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Evaluating GPS biologging technology for studying spatial ecology of large constricting snakes

Released February 19, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Animal Biotelemetry (6)

Brian Smith, Kristen M. Hart, Frank J. Mazzotti, Mathieu Basille, Christina M. Romagosa

Background: GPS telemetry has revolutionized the study of animal spatial ecology in the last two decades. Until recently, it has mainly been deployed on large mammals and birds, but the technology is rapidly becoming miniaturized, and applications in diverse taxa are becoming possible. Large constricting snakes are top predators in their ecosystems, and accordingly they are often a management priority, whether their populations are threatened or invasive. Fine-scale GPS tracking datasets could greatly improve our ability to understand and manage these snakes, but the ability of this new technology to deliver high-quality data in this system is unproven. In order to evaluate GPS technology in large constrictors, we GPS-tagged 13 Burmese pythons (Python bivittatus) in Everglades National Park and deployed an additional 7 GPS tags on stationary platforms to evaluate habitat-driven biases in GPS locations. Both python and test platform GPS tags were programmed to attempt a GPS fix every 90 min.

Results: While overall fix rates for the tagged pythons were low (18.1%), we were still able to obtain an average of 14.5 locations/animal/week, a large improvement over once-weekly VHF tracking. We found overall accuracy and precision to be very good (mean accuracy = 7.3 m, mean precision = 12.9 m), but a very few imprecise locations were still recorded (0.2% of locations with precision > 1.0 km). We found that dense vegetation did decrease fix rate, but we concluded that the low observed fix rate was also due to python microhabitat selection underground or underwater. Half of our recovered pythons were either missing their tag or the tag had malfunctioned, resulting in no data being recovered.

Conclusions: GPS biologging technology is a promising tool for obtaining frequent, accurate, and precise locations of large constricting snakes. We recommend future studies couple GPS telemetry with frequent VHF locations in order to reduce bias and limit the impact of catastrophic failures on data collection, and we recommend improvements to GPS tag design to lessen the frequency of these failures.

Testing the limits of temporal stability: Willingness to pay values among Grand Canyon whitewater boaters across decades

Released February 18, 2018 00:00 EST

2017, Water Resources Research (53) 10108-10120

Chris J. Neher, John Duffield, Lucas S. Bair, David A. Patterson, Katherine Neher

We directly compare trip willingness to pay (WTP) values between 1985 and 2015 stated preference surveys of private party Grand Canyon boaters using identically designed valuation methods. The temporal gap of 30 years between these two studies is well beyond that of any tests of WTP temporal stability in the literature. Comparisons were made of mean WTP estimates for four hypothetical Colorado River flow level scenarios. WTP values from the 1985 survey were adjusted to 2015 levels using the consumer price index. Mean WTP precision was estimated through simulation. No statistically significant differences were detected between the adjusted Bishop et al. (1987) and the current study mean WTP estimates. Examination of pooled models of the data from the studies suggest that while the estimated WTP values are stable over time, the underlying valuation functions may not be, particularly when the data and models are corrected to account for differing bid structures and possible panel effects.

Assessment of Undiscovered Conventional Oil and Gas Resources in the Wyoming Thrust Belt Province, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah, 2017

Released February 16, 2018 17:20 EST

2018, Fact Sheet 2017-3091

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

Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated mean undiscovered, technically recoverable resources of 26 million barrels of oil and 700 billion cubic feet of gas in the Wyoming Thrust Belt Province, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah.

Volume-weighted particle-tracking method for solute-transport modeling; Implementation in MODFLOW–GWT

Released February 16, 2018 13:00 EST

2018, Techniques and Methods 6-A58

Richard B. Winston, Leonard F. Konikow, George Z. Hornberger

In the traditional method of characteristics for groundwater solute-transport models, advective transport is represented by moving particles that track concentration. This approach can lead to global mass-balance problems because in models of aquifers having complex boundary conditions and heterogeneous properties, particles can originate in cells having different pore volumes and (or) be introduced (or removed) at cells representing fluid sources (or sinks) of varying strengths. Use of volume-weighted particles means that each particle tracks solute mass. In source or sink cells, the changes in particle weights will match the volume of water added or removed through external fluxes. This enables the new method to conserve mass in source or sink cells as well as globally. This approach also leads to potential efficiencies by allowing the number of particles per cell to vary spatially—using more particles where concentration gradients are high and fewer where gradients are low. The approach also eliminates the need for the model user to have to distinguish between “weak” and “strong” fluid source (or sink) cells. The new model determines whether solute mass added by fluid sources in a cell should be represented by (1) new particles having weights representing appropriate fractions of the volume of water added by the source, or (2) distributing the solute mass added over all particles already in the source cell. The first option is more appropriate for the condition of a strong source; the latter option is more appropriate for a weak source. At sinks, decisions whether or not to remove a particle are replaced by a reduction in particle weight in proportion to the volume of water removed. A number of test cases demonstrate that the new method works well and conserves mass. The method is incorporated into a new version of the U.S. Geological Survey’s MODFLOW–GWT solute-transport model.

Combining InSAR and GPS to determine transient movement and thickness of a seasonally active low-gradient translational landslide

Released February 16, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Geophysical Research Letters

Xie Hu, Zhong Lu, Thomas C. Pierson, Rebecca Kramer, David L. George

Rebecca Kramer, editor(s)

The combined application of continuous Global Positioning System data (high temporal resolution) with spaceborne interferometric synthetic aperture radar data (high spatial resolution) can reveal much more about the complexity of large landslide movement than is possible with geodetic measurements tied to only a few specific measurement sites. This approach is applied to an ~4 km2 reactivated translational landslide in the Columbia River Gorge (Washington State), which moves mainly during the winter rainy season. Results reveal the complex three-dimensional shape of the landslide mass, how onset of sliding relates to cumulative rainfall, how surface velocity during sliding varies with location on the topographically complex landslide surface, and how the ground surface subsides slightly in weeks prior to downslope sliding.

Phytoforensics: Trees as bioindicators of potential indoor exposure via vapor intrusion

Released February 16, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, PLoS ONE (13) 1-17

Jordan L. Wilson, V.A. Samaranayake, Matthew A. Limmer, Joel G. Burken

Human exposure to volatile organic compounds (VOCs) via vapor intrusion (VI) is an emerging public health concern with notable detrimental impacts on public health. Phytoforensics, plant sampling to semi-quantitatively delineate subsurface contamination, provides a potential non-invasive screening approach to detect VI potential, and plant sampling is effective and also time- and cost-efficient. Existing VI assessment methods are time- and resource-intensive, invasive, and require access into residential and commercial buildings to drill holes through basement slabs to install sampling ports or require substantial equipment to install groundwater or soil vapor sampling outside the home. Tree-core samples collected in 2 days at the PCE Southeast Contamination Site in York, Nebraska were analyzed for tetrachloroethene (PCE) and results demonstrated positive correlations with groundwater, soil, soil-gas, sub-slab, and indoor-air samples collected over a 2-year period. Because tree-core samples were not collocated with other samples, interpolated surfaces of PCE concentrations were estimated so that comparisons could be made between pairs of data. Results indicate moderate to high correlation with average indoor-air and sub-slab PCE concentrations over long periods of time (months to years) to an interpolated tree-core PCE concentration surface, with Spearman’s correlation coefficients (ρ) ranging from 0.31 to 0.53 that are comparable to the pairwise correlation between sub-slab and indoor-air PCE concentrations (ρ = 0.55, n = 89). Strong correlations between soil-gas, sub-slab, and indoor-air PCE concentrations and an interpolated tree-core PCE concentration surface indicate that trees are valid indicators of potential VI and human exposure to subsurface environment pollutants. The rapid and non-invasive nature of tree sampling are notable advantages: even with less than 60 trees in the vicinity of the source area, roughly 12 hours of tree-core sampling with minimal equipment at the PCE Southeast Contamination Site was sufficient to delineate vapor intrusion potential in the study area and offered comparable delineation to traditional sub-slab sampling performed at 140 properties over a period of approximately 2 years.

Foraging and fasting can influence contaminant concentrations in animals: an example with mercury contamination in a free-ranging marine mammal

Released February 16, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Proceedings of the Royal Society B (285)

Sarah Peterson, Joshua T. Ackerman, Daniel E. Crocker, Daniel P. Costa

Large fluctuations in animal body mass in relation to life-history events can influence contaminant concentrations and toxicological risk. We quantified mercury concentrations in adult northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) before and after lengthy at sea foraging trips (n = 89) or fasting periods on land (n = 27), and showed that mercury concentrations in blood and muscle changed in response to these events. The highest blood mercury concentrations were observed after the breeding fast, whereas the highest muscle mercury concentrations were observed when seals returned to land to moult. Mean female blood mercury concentrations decreased by 30% across each of the two annual foraging trips, demonstrating a foraging-associated dilution of mercury concentrations as seals gained mass. Blood mercury concentrations increased by 103% and 24% across the breeding and moulting fasts, respectively, demonstrating a fasting-associated concentration of mercury as seals lost mass. In contrast to blood, mercury concentrations in female's muscle increased by 19% during the post-breeding foraging trip and did not change during the post-moulting foraging trip. While fasting, female muscle mercury concentrations increased 26% during breeding, but decreased 14% during moulting. Consequently, regardless of exposure, an animal's contaminant concentration can be markedly influenced by their annual life-history events.

Grass is not always greener: Rodenticide exposure of a threatened species near marijuana growing operations

Released February 16, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, BMC Research Notes (11)

Alan B. Franklin, Peter C Carlson, Angela Rex, Jeremy T. Rockweit, David Garza, Emily Culhane, Steven F Volker, Robert Dusek, Valerie I. Shearn-Bochsler, Mourad W Gabriel, Katherine E. Horak

Objective: Marijuana (Cannabis spp.) growing operations (MGO) in California have increased substantially since the mid-1990s. One environmental side-effect of MGOs is the extensive use of anticoagulant rodenticides (AR) to prevent damage to marijuana plants caused by wild rodents. In association with a long-term demographic study, we report on an observation of brodifacoum AR exposure in a threatened species, the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina), found freshly dead within 669–1347 m of at least 7 active MGOs. Results: Liver and blood samples from the dead northern spotted owl were tested for 12 rodenticides. Brodifacoum was the only rodenticide detected in the liver (33.3 – 36.3 ng/g) and the blood (0.48 – 0.54 ng/ml). Based on necropsy results it is unclear what role brodifacoum may have had in the death of this bird. However, fatal AR poisoning has been previously reported in owls with relatively low levels of brodifacoum residues in the liver. One possible mechanism of AR transmission from MGOs to northern spotted owls in California is through ingestion of prey that frequent MGOs. The proliferation of MGOs in forested landscapes suitable for northern spotted owls may be an additional conservation concern for this threatened species.

Analysis of vegetation recovery surrounding a restored wetland using the normalized difference infrared index (NDII) and normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI)

Released February 16, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, International Journal of Remote Sensing (39) 3243-3274

Natalie Wilson, Laura Norman

Watershed restoration efforts seek to rejuvenate vegetation, biological diversity, and land productivity at Cienega San Bernardino, an important wetland in southeastern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico. Rock detention and earthen berm structures were built on the Cienega San Bernardino over the course of four decades, beginning in 1984 and continuing to the present. Previous research findings show that restoration supports and even increases vegetation health despite ongoing drought conditions in this arid watershed. However, the extent of restoration impacts is still unknown despite qualitative observations of improvement in surrounding vegetation amount and vigor. We analyzed spatial and temporal trends in vegetation greenness and soil moisture by applying the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and normalized difference infrared index (NDII) to one dry summer season Landsat path/row from 1984 to 2016. The study area was divided into zones and spectral data for each zone was analyzed and compared with precipitation record using statistical measures including linear regression, Mann– Kendall test, and linear correlation. NDVI and NDII performed differently due to the presence of continued grazing and the effects of grazing on canopy cover; NDVI was better able to track changes in vegetation in areas without grazing while NDII was better at tracking changes in areas with continued grazing. Restoration impacts display higher greenness and vegetation water content levels, greater increases in greenness and water content through time, and a decoupling of vegetation greenness and water content from spring precipitation when compared to control sites in nearby tributary and upland areas. Our results confirm the potential of erosion control structures to affect areas up to 5 km downstream of restoration sites over time and to affect 1 km upstream of the sites.

Molecular and morphological data reveal non-monophyly and speciation in imperiled freshwater mussels (Anodontoides and Strophitus)

Released February 16, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution (119) 50-62

Chase Smith, Nathan A. Johnson, John M. Pfeiffer, Michael M. Gangloff

Accurate taxonomic placement is vital to conservation efforts considering many intrinsic biological characteristics of understudied species are inferred from closely related taxa. The rayed creekshell, Anodontoides radiatus (Conrad, 1834), exists in the Gulf of Mexico drainages from western Florida to Louisiana and has been petitioned for listing under the Endangered Species Act. We set out to resolve the evolutionary history of A. radiatus, primarily generic placement and species boundaries, using phylogenetic, morphometric, and geographic information. Our molecular matrix contained 3 loci: cytochrome c oxidase subunit I, NADH dehydrogenase subunit I, and the nuclear-encoded ribosomal internal transcribed spacer I. We employed maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference to estimate a phylogeny and test the monophyly of Anodontoides and Strophitus. We implemented two coalescent-based species delimitation models to test seven species models and evaluate species boundaries within A. radiatus. Concomitant to molecular data, we also employed linear morphometrics and geographic information to further evaluate species boundaries. Molecular and morphological evidence supports the inclusion of A. radiatus in the genus Strophitus, and we resurrect the binomial Strophitus radiatus to reflect their shared common ancestry. We also found strong support for polyphyly in Strophitus and advocate the resurrection of the genus Pseudodontoideus to represent ‘Strophitus’ connasaugaensis and ‘Strophitus’ subvexus. Strophitus radiatus exists in six well-supported clades that were distinguished as evolutionary independent lineages using Bayesian inference, maximum likelihood, and coalescent-based species delimitation models. Our integrative approach found evidence for as many as 4 evolutionary divergent clades within S. radiatus. Therefore, we formally describe two new species from the S. radiatus species complex (Strophitus williamsi and Strophitus pascagoulaensis) and recognize the potential for a third putative species (Strophitus sp. cf. pascagoulaensis). Our findings aid stakeholders in establishing conservation and management strategies for the members of Anodontoides, Strophitus, and Pseudodontoideus.

Spatial patterns and temporal changes in atmospheric-mercury deposition for the midwestern USA, 2001–2016

Released February 16, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Atmosphere - Ocean (9) 1-20

Martin R. Risch, Donna M. Kenski

Spatial patterns and temporal changes in atmospheric-mercury (Hg) deposition were examined in a five-state study area in the Midwestern USA where 32% of the stationary sources of anthropogenic Hg emissions in the continental USA were located. An extensive monitoring record for wet and dry Hg deposition was compiled for 2001–2016, including 4666 weekly precipitation samples at 13 sites and 27 annual litterfall-Hg samples at 7 sites. This study is the first to examine these Hg data for the Midwestern USA. The median annual precipitation-Hg deposition at the study sites was 10.4 micrograms per square meter per year (ug/m2/year) and ranged from 5.8 ug/m2/year to 15.0 ug/m2/year. The median annual Hg concentration was 9.4 ng/L. Annual litterfall-Hg deposition had a median of 16.1 ug/m2/year and ranged from 9.7 to 23.4 ug/m2/year. Isopleth maps of annual precipitation-Hg deposition indicated a recurring spatial pattern similar to one revealed by statistical analysis of weekly precipitation-Hg deposition. In that pattern, high Hg deposition in southeastern Indiana was present each year, frequently extending to southern Illinois. Most of central Indiana and central Illinois had similar Hg deposition. Areas with comparatively lower annual Hg deposition were observed in Michigan and Ohio for many years and frequently included part of northern Indiana. The area in southern Indiana where high Hg deposition predominated had the highest number of extreme episodes of weekly Hg deposition delivering up to 15% of the annual Hg load from precipitation in a single week. Modeled 48-h back trajectories indicated air masses for these episodes often arrived from the south and southwest, crossing numerous stationary sources of Hg emissions releasing from 23 to more than 300 kg Hg per year. This analysis suggests that local and regional, rather than exclusively continental or global Hg emissions were likely contributing to the extreme episodes and at least in part, to the spatial patterns of precipitation-Hg deposition in the study area. Statistically significant temporal decreases in weekly precipitation-Hg concentrations in the study area between the periods 2001–2013 and 2014–2016 were observed, coinciding with reported reductions in Hg emissions in the USA required by implementation of national Hg emissions-control rules. These decreases in atmospheric-Hg concentrations are believed to have resulted in the reduced atmospheric-Hg deposition recorded because precipitation depths between the two periods were not significantly different. The Hg-monitoring data for the study area identified an atmospheric deposition response to decreased local and regional Hg emissions.

