loss of hunting habitats, higher energy costs due to greater ice drift, ice fracturing and open water, and ultimately greater challenges to recruit young. Projections made from the output of global climate models suggest that polar bears in peripheral Arctic and sub-Arctic seas will be reduced in numbers or become extirpated by the end of the twenty-first century if the rate of climate warming continues on its present trajectory. The same projections also suggest that polar bears may persist in the high-latitude Arctic where heavy multiyear sea ice that has been typical in that region is being replaced by thinner annual ice. Underlying physical and biological oceanography provides clues as to why polar bear in some regions are negatively impacted, while bears in other regions have shown no apparent changes. However, continued declines in sea ice will eventually challenge the survival of polar bears and efforts to conserve them in all regions of the Arctic.

Aftershocks driven by afterslip and fluid pressure sweeping through a fault-fracture mesh

Released August 29, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Geophysical Research Letters (44) 8260-8267

Zachary E. Ross, Christopher Rollins, Elizabeth S. Cochran, Egill Hauksson, Jean-Philippe Avouac, Yehuda Ben-Zion

A variety of physical mechanisms are thought to be responsible for the triggering and spatiotemporal evolution of aftershocks. Here we analyze a vigorous aftershock sequence and postseismic geodetic strain that occurred in the Yuha Desert following the 2010 Mw 7.2 El Mayor-Cucapah earthquake. About 155,000 detected aftershocks occurred in a network of orthogonal faults and exhibit features of two distinct mechanisms for aftershock triggering. The earliest aftershocks were likely driven by afterslip that spread away from the main shock with the logarithm of time. A later pulse of aftershocks swept again across the Yuha Desert with square root time dependence and swarm-like behavior; together with local geological evidence for hydrothermalism, these features suggest that the events were driven by fluid diffusion. The observations illustrate how multiple driving mechanisms and the underlying fault structure jointly control the evolution of an aftershock sequence.

Predictive framework for estimating exposure of birds to pharmaceuticals

Released August 29, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (36) 2335-2344

Thomas Bean, Kathryn E. Arnold, Julie M. Lane, Ed Bergström, Jane Thomas-Oates, Barnett A. Rattner, Allistair B.A. Boxall

We present and evaluate a framework for estimating concentrations of pharmaceuticals over time in wildlife feeding at wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). The framework is composed of a series of predictive steps involving the estimation of pharmaceutical concentration in wastewater, accumulation into wildlife food items, and uptake by wildlife with subsequent distribution into, and elimination from, tissues. Because many pharmacokinetic parameters for wildlife are unavailable for the majority of drugs in use, a read-across approach was employed using either rodent or human data on absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion. Comparison of the different steps in the framework against experimental data for the scenario where birds are feeding on a WWTP contaminated with fluoxetine showed that estimated concentrations in wastewater treatment works were lower than measured concentrations; concentrations in food could be reasonably estimated if experimental bioaccumulation data are available; and read-across from rodent data worked better than human to bird read-across. The framework provides adequate predictions of plasma concentrations and of elimination behavior in birds but yields poor predictions of distribution in tissues. The approach holds promise, but it is important that we improve our understanding of the physiological similarities and differences between wild birds and domesticated laboratory mammals used in pharmaceutical efficacy/safety trials, so that the wealth of data available can be applied more effectively in ecological risk assessments.

Predicting redox-sensitive contaminant concentrations in groundwater using random forest classification

Released August 29, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Water Resources Research (53) 7316-7331

Anthony J. Tesoriero, Jo Ann M. Gronberg, Paul F. Juckem, Matthew P. Miller, Brian P. Austin

Machine learning techniques were applied to a large (n > 10,000) compliance monitoring database to predict the occurrence of several redox-active constituents in groundwater across a large watershed. Specifically, random forest classification was used to determine the probabilities of detecting elevated concentrations of nitrate, iron, and arsenic in the Fox, Wolf, Peshtigo, and surrounding watersheds in northeastern Wisconsin. Random forest classification is well suited to describe the nonlinear relationships observed among several explanatory variables and the predicted probabilities of elevated concentrations of nitrate, iron, and arsenic. Maps of the probability of elevated nitrate, iron, and arsenic can be used to assess groundwater vulnerability and the vulnerability of streams to contaminants derived from groundwater. Processes responsible for elevated concentrations are elucidated using partial dependence plots. For example, an increase in the probability of elevated iron and arsenic occurred when well depths coincided with the glacial/bedrock interface, suggesting a bedrock source for these constituents. Furthermore, groundwater in contact with Ordovician bedrock has a higher likelihood of elevated iron concentrations, which supports the hypothesis that groundwater liberates iron from a sulfide-bearing secondary cement horizon of Ordovician age. Application of machine learning techniques to existing compliance monitoring data offers an opportunity to broadly assess aquifer and stream vulnerability at regional and national scales and to better understand geochemical processes responsible for observed conditions.

