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Publications recently added to the Pubs Warehouse

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Effect of groundwater withdrawals, river stage, and precipitation on water-table elevations in the Iowa River alluvial aquifer near Tama, Iowa, 2017–20

Released May 17, 2021 16:29 EST

2021, Open-File Report 2021-1019

Lance R. Gruhn, Adel E. Haj

The Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa is the only federally recognized Tribe in the State of Iowa and is commonly known as the Meskwaki Nation. The Tribe owns more than 8,100 acres, referred to as the “Meskwaki Settlement.” The Meskwaki Settlement uses a well field that withdraws water from the Iowa River alluvial aquifer (IRAA) to supply drinking water to members of the Tribe. Increased severity and timing of flooding and drought conditions, coupled with water-quality concerns in the Iowa River, have prompted the Meskwaki Nation to start identifying tools to provide a better understanding of how extreme climate events (changes in streamflow, flood frequency, and magnitude and persistence of drought conditions), increasing water-supply demands, and groundwater storage depletion will affect water availability in the IRAA.

From June 2017 through September 2020, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Meskwaki Nation, collected continuous and discrete groundwater level data from 11 wells in a U.S. Geological Survey monitoring-well network. Groundwater level data collected at these wells were assessed with daily precipitation data and compared to changes in stream level elevations and daily groundwater withdrawals to determine how these changes affect groundwater-table elevations. Results from this study could be used to guide the development of a conceptual model for groundwater flow and a groundwater flow model for the IRAA to quantify and forecast the effect of groundwater withdrawals, Iowa River streamflow, and local precipitation on the water table in the IRAA.

Monitoring long-term riparian vegetation trends to inform local habitat management in a mountainous environment

Released May 17, 2021 07:22 EST

2021, Monitoring long-term riparian vegetation trends to inform local habitat management in a mountainous environment (127)

Timothy J. Assal, Valerie A. Steen, Todd Caltrider, Travis Cundy, Cheyenne Stewart, Nicholas Manning, Patrick J. Anderson

Riparian ecosystems provide critical habitat for many species, yet assessment of vegetation condition at local scales is difficult to measure when considering large areas over long time periods. We present a framework to map and monitor two deciduous cover types, upland and riparian, occupying a small fraction of an expansive, mountainous landscape in north-central Wyoming. Initially, we developed broad-scale predictions of predominant woody vegetation types by integrating Landsat data into species distribution models and combining subsequent outputs into a synthesis map. Then, we evaluated a 35-year Landsat time series (1985–2019) using the Mann-Kendall test to identify significant trends in the condition of upland and riparian deciduous vegetation and assessed the rate and direction of change using the Theil-Sen estimator. Finally, we used plot level data to assess the utility of the framework to detect bottom-up controls (ungulate browse pressure and management actions) on vegetation condition. The synthesis map had an overall correct classification rate of 87% and field data indicated deciduous vegetation within 45 m of coniferous forest faces increased pressure of conifer expansion. The trend assessment identified consistent patterns operating at the landscape scale across both upland and riparian deciduous vegetation; a predominant greening trend was observed for 12 years followed by a 9-year browning trend, before switching back to a greening trend for the last 13 years of the study. Our results indicate trends are driven by the climate of the measurement period at the landscape scale. Although we did not find conclusive evidence to establish a strong link between browse pressure and satellite data, we highlight examples where prevailing trends can be overridden by local disturbance or management intervention. This framework is transferable to other understudied riparian environments throughout western North America to provide insight on ecohydrological processes and assess global and local stressors across broad spatiotemporal scales.

The importance of wilderness to wolf (Canis lupus) survival and cause-specific mortality over 50 years

Released May 17, 2021 07:17 EST

2021, Biological Conservation (258)

Shannon Barber-Meyer, Tyler Wheeldon, L. David Mech

We assessed the relative importance of wilderness to gray wolf (Canis lupus) population dynamics over 50 years in a population that 1) was long extant (i.e., not reintroduced or recolonized), 2) was not subject to harvest in our study area until recently, and 3) used both wilderness and adjacent, mainly public, non-wilderness. We analyzed the survival of radiocollared wolves (n = 756 collared-wolf tenures) during 1968–2018 in the Superior National Forest, Minnesota, USA, including the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Over 50 years, adult annual survival was 78%. Wolves captured in wilderness tended to exhibit higher survival than those captured in nonwilderness, but the difference was more pronounced during harvest years and post-harvest years when wilderness wolf survival remained relatively high and non-wilderness wolf survival dropped (relative to pre-harvest). During Nov–Apr of pre-harvest years for adults, the natural mortality rate was similar for non-wilderness wolves and wilderness wolves (both 6%), but the anthropogenic mortality rate was higher for non-wilderness wolves than wilderness wolves (7% versus 1%), as was the illegal mortality rate (5% versus 1%). During Nov–Apr of preharvest years, wilderness wolves were less likely to die than non-wilderness wolves (p = 0.042; hazard ratio = 0.59), pups were more likely to die than adults (p = 0.002; hazard ratio = 1.84), and males were less likely to die than females (p = 0.053; hazard ratio = 0.73). Our long-term wolf survival, cause-specific mortality, and hazard results will inform management agencies whenever wolves are delisted, and jurisdiction for them passes to states.

Modeling of future COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, by vaccination rates and nonpharmaceutical intervention scenarios — United States, April–September 2021

Released May 14, 2021 11:54 EST

2021, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (70) 719-724

Rebecca K. Borchering, Cecile Viboud, Emily Howerton, Claire P. Smith, Shaun Truelove, Michael C. Runge, Nicholas G. Reich, Lucie Contamin, John Levander, Jessica Salerno, Wilbert van Panhuis, Matt Kinsey, Kate Tallaksen, R. Freddy Obrecht, Laura Asher, Cash Costello, Michael Kelbaugh, Shelby Wilson, Lauren Shin, Molly Gallagher, Luke Mullany, Kaitlin Rainwater-Lovett, Joseph Lemaitre, Juan Dent, Kyra Grantz, Joshua Kaminsky, Stephen Lauer, Elizabeth Lee, Hannah Meredith, Javier Perez-Saez, Lindsay T. Keegan, Dean Karlen, Matteo Chinazzi, Jessica Davis, Kunpeng Mu, Xinyue Xiong, Ana Pastore y Piontti, Alessandro Vespignani, Ajitesh Srivastava, Przemyslaw Porebski, Srinivasan Venkatramanan, Aniruddha Adiga, Bryan Lewis, Brian Klahn, Joseph Outten, James Schlitt, Patrick Corbett, Pyrros A. Telionis, Lijing Wang, Akhil S. Peddireddy, Benjamin Hurt, Jiangzhuo Chen, Anil Vullikanti, Madhav Marathe, Jessica Healy, Rachel B Slayton, Matthew Biggerstaff, Michael A Johansson, Katriona Shea, Justin Lessler

What is already known about this topic?

Increases in COVID-19 cases in March and early April occurred despite a large-scale vaccination program. Increases coincided with the spread of SARS-CoV-2 variants and relaxation of nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs).

What is added by this report?

Data from six models indicate that with high vaccination coverage and moderate NPI adherence, hospitalizations and deaths will likely remain low nationally, with a sharp decline in cases projected by July 2021. Lower NPI adherence could lead to substantial increases in severe COVID-19 outcomes, even with improved vaccination coverage.

What are the implications for public health practice?

High vaccination coverage and compliance with NPIs are essential to control COVID-19 and prevent surges in hospitalizations and deaths in the coming months.

Emerging dominance of Paratrochammina simplissima (Cushman and McCulloch) in the northern Gulf of Mexico following hydrologic and geomorphic changes

Released May 14, 2021 07:25 EST

2021, Estuarine, Coastal, and Shelf Science (255)

Alisha M. Ellis, Christopher Smith

Grand Bay estuary in coastal Mississippi and Alabama (USA) has undergone significant geomorphic changes over the last few centuries as a result of anthropogenic (bridge, road, and hardened shoreline construction) and climatic (extreme storm events) processes, which reduce freshwater input, sediment supply, and degrade barrier islands. To investigate how geomorphic changes may have altered the Grand Bay estuary, sediment push cores were collected for foraminiferal, sedimentological (organic matter content, grain-size distribution), and radiochemical (210Pb,137Cs, and 7Be) analyses. Clay normalized geochronologies were determined with a constant rate of supply model. Based on downcore age-depth relationships, select intervals were analyzed for foraminifera in order to assess alterations in the microfossil assemblage in Grand Bay estuary over the 20th Century. All estuarine samples were low diversity (species richness: 1–10; Fisher's alpha diversity: 0.14–1.75); two species, Ammotium salsum and Paratrochammina simplissima, dominated all downcore assemblages. Paratrochammina simplissima increased in abundance up-core from a minor subsidiary species (median = 4.7% at 19–20 cm) to dominant or co-dominant with A. salsum over the 20th and early 21st Centuries in six cores, comprising up to 60.7% of a single sample. The emerging dominance of P. simplissima since ~1950 along with the reduction of brackish-estuarine taxa and introduction of calcareous species signifies increased salinity and less marsh organic matter preserved in the sediments. While seasonal dissolution limits our ability to chronologically constrain the introduction of calcareous species, P. simplissima, a species not referenced in taxonomic data from the northern Gulf of Mexico until 2012, is well constrained, following its first occurrence in the 1930s.

Trophic transfer efficiency in the Lake Superior food web: Assessing the impacts of non-native species

Released May 13, 2021 08:05 EST

2021, Journal of Great Lakes Research

Bryan G. Mathias, Thomas R. Hrabik, Joel C. Hoffman, Owen Gorman, Michael J. Seider, Michael E. Sierszen, Mark Vinson, Daniel Yule, Peder M. Yurista

Ecosystem-based management relies on understanding how perturbations influence ecosystem structure and function (e.g., invasive species, exploitation, abiotic changes). However, data on unimpacted systems are scarce; therefore, we often rely on impacted systems to make inferences about ‘natural states.’ Among the Laurentian Great Lakes, Lake Superior provides a unique case study to address non-native species impacts because the food web is dominated by native species. Additionally, Lake Superior is both vertically (benthic versus pelagic) and horizontally (nearshore versus offshore) structured by depth, providing an opportunity to compare the function of these sub-food webs. We developed an updated Lake Superior EcoPath model using data from the 2005/2006 lake-wide multi-agency surveys covering multiple trophic levels. We then compared trophic transfer efficiency (TTE) to previously published EcoPath models. Finally, we compared ecosystem function of the 2005/2006 ecosystem to that with non-native linkages removed and compared native versus non-native species-specific approximations of TTE and trophic flow. Lake Superior was relatively efficient (TTE = 0.14) compared to systems reported in a global review (average TTE = 0.09), and the microbial loop was highly efficient (TTE > 0.20). Non-native species represented a very small proportion (<0.01%) of total biomass and were generally more efficient and had higher trophic flow compared to native species. Our results provide valuable insight into the importance of the microbial loop and represent a baseline estimate of non-native species impacts on Lake Superior. Finally, this work is a starting point for further model development to predict future changes in the Lake Superior ecosystem.

Biogeography and ecology of Ostracoda in the U.S. northern Bering, Chukchi, and Beaufort Seas

Released May 13, 2021 07:39 EST

2021, PLoS ONE (16)

Laura Gemery, Thomas M. Cronin, Lee W. Cooper, Harry J. Dowsett, Jacqueline M. Grebmeier

Ostracoda (bivalved Crustacea) comprise a significant part of the benthic meiofauna in the Pacific-Arctic region, including more than 50 species, many with identifiable ecological tolerances. These species hold potential as useful indicators of past and future ecosystem changes. In this study, we examined benthic ostracodes from nearly 300 surface sediment samples, >34,000 specimens, from three regions—the northern Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort Seas—to establish species’ ecology and distribution. Samples were collected during various sampling programs from 1970 through 2018 on the continental shelves at 20 to ~100m water depth. Ordination analyses using species’ relative frequencies identified six species, Normanicythere leioderma, Sarsicytheridea bradii, Paracyprideis pseudopunctillata, Semicytherura complanata, Schizocythere ikeyai, and Munseyella mananensis, as having diagnostic habitat ranges in bottom water temperatures, salinities, sediment substrates and/or food sources. Species relative abundances and distributions can be used to infer past bottom environmental conditions in sediment archives for paleo-reconstructions and to characterize potential changes in Pacific-Arctic ecosystems in future sampling studies. Statistical analyses further showed ostracode assemblages grouped by the summer water masses influencing the area. Offshore-to-nearshore transects of samples across different water masses showed that complex water mass characteristics, such as bottom temperature, productivity, as well as sediment texture, influenced the relative frequencies of ostracode species over small spatial scales. On the larger biogeographic scale, synoptic ordination analyses showed dominant species—N. leioderma (Bering Sea), P. pseudopunctillata (offshore Chukchi and Beaufort Seas), and S. bradii (all regions)—remained fairly constant over recent decades. However, during 2013–2018, northern Pacific species M. mananensis and S. ikeyai increased in abundance by small but significant proportions in the Chukchi Sea region compared to earlier years. It is yet unclear if these assemblage changes signify a meiofaunal response to changing water mass properties and if this trend will continue in the future. Our new ecological data on ostracode species and biogeography suggest these hypotheses can be tested with future benthic monitoring efforts.

Evaporation from Lake Mead and Lake Mohave, Nevada and Arizona, 2010–2019

Released May 11, 2021 15:05 EST

2021, Open-File Report 2021-1022

Katherine J. Earp, Michael T. Moreo

Evaporation-rate estimates at Lake Mead and Lake Mohave, Nevada and Arizona, were based on eddy covariance and available energy measurements from March 2010 through April 2019 at Lake Mead and May 2013 through April 2019 at Lake Mohave. The continuous data needed to compute monthly evaporation were collected from floating-platform and land-based measurement stations located at each reservoir. Collected data include latent- and sensible-heat fluxes, net radiation, air temperature, wind speed, humidity, and water-temperature profiles. Data collection, analysis methods, and monthly evaporation results for Lake Mead through February 2012 were documented in a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Scientific-Investigations Report, 2013–5229. Monthly evaporation and associated datasets for both reservoirs through April 2015 were published in a USGS Data Release ( Average annual evaporation at Lake Mead was 1,896 millimeters (mm), which is a 10 percent difference from the 1,718 mm average annual evaporation at Lake Mohave; this was primarily due to differences in available energy. Average annual available energy at Lake Mead was 139 watts per square meter (W/m2), which is an 18 percent difference from the 116 W/m2 average annual available energy at Lake Mohave. Differences in available energy are driven by differences in advected heat between Lake Mead and Lake Mohave; advected heat at Lake Mohave is lower due to colder inflows and warmer outflows. Lake Mead monthly evaporation estimates for this study compare reasonably well to the Bureau of Reclamation’s 24-Month Study (24MS) evaporation coefficients, which are based on pioneering studies from the 1950s. Temporal trends in this study indicate that the effects of heat storage at Lake Mead were underestimated in the 24MS, particularly during the fall months when energy was released from the lake. Mean monthly evaporation rates at Lake Mead were greater than Lake Mohave from June through November during the study period. The seasonal pattern of evaporation at Lake Mohave in this study indicates that the effects of available energy were underestimated in the 24MS coefficients for this reservoir, and that evaporation was substantially overestimated from spring through summer
during the study period of 2013 through 2019.

Assessing the population impacts and cost‐effectiveness of a conservation translocation

Released May 11, 2021 07:37 EST

2021, Journal of Applied Ecology

Charles B. Yackulic, David R. Van Haverbeke, Maria C. Dzul, Lucas S. Bair, Kirk L. Young

  1. Managers often move, or translocate, organisms into habitats that are assumed to be suitable, however the consequences of these translocations are usually not rigorously assessed. Robust assessment of these management experiments should consider impacts to both donor and recipient populations and compare the cost‐effectiveness of translocations to other actions.
  2. Here we evaluate translocations of a federally listed fish species, humpback chub within a tributary to the Colorado River in its Grand Canyon reach (Arizona, USA). We analyze mark‐recapture data with multistate models to estimate vital rates (growth, survival, and movement) for the donor and recipient populations while accounting for substantial temporal variation in vital rates. We then use stochastic matrix projections to quantify the impact of translocations on adult population size. Lastly, we compare costs of translocations to another, legally required management action, non‐native fish removal, by modifying an existing bioeconomic model.
  3. We estimate that six of eight translocations during the study period positively impacted adult abundance and that the overall population impact was positive. Population projections suggest that each chub translocated per year increases the equilibrium adult population size by 1.2 (95% CI: 0.4 – 2.2) adults, lessening the need for non‐native fish removal.
  4. Continuation of translocations at the current rate is expected to save managers ~$50,000 per year by decreasing the annual probability of removals from 0.26 to 0.15. Further savings and decreases in removals could be attained by avoiding translocations in years when there has been no winter/spring runoff and modifying the number of translocated individuals based on estimates of juvenile production in the lower LCR.
  5. Synthesis and applications. Translocations that increase the abundance of a rare species can sometimes be viewed as a hedge against future declines that might necessitate more costly interventions. Quantifying population benefits and economic costs of management actions like translocations and comparing alternative actions can lead to cost effective conservation that is more easily sustained.

Climate drivers of large magnitude snow avalanche years in the U.S. northern Rocky Mountains

Released May 11, 2021 06:57 EST

2021, Scientific Reports (11)

Erich Peitzsch, Gregory T. Pederson, Karl W. Birkeland, Jordy Hendrikx, Daniel B. Fagre

Large magnitude snow avalanches pose a hazard to humans and infrastructure worldwide. Analyzing the spatiotemporal behavior of avalanches and the contributory climate factors is important for understanding historical variability in climate-avalanche relationships as well as improving avalanche forecasting. We used established dendrochronological methods to develop a long-term (1867–2019) regional avalanche chronology for the Rocky Mountains of northwest Montana using tree-rings from 647 trees exhibiting 2134 avalanche-related growth disturbances. We then used principal component analysis and a generalized linear autoregressive moving average model to examine avalanche-climate relationships. Historically, large magnitude regional avalanche years were characterized by stormy winters with positive snowpack anomalies, with avalanche years over recent decades increasingly influenced by warmer temperatures and a shallow snowpack. The amount of snowpack across the region, represented by the first principal component, is shown to be directly related to avalanche probability. Coincident with warming and regional snowpack reductions, a decline of ~ 14% (~ 2% per decade) in overall large magnitude avalanche probability is apparent through the period 1950–2017. As continued climate warming drives further regional snowpack reductions in the study region our results suggest a decreased probability of regional large magnitude avalanche frequency associated with winters characterized by large snowpacks and a potential increase in large magnitude events driven by warming temperatures and spring precipitation.