Host-pathogen metapopulation dynamics suggest high elevation refugia for boreal toads

Released February 16, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Ecological Applications

Brittany A. Mosher, Larissa L. Bailey, Erin L. Muths, Kathryn P Huyvaert

Emerging infectious diseases are an increasingly common threat to wildlife. Chytridiomycosis, caused by the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), is an emerging infectious disease that has been linked to amphibian declines around the world. Few studies exist that explore amphibian-Bd dynamics at the landscape scale, limiting our ability to identify which factors are associated with variation in population susceptibility and to develop effective in situdisease management. Declines of boreal toads (Anaxyrus boreas boreas) in the Southern Rocky Mountains are largely attributed to chytridiomycosis but variation exists in local extinction of boreal toads across this metapopulation. Using a large-scale historic dataset, we explored several potential factors influencing disease dynamics in the boreal toad-Bd system: geographic isolation of populations, amphibian community richness, elevational differences, and habitat permanence. We found evidence that boreal toad extinction risk was lowest at high elevations where temperatures may be sub-optimal for Bd growth and where small boreal toad populations may be below the threshold needed for efficient pathogen transmission. In addition, boreal toads were more likely to recolonize high elevation sites after local extinction, again suggesting that high elevations may provide refuge from disease for boreal toads. We illustrate a modeling framework that will be useful to natural resource managers striving to make decisions in amphibian-Bdsystems. Our data suggest that in the southern Rocky Mountains high elevation sites should be prioritized for conservation initiatives like reintroductions.

Draft critical mineral list—Summary of methodology and background information—U.S. Geological Survey technical input document in response to Secretarial Order No. 3359

Released February 16, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Open-File Report 2018-1021

Steven M. Fortier, Nedal T. Nassar, Graham W. Lederer, Jamie Brainard, Joseph Gambogi, Erin A. McCullough

Pursuant to the Presidential Executive Order (EO) No. 13817, “A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals,” the Secretary of the Interior, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense, and in consultation with the heads of other relevant executive departments and agencies, was tasked with developing and submitting a draft list of minerals defined as “critical minerals” to the Federal Register within 60 days of the issue of the EO (December 20, 2017).

Based on an analysis by the U.S. Geological Survey and other U.S. Government agencies, using multiple criteria, 35 minerals or mineral material groups have been identified that are currently (February 2018) considered critical. These include the following: aluminum (bauxite), antimony, arsenic, barite, beryllium, bismuth, cesium, chromium, cobalt, fluorspar, gallium, germanium, graphite (natural), hafnium, helium, indium, lithium, magnesium, manganese, niobium, platinum group metals, potash, rare earth elements group, rhenium, rubidium, scandium, strontium, tantalum, tellurium, tin, titanium, tungsten, uranium, vanadium, and zirconium. The categorization of minerals as critical may change during the course of the review process and is thus provisional.

Molecular phylogeny of the Nearctic and Mesoamerican freshwater mussel genus Megalonaias

Released February 16, 2018 00:00 EST

2017, Hydrobiologia

John M. Pfeiffer III, Ashley Sharpe, Nathan A. Johnson, Kitty F. Emery, Lawrence M. Page

Megalonaias is the most geographically widespread genus of the subfamily Ambleminae and is distributed across much of the eastern half of North America, from Minnesota to Nicaragua. Despite the large geographic distribution, the species-level diversity of Megalonaias is quite depauperate (2 spp.), suggesting the genus may not be constrained by the same physical, ecological, or physiological barriers that limit dispersal in many other amblemines. However, this hypothesis is contingent on the assumption that the current taxonomy of Megalonaiasaccurately reflects its evolutionary history, which remains incompletely understood due to the marginalization of Mesoamerican populations in systematic research. Using one mitochondrial (COI) and one nuclear marker (ITS1) sequenced from 41 individuals distributed across both the Nearctic and Mesoamerican ecoregions, we set out to better understand the species boundaries and genetic diversity within Megalonaias. The reconstructed molecular phylogeny and the observed genetic diversity suggests that Megalonaias is a monotypic genus and that Megalonaias nickliniana, currently considered a federally endangered species, is not a valid species. These results are discussed in the context of their systematic and conservation implications, as well as how the unusual life history strategy of Megalonaias may be influencing its molecular diversity.

Characterizing the subsurface geology in and around the U.S. Army Camp Stanley Storage Activity, south-central Texas

Released February 15, 2018 18:00 EST

2018, Fact Sheet 2017-3090

Charles D. Blome, Allan K. Clark

Several U.S. Geological Survey projects, supported by the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program, have used multi-disciplinary approaches over a 14-year period to reveal the surface and subsurface geologic frameworks of the Edwards and Trinity aquifers of central Texas and the Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer of south-central Oklahoma. Some of the project achievements include advancements in hydrostratigraphic mapping, three-dimensional subsurface framework modeling, and airborne geophysical surveys as well as new methodologies that link geologic and groundwater flow models. One area where some of these milestones were achieved was in and around the U.S. Army Camp Stanley Storage Activity, located in north­western Bexar County, Texas, about 19 miles north­west of downtown San Antonio.

Landsat classification of surface-water presence during multiple years to assess response of playa wetlands to climatic variability across the Great Plains Landscape Conservation Cooperative region

Released February 15, 2018 16:30 EST

2018, Open-File Report 2017-1166

Daniel J. Manier, Jennifer R. Rover

To improve understanding of the distribution of ecologically important, ephemeral wetland habitats across the Great Plains, the occurrence and distribution of surface water in playa wetland complexes were documented for four different years across the Great Plains Landscape Conservation Cooperative (GPLCC) region. This information is important because it informs land and wildlife managers about the timing and location of habitat availability. Data with an accurate timestamp that indicate the presence of water, the percent of the area inundated with water, and the spatial distribution of playa wetlands with water are needed for a host of resource inventory, monitoring, and research applications. For example, the distribution of inundated wetlands forms the spatial pattern of available habitat for resident shorebirds and water birds, stop-over habitats for migratory birds, connectivity and clustering of wetland habitats, and surface waters that recharge the Ogallala aquifer; there is considerable variability in the distribution of playa wetlands holding water through time. Documentation of these spatially and temporally intricate processes, here, provides data required to assess connections between inundation and multiple environmental drivers, such as climate, land use, soil, and topography. Climate drivers are understood to interact with land cover, land use and soil attributes in determining the amount of water that flows overland into playa wetlands. Results indicated significant spatial variability represented by differences in the percent of playas inundated among States within the GPLCC. Further, analysis-of-variance comparison of differences in inundation between years showed significant differences in all cases. Although some connections with seasonal moisture patterns may be observed, the complex spatial-temporal gradients of precipitation, temperature, soils, and land use need to be combined as covariates in multivariate models to effectively account for these patterns. We demonstrate the feasibility of using classification of Landsat satellite imagery to describe playa-wetland inundation across years and seasons. Evaluating classifications representing only 4 years of imagery, we found significant year-to-year and state-to-state differences in inundation rates.

Annotated bibliography of scientific research on greater sage-grouse published since January 2015

Released February 15, 2018 14:15 EST

2018, Open-File Report 2018-1008

Sarah K. Carter, Daniel J. Manier, Robert S. Arkle, Aaron N. Johnston, Susan L. Phillips, Steven E. Hanser, Zachary H. Bowen

The greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereafter GRSG) has been a focus of scientific investigation and management action for the past two decades. The 2015 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listing determination of “not warranted” was in part due to a large-scale collaborative effort to develop strategies to conserve GRSG populations and their habitat and to reduce threats to both. New scientific information augments existing knowledge and can help inform updates or modifications to existing plans for managing GRSG and sagebrush ecosystems. However, the sheer number of scientific publications can be a challenge for managers tasked with evaluating and determining the need for potential updates to existing planning documents. To assist in this process, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has reviewed and summarized the scientific literature published since January 1, 2015.

To identify articles and reports published about GRSG, we first conducted a structured search of three reference databases (Web of Science, Scopus, and Google Scholar) using the search term “greater sage-grouse.” We refined the initial list of products by (1) removing duplicates, (2) excluding products that were not published as research or scientific review articles in peer-reviewed journals or as formal government technical reports, and (3) retaining only those products for which GRSG or their habitat was a research focus.

We summarized the contents of each product by using a consistent structure (background, objectives, methods, location, findings, and implications) and assessed the content of each product relevant to a list of 31 management topics. These topics include GRSG biology and habitat characteristics along with potential management actions, land uses, and environmental factors related to GRSG management and conservation. We also noted which articles/reports created new geospatial data.

The final search was conducted on January 6, 2018, and application of our criteria resulted in the inclusion of 169 published products (2 of these products were published corrections to journal articles). The management topics most commonly addressed were GRSG behavior or demographics and GRSG habitat selection or habitat characteristics at broad or site scales. Few products addressed captive breeding, recreation, wild horses and burros, and range management structures (including fences). We include in this annotated bibliography the full citation, product summary, and management topics addressed by each product. The online version of this bibliography ( is searchable by topic and location and includes links to the original publications.

A substantial body of literature has been compiled based on research explicitly related to the conservation, management, monitoring, and assessment of GRSG. These studies may inform planning and management actions that seek to balance conservation, economic, and social objectives and manage diverse resource uses and values across the western United States.

The review process for this product included requesting input on each summary from one or more authors of the original peer-reviewed article or report and a formal review of the entire document by three independent reviewers and, subsequently, the USGS Bureau Approving Official. This process is consistent with USGS Fundamental Science Practices.

Geologic map of the upper Arkansas River valley region, north-central Colorado

Released February 15, 2018 12:20 EST

2017, Scientific Investigations Map 3382

Karl S. Kellogg, Ralph R. Shroba, Chester A. Ruleman, Robert G. Bohannon, William C. McIntosh, Wayne R. Premo, Michael A. Cosca, Richard J. Moscati, Theodore R. Brandt

This 1:50,000-scale U.S. Geological Survey geologic map represents a compilation of the most recent geologic studies of the upper Arkansas River valley between Leadville and Salida, Colorado. The valley is structurally controlled by an extensional fault system that forms part of the prominent northern Rio Grande rift, an intra-continental region of crustal extension. This report also incorporates new detailed geologic mapping of previously poorly understood areas within the map area and reinterprets previously studied areas. The mapped region extends into the Proterozoic metamorphic and intrusive rocks in the Sawatch Range west of the valley and the Mosquito Range to the east. Paleozoic rocks are preserved along the crest of the Mosquito Range, but most of them have been eroded from the Sawatch Range. Numerous new isotopic ages better constrain the timing of both Proterozoic intrusive events, Late Cretaceous to early Tertiary intrusive events, and Eocene and Miocene volcanic episodes, including widespread ignimbrite eruptions. The uranium-lead ages document extensive about 1,440-million years (Ma) granitic plutonism mostly north of Buena Vista that produced batholiths that intruded an older suite of about 1,760-Ma metamorphic rocks and about 1,700-Ma plutonic rocks. As a result of extension during the Neogene and possibly latest Paleogene, the graben underlying the valley is filled with thick basin-fill deposits (Dry Union Formation and older sediments), which occupy two sub-basins separated by a bedrock high near the town of Granite. The Dry Union Formation has undergone deep erosion since the late Miocene or early Pliocene. During the Pleistocene, ongoing steam incision by the Arkansas River and its major tributaries has been interrupted by periodic aggradation. From Leadville south to Salida as many as seven mapped alluvial depositional units, which range in age from early to late Pleistocene, record periodic aggradational events along these streams that are commonly associated with deposition of glacial outwash or bouldery glacial-flood deposits. Many previously unrecognized Neogene and Quaternary faults, some of the latter with possible Holocene displacement, have been identified on lidar (light detection and ranging) imagery which covers 59 percent of the map area. This imagery has also permitted more accurate remapping of glacial, fluvial, and mass-movement deposits and aided in the determination of their relative ages. Recently published 10beryllium cosmogenic surface-exposure ages, coupled with our new geologic mapping, have revealed the timing and rates of late Pleistocene deglaciation. Glacial dams that impounded the Arkansas River at Clear Creek and possibly at Pine Creek failed at least three times during the middle and late Pleistocene, resulting in catastrophic floods and deposition of enormous boulders and bouldery alluvium downstream; at least two failures occurred during the late Pleistocene during the Pinedale glaciation.

Consortial brown tide − picocyanobacteria blooms in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba

Released February 15, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Harmful Algae (73) 30-43

Nathan S Hall, R. Wayne Litaker, W. Judson Kenworthy, Mark W. Vandersea, William G. Sunda, James P. Reid, Daniel H. Slone, Susan M. Butler

A brown tide bloom of Aureoumbra lagunensis developed in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba during a period of drought in 2013 that followed heavy winds and rainfall from Hurricane Sandy in late October 2012. Based on satellite images and water turbidity measurements, the bloom appeared to initiate in January 2013. The causative species (A. lagunensis) was confirmed by microscopic observation, and pigment and genetic analyses of bloom samples collected on May 28 of that year. During that time, A. lagunensis reached concentrations of 900,000 cells ml−1 (28 ppm by biovolume) in the middle portion of the Bay. Samples could not be collected from the northern (Cuban) half of the Bay because of political considerations. Subsequent sampling of the southern half of the Bay in November 2013, April 2014, and October 2014 showed persistent lower concentrations of A. lagunensis, with dominance shifting to the cyanobacterium Synechococcus (up to 33 ppm in April), an algal group that comprised a minor bloom component on May 28. Thus, unlike the brown tide bloom in Laguna Madre, which lasted 8 years, the bloom in Guantánamo Bay was short-lived, much like recent blooms in the Indian River, Florida. Although hypersaline conditions have been linked to brown tide development in the lagoons of Texas and Florida, observed euhaline conditions in Guantánamo Bay (salinity 35–36) indicate that strong hypersalinity is not a requirement for A. lagunensis bloom formation. Microzooplankton biomass dominated by ciliates was high during the observed peak of the brown tide, and ciliate abundance was high compared to other systems not impacted by brown tide. Preferential grazing by zooplankton on non-brown tide species, as shown in A. lagunensis blooms in Texas and Florida, may have been a factor in the development of the Cuban brown tide bloom. However, subsequent selection of microzooplankton capable of utilizing A. lagunensis as a primary food source may have contributed to the short-lived duration of the brown tide bloom in Guantánamo Bay.

Greater sage-grouse science (2015–17)—Synthesis and potential management implications

Released February 15, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Open-File Report 2018-1017

Steven E. Hanser, Patricia A. Deibert, John C. Tull, Natasha B. Carr, Cameron L. Aldridge, Travis D. Bargsten, Thomas J. Christiansen, Peter S. Coates, Michele R. Crist, Kevin E. Doherty, Ethan A. Ellsworth, Lee J. Foster, Vicki A. Herren, Kevin H. Miller, Ann Moser, Robin M. Naeve, Karen L. Prentice, Thomas E. Remington, Mark A. Ricca, Douglas J. Shinneman, Richard L. Truex, Lief A. Wiechman , Dereck C. Wilson, Zachary H. Bowen

Executive Summary

The greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; hereafter called “sage-grouse”), a species that requires sagebrush (Artemisia spp.), has experienced range-wide declines in its distribution and abundance. These declines have prompted substantial research and management investments to improve the understanding of sage-grouse and its habitats and reverse declines in distribution and population numbers.

Over the past two decades, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has responded to eight petitions to list the sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, with the completion of the most recent listing determination in September 2015. At that time, the USFWS determined that the sage-grouse did not warrant a listing, primarily because of the large scale science-based conservation and planning efforts completed or started by Federal, State, local agencies, private landowners, and other entities across the range. The planning efforts culminated in the development of the 2015 Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service Land Use Plan Amendments, which provided regulatory certainty and commitment from Federal land-management agencies to limit, mitigate, and track anthropogenic disturbance and implement other sage-grouse conservation measures.

After these policy decisions, the scientific community has continued to refine and expand the knowledge available to inform implementation of management actions, increase the efficiency and effectiveness of those actions, and continue developing an overall understanding of sage-grouse populations, habitat requirements, and their response to human activity and other habitat changes. The development of science has been driven by multiple prioritization documents including the “Greater Sage-Grouse National Research Strategy” (Hanser and Manier, 2013) and, most recently, the “Integrated Rangeland Fire Management Strategy Actionable Science Plan” (Integrated Rangeland Fire Management Strategy Actionable Science Plan Team, 2016).

In October 2017, after a review of the 2015 Federal plans relative to State sage-grouse plans, in accordance with Secretarial Order 3353, the BLM issued a notice of intent to consider whether to amend some, all, or none of the 2015 land use plans. At that time, the BLM requested the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to inform this effort through the development of an annotated bibliography of sage-grouse science published since January 2015 and a report that synthesized and outlined the potential management implications of this new science. Development of the annotated bibliography resulted in the identification and summarization of 169 peer-reviewed scientific publications and reports. The USGS then convened an interagency team (hereafter referred to as the “team”) to develop this report that focuses on the primary topics of importance to the ongoing management of sage-grouse and their habitats.