Integrated geophysical characteristics of the 2015 Illapel, Chile, earthquake

Released August 29, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth (122) 4691-4711

Matthew W Herman, Jennifer Nealy, William Yeck, William Barnhart, Gavin Hayes, Kevin P. Furlong, Harley M. Benz

On 16 September 2015, a Mw 8.3 earthquake ruptured the subduction zone offshore of Illapel, Chile, generating an aftershock sequence with 14 Mw 6.0–7.0 events. A double source W phase moment tensor inversion consists of a Mw 7.2 subevent and the main Mw 8.2 phase. We determine two slip models for the mainshock, one using teleseismic broadband waveforms and the other using static GPS and InSAR surface displacements, which indicate high slip north of the epicenter and west-northwest of the epicenter near the oceanic trench. These models and slip distributions published in other studies suggest spatial slip uncertainties of ~25 km and have peak slip values that vary by a factor of 2. We relocate aftershock hypocenters using a Bayesian multiple-event relocation algorithm, revealing a cluster of aftershocks under the Chilean coast associated with deep (20–45 km depth) mainshock slip. Less vigorous aftershock activity also occurred near the trench and along strike of the main aftershock region. Most aftershocks are thrust-faulting events, except for normal-faulting events near the trench. Coulomb failure stress change amplitudes and signs are uncertain for aftershocks collocated with deeper mainshock slip; other aftershocks are more clearly associated with loading from the mainshock. These observations reveal a frictionally heterogeneous interface that ruptured in patches at seismogenic depths (associated with many aftershocks) and with homogeneous slip (and few aftershocks) up to the trench. This event likely triggered seismicity separate from the main slip region, including along-strike events on the megathrust and intraplate extensional events.

Effects of environmental covariates and density on the catchability of fish populations and interpretation of catch per unit effort trends

Released August 29, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Fisheries Research (189) 18-34

Josh Korman, Mike Yard

Article for outlet: Fisheries Research. Abstract: Quantifying temporal and spatial trends in abundance or relative abundance is required to evaluate effects of harvest and changes in habitat for exploited and endangered fish populations. In many cases, the proportion of the population or stock that is captured (catchability or capture probability) is unknown but is often assumed to be constant over space and time. We used data from a large-scale mark-recapture study to evaluate the extent of spatial and temporal variation, and the effects of fish density, fish size, and environmental covariates, on the capture probability of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in the Colorado River, AZ. Estimates of capture probability for boat electrofishing varied 5-fold across five reaches, 2.8-fold across the range of fish densities that were encountered, 2.1-fold over 19 trips, and 1.6-fold over five fish size classes. Shoreline angle and turbidity were the best covariates explaining variation in capture probability across reaches and trips. Patterns in capture probability were driven by changes in gear efficiency and spatial aggregation, but the latter was more important. Failure to account for effects of fish density on capture probability when translating a historical catch per unit effort time series into a time series of abundance, led to 2.5-fold underestimation of the maximum extent of variation in abundance over the period of record, and resulted in unreliable estimates of relative change in critical years. Catch per unit effort surveys have utility for monitoring long-term trends in relative abundance, but are too imprecise and potentially biased to evaluate population response to habitat changes or to modest changes in fishing effort.

A large-scale environmental flow experiment for riparian restoration in the Colorado River delta

Released August 29, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Ecological Engineering (106) 645-660

Patrick B. Shafroth, Karen Schlatter, Martha Gomez-Sapiens, Erick Lundgren, Matthew R. Grabau, Jorge Ramirez-Hernandez, J. Eliana Rodriguez-Burgeueno, Karl W. Flessa

Managing streamflow is a widely-advocated approach to provide conditions necessary for seed germination and seedling establishment of trees in the willow family (Salicaceae). Experimental flow releases to the Colorado River delta in 2014 had a primary objective of promoting seedling establishment of Fremont cottonwood (Populus fremontii) and Goodding's willow (Salix gooddingii). We assessed seed germination and seedling establishment of these taxa as well as the non-native tamarisk (Tamarix spp.) and native seepwillow shrubs (Baccharis spp.) in the context of seedling requirements and active land management (land grading, vegetation removal) at 23 study sites along 87 river km. In the absence of associated active land management, experimental flows to the Colorado River delta were minimally successful at promoting establishment of new woody riparian seedlings, except for non-native Tamarix. Our results suggest that the primary factors contributing to low seedling establishment varied across space, but included low or no seed availability in some locations for some taxa, insufficient soil moisture availability during the growing season indicated by deep groundwater tables, and competition from adjacent vegetation (and, conversely, availability of bare ground). Active land management to create bare ground and favorable land grades contributed to significantly higher rates of Salicaceae seedling establishment in a river reach with high groundwater tables. Our results provide insights that can inform future environmental flow deliveries to the Colorado River delta and its ecosystems and other similar efforts to restore Salicaceae taxa around the world.