How would a volcanic eruption affect your Tribe?

Released May 10, 2021 12:45 EST

2021, General Information Product 209

Cynthia A. Gardner, Joseph A. Bard

Volcanic eruptions are rare, but when they occur, they can profoundly affect nearby communities. In order to determine which communities are at risk, and in order for those communities to mitigate their risk, communities need to know whether they are in or near volcano hazard zones and have basic information about the hazards within those zones. In addition, individuals need to know whether they live in, work or go to school in, or cross volcano hazard zones as part of their routine so they can plan for what to do in the event of an eruption.

The purpose of this product is to serve as a starting point for dialogue with Indian Tribes of the Pacific Northwest who may be at risk from future volcanic eruptions. The map shows Tribal land boundaries and land-based volcano hazard zones, allowing Tribes to determine quickly if they are at risk from these hazards. A rose diagram in the map explanation shows typical Pacific Northwest wind directions and, hence, the most likely directions airborne material (tephra) from explosive eruptions will travel (primarily to the northeast, east, and southeast). We also provide basic information about the hazards and simple protective actions to take during unrest and eruptions, guidance for finding information about current volcanic activity and preparedness, and additional resources.

Virus shedding kinetics and unconventional virulence tradeoffs

Released May 10, 2021 07:01 EST

2021, PLoS Pathogens (17)

Andrew R. Wargo, Gael Kurath, Robert J. Scott, Benjamin Kerr

Tradeoff theory, which postulates that virulence provides both transmission costs and benefits for pathogens, has become widely adopted by the scientific community. Although theoretical literature exploring virulence-tradeoffs is vast, empirical studies validating various assumptions still remain sparse. In particular, truncation of transmission duration as a cost of virulence has been difficult to quantify with robust controlled in vivo studies. We sought to fill this knowledge gap by investigating how transmission rate and duration were associated with virulence for infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV) in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Using host mortality to quantify virulence and viral shedding to quantify transmission, we found that IHNV did not conform to classical tradeoff theory. More virulent genotypes of the virus were found to have longer transmission durations due to lower recovery rates of infected hosts, but the relationship was not saturating as assumed by tradeoff theory. Furthermore, the impact of host mortality on limiting transmission duration was minimal and greatly outweighed by recovery. Transmission rate differences between high and low virulence genotypes were also small and inconsistent. Ultimately, more virulent genotypes were found to have the overall fitness advantage, and there was no apparent constraint on the evolution of increased virulence for IHNV. However, using a mathematical model parameterized with experimental data, it was found that host culling resurrected the virulence tradeoff and provided low virulence genotypes with the advantage. Human-induced or natural culling, as well as host population fragmentation, may be some of the mechanisms by which virulence diversity is maintained in nature. This work highlights the importance of considering non-classical virulence tradeoffs.

Periphyton biomass and community compositions as indicators of water quality in the Lower Grand River hydrologic unit, Missouri and Iowa, 2011–18

Released May 10, 2021 06:48 EST

2021, Scientific Investigations Report 2021-5012

Heather M. Krempa

Biological communities, including periphyton, are continuously affected by chemical, physical, and other biological factors, and the health of these communities can reflect the overall health of the aquatic system. A diverse community is more robust, and communities with lower richness and evenness often indicate a degraded community dominated by few taxa tolerant to the degraded conditions, which makes the community more susceptible to ecological changes. Water-quality nutrient samples were collected at sites in the Lower Grand River during 2010 through 2018 and periphyton sample collections began in 2011 to describe the periphyton community and overall ecological health. Nutrient sample concentrations were generally elevated at these sites, which can lead to eutrophication, excessive plant and algae growth, drinking-water taste and odor problems, low dissolved-oxygen concentrations, and harmful algal blooms. Concentrations of total nitrogen were greater than acceptable as described by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and total phosphorus concentrations were greater than reference concentrations. Periphyton communities were dominated by taxa that are tolerant to or indicative of elevated nutrient concentrations; and nuisance algae, or harmful algal bloom producers, were identified at all sites, except one. The presence of these producers indicates that harmful algal blooms may have high potential during optimal conditions at these sites. Chlorophyll concentrations that exceed 100 milligrams per square meter are considered nuisance and were determined in 11 percent of the samples and at every site during September 2012. Samples were collected during low-flow conditions when nutrient concentrations are generally lower than during high-flow and runoff conditions. Elevated nutrient concentrations during low-flow conditions indicate nutrient concentrations are likely elevated throughout most of the year. Agriculture is the primary land use within the Lower Grand River and is likely a primary source of nutrients and sediments. Conservation practices intended to reduce nutrient loss from agriculture fields have increased because of the Mississippi River Basin Healthy Watersheds Initiative and will potentially increase the ecological, chemical, and physical health of these waterways.

Spatial data reduction through element -of-interest (EOI) extraction

Released May 08, 2021 08:04 EST

2021, Book chapter, Handbook of big geospatial data

Samantha Arundel, E. Lynn Usery

Any large, multifaceted data collection that is challenging to handle with traditional management practices can be branded ‘Big Data.’ Any big data containing geo-referenced attributes can be considered big geospatial data. The increased proliferation of big geospatial data is currently reforming the geospatial industry into a data-driven enterprise. Challenges in the big spatial data domain can be summarized as the ‘Big Vs’ – variety, volume, velocity, veracity and value. Big spatial data sources can be considered in two broad classes, active and passive, as each is impacted to varying degrees. Some of these challenges may be alleviated by reducing unprocessed, or minimally processed, (raw) data to features, which we refer to as the extraction of Elements of Interest (EOI). In fact, many applications require EOI extraction from raw data to enable their basic employment. This chapter presents current state-of-the-art methods to create EOI from some types of georeferenced big data. We classify the data types into two realms: active and passive. Active data are those collected specifically for the purpose to which they are applied. Passive data are those collected for purposes other than those for which they are utilized, included those ‘collected’ for no particular purpose at all. The chapter then presents use cases from both the active and passive spatial realms, including the active applications of terrain feature extraction from digital elevation models and vegetation mapping from remotely-sensed imagery and passive applications like building identification from VGI and point-of-interest data mining from social networks for land use classification. Finally, the chapter concludes with future research needs.

Using the landsat burned area products to derive fire history relevant for fire management and conservation in the state of Florida, southeastern USA

Released May 08, 2021 06:59 EST

2021, Fire (4)

Casey Teske, Melanie K. Vanderhoof, Todd J. Hawbaker, Joe Noble, J. Kevin Hires

Development of comprehensive spatially explicit fire occurrence data remains one of the most critical needs for fire managers globally, and especially for conservation across the southeastern United States. Not only are many endangered species and ecosystems in that region reliant on frequent fire, but fire risk analysis, prescribed fire planning, and fire behavior modeling are sensitive to fire history due to the long growing season and high vegetation productivity. Spatial data that map burned areas over time provide critical information for evaluating management successes. However, existing fire data have undocumented shortcomings that limit their use when detailing the effectiveness of fire management at state and regional scales. Here, we assessed information in existing fire datasets for Florida and the Landsat Burned Area products based on input from the fire management community. We considered the potential of different datasets to track the spatial extents of fires and derive fire history metrics (e.g., time since last burn, fire frequency, and seasonality). We found that burned areas generated by applying a 90% threshold to the Landsat burn probability product matched patterns recorded and observed by fire managers at three pilot areas. We then created fire history metrics for the entire state from the modified Landsat Burned Area product. Finally, to show their potential application for conservation management, we compared fire history metrics across ownerships for natural pinelands, where prescribed fire is frequently applied. Implications of this effort include increased awareness around conservation and fire management planning efforts and an extension of derivative products regionally or globally.

Methodology and technical input for the 2021 review and revision of the U.S. Critical Minerals List

Released May 07, 2021 13:35 EST

2021, Open-File Report 2021-1045

Nedal T. Nassar, Steven M. Fortier

Pursuant to Section 7002 (“Mineral Security”) of Title VII (“Critical Minerals”) of the Energy Act of 2020 (Public Law 116–260, December 27, 2020, 116th Cong.), the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Director of the U.S. Geological Survey, is tasked with reviewing and revising the methodology used to evaluate mineral criticality and the U.S. Critical Minerals List no less than every 3 years. The initial Critical Minerals List was published in the Federal Register on May 18, 2018, in response to Executive Order No. 13817, A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals (3 CFR, 2017 Comp, p. 397–399). This report documents the updated evaluation methodology and the resultant updated draft list of minerals recommended for inclusion in the Critical Minerals List.

Survival and growth of suckers in mesocosms at three locations within Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon, 2018

Released May 07, 2021 08:23 EST

2021, Open-File Report 2021-1036

Summer M. Burdick, Carla M. Conway, Carl O. Ostberg, Ryan J. Bart, Diane G. Elliott

Executive Summary

Due to high mortality in the first year or two of life, Lost River (Deltistes luxatus sp.) and Shortnose suckers (Chasmistes brevirostris sp.) in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon rarely reach maturity. In 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began the Sucker Assisted Rearing Program (SARP) to improve early life survival before releasing the fish back into Upper Klamath Lake. Survival and growth rates were compared for fish in mesocosms among three potential release or in-lake rearing sites, and in a pond at the SARP rearing facility. Fish used in this study included a mix of Lost River, Shortnose, and Klamath largescale suckers reared at either U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or Klamath Tribes fish rearing facilities. These sites were Shoalwater Bay (SWB), Rattlesnake Point (RPT), and Cove Point (CPT). Ninety-nine to 103 suckers tagged with passive integrated transponders (PIT) were placed into each mesocosm for up to 80 days and up to 103 days in the SARP pond. Cessation of movement, as determined by passive detection of tagged fish on remote antennas, indicated mortality. Dissolved-oxygen saturation, temperature, and pH were tracked hourly in each mesocosm. All the suckers placed into the SWB mesocosm died during an extreme hypoxia event. These fish were replaced with another 120 PIT-tagged and 2 untagged hatchery-reared Lost River suckers from the Klamath Tribes Fish Research Facility (KTFRF), of which, all but two died during a second extreme hypoxia event. It was determined that SWB was an unsuitable site for summertime release or rearing of juvenile suckers in 2018. The summer survival rate was ≥86 percent at CPT, RPT, and the SARP pond. Suckers in the SARP pond grew slightly slower and gained less weight relative to increases in length than suckers held at RPT and CPT. All suckers sampled at the start of the study from both the SARP facility and the KTFRF, when water temperatures averaged approximately 18–22 degrees Celsius (°C), were infected with low levels of the gill parasite Ichthyobodo sp. Ichthyobodo sp. was detected on only 1 of 16 suckers sampled from CPT, RPT, and the SARP pond in late September or early October when water temperatures were approximately 16–19 °C, indicating fish were able to shed the parasite in cooler temperatures. Water quality conditions at RPT and CPT were adequate for in-lake rearing of SARP suckers in 2018. Due to interannual differences in water quality conditions, these sites may not be suitable in all years. Future research focused on the suitability of RPT, CPT and other potential sites under in years with varying conditions would be beneficial for improving sucker in-lake rearing practices. Additional research could help to elucidate how size at entry into the mesocosms affects sucker survival.

Hydraulic characterization of carbonate-rock and basin-fill aquifers near Long Canyon, Goshute Valley, northeastern Nevada

Released May 07, 2021 07:51 EST

2021, Scientific Investigations Report 2021-5021

C. Amanda Garcia, Keith J. Halford, Philip M. Gardner, David W. Smith

Understanding groundwater flow and pumping effects near pending mining operations requires accurate subsurface hydraulic characterization. To improve conceptual models of groundwater flow and development in the complex hydrogeologic system near Long Canyon Mine, in northwestern Goshute Valley, northeastern Nevada, the U.S. Geological Survey characterized the hydraulic properties of carbonate rocks and basin-fill aquifers using an integrated analysis of steady-state and stressed aquifer conditions informed by water chemistry and aquifer-test data. Hydraulic gradients and groundwater-age data in northern Goshute Valley indicate carbonate rocks in the Pequop Mountains just west and south of the Long Canyon Mine project area constitute a more permeable and active flow system than saturated rocks in the northern Pequop Mountains, western Toano Range, and basin fill. Permeable carbonate rocks in the northern Pequop Mountains, in part, discharge to the Johnson Springs wetland complex (JSWC), where mean groundwater ages range from 500 to 2,400 years and samples all contain a small fraction of modern waters, relative to mean ages of 8,600 to more than 22,000 years for most groundwater sampled to the north and east. Recharge to the JSWC occurs from a roughly 27-square-mile area in the upgradient Pequop Mountains to the west, composed mostly of permeable carbonate rock and fractured quartzite, and bounded by low-permeability shales and marbleized and siliclastic rocks.

Single-well aquifer-test analyses provided transmissivity estimates at pumped wells. Transmissivity estimates ranged from 7,000 to 400,000 feet squared per day (ft2/d) in carbonate rocks and from 2,000 to 80,000 ft2/d in basin fill near the Long Canyon Mine. Water-level drawdown from multiple-well aquifer testing and rise from unintentional leakage into the overlying basin-fill aquifer were estimated and distinguished from natural fluctuations in 93 pumping and monitoring sites using analytical water-level models. Leakage of disposed aquifer-test pumpage occurred south of the aquifer test area through an unlined irrigation ditch. Drawdown was detected at distances of as much as 3 miles (mi) from pumping wells at all but one carbonate-rock site, at basin-fill sites on the alluvial fan immediately downgradient from pumping wells, and in Big Spring and spring NS-05. Similar drawdowns in carbonate rocks within the drawdown detection area suggest all wells penetrate a highly transmissive zone (HTZ) that is bounded by low-permeability rocks. Drawdown was not detected in carbonate rocks to the west of Canyon fault, in any basin-fill sites on the valley floor east of the Hardy fault, or at volcanic sites to the north, indicating that these major fault structures and (or) permeability contrasts between hydrogeologic units impeded groundwater flow or obscured pumping signals. Alternatively, unintentional leakage might have obscured drawdown at basin-fill sites on the valley floor, where water-level rise was detected at nine sites over 3 mi.

Consistent hydraulic properties were estimated by simultaneously interpreting steady-state flow during predevelopment conditions and changes in groundwater levels and springflows from the 2016 carbonate-rock aquifer test with an integrated groundwater-flow model. Hydraulic properties were distributed across carbonate rocks, basin fill, volcanic rocks, and siliciclastic rocks with a hydrogeologic framework developed from geologic mapping and hydraulic testing. Estimated transmissivity distributions spanned at least three orders of magnitude in each rock unit. In the HTZ, simulated transmissivities ranged from 10,000 to 23,000,000 ft2/d, with the most transmissive areas occurring around Big Spring. Comparatively low carbonate-rock transmissivities of less than 10,000 ft2/d were estimated in the northern Pequop Mountains and poorly defined values of less than 1,000 ft2/d were estimated in the western Toano Range. Transmissivities in basin fill ranged from less than 10 to 80,000 ft2/d and were minimally constrained by the 2016 carbonate-rock aquifer test because poorly quantified leakage affected water levels more so than pumping. The most transmissive areas were informed by single-well aquifer tests along the eastern edge of the Pequop Mountains near Long Canyon Mine and could be indicative of a hydraulic connection between basin fill and more transmissive underlying carbonate rocks. Simulated transmissivities of volcanic and low-permeability rocks mostly are less than 1,000 ft2/d. The estimated hydraulic-property distributions and informed interpretation of hydraulic connections among hydrogeologic units improved the characterization and representation of groundwater flow near the Long Canyon Mine.

Using next generation sequencing of alpine plants to improve fecal metabarcoding diet analysis for Dall’s sheep

Released May 07, 2021 06:43 EST

2021, BMC Research Notes (14)

Kelly E. Williams, Damian M. Menning, Eric J. Wald, Sandra L. Talbot, Kumi L. Rattenbury, Laura R. Prugh


Dall’s sheep (Ovis dalli dalli) are important herbivores in the mountainous ecosystems of northwestern North America, and recent declines in some populations have sparked concern. Our aim was to improve capabilities for fecal metabarcoding diet analysis of Dall’s sheep and other herbivores by contributing new sequence data for arctic and alpine plants. This expanded reference library will provide critical reference sequence data that will facilitate metabarcoding diet analysis of Dall’s sheep and thus improve understanding of plant-animal interactions in a region undergoing rapid climate change.

Data description

We provide sequences for the chloroplast rbcL gene of 16 arctic-alpine vascular plant species that are known to comprise the diet of Dall’s sheep. These sequences contribute to a growing reference library that can be used in diet studies of arctic herbivores.

Stopover ecology of red knots in southwestern James Bay during southbound migration

Released May 06, 2021 07:57 EST

2021, Journal of Wildlife Management

Amie MacDonald, Paul Smith, Christian Friis, James Lyons, Yves Aubry, Erica Nol

Many shorebirds rely on small numbers of staging sites during long annual migrations. Numerous shorebird species are declining and understanding the importance of these staging sites is important for successful conservation. We surveyed endangered rufa red knots (Calidris canutus rufa) staging in James Bay, Ontario, Canada, during southbound migration in 2017 and 2018. We used mark‐resight data and count data in an integrated Bayesian analysis to quantify migration phenology, estimate passage population size, and model the age structure of the stopover population. Many adult red knots arrived in James Bay in a single wave in early August in 2017, whereas adult red knots arrived in multiple smaller waves in July and mid‐August in 2018. These waves may correspond with breeding phenology where more red knots bred successfully and arrived in one large event in 2017 and the higher number of earlier arrivals in July 2018 may have been failed breeders. We included a binomial generalized linear model in the integrated analysis to estimate that 20% and 10% of staging red knots were juveniles in 2017 and 2018, respectively. In future applications, this method could provide a metric to assess breeding performance and develop our understanding of its role in population declines. Overall, we estimated that up to 23% of the estimated rufa red knot population staged in southwestern James Bay for an average of 10–12 days. The region is a key staging site for endangered red knots and could be included in conservation planning. 