The team developed this report in a three-step process. First, the team identified six primary topic areas for discussion based on the members’ collective knowledge regarding sage-grouse, their habitats, and threats to either or both. Second, the team reviewed all the material in the “Annotated Bibliography of Scientific Research on Greater Sage-Grouse Published since January 2015” to identify the science that addressed the topics. Third, team members discussed the science related to each topic, evaluated the consistency of the science with existing knowledge before 2015, and summarized the potential management implications of this science. The six primary topics identified by the team were:

Stream-channel and watershed delineations and basin-characteristic measurements using lidar elevation data for small drainage basins within the Des Moines Lobe landform region in Iowa

Released February 14, 2018 13:00 EST

2018, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5108

David A. Eash, Kimberlee K. Barnes, Padraic S. O'Shea, Brian K. Gelder

Basin-characteristic measurements related to stream length, stream slope, stream density, and stream order have been identified as significant variables for estimation of flood, flow-duration, and low-flow discharges in Iowa. The placement of channel initiation points, however, has always been a matter of individual interpretation, leading to differences in stream definitions between analysts.

This study investigated five different methods to define stream initiation using 3-meter light detection and ranging (lidar) digital elevation models (DEMs) data for 17 streamgages with drainage areas less than 50 square miles within the Des Moines Lobe landform region in north-central Iowa. Each DEM was hydrologically enforced and the five stream initiation methods were used to define channel initiation points and the downstream flow paths. The five different methods to define stream initiation were tested side-by-side for three watershed delineations: (1) the total drainage-area delineation, (2) an effective drainage-area delineation of basins based on a 2-percent annual exceedance probability (AEP) 12-hour rainfall, and (3) an effective drainage-area delineation based on a 20-percent AEP 12-hour rainfall.

Generalized least squares regression analysis was used to develop a set of equations for sites in the Des Moines Lobe landform region for estimating discharges for ungaged stream sites with 50-, 20-, 10-, 4-, 2-, 1-, 0.5-, and 0.2-percent AEPs. A total of 17 streamgages were included in the development of the regression equations. In addition, geographic information system software was used to measure 58 selected basin-characteristics for each streamgage.

Results of the regression analyses of the 15 lidar datasets indicate that the datasets that produce regional regression equations (RREs) with the best overall predictive accuracy are the National Hydrographic Dataset, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and profile curvature of 0.5 stream initiation methods combined with the 20-percent AEP 12-hour rainfall watershed delineation method. These RREs have a mean average standard error of prediction (SEP) for 4-, 2-, and 1-percent AEP discharges of 53.9 percent and a mean SEP for all eight AEPs of 55.5 percent. Compared to the RREs developed in this study using the basin characteristics from the U.S. Geological Survey StreamStats application, the lidar basin characteristics provide better overall predictive accuracy.

Determination of δ13C, δ15N, or δ34S by isotope-ratio-monitoring mass spectrometry using an elemental analyzer

Released February 14, 2018 11:05 EST

2018, Techniques and Methods 5-D4

Craig A. Johnson, Craig A. Stricker, Cayce A. Gulbransen, Matthew P. Emmons

This report describes procedures used in the Geology, Geophysics, and Geochemistry Science Center of the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver, Colorado, to determine the stable-isotope ratios 13C/12C, 15N/14N, and 34S/32S in solid materials. The procedures use elemental analyzers connected directly to gas-source isotope-ratio mass spectrometers. A different elemental–analyzer–mass-spectrometer system is used for 13C/12C and 15N/14N than is used for 34S/32S to accommodate differences in reagents, catalysts, and instrument settings.

Pulsed flows, tributary inputs, and food web structure in a highly regulated river

Released February 14, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Journal of Applied Ecology

John Sabo, Melanie Caron, Richard R. Doucett, Kimberly L. Dibble, Albert Ruhi, Jane Marks, Bruce Hungate, Theodore Kennedy

1.Dams disrupt the river continuum, altering hydrology, biodiversity, and energy flow. Although research indicates that tributary inputs have the potential to dilute these effects, knowledge at the food web level is still scarce.

2.Here we examined the riverine food web structure of the Colorado River below Glen Canyon Dam, focusing on organic matter sources, trophic diversity, and food chain length. We asked how these components respond to pulsed flows from tributaries following monsoon thunderstorms that seasonally increase streamflow in the American Southwest.

3.Tributaries increased the relative importance of terrestrial organic matter, particularly during the wet season below junctures of key tributaries. This contrasted with the algal-based food web present immediately below Glen Canyon Dam.

4.Tributary inputs during the monsoon also increased trophic diversity and food chain length: food chain length peaked below the confluence with the largest tributary (by discharge) in Grand Canyon, increasing by >1 trophic level over a 4-5 kilometre reach possibly due to aquatic prey being flushed into the mainstem during heavy rain events.

5.Our results illustrate that large tributaries can create seasonal discontinuities, influencing riverine food web structure in terms of allochthony, food web diversity, and food chain length.

6.Synthesis and applications. Pulsed flows from unregulated tributaries following seasonal monsoon rains increase the importance of terrestrially-derived organic matter in large, regulated river food webs, increasing food chain length and trophic diversity downstream of tributary inputs. Protecting unregulated tributaries within hydropower cascades may be important if we are to mitigate food web structure alteration due to flow regulation by large dams. This is critical in the light of global hydropower development, especially in megadiverse, developing countries where dam placement (including completed and planned structures) is in tributaries.

Assessing the impact of stocking northern-origin hatchery brook trout on the genetics of wild populations in North Carolina

Released February 14, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Conservation Genetics (19) 207-219

David C. Kazyak, Jacob Rash, Barbara A. Lubinski, Tim L. King

The release of hatchery-origin fish into streams with endemics can degrade the genetics of wild populations if interbreeding occurs. Starting in the 1800s, brook trout descendent from wild populations in the northeastern United States were stocked from hatcheries into streams across broad areas of North America to create and enhance fishery resources. Across the southeastern United States, many millions of hatchery-origin brook trout have been released into hundreds of streams, but the extent of introgression with native populations is not well resolved despite large phylogeographic distances between these groups. We used three assessment approaches based on 12 microsatellite loci to examine the extent of hatchery introgression in 406 wild brook trout populations in North Carolina. We found high levels of differentiation among most collections (mean FST = 0.718), and among most wild collections and hatchery strains (mean FST = 0.732). Our assessment of hatchery introgression was consistent across the three metrics, and indicated that most wild populations have not been strongly influenced by supplemental stocking. However, a small proportion of wild populations in North Carolina appear to have been strongly influenced by stocked conspecifics, or in some cases, may have been founded entirely by hatchery lineages. In addition, we found significant differences in the apparent extent of hatchery introgression among major watersheds, with the Savannah River being the most strongly impacted. Conversely, populations in the Pee Dee River watershed showed little to no evidence of hatchery introgression. Our study represents the first large-scale effort to quantify the extent of hatchery introgression across brook trout populations in the southern Appalachians using highly polymorphic microsatellite markers.

Opal-A in glassy pumice, acid alteration, and the 1817 phreatomagmatic eruption at Kawah Ijen (Java), Indonesia

Released February 14, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Frontiers in Earth Science (6)

Jacob B. Lowenstern, Vincent van Hinsberg, Kim Berlo, Moritz Liesegang, Kayla D. Iacovino, Ilya N. Bindeman, Heather M. Wright

At Kawah Ijen (Indonesia), vigorous SO2 and HCl degassing sustains a hyperacid lake (pH ~0) and intensely alters the subsurface, producing widespread residual silica and advanced argillic alteration products. In 1817, a VEI 2 phreatomagmatic eruption evacuated the lake, depositing a widespread layer of muddy ash fall, and sending lahars down river drainages. We discovered multiple types of opaline silica in juvenile low-silica dacite pumice and in particles within co-erupted laharic sediments. Most spectacular are opal-replaced phenocrysts of plagioclase and pyroxene adjacent to pristine matrix glass and melt inclusions. Opal-bearing pumice has been found at numerous sites, including where post-eruption infiltration of acid water is unlikely. Through detailed analyses of an initial sampling of 1817 eruption products, we find evidence for multiple origins of opaline materials in pumice and laharic sediments. Evidently, magma encountered acid-altered materials in the subsurface and triggered phreatomagmatic eruptions. Syn-eruptive incorporation of opal-alunite clasts, layered opal, and fragment-filled vesicles of opal and glass, all suggest magma-rock interactions in concert with vesiculation, followed by cooling within minutes. Our experiments at magmatic temperature confirm that the opaline materials would show noticeable degradation in time periods longer than a few tens of minutes. Some glassy laharic sedimentary grains are more andesitic than the main pumice type and may represent older volcanic materials that were altered beneath the lake bottom and were forcefully ejected during the 1817 eruption. A post-eruptive origin remains likely for most of the opal-replaced phenocrysts in pumice. Experiments at 25°C and 100°C reveal that when fresh pumice is bathed in Kawah Ijen hyperacid fluid for 6 weeks, plagioclase is replaced without altering either matrix glass or melt inclusions. Moreover, lack of evidence for high-temperature annealing of the opal suggests that post-eruption alteration of pumice is more likely than pre-eruption envelopment of euhedral opal-replaced phenocrysts in dacitic melt. At Ijen and elsewhere, the ascent of magma into hydrous acid-altered mineral assemblages (e.g., opal, kaolinite, alunite) could induce rapid dehydration of hydrous minerals and amorphous materials, generating considerable steam and contributing to magmatic-hydrothermal and phreatomagmatic explosions.

Postglacial eruptive history and geochemistry of Semisopochnoi volcano, western Aleutian Islands, Alaska

Released February 14, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5150

Michelle L. Coombs, Jessica F. Larsen, Christina A. Neal

Semisopochnoi Island, located in the Rat Islands group of the western Aleutian Islands and Aleutian volcanic arc, is a roughly circular island composed of scattered volcanic vents, the prominent caldera of Semisopochnoi volcano, and older, ancestral volcanic rocks. The oldest rocks on the island are gently radially dipping lavas that are the remnants of a shield volcano and of Ragged Top, which is an eroded stratocone southeast of the current caldera. None of these oldest rocks have been dated, but they all are likely Pleistocene in age. Anvil Peak, to the caldera’s north, has the morphology of a young stratocone and is latest Pleistocene to early Holocene in age. The oldest recognized Holocene deposits are those of the caldera-forming eruption, which produced the 7- by 6-km caldera in the center of the island, left nonwelded ignimbrite in valleys below the edifice, and left welded ignimbrite high on its flanks. The caldera-forming eruption produced rocks showing a range of intermediate whole-rock compositions throughout the eruption sequence, although a majority of clasts analyzed form a fairly tight cluster on SiO2-variation diagrams at 62.9 to 63.4 weight percent SiO2. This clustering of compositions at about 63 weight percent SiO2 includes black, dense, obsidian-like clasts, as well as tan, variably oxidized, highly inflated pumice clasts. The best estimate for the timing of the eruption is from a soil dated at 6,920±60 14C years before present underlying a thin facies of the ignimbrite deposit on the island’s north coast. Shortly after the caldera-forming eruption, two scoria cones on the northwest flank of the volcano outside the caldera, Ringworm crater and Threequarter Cone, simultaneously erupted small volumes of andesite.

The oldest intracaldera lavas, on the floor of the caldera, are andesitic to dacitic, but are mostly covered by younger lavas and tephras. These intracaldera lavas include the basaltic andesites of small Windy cone, as well as the more voluminous basaltic andesites of three-peaked Mount Cerberus, which takes up most of the west half of the caldera and has erupted lavas that flowed to the sea on the southwestern coast of the island. Apparently active at the same time as Mount Cerberus, extracaldera Sugarloaf Peak at the southern point of the island has exclusively erupted basalts. Its young satellite peak, Sugarloaf Head, has erupted morphologically young lavas and cinder cones and may be the source of the last historical eruption in 1987. Several tephra sections on the east half of the island record as many as 50 tephras, mostly from Mount Cerberus, Sugarloaf Peak, and Sugarloaf Head, over the past several thousand years.

Eruptive products of Semisopochnoi Island show an overall compositional range of basalt to dacite, though basaltic andesite and andesite constitute the largest proportions of rock types. They are tholeiitic, low to medium K, and have geochemical characteristics typical of magmatic arcs. The earliest Pleistocene lavas are mostly basalts that show the greatest geochemical diversity, as illustrated by, for example, LaN/YbN ratios of 1.9 to 3.5, suggesting fluctuations in the magma source region over the hundreds of thousands of years recorded by these older lavas. The Holocene rocks, in contrast, follow arrays in compositional space that suggest crystallization differentiation from discrete, subtly different batches of magma under varying pressure and temperature conditions. Increasingly negative Eu anomalies and an only modestly increasing alumina saturation index value with differentiation suggest that plagioclase and mafic silicates (amphibole and pyroxene) were involved to varying degrees in fractional crystallization to produce Semisopochnoi’s magmatic diversity. The crystal-poor, andesitic magmas that erupted during caldera formation likely separated from a plagioclase-, amphibole-, and clinopyroxene-dominated crystal residue in the upper crust at less than 900 °C, possibly following a period of decreased magmatic flux. During the Holocene, basaltic Sugarloaf Peak appears to bypass any upper crustal magmatic storage region and erupt crystal-rich basalts. Recent seismic swarms and long-lived warm springs attest to ongoing magmatic activity.

The Holocene eruptive record at Semisopochnoi volcano is one of diverse eruptive styles as well as frequent eruptions from multiple vents located within and outside the caldera. The number and diversity of postcaldera vents means that the sites of future eruptions cannot be predicted with certainty. Future eruptions of ash similar in magnitude to the VEI 3 or less eruptions recorded in the documented tephra deposits would pose a hazard to aircraft in the region.

Assessment of undiscovered continuous oil and gas resources in the Hanoi Trough, Vietnam, 2017

Released February 13, 2018 18:30 EST

2018, Fact Sheet 2017-3086

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

Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated mean undiscovered, technically recoverable continuous resources of 52 million barrels of oil and 591 billion cubic feet of gas in the Hanoi Trough of Vietnam.

Estimating floodwater depths from flood inundation maps and topography

Released February 13, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Journal of the American Water Resources Association

Sagy Cohen, G. Robert Brakenridge, Albert Kettner, Bradford Bates, Jonathan M. Nelson, Richard R. McDonald, Yu-Fen Huang, Dinuke Munasinghe, Jiaqi Zhang

Information on flood inundation extent is important for understanding societal exposure, water storage volumes, flood wave attenuation, future flood hazard, and other variables. A number of organizations now provide flood inundation maps based on satellite remote sensing. These data products can efficiently and accurately provide the areal extent of a flood event, but do not provide floodwater depth, an important attribute for first responders and damage assessment. Here we present a new methodology and a GIS-based tool, the Floodwater Depth Estimation Tool (FwDET), for estimating floodwater depth based solely on an inundation map and a digital elevation model (DEM). We compare the FwDET results against water depth maps derived from hydraulic simulation of two flood events, a large-scale event for which we use medium resolution input layer (10 m) and a small-scale event for which we use a high-resolution (LiDAR; 1 m) input. Further testing is performed for two inundation maps with a number of challenging features that include a narrow valley, a large reservoir, and an urban setting. The results show FwDET can accurately calculate floodwater depth for diverse flooding scenarios but also leads to considerable bias in locations where the inundation extent does not align well with the DEM. In these locations, manual adjustment or higher spatial resolution input is required.

The metabolic regimes of flowing waters

Released February 13, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Limnology and Oceanography

Emily S. Bernhardt, Jim B. Heffernan, Nancy B. Grimm, Emily H. Stanley, Judson Harvey, M. Arroita, Alison Appling, M.J. Cohen, William H. McDowell, R.O. Hall, Jordan S. Read, B.J. Roberts, Edward Stets, Charles B. Yackulic

The processes and biomass that characterize any ecosystem are fundamentally constrained by the total amount of energy that is either fixed within or delivered across its boundaries. Ultimately, ecosystems may be understood and classified by their rates of total and net productivity and by the seasonal patterns of photosynthesis and respiration. Such understanding is well developed for terrestrial and lentic ecosystems but our understanding of ecosystem phenology has lagged well behind for rivers. The proliferation of reliable and inexpensive sensors for monitoring dissolved oxygen and carbon dioxide is underpinning a revolution in our understanding of the ecosystem energetics of rivers. Here, we synthesize our current understanding of the drivers and constraints on river metabolism, and set out a research agenda aimed at characterizing, classifying and modeling the current and future metabolic regimes of flowing waters.