Integrating active restoration with environmental flows to improve native riparian tree establishment in the Colorado River Delta

Released August 29, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Ecological Engineering (106) 661-674

Karen Schlatter, Matthew R. Grabau, Patrick B. Shafroth, Francisco Zamora-Arroyo

Drastic alterations to river hydrology, land use change, and the spread of the nonnative shrub, tamarisk (Tamarix spp.), have led to the degradation of riparian habitat in the Colorado River Delta in Mexico. Delivery of environmental flows to promote native cottonwood (Populus spp.) and willow (Salix spp.) recruitment in human-impacted riparian systems can be unsuccessful due to flow-magnitude constraints and altered abiotic–biotic feedbacks. In 2014, an experimental pulse flow of water was delivered to the Colorado River in Mexico as part of the U.S.-Mexico binational agreement, Minute 319. We conducted a field experiment to assess the effects of vegetation removal, seed augmentation, and environmental flows, separately and in combination, on germination and first-year seedling establishment of cottonwood, willow, and tamarisk at five replicate sites along 5 river km. The relatively low-magnitude flow deliveries did not substantively restore natural fluvial processes of erosion, sediment deposition, and vegetation scour, but did provide wetted surface soils, shallow groundwater, and low soil salinity. Cottonwood and willow only established in wetted, cleared treatments, and establishment was variable in these treatments due to variable site conditions and inundation duration and timing. Wetted soils, bare surface availability, soil salinity, and seed availability were significant factors contributing to successful cottonwood and willow germination, while soil salinity and texture affected seedling persistence over the growing season. Tamarisk germinated and persisted in a wider range of environmental conditions than cottonwood and willow, including in un-cleared treatment areas. Our results suggest that site management can increase cottonwood and willow recruitment success from low-magnitude environmental flow events, an approach that can be applied in other portions of the Delta and to other human-impacted riparian systems across the world with similar ecological limitations.

Habitat use by juvenile salmonids in Lake Ontario tributaries-species, age, diel and seasonal effects

Released August 29, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of Great Lakes Research (43) 963-969

James H. Johnson, James E. McKenna Jr.

Understanding the habitat needs of fish and how these requirements may change seasonally over a 24-h period is important, especially for highly managed sport species. Consequently, we examined the diel and seasonal habitat use of four juvenile salmonid species in streams in the Lake Ontario watershed. For juvenile Atlantic salmon Salmo salarand juvenile rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss, differences in day versus night habitat use were more profound than seasonal differences. Observed differences in day versus night habitat for all species and age classes were mainly due to the use of less object oriented cover at night and to a lesser extent to the use of slower velocities and smaller substrate at night. Seasonal differences in habitat use were also observed, likely due to increased fish size, and included movement to deeper and faster water and the use of larger substrate and more cover from summer to winter. Different habitat variables were important to individual species. Juvenile Atlantic salmon were associated with higher water velocities, juvenile rainbow trout with larger substrate and more cover, and subyearling Chinook salmon O. tshawytscha and subyearling coho salmon O. kisutch with small substrate and less cover. Our observations demonstrate that habitat partitioning occurs and likely reduces intraspecific and interspecific competition which may increase the potential production of all four species in sympatry. Consequently, these findings provide important information for resource managers charged with managing, protecting, and enhancing Great Lakes tributaries where all or some of these species occur.

Biotic and abiotic factors influencing zooplankton vertical distribution in Lake Huron

Released August 29, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of Great Lakes Research

Carly J. Nowicki, David B. Bunnell, Patricia M. Armenio, David M. Warner, Henry A. Vanderploeg, Joann F. Cavaletto, Christine M. Mayer, Jean V. Adams

The vertical distribution of zooplankton can have substantial influence on trophic structure in freshwater systems, particularly by determining spatial overlap for predator/prey dynamics and influencing energy transfer. The zooplankton community in some of the Laurentian Great Lakes has undergone changes in composition and declines in total biomass, especially after 2003. Mechanisms underlying these zooplankton changes remain poorly understood, in part, because few studies have described their vertical distributions during daytime and nighttime conditions or evaluated the extent to which predation, resources, or environmental conditions could explain their distribution patterns. Within multiple 24-h periods during July through October 2012 in Lake Huron, we conducted daytime and nighttime sampling of zooplankton, and measured food (chlorophyll-a), temperature, light (Secchi disk depth), and planktivory (biomass of Bythotrephes longimanus and Mysis diluviana). We used linear mixed models to determine whether the densities for 22 zooplankton taxa varied between day and night in the epi-, meta-, and hypolimnion. For eight taxa, higher epilimnetic densities were observed at night than during the day; general linear models revealed these patterns were best explained by Mysis diluviana (four taxa), Secchi disk depth (three taxa), epilimnetic water temperature (three taxa), chlorophyll (one taxon), and biomass of Bythotrephes longimanus (one taxon). By investigating the potential effects of both biotic and abiotic variables on the vertical distribution of crustacean zooplankton and rotifers, we provide descriptions of the Lake Huron zooplankton community and discuss how future changes in food web dynamics or climate change may alter zooplankton distribution in freshwater environments.