Differential susceptibility of Yukon River and Salish Sea stocks of Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha to ichthyophoniasis

Released May 06, 2021 07:21 EST

2021, Diseases of Aquatic Organisms (144) 123-131

Diane G. Elliott, Carla M. Conway, Constance L. McKibben, Ashley Mackenzie, Lucas M. Hart, Maya Groner, Maureen K. Purcell, Jacob L. Gregg, Paul Hershberger

Preliminary evidence suggests that Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha from the Yukon River may be more susceptible to Ichthyophonus sp. infections than Chinook from stocks further south. To investigate this hypothesis in a controlled environment, we experimentally challenged juvenile Chinook from the Yukon River and from the Salish Sea with Ichthyophonus sp. and evaluated mortality, infection prevalence and infection load over time. We found that juvenile Chinook salmon from a Yukon River stock were more susceptible to ichthyophoniasis than were those from a Salish Sea stock. After feeding with tissues from infected Pacific herring Clupea pallasii, Chinook salmon from both stocks became infected. The infection was persistent and progressive in Yukon River stock fish, where infections sometimes progressed to mortality, and histological examinations revealed parasite dissemination and proliferation throughout the host tissues. In Salish Sea-origin fish, however, infections were largely transient; host mortalities were rare, and parasite stages were largely cleared from most tissues after 3-4 wk. Susceptibility differences were evidenced by greater cumulative mortality, infection prevalence, parasite density, proportion of fish demonstrating a cellular response, and intensity of the cellular response among fish from the Yukon River stock. These observed differences between Chinook salmon stocks were consistent when parasite exposures occurred in both freshwater and seawater. These results support the hypothesis that a longer-standing host-pathogen relationship, resulting in decreased disease susceptibility, exists among Salish Sea Chinook salmon than among Yukon River conspecifics.

Associations between private well water and community water supply arsenic concentrations in the conterminous United States

Released May 06, 2021 07:13 EST

2021, Science of the Total Environment (787)

Maya Spaur, Melissa Lombard, Joseph D. Ayotte, David Harvey, Benjamin Bostick, Steven Chillrud, Ana Navas-Acien, Anne E Nigra

Geogenic arsenic contamination typically occurs in groundwater as opposed to surface water supplies. Groundwater is a major source for many community water systems (CWSs) in the United States (US). Although the US Environmental Protection Agency sets the maximum contaminant level (MCL enforceable since 2006: 10 μg/L) for arsenic in CWSs, private wells are not federally regulated. We evaluated county-level associations between modeled values of the probability of private well arsenic exceeding 10 μg/L and CWS arsenic concentrations for 2231 counties in the conterminous US, using time invariant private well arsenic estimates and CWS arsenic estimates for two time periods. Nationwide, county-level CWS arsenic concentrations increased by 8.4 μg/L per 100% increase in the probability of private well arsenic exceeding 10 μg/L for 2006–2008 (the initial compliance monitoring period after MCL implementation), and by 7.3 μg/L for 2009–2011 (the second monitoring period following MCL implementation) (1.1 μg/L mean decline over time). Regional differences in this temporal decline suggest that interventions to implement the MCL were more pronounced in regions served primarily by groundwater. The strong association between private well and CWS arsenic in Rural, American Indian, and Semi Urban, Hispanic counties suggests that future research and regulatory support are needed to reduce water arsenic exposures in these vulnerable subpopulations. This comparison of arsenic exposure values from major private and public drinking water sources nationwide is critical to future assessments of drinking water arsenic exposure and health outcomes.

Activity patterns of anadromous fish below a tide gate: Observations from high‐resolution imaging sonar

Released May 06, 2021 07:06 EST

2021, Marine and Coastal Fisheries: Dynamics, Management, and Ecosystem Science (13) 200-212

Christopher B. Rillahan, Derrick Alcott, Theodore R. Castro-Santos, Pingguo He

The construction of dams and tide gates on waterways has altered the physical structure of many coastal, estuarine, and freshwater systems. These changes have come at a cost to fish populations, most notably diadromous species, which rely on connectivity between marine and freshwater systems. These anthropogenic structures can have direct effects on migrating fish, such as blocking fish passage, or have more subtle effects, such as changing movement patterns. This study used a high‐resolution Adaptive Resolution Imaging Sonar to examine the behavior of Striped Bass Morone saxatilis, a large coastal predator, and Alewife Alosa pseudoharengus and Blueback Herring Alosa aestivalis (collectively known as river herring), which are forage fish, below a tide gate structure on the Herring River in Wellfleet, Massachusetts, during the river herring spring spawning run. Striped Bass were persistently present downstream of the tide gate and exhibited strong diurnal and tidal patterns. Activity of Striped Bass was highest at night and during ebb tides. During peak outflow periods, river herring were observed milling downstream of the dam in a scour pool, indicating delayed upstream passage. River herring upstream migration was primarily associated with daytime and during incoming tides. Downstream‐migrating river herring were primarily observed during nighttime hours. While it was documented that the tide gates provided a physical impediment to migration, their effect on predator behavior could pose an additional challenge to migrating river herring, further complicating their recovery efforts. Due to the prevalence of obstructed waterways, studying the behavior of fish around anthropogenic structures is important in understanding the full range of impacts that these systems have under varying ecological conditions and on ecological relationships.

The demographic and ecological factors shaping diversification among rare Astragalus species

Released May 06, 2021 07:05 EST

2021, Diversity and Distributions

Matthew Richard Jones, Daniel E. Winkler, Robert Massatti


Evolutionary radiations are central to the origin and maintenance of biodiversity, yet we rarely understand how they are jointly shaped by demography and ecological opportunity. Astragalus is the largest plant genus in the world and is disproportionately comprised of rare species restricted to narrow geographic and ecological regions. Here, we explored the demographic and ecological mechanisms underlying patterns of diversification in a threatened Astragalus species complex endemic to a small desert region in the western United States.


Southeast Utah, USA.


We used high‐throughput DNA sequencing to infer genetic structure, genetic diversity, and demographic history (i.e., the timing of population divergence, effective population sizes and gene flow) among Astragalus taxa. We performed landscape genetic analyses to quantify the relationships between genetic differentiation, geographic distance, and ecological distance based on bioclimatic and soil variables. Finally, we identified putative adaptive loci that show higher genetic differentiation between taxa than expected based on our inferred neutral demographic model.


We found evidence of low gene flow between three highly differentiated taxa (currently delineated as A. iselyi, A. sabulosus var. sabulosus and A. sabulosus var. vehiculus) that rapidly diverged from a small ancestral population near the beginning of the last glacial period. Genomic signatures revealed long‐term effective population sizes are 2–10× larger than recent census sizes, perhaps due to the maintenance of standing genetic variation through seed banks. Consistent with limited dispersal and local adaptation, genome‐wide patterns of differentiation are shaped by geographic distance (isolation‐by‐distance) and climate and soil variation (isolation‐by‐environment). Taxon‐specific adaptation is further supported by uncovering putative adaptive loci.

Main Conclusions

Our findings suggest that interactions between demography (i.e., dispersal limitations and seeds banks) and ecological opportunity (i.e., spatial and temporal environmental heterogeneity) may promote diversification, endemism, and rarity among closely related Astragalus species and similar plant clades distributed across complex landscapes.

Implications of zoonoses from hunting and use of wildlife in North American arctic and boreal biomes: Pandemic potential, monitoring, and mitigation

Released May 05, 2021 07:44 EST

2021, Frontiers in Public Health (9)

Lucy Keatts, Martin D. Robards, Sarah H. Olson, Karsten Hueffer, Stephen Insley, Damien O. Joly, Susan Kutz, David S. Lee, Cheryl-Lesley B. Chetkiewicz, Stephane Lair, Nicholas D. Preston, Martin Pruvot, Justina C. Ray, Donald Reid, Jonathan M. Sleeman, Raphaela Stimmelmayr, Craig Stephen, Chris Walzer

The COVID-19 pandemic has re-focused attention on mechanisms that lead to zoonotic disease spillover and spread. Commercial wildlife trade, and associated markets, are recognized mechanisms for zoonotic disease emergence, resulting in a growing global conversation around reducing human disease risks from spillover associated with hunting, trade, and consumption of wild animals. These discussions are especially relevant to people who rely on harvesting wildlife to meet nutritional, and cultural needs, including those in Arctic and boreal regions. Global policies around wildlife use and trade can impact food sovereignty and security, especially of Indigenous Peoples. We reviewed known zoonotic pathogens and current risks of transmission from wildlife (including fish) to humans in North American Arctic and boreal biomes, and evaluated the epidemic and pandemic potential of these zoonoses. We discuss future concerns, and consider monitoring and mitigation measures in these changing socio-ecological systems. While multiple zoonotic pathogens circulate in these systems, risks to humans are mostly limited to individual illness or local community outbreaks. These regions are relatively remote, subject to very cold temperatures, have relatively low wildlife, domestic animal, and pathogen diversity, and in many cases low density, including of humans. Hence, favorable conditions for emergence of novel diseases or major amplification of a spillover event are currently not present. The greatest risk to northern communities from pathogens of pandemic potential is via introduction with humans visiting from other areas. However, Arctic and boreal ecosystems are undergoing rapid changes through climate warming, habitat encroachment, and development; all of which can change host and pathogen relationships, thereby affecting the probability of the emergence of new (and re-emergence of old) zoonoses. Indigenous leadership and engagement in disease monitoring, prevention and response, is vital from the outset, and would increase the success of such efforts, as well as ensure the protection of Indigenous rights as outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Partnering with northern communities and including Indigenous Knowledge Systems would improve the timeliness, and likelihood, of detecting emerging zoonotic risks, and contextualize risk assessments to the unique human-wildlife relationships present in northern biomes.

Enigmatic near‐extirpation in a boreal toad metapopulation in northwestern Montana

Released May 05, 2021 07:21 EST

2021, Journal of Wildlife Management

Rebecca McCaffery, Robin E. Russell, Blake R. Hossack

North America's protected lands harbor biodiversity and provide habitats where species threatened by a variety of stressors in other environments can thrive. Yet disease, climate change, and other threats are not limited by land management boundaries and can interact with conditions within protected landscapes to affect sensitive populations. We examined the population dynamics of a boreal toad (Anaxyrus boreas boreas) metapopulation at a wildlife refuge in northwestern Montana, USA, over a 16‐year period (2003–2018). We used robust design capture‐recapture models to estimate male population size, recruitment, and apparent survival over time and in relation to the amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis). We estimated female population size in years with sufficient captures. Finally, we examined trends in male and female toad body size and condition. We found no evidence of an effect of disease or time on male toad survival but detected a strong negative trend in recruitment of new males to the population. Estimates of male and female abundance decreased over time. Body size of males and females was inversely related to estimated population size, consistent with reduced recruitment to replace adults, but body condition of adult males was only weakly associated with abundance. Together, these results describe the demography of a near‐extirpation event, and point to dramatic decreases in the recruitment of new individuals to the breeding population as the cause of this decline. We surmise that processes related to the restoration of historical hydrology within the refuge adversely affected amphibian breeding habitat, and that these changes interacted with disease, life history, and other factors to restrict the recruitment of new individuals to the breeding population over time. Our results point to challenges in understanding and predicting factors that influence population change and highlight that current metrics for assessing population status can have limited predictive ability. Published 2021. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

U.S. Geological Survey—Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center 2019–20 research activity report

Released May 04, 2021 05:51 EST

2021, Circular 1481

Mark H. Sherfy, editor(s)

The mission of Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center is to provide scientific information needed to conserve and manage the Nation’s natural capital for current and future generations, with an emphasis on migratory birds, Department of the Interior trust resources, and ecosystems of the Nation’s interior. This report provides an overview of the studies conducted at Northern Prairie during fiscal years 2019–20 in pursuit of this mission. Studies are organized under a framework developed by the U.S. Geological Survey Ecosystems Mission Area, identifying primary and secondary alignment with focal areas of research, and summarizing recent scientific products resulting from these studies. Partnerships with Federal, State, and non-Governmental organizations are essential to a robust program of applied ecological research, and we thank our many collaborators and colleagues whose contributions made this work possible.

Postwildfire soil‐hydraulic recovery and the persistence of debris flow hazards

Released May 03, 2021 09:12 EST

2021, Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface

Matthew A. Thomas, Francis K. Rengers, Jason W. Kean, Luke A. McGuire, Dennis M. Staley, Katherine (Katy) Ruth Barnhart, Brian A. Ebel

Deadly and destructive debris flows often follow wildfire, but understanding of changes in the hazard potential with time since fire is poor. We develop a simulation‐based framework to quantify changes in the hydrologic triggering conditions for debris flows as postwildfire infiltration properties evolve through time. Our approach produces time‐varying rainfall intensity‐duration thresholds for runoff‐ and infiltration‐generated debris flows with physics‐based hydrologic simulations that are parameterized with widely available hydroclimatic, vegetation reflectance, and soil texture data. When we apply our thresholding protocol to a test case in the San Gabriel Mountains (California, USA), the results are consistent with existing regional empirical thresholds and rainstorms that caused runoff‐ and infiltration‐generated debris flows soon after and three years following a wildfire, respectively. We find that the hydrologic triggering mechanisms for the two observed debris flow types are coupled with the effects of fire on the soil saturated hydraulic conductivity. Specifically, the rainfall intensity needed to generate debris flows via runoff increases with time following wildfire while the rainfall duration needed to produce debris flows via subsurface pore‐water pressures decreases. We also find that variations in soil moisture, rainfall climatology, median grain size, and root reinforcement could impact the median annual probability of postwildfire debris flows. We conclude that a simulation‐based method for calculating rainfall thresholds is a tractable approach to improve situational awareness of debris flow hazard in the years following wildfire. Further development of our framework will be important to quantify postwildfire hazard levels in variable climates, vegetation types, and fire regimes.

Anthropogenic edge effects in habitat selection by sun bears in a protected area

Released May 03, 2021 07:27 EST

2021, Wildlife Biology (2)

T. L Tee, Frank T. van Manen, P. Kretzschmar, S. P. Sharp, S. T. Wong, S. Gadas, S. Ratnayeke

Wildlife populations in southeast Asia are increasingly experiencing a broad array of anthropogenic threats, and mammalian carnivores are particularly vulnerable. Populations of the Malayan sun bear Helarctos malayanus are estimated to have declined by 30% over the last 30 years from forest conversion to industrial plantations and mortality associated with human–bear conflicts and illegal wildlife trade. However, the effects of industrial plantations on habitat selection and activity patterns of mammals that live at the protected area-plantation interface, including sun bears, are not well known. We investigated habitat selection and activity patterns of sun bears in Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Sabah, Malaysia. We deployed 83 remote camera sites to record sun bear detections during two sampling periods (2012–2013 and 2017). We used generalized linear models to examine relationships between sun bear presence and site covariates representing physical, environmental and anthropogenic elements of the landscape. Relative probability of sun bear presence was positively associated with distance to roads and elevation. Because most roads were on the reserve boundary and often associated with oil palm plantations, proximity to roads likely served as a surrogate measure of human accessibility and activity in peripheral areas of the reserve. Supporting that interpretation, sun bears close to the reserve boundary were primarily active at night, whereas daytime activity was more common for bears in the interior. Our findings indicate that sun bears alter behaviour and habitat selection likely in response to anthropogenic activities at the edges of Tabin Wildlife Reserve (112 200 ha). Because the ratio of edge to interior increases steeply with declining habitat area, smaller protected areas bordered by plantations are predicted to have greater impacts on sun bear behaviour and, potentially, population persistence. Effective conservation actions may benefit from management to improve the security of edge habitats for sun bears and other vulnerable species.

Understanding sea lamprey populations in the Great Lakes prior to broad implementation of sea lamprey control

Released May 03, 2021 07:21 EST

2021, Journal of Great Lakes Research

Kelly F. Robinson, Scott M. Miehls, Michael J. Siefkes

Control of invasive sea lamprey in the Great Lakes with a selective pesticide (lampricide) that targeted larval sea lamprey began in the late 1950's and continues to be one of the main methods for control. Although the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, which was formed with the mandate of controlling sea lamprey, often expresses the success of the sea lamprey control program in terms of percent reduction from lake-wide pre-lampricide control adult sea lamprey abundances, there remains a large amount of uncertainty surrounding these estimates. In this study, we gathered historical data on adult sea lamprey captures from trapping efforts from the mid-1950's through the late 1970's to better understand pre-control abundance. We used this information to estimate lake-wide population abundances of adult sea lamprey using a weighted linear regression that includes environmental and lampricide treatment predictor variables. We varied trapping efficiency for early trapping data to evaluate the uncertainty in abundance estimates. Pre-control adult sea lamprey abundances in all lakes were much greater than current population sizes, but estimates were quite sensitive to trapping efficiency. In Lake Superior, declines in abundance aligned with increases in control efforts, but in other lakes, declines were occurring prior to the onset of lampricide application, perhaps because of a loss of prey. We suggest that previous estimates of pre-control adult sea lamprey abundance may have been underestimated unless trapping efficiency was greater than what is currently achieved in the basin.

The precarious position of wildlife conservation funding in the United States

Released May 02, 2021 07:15 EST

2021, Human Dimensions of Wildlife

Mark D. Duda, Tom Beppler, Douglas S. Austen, John F. Organ

The Pittman-Robertson Act was established in 1937 to fund state-based wildlife conservation through an existing excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition. Because these items were purchased mostly by hunters at the time, they were the user group primarily funding wildlife conservation. Subsequent amendments to Pittman-Robertson expanded the taxable items to include pistols, revolvers, and archery equipment, effectively broadening the pool of conservation funding contributors to include non-hunters. The continuing trends of declining hunting participation, increasing handgun sales for non-hunting purposes, and increasing sport shooting and target archery independent of hunting, mean that non-hunters are contributing a disproportionately greater amount to Pittman-Robertson funding than hunters, and therefore contributing more to wildlife conservation. The evolving sources of revenue to Pittman-Robertson pose several threats to this historically important source of conservation funding. Addressing them may require new funding coalitions and outreach describing the conservation benefits and outcomes of Pittman-Robertson funding.