Iterative near-term ecological forecasting: Needs, opportunities, and challenges

Released February 13, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (115) 1424-1432

Michael C. Dietze, Andrew Fox, Lindsay Beck-Johnson, Julio L. Betancourt, Mevin B. Hooten, Catherine S. Jarnevich, Timothy H. Keitt, Melissa A. Kenney, Christine M. Laney, Laurel G. Larsen, Henry W. Loescher, Claire K. Lunch, Bryan Pijanowski, James T. Randerson, Emily Read, Andrew T. Tredennick, Rodrigo Vargas, Kathleen C. Weathers, Ethan P. White

Two foundational questions about sustainability are “How are ecosystems and the services they provide going to change in the future?” and “How do human decisions affect these trajectories?” Answering these questions requires an ability to forecast ecological processes. Unfortunately, most ecological forecasts focus on centennial-scale climate responses, therefore neither meeting the needs of near-term (daily to decadal) environmental decision-making nor allowing comparison of specific, quantitative predictions to new observational data, one of the strongest tests of scientific theory. Near-term forecasts provide the opportunity to iteratively cycle between performing analyses and updating predictions in light of new evidence. This iterative process of gaining feedback, building experience, and correcting models and methods is critical for improving forecasts. Iterative, near-term forecasting will accelerate ecological research, make it more relevant to society, and inform sustainable decision-making under high uncertainty and adaptive management. Here, we identify the immediate scientific and societal needs, opportunities, and challenges for iterative near-term ecological forecasting. Over the past decade, data volume, variety, and accessibility have greatly increased, but challenges remain in interoperability, latency, and uncertainty quantification. Similarly, ecologists have made considerable advances in applying computational, informatic, and statistical methods, but opportunities exist for improving forecast-specific theory, methods, and cyberinfrastructure. Effective forecasting will also require changes in scientific training, culture, and institutions. The need to start forecasting is now; the time for making ecology more predictive is here, and learning by doing is the fastest route to drive the science forward.

Evidence and opportunities for integrating landscape ecology into natural resource planning across multiple-use landscapes

Released February 13, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Current Landscape Ecology Reports (3) 1-11

E. Jamie Trammel, Sarah Carter, Travis S. Haby, Jason J. Taylor

Enhancing natural resource management has been a focus of landscape ecology since its inception, but numerous authors argue that landscape ecology has not yet been effective in achieving the underlying goal of planning and designing sustainable landscapes. We developed nine questions reflecting the application of fundamental research topics in landscape ecology to the landscape planning process and reviewed two recent landscape-scale plans in western North America for evidence of these concepts in plan decisions. Both plans considered multiple resources, uses, and values, including energy development, recreation, conservation, and protection of cultural and historic resources. We found that land use change and multiscale perspectives of resource uses and values were very often apparent in planning decisions. Pattern-process relationships, connectivity and fragmentation, ecosystem services, landscape history, and climate change were reflected less frequently. Landscape sustainability was considered only once in the 295 decisions reviewed, and outputs of landscape models were not referenced. We suggest six actionable opportunities for further integrating landscape ecology concepts into landscape planning efforts: 1) use landscape sustainability as an overarching goal, 2) adopt a broad ecosystem services framework, 3) explore the role of landscape history more comprehensively, 4) regularly consider and accommodate potential effects of climate change, 5) use landscape models to support plan decisions, and 6) promote a greater presence of landscape ecologists within agencies that manage large land bases and encourage active involvement in agency planning efforts. Together these actions may improve the defensibility, durability, and sustainability of landscape plan decisions.

Beyond clay: towards an improved set of variables for predicting soil organic matter content

Released February 13, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Biogeochemistry

Craig Rasmussen, Katherine Heckman, William R. Wieder, Marco Keiluweit, Corey R. Lawrence, Asmeret Asefaw Berhe, Joseph C. Blankinship, Susan E. Crow, Jennifer Druhan, Caitlin E. Hicks Pries, Erika Marin-Spiotta, Alain F. Plante, Christina Schadel, Joshua P. Schmiel, Carlos A. Sierra, Aaron Thompson, Rota Wagai

Improved quantification of the factors controlling soil organic matter (SOM) stabilization at continental to global scales is needed to inform projections of the largest actively cycling terrestrial carbon pool on Earth, and its response to environmental change. Biogeochemical models rely almost exclusively on clay content to modify rates of SOM turnover and fluxes of climate-active CO2 to the atmosphere. Emerging conceptual understanding, however, suggests other soil physicochemical properties may predict SOM stabilization better than clay content. We addressed this discrepancy by synthesizing data from over 5,500 soil profiles spanning continental scale environmental gradients. Here, we demonstrate that other physicochemical parameters are much stronger predictors of SOM content, with clay content having relatively little explanatory power. We show that exchangeable calcium strongly predicted SOM content in water-limited, alkaline soils, whereas with increasing moisture availability and acidity, iron- and aluminum-oxyhydroxides emerged as better predictors, demonstrating that the relative importance of SOM stabilization mechanisms scales with climate and acidity. These results highlight the urgent need to modify biogeochemical models to better reflect the role of soil physicochemical properties in SOM cycling.

Coastal knickpoints and the competition between fluvial and wave-driven erosion on rocky coastlines

Released February 13, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Geomorphology (306) 1-12

Patrick Limber, Patrick Barnard

Active margin coastlines are distinguished by rock erosion that acts in two different directions: waves erode the coast horizontally or landwards, a process that creates sea cliffs; and rivers and streams erode the landscape vertically via channel incision. The relative rates of each process exert a dominant control on coastline morphology. Using a model of river channel incision and sea-cliff retreat, we explore how terrestrial and marine erosion compete to shape coastal topography, and specifically what conditions encourage the development of coastal knickpoints (i.e., a river or stream channels that end at a raised sea-cliff edge). We then compare results to actual landscapes. Model results and observations show that coastal knickpoint development is strongly dependent on drainage basin area, where knickpoints typically occur in drainage basins smaller than 5 × 105–6 × 106 m2, as well as channel geometry and sea-cliff retreat rate. In our study area, coastal knickpoints with persistent flow (waterfalls) are uncommon and form only within a small morphological window when 1) drainage basin area is large enough to sustain steady stream discharge, but not large enough to out-compete sea-cliff formation, 2) sea-cliff retreat is rapid, and 3) channel concavity is low so that channel slopes at the coast are high. This particular geomorphic combination can sustain sea-cliff formation even when streams tap into larger drainage basins with greater discharge and more stream power, and provides an initial explanation of why persistent coastal waterfalls are, along many coastlines, relatively rare features.

Stress rotation across the Cascadia megathrust requires a weak subduction plate boundary at seismogenic depths

Released February 13, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Earth and Planetary Science Letters (485) 55-64

Duo Li, Jeffrey J. McGuire, Yajing Liu, Jeanne L. Hardebeck

The Mendocino Triple Junction region is the most seismically active part of the Cascadia Subduction Zone. The northward moving Pacific plate collides with the subducting Gorda plate causing intense internal deformation within it. Here we show that the stress field rotates rapidly with depth across the thrust interface from a strike-slip regime within the subducting plate, reflecting the Pacific plate collision, to a thrust regime in the overriding plate. We utilize a dense focal mechanism dataset, including observations from the Cascadia Initiative ocean bottom seismograph experiment, to constrain the stress orientations. To quantify the implications of this rotation for the strength of the plate boundary, we designed an inversion that solves for the absolute stress tensors in a three-layer model subject to assumptions about the strength of the subducting mantle. Our results indicate that the shear stress on the plate boundary fault is likely no more than about ∼50 MPa at ∼20 km depth. Regardless of the assumed mantle strength, we infer a relatively weak megathrust fault with an effective friction coefficient of ∼0 to 0.2 at seismogenic depths. Such a low value for the effective friction coefficient requires a combination of high fluid pressures and/or fault-zone minerals with low inherent friction in the region where a great earthquake is expected in Cascadia.

Preliminary flood-duration frequency estimates using naturalized streamflow records for the Willamette River Basin, Oregon

Released February 13, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Open-File Report 2018-1020

Greg D. Lind, Adam J. Stonewall

In this study, “naturalized” daily streamflow records, created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation, were used to compute 1-, 3-, 7-, 10-, 15-, 30-, and 60-day annual maximum streamflow durations, which are running averages of daily streamflow for the number of days in each duration. Once the annual maximum durations were computed, the floodduration frequencies could be estimated. The estimated flood-duration frequencies correspond to the 50-, 20-, 10-, 4-, 2-, 1-, 0.5-, and 0.2-percent probabilities of their occurring or being exceeded each year. For this report, the focus was on the Willamette River Basin in Oregon, which is a subbasin of the Columbia River Basin. This study is part of a larger one encompassing the entire Columbia Basin.

Water pressure and ground vibrations induced by water guns near Bandon Road Lock and Dam and Lemont, Illinois

Released February 13, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5153

Ryan F. Adams, Carolyn M. Koebel, William S. Morrow

Multiple geophysical sensors were used to characterize the underwater pressure field and ground vibrations of a seismic water gun and its suitability to deter the movement of Asian carps (particularly the silver [Hypophthalmichthys molitrix] and bighead [Hypophthalmichthys nobilis] carps) while ensuring the integrity of surrounding structures. The sensors used to collect this information were blast-rated hydrophones, surface- and borehole-mounted geophones, and fixed accelerometers.

Results from two separate studies are discussed in this report. The Brandon Road study took place in May 2014, in the Des Plaines River, in a concrete-walled channel downstream of the Brandon Road Lock and Dam near Joliet, Illinois. The Lemont study took place in June 2014, in a segment of the dolomite setblock-lined Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal near Lemont, Illinois.

Two criteria were evaluated to assess the potential deterrence to carp migration, and to minimize the expected effect on nearby structures from discharge of the seismic water gun. The first criterion was a 5-pound-per-square-inch (lb/in2) limit for dynamic underwater pressure variations. The second criterion was a maximum velocity and acceleration disturbance of 0.75 inch per second (in/s) for sensitive machinery (such as the lock gates and pumps) and 2.0 in/s adjacent to canal walls, respectively. The criteria were based on previous studies of fish responses to dynamic pressure variations, and effects of vibrations on the structural integrity of concrete walls.

The Brandon Road study evaluated the magnitude and extent of the pressure field created by two water gun configurations in the concrete-walled channel downstream of the lock where channel depths ranged from 11 to 14 feet (ft). Data from a single 80-cubic-inch (in³) water gun set at 6 ft below water surface (bws) produced a roughly cylindrical 5-lb/in2 pressure field 20 ft in radius, oriented vertically, with the radius decreasing to less than 15 ft at the water surface. A combination of two 80-in3 water guns set at 6 and 8 ft, respectively, produced a similarly shaped 5 lb/in2 pressure field 30 ft in radius. Neither of the water gun configurations exceeded the given threshold of 5 lb/in2 above the static pressure along the walls of the canal at the 700 lb/in2 water gun input pressure. Velocity and acceleration data were collected simultaneously with the underwater pressure data to understand the response of adjacent canal walls to the water gun firings. Maximum velocity and acceleration were 0.239 in/s and 0.0188 feet per second squared (ft/s2), respectively.

The Lemont study replicated and expanded upon work done in 2011. The pressure field created by the water gun was evaluated in a deeper environment (about 25 ft of water depth) than that of the Brandon Road study. To replicate the 2011 study, data were collected with the same water gun placements and input pressure, but static underwater pressure monitoring was added. Two 80-in3 water guns were suspended below a platform at depths of 4 and 14 ft bws. Pressure was lower when the gun suspended at 4 ft bws was fired as compared to firing the single gun suspended at 14 ft bws. Firing both guns simultaneously produced similar pressures to the single gun suspended at 14 ft bws. Data were collected to assess the pressure field produced by two 80-in3 water guns separated by 80 ft and suspended at a depth of 14 ft bws. The spatial extent of the 5-lb/in2 threshold varied substantially with gun input air pressure. Firing the water gun with an air pressure of 2,000 lb/in2 generated a pressure field greater than the threshold at all but one location in the measured region. Additionally, the water gun with an air pressure of 1,000 lb/in2 did not reach the threshold anywhere in the measured region. Maximum velocity and acceleration were 0.304 in/s and 0.015 ft/s2, respectively.

Assessment of undiscovered oil and gas resources in the North-Central Montana Province, 2017

Released February 12, 2018 13:25 EST

2018, Fact Sheet 2017-3092

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

Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated mean undiscovered, technically recoverable resources of 55 million barrels of oil and 846 billion cubic feet of gas in the North-Central Montana Province.

Mortality trends in northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) collected from the coasts of Washington and Oregon (2002–15)

Released February 09, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Journal of Wildlife Diseases

C. LeAnn White, Emily W. Lankau, Deanna Lynch, Susan N. Knowles, Krysten L. Schuler, Jitender P. Dubey, Valerie I. Shearn-Bochsler, Marcos Isidoro Ayza, Nancy J. Thomas

During 2002−15 we examined the causes of mortality in a population of northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni). Beachcast sea otters were collected primarily from the coast of Washington. Although there are no permanent sea otter residents in Oregon, several beachcast otters were collected from the Oregon coast. Infectious diseases were the primary cause of death (56%) for otters we examined. Sarcocystosis was the leading infectious cause of death (54%) and was observed throughout the study period. Some infectious diseases, such as morbilliviral encephalitis and leptospirosis, were documented for a limited number of years and then not detected again despite continued testing for these pathogens in necropsied animals. Trauma was the second most common cause of death (14%) during the study period. The continued stable growth of the Washington population of otters suggests they are able to tolerate current mortality rates.

Development of a multimetric index for integrated assessment of salt marsh ecosystem condition

Released February 09, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Estuaries and Coasts (41) 334-348

Jessica L. Nagel, Hilary A. Neckles, Glenn R. Guntenspergen, Erika N. Rocks, Donald Schoolmaster, James B. Grace, Dennis Skidds, Sara Stevens

Tools for assessing and communicating salt marsh condition are essential to guide decisions aimed at maintaining or restoring ecosystem integrity and services. Multimetric indices (MMIs) are increasingly used to provide integrated assessments of ecosystem condition. We employed a theory-based approach that considers the multivariate relationship of metrics with human disturbance to construct a salt marsh MMI for five National Parks in the northeastern USA. We quantified the degree of human disturbance for each marsh using the first principal component score from a principal components analysis of physical, chemical, and land use stressors. We then applied a metric selection algorithm to different combinations of about 45 vegetation and nekton metrics (e.g., species abundance, species richness, and ecological and functional classifications) derived from multi-year monitoring data. While MMIs derived from nekton or vegetation metrics alone were strongly correlated with human disturbance (r values from −0.80 to −0.93), an MMI derived from both vegetation and nekton metrics yielded an exceptionally strong correlation with disturbance (r = −0.96). Individual MMIs included from one to five metrics. The metric-assembly algorithm yielded parsimonious MMIs that exhibit the greatest possible correlations with disturbance in a way that is objective, efficient, and reproducible.

Post-breeding migration and connectivity of red knots in the Western Atlantic

Released February 09, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Journal of Wildlife Management (82) 383-396

James E. Lyons, Bradford Winn, Timothy Keyes, Kevin S. Kalasz

Red knots (Calidris canutus rufa) have 3 distinct nonbreeding regions: 1 in the southeastern United States and Caribbean, another on the northeast coast of Brazil in the Maranhão region, and a third along the Patagonian coasts of Chile and Argentina. Effective conservation and recovery of this threatened long-distance migrant will require knowledge of population structure, migration ecology, and abundance and distribution throughout the annual cycle. We conducted a stopover population and biogeographic assessment of knots at the Altamaha River Delta, Georgia, an important stopover area in the southeastern United States. We estimated stopover population size and stopover duration during post-breeding migration in 2011 at the Altamaha study area using mark-resight data, and we inferred nonbreeding regions for this stopover population using stable isotope ratios of carbon and nitrogen in feathers, and observations (sightings and captures) during boreal winter from across the hemisphere. With an integrated Bayesian analysis of all these data, we also estimated the number of birds in the southeastern United States and northern Brazil during boreal winter. For mark-resight analyses in Georgia, we made observations of marked individuals during 14 weeks from early August to early November 2011 and detected 814 individually marked birds. We used the Jolly-Seber mark-recapture model and estimated the southbound passage population at approximately 23,400 red knots. In ongoing studies elsewhere, isotope samples were collected from 175 (21%) of the 814 birds detected in our study, and ≥1 sighting or capture record during boreal winter was located in data repositories for 659 birds (81%). Isotopic signatures and boreal winter records indicate that the majority (82–96%) of the birds that stopped at the Altamaha Delta spend the boreal winter in the northern part of the nonbreeding range (southeast USA, Caribbean, and northern Brazil). Knots migrating to the southeastern United States, Caribbean, or Brazil remained on the Altamaha Delta for 42 days, whereas birds migrating to Tierra del Fuego remained only 21 days. Combining our estimate of the Altamaha stopover population size (23,400 birds) and the estimated proportion in the northern nonbreeding region (82–96%), we derived a minimum estimate of the number of knots in the southeastern United States, Caribbean, and northern South America during the boreal winter: approximately 20,800 knots, of which approximately 10,400 knots occupy the southeastern United States and 5,400 occupy Brazil. Our results provide additional evidence that coastal Georgia is an important migration area for red knots, and provide information about population structure and migratory connectivity that will be valuable for conservation planning. 