Simulated effects of YY-male stocking and manual suppression for eradicating nonnative Brook Trout populations

Released August 29, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, North American Journal of Fisheries Management (37) 1054-1066

Daniel J. Schill, Kevin A. Meyer, Michael J. Hansen

Eradication of nonnative Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis populations is difficult to achieve with standard techniques, such as electrofishing removal or piscicides; new approaches are needed. A novel concept is to stock “supermale” hatchery fish with wild conspecifics. Supermales (MYY) have two Y-chromosomes, resulting in offspring that are all males; over time, successful supermale reproduction could eradicate the wild population. We constructed an age-structured stochastic model to investigate the effects of manually suppressing wild fish and stocking MYY fingerlings on the long-term viability of hypothetical nonnative Brook Trout populations. In streams, an annual stocking rate of supermales equivalent to 50% of wild age-0 Brook Trout density combined with an annual selective suppression rate equivalent to 50% of wild Brook Trout density resulted in a time to extirpation of only 2–4 years if supermale fitness was equivalent to wild male fitness. However, time to extirpation in streams was 5–15 years if supermale fitness was 80% lower than wild male fitness. In alpine lakes, higher supermale stocking rates and nonselective gillnetting were required to eradicate Brook Trout populations. If supermales were assumed to be as fit as wild males, however, any supermale stocking rate greater than 49% in alpine lakes or 60% in streams achieved eradication in 10 years or less, regardless of the suppression rate. Because manual suppression and the stocking of MYY fingerlings can readily be conducted at the levels assumed in our simulations, use of such an integrated pest management (IPM) approach could extirpate undesirable Brook Trout populations within reasonably short periods of time. Given the recent successful development of an MYY Brook Trout broodstock capable of producing large numbers of MYY fingerlings and given the positive results of the present simulations for both streams and alpine lakes, field testing of MYY stocking is warranted within an IPM program that includes manual suppression for eradicating undesirable Brook Trout populations.

Salish Kootenai College and U.S. Geological Survey partnership—Enhancing student opportunities and professional development

Released August 29, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Fact Sheet 2017-3065

Roy Sando, Monique Fordham

Salish Kootenai College (SKC), in the Flathead Reservation in the northwestern corner of Montana, is the largest of the seven Tribal colleges in the State. In 2011, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Tribal Liaison Monique Fordham from the Office of Tribal Relations/Office of Science Quality and Integrity began discussions with SKC faculty to examine ways the USGS could assist with classes taught as part of the new hydrology program at the college. With funding provided by the USGS Office of Tribal Relations, Roy Sando from the Wyoming-Montana Water Science Center began collaborating with SKC. From 2012 to 2017, Sando and others have developed and taught eight educational workshops at SKC. Topics of the workshops have included classifying land cover using remote sensing, characterizing stream channel migration, estimating actual evapotranspiration, modeling groundwater contamination plumes, and building custom geographic information system tools. By contributing to the educational training of SKC students and establishing this high level of collaboration with a Tribal college, the USGS is demonstrating its commitment to helping build the next generation of Tribal scientists.

Water resources of Parowan Valley, Iron County, Utah

Released August 29, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5033

Thomas M. Marston

Parowan Valley, in Iron County, Utah, covers about 160 square miles west of the Red Cliffs and includes the towns of Parowan, Paragonah, and Summit. The valley is a structural depression formed by northwest-trending faults and is, essentially, a closed surface-water basin although a small part of the valley at the southwestern end drains into the adjacent Cedar Valley. Groundwater occurs in and has been developed mainly from the unconsolidated basin-fill aquifer. Long-term downward trends in groundwater levels have been documented by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) since the mid-1950s. The water resources of Parowan Valley were assessed during 2012 to 2014 with an emphasis on refining the understanding of the groundwater and surface-water systems and updating the groundwater budget.

Surface-water discharge of five perennial mountain streams that enter Parowan Valley was measured from 2013 to 2014. The total annual surface-water discharge of the five streams during 2013 to 2014 was about 18,000 acre-feet (acre-ft) compared to the average annual streamflow of about 22,000 acre-ft from USGS streamgages operated on the three largest of these streams from the 1940s to the 1980s. The largest stream, Parowan Creek, contributes more than 50 percent of the annual surface-water discharge to the valley, with smaller amounts contributed by Red, Summit, Little, and Cottonwood Creeks.

Average annual recharge to the Parowan Valley groundwater system was estimated to be about 25,000 acre-ft from 1994 to 2013. Nearly all recharge occurs as direct infiltration of snowmelt and rainfall on the Markagunt Plateau east of the valley. Smaller amounts of recharge occur as infiltration of streamflow and unconsumed irrigation water near the east side of the valley on alluvial fans associated with mountain streams at the foot of the Red Cliffs. Subsurface flow from the mountain block to the east of the valley is a significant source of groundwater recharge to the basin-fill aquifer. Groundwater flows from the high-altitude recharge areas downward toward the basin-fill aquifer in Parowan Valley. Almost all groundwater discharge occurs as withdrawals from irrigation wells in the valley with a small amount of discharge from phreatophytic evapotranspiration. Subsurface groundwater discharge to Cedar Valley is likely minimal. Withdrawals from wells during 2013 were about 32,000 acre-ft. The estimated withdrawals from wells from 1994 to 2013 have ranged from 22,000 to 39,000 acre-ft per year. Declining water levels are an indication of the estimated average annual decrease in groundwater storage of 15,000 acre-ft from 1994 to 2013.