Yellowstone Volcano Observatory 2020 annual report

Released April 30, 2021 14:33 EST

2021, Circular 1482

Yellowstone Volcano Observatory

The Yellowstone Volcano Observatory (YVO) monitors volcanic and hydrothermal activity associated with the Yellowstone magmatic system, conducts research into magmatic processes occurring beneath Yellowstone Caldera, and issues timely warnings and guidance related to potential future geologic hazards. This report summarizes the activities and findings of YVO during the year 2020, focusing on the Yellowstone volcanic system. Highlights of YVO research and related activities during 2020 include an active-source seismic experiment to image the top of Yellowstone’s magma reservoir; semipermanent Global Positioning System array deployment, including a new site near Mary Mountain; studies of hydrothermal activity in the southwest portion of Yellowstone National Park; numerous geological studies, including characterization of hydrothermal explosion craters, updating existing maps, and refining the ages of Yellowstone volcanic units; investigation of a dormant period at Old Faithful Geyser that may be related to regional drought 800–650 years ago, and development of a publicly available online map interface.

Steamboat Geyser, in Norris Geyser Basin, continued the pattern of frequent eruptions that began in 2018 with 48 water eruptions in 2020, matching the record for a calendar year that was set in 2019. Giantess Geyser, in the Upper Geyser Basin, erupted for the first time in 6 years in August 2020 and experienced a second eruption in September. Patterns of both seismicity and deformation in 2020 were similar to those in 2019. Deformation patterns during 2020 showed trends that were similar to previous years. Overall subsidence of the caldera floor, ongoing since late 2015 or early 2016, continued at rates of a few centimeters (1–2 inches) per year, and minor subsidence of Norris Geyser Basin that began in 2018 slowed during 2020 and stopped by the end of the year. Throughout 2020, the aviation color code for Yellowstone Caldera remained at “green” and the volcano alert level remained at “normal.”

Widespread Ranavirus and Perkinsea infections in Cuban treefrogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis) invading New Orleans, USA

Released April 30, 2021 07:43 EST

2021, Herpetological Conservation and Biology (16) 17-29

Net Galt, Matthew S Atkinson, Brad Glorioso, Hardin Waddle, Melanie Litton, Anna E. Savage

Invasive species can negatively impact ecosystems in numerous ways, including vectoring pathogenic organisms. In amphibians, a lineage globally threatened by multiple pathogens, this spread of disease via invasive species could contribute to declines in native populations. The Cuban Treefrog (Osteopilus septentrionalis) is invasive in the southeastern USA. To assess whether O. septentrionalis is a potential reservoir host for the pathogens Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd; Amphibian Chytrid Fungus), Ranavirus (Rv), and Perkinsea (Pr), we sampled 82 individuals from a recently invaded site in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. We used quantitative PCR to assess prevalence and intensity of Bd, Rv, and Pr in mouthparts and tail clips from 22 larvae and in toe clips from 60 metamorphosed frogs. We compared infection prevalence and intensity across host characteristics, including Fulton’s Body Condition, sex, and life stage. None of the individuals were infected with Bd, 72% were infected with Rv, and 44% were infected with Pr. Twenty-three individuals (28%) were co-infected with Rv and Pr, but co-infection did not significantly predict the prevalence or intensity of either Rv or Pr. Although we did not observe any disease signs, Pr infections were significantly associated with lower body condition, suggesting sub-lethal fitness costs. Our study establishes that invasive O. septentrionalis in New Orleans are infected with two pathogens of global concern for amphibians. Understanding host-pathogen dynamics in O. septentrionalis in Louisiana is a critical step towards understanding how this invasive species could threaten amphibian biodiversity in the region by transmitting infectious pathogens.

Optimal strategies for managing wildlife harvest under climate change

Released April 30, 2021 07:00 EST

2021, Journal of Wildlife Management

Anna Maureen Tucker, Michael C. Runge

Wildlife populations are experiencing shifting dynamics due to climate and landscape change. Management policies that fail to account for non‐stationary dynamics may fail to achieve management objectives. We establish a framework for understanding optimal strategies for managing a theoretical harvested population under non‐stationarity. Building from harvest theory, we develop scenarios representing changes in population growth rate (urn:x-wiley:0022541X:media:jwmg22047:jwmg22047-math-0001) or carrying capacity (urn:x-wiley:0022541X:media:jwmg22047:jwmg22047-math-0002) and derive time‐dependent optimal harvest policies using stochastic dynamic programming. We then evaluate the cost of falsely assuming stationarity by comparing the outcomes of forward projections in which either the optimal policy or a stationary policy is applied. When urn:x-wiley:0022541X:media:jwmg22047:jwmg22047-math-0003 declines over time, the stationary policy leads to an underharvest of the population, resulting in less harvest over the short term but leaving the population in a higher‐value state. When urn:x-wiley:0022541X:media:jwmg22047:jwmg22047-math-0004 declines over time, the stationary policy leads to overharvest, resulting in greater harvest returns in the short term but leaving the population in a lower and potentially more vulnerable state. This work demonstrates the basic properties of time‐dependent harvest management and provides a framework for evaluating the many outstanding questions about optimal management strategies under climate change. Published 2021. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

Insights on the characteristics and sources of gas from an underground coal mine using compositional data analysis

Released April 30, 2021 06:47 EST

2021, International Journal of Coal Geology (241)

C. Özgen Karacan, Josep Antoni Martín-Fernández, Leslie F. Ruppert, Ricardo Olea

Coal mine gas originates from the gas emission zone (GEZ) of the mine, as well as the longwall face and pillars. Gas emissions are controlled directly at the sources using horizontal or vertical boreholes drilled from surface or from the entries in advance of mining, or it is captured from the fractured and caved zones (gob) using ventholes during mining. The rest of the gas, especially that gas that originates from the longwall face and caved zone, mixes with the ventilation air and travels through bleeder and return entries before being exhausted to atmosphere from air shafts.

Although the gas associated with mining mostly focuses on methane, the gas is not pure methane but is a mixture (where both the components and their quantities vary depending on the sampling location). Understanding the evolution of the composition of the gas from source to different sampling and evaluation points in mines using proper statistical analysis and interpretation methods can lead to better designed degasification and ventilation systems and the selection of the most adequate utilization method for generating energy from the gas.

In this work, we present the results of compositional data analysis (CoDa) of gases sampled at different locations in a longwall mine operating in Pennsylvanian coal-bearing strata in the Northern Appalachian coal basin. Sampling locations were from accessible parts of the bleeder entries, returns, bleeder evaluation points and shafts within the mine, and also from gob gas ventholes (GGV) and coal degasification boreholes drilled in the panel areas. In addition, desorbed gas samples from seams that are important for the mine were included in the analyses for comparison. The compositional data analysis showed that the gas composition shifts based on the sampling location, putting in-mine and pure coalbed gases on the opposite ends. Removal of air from the samples did not change this observation suggesting that oxygen is depleted especially for in-mine samples, which is due to oxidation. Results also suggested that desorbed gas samples may not represent the composition of the coal seam gas.

Community for Data Integration 2019 annual report

Released April 29, 2021 13:15 EST

2021, Open-File Report 2021-1016

Leslie Hsu, Amanda N. Liford

The Community for Data Integration is a community of practice whose purpose is to advance the U.S. Geological Survey’s data integration capabilities. In fiscal year 2019, the Community for Data Integration held 9 monthly forums, facilitated 11 collaboration areas, held several workshops and training events, and funded 14 projects. The activities supported the U.S. Geological Survey priorities of enabling integrated predictive science, producing FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) data, building modular and reusable tools, building authoritative national datasets for hazards or assets, and developing tools and methods for biosurveillance of emerging invasive species and health threats. Through these efforts, community members were informed of new and emerging technologies and data topics that helped them in their professional responsibilities.

Assessment of undiscovered gas resources in the Williston Basin Province, 2020

Released April 29, 2021 11:10 EST

2021, Fact Sheet 2021-3024

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

Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated a mean of 2,438 billion (2.4 trillion) cubic feet of gas resources in the Williston Basin Province, in North Dakota, Montana, and South Dakota.

Assessment of undiscovered conventional oil and gas resources of upper Paleozoic strata in the Williston Basin Province, 2020

Released April 29, 2021 11:10 EST

2021, Fact Sheet 2021-3023

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

Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated undiscovered, technically recoverable mean oil and gas resources of 134 million barrels of oil and 81 billion cubic feet of gas in upper Paleozoic strata of the Williston Basin Province in North Dakota, Montana, and South Dakota.

Assessment of undiscovered oil and gas resources in the Pennsylvanian Tyler Formation of the Williston Basin Province, 2020

Released April 29, 2021 11:10 EST

2021, Fact Sheet 2020-3067

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

Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated undiscovered, technically recoverable mean resources of 161 million barrels of oil and 93 billion cubic feet of gas in the Tyler Formation of the Williston Basin Province, North Dakota.

Assessment of undiscovered conventional oil and gas resources in the lower Paleozoic of the Williston Basin Province, 2020

Released April 29, 2021 11:10 EST

2021, Fact Sheet 2020-3063

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

Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated undiscovered, technically recoverable mean resources of 83 million barrels of oil and 351 billion cubic feet of gas in lower Paleozoic strata of the Williston Basin Province, North Dakota, Montana, and South Dakota.

Storms and floods of July 30, 2016, and May 27, 2018, in Ellicott City, Howard County, Maryland

Released April 29, 2021 10:30 EST

2021, Fact Sheet 2021-3025

Edward J. Doheny, Christopher W. Nealen


On July 30, 2016, and May 27, 2018, the downtown area of Ellicott City, Maryland (fig. 1), was severely flooded by intense, short-duration rainfall that resulted in loss of life; significant damage to buildings, roads, infrastructure; and hundreds of vehicles washed away. Precipitation from the 2016 event totaled 6.60 inches in 3 hours (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2016). Precipitation from the 2018 storm totaled 6.56 inches in 3 hours (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2018).

In the aftermath of both storms, personnel from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) performed indirect discharge measurements to determine peak flow on the three streams that drain through the downtown area of Ellicott City and empty into the Patapsco River. High-water marks were flagged on selected reaches of three streams, Hudson Branch (station 01589017), Tiber Branch (station 01589019), and New Cut Branch (station 01589021) (fig. 2). Peak flows were computed using flow-through-culvert techniques with road overflow for Hudson Branch and slope-area techniques for Tiber Branch and New Cut Branch.

This fact sheet describes the basin characteristics, hydrologic characteristics, and flood history of the Ellicott City, Maryland, area. The storms and flood characteristics for July 30, 2016, and May 27, 2018, are described. Peak discharges computed from the indirect discharge measurements for Hudson Branch, Tiber Branch, and New Cut Branch are presented for the storms and floods of July 30, 2016, and May 27, 2018. To provide historical perspective on these floods in Ellicott City, results from the indirect discharge measurement computations were compared to peak flows from 75 USGS streamgages and 6 miscellaneous sites in Maryland and Delaware that resulted from intense storms in August and September 1971 (Carpenter, 1974). The findings indicate that although the Ellicott City storms and floods from July 30, 2016, and May 27, 2018, are considered very rare in terms of their probability of occurrence, other storms have occurred in the Maryland and Delaware regions in the past that have produced comparable runoff characteristics relative to drainage-area magnitude.

Quantifying Great Lakes sea lamprey populations using an index of adults

Released April 29, 2021 10:18 EST

2021, Journal of Great Lakes Research

Jean V. Adams, Jessica M. Barber, Gale A Bravener, Sean A Lewandoski

Effective control of aquatic invasive species requires knowledge of the population throughout the infested area. Lake-wide assessments of invasive sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus) are used to assess their status in the Laurentian Great Lakes, informing fisheries managers and decision makers in the sea lamprey control program. Initially these assessments focused on an estimate of absolute abundance, but later switched to an estimate of relative abundance as an index. In this paper, we describe the recently developed index of sea lamprey abundance and the reasons for its use. Rather than trying to estimate spawning run sizes of all Great Lakes tributaries, the index instead estimates run sizes of a small subset of index streams. Streams chosen for the index had large spawning runs and a history of trapping operations that consistently yielded mark-recapture estimates. This change enabled the sea lamprey control program to abandon a previously used regression model that predicted run size on streams with no sea lamprey traps. Further research is needed to determine how strongly correlated the index is with actual patterns in the lake-wide population of adult sea lampreys.

Final report on the assessment of the U.S. Geological Survey’s bureauwide Research Grade Evaluation (RGE) process

Released April 29, 2021 10:10 EST

2021, Open-File Report 2021-1035

U.S. Geological Survey Research Grade Evaluation Review Team

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) formed the internal Research Grade Evaluation (RGE) Review Team in May 2017. The Team undertook a 2-year comprehensive review of RGE practices and policies at the USGS that included (1) the first-ever quantitative assessment of the USGS workforce evaluated under the RGE process, (2) a benchmarking meet­ing in March 2018 of the USGS and 11 other Federal science agencies to compare how each conducts research scientist evaluation, and (3) extensive surveys of four internal stakeholder groups. The Team recommends that the RGE review process emphasize the importance of outcomes resulting from a scientist’s efforts, rather than focusing on easily quantified outputs such as peer-reviewed papers, presentations, and posters. Thus, the Team recommends that a scientist’s work be assessed according to contributions and impacts in three areas: (1) scientific understanding, (2) the missions of the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Department of the Interior, and (3) society more broadly. The Team developed (1) new formats for the Research Scientist Record (RSR) and Development Scientist Record (DSR) that match the Office of Personnel Management’s guidelines for factor scoring and (2) new findings templates to pro­vide more meaningful feedback to scientists.

Time-domain electromagnetic soundings and passive-seismic measurements for delineation of saline groundwater in the Genesee Valley-fill aquifer system, western New York, 2016–17

Released April 29, 2021 10:00 EST

2021, Scientific Investigations Report 2021-5008

John H. Williams, William M. Kappel, Carole D. Johnson, Eric A. White, Paul M. Heisig, John W. Lane, Jr.

The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, used noninvasive surface geophysics in the investigation of the distribution of saline groundwater in the valley-fill aquifer system of the Genesee River Valley near the former Retsof salt mine in western New York. In 1994, the Retsof salt mine, the largest of its kind in the western hemisphere, underwent a catastrophic roof collapse that resulted in groundwater inflow from the valley-fill aquifer system and bedrock fracture zones into the mine through two bedrock-rubble chimneys and the subsequent dissolution and filling of the mine with saturated brine. Since the early 2000s, except for a period of remedial pumping in 2006 to 2013, high-salinity water has migrated upward through the rubble chimneys into the basal part the aquifer system. The extent of saline-water migration within the aquifer system had not been evaluated since the end of remedial pumping when all the monitoring wells were grouted shut and abandoned. Installation of a monitoring-well network would be expensive and difficult given the thickness and heterogeneous character of valley fill. An investigation of the current extent of saline water in the aquifer system was warranted because the basal part of the aquifer is shallow to the north and it is used for water supply.

In fall 2016 and fall 2017, the U.S. Geological Survey collected time-domain electromagnetic soundings at 105 sites along 13 cross-valley transects north and south of the mine-collapse area, east of Piffard, and on the Fowlerville Moraine. The time-domain electromagnetic soundings were colocated with passive-seismic measurements to estimate the bedrock-surface elevation through use of a regression equation developed from measurements at well sites with reported bedrock depths in the study area. An integrated analysis of the time-domain electromagnetic soundings with the depth-to-bedrock estimates, well logs, and past chloride-monitoring data suggests the presence of a zone of high electrical conductivity associated with saline water in the confined lower part of the valley-fill aquifer system. This high-salinity zone delineated in the lower confined aquifer extends from the mine-collapse area northward for more than 2.5 miles (4.0 kilometers). The chloride concentration in groundwater within this high-conductivity zone may be about 20,000 milligrams per liter. Saline water flowing upward through the bedrock-rubble chimneys and mixing with northward groundwater flow in the lower confined aquifer likely is a major source of chlorides for this high-conductivity zone. The northern extent of the zone is unclear because of the presence of highly saline water zones that were delineated by time-domain electromagnetic soundings in the lower confined aquifer and uppermost bedrock and are probably associated with historic salt-solution wells in Piffard or possibly sourced from natural brine pools.

A morphodynamic model to evaluate long-term sandbar rebuilding using controlled floods in the Grand Canyon

Released April 29, 2021 07:28 EST

2021, Geophysical Research Letters (48)

Erich R. Mueller, Paul Grams

Controlled floods released from dams have become a common restoration strategy in river systems worldwide. Here we present a morphodynamic model of sandbar volume change for a subset of sandbars of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park, where controlled floods are part of a management strategy focused on sandbar maintenance. We simulate sandbars as a triangular wedge, where deposition and erosion are modeled using physically based approaches that are driven by nearly continuous observations of flow and suspended sand concentration. We optimize an eddy exchange coefficient and erosion rate parameter by comparing model predictions to measured bar volumes. The model captures most of the variability in observed volume changes, and demonstrates the importance of flood frequency and sand concentration on average bar size. The model is easily implemented and adaptable, providing a means for predicting the future behavior of sandbars under a variety of streamflow and sediment supply scenarios.

Performance of bedload sediment transport formulas applied to the Lower Minnesota River

Released April 29, 2021 07:24 EST

2021, Journal of Hydrologic Engineering (26)

Elisa Armijos, Gustavo Henrique Merten, Joel T. Groten

Despite limitations in reproducing complex bedload sediment transport processes in rivers, formulas have been preferred over collection and analysis of field data due to the high cost and time-consuming nature of bedload discharge measurements. However, the performance of such formulas depends on the hydraulic and sedimentological conditions they attempt to describe. The availability of field measurements provides a unique opportunity to test bedload transport formulas to better guide formula selection. Hydraulic parameters and bedload discharge data from the Lower Minnesota River and two of its tributaries were used to evaluate nine bedload transport formulas using three different indices. The bedload data for the different sites were collected by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) from 2011 through 2014, with bed material varying from very coarse to medium sand. The formulas calculated higher bedload rates than were measured due to a combination of site-specific physical characteristics, including the presence of bed forms (dunes), and sampling uncertainties. Because of the lack of reproducibility of the tested formulas, five power functions, based on the relation between the specific unit power (independent hydraulic variable) and the USGS measured data (dependent variable), were derived as provisional equations to estimate the bedload discharge on the Lower Minnesota River and tributaries.