Vegetation cover, tidal amplitude and land area predict short-term marsh vulnerability in Coastal Louisiana

Released February 09, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Ecosystems

Donald Schoolmaster, Camille L. Stagg, Leigh Anne Sharp, Tommy S. McGinnis, Bernard Wood, Sarai Piazza

The loss of coastal marshes is a topic of great concern, because these habitats provide tangible ecosystem services and are at risk from sea-level rise and human activities. In recent years, significant effort has gone into understanding and modeling the relationships between the biological and physical factors that contribute to marsh stability. Simulation-based process models suggest that marsh stability is the product of a complex feedback between sediment supply, flooding regime and vegetation response, resulting in elevation gains sufficient to match the combination of relative sea-level rise and losses from erosion. However, there have been few direct, empirical tests of these models, because long-term datasets that have captured sufficient numbers of marsh loss events in the context of a rigorous monitoring program are rare. We use a multi-year data set collected by the Coastwide Reference Monitoring System (CRMS) that includes transitions of monitored vegetation plots to open water to build and test a predictive model of near-term marsh vulnerability. We found that despite the conclusions of previous process models, elevation change had no ability to predict the transition of vegetated marsh to open water. However, we found that the processes that drive elevation change were significant predictors of transitions. Specifically, vegetation cover in prior year, land area in the surrounding 1 km2 (an estimate of marsh fragmentation), and the interaction of tidal amplitude and position in tidal frame were all significant factors predicting marsh loss. This suggests that 1) elevation change is likely better a predictor of marsh loss at time scales longer than we consider in this study and 2) the significant predictive factors affect marsh vulnerability through pathways other than elevation change, such as resistance to erosion. In addition, we found that, while sensitivity of marsh vulnerability to the predictive factors varied spatially across coastal Louisiana, vegetation cover in prior year was the best single predictor of subsequent loss in most sites followed by changes in percent land and tidal amplitude. The model’s predicted land loss rates correlated well with land loss rates derived from satellite data, although agreement was spatially variable. These results indicate 1) monitoring the loss of small scale vegetation plots can inform patterns of land loss at larger scales 2) the drivers of land loss vary spatially across coastal Louisiana, and 3) relatively simple models have potential as highly informative tools for bioassessment, directing future research, and management planning.

Distribution of effluent injected into the Boulder Zone of the Floridan aquifer system at the North District Wastewater Treatment Plant, southeastern Florida, 1997–2011

Released February 09, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5145

Jeffrey N. King, Jeremy D. Decker

Nonhazardous, secondarily treated, domestic wastewater (effluent) has been injected about 1 kilometer below land surface into the Boulder Zone of the Floridan aquifer system at the North District Wastewater Treatment Plant in southeastern Florida. The Boulder Zone contains saline, nonpotable water. Effluent transport out of the injection zone is a risk of underground effluent injection. At the North District Wastewater Treatment Plant, injected effluent was detected outside the Boulder Zone. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department, investigated effluent transport from the Boulder Zone to overlying permeable zones in the Floridan aquifer system.

One conceptual model is presented to explain the presence of effluent outside of the injection zone in which effluent injected into the Boulder Zone was transported to the Avon Park permeable zone, forced by buoyancy and injection pressure. In this conceptual model, effluent injected primarily into the Boulder Zone reaches a naturally occurring feature (a karst-collapse structure) near an injection well, through which the effluent is transported vertically upward to the uppermost major permeable zone of the Lower Floridan aquifer. The effluent is then transported laterally through the uppermost major permeable zone of the Lower Floridan aquifer to another naturally occurring feature northwest of the North District Wastewater Treatment Plant, through which it is then transported vertically upward into the Avon Park permeable zone. In addition, a leak within a monitoring well, between monitoring zones, allowed interflow between the Avon Park permeable zone and the Upper Floridan aquifer. A groundwater flow and effluent transport simulation of the hydrogeologic system at the North District Wastewater Treatment Plant, based on the hypothesized and non-unique conceptualization of the subsurface hydrogeology and flow system, generally replicated measured effluent constituent concentration trends. The model was calibrated to match observed concentration trends for total ammonium (NH4+) and total dissolved solids.

The investigation qualitatively indicates that fractures, karst-collapse structures, faults, or other hydrogeologic features may permit effluent injected into the Boulder Zone to be transported to overlying permeable zones in the Floridan aquifer system. These findings, however, are qualitative because the locations of transport pathways that might exist from the Boulder Zone to the Avon Park permeable zone are largely unknown.

Elemental, isotopic, and geochronological variability in Mogollon-Datil volcanic province archaeological obsidian, southwestern USA: Solving issues of intersource discrimination

Released February 09, 2018 00:00 EST

2017, Geoarchaeology

M. Steven Shackley, Leah Morgan, Douglas Pyle

Solving issues of intersource discrimination in archaeological obsidian is a recurring problem in geoarchaeological investigation, particularly since the number of known sources of archaeological obsidian worldwide has grown nearly exponentially in the last few decades, and the complexity of archaeological questions asked has grown equally so. These two parallel aspects of archaeological investigation have required more exacting understanding of the geological relationship between sources and the more accurate analysis of these sources of archaeological obsidian. This is particularly the case in the North American Southwest where the frequency of archaeological investigation is some of the highest in the world, and the theory and method used to interpret that record has become increasingly nuanced. Here, we attempt to unravel the elemental similarity of archaeological obsidian in the Mogollon-Datil volcanic province of southwestern New Mexico where some of the most important and extensively distributed sources are located and the elemental similarity between the sources is great even though the distance between the sources is large. Uniting elemental, isotopic, and geochronological analyses as an intensive pilot study, we unpack this complexity to provide greater understanding of these important sources of archaeological obsidian.

Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program—2017 year in review postcard

Released February 08, 2018 10:30 EST

2018, General Information Product 184

John F. Organ, John D. Thompson, Donald E. Dennerline, Dawn E. Childs

This postcard provides details about the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program—2017 Year in Review, U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1438, now available at In this report, you will find details about the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units (CRU) Program relating to its background, fish and wildlife science, students, staffing, vacancies, research funding, outreach and training, science themes, accolades, and professional services. You will see snapshots of CRU projects with information on how results have been or are being applied by cooperators. This is the essence of what we do: science that matters.

Throughout the year, keep up with CRU research projects at

Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program—2017 year in review

Released February 08, 2018 10:30 EST

2018, Circular 1438

John F. Organ, John D. Thompson, Donald E. Dennerline, Dawn E. Childs

The Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program was involved in a number of notable events during 2017, many concerning our personnel. Dr. Barry Grand left his position as Leader of the Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit to become the Cooperative Units Program Supervisor for the South, replacing Dr. Kevin Whalen who took over as Supervisor for the West. We welcomed Dr. Sarah Converse who left the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center to become Leader of the Washington Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. Dr. Amanda Rosenberger joined the Tennessee Cooperative Fishery Research Unit as Assistant Leader, transferring from the Missouri Cooperative Unit. Dr. Scott Carleton left his position as Assistant Unit Leader in New Mexico to become Chief of the Region 2 Migratory Bird Program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

We said farewell to many colleagues who retired. Their departure is bittersweet as we wish them health, happiness, and wellness in retirement. We will miss their companionship and the extraordinary contributions they have made to the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program and conservation.

The Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program has a record high number of vacant scientist positions due to a combination of retirements and base funding short-falls. These issues are affecting our ability to meet cooperator needs. Yet, we remain highly productive. For example, this year we released a report ( containing abstracts of nearly 600 of our research projects, covering thematic areas ranging from advanced technologies to wildlife diseases. We provided highly competent, trained scientists and natural resource managers for our cooperators’ workforce. We delivered technical training and guidance to professional practitioners. We provided critical information to cooperators for decisions on species status assessments and management of species of greatest conservation need.

This year we had an active presence at major national meetings, including the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference where we co-sponsored a workshop on continuing education as a means to bridge the gap between science and management. During the coming year, with support from the U.S. Geological Survey and our cooperators, we intend to reduce the number of vacancies in the program. It will take time and active support of our cooperators to get back to full strength, but I am committed to this goal and encouraged by the resolve of our partners. We look forward to an even more productive year in 2018!

Mercury concentrations in multiple tissues of Kittlitz's murrelets (Brachyramphus brevirostris)

Released February 08, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Marine Pollution Bulletin

Leah A. Kenney, Robb S. Kaler, Michelle L. Kissling, Alexander L. Bond, Collin A. Eagles-Smith

Mercury (Hg) is a non-essential, toxic metal that is distributed worldwide. Mercury biomagnifies in food webs and can threaten the health of top predators such as seabirds. The Kittlitz's murrelet (Brachyramphus brevirostris) is a seabird endemic to Alaska and the Russian Far East and is a species of conservation concern in the region. We determined Hg concentrations in eggshells, guano, blood, and feathers of Kittlitz's murrelets sampled from four locations in Alaska. Mercury concentrations in eggshells, guano, and blood were low compared to other seabird species. Mean Hg concentrations of breast feathers from Adak Island and Glacier Bay were significantly greater than those from Agattu Island or Icy Bay. Two Kittlitz's murrelets at Glacier Bay and one Kittlitz's murrelet at Adak Island had Hg concentrations above those associated with impaired reproduction in other bird species, and may merit further investigation as a potential threat to individuals and populations.

Salinity tolerance of non-native suckermouth armoured catfish (Loricariidae: Pterygoplichthys sp.) from Kerala, India

Released February 08, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Management of Biological Invasions (9) 49-57

A. Biju Kumar, Pam Schofield, Smrithy Raj, Sima Satheesh

Loricariid catfishes of the genus Pterygoplichthys are native to South America and have been introduced in many localities around the world. They are freshwater fishes, but may also use low-salinity habitats such as estuaries for feeding or dispersal. Here we report results of a field survey and salinity-tolerance experiments for a population of Pterygoplichthys sp. collected in Kerala, India. In both chronic and acute salinity-tolerance trials, fish were able to withstand salinities up to 12 ppt with no mortality; however, fish transferred to salinities > 12 ppt did not survive. The experimental results provide evidence that nonnative Pterygoplichthys sp. are able to tolerate mesohaline conditions for extended periods, and can easily invade the brackish water ecosystems of the state. Further, Pterygoplichthys sp. from Kerala have greater salinity tolerance than other congeners. These data are vital to predicting the invasion of non-native fishes such as Pterygoplichthys spp. into coastal systems in Kerala and worldwide. This is particularly important as estuarine ecosystems are under threat of global climate change and sea-level rise. In light of the results of the present study and considering the reports of negative impacts of the species in invaded water bodies, management authorities may consider controlling populations and/or instituting awareness programmes to prevent the spread of this nuisance aquatic invasive species in Kerala.

Concentrations of environmental DNA (eDNA) reflect spawning salmon abundance at fine spatial and temporal scales

Released February 08, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Biological Conservation (220) 1-11

Michael D. Tillotson, Ryan P. Kelly, Jeff Duda, Marshal S. Hoy, James Kralj, Thomas P. Quinn

Developing fast, cost-effective assessments of wild animal abundance is an important goal for many researchers, and environmental DNA (eDNA) holds much promise for this purpose. However, the quantitative relationship between species abundance and the amount of DNA present in the environment is likely to vary substantially among taxa and with ecological context. Here, we report a strong quantitative relationship between eDNA concentration and the abundance of spawning sockeye salmon in a small stream in Alaska, USA, where we took temporally- and spatially-replicated samples during the spawning period. This high-resolution dataset suggests that (1) eDNA concentrations vary significantly day-to-day, and likely within hours, in the context of the dynamic biological event of a salmon spawning season; (2) eDNA, as detected by species-specific quantitative PCR probes, seems to be conserved over short distances (tens of meters) in running water, but degrade quickly over larger scales (ca. 1.5 km); and (3) factors other than the mere presence of live, individual fish — such as location within the stream, live/dead ratio, and water temperature — can affect the eDNA-biomass correlation in space or time. A multivariate model incorporating both biotic and abiotic variables accounted for over 75% of the eDNA variance observed, suggesting that where a system is well-characterized, it may be possible to predict species' abundance from eDNA surveys, although we underscore that species- and system-specific variables are likely to limit the generality of any given quantitative model. Nevertheless, these findings provide an important step toward quantitative applications of eDNA in conservation and management.

Modeling drivers of phosphorus loads in Chesapeake Bay tributaries and inferences about long-term change

Released February 08, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Science of the Total Environment (616–617) 1423-1430

Karen R. Ryberg, Joel Blomquist, Lori A. Sprague, Andrew J. Sekellick, Jennifer Keisman

Causal attribution of changes in water quality often consists of correlation, qualitative reasoning, listing references to the work of others, or speculation. To better support statements of attribution for water-quality trends, structural equation modeling was used to model the causal factors of total phosphorus loads in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. By transforming, scaling, and standardizing variables, grouping similar sites, grouping some causal factors into latent variable models, and using methods that correct for assumption violations, we developed a structural equation model to show how causal factors interact to produce total phosphorus loads. Climate (in the form of annual total precipitation and the Palmer Hydrologic Drought Index) and anthropogenic inputs are the major drivers of total phosphorus load in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Increasing runoff due to natural climate variability is offsetting purposeful management actions that are otherwise decreasing phosphorus loading; consequently, management actions may need to be reexamined to achieve target reductions in the face of climate variability.

Vegetation responses to sagebrush-reduction treatments measured by satellites

Released February 08, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Ecological Indicators (87) 66-76

Aaron N. Johnston, Erik Beever, Jerod A. Merkle, Geneva W. Chong

Time series of vegetative indices derived from satellite imagery constitute tools to measure ecological effects of natural and management-induced disturbances to ecosystems. Over the past century, sagebrush-reduction treatments have been applied widely throughout western North America to increase herbaceous vegetation for livestock and wildlife. We used indices from satellite imagery to 1) quantify effects of prescribed-fire, herbicide, and mechanical treatments on vegetative cover, productivity, and phenology, and 2) describe how vegetation changed over time following these treatments. We hypothesized that treatments would increase herbaceous cover and accordingly shift phenologies towards those typical of grass-dominated systems. We expected prescribed burns would lead to the greatest and most-prolonged effects on vegetative cover and phenology, followed by herbicide and mechanical treatments. Treatments appeared to increase herbaceous cover and productivity, which coincided with signs of earlier senescence − signals expected of grass-dominated systems, relative to sagebrush-dominated systems. Spatial heterogeneity for most phenometrics was lower in treated areas relative to controls, which suggested treatment-induced homogenization of vegetative communities. Phenometrics that explain spring migrations of ungulates mostly were unaffected by sagebrush treatments. Fire had the strongest effect on vegetative cover, and yielded the least evidence for sagebrush recovery. Overall, treatment effects were small relative to those reported from field-based studies for reasons most likely related to sagebrush recovery, treatment specification, and untreated patches within mosaicked treatment applications. Treatment effects were also small relative to inter-annual variation in phenology and productivity that was explained by temperature, snowpack, and growing-season precipitation. Our results indicated that cumulative NDVI, late-season phenometrics, and spatial heterogeneity of several phenometrics may serve as useful indicators of vegetative change in sagebrush ecosystems.

Dietary plasticity in a nutrient-rich system does not influence brown bear (Ursus arctos) body condition or denning

Released February 08, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Polar Biology

Lindsey S. Mangipane, Jerrold L. Belant, Diana J. R. Lafferty, David D. Gustine, Tim L. Hiller, Michael E. Colvin, Buck A. Mangipane, Grant Hilderbrand

Behavioral differences within a population can allow use of a greater range of resources among individuals. The brown bear (Ursus arctos) is a generalist omnivore that occupies diverse habitats and displays considerable plasticity in food use. We evaluated whether brown bear foraging that resulted in deviations from a proposed optimal diet influenced body condition and, in turn, denning duration in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska. To assess assimilated diet, we used sectioned guard hair samples (n = 23) collected in autumn to determine stable carbon and nitrogen isotope ratios. To index proportional contributions of meat and vegetation to assimilated diets, we compared the carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) values of hair samples with the values identified for major food categories. We then compared percentage body fat and body mass in relation to the proportion of assimilated meat in the diet using linear models. We also examined the influence of autumn percentage body fat and mass on denning duration. Percentage body fat was not influenced by the proportion of assimilated meat in the diet. Additionally, percentage body fat and body mass did not influence denning duration. However, body mass of bears assimilating proportionately more meat was greater than bears assimilating less meat. Our results provide support for previous findings that larger bears consume higher amounts of protein to maintain their body size and therefore forage further from the proposed optimal diet. Additionally, our results demonstrate that individuals can achieve similar biological outcomes (e.g., percentage body fat) despite variable foraging strategies, suggesting that individuals within generalist populations may confer an adaptive advantage through behavioral plasticity.

Reply to ‘Wolf-triggered trophic cascades and stream channel dynamics in Olympic National Park: a comment on East et al. (2017)’ by Robert Beschta and William Ripple

Released February 08, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Earth Surface Processes and Landforms

Amy East, Kurt J. Jenkins, Patricia J. Happe, Jennifer A. Bountry, Timothy J. Beechie, Mark C. Mastin, Joel B. Sankey, Timothy J. Randle

No abstract available.