Groundwater and surface-water samples were collected from 46 sites in Parowan Valley and Cedar Valley near the town of Enoch during June 2013. Groundwater samples from 34 wells were submitted for geochemical analysis. The total dissolved-solids concentration in water from these wells ranged from 142 to 886 milligrams per liter. Results of stable isotope analysis of oxygen and deuterium from groundwater and surface-water samples indicate that most of the groundwater in Parowan Valley and in Cedar Valley near Enoch is similar in isotopic composition to water from mountain streams, which reflects meteoric water recharged in high-altitude areas east of the valley. In addition, results of stable isotope analysis of a subset of samples from wells located near Little Salt Lake may indicate recharge of precipitation that occurred during cooler climatic conditions of the Pleistocene Epoch.

Modern landscape processes affecting archaeological sites along the Colorado River corridor downstream of Glen Canyon Dam, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona

Released August 29, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5082

Amy E. East, Joel B. Sankey, Helen C. Fairley, Joshua J. Caster, Alan Kasprak

The landscape of the Colorado River through Glen Canyon National Recreation Area formed over many thousands of years and was modified substantially after the completion of Glen Canyon Dam in 1963. Changes to river flow, sediment supply, channel base level, lateral extent of sedimentary terraces, and vegetation in the post-dam era have modified the river-corridor landscape and have altered the effects of geologic processes that continue to shape the landscape and its cultural resources. The Glen Canyon reach of the Colorado River downstream of Glen Canyon Dam hosts many archaeological sites that are prone to erosion in this changing landscape. This study uses field evaluations from 2016 and aerial photographs from 1952, 1973, 1984, and 1996 to characterize changes in potential windblown sand supply and drainage configuration that have occurred over more than six decades at 54 archaeological sites in Glen Canyon and uppermost Marble Canyon. To assess landscape change at these sites, we use two complementary geomorphic classification systems. The first evaluates the potential for aeolian (windblown) transport of river-derived sand from the active river channel to higher elevation archaeological sites. The second identifies whether rills, gullies, or arroyos (that is, overland drainages that erode the ground surface) exist at the archaeological sites as well as the geomorphic surface, and therefore the relative base level, to which those flow paths drain. Results of these assessments are intended to aid in the management of irreplaceable archaeological resources by the National Park Service and stakeholders of the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program.

Groundwater discharge by evapotranspiration, flow of water in unsaturated soil, and stable isotope water sourcing in areas of sparse vegetation, Amargosa Desert, Nye County, Nevada

Released August 29, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5079

Michael T. Moreo, Brian J. Andraski, C. Amanda Garcia

This report documents methodology and results of a study to evaluate groundwater discharge by evapotranspiration (GWET) in sparsely vegetated areas of Amargosa Desert and improve understanding of hydrologic-continuum processes controlling groundwater discharge. Evapotranspiration and GWET rates were computed and characterized at three sites over 2 years using a combination of micrometeorological, unsaturated zone, and stable-isotope measurements. One site (Amargosa Flat Shallow [AFS]) was in a sparse and isolated area of saltgrass (Distichlis spicata) where the depth to groundwater was 3.8 meters (m). The second site (Amargosa Flat Deep [AFD]) was in a sparse cover of predominantly shadscale (Atriplex confertifolia) where the depth to groundwater was 5.3 m. The third site (Amargosa Desert Research Site [ADRS]), selected as a control site where GWET is assumed to be zero, was located in sparse vegetation dominated by creosote bush (Larrea tridentata) where the depth to groundwater was 110 m.

Results indicated that capillary rise brought groundwater to within 0.9 m (at AFS) and 3 m (at AFD) of land surface, and that GWET rates were largely controlled by the slow but relatively persistent upward flow of water through the unsaturated zone in response to atmospheric-evaporative demands. Greater GWET at AFS (50 ± 20 millimeters per year [mm/yr]) than at AFD (16 ± 15 mm/yr) corresponded with its shallower depth to the capillary fringe and constantly higher soil-water content. The stable-isotope dataset for hydrogen (δ2H) and oxygen (δ18O) illustrated a broad range of plant-water-uptake scenarios. The AFS saltgrass and AFD shadscale responded to changing environmental conditions and their opportunistic water use included the time- and depth-variable uptake of unsaturated-zone water derived from a combination of groundwater and precipitation. These results can be used to estimate GWET in other areas of Amargosa Desert where hydrologic conditions are similar.

A process to estimate net infiltration using a site-scale water-budget approach, Rainier Mesa, Nevada National Security Site, Nevada, 2002–05

Released August 29, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5078

David W. Smith, Michael T. Moreo, C. Amanda Garcia, Keith J. Halford, Joseph M. Fenelon

This report documents a process used to estimate net infiltration from precipitation, evapotranspiration (ET), and soil data acquired at two sites on Rainier Mesa. Rainier Mesa is a groundwater recharge area within the Nevada National Security Site where recharged water flows through bedrock fractures to a deep (450 meters) water table. The U.S. Geological Survey operated two ET stations on Rainier Mesa from 2002 to 2005 at sites characterized by pinyon-juniper and scrub-brush vegetative cover. Precipitation and ET data were corrected to remove measurement biases and gap-filled to develop continuous datasets. Net infiltration (percolation below the root zone) and changes in root-zone water storage were estimated using a monthly water-balance model.