Single-well production history matching and geostatistical modeling as proxy to multi-well reservoir simulation for evaluating dynamic reservoir properties of coal seams

Released April 29, 2021 06:40 EST

2021, International Journal of Coal Geology (241)

C. Özgen Karacan

Reservoir properties of coal seams such as gas and water effective permeabilities and gas content, as well as spatial distributions thereof, affect the success of gas production and CO2-enhanced gas recovery (EGR) with simultaneous CO2 sequestration. These properties change during production and injection operations due to variations in reservoir pressure, matrix shrinkage/swelling, and water saturation and are therefore referred to as dynamic properties. Predicting distribution of such important reservoir properties and how they evolve during production, or injection, at unsampled locations can be particularly important for field development and project economics.

In this work, dynamic properties of Black Creek coal seam of Black Warrior Basin, Alabama were mapped using pointwise results from single-well production history matching of 45 wells and classical geostatistics. It is explored if this approach can be a proxy, with its limitations, to multi-well reservoir simulation. For this purpose, a reservoir model was built using available reservoir, well and production data to compare its results with those of the geostatistical maps for the same properties. Despite the expected local discrepancies due to differences between the two approaches, the results showed similar patterns and global distributions. Specific results showed that despite long-time operation of the wells in this area, there were still areas with high gas content and low gas effective permeability within the modeled time interval that might have benefited from further development using additional wells.

Assessment of wave attenuation, current patterns, and sediment deposition and erosion during winter storms by living shoreline structures in Gandys Beach, New Jersey

Released April 28, 2021 14:35 EST

2021, Open-File Report 2021-1040

Hongqing Wang, William D. Capurso, Qin Chen, Ling Zhu, Lukasz Niemoczynski, Gregg Snedden

This study was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey and Northeastern University in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and The Nature Conservancy. This report summarizes field investigation and analysis of waves, current patterns, and sediment deposition and erosion along the Gandys Beach, New Jersey, salt marsh vegetated shoreline and mudflat, where living shoreline structures (for example, oyster reefs) were constructed to protect the marsh shoreline and enhance habitat for oyster and other species. Constructed oyster reefs (CORs, also known as oyster castles) provide shoreline protection and habitat for fish and shellfish communities via wave energy attenuation. However, the processes and mechanism of CORs on wave attenuation and current circulation remain unclear, thus limiting the assessment of COR effectiveness for shoreline protection. This report presents the results of the field investigation on wave characteristics, current patterns, and marsh edge erosion along a shoreline with CORs in Delaware Bay. To measure the effectiveness of these CORs, six pressure transducers, six tilt current meters, multiple sediment traps, and marsh edge erosion pins were deployed from February to April 2018 in Gandys Beach in upper Delaware Bay. The spatial variations of wave heights measured on both sides of the CORs indicate a strong dependence of wave attenuation on the ratio between the freeboard of the CORs and the offshore wave heights. It was found that swell energy originating from the Atlantic Ocean can penetrate the CORs without any dampening even when the CORs are emergent, whereas the wind seas are more impacted by the CORs. Tidal current velocity and circulation patterns near the CORs (for example, the current velocity was higher than 10 centimeters per second [cm/s] and even up to 30 cm/s in the gaps between the CORs compared to less than 10 cm/s in the control area) differ from those in the control area without protection from the CORs and are greatly affected by the surrounding bathymetry. The combined effect of living shoreline structures on wave attenuation and changes in circulation patterns over the study period resulted in the reduction of shoreline erosion both vertically and laterally compared to that in the control area and also resulted in changes in the grain size distribution in both the water column and the salt marsh and mudflat areas.

Estimates of food consumption rates for invasive Blue Catfish Ictalurus furcatus

Released April 28, 2021 07:25 EST

2021, Transactions of the American Fisheries Society

Joseph Schmitt, Corbin D. Hilling, Donald J. Orth

As a prolific invasive species, Blue Catfish Ictalurus furcatus threaten native organisms in numerous estuarine and tidal freshwaters along the Atlantic coast of the United States. However, no published estimates of consumption rates are available for Blue Catfish in the scientific literature. This information is critical for development of bioenergetics models or estimation of population‐level impacts on native species. Using a combination of field and laboratory studies, we provide the first estimates of daily ration, maximum daily ration, and consumption to biomass ratios for Blue Catfish populations. Ad libitum feeding trials conducted in our laboratory reveal that maximum daily ration in Blue Catfish varies by prey type, temperature, and fish size, with maximal feeding occurring in medium‐sized Blue Catfish (500–600 mm total length) and at temperatures ≥15°C. Furthermore, estimates of daily ration were higher for fish prey (Gizzard Shad Dorosoma cepedianum) than for crustacean prey (blue crab Callinectes sapidus). Diel feeding chronologies based on field‐collected diet samples from 1,226 Blue Catfish demonstrated river‐specific variability in daily ration and maximum daily ration. Blue Catfish daily ration ranged between 2.27% and 5.22% bodyweight per 24 h, while maximum daily ration ranges between 8.56% and 9.37% bodyweight per 24 h. Estimates of consumption to biomass ratios varied by river and Blue Catfish size groupings but range between 2.42 and 3.39, which is similar to other benthic omnivores. This research will inform the assessment of predatory impacts of invasive Blue Catfish in the Chesapeake Bay and beyond as it will enable researchers to estimate predatory impacts through the coupling of population models, food habit information, and consumption rate information (current study).

A framework for allocating conservation resources among multiple threats and actions

Released April 28, 2021 07:13 EST

2021, Conservation Biology

Joslin L Moore, Abbey E Camaclang, Alana L. Moore, Cindy E Hauser, Michael C. Runge, Victor Picheny, Libby Rumpff

Land managers decide how to allocate resources among multiple threats that can be addressed through multiple possible actions. Additionally, these actions vary in feasibility, effectiveness, and cost. We sought to provide a way to optimize resource allocation to address multiple threats when multiple management options are available, including mutually exclusive options. Formulating the decision as a combinatorial optimization problem, our framework takes as inputs the expected impact and cost of each threat for each action (including do nothing) and for each overall budget identifies the optimal action to take for each threat. We compared the optimal solution to an easy to calculate greedy algorithm approximation and a variety of plausible ranking schemes. We applied the framework to management of multiple introduced plant species in Australian alpine areas. We developed a model of invasion to predict the expected impact in 50 years for each species‐action combination that accounted for each species’ current invasion state (absent, localized, widespread); arrival probability; spread rate; impact, if present, of each species; and management effectiveness of each species‐action combination. We found that the recommended action for a threat changed with budget; there was no single optimal management action for each species; and considering more than one candidate action can substantially increase the management plan's overall efficiency. The approximate solution (solution ranked by marginal cost‐effectiveness) performed well when the budget matched the cost of the prioritized actions, indicating that this approach would be effective if the budget was set as part of the prioritization process. The ranking schemes varied in performance, and achieving a close to optimal solution was not guaranteed. Global sensitivity analysis revealed a threat's expected impact and, to a lesser extent, management effectiveness were the most influential parameters, emphasizing the need to focus research and monitoring efforts on their quantification.

U.S. Geological Survey wildland fire science strategic plan, 2021–26

Released April 28, 2021 03:45 EST

2021, Circular 1471

Paul F. Steblein, Rachel A. Loehman, Mark P. Miller, Joseph R. Holomuzki, Suzanna C. Soileau, Matthew L. Brooks, Mia Drane-Maury, Hannah M. Hamilton, Jason W. Kean, Jon E. Keeley, Robert R. Mason Jr., Alexa J. McKerrow, James R. Meldrum, Edmund B. Molder, Sheila F. Murphy, Birgit Peterson, Geoffrey S. Plumlee, Douglas J. Shinneman, Phillip J. van Mantgem, Alison York

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Wildland Fire Science Strategic Plan defines critical, core fire science capabilities for understanding fire-related and fire-responsive earth system processes and patterns, and informing management decision making. Developed by USGS fire scientists and executive leadership, and informed by conversations with external stakeholders, the Strategic Plan is aligned with the needs of the fire science stakeholder community–fire, land, natural resource, and emergency managers from Federal, State, Tribal, and community organizations, as well as members of the scientific community. The Strategic Plan is composed of four integrated priorities, each with associated goals and specific strategies for accomplishing the goals: Priority 1: Produce state-of-the-art, actionable fire science; Priority 2: Engage stakeholders in science production and science delivery; Priority 3: Effectively communicate USGS fire science capacity, products, and information to a broad audience; and Priority 4: Enhance USGS organizational structure and advance support for fire science. The priorities of this Strategic Plan define the USGS’s commitment to producing and delivering cutting edge fire science, information, and decision-support tools in support of national, regional, and local priorities and stakeholder needs.

Water-quality, bed-sediment, and invertebrate tissue trace-element concentrations for tributaries in the Clark Fork Basin, Montana, October 2018–September 2019

Released April 27, 2021 14:57 EST

2021, Open-File Report 2021-1027

Gregory D. Clark, Michelle I. Hornberger, Eric J. Hepler, Thomas E. Cleasby, Terry L. Heinert

Water, bed sediment, and invertebrate tissue were sampled in streams from Butte to near Missoula, Montana, as part of a monitoring program in the Clark Fork Basin. The sampling program was completed by the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to characterize aquatic resources in the Clark Fork Basin and monitor trace elements associated with historical mining and smelting activities. Sampling sites were on the river and tributaries of the Clark Fork. Water samples were collected periodically at 20 sites from October 2018 through September 2019. Bed-sediment and tissue samples were collected once at 13 sites during July 2019.

Water-quality data included concentrations of major ions, dissolved organic carbon, nitrogen (nitrate plus nitrite), trace elements, and suspended sediment. Daily values of turbidity were determined at four sites. Bed-sediment data included trace-element concentrations in the fine-grained (less than 0.063 millimeter) fraction. Biological data included trace-element concentrations in whole-body tissue of aquatic benthic invertebrates. Statistical summaries of water-quality, bed-sediment, and invertebrate tissue trace-element data for sites in the Clark Fork Basin were provided for the period of record: March 1985–September 2019.

Analysis of mid- and high-stage conditions for the Peconic River at the eastern boundary of Brookhaven National Laboratory, Suffolk County, New York

Released April 27, 2021 13:55 EST

2006, Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5292

Christopher Schubert, Terrence M. Sullivan, William H. Medeiros

Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) has historically discharged sewage treatment plant (STP) effluent to the Peconic River, which runs through the BNL site in Suffolk County, N.Y. This effluent discharge has averaged about 700,000 gallons per day (about 1.1 cubic feet per second [ft3/s]) since 1962 and led to contamination of streambed sediments by radioactive and hazardous constituents. Large sections of the stream channel near BNL are dry during periods of relatively low water-table altitude referred to as low-stage conditions. During mid-stage conditions, the water table intersects the streambed and base flow commences and increases as the water table rises to the tops of the streambanks. Areas adjacent to the stream become flooded during high-stage conditions as the water table rises above the streambanks. Information on the long-term (1943-2003) percentages of time that discharges at two nearby streamflow-gaging stations exceeded thresholds associated with mid- and high-stage conditions is needed to provide a range of estimates of the prevalence and seasonal variability of these conditions during the same years for streamflow-gaging station HQ on the Peconic River at the eastern boundary of BNL. Analysis and correlation of discharge data from the three streamflow-gaging stations—BNL’s station HQ and the U.S. Geological Survey stations on the Peconic River at Riverhead, N.Y., and Carmans River at Yaphank, N.Y.—were performed to extend the 1995-2003 period of record for station HQ.

Low-stage conditions occur when there is no flow at station HQ and, therefore, the start-of-flow for the Peconic River is downstream of BNL property. Mid-stage conditions occur when there is flow at station HQ but its daily mean value does not exceed 4.2 ft3/s; high-stage conditions occur when this discharge exceeds 4.2 ft3/s. Daily mean streamflows at station HQ were associated with low-stage conditions most of the time during 1995-2003 for all flow durations. Low-stage conditions predominated during January, March, and July through December of these years, whereas mid-stage conditions prevailed during parts of February and April through June. Mid-stage conditions generally appeared throughout the year during 1995-2003, except for mid-October, during which only low-stage conditions were observed. High-stage conditions were attained the least amount of time for all flow durations, and appeared only during parts of March through July and December of these years.

The percentages of time during 1943-2003 that daily mean streamflows at the Riverhead and Yaphank stations were associated with low-, mid-, and high-stage conditions provide a range of estimates of the amounts of time that these conditions occurred during these years at station HQ. Daily mean streamflows were associated with low-stage conditions most of the time during 1943-2003 for durations of 30 and 60 days; with mid-stage conditions most of the time for durations of 1, 3, and 7 days; and with either of these conditions for a duration of 14 days. High-stage conditions were attained the least amount of time during these years for all durations, except perhaps that of 1 day, for which low-stage conditions could have occurred the least amount of time. Mid-stage conditions predominated during January through early March, June through early July, and late November through December of these years. These conditions typically appeared throughout the year during 1943-2003, and occurred most often during late February. High-stage conditions also generally appeared throughout the year, except perhaps for a few days during early September of these years, and occurred most often during April. These results indicate that streamflows observed during 1943-2003 at the Riverhead and Yaphank stations—used to estimate a longer record for station HQ—were considerably higher than those observed during 1995-2003 at the three stations, and provide information that can be used in future studies to better understand the long-term capacity of streams such as the Peconic River near BNL to supply continuous flow, flood adjacent low-lying areas, and sustain aquatic habitats.

Phosphorus loads entering Long Pond, a small embayment of Lake Ontario near Rochester, New York

Released April 27, 2021 13:55 EST

1999, Fact Sheet 128-99

Donald A. Sherwood


Long Pond is one of many small, shallow embayments along the southern edge of Lake Ontario (fig. 1). These embayments are an important recreational resource and wildlife habitat; thus, maintaining their natural state is essential to their continued use. In recent decades, Long Pond and the adjacent Cranberry Pond have become hypereutrophic (overly enriched with nutrients) (Makarewicz and others, 1990) as a result of nitrogen and phosphorus transported to those waters by Northrup Creek from sources within the drainage basin.

In 1989, the Monroe County Department of Health and the Town of Greece, in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), began a water-quality-monitoring program on Northrup Creek near North Greece at a site of a gaging station about 5 mi north (downstream) of the Village of Spencerport and the Spencerport wastewater-treatment plant. The program included the collection of water samples from October 1989 through September 1998 for chemical analysis and the collection of streamflow data for use in calculating phosphorus loads at the site. This fact sheet addresses the issue of concentration and loads of phosphorus in Northrup Creek, the principal tributary to Long Pond.

Northrup Creek begins just south of the Village of Spencerport in Monroe County and flows northward into Long Pond. It drains a total of 23.5 mi2 in the towns of Ogden, Parma, and Greece (fig. 1). The drainage basin contains agricultural land, housing developments, and a small amount of urban land (table 1).

Concentrations of Insecticides in Selected Surface Water Bodies in Suffolk County, New York, Before and After Mosquito Spraying, 2002-04

Released April 27, 2021 13:45 EST

2005, Open-File Report 2005-1384

Irene J. Abbene, Shawn C. Fisher, Stephen A. Terracciano

Concentrations of insecticides sprayed from truck or helicopter onto selected surface-water bodies in Suffolk County, N.Y., during the summers of 2002-04 decreased to below detection limits within 4 days after application. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with Suffolk County Department of Health Services (SCDHS), sampled surface waters from selected wetlands for insecticides that were sprayed seasonally from a truck or helicopter as part of the county’s West Nile Virus vector-control program. A total of 72 samples were collected from 27 sites and analyzed for 6 compunds—malathion, methoprene, methoprene acid, piperonyl butoxide (PBO), resmethrin, and sumithrin—that are typically used to help control mosquitoes. PBO was the most frequently detected analyte (33.3%), followed by resmethrin (11.1%), methoprene (9.7%), and methoprene acid (2.4%). Sumithrin and malathion were not applied and were not detected in any of the samples. Maximum recorded concentration of compounds in surface water were: PBO (59,800 ng/L), methoprene (9,030 ng/L), methoprene acid (1,710 ng/L), and resmethrin (293 ng/L). PBO and resmethrin were detected more often in samples when the compounds were applied by a helicopter rather than a truck. This report describes the 27 sampled locations, the sampling methods, and presents the initial results of the study. Detail is provided about concentrations of the applied compounds with respect to time as well as comparisons between the two application processes (truck versus helicopter). All data collected are presented in a table.

Analysis of remedial scenarios affecting plume movement through a sole-source aquifer system, southeastern Nassau County, New York

Released April 27, 2021 13:40 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5090

Paul E. Misut, Donald A. Walter, Christopher Schubert, Sarken Dressler

A steady-state three-dimensional groundwater-flow model based on present conditions is coupled with the particle-tracking program MODPATH to assess the fate and transport of volatile organic-compound plumes within the Magothy and upper glacial aquifers in southeastern Nassau County, New York. Particles are forward tracked from locations within plumes defined by surfaces of equal concentration. Particles move toward ultimate well capture and discharge to the general head and drain boundaries representing natural receptors in the models. Because rates of advection within coarse-grained sediments typically exceed 0.1 foot per day, mechanisms of dispersion and diffusion were assumed to be negligible. Resulting particle pathlines are influenced by hydrogeologic framework features and the interplay of nearby hydrologic stresses. Simulated hydrologic effects include cones of depression near pumping wells and water-table mounding near points of treated water recharge; however, remedial pumping amounts are balanced by treated-water return, and net effects at distant regional boundaries, including freshwater/saltwater interfaces, are minor.