Using interviews and biological sign surveys to infer seasonal use of forested and agricultural portions of a human-dominated landscape by Asian elephants in Nepal

Released February 08, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Ethology Ecology and Evolution

Babu Ram Lamichhane, Naresh Subedi, Chiranjibi Prasad Pokheral, Maheshwar Dhakal, Krishna Prasad Acharya, Narendra Man Babu Pradhan, James L. David Smith, Sabita Malla, Bishnu Singh Thakuri, Charles B. Yackulic

Understanding how wide-ranging animals use landscapes in which human use is highly heterogeneous is important for determining patterns of human–wildlife conflict and designing mitigation strategies. Here, we show how biological sign surveys in forested components of a human-dominated landscape can be combined with human interviews in agricultural portions of a landscape to provide a full picture of seasonal use of different landscape components by wide-ranging animals and resulting human–wildlife conflict. We selected Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in Nepal to illustrate this approach. Asian elephants are threatened throughout their geographic range, and there are large gaps in our understanding of their landscape-scale habitat use. We identified all potential elephant habitat in Nepal and divided the potential habitat into sampling units based on a 10 km by 10 km grid. Forested areas within grids were surveyed for signs of elephant use, and local villagers were interviewed regarding elephant use of agricultural areas and instances of conflict. Data were analyzed using single-season and multi-season (dynamic) occupancy models. A single-season occupancy model applied to data from 139 partially or wholly forested grid cells estimated that 0.57 of grid cells were used by elephants. Dynamic occupancy models fit to data from interviews across 158 grid cells estimated that monthly use of non-forested, human-dominated areas over the preceding year varied between 0.43 and 0.82 with a minimum in February and maximum in October. Seasonal patterns of crop raiding by elephants coincided with monthly elephant use of human-dominated areas, and serious instances of human–wildlife conflict were common. Efforts to mitigate human–elephant conflict in Nepal are likely to be most effective if they are concentrated during August through December when elephant use of human-dominated landscapes and human–elephant conflict are most common.

Comparison of HSPF and PRMS model simulated flows using different temporal and spatial scales in the Black Hills, South Dakota

Released February 08, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Journal of Hydrologic Engineering (23) 1-7

D. R. Chalise, Adel E. Haj, T.A. Fontaine

The hydrological simulation program Fortran (HSPF) [Hydrological Simulation Program Fortran version 12.2 (Computer software). USEPA, Washington, DC] and the precipitation runoff modeling system (PRMS) [Precipitation Runoff Modeling System version 4.0 (Computer software). USGS, Reston, VA] models are semidistributed, deterministic hydrological tools for simulating the impacts of precipitation, land use, and climate on basin hydrology and streamflow. Both models have been applied independently to many watersheds across the United States. This paper reports the statistical results assessing various temporal (daily, monthly, and annual) and spatial (small versus large watershed) scale biases in HSPF and PRMS simulations using two watersheds in the Black Hills, South Dakota. The Nash-Sutcliffe efficiency (NSE), Pearson correlation coefficient (rr), and coefficient of determination (R2R2) statistics for the daily, monthly, and annual flows were used to evaluate the models’ performance. Results from the HSPF models showed that the HSPF consistently simulated the annual flows for both large and small basins better than the monthly and daily flows, and the simulated flows for the small watershed better than flows for the large watershed. In comparison, the PRMS model results show that the PRMS simulated the monthly flows for both the large and small watersheds better than the daily and annual flows, and the range of statistical error in the PRMS models was greater than that in the HSPF models. Moreover, it can be concluded that the statistical error in the HSPF and the PRMSdaily, monthly, and annual flow estimates for watersheds in the Black Hills was influenced by both temporal and spatial scale variability.

Assessment of undiscovered continuous oil and gas resources in the Bohaiwan Basin Province, China, 2017

Released February 07, 2018 18:15 EST

2018, Fact Sheet 2017-3082

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

Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated mean undiscovered, technically recoverable continuous resources of 2.0 billion barrels of oil and 20.3 trillion cubic feet of gas in the Bohaiwan Basin Province, China.

USGS-NWHC quarterly wildlife mortality report- January 2018

Released February 07, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Wildlife Disease Association Newsletter

Bryan J. Richards, D.A. Grear, Anne Ballmann, Robert Dusek, Robert Kaler, Kathy Kuletz

No  abstract available.

Juvenile coho salmon growth and health in streams across an urbanization gradient

Released February 07, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Science of the Total Environment (625) 1003-1012

Andrew R. Spanjer, Patrick W. Moran, Kimberly Larsen, Lisa Wetzel, Adam G. Hansen, David A. Beauchamp

Expanding human population and urbanization alters freshwater systems through structural changes to habitat, temperature effects from increased runoff and reduced canopy cover, altered flows, and increased toxicants. Current stream assessments stop short of measuring health or condition of species utilizing these freshwater habitats and fail to link specific stressors mechanistically to the health of organisms in the stream. Juvenile fish growth integrates both external and internal conditions providing a useful indicator of habitat quality and ecosystem health. Thus, there is a need to account for ecological and environmental influences on fish growth accurately. Bioenergetics models can simulate changes in growth and consumption in response to environmental conditions and food availability to account for interactions between an organism's environmental experience and utilization of available resources. The bioenergetics approach accounts for how thermal regime, food supply, and food quality affect fish growth. This study used a bioenergetics modeling approach to evaluate the environmental factors influencing juvenile coho salmon growth among ten Pacific Northwest streams spanning an urban gradient. Urban streams tended to be warmer, have earlier emergence dates and stronger early season growth. However, fish in urban streams experienced increased stress through lower growth efficiencies, especially later in the summer as temperatures warmed, with as much as a 16.6% reduction when compared to fish from other streams. Bioenergetics modeling successfully characterized salmonid growth in small perennial streams as part of a more extensive monitoring program and provides a powerful assessment tool for characterizing mixed life-stage specific responses in urban streams.

Relationships between indicators of acid-base chemistry and fish assemblages in streams of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Released February 07, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Ecological Indicators (88) 465-484

Barry P. Baldigo, Matt A. Kulp, John S. Schwartz

The acidity of many streams in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSM) has increased significantly since pre-industrial (∼1850) times due to the effects of highly acidic atmospheric deposition in poorly buffered watersheds. Extensive stream-monitoring programs since 1993 have shown that fish and macroinvertebrate assemblages have been adversely affected in many streams across the GRSM. Matching chemistry and fishery information collected from 389 surveys performed at 52 stream sites over a 22-year period were assessed using logistic regression analysis to help inform the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s assessment of the environmental impacts of emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and sulfur (SOx). Numerous logistic equations and associated curves were derived that defined the relations between acid neutralizing capacity (ANC) or pH and different levels of community richness, density, and biomass; and density and biomass of brook trout, rainbow trout, and small prey (minnow) populations in streams of the GRSM. The equations and curves describe the status of fish assemblages in the GRSM under contemporary emission levels and deposition loads of nitrogen (N) and sulfur (S) and provide a means to estimate how newly proposed (and various alternative) target deposition loads, which strongly influence stream ANC, might affect key ecological indicators. Several examples using ANC, community richness, and brook trout density are presented to illustrate the steps needed to predict how future changes in stream chemistry (resulting from different target deposition loads of N and S) will affect the probabilities of observing specific levels of selected biological indicators in GRSM streams. The implications of this study to the regulation of NOx and SOx emissions, water quality, and fisheries management in streams of the GRSM are discussed, but also qualified by the fact that specific examples provided need to be further explored before recommendations concerning their use as ecological indicators could be proposed.

Removing non-urban roads from the National Land Cover Database to create improved urban maps for the United States, 1992-2011

Released February 07, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing (84) 101-109

Christopher E. Soulard, William Acevedo, Stephen V. Stehman

Quantifying change in urban land provides important information to create empirical models examining the effects of human land use. Maps of developed land from the National Land Cover Database (NLCD) of the conterminous United States include rural roads in the developed land class and therefore overestimate the amount of urban land. To better map the urban class and understand how urban lands change over time, we removed rural roads and small patches of rural development from the NLCD developed class and created four wall-to-wall maps (1992, 2001, 2006, and 2011) of urban land. Removing rural roads from the NLCD developed class involved a multi-step filtering process, data fusion using geospatial road and developed land data, and manual editing. Reference data classified as urban or not urban from a stratified random sample was used to assess the accuracy of the 2001 and 2006 urban and NLCD maps. The newly created urban maps had higher overall accuracy (98.7 percent) than the NLCD maps (96.2 percent). More importantly, the urban maps resulted in lower commission error of the urban class (23 percent versus 57 percent for the NLCD in 2006) with the trade-off of slightly inflated omission error (20 percent for the urban map, 16 percent for NLCD in 2006). The removal of approximately 230,000 km2 of rural roads from the NLCD developed class resulted in maps that better characterize the urban footprint. These urban maps are more suited to modeling applications and policy decisions that rely on quantitative and spatially explicit information regarding urban lands.

Demographic modelling reveals a history of divergence with gene flow for a glacially tied stonefly in a changing post-Pleistocene landscape

Released February 07, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Journal of Biogeography (45) 304-317

Scott Hotaling, Clint C. Muhlfeld, J. Joseph Giersch, Omar Ali, Steve Jordan, Michael R. Miller, Gordon Luikart, David W. Weisrock


Climate warming is causing extensive loss of glaciers in mountainous regions, yet our understanding of how glacial recession influences evolutionary processes and genetic diversity is limited. Linking genetic structure with the influences shaping it can improve understanding of how species respond to environmental change. Here, we used genome-scale data and demographic modelling to resolve the evolutionary history of Lednia tumana, a rare, aquatic insect endemic to alpine streams. We also employed a range of widely used data filtering approaches to quantify how they influenced population structure results.


Alpine streams in the Rocky Mountains of Glacier National Park, Montana, USA.


Lednia tumana, a stonefly (Order Plecoptera) in the family Nemouridae.


We generated single nucleotide polymorphism data through restriction-site associated DNA sequencing to assess contemporary patterns of genetic structure for 11 L. tumana populations. Using identified clusters, we assessed demographic history through model selection and parameter estimation in a coalescent framework. During population structure analyses, we filtered our data to assess the influence of singletons, missing data and total number of markers on results.


Contemporary patterns of population structure indicate that L. tumana exhibits a pattern of isolation-by-distance among populations within three genetic clusters that align with geography. Mean pairwise genetic differentiation (FST) among populations was 0.033. Coalescent-based demographic modelling supported divergence with gene flow among genetic clusters since the end of the Pleistocene (~13-17 kya), likely reflecting the south-to-north recession of ice sheets that accumulated during the Wisconsin glaciation.

Main conclusions

We identified a link between glacial retreat, evolutionary history and patterns of genetic diversity for a range-restricted stonefly imperiled by climate change. This finding included a history of divergence with gene flow, an unexpected conclusion for a mountaintop species. Beyond L. tumana, this study demonstrates the complexity of assessing genetic structure for weakly differentiated species, shows the degree to which rare alleles and missing data may influence results, and highlights the usefulness of genome-scale data to extend population genetic inquiry in non-model species.

Hypocenter relocation along the Sunda arc in Indonesia, using a 3D seismic velocity model

Released February 07, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Seismological Research Letters

Andri D. Nugraha, Hasbi A. Shiddiqi, Sri Widiyantoro, Clifford H. Thurber, Jeremy D. Pesicek, Haijiang Zhang, Samsul H. Wiyono, Mohamad Ramadhan, Wandano, Mahsyur Irsyam

The tectonics of the Sunda arc region is characterized by the junction of the Eurasian and Indo‐Australian tectonic plates, causing complex dynamics to take place. High‐seismicity rates in the Indonesian region occur due to the interaction between these tectonic plates. The availability of a denser network of seismometers after the earthquakes of Mw 9.1 in 2004 and  Mw 8.6 in 2005 supports various seismic studies, one of which regards the precise relocation of the hypocenters. In this study, hypocenter relocation was performed using a teleseismic double‐difference (DD) relocation method (teletomoDD) combining arrival times of P and S waves from stations at local, regional, and teleseismic distances. The catalog data were taken from the Agency of Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics (BMKG) of Indonesia, and the International Seismological Centre (ISC) for the time period of April 2009 to May 2015. The 3D seismic‐wave velocity model with a grid size 1°×1° was used in the travel‐time calculations. Relocation results show a reduction in travel‐time residuals compared with the initial locations. The relocation results better illuminate subducted slabs and active faults in the region such as the Mentawai back thrust and the outer rise in the subduction zone south of Java. Focal mechanisms from the Global Centroid Moment Tensor catalog are analyzed in conjunction with the relocation results, and our synthesis of the results provides further insight into seismogenesis in the region.

Population genomic analysis suggests strong influence of river network on spatial distribution of genetic variation in invasive saltcedar across the southwestern United States

Released February 07, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Molecular Ecology

Soo-Rang Lee, Yeong-Seok Jo, Chan-Ho Park, Jonathan M. Friedman, Matthew S. Olson

Understanding the complex influences of landscape and anthropogenic elements that shape the population genetic structure of invasive species provides insight into patterns of colonization and spread. The application of landscape genomics techniques to these questions may offer detailed, previously undocumented insights into factors influencing species invasions. We investigated the spatial pattern of genetic variation and the influences of landscape factors on population similarity in an invasive riparian shrub, saltcedar (Tamarix L.) by analysing 1,997 genomewide SNP markers for 259 individuals from 25 populations collected throughout the southwestern United States. Our results revealed a broad-scale spatial genetic differentiation of saltcedar populations between the Colorado and Rio Grande river basins and identified potential barriers to population similarity along both river systems. River pathways most strongly contributed to population similarity. In contrast, low temperature and dams likely served as barriers to population similarity. We hypothesize that large-scale geographic patterns in genetic diversity resulted from a combination of early introductions from distinct populations, the subsequent influence of natural selection, dispersal barriers and founder effects during range expansion.

Virulence of a chimeric recombinant infectious haematopoietic necrosis virus expressing the spring viraemia of carp virus glycoprotein in salmonid and cyprinid fish

Released February 07, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Journal of Fish Diseases (41) 67-78

Eveline Emmenegger, Stéphane Biacchesi, Emilie Mérour, Jolene. A Glenn, Alexander D. Palmer, Michel Brémont, Gael Kurath

Infectious haematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV) and spring viraemia of carp virus (SVCV) are both rhabdoviruses of fish, listed as notifiable disease agents by the World Organization for Animal Health. Recombinant rhabdoviruses with heterologous gene substitutions have been engineered to study genetic determinants and assess the potential of these recombinant viruses for vaccine development. A recombinant IHNV (rIHNV), containing the full-length genome of a European IHNV strain, was modified by deleting the glycoprotein (G) gene and replacing it with a European SVCV G-gene to make the rIHNV-Gsvcv. The chimeric rIHNV-Gsvcv level of virulence in rainbow trout, common carp and koi was assessed, and its ability to induce a protective immune response in surviving koi against wild-type SVCV infection was tested. The rIHNV-Gsvcv infection of trout led to high mortality, ranging from 78% to 92.5%, after immersion. In contrast, no deaths occurred in juvenile common carp after infection with rIHNV-Gsvcv by either immersion or intraperitoneal (IP) injection. Similarly, koi infected with rIHNV-Gsvcv via IP injection had little to no mortality (≤9%). Koi that survived initial infection with a high dose of recombinant virus rIHNV-Gsvcv were protected against a virulent SVCV challenge resulting in a high relative per cent survival of 82.5%.

Molecular testing of adult Pacific salmon and trout (Oncorhynchus spp.) for several RNA viruses demonstrates widespread distribution of piscine orthoreovirus in Alaska and Washington

Released February 07, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Journal of Fish Diseases (41) 347-355

Maureen Purcell, Rachel L. Thompson, Joy Evered, John Kerwin, Ted R. Meyers, Bruce Stewart, James Winton

This research was initiated in conjunction with a systematic, multiagency surveillance effort in the United States (U.S.) in response to reported findings of infectious salmon anaemia virus (ISAV) RNA in British Columbia, Canada. In the systematic surveillance study reported in a companion paper, tissues from various salmonids taken from Washington and Alaska were surveyed for ISAV RNA using the U.S.-approved diagnostic method, and samples were released for use in this present study only after testing negative. Here, we tested a subset of these samples for ISAV RNA with three additional published molecular assays, as well as for RNA from salmonid alphavirus (SAV), piscine myocarditis virus (PMCV) and piscine orthoreovirus (PRV). All samples (n = 2,252; 121 stock cohorts) tested negative for RNA from ISAV, PMCV, and SAV. In contrast, there were 25 stock cohorts from Washington and Alaska that had one or more individuals test positive for PRV RNA; prevalence within stocks varied and ranged from 2% to 73%. The overall prevalence of PRV RNA-positive individuals across the study was 3.4% (77 of 2,252 fish tested). Findings of PRV RNA were most common in coho (Oncorhynchus kisutch Walbaum) and Chinook (O. tshawytscha Walbaum) salmon.