Site-scale water-budget results indicate that the heavily-fractured welded-tuff bedrock underlying thin (<40 centimeters) topsoil is a critical water source for vegetation during dry periods. Annual precipitation during the study period ranged from fourth lowest (182 millimeters [mm]) to second highest (708 mm) on record (record = 55 years). Annual ET exceeded precipitation during dry years, indicating that the fractured-bedrock reservoir capacity is sufficient to meet atmospheric-evaporative demands and to sustain vegetation through extended dry periods. Net infiltration (82 mm) was simulated during the wet year after the reservoir was rapidly filled to capacity. These results support previous conclusions that preferential fracture flow was induced, resulting in an episodic recharge pulse that was detected in nearby monitoring wells. The occurrence of net infiltration only during the wet year is consistent with detections of water-level rises in nearby monitoring wells that occur only following wet years.

Low-flow frequency and flow-duration characteristics of selected streams in Alabama through March 2014

Released August 28, 2017 15:30 EST

2017, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5083

Toby D. Feaster, Kathyrn G. Lee

Low-flow statistics are needed by water-resource engineers, planners, and managers to protect and manage the water resources of Alabama. The accuracy of these statistics is influenced by such factors as length of record and specific hydrologic conditions measured in those records. As such, it is generally recommended that flow statistics be updated about every 10 years to provide improved and representative low-flow characteristics. The previous investigation of low-flow characteristics for Alabama included data through September 1990. Since that time, Alabama has experienced several historic droughts highlighting the need to update the low-flow characteristics at U.S. Geological Survey streamgaging stations. Consequently, this investigation was undertaken in cooperation with a number of State and local agencies to update low-flow frequency and flow-duration statistics at 210 continuous-record streamgaging stations in Alabama and 67 stations from basins that are shared with surrounding States. The flow characteristics were computed on the basis of available data through March 2014.

A synoptic view of the Third Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast (UCERF3)

Released August 28, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Seismological Research Letters (88) 1259-1267

Ned Field, Thomas H. Jordan, Morgan T. Page, Kevin R. Milner, Bruce E. Shaw, Timothy E. Dawson, Glenn Biasi, Thomas E. Parsons, Jeanne L. Hardebeck, Andrew J. Michael, Ray Weldon, Peter Powers, Kaj M. Johnson, Yuehua Zeng, Peter Bird, Karen Felzer, Nicholas van der Elst, Christopher Madden, Ramon Arrowsmith, Maximillan J. Werner, Wayne R. Thatcher

Probabilistic forecasting of earthquake‐producing fault ruptures informs all major decisions aimed at reducing seismic risk and improving earthquake resilience. Earthquake forecasting models rely on two scales of hazard evolution: long‐term (decades to centuries) probabilities of fault rupture, constrained by stress renewal statistics, and short‐term (hours to years) probabilities of distributed seismicity, constrained by earthquake‐clustering statistics. Comprehensive datasets on both hazard scales have been integrated into the Uniform California Earthquake Rupture Forecast, Version 3 (UCERF3). UCERF3 is the first model to provide self‐consistent rupture probabilities over forecasting intervals from less than an hour to more than a century, and it is the first capable of evaluating the short‐term hazards that result from multievent sequences of complex faulting. This article gives an overview of UCERF3, illustrates the short‐term probabilities with aftershock scenarios, and draws some valuable scientific conclusions from the modeling results. In particular, seismic, geologic, and geodetic data, when combined in the UCERF3 framework, reject two types of fault‐based models: long‐term forecasts constrained to have local Gutenberg–Richter scaling, and short‐term forecasts that lack stress relaxation by elastic rebound.

Gene transcription patterns in response to low level petroleum contaminants in Mytilus trossulus from field sites and harbors in southcentral Alaska

Released August 28, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Deep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography

Lizabeth Bowen, A. Keith Miles, Brenda E. Ballachey, Shannon C. Waters, James L. Bodkin, Mandy Lindeberg, Daniel N. Esler

The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill damaged a wide range of natural resources, including intertidal communities, and post-spill studies demonstrated acute and chronic exposure and injury to an array of species. Standard toxicological methods to evaluate petroleum contaminants have assessed tissue burdens, with fewer assays providing indicators of health or physiology, particularly when contaminant levels are low and chronic. Marine mussels are a ubiquitous and crucial component of the nearshore environment, and new genomic technologies exist to quantify molecular responses of individual mussels to stimuli, including exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). We used gene-based assays of exposure and physiological function to assess chronic oil contamination using the Pacific blue mussel, Mytilus trossulus. We developed a diagnostic gene transcription panel to investigate exposure to PAHs and other contaminants and its effects on mussel physiology and health. During 2012–2015, we analyzed mussels from five field sites in western Prince William Sound, Alaska, with varying oil histories from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, and from three boat harbors in the area. Gene transcription patterns of mussels from harbors were consistent with elevated exposure to PAHs or other contaminants, whereas transcription patterns of mussels sampled from shorelines in areas affected by the oil spill indicated no PAH exposure.