Once a steady-state model was developed and calibrated, eight hypothetical remedial scenarios were evaluated to hydraulically contain the volatile organic-compound plumes. Specifically, the remedial scenarios were optimized to achieve full containment by altering the pumping-well locations, adjusting the pumping rates, and adjusting the discharge locations and rates. Based on the results, total hypothetical extraction rates varied from about 5,462 gallons per minute during an anticipated near-future condition to about 13,340 gallons per minute during full hydraulic containment of all site-related compounds identified by the New York State standards, criteria, and guidance for environmental investigations and cleanup. Targeting of high-concentration zones of the plume increases the total amount of remedial pumpage necessary to capture all parts of the plume but may decrease the total amount of time necessary to operate a remedial system. Simulated time frames of advective transport ranged from about 12 years to capture zones with elevated concentrations of volatile organic compounds (mean particle travel time plus the standard deviation of travel time) to more than 100 years to capture all zones.

Groundwater-flow model analysis indicates that all the optimal plume-containment scenarios would have negligible effects on streams and the saltwater-freshwater interface along the south shore of Long Island. Massapequa, Bellmore, Seaman, and Seaford Creeks are represented by using MODFLOW drain-boundary conditions. Saltwater-freshwater interfaces are represented by using MODFLOW general head-boundary conditions where the Magothy aquifer discharges upward into saline groundwater across the Gardiners clay confining unit and the Lloyd aquifer discharges upward into saline groundwater across the Raritan confining unit.

Arctic insect emergence timing and composition differs across thaw ponds of varying morphology

Released April 27, 2021 08:17 EST

2021, Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research (53) 110-126

Sarah M. Laske, Kirsty E. B. Gurney, Joshua C. Koch, Joel A. Schmutz, Mark S. Wipfli

Freshwater ponds provide habitats for aquatic insects that emerge and subsidize consumers in terrestrial ecosystems. In the Arctic, insects provide an important seasonal source of energy to birds that breed and rear young on the tundra. The abundance and timing of insect emergence from arctic thaw ponds is poorly understood, but understanding these fluxes is important, given the role of insects in food webs and current rates of environmental change at high latitudes. We aimed to evaluate emerging insect communities from thaw ponds with different morphologies, identify environmental covariates influencing insect composition, and describe temporal changes in insect abundance. We collected environmental information and insects that emerged over two growing seasons and examined the phenology and taxonomic composition of insects arising from different pond classes: low centered polygon, small coalescent, large coalescent, and trough ponds. Our findings indicated no differences in the timing of total emergence across ponds of varying morphology. Community dissimilarity was primarily associated with center or margin habitat and variables that differed strongly among pond classes. These insects, which provide important provisions for various species of birds, are likely to experience changes in emergence phenology and composition due to ongoing, rapid warming in the region.

Spatial and temporal distributions of Dreissena spp. veligers in Lake Huron: Does calcium limit settling success?

Released April 27, 2021 07:55 EST

2021, Journal of Great Lakes Research

Darren S. Kirkendall, David Bunnell, Patricia Armenio, Lauren A. Eaton, Anett S Trebitz, Nicole M Watson

The larval stage of invasive Dreissena spp. mussels (i.e., veligers) are understudied despite their seasonal numerical dominance among plankton. We report the spring and summer veliger densities and size structure across the main basin, North Channel, and Georgian Bay of Lake Huron, and seek to explain spatiotemporal variation. Monthly sampling was conducted at 9 transects and up to 3 sites per transect from spring through summer 2017. Veliger densities peaked in June and July, and we found comparable densities and biomasses of veligers between basins, despite differences in density of juvenile and adult mussels across these regions. Using a generalized additive model to explain variations in veliger density, we found that temperature, chlorophyll a, and nitrates/nitrites were most important. We generated an index of veliger attrition based on size distributions that revealed a higher rate of attrition in the North Channel than the rest of the lake. A logistic model indicated a threshold calcium concentration of around 22 mg/L was necessary for veligers to survive to larger sizes and recruit to their juvenile and benthic adult life stages. Improved understanding of factors that regulate the production and survival of Dreissena veligers could improve the ability of managers to assess future invasion threats as well as explore potential control options.

A maximum rupture model for the central and southern Cascadia subduction zone—reassessing ages for coastal evidence of megathrust earthquakes and tsunamis

Released April 27, 2021 07:14 EST

2021, Quaternary Science Reviews (261)

Alan Nelson, Christopher Duross, Robert C. Witter, Harvey M. Kelsey, Simon E. Engelhart, Shannon A. Mahan, Harrison J. Gray, Andrea D. Hawkes, Benjamin P. Horton, Jason S. Padgett

A new history of great earthquakes (and their tsunamis) for the central and southern Cascadia subduction zone shows more frequent (17 in the past 6700 yr) megathrust ruptures than previous coastal chronologies. The history is based on along-strike correlations of Bayesian age models derived from evaluation of 554 radiocarbon ages that date earthquake evidence at 14 coastal sites. We reconstruct a history that accounts for all dated stratigraphic evidence with the fewest possible ruptures by evaluating the sequence of age models for earthquake or tsunami contacts at each site, comparing the degree of temporal overlap of correlated site age models, considering evidence for closely spaced earthquakes at four sites, and hypothesizing only maximum-length megathrust ruptures. For the past 6700 yr, recurrence for all earthquakes is 370–420 yr. But correlations suggest that ruptures at ∼1.5 ka and ∼1.1 ka were of limited extent (<400 km). If so, post-3-ka recurrence for ruptures extending throughout central and southern Cascadia is 510–540 yr. But the range in the times between earthquakes is large: two instances may be ∼50 yr, whereas the longest are ∼550 and ∼850 yr. The closely spaced ruptures about 1.6 ka may illustrate a pattern common at subduction zones of a long gap ending with a great earthquake rupturing much of the subduction zone, shortly followed by a rupture of more limited extent. The ruptures of limited extent support the continued inclusion of magnitude-8 earthquakes, with longer ruptures near magnitude 9, in assessments of seismic hazard in the region.

Bathymetric survey and sedimentation analysis of Lago Patillas, Puerto Rico, August 2019

Released April 27, 2021 06:37 EST

2021, Scientific Investigations Map 3471

Julieta M. Gómez-Fragoso

In August 2019, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, conducted a bathymetric survey of Lago Patillas to update stage-volume data in order to determine the sediment infill rates and to generate a bathymetry map. Water-depth data were collected along predefined lines using single-beam depth sounder and Differential Global Positioning System technology. The study also included delineating a new reservoir shoreline based on 2016–17 light detection and ranging data and the establishment of a new official vertical datum at the reservoir referenced to the Puerto Rico Vertical Datum of 2002 (PRVD02). Survey results indicated that the storage capacity was 12.96 million cubic meters in 2019 at an elevation of 67.55 meters above PRVD02. The mean annual loss of capacity from 1961 to 2019 is 0.08 million cubic meters per year. The point of zero remaining storage of Lago Patillas is projected to be 161 years, ending in 2180.

The new vertical datum referenced to PRVD02 was established at Lago Patillas by conducting a Global Navigation Satellite System static observation in March 2019, which indicated that the spillway elevation is 67.55 meters. The new spillway elevation datum supersedes the previous datum (mean sea level) used on the island of Puerto Rico.

Maryland and Landsat

Released April 26, 2021 08:32 EST

2021, Fact Sheet 2021-3022

U.S. Geological Survey

Maryland, called “America in Miniature,” encompasses nearly every geographical feature in the United States except a desert. Water dominates the State, whose borders run along much of Chesapeake Bay. The bay is the country’s largest estuary, where freshwater from watershed tributaries mingles with the ocean’s saltwater and teems with life.

The Chesapeake Bay faces threats from erosion, pollution, rising sea levels, and natural disasters. Because the Chesapeake Bay is prominent in Maryland’s history, economy, natural diversity, and way of life, protecting its waters and ecosystems is a priority for the State. Landsat imagery helps with a number of these efforts. Maryland also has a special relation with Landsat satellites; the USGS manages their flight operations out of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt.

New York and Landsat

Released April 26, 2021 08:30 EST

2021, Fact Sheet 2021-3020

U.S. Geological Survey

From the iconic skyline of New York City to the forested landscapes of the Adirondack Mountains and the countryside of the Allegheny Plateau, the State of New York is overflowing with diversity and life. Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and two of the Great Lakes to the north and west, New York has more than 7,600 lakes, ponds, and reservoirs and more than 70,000 miles of rivers and streams. New York’s stewardship of its freshwater resources is fundamental to the health and well-being of all who work at, reside in, and visit the State’s landmarks and places.

Harmful algal blooms in the State’s waterbodies are a growing concern and threaten the health of the region and its inhabitants. Images and data from Landsat satellites continue to provide critical information to scientists, public health officials, and resource managers who are studying the effects and risks of the problem.

Here’s a closer look at just a few examples of the value of Landsat to New York.

Trade-offs between suppression and eradication of sea lampreys from the Great Lake

Released April 24, 2021 07:02 EST

2021, Journal of Great Lakes Research

Jean V. Adams, Oana Birceanu, W. Lindsay Chadderton, Michael L. Jones, Jesse M. Lepak, Titus S Selheimer, Todd B. Steeves, W. Paul Sullivan, Jill Wingfield

Ecosystem managers confronted with newly invasive species may respond with a program of suppression or eradication. Suppression of an invasive species refers to management of a species such that its effect on other biota in the local ecosystem is acceptable. Eradication is the removal of all individuals of a species from a defined region. We examine the cost and benefit trade-offs between suppression and eradication of Laurentian Great Lakes sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus) based on discussions at the 3rd Sea Lamprey International Symposium (held in 2019). Substantial effort has been expended annually since the 1960s to suppress sea lampreys in the Great Lakes basin. Choosing between suppression and eradication is a value judgement, ideally made jointly by scientists, decision-makers, stakeholders, and society. Successful large-scale eradications have been limited to a small number of cases for which the cost to human society justified and supported the long-term commitment necessary for success. The greatest challenge to successful eradication of sea lampreys from the Great Lakes may be a suitable social, political, legal, and institutional environment. Preparations could be made now for a transition in which public pushback on current control methods (pesticide applications and barriers to fish passage) leads to more extensive use of an alternative control method, such as genetic control.

Riverine complexity and life history inform restoration in riparian environments in the southwestern U.S.

Released April 23, 2021 07:52 EST

2021, Restoration Ecology

Emily C. Palmquist, Gerald J Allan, Kiona Ogle, Thomas G. Whitham, Bradley J. Butterfield, Patrick B. Shafroth

Riparian habitat in the southwestern USA has undergone substantial degradation over the past century, prompting extensive management and restoration of these critical ecosystems. Most restoration efforts, however, do not account for life history traits or riverine complexity that may influence genetic diversity and structure. Here, we use simple sequence repeat (SSR) markers in four southwestern riparian species (Populus fremontii, Salix gooddingii, S. exigua, and Prosopis glandulosa) that occupy a geographically complex region to address four questions: 1) How is river connectivity related to genetic diversity and structure? 2) How do mating systems and dispersal mechanisms influence gene flow? 3) Is genetic diversity influenced by unidirectional water flow? 4) How do unregulated tributary and regulated river flows affect clonality and associated diversity? Our results identify five findings: 1) Patterns of genetic diversity and structure vary substantially across different species; 2) species with geographic distributions that include a large, perennial river exhibit the least genetic structure; 3) mating system, clonality, and seed dispersal are related to genetic structure; 4) genetic diversity is variable among species and populations, but does not increase or decrease unidirectionally; and 5) clonality and associated diversity does not differ along a regulated river relative to unregulated tributaries. Our multispecies approach to understanding how riverine complexity and life history traits influence genetic diversity and structure could be incorporated into management efforts to more closely match riparian species with their unique environments, thereby facilitating restoration success.

West-wide drought analysis

Released April 23, 2021 07:33 EST

2021, Report, West-Wide Climate and Hydrology Assessment, Technical Memorandum No. ENV-2021-001

Subhrendu Gangopadhyay, Gregory J. McCabe, Tom Pruitt, Brandon House

This chapter describes analyses of the variability and characteristics of drought for historical and future projected climate conditions across the Western United States. The analyses are performed using the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI; Palmer, 1965) to define drought events. The advantage of using PDSI to define droughts is that it focuses explicitly on droughts driven by hydroclimate variability. The PDSI does not include anthropogenic effects, such as water management, including the effects of reservoirs and diversions. Thus, PDSI is well-suited to examine natural climate-driven drought characteristics (i.e., drought duration, severity, and frequency). The next section (Section 4.1) describes the PDSI dataset and how it is used in the analyses. Section 4.2 describes the methodologies used to identify and analyze drought events. Section 4.3 presents results, along with considerations regarding the interpretations of the results. Summary and next steps emerging from the analyses are described in Section 4.4. Lastly, a listing of key findings is given in Section 4.5.

Sharing knowledge to improve ecological restoration outcomes

Released April 23, 2021 07:03 EST

2021, Restoration Ecology

Elise S Gornish, Molly Mccormick, Marquel Begay, Mlungele M Nsikani

Ecological restoration efforts are likely to be more successful when project components are informed by relevant stakeholders. However, key stakeholders are often not included in restoration design and deployment. This is largely driven by a lack of practitioner knowledge of and experience with stakeholder relations. However, inclusion of stakeholders across the entire restoration process can be accomplished by practitioners with no formal social science training. Here, we describe several easy (and usually inexpensive) ways to formally cultivate relationships among restoration practitioners, researchers and stakeholders to improve restoration outcomes. These include: how to identify and work with stakeholders; how to recognize the unique needs and contributions of stakeholder groups, and how to provide information back to stakeholders through outreach. Although how this practice occurs is dependent on restoration context, integrating these approaches more regularly into ecological restoration projects will likely result in more successful, relevant and community‐supported management outcomes.

Triangle Area Water Supply Monitoring Project, North Carolina—Summary of monitoring activities, quality assurance, and data, October 2017–September 2019

Released April 22, 2021 14:50 EST

2021, Open-File Report 2021-1020

Cassandra A. Pfeifle, Jessica L. Cain, Ryan B. Rasmussen

Surface-water supplies are important sources of drinking water for residents in the Triangle area of North Carolina, which is located within the upper Cape Fear and Neuse River Basins. Since 1988, the U.S. Geological Survey and a consortium of local governments have tracked water-quality conditions and trends in several of the area’s water-supply lakes and streams. This report summarizes data collected through this cooperative effort, known as the Triangle Area Water Supply Monitoring Project, from October 2017 through September 2018 (water year 2018) and from October 2018 through September 2019 (water year 2019). Major findings for this period include the following:

  • More than 7,500 individual measurements of water quality were made at 20 sites—7 in the Neuse River Basin and 13 in the Cape Fear River Basin. For the lake sites, only measurements from the photic zone and 1 meter below the water surface are documented in this report.
  • Thirty-six water-quality properties or constituents are presented in this report; the State of North Carolina water-quality thresholds are presented for 11 of these.
  • All observations met the State of North Carolina water-quality thresholds for water temperature, hardness, chloride, fluoride, sulfate, and nitrate plus nitrite.
  • The State of North Carolina water-quality thresholds were exceeded one or more times for dissolved oxygen, dissolved-oxygen percent saturation, pH, turbidity, and chlorophyll a.

Nitrogen and phosphorus loads from groundwater to Lake Spokane, Spokane, Washington, October 2016–October 2019

Released April 22, 2021 12:25 EST

2021, Scientific Investigations Report 2021-5023

Richard W. Sheibley, James R. Foreman

Shallow nearshore groundwater and estimates of groundwater seepage were collected at 21 locations along the north and south shores of Lake Spokane beginning in October 2016 and ending in October 2019. Nitrate plus nitrite concentrations in nearshore groundwater ranged from <0.04 to 7.60 milligrams of nitrogen per liter. Nearshore groundwater orthophosphate concentrations ranged from <0.004 to 0.381 milligrams of phosphorus per liter, and, overall, there were no consistent seasonal differences in nearshore groundwater nutrients during this study. Nitrate plus nitrite concentrations were highest at sites located adjacent to nearshore development and similar to concentrations in water collected from nearby drinking water wells. Similarly, samples from locations adjacent to nearshore development were statistically greater than samples collected from other locations for orthophosphate concentrations. Dissolved boron concentrations, elevated values of which are an indicator of household-detergent use, were elevated in spring and summer at some locations, indicating that residential wastewater was reaching the lake. Stable isotope ratios of nitrate (15N and 18O), which were used to identify the source nitrate in sampled groundwater, showed that most data indicated a mix of soil nitrogen and nitrogen sources from human or animal waste.

Generally, median groundwater discharge to the lake was low across all sites and seasons, with most values smaller than 1 centimeter per day (cm/d). Similar to the nutrient-concentration data, seasonal patterns in seepage flux were weak, and, where there were seasonal increases in flux, the increased groundwater discharge did not carry increased nutrients. Localized estimates of groundwater seepage flux were scaled up to the entire length of the lakeshore. The median groundwater flux of 0.34 cm/d scaled to 1.9 cubic feet per second (ft3/s) and the maximum recorded seepage flux of 17.6 cm/d was equivalent to 97 ft3/s. These estimates of groundwater inputs are orders of magnitude less than surface water inputs to the lake.

Nutrient loads were determined from the product of groundwater flow and a representative nutrient concentration. Using the median seepage flux of 1.9 ft3/s, the orthophosphate load ranged from 0.7 to 3.8 pounds of phosphorus per day based on the median and maximum orthophosphate concentrations, respectively. For nitrate plus nitrite, loads ranged from 5.8 to 76.6 pounds of nitrogen per day. Using the maximum value of seepage flux, maximum orthophosphate loads ranged from 35 to 198 pounds of phosphorus per day, and maximum nitrate plus nitrite loads ranged from 296 to 3,943 pound of nitrogen per day. Overall, groundwater nutrient loads are small compared to other sources to the lake. Continued monitoring of future nutrient loads would aid decisions by resource managers as infrastructure within the neighboring residential communities continues to age around Lake Spokane.