Year-round presence of neonicotinoid insecticides in tributaries to the Great Lakes, USA

Released February 07, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Environmental Pollution

Michelle Hladik, Steven Corsi, Dana W. Kolpin, Austin K. Baldwin, Brett R. Blackwell, Jenna E. Cavallin

To better characterize the transport of neonicotinoid insecticides to the world's largest freshwater ecosystem, monthly samples (October 2015–September 2016) were collected from 10 major tributaries to the Great Lakes, USA. For the monthly tributary samples, neonicotinoids were detected in every month sampled and five of the six target neonicotinoids were detected. At least one neonicotinoid was detected in 74% of the monthly samples with up to three neonicotinoids detected in an individual sample (10% of all samples). The most frequently detected neonicotinoid was imidacloprid (53%), followed by clothianidin (44%), thiamethoxam (22%), acetamiprid (2%), and dinotefuran (1%). Thiacloprid was not detected in any samples. The maximum concentration for an individual neonicotinoid was 230 ng L−1 and the maximum total neonicotinoids in an individual sample was 400 ng L−1. The median detected individual neonicotinoid concentrations ranged from non-detect to 10 ng L−1. The detections of clothianidin and thiamethoxam significantly increased as the percent of cultivated crops in the basins increased (ρ = 0.73, P = .01; ρ = 0.66, P = .04, respectively). In contrast, imidacloprid detections significantly increased as the percent of the urbanization in the basins increased (ρ = 0.66, P = .03). Neonicotinoid concentrations generally increased in spring through summer coinciding with the planting of neonicotinoid-treated seeds and broadcast applications of neonicotinoids. More spatially intensive samples were collected in an agriculturally dominated basin (8 sites along the Maumee River, Ohio) twice during the spring, 2016 planting season to provide further information on neonicotinoid inputs to the Great Lakes. Three neonicotinoids were ubiquitously detected (clothianidin, imidacloprid, thiamethoxam) in all water samples collected within this basin. Maximum individual neonicotinoid concentrations was 330 ng L−1 and maximum total neonicotinoid concentration was 670 ng L−1; median detected individual neonicotinoid concentrations were 7.0 to 39 ng L−1.

Floodplain trapping and cycling compared to streambank erosion of sediment and nutrients in an agricultural watershed

Released February 07, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Journal of the American Water Resources Association

Jaimie Gillespie, Gregory Noe, Cliff R. Hupp, Allen Gellis, Edward R. Schenk

Floodplains and streambanks can positively and negatively influence downstream water quality through interacting geomorphic and biogeochemical processes. Few studies have measured those processes in agricultural watersheds. We measured inputs (floodplain sedimentation and dissolved inorganic loading), cycling (floodplain soil nitrogen [N] and phosphorus [P] mineralization), and losses (bank erosion) of sediment, N, and P longitudinally in stream reaches of Smith Creek, an agricultural watershed in the Valley and Ridge physiographic province. All study reaches were net depositional (floodplain deposition > bank erosion), had high N and P sedimentation and loading rates to the floodplain, high soil concentrations of N and P, and high rates of floodplain soil N and P mineralization. High sediment, N, and P inputs to floodplains are attributed to agricultural activity in the region. Rates of P mineralization were much greater than those measured in other studies of nontidal floodplains that used the same method. Floodplain connectivity and sediment deposition decreased longitudinally, contrary to patterns in most watersheds. The net trapping function of Smith Creek floodplains indicates a benefit to water quality. Further research is needed to determine if future decreases in floodplain deposition, continued bank erosion, and the potential for nitrate leaching from nutrient-enriched floodplain soils could pose a long-term source of sediment and nutrients to downstream rivers.

Wild-harvested venison yields and sharing by Michigan deer hunters

Released February 07, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Human Dimensions of Wildlife

Amber D. Goguen, Shawn J. Riley, John F. Organ, Brent A. Rudolph

An increased societal focus on wildlife as food and recent policy deliberations regarding legal markets for wild-harvested meat are encouraging wildlife managers and researchers to examine the amount, use, and distribution of meat yielded through recreational hunting. We used responses to questions on the Michigan Deer Harvest Study to estimate the maximum yield of edible venison and assess hunters’ sharing behaviors. We estimated 11,402–14,473 metric tons of edible venison were procured during the 2013 hunting season. Of hunters who harvested a deer, 85% shared their venison. Hunters who shared did so with an average of 5.6 people (SD = 4.5). Sharing occurred most frequently within tight social networks: members of hunters’ households (69%), relatives (52%), and friends, neighbors, or coworkers (50%). In the absence of legal markets, venison is distributed widely by hunters and greatly amplifies the number of people benefiting from hunting. Nonetheless, we also identified the potential breadth of exposure to disease or contaminants from wild-harvested meat.

Uptake and distribution of organo-iodine in deep-sea corals

Released February 07, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Journal of Environmental Radioactivity

Nancy G. Prouty, E. Brendan Roark, Leslye M. Mohon, Ching-Chih Chang

Leslye M. Mohon, Ching-Chih Chang, editor(s)

Understanding iodine concentration, transport, and bioavailability is essential in evaluating iodine's impact to the environment and its effectiveness as an environmental biogeotracer. While iodine and its radionuclides have proven to be important tracers in geologic and biologic studies, little is known about transport of this element to the deep sea and subsequent uptake in deep-sea coral habitats. Results presented here on deep-sea black coral iodine speciation and iodine isotope variability provides key information on iodine behavior in natural and anthropogenic environments, and its geochemical pathway in the Gulf of Mexico. Organo-iodine is the dominant iodine species in the black corals, demonstrating that binding of iodine to organic matter plays an important role in the transport and transfer of iodine to the deep-sea corals. The identification of growth bands captured in high-resolution scanning electron images (SEM) with synchronous peaks in iodine variability suggest that riverine delivery of terrestrial-derived organo-iodine is the most plausible explanation to account for annual periodicity in the deep-sea coral geochemistry. Whereas previous studies have suggested the presence of annual growth rings in deep-sea corals, this present study provides a mechanism to explain the formation of annual growth bands. Furthermore, deep-sea coral ages based on iodine peak counts agree well with those ages derived from radiocarbon (14C) measurements. These results hold promise for developing chronologies independent of 14C dating, which is an essential component in constraining reservoir ages and using radiocarbon as a tracer of ocean circulation. Furthermore, the presence of enriched 129I/127I ratios during the most recent period of skeleton growth is linked to nuclear weapons testing during the 1960s. The sensitivity of the coral skeleton to record changes in surface water 129I composition provides further evidence that iodine composition and isotope variability captured in proteinaceous deep-sea corals is a promising geochronometer as well as an emerging tracer for continental material flux.

Accurate ocean bottom seismometer positioning method inspired by multilateration technique

Released February 07, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Mathematical Geosciences

Omar Benazzouz, Luis M. Pinheiro, Luis M. A. Matias, Alexandra Afilhado, Daniel Herold, Seth S. Haines

The positioning of ocean bottom seismometers (OBS) is a key step in the processing flow of OBS data, especially in the case of self popup types of OBS instruments. The use of first arrivals from airgun shots, rather than relying on the acoustic transponders mounted in the OBS, is becoming a trend and generally leads to more accurate positioning due to the statistics from a large number of shots. In this paper, a linearization of the OBS positioning problem via the multilateration technique is discussed. The discussed linear solution solves jointly for the average water layer velocity and the OBS position using only shot locations and first arrival times as input data.

Mapping elemental contamination on Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge

Released February 07, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Marine Pollution Bulletin (128) 97-105

Matthew A. Struckhoff, Carl E. Orazio, Donald E. Tillitt, David K. Shaver, Diana M. Papoulias

Palmyra Atoll, once a WWII U.S. Navy air station, is now a U.S. National Wildlife Refuge with nearly 50 km2 of coral reef and 275 ha of emergent lands with forests of Pisonia grandistrees and colonies of several bird species. Due to the known elemental and organic contamination from chemicals associated with aviation, power generation and transmission, waste management, and other air station activities, a screening survey to map elemental concentrations was conducted. A map of 1944 Navy facilities was georeferenced and identifiable features were digitized. These data informed a targeted survey of 25 elements in soils and sediment at locations known or suspected to be contaminated, using a hand-held X-ray fluorescence spectrometer. At dozens of locations, concentrations of elements exceeded established soil and marine sediment thresholds for adverse ecological effects. Results were compiled into a publically available geospatial dataset to inform potential remediation and habitat restoration activities.

Shrubland carbon sink depends upon winter water availability in the warm deserts of North America

Released February 07, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Agricultural and Forest Meteorology (249) 407-419

Joel A. Biederman, Russell L. Scott, John A. Arnone, Richard L. Jasoni, Marcy E. Litvak, Michael T. Moreo, Shirley A. Papuga, Guillermo E. Ponce-Campos, Adam P. Schreiner-McGraw, Enrique R. Vivoni

Global-scale studies suggest that dryland ecosystems dominate an increasing trend in the magnitude and interannual variability of the land CO2 sink. However, such model-based analyses are poorly constrained by measured CO2 exchange in open shrublands, which is the most common global land cover type, covering ∼14% of Earth’s surface. Here we evaluate how the amount and seasonal timing of water availability regulate CO2 exchange between shrublands and the atmosphere. We use eddy covariance data from six US sites across the three warm deserts of North America with observed ranges in annual precipitation of ∼100–400mm, annual temperatures of 13–18°C, and records of 2–8 years (33 site-years in total). The Chihuahuan, Sonoran and Mojave Deserts present gradients in both mean annual precipitation and its seasonal distribution between the wet-winter Mojave Desert and the wet-summer Chihuahuan Desert. We found that due to hydrologic losses during the wettest summers in the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts, evapotranspiration (ET) was a better metric than precipitation of water available to drive dryland CO2 exchange. In contrast with recent synthesis studies across diverse dryland biomes, we found that NEP could not be directly predicted from ET due to wintertime decoupling of the relationship between ecosystem respiration (Reco) and gross ecosystem productivity (GEP). Ecosystem water use efficiency (WUE=GEP/ET) did not differ between winter and summer. Carbon use efficiency (CUE=NEP/GEP), however, was greater in winter because Reco returned a smaller fraction of carbon to the atmosphere (23% of GEP) than in summer (77%). Combining the water-carbon relations found here with historical precipitation since 1980, we estimate that lower average winter precipitation during the 21st century reduced the net carbon sink of the three deserts by an average of 6.8TgC yr1. Our results highlight that winter precipitation is critical to the annual carbon balance of these warm desert shrublands.

Time series sightability modeling of animal populations

Released February 07, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, PLoS ONE (13) 1-16

Althea A. ArchMiller, Robert Dorazio, Katherine St. Clair, John R. Fieberg

Logistic regression models—or “sightability models”—fit to detection/non-detection data from marked individuals are often used to adjust for visibility bias in later detection-only surveys, with population abundance estimated using a modified Horvitz-Thompson (mHT) estimator. More recently, a model-based alternative for analyzing combined detection/non-detection and detection-only data was developed. This approach seemed promising, since it resulted in similar estimates as the mHT when applied to data from moose (Alces alces) surveys in Minnesota. More importantly, it provided a framework for developing flexible models for analyzing multiyear detection-only survey data in combination with detection/non-detection data. During initial attempts to extend the model-based approach to multiple years of detection-only data, we found that estimates of detection probabilities and population abundance were sensitive to the amount of detection-only data included in the combined (detection/non-detection and detection-only) analysis. Subsequently, we developed a robust hierarchical modeling approach where sightability model parameters are informed only by the detection/non-detection data, and we used this approach to fit a fixed-effects model (FE model) with year-specific parameters and a temporally-smoothed model (TS model) that shares information across years via random effects and a temporal spline. The abundance estimates from the TS model were more precise, with decreased interannual variability relative to the FE model and mHT abundance estimates, illustrating the potential benefits from model-based approaches that allow information to be shared across years.

Volcanic ash activates the NLRP3 inflammasome in murine and human macrophages

Released February 07, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Frontiers in Immunology

David Damby, Claire J. Horwell, Peter J. Baxter, Ulrich Kueppers, Max Schnurr, Donald B. Dingwell, Peter Duewell

Volcanic ash is a heterogeneous mineral dust that is typically composed of a mixture of amorphous (glass) and crystalline (mineral) fragments. It commonly contains an abundance of the crystalline silica (SiO2) polymorph cristobalite. Inhalation of crystalline silica can induce inflammation by stimulating the NLRP3 inflammasome, a cytosolic receptor complex that plays a critical role in driving inflammatory immune responses. Ingested material results in the assembly of NLRP3, ASC, and caspase-1 with subsequent secretion of the interleukin-1 family cytokine IL-1β. Previous toxicology work suggests that cristobalite-bearing volcanic ash is minimally reactive, calling into question the reactivity of volcanically derived crystalline silica, in general. In this study, we target the NLRP3 inflammasome as a crystalline silica responsive element to clarify volcanic cristobalite reactivity. We expose immortalized bone marrow-derived macrophages of genetically engineered mice and primary human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) to ash from the Soufrière Hills volcano as well as representative, pure-phase samples of its primary componentry (volcanic glass, feldspar, cristobalite) and measure NLRP3 inflammasome activation. We demonstrate that respirable Soufrière Hills volcanic ash induces the activation of caspase-1 with subsequent release of mature IL-1β in a NLRP3 inflammasome-dependent manner. Macrophages deficient in NLRP3 inflammasome components are incapable of secreting IL-1β in response to volcanic ash ingestion. Cellular uptake induces lysosomal destabilization involving cysteine proteases. Furthermore, the response involves activation of mitochondrial stress pathways leading to the generation of reactive oxygen species. Considering ash componentry, cristobalite is the most reactive pure-phase with other components inducing only low-level IL-1β secretion. Inflammasome activation mediated by inhaled ash and its potential relevance in chronic pulmonary disease was further evidenced in PBMC using the NLRP3 small-molecule inhibitor CP-456,773 (CRID3, MCC950). Our data indicate the functional activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome by volcanic ash in murine and human macrophages in vitro. Cristobalite is identified as the apparent driver, thereby contesting previous assertions that chemical and structural imperfections may be sufficient to abrogate the reactivity of volcanically derived cristobalite. This is a novel mechanism for the stimulation of a pro-inflammatory response by volcanic particulate and provides new insight regarding chronic exposure to environmentally occurring particles.

Making ecological models adequate

Released February 07, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Ecology Letters (21) 153-166

Wayne M. Getz, Charles R. Marshall, Colin J. Carlson, Luca Giuggioli, Sadie J. Ryan, Stephanie Romanach, Carl Boettiger, Samuel D. Chamberlain, Laurel Larsen, Paolo D'Odorico, David O'Sullivan

Critical evaluation of the adequacy of ecological models is urgently needed to enhance their utility in developing theory and enabling environmental managers and policymakers to make informed decisions. Poorly supported management can have detrimental, costly or irreversible impacts on the environment and society. Here, we examine common issues in ecological modelling and suggest criteria for improving modelling frameworks. An appropriate level of process description is crucial to constructing the best possible model, given the available data and understanding of ecological structures. Model details unsupported by data typically lead to over parameterisation and poor model performance. Conversely, a lack of mechanistic details may limit a model's ability to predict ecological systems’ responses to management. Ecological studies that employ models should follow a set of model adequacy assessment protocols that include: asking a series of critical questions regarding state and control variable selection, the determinacy of data, and the sensitivity and validity of analyses. We also need to improve model elaboration, refinement and coarse graining procedures to better understand the relevancy and adequacy of our models and the role they play in advancing theory, improving hind and forecasting, and enabling problem solving and management.

Unraveling the dynamics of magmatic CO2 degassing at Mammoth Mountain, California

Released February 07, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Earth and Planetary Science Letters (484) 318-328

Loic Pfeiffer, Christoph Wanner, Jennifer L. Lewicki

The accumulation of magmatic CO2 beneath low-permeability barriers may lead to the formation of CO2-rich gas reservoirs within volcanic systems. Such accumulation is often evidenced by high surface CO2 emissions that fluctuate over time. The temporal variability in surface degassing is believed in part to reflect a complex interplay between deep magmatic degassing and the permeability of degassing pathways. A better understanding of the dynamics of CO2 degassing is required to improve monitoring and hazards mitigation in these systems. Owing to the availability of long-term records of CO2 emissions rates and seismicity, Mammoth Mountain in California constitutes an ideal site towards such predictive understanding. Mammoth Mountain is characterized by intense soil CO2 degassing (up to ∼1000 t d−1) and tree kill areas that resulted from leakage of CO2 from a CO2-rich gas reservoir located in the upper ∼4 km. The release of CO2-rich fluids from deeper basaltic intrusions towards the reservoir induces seismicity and potentially reactivates faults connecting the reservoir to the surface. While this conceptual model is well-accepted, there is still a debate whether temporally variable surface CO2 fluxes directly reflect degassing of intrusions or variations in fault permeability. Here, we report the first large-scale numerical model of fluid and heat transport for Mammoth Mountain. We discuss processes (i) leading to the initial formation of the CO2-rich gas reservoir prior to the occurrence of high surface CO2 degassing rates and (ii) controlling current CO2 degassing at the surface. Although the modeling settings are site-specific, the key mechanisms discussed in this study are likely at play at other volcanic systems hosting CO2-rich gas reservoirs. In particular, our model results illustrate the role of convection in stripping a CO2-rich gas phase from a rising hydrothermal fluid and leading to an accumulation of a large mass of CO2 (∼107–108 t) in a shallow gas reservoir. Moreover, we show that both, short-lived (months to years) and long-lived (hundreds of years) events of magmatic fluid injection can lead to critical pressures within the reservoir and potentially trigger fault reactivation. Our sensitivity analysis suggests that observed temporal fluctuations in surface degassing are only indirectly controlled by variations in magmatic degassing and are mainly the result of temporally variable fault permeability. Finally, we suggest that long-term CO2 emission monitoring, seismic tomography and coupled thermal–hydraulic–mechanical modeling are important for CO2-related hazard mitigation.