Spectrally monitoring the response of the biocrust moss Syntrichia caninervis to altered precipitation regimes

Released August 28, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Scientific Reports (7)

Kristina E. Young, Sasha C. Reed

Climate change is expected to impact drylands worldwide by increasing temperatures and changing precipitation patterns. These effects have known feedbacks to the functional roles of dryland biological soil crust communities (biocrusts), which are expected to undergo significant climate-induced changes in community structure and function. Nevertheless, our ability to monitor the status and physiology of biocrusts with remote sensing is limited due to the heterogeneous nature of dryland landscapes and the desiccation tolerance of biocrusts, which leaves them frequently photosynthetically inactive and difficult to assess. To address this critical limitation, we subjected a dominant biocrust species Syntrichia caninervis to climate-induced stress in the form of small, frequent watering events, and spectrally monitored the dry mosses’ progression towards mortality. We found points of spectral sensitivity responding to experimentally-induced stress in desiccated mosses, indicating that spectral imaging is an effective tool to monitor photosynthetically inactive biocrusts. Comparing the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), the Simple Ratio (SR), and the Normalized Pigment Chlorophyll Index (NPCI), we found NDVI minimally effective at capturing stress in precipitation-stressed dry mosses, while the SR and NPCI were highly effective. Our results suggest the strong potential for utilizing spectroscopy and chlorophyll-derived indices to monitor biocrust ecophysiological status, even when biocrusts are dry, with important implications for improving our understanding of dryland functioning.

Enhancing wind erosion monitoring and assessment for U.S. rangelands

Released August 28, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Rangelands (39) 85-96

Nicholas P. Webb, Justin W. Van Zee, Jason W. Karl, Jeffrey E. Herrick, Ericha M. Courtright, Benjamin J. Billings, Robert C. Boyd, Adrian Chappell, Michael C. Duniway, Justin D. Derner, Jenny L. Hand, Emily Kachergis, Sarah E. McCord, Beth A. Newingham, Frederick B. Pierson, Jean L. Steiner, John Tatarko, Negussie H. Tedela, David Toledo, R. Scott Van Pelt

On the Ground

Geochemical and hydrologic factors controlling subsurface transport of poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Released August 28, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Environmental Science & Technology (51) 4269-4279

Andrea K. Weber, Larry B. Barber, Denis R. LeBlanc, Elsie M. Sunderland, Chad D. Vecitis

Growing evidence that certain poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are associated with negative human health effects prompted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to issue lifetime drinking water health advisories for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) in 2016. Given that groundwater is a major source of drinking water, the main objective of this work was to investigate geochemical and hydrological processes governing the subsurface transport of PFASs at a former fire training area (FTA) on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where PFAS-containing aqueous film-forming foams were used historically. A total of 148 groundwater samples and 4 sediment cores were collected along a 1200-m-long downgradient transect originating near the FTA and analyzed for PFAS content. The results indicate that unsaturated zones at the FTA and at hydraulically downgradient former domestic wastewater effluent infiltration beds both act as continuous PFAS sources to the groundwater despite 18 and 20 years of inactivity, respectively. Historically different PFAS sources are evident from contrasting PFAS composition near the water table below the FTA and wastewater-infiltration beds. Results from total oxidizable precursor assays conducted using groundwater samples collected throughout the plume suggest that some perfluoroalkyl acid precursors at this site are transporting with perfluoroalkyl acids.

Range estimates and habitat use of invasive Silver Carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix): Evidence of sedentary and mobile individuals

Released August 27, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Hydrobiologia

Austin R. Prechtel, Alison A. Coulter, Luke Etchison, P. Ryan Jackson, Reuben R. Goforth

Unregulated rivers provide unobstructed corridors for the dispersal of both native and invasive species. We sought to evaluate range size and habitat use of an invasive species (Silver Carp, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) in an unimpounded river reach (Wabash River, IN), to provide insights into the dispersal of invasive species and their potential overlap with native species. We hypothesized that range size would increase with fish length, be similar among sexes, and vary annually while habitats used would be deeper, warmer, lower velocity, and of finer substrate. Silver Carp habitat use supported our hypotheses but range size did not vary with sex or length. 75% home range varied annually, suggesting that core areas occupied by individuals may change relative to climate-based factors (e.g., water levels), whereas broader estimates of range size remained constant across years. Ranges were often centered on landscape features such as tributaries and backwaters. Results of this study indicate habitat and landscape features as potential areas where Silver Carp impacts on native ecosystems may be the greatest. Observed distribution of range sizes indicates the presence of sedentary and mobile individuals within the population. Mobile individuals may be of particular importance as they drive the spread of the invasive species into new habitats.