Priority species lists to restore desert tortoise and pollinator habitats in Mojave Desert shrublands

Released April 22, 2021 07:22 EST

2021, Natural Areas Journal (41) 145-158

Todd C. Esque, Lesley A. DeFalco, Gayle Loren Tyree, K. Kristina Drake, Kenneth E. Nussear, Joseph S Wilson

Mojave Desert shrublands are home to unique plants and wildlife and are experiencing rapid habitat change due to unprecedented large-scale disturbances; yet, established practices to effectively restore disturbed landscapes are not well developed. A priority species list of native plant taxa was developed to guide seed collectors, commercial growers, resource managers, and restoration practitioners in support of the Bureau of Land Management's Mojave Desert Native Plant Program. We identify focal plant taxa that are important for habitats of the threatened Mojave desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), a widely distributed herbivore in low and middle elevations, and pollinator taxa, including mostly Lepidopterans and Apoidean bees, some of whose populations are in decline. We identified 201 unique plant taxa in the diets of tortoises, and 49 taxa that provide thermal cover for tortoises with some overlapping taxa that provide both diet and cover. We discuss 134 native pollinators associated with plants used for nectaring, larval hosts, or cover and nesting materials. Detailed plant species accounts describing the status-of-knowledge for 57 plant taxonomic groups including detailed information on life history, ecology, and pollinator syndrome relevant to restoration success, methods of seed harvesting, propagation, and historical use in restoration. Our approach for developing a priority plant species list for the Mojave Desert provides a data-guided listing of species for restoration practitioners and identifies knowledge gaps for future investigation.

Geometry of the Bushveld Complex from 3D potential field modelling

Released April 22, 2021 07:06 EST

2021, Precambrian Research (359)

Janine Cole, Carol A. Finn, Susan J. Webb

A full three-dimensional (3D) potential field model of the central and southern Bushveld Complex reveals information about the Complex in areas obscured by younger geological cover. Previously, two-dimensional gravity models and a few magnetic models limited to certain sections of the Bushveld Complex have been used to propose geometries for the Rustenburg Layered Suite, especially in the western and eastern lobes. These models were often used to support different emplacement models. Although these models provided valuable information, two-and-a-half-dimensional (2.5D) potential field modelling is not well suited to modelling complex 3D geology. Also, in most cases, only the magnetic or gravity data were modelled, but jointly modelling both data sets better constrains the results, as was shown recently for a 3D model of the northern lobe. Joint 3D modelling of regional gravity and magnetic data combined with published crustal thickness models derived from broadband seismic tomography studies and constrained by density and susceptibility data, geologic mapping, boreholes and seismic reflection data were used to create a 3D model of the central and southeastern sections of the Bushveld Complex, as well as the southern part of the northern lobe. The model shows a complex geometry with thick continuous Rustenburg Layered Suite S in most of the western and southeastern lobes, but less continuous Rustenburg Layered Suite in the eastern lobe. Large domes or thick granites and granophyre in the latter interrupt the continuity of the Rustenburg Layered Suite and the western and eastern lobes are strictly speaking only partially connected in places. However, they are not separate intrusions, but one disconnected by pre-existing and synmagmatic updoming. Three possible feeders were modelled in the northern, western, and south-eastern lobes.

USGS National Water Quality Monitoring Network

Released April 21, 2021 08:45 EST

2021, Fact Sheet 2021-3019

Melissa L. Riskin, Casey J. Lee

What is the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Monitoring Network?

Understanding the water quality of U.S. streams and rivers requires consistent data collection and analysis over decades. The U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) National Water Quality Network (NWQN) was established to facilitate national-scale understanding of surface-water quality conditions through the collection of comparable data in large rivers and small streams in different geographic and land-use settings. Data collected by the NWQN support the needs of Federal, State, and local stakeholders tasked with managing our Nation’s water resources.

Economic effects assessment approaches: US National Parks approach

Released April 21, 2021 07:59 EST

2021, Book chapter

Catherine Cullinane Thomas, Lynne Koontz

This chapter discusses the data and methods used by the US National Park Service to estimate the economic effects of National Park visitor spending to local and regional economies. Topics covered include a summary of economic effects analyses, required data for analysis (visitor count data, trip characteristics and spending patterns, and regional economic multipliers) and how these data are combined to estimate visitor spending and economic effects. The chapter includes an applied example for Yosemite National Park and shows how park-level data can be combined to estimate and showcase state- and national-level visitor spending effects.

8,000 years of climate, vegetation, fire and land-use dynamics in the thermo-mediterranean vegetation belt of northern Sardinia (Italy)

Released April 21, 2021 06:50 EST

2021, Vegetation History and Archaeobotany

Tiziana Pedrotta, Erika Gobet, Christoph Schwörer, Giorgia Beffa, Christoph Butz, Paul D. Henne, César Morales-Molino, Salvatore Pasta, Jacqueline Van Leeuwen, Hendrik Vogel, Elias Zwimpfer, Flavio Anselmetti, Martin Grosjean, Willy Tinner

Knowledge about the vegetation history of Sardinia, the second largest island of the Mediterranean, is scanty. Here, we present a new sedimentary record covering the past ~ 8,000 years from Lago di Baratz, north-west Sardinia. Vegetation and fire history are reconstructed by pollen, spores, macrofossils and charcoal analyses and environmental dynamics by high-resolution element geochemistry together with pigment analyses. During the period 8,100–7,500 cal BP, when seasonality was high and fire and erosion were frequent, Erica arborea and E. scoparia woodlands dominated the coastal landscape. Subsequently, between 7,500 and 5,500 cal BP, seasonality gradually declined and thermo-mediterranean woodlands with Pistacia and Quercus ilex partially replaced Erica communities under diminished incidence of fire. After 5,500 cal BP, evergreen oak forests expanded markedly, erosion declined and lake levels increased, likely in response to increasing (summer) moisture availability. Increased anthropogenic fire disturbance triggered shrubland expansions (e.g. Tamarix and Pistacia) around 5,000–4,500 cal BP. Subsequently around 4,000–3,500 cal BP evergreen oak-olive forests expanded massively when fire activity declined and lake productivity and anoxia reached Holocene maxima. Land-use activities during the past 4,000 years (since the Bronze Age) gradually disrupted coastal forests, but relict stands persisted under rather stable environmental conditions until ca. 200 cal BP, when agricultural activities intensified and Pinus and Eucalyptus were planted to stabilize the sand dunes. Pervasive prehistoric land-use activities since at least the Bronze Age Nuraghi period included the cultivation of PrunusOlea europaea and Juglans regia after 3,500–3,300 cal BP, and Quercus suber after 2,500 cal BP. We conclude that restoring less flammable native Q. ilex and O. europaea forest communities would markedly reduce fire risk and erodibility compared to recent forest plantations with flammable non-native trees (e.g. PinusEucalyptus) and xerophytic shrubland (e.g. CistusErica).

Geophysical insights into Paleoproterozoic tectonics along the southern margin of the Superior Province, central Upper Peninsula, Michigan, USA

Released April 21, 2021 06:42 EST

2021, Precambrian Research (359)

Benjamin J. Drenth, William F. Cannon, Klaus J. Schulz, Robert A. Ayuso

The southern margin of the Archean Superior Province in the central Upper Peninsula of Michigan was a nexus for key Paleoproterozoic tectonic events involved in the ~2.1 Ga rifting of proposed Archean supercraton Superia and subsequent assembly of Laurentia. Interpretations of the region’s tectonic history have historically been hampered by extensive Pleistocene glacial and Paleozoic sedimentary cover and a lack of appropriate geophysical data. These rifting and orogenic events formed geologic effects that are readily mappable with modern geophysical methods. New aeromagnetic and gravity data provide a critical means of mapping and interpreting the complex geological framework through cover, allowing development of significantly richer geographical and process-based perspectives on all these tectonic events. Interpretations of Precambrian contacts and structure are here, for the first time, carried >30 km eastward under Paleozoic cover. Effects of ~2.1 Ga rifting are strongly expressed geophysically, including the Dickinson Group, perhaps a unique record of the progression of rift-related sedimentation and magmatism, shown here to be a geographically extensive and largely concealed tectonic feature of the southern Superior Province. The geophysical evidence for plausible ~2.1 Ga rift-related intrusive magmatism includes a previously unrecognized swarm of northeast-striking mafic dikes cutting Archean rocks and gravity lows produced by granites. Effects of the ~1.87–1.83 Ga Penokean orogeny include gravity and magnetic gradients and pattern breaks along the Niagara fault zone suture, abundant evidence for thin-skinned thrusting and folding in the Menominee iron district, and speculative emplacement of an allochthonous sedimentary sequence in the Calumet trough. Numerous east–west trending structures imaged geophysically likely originated, or were significantly reactivated by, post-Penokean deformation. Metamorphic events at ~1.76 Ga and ~1.65 Ga may correspond to orogenies involving younger, outboard Paleoproterozoic crustal provinces recognized in southern Laurentia. For example, the previously unrecognized West Branch fault, separating the Dickinson Group from Archean rocks, is shown to be a major structure in the region, and is a proposed expression of ~1.76 Ga thick-skinned deformation. Oblique disruptions of crudely east–west striking structures have robust geophysical expressions and are speculatively connected to transpressive deformation at ~1.65 Ga. These new geophysical observations and interpretations collectively help illuminate a critical period in the tectonic evolution of Laurentia, as it transitioned from a disparate array of Archean cratons to a more coherent, growing continent.

EverForecast—A near-term forecasting application for ecological decision support

Released April 20, 2021 14:48 EST

2021, Fact Sheet 2021-3005

Saira Mumtaz Haider, Stephanie S. Romañach, Mark McKelvy, Kevin J. Suir, Leonard Pearlstine

The Everglades Forecasting application (EverForecast) provides decision makers with a support tool to examine optimal allocations of water across the managed landscape while explicitly quantifying the conflicting needs of multiple species. Covering the Greater Everglades (a vast, subtropical wetland ecosystem in South Florida), EverForecast provides 6-month forecasts of daily projected water stage across the region. It then runs these forecasts through a suite of species models and illustrates potential tradeoffs. All output is summarized by subregion and hydrologic category. Decision makers can use these near-term forecasts to manage the transition from current conditions to future alternatives according to their management priorities.

Shear-wave velocity site characterization in Oklahoma from joint inversion of multi-method surface seismic measurements: Implications for central U.S. Ground Motion Prediction

Released April 20, 2021 09:25 EST

2021, Bulletin Seismological Society America

William J. Stephenson, Jackson K. Odum, Stephen H. Hartzell, Alena L. Leeds, Robert Williams

We analyze multi-method shear-wave velocity (Vs) site characterization data acquired at three permanent and 25 temporary seismograph stations in Oklahoma that recorded M4+ earthquakes within 50 km hypocentral distance of at least one of the 2016 M5.1 Fairview, M5.8 Pawnee or M5.0 Cushing earthquakes, to better constrain earthquake ground motion modeling in the region. We acquired active-source seismic data for time-averaged Vs to 30 m depth (Vs30) at 28 seismograph stations near the Fairview, Pawnee, and Cushing epicentral areas. The SH-wave refraction traveltimes coupled with Rayleigh- and Love-wave phase velocity dispersion were extracted and modeled in a nonlinear least-squares (L2) joint inversion to obtain a best-fit one-dimensional Vs-versus-depth profile for each site. At a subset of sites where the preferred L2 inverse model did not optimally fit each of the Love, Rayleigh and SH traveltime datasets, we explore application of simulated annealing in a joint inversion to find a more global solution. Vs30 values range from 262 m/s to 807 m/s for the preferred measured (in situ) Vs profiles, or NEHRP site class D to B, and are broadly comparable with estimates from previous data reports in the region. Site amplification estimates were next calculated from 1D SH transfer functions of the preferred Vs profiles and then compared against observed horizontal-to-vertical spectral ratios (HVSR) from nearby seismograph stations. We generally see good agreement between the predicted in situ model and the observed HVSR resonant frequencies, with nominal amplifications between 2 and 10 within the 2–15 Hz frequency band. Next, using 40 known in situ Vs30 measurements in the region, we demonstrate that the in situ Vs30 values improve the fit for selected suites of ground motion models for M4+ earthquakes within 50 km hypocentral distance when compared to proxy methods, arguing for future development of GMM’s implementing in situ Vs profiles.

Documentation of the U.S. Geological Survey Oceanographic time-series measurement database

Released April 20, 2021 08:00 EST

2008, Open-File Report 2007-1194

Ellyn T. Montgomery, Marinna A. Martini, Frances L. Lightsom, Bradford Butman, Daniel J. Nowacki, Steven E. Suttles

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Oceanographic Time-Series Measurement Database contains oceanographic observations made as part of studies designed to increase understanding of sediment transport processes and associated dynamics. Analysis of these data has contributed to more accurate prediction of the movement and fate of sediments and other suspended materials in the coastal ocean. The measurements were collected primarily by investigators at the USGS Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center (WHCMSC) and colleagues, beginning in 1975. Most of the field experiments were carried out on the U.S. continental shelf and slope.

This report describes the instrumentation and platforms used to make the measurements; the methods used to process, apply quality-control criteria, and archive the data; the data storage format, and how the data are released and distributed. The report also includes instructions on how to access the data from the online database at As of 2016, the database contains about 5,000 files, which may include observations of current velocity, wave statistics, ocean temperature, conductivity, pressure, and light transmission at one or more depths over some duration of time.

Editorial: Combining the science and practice of restoration ecology-Case studies of a grassroots binational restoration collaborative in the Madrean Archipelago Ecoregion (2014- 2019)

Released April 20, 2021 07:15 EST

2021, Air, Soil and Water Research (14) 1-9

Laura M. Norman, H. Ronald Pulliam, Michele Girard, Steven M. Buckley, Louise W. Misztal, David Seibert, Carianne Campbell, James B. Callegary, Deborah J. Tosline, Natalie R. Wilson, David Hodges, Jeff Conn, A. Valer Austin-Clark

The Sky Island Restoration Collaborative (SIRC) is a growing partnership between government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private landowners in southeast Arizona, the United States, and northern Sonora, Mexico. Starting in 2014 as an experiment to cultivate restoration efforts by connecting people across vocations and nations, SIRC has evolved over 5 years into a flourishing landscape-restoration initiative. The group is founded on the concept of developing a restoration economy, where ecological and socioeconomic benefits are interconnected and complimentary. The variety of ideas, people, field sites, administration, and organizations promote learning and increase project success through iterative adaptive management, transparency, and sharing. The collaborative seeks to make restoration self-sustaining and improve quality of life for citizens living along the US-Mexico border. Research and experiments are developed between scientists and practitioners to test hypotheses, qualify procedures, and quantify impacts on shared projects. Simultaneously, partners encourage and facilitate connecting more people to the landscape—via volunteerism, internships, training, and mentoring. Through this history, SIRC’s evolution is pioneering the integration of community and ecological restoration to protect biodiversity in the Madrean Archipelago Ecoregion. This editorial introduces SIRC as a unique opportunity for scientists and practitioners looking to engage in binational partnerships and segues into this special journal issue we have assembled that relates new findings in the field of restoration ecology.

Hydrogeologic framework, geochemistry, groundwater-flow system, and aquifer hydraulic properties used in the development of a conceptual model of the Ogallala, Edwards-Trinity (High Plains), and Dockum aquifers in and near Gaines, Terry, and Yoakum Counties, Texas

Released April 20, 2021 06:14 EST

2021, Scientific Investigations Report 2021-5009

Andrew P. Teeple, Patricia B. Ging, Jonathan V. Thomas, David S. Wallace, Jason D. Payne

In 2014, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with Llano Estacado Underground Water Conservation District, Sandy Land Underground Water Conservation District, and South Plains Underground Water Conservation District (hereinafter referred to collectively as the “UWCDs”), began a multiphase study in and near Gaines, Terry, and Yoakum Counties, Texas, to develop a regional conceptual model of the hydrogeologic framework, geochemistry, groundwater-flow system, and hydraulic properties, primarily for the High Plains and Edwards-Trinity aquifer system and to a lesser degree for the Dockum aquifer. The High Plains aquifer system (hereinafter referred to as the “Ogallala aquifer”), contained within the Ogallala Formation in Texas, is the shallowest aquifer in the study area and is the primary source of water for agriculture and municipal supply in the areas managed by the UWCDs. Groundwater withdrawals from deeper aquifers (primarily the Edwards-Trinity [High Plains] aquifer system that is hereinafter referred to as the “Edwards-Trinity [High Plains] aquifer”) augmented by lesser amounts from the Dockum aquifer provide additional water sources in the study area. The Edwards-Trinity (High Plains) aquifer is contained within the Trinity and Fredericksburg Groups. The Dockum aquifer, a relatively minor source of water in the study area, is contained in the Dockum Group, which was evaluated as a single unit. The potential for continual declines of the groundwater in the Ogallala aquifer in the study area and the potential changes in water quality resulting from dewatering and increased vertical groundwater movement between adjacent water-bearing units have raised concerns about the amount and quality of available groundwater.

The developed conceptual model helped in the understanding of the quantity and quality of the groundwater within the Ogallala, the Edwards-Trinity (High Plains), and to a lesser extent, the Dockum aquifers within the study area. The hydrogeologic framework was used to assess the vertical and lateral extents of hydrogeologic units, bed orientations, unit thicknesses, and location and orientation of paleochannels. In general, the Trinity and Fredericksburg Groups and Ogallala Formation exhibit a slight regional dip (dip angle of about 0.14 degrees) to the southeast with dip directions becoming more to the south with each successively overlying unit (105, 110, and 125 degrees for the bases of the Trinity and Fredericksburg Groups and Ogallala Formation, respectively). In general, the Trinity and Fredericksburg Groups thin to the south and are not present in the southern part of Gaines County, whereas the Ogallala Formation becomes thinner from west to east. The combined thickness of the Trinity and Fredericksburg Groups and Ogallala Formation is generally greatest in the north-central part of the study area and thinnest in the southeastern part of the study area. Paleochannel orientation varied over geologic time as formations were deposited and eroded.

Water-quality samples were collected from 51 wells throughout the study area to better understand general water quality and to provide insight into groundwater-flow paths and recharge areas. Groundwater samples were spatially grouped on the basis of similarities found in the physicochemical properties, major ions, trace elements, nutrients, organic compounds, and selected stable isotopes and age tracers. Three groundwater groups were identified in the study area. The first groundwater group (Group 1), represented mostly by groundwater from the Ogallala and Edwards-Trinity (High Plains) aquifers in the northern half of the study area, is considered to be recent recharge, affected by land-use activities, as explained by the younger age, higher concentrations of nitrate plus nitrite, and more frequent detections of organic compounds. Groundwater wells in the second groundwater group (Group 2) are typically in the southwestern and northwestern parts of the study area, and the groundwater in this group is considered to be groundwater recharged during the Pleistocene period, as explained by the relatively old age of the groundwater, high strontium stable isotope ratios, and hydrogen and oxygen stable isotope ratios. The last groundwater group (Group 3) is likely a mixture of groundwater from the first or second groups (or both) with a third, highly mineralized groundwater as explained by having the highest dissolved-solids concentrations in the study area and having some similarities to geochemical characteristics of samples from the first and second groups.

A groundwater-flow system analysis was done to understand the flow of groundwater throughout the aquifer system. Groundwater-level altitudes for the Ogallala, Edwards-Trinity (High Plains), and Dockum aquifers are generally higher in the northwestern part of the study area and lower in the southeastern part of the study area. Groundwater generally flows in a northwest to southeast direction across the study area in each of the aquifers. The groundwater-flow paths closely resemble the mapped paleochannels, indicating that within the study area, the groundwater flows preferentially along the paleochannels, especially within the Ogallala aquifer where dewatering of the aquifer results in a greater effect of the base structure on the flow of groundwater.

The Ogallala aquifer is unsaturated in localized areas in the study area; unsaturated areas are generally near the southern extent of the Edwards-Trinity (High Plains) aquifer, with the largest unsaturated area west of Seminole, Tex. The saturated thickness of the Ogallala aquifer is thickest (more than 125 feet) southeast of Seminole and west of Brownfield, Tex., near the border between Terry and Yoakum Counties. The saturated thickness of the combined Ogallala and Edwards-Trinity (High Plains) aquifers ranges from less than 10 feet along the far southern edge of the study area to more than 350 feet north and east of Brownfield, Tex., and along the border between Terry and Yoakum Counties.

The aquifer hydraulic properties, including hydraulic conductivity and specific yield, were estimated to better understand the ability of groundwater to move through the aquifer system and quantify the volume of available water in storage. The hydraulic-conductivity values varied greatly within the study area (ranging from about 0.03 to about 350 feet per day), and often large variations were found in the same area. Terry County contained the highest and lowest hydraulic conductivity values for the Ogallala aquifer, whereas Yoakum County contained the highest and lowest hydraulic conductivity values for the Edwards-Trinity (High Plains) aquifer. The highest hydraulic-conductivity values for the Dockum aquifer were in Gaines County, whereas the lowest hydraulic-conductivity values were in Terry County. The estimated specific yield values within the study area range from 0.01 to 0.36. Higher specific yield values generally occurred in the western part of the study area except in the Ogallala aquifer where higher specific yield values were in the east. The Ogallala aquifer had the lowest specific yield range and the least specific yield variability among the three aquifers, whereas the Dockum aquifer had the highest specific yield range and the greatest specific yield variability.

Using the estimated saturated thickness and estimated specific yield grids, the water volumes of the Ogallala and Edwards-Trinity (High Plains) aquifers and the combined Ogallala and Edwards-Trinity (High Plains) aquifers were estimated. The available water in the Edwards-Trinity (High Plains) aquifer (16.6 million acre-feet) is almost double the available water in the Ogallala aquifer (8.8 million acre-feet). Although the Edwards-Trinity (High Plains) aquifer contains more available groundwater, pumping is more difficult because of the relatively low hydraulic conductivity and specific yield values compared to the Ogallala aquifer. Overall, the available water within the combined Ogallala and Edwards-Trinity (High Plains) aquifers is about 6.6, 10.2, and 8.6 million acre-feet for Gaines, Terry, and Yoakum Counties, respectively.

The South Carolina bridge-scour envelope curves

Released April 19, 2021 17:15 EST

2016, Scientific Investigations Report 2016-5121

Stephen T. Benedict, Toby D. Feaster, Andral W. Caldwell

The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the South Carolina Department of Transportation, conducted a series of three field investigations to evaluate historical, riverine bridge scour in the Piedmont and Coastal Plain regions of South Carolina. These investigations included data collected at 231 riverine bridges, which lead to the development of bridge-scour envelope curves for clear-water and live-bed components of scour. The application and limitations of the South Carolina bridge-scour envelope curves were documented in four reports, each report addressing selected components of bridge scour. The current investigation (2016) synthesizes the findings of these previous reports into a guidance manual providing an integrated procedure for applying the envelope curves. Additionally, the investigation provides limited verification for selected bridge-scour envelope curves by comparing them to field data collected outside of South Carolina from previously published sources. Although the bridge-scour envelope curves have limitations, they are useful supplementary tools for assessing the potential for scour at riverine bridges in South Carolina.

Historical effective population size of North American hoary bat (Lasiurus cinereus) and challenges to estimating trends in contemporary effective breeding population size from archived samples

Released April 19, 2021 10:37 EST

2021, PeerJ (9)

Robert S. Cornman, Jennifer A. Fike, Sara J. Oyler-McCance, Paul M. Cryan


Hoary bats (Lasiurus cinereus) are among the bat species most commonly killed by wind turbine strikes in the midwestern United States. The impact of this mortality on species census size is not understood, due in part to the difficulty of estimating population size for this highly migratory and elusive species. Genetic effective population size (Ne) could provide an index of changing census population size if other factors affecting Ne are stable.


We used the NeEstimator package to derive effective breeding population size (Nb) estimates for two temporally spaced cohorts: 93 hoary bats collected in 2009–2010 and an additional 93 collected in 2017–2018. We sequenced restriction-site associated polymorphisms and generated a de novo genome assembly to guide the removal of sex-linked and multi-copy loci, as well as identify physically linked markers.


Analysis of the reference genome with psmc suggested at least a doubling of Ne in the last 100,000 years, likely exceeding Ne = 10,000 in the Holocene. Allele and genotype frequency analyses confirmed that the two cohorts were comparable, although some samples had unusually high or low observed heterozygosities. Additionally, the older cohort had lower mean coverage and greater variability in coverage, and batch effects of sampling locality were observed that were consistent with sample degradation. We therefore excluded samples with low coverage or outlier heterozygosity, as well as loci with sequence coverage far from the mode value, from the final data set. Prior to excluding these outliers, contemporary Nb estimates were significantly higher in the more recent cohort, but this finding was driven by high values for the 2018 sample year and low values for all other years. In the reduced data set, Nb did not differ significantly between cohorts. We found base substitutions to be strongly biased toward cytosine to thymine or the complement, and further partitioning loci by substitution type had a strong effect on Nb estimates. Minor allele frequency and base quality bias thresholds also had strong effects on Nb estimates. Instability of Nb with respect to common data filtering parameters and empirically identified factors prevented robust comparison of the two cohorts. Given that confidence intervals frequently included infinity as the stringency of data filtering increased, contemporary trends in Nb of North American hoary bats may not be tractable with the linkage disequilibrium method, at least using the protocol employed here.

Geochemical data for Illinois Basin coal samples, 2015–2018

Released April 19, 2021 07:30 EST

2021, Data Series 1135

Allan Kolker, Clint Scott, Liliana Lefticariu, Maria Mastalerz, Agnieszka Drobniak, Annie Scott

Researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and their collaborators conducted a study of the geochemical properties of coals currently produced for electric power generation in the Illinois Basin in Illinois and Indiana. The study follows from recommendations by an expert panel for the USGS to investigate the distribution and controls of trace constituents such as mercury (Hg) in Illinois Basin coals and the behavior of these constituents in coal preparation. A total of 72 new samples were collected by USGS collaborators between 2015 and 2017. These samples include raw coals, prepared coals, and waste coals from coal preparation. To understand the geochemistry and cleaning behavior of these coals, these samples were subjected to an integrated series of analyses described here, including microanalysis of coal constituents and bulk sample chemical analysis. Of the procedures used, whole-sample Hg analysis quantified overall mercury contents and its reduction by coal preparation. Laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) of pyrite in coal quantified Hg and other potentially harmful elements contained in pyrite, the most likely host of these constituents. Trace elements investigated include those whose emissions are regulated under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. This report and the corresponding data release, serve as an archive for geochemical data obtained in our study of the geochemistry of Illinois Basin coals. Material included in this report also define approaches used by the USGS over the period of study to characterize coal samples, requiring combined use of results from USGS and non-USGS laboratories.

Assessment of undiscovered gas resources in Upper Devonian to Lower Cretaceous strata of the western North Slope, Alaska, 2021

Released April 19, 2021 07:30 EST

2021, Fact Sheet 2021-3003

David W. Houseknecht, Tracey J. Mercier, Christopher J. Schenk, Thomas E. Moore, William A. Rouse, Julie A. Dumoulin, William H. Craddock, Richard O. Lease, Palma J. Botterell, Margaret M. Sanders, Rebecca A. Smith, Christopher D. Connors, Christopher P. Garrity, Katherine J. Whidden, Jared T. Gooley, John W. Counts, Joshua H. Long, Christina A. DeVera

Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated a mean of 1,407 billion (1.4 trillion) cubic feet of gas in conventional accumulations in Upper Devonian to Lower Cretaceous strata of the western North Slope, Alaska.

Coking coal of the United States—Modern and historical coking coal mining locations and chemical, rheological, petrographic, and other data from modern samples

Released April 19, 2021 07:30 EST

2021, Open-File Report 2020-1113

Michael H. Trippi, Leslie F. Ruppert, Cortland F. Eble, James C. Hower

Coking coal, or metallurgical coal, has been produced in the United States for nearly 200 years. Coking coal is primarily used in the production of coke for use in the steel industry, and for other uses (for example, foundries, blacksmithing, heating buildings, and brewing). Currently, U.S. coking coal is produced in Alabama, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Virginia , and West Virginia. Historically, coking coal has also been produced in 15 other states (Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming), but currently is not. Coals from the Appalachian, Arkoma, and Illinois basins are Pennsylvanian in age, while coals in Alaska, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming range in age from Early Cretaceous through Eocene.

This Open-File Report presents the geographic locations of current and historical coking coal deposits of the United States, with additional information about recent and historical mining and exploration activities. Chemical, rheological, petrographic, and other criteria for evaluating the coking potential of coals are discussed, and historical data for coking coals in the United States are presented. In addition, new coking coal samples from Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, and Oklahoma were collected and analyzed for this report, and the data are presented in multiple tables, including proximate and ultimate analyses; calorific value; sulfur forms; major-, minor-, and trace-element abundances; Free-Swelling Index; Gieseler Plastometer analyses; American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) dilatation; coal petrography; and predicted values of Coal Stability Factor and Coal Strength after Reaction with CO2 (pCSF and pCSR, respectively). Data from previously analyzed coking coal samples in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia were supplied by three companies, including results from all the tests listed above, plus oxidation, Hardgrove Grindability Index, and ash fusion (in a reducing environment) temperatures are also presented in tables in the report.

Geographic Information System (GIS) data compiled for this project are available for download for public and private utilization and may be used to create maps for a variety of energy resource studies. These GIS data are in shapefile format, and metadata files are included describing all GIS processing. Additional geographic information about coking coal areas of the United States are also presented in tabular format in the report, including the following: names of coal basins, fields, regions, districts, and areas; coal beds or zones; geographic locations including States, counties, towns, rivers, mountains, etc.; stratigraphic hierarchy and age of the coal-bearing interval; coking characteristics including sulfur content, ash yield, volatile matter, moisture, calorific value, and Free-Swelling Index; coal rank; names of coal mines and coal-mining companies; current and past mining activity; and references for reports about the coal.

Substantial declines in salinity observed across the Upper Colorado River Basin during the 20th century, 1929 to 2019

Released April 19, 2021 07:27 EST

2021, Water Resources Research (57)

Christine Rumsey, Olivia L. Miller, Robert Hirsch, Thomas M. Marston, David Susong

Salinity in the Colorado River Basin causes an estimated $300 to $400 million per year in economic damages in the U.S. To inform and improve salinity‐control efforts, this study quantifies long‐term trends in salinity (dissolved solids) across the Upper Colorado River Basin (UCRB), including time periods prior to the construction of large dams and preceding the implementation of salinity‐control projects. Weighted Regressions on Time, Discharge, and Season was used with datasets of dissolved‐solids and specific‐conductance measurements, collected as early as 1929, to evaluate long‐term trends in dissolved‐solids loads and concentrations in streams from 1929 to 2019 (n=14). Results indicate that large, widespread, and sustained downward trends in dissolved‐solids concentrations and loads occurred over the last 50 to 90 years. For 12 of the 14 stream sites with significant downward change, median declines of ‐38% (range of ‐14 to ‐57%) and ‐40% (range of ‐9 to ‐65%) were observed for flow‐normalized concentration and load, respectively. Steepest rates of decline occurred from 1980 to 2000, coincident with the initiation of salinity‐control efforts in the 1980s. However, there was a consistent slowing or reversing of downward trends after 2000 even though salinity‐control efforts continued. Significant decreases in salinity occurred as early as the 1940s at some streams, indicating that, in addition to salinity‐control projects, changes in land cover, land use, and/or climate substantially affect salinity transport in the UCRB. Observed dissolved‐solids trends are likely the result of changes to watershed‐related processes, not due to changes in the streamflow regime.

Virulence and infectivity of UC, MD and L strains of infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV) in four populations of Columbia River Basin Chinook salmon

Released April 18, 2021 09:14 EST

2021, Viruses (13)

Daniel G. Hernandez, William E. Brown, Kerry A. Naish, Gael Kurath

Infectious Hematopoietic Necrosis Virus (IHNV) infects juvenile salmonid fish in conservation hatcheries and aquaculture facilities, and in some cases, causes lethal disease. This study assesses intra-specific variation in the IHNV susceptibility of Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) in the Columbia River Basin (CRB), in the northwestern United States. The virulence and infectivity of IHNV strains from three divergent virus genogroups are measured in four Chinook salmon populations, including spring-run and fall-run fish from the lower or upper regions of the CRB. Following controlled laboratory exposures, our results show that the positive control L strain had significantly higher virulence, and the UC and MD strains that predominate in the CRB had equivalently low virulence, consistent with field observations. By several experimental measures, there was little variation in host susceptibility to infection or disease. However, a small number of exceptions suggested that the lower CRB spring-run Chinook salmon population may be less susceptible than other populations tested. The UC and MD viruses did not differ in infectivity, indicating that the observed asymmetric field prevalence in which IHNV detected in CRB Chinook salmon is 83% UC and 17% MD is not due to the UC virus being more infectious. Overall, we report little intra-species variation in CRB Chinook salmon susceptibility to UC or MD IHNV infection or disease, and suggest that other factors may instead influence the ecology of IHNV in the CRB. 

The seismo-acoustics of submarine volcanic eruptions

Released April 18, 2021 06:59 EST

2021, Journal of Geophysical Research (126)

Gabrielle Tepp, Robert P. Dziak

Many of the world’s volcanoes are hidden beneath the ocean’s surface where eruptions are difficult to observe. However, seismo‐acoustic signals produced by these eruptions provide a useful means of identifying active submarine volcanism. A literature survey revealed reports of 119 seismo‐acoustically recorded submarine eruptions since 1939. Submarine eruptions have been recorded in all major tectonic settings, with a range of geochemistries, and at a variety of water depths, but the reports are dominated by eruptions in the Pacific and at only a few locations. Many of the reports offer little detail, with over half of the observations made from distances >500 km, and only about half were confirmed as eruptions by non‐seismo‐acoustic evidence. The reported seismo‐acoustic signals cover a wide variety of processes, including earthquakes, explosions, various types of tremor, signals related to lava extrusion, and landslides. Recorded signals can sometimes be difficult to classify or confidently associate with an eruption, although there has been progress in this regard. Real‐time monitoring of submarine eruptions has been on‐going for several decades on regional and global scales with growing interest and effort in local networks. Real‐time networks are complemented by short‐term instrument deployments that often give more detailed insights into the dynamics and processes of submarine eruptions. Thorough seismo‐acoustic monitoring and study has increased our understanding of submarine eruptions, especially of deep‐sea volcanoes and spreading centers. Despite this, there are still many outstanding questions that need to be addressed for submarine volcanoes to be as well understood and monitored as their terrestrial counterparts.

Long‐term surveys support declines in early‐season forest plants used by bumble bees

Released April 18, 2021 06:58 EST

2021, Journal of Applied Ecology

John Michael Mola, Leif L Richardson, Greg Spyreas, David N. Zaya, Ian Pearse

  1. Populations of bumble bees and other pollinators have declined over the past several decades due to numerous threats, including habitat loss and degradation. However, we can rarely investigate the role of resource loss due to a lack of detailed long‐term records of forage plants and habitats.
  2. We use 22‐year repeated surveys of more than 262 sites located in grassland, forest, and wetland habitats across Illinois, USA to explore how the abundance and richness of bumble bee food plants have changed over the period of decline of the endangered rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis).
  3. We document a decline in abundance of bumble bee forage plants in forest understories, which our phenology analysis suggests provide the primary nectar and pollen sources for foundress queens in spring, a critical life stage in bumble bee demography. By contrast, the per‐unit area abundance of food plants in primarily midsummer‐flowering grassland and wetland habitats has not declined. However, the total area of grasslands has declined across the region resulting in a net loss of grassland resources.
  4. Synthesis and applications. Our results suggest a decline in spring‐flowering forest understory plants is a previously unappreciated bumble bee stressor, compounding factors like agricultural intensification, novel pathogen exposure, and grassland habitat loss. These findings emphasize the need for greater consideration of habitat complementarity in bumble bee conservation. We conclude that continued loss of early‐season floral resources may add additional stress to critical life stages of bumble bees and limit restoration efforts if not explicitly considered in pollinator conservation.