Polar bears experience skeletal muscle atrophy in response to food deprivation and reduced activity in winter and summer

Released August 27, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Conservation Physiology (5)

John P. Whiteman, Henry J. Harlow, George M. Durner, Eric V. Regehr, Bryan C. Rourke, Manuel Robles, Steven C. Amstrup, Merav Ben-David

When reducing activity and using stored energy during seasonal food shortages, animals risk degradation of skeletal muscles, although some species avoid or minimize the resulting atrophy while experiencing these conditions during hibernation. Polar bears may be food deprived and relatively inactive during winter (when pregnant females hibernate and hunting success declines for other demographic groups) as well as summer (when sea ice retreats from key foraging habitats). We investigated muscle atrophy in samples of biceps femoris collected from free-ranging polar bears in the Southern Beaufort Sea (SBS) throughout their annual cycle. Atrophy was most pronounced in April–May as a result of food deprivation during the previous winter, with muscles exhibiting reduced protein concentration, increased water content, and lower creatine kinase mRNA. These animals increased feeding and activity in spring (when seal prey becomes more available), initiating a period of muscle recovery. During the following ice melt of late summer, ~30% of SBS bears abandon retreating sea ice for land; in August, these ‘shore’ bears exhibited no muscle atrophy, indicating that they had fully recovered from winter food deprivation. These individuals subsequently scavenged whale carcasses deposited by humans and by October, had retained good muscle condition. In contrast, ~70% of SBS bears follow the ice north in late summer, into deep water with less prey. These ‘ice’ bears fast; by October, they exhibited muscle protein loss and rapid changes in myosin heavy-chain isoforms in response to reduced activity. These findings indicate that, unlike other bears during winter hibernation, polar bears without food in summer cannot mitigate atrophy. Consequently, prolonged summer fasting resulting from climate change-induced ice loss creates a risk of greater muscle atrophy and reduced abilities to travel and hunt.

Evidence for degassing of fresh magma during the 2004-2008 eruption of Mount St. Helens: Subtle signals from the hydrothermal system

Released August 27, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research (343) 109-121

Deborah Bergfeld, William C. Evans, Kurt R. Spicer, Andrew G. Hunt, Peter Kelly

Results from chemical and isotopic analyses of water and gas collected between 2002 and 2016 from sites on and around Mount St. Helens are used to assess magmatic degassing related to the 2004-2008 eruption. During 2005 the chemistry of hot springs in The Breach of Mount St. Helens showed no obvious response to the eruption, and over the next few years, changes were subtle, giving only slight indications of perturbations in the system. By 2010 however, water chemistry, temperatures, and isotope compositions (δD and δ18O) clearly indicated some inputs of volatiles and heat associated with the eruption, but the changes were such that they could be attributed to a pre-existing, gas depleted magma. An increase of ~ 1.5‰ in the δ13C values of dissolved carbon in the springs was noted in 2006 and continued through 2009, a change that was mirrored by a similar shift in δ13C-CO2 in bubble gas emissions. These changes require input of a new source of carbon to the hydrothermal system and provide clear evidence of CO2 from an undegassed body of magma. Rising trends in 3He/4He ratios in gas also accompanied the increases in δ13C. Since 2011 maximum RC/RA values are ≥ 6.4 and are distinctly higher than 5 samples collected between 1986 and 2002, and provide additional evidence for some involvement of new magma as early as 2006, and possibly earlier, given the unknown time needed for CO2 and He to traverse the system and arrive at the springs.

2016 Lake Michigan Lake Trout Working Group Report

Released August 27, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Report

Charles P. Madenjian, Brian Breidert, David Boyarski, Charles R. Bronte, Ben Dickinson, Kevin Donner, Mark P. Ebener, Roger Gordon, Dale Hanson, Mark Holey, John Janssen, Jory Jonas, Matthew Kornis, Erik Olsen, Steve Robillard, Ted Treska, Barry Weldon, Greg D. Wright

This report provides a review on the progression of lake trout rehabilitation towards meeting the Salmonine Fish Community Objectives (FCOs) for Lake Michigan (Eshenroder et. al. 1995) and the interim goal and evaluation objectives articulated in A Fisheries Management Implementation Strategy for the Rehabilitation of Lake Trout in Lake Michigan (Dexter et al. 2011); we also include data describing lake trout stocking and mortality to portray the present state of progress towards lake trout rehabilitation.

Alligator, Alligator mississippiensis, habitat suitability index model

Released August 27, 2017 00:00 EST

2017, Report, 2017 Coastal Master Plan

Hardin Waddle

The 2012 Coastal Master Plan utilized Habitat Suitability Indices (HSIs) to evaluate potential project effects on wildlife species. Even though HSIs quantify habitat condition, which may not directly correlate to species abundance, they remain a practical and tractable way to assess changes in habitat quality from various restoration actions. As part of the legislatively mandated five year update to the 2012 plan, the wildlife habitat suitability indices were updated and revised using literature and existing field data where available. The outcome of these efforts resulted in improved, or in some cases entirely new suitability indices. This report describes the development of the habitat suitability indices for the American alligator, Alligator mississippiensis.