Macroecological patterns of sexual size dimorphism in turtles of the world

Released February 07, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Journal of Evolutionary Biology

Mickey Agha, Joshua R. Ennen, A. Justin Nowakowski, Jeffrey E. Lovich, Sarah C. Sweat, Brian D. Todd

Sexual size dimorphism (SSD) is a well-documented phenomenon in both plants and animals; however, the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms that drive and maintain SSD patterns across geographic space at regional and global scales are understudied, especially for reptiles. Our goal was to examine geographic variation of turtle SSD and to explore ecological and environmental correlates using phylogenetic comparative methods. We use published body size data on 135 species from nine turtle families to examine how geographic patterns and the evolution of SSD are influenced by habitat specialization, climate (annual mean temperature and annual precipitation) and climate variability, latitude, or a combination of these predictor variables. We found that geographic variation, magnitude and direction of turtle SSD are best explained by habitat association, annual temperature variance and annual precipitation. Use of semi-aquatic and terrestrial habitats was associated with male-biased SSD, whereas use of aquatic habitat was associated with female-biased SSD. Our results also suggest that greater temperature variability is associated with female-biased SSD. In contrast, wetter climates are associated with male-biased SSD compared with arid climates that are associated with female-biased SSD. We also show support for a global latitudinal trend in SSD, with females being larger than males towards the poles, especially in the families Emydidae and Geoemydidae. Estimates of phylogenetic signal for both SSD and habitat type indicate that closely related species occupy similar habitats and exhibit similar direction and magnitude of SSD. These global patterns of SSD may arise from sex-specific reproductive behaviour, fecundity and sex-specific responses to environmental factors that differ among habitats and vary systematically across latitude. Thus, this study adds to our current understanding that while SSD can vary dramatically across and within turtle species under phylogenetic constraints, it may be driven, maintained and exaggerated by habitat type, climate and geographic location.

Quaternary sea-level history and the origin of the northernmost coastal aeolianites in the Americas: Channel Islands National Park, California, USA

Released February 07, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology (491) 38-76

Daniel Muhs, Jeff Pigati, R. Randall Schumann, Gary Skipp, Naomi Porat, Stephen B. DeVogel

Along most of the Pacific Coast of North America, sand dunes are dominantly silicate-rich. On the California Channel Islands, however, dunes are carbonate-rich, due to high productivity offshore and a lack of dilution by silicate minerals. Older sands on the Channel Islands contain enough carbonate to be cemented into aeolianite. Several generations of carbonate aeolianites are present on the California Channel Islands and represent the northernmost Quaternary coastal aeolianites on the Pacific Coast of North America. The oldest aeolianites on the islands may date to the early Pleistocene and thus far have only been found on Santa Cruz Island. Aeolianites with well-developed soils are found on both San Miguel Island and Santa Rosa Island and likely date to the middle Pleistocene. The youngest and best-dated aeolianites are located on San Miguel Island and Santa Rosa Island. These sediments were deposited during the late Pleistocene following the emergence of marine terraces that date to the last interglacial complex (~ 120,000 yr to ~ 80,000 yr). Based on radiocarbon and luminescence dating, the ages of these units correspond in time with marine isotope stages [MIS] 4, 3, and 2. Sea level was significantly lower than present during all three time periods. Reconstruction of insular paleogeography indicates that large areas to the north and northwest of the islands would have been exposed at these times, providing a ready source of carbonate-rich skeletal sands. These findings differ from a previously held concept that carbonate aeolianites are dominantly an interglacial phenomenon forming during high stands of sea. In contrast, our results are consistent with the findings of other investigators of the past decade who have reported evidence of glacial-age and interstadial-age aeolianites on coastlines of Australia and South Africa. They are also consistent with observations made by Darwin regarding the origin of aeolianites on the island of St. Helena, in the South Atlantic Ocean, more than a century and a half ago.

Why large cells dominate estuarine phytoplankton

Released February 07, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Limnology and Oceanography

James E. Cloern

Surveys across the world oceans have shown that phytoplankton biomass and production are dominated by small cells (picoplankton) where nutrient concentrations are low, but large cells (microplankton) dominate when nutrient-rich deep water is mixed to the surface. I analyzed phytoplankton size structure in samples collected over 25 yr in San Francisco Bay, a nutrient-rich estuary. Biomass was dominated by large cells because their biomass selectively grew during blooms. Large-cell dominance appears to be a characteristic of ecosystems at the land–sea interface, and these places may therefore function as analogs to oceanic upwelling systems. Simulations with a size-structured NPZ model showed that runs of positive net growth rate persisted long enough for biomass of large, but not small, cells to accumulate. Model experiments showed that small cells would dominate in the absence of grazing, at lower nutrient concentrations, and at elevated (+5°C) temperatures. Underlying these results are two fundamental scaling laws: (1) large cells are grazed more slowly than small cells, and (2) grazing rate increases with temperature faster than growth rate. The model experiments suggest testable hypotheses about phytoplankton size structure at the land–sea interface: (1) anthropogenic nutrient enrichment increases cell size; (2) this response varies with temperature and only occurs at mid-high latitudes; (3) large-cell blooms can only develop when temperature is below a critical value, around 15°C; (4) cell size diminishes along temperature gradients from high to low latitudes; and (5) large-cell blooms will diminish or disappear where planetary warming increases temperature beyond their critical threshold.

The impact of lidar elevation uncertainty on mapping intertidal habitats on barrier islands

Released February 07, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Remote Sensing (10) 1-18

Nicholas M. Enwright, Lei Wang, Sinéad M. Borchert, Richard H. Day, Laura C. Feher, Michael J. Osland

While airborne lidar data have revolutionized the spatial resolution that elevations can be realized, data limitations are often magnified in coastal settings. Researchers have found that airborne lidar can have a vertical error as high as 60 cm in densely vegetated intertidal areas. The uncertainty of digital elevation models is often left unaddressed; however, in low-relief environments, such as barrier islands, centimeter differences in elevation can affect exposure to physically demanding abiotic conditions, which greatly influence ecosystem structure and function. In this study, we used airborne lidar elevation data, in situ elevation observations, lidar metadata, and tide gauge information to delineate low-lying lands and the intertidal wetlands on Dauphin Island, a barrier island along the coast of Alabama, USA. We compared three different elevation error treatments, which included leaving error untreated and treatments that used Monte Carlo simulations to incorporate elevation vertical uncertainty using general information from lidar metadata and site-specific Real-Time Kinematic Global Position System data, respectively. To aid researchers in instances where limited information is available for error propagation, we conducted a sensitivity test to assess the effect of minor changes to error and bias. Treatment of error with site-specific observations produced the fewest omission errors, although the treatment using the lidar metadata had the most well-balanced results. The percent coverage of intertidal wetlands was increased by up to 80% when treating the vertical error of the digital elevation models. Based on the results from the sensitivity analysis, it could be reasonable to use error and positive bias values from literature for similar environments, conditions, and lidar acquisition characteristics in the event that collection of site-specific data is not feasible and information in the lidar metadata is insufficient. The methodology presented in this study should increase efficiency and enhance results for habitat mapping and analyses in dynamic, low-relief coastal environments.

Assessment of water resources and the potential effects from oil and gas development in the Bureau of Land Management Tri-County planning area, Sierra, Doña Ana, and Otero Counties, New Mexico

Released February 07, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5151

Johanna M. Blake, Keely Miltenberger, Anne M. Stewart, Andre Ritchie, Jennifer Montoya, Corey Durr, Amy McHugh, Emmanuel Charles

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management, conducted a study to assess the water resources and potential effects on the water resources from oil and gas development in the Tri-County planning area, Sierra, Doña Ana, and Otero Counties, New Mexico. Publicly available data were used to assess these resources and effects and to identify data gaps in the Tri-County planning area.

The Tri-County planning area includes approximately 9.3 million acres and is within the eastern extent of the Basin and Range Province, which consists of mountain ranges and low elevation basins. Three specific areas of interest within the Tri-County planning area are the Jornada del Muerto, Tularosa Basin, and Otero Mesa, which is adjacent to the Salt Basin. Surface-water resources are limited in the Tri-County planning area, with the Rio Grande as the main perennial river flowing from north to south through Sierra and Doña Ana Counties. The Tularosa Creek is an important surface-water resource in the Tularosa Basin. The Sacramento River, which flows southeast out of the Sacramento Mountains, is an important source of recharge to aquifers in the Salt Basin. Groundwater resources vary in aquifer type, depth to water, and water quality. For example, the Jornada del Muerto, Tularosa Basin, and Salt Basin each have shallow and deep aquifer systems, and water can range from freshwater, with less than 1,000 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of total dissolved solids, to brine, with greater than 35,000 mg/L of total dissolved solids. Water quality in the Tri-County planning area is affected by the dissolution of salt deposits and evaporation which are common in arid regions such as southern New Mexico.

The potential for oil and gas development exists in several areas within the Tri-County area. As many as 81 new conventional wells and 25 coalbed natural gas wells could be developed by 2035. Conventional oil and gas well construction in the Tri-County planning area is expected to require 1.53 acre-feet (acre-ft) (500,000 gallons) of water per well, similar to requirements in the nearby Permian Basin of New Mexico, while construction of unconventional wells is expected to require 7.3 acre-ft of water per well. Produced waters in the Permian Basin have high total dissolved solids, in the brackish to brine range.

Data gaps identified in this study include the limited detailed data on surface-water resources, the lack of groundwater data in areas of interest, and the lack of water chemistry data related to oil and gas development issues. Surface waters in the Tri-County planning area are sparse; some streams are perennial, and most are ephemeral. A more detailed study of the ephemeral channels and their interaction with groundwater could provide a better understanding of the importance of these surface-water resources. Groundwater data used in this study are from the USGS National Water Information System, which does not have continuous water-level depth data at many of the sites in the Tri-County planning area. On Otero Mesa, no recurrent groundwater-level data are available at any one site. The water-quality data compiled in this study provide a good overview of the general chemistry of groundwater in the Tri-County planning area. To fully understand the groundwater resources, it would be helpful to have more wells in specific areas of interest for groundwater-level and water-quality measurements.

Control of landslide volume and hazard by glacial stratigraphic architecture, Northwest Washington state, USA

Released February 07, 2018 00:00 EST

2017, Geology (45) 1139-1142

Jonathan Perkins, Mark E. Reid, Kevin M. Schmidt

Landslide volumes span many orders of magnitude, but large-volume slides tend to travel farther and consequently can pose a greater hazard. In northwest Washington State, USA, a landscape abounding with landslides big and small, the recent occurrence of the large-volume and tragically deadly State Route 530 (Oso) landslide is a stark reminder of the hazards associated with glacial terraces lining valleys of the western Cascade Range. What controls the differences in location and size of these slope failures? Here, we examine the control on landslide volume and failure style by terrace sedimentary architecture. We analyze lidar topographic data in three nearby valleys and find significant variation in landslide deposit volumes, morphology, and relative mobility in each valley. Geologic data show that each site differs in the thickness and position of outwash, tills, and glaciolacustrine clays. Combining a three-dimensional limit-equilibrium slope-stability analysis (Scoops3D) with simulations of variably saturated groundwater flow (VS2Dt), we show that landslide volumes are highly sensitive both to the distribution of material strength as well as the location of perched water tables. Modeled landslides match observed failure sizes and depths in all valleys when the effects of variably saturated groundwater flow are included. The position and thickness of low-strength strata act as first-order controls on landslide volume, with peak volumes for stratigraphic geometries similar to that of the valley containing the Oso landslide. Knowledge of feedbacks between lithology and hydrology is therefore critical to assess the landslide hazard and evolution of landscapes composed of stratigraphically layered units.

Predicting breeding bird occurrence by stand- and microhabitat-scale features in even-aged stands in the Central Appalachians

Released February 06, 2018 10:30 EST

2016, Article

Petra Wood

Can data from disparate long-term fish monitoring programs be used to increase our understanding of regional and continental trends in large river assemblages?

Released February 06, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, PLoS ONE (13)

Timothy D. Counihan, Ian R. Waite, Andrew F. Casper, David L. Ward, Jennifer S. Sauer, Elise R. Irwin, Colin G. Chapman, Brian Ickes, Craig P. Paukert, John J. Kosovich, Jennifer M. Bayer

Understanding trends in the diverse resources provided by large rivers will help balance tradeoffs among stakeholders and inform strategies to mitigate the effects of landscape scale stressors such as climate change and invasive species. Absent a cohesive coordinated effort to assess trends in important large river resources, a logical starting point is to assess our ability to draw inferences from existing efforts. In this paper, we use a common analytical framework to analyze data from five disparate fish monitoring programs to better understand the nature of spatial and temporal trends in large river fish assemblages. We evaluated data from programs that monitor fishes in the Colorado, Columbia, Illinois, Mississippi, and Tallapoosa rivers using non-metric dimensional scaling ordinations and associated tests to evaluate trends in fish assemblage structure and native fish biodiversity. Our results indicate that fish assemblages exhibited significant spatial and temporal trends in all five of the rivers. We also document native species diversity trends that were variable within and between rivers and generally more evident in rivers with higher species richness and programs of longer duration. We discuss shared and basin-specific landscape level stressors. Having a basic understanding of the nature and extent of trends in fish assemblages is a necessary first step towards understanding factors affecting biodiversity and fisheries in large rivers.

A systematic surveillance programme for infectious salmon anaemia virus supports its absence in the Pacific Northwest of the United States

Released February 06, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Journal of Fish Diseases (41) 337-346

Lori L. Gustafson, Lynn H. Creekmore, Kevin R. Snekvik, Jayde A. Ferguson, Janet V. Warg, Marilyn Blair, Theodore R. Meyers, Bruce Stewart, Kenneth I. Warheit, John Kerwin, Andrew E. Goodwin, Linda D. Rhodes, Janet E. Whaley, Maureen K. Purcell, Collette Bentz, Desiree Shasa, Joel Bader, James R. Winton

In response to reported findings of infectious salmon anaemia virus (ISAV) in British Columbia (BC), Canada, in 2011, U.S. national, state and tribal fisheries managers and fish health specialists developed and implemented a collaborative ISAV surveillance plan for the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. Accordingly, over a 3-1/2-year period, 4,962 salmonids were sampled and successfully tested by real-time reverse-transcription PCR. The sample set included multiple tissues from free-ranging Pacific salmonids from coastal regions of Alaska and Washington and farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) from Washington, all representing fish exposed to marine environments. The survey design targeted physiologically compromised or moribund animals more vulnerable to infection as well as species considered susceptible to ISAV. Samples were handled with a documented chain of custody and testing protocols, and criteria for interpretation of test results were defined in advance. All 4,962 completed tests were negative for ISAV RNA. Results of this surveillance effort provide sound evidence to support the absence of ISAV in represented populations of free-ranging and marine-farmed salmonids on the northwest coast of the United States.

Permafrost stores a globally significant amount of mercury

Released February 06, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Geophysical Research Letters

Paul F. Schuster, Kevin Schaefer, George R. Aiken, Ronald C. Antweiler, John F. DeWild, Joshua D. Gryziec, Alessio Gusmeroli, Gustaf Hugelius, Elchin E. Jafarov, David P. Krabbenhoft, Lin Liu, Nicole M. Herman-Mercer, Cuicui Mu, David A. Roth, Tim Schaefer, Robert G. Striegl, Kimberly P. Wickland, Tingjun Zhang

Changing climate in northern regions is causing permafrost to thaw with major implications for the global mercury (Hg) cycle. We estimated Hg in permafrost regions based on in situ measurements of sediment total mercury (STHg), soil organic carbon (SOC), and the Hg to carbon ratio (RHgC) combined with maps of soil carbon. We measured a median STHg of 43 ± 30 ng Hg g soil−1 and a median RHgC of 1.6 ± 0.9 μg Hg g C−1, consistent with published results of STHg for tundra soils and 11,000 measurements from 4,926 temperate, nonpermafrost sites in North America and Eurasia. We estimate that the Northern Hemisphere permafrost regions contain 1,656 ± 962 Gg Hg, of which 793 ± 461 Gg Hg is frozen in permafrost. Permafrost soils store nearly twice as much Hg as all other soils, the ocean, and the atmosphere combined, and this Hg is vulnerable to release as permafrost thaws over the next century. Existing estimates greatly underestimate Hg in permafrost soils, indicating a need to reevaluate the role of the Arctic regions in the global Hg cycle.

Occupancy modeling of autonomously recorded vocalizations to predict distribution of rallids in tidal wetlands

Released February 06, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Wetlands

Lydia L. Stiffler, James T. Anderson, Todd Katzner

Conservation and management for a species requires reliable information on its status, distribution, and habitat use. We identified occupancy and distributions of king (Rallus elegans) and clapper (R. crepitans) rail populations in marsh complexes along the Pamunkey and Mattaponi Rivers in Virginia, USA by modeling data on vocalizations recorded from autonomous recording units (ARUs). Occupancy probability for both species combined was 0.64 (95% CI: 0.53, 0.75) in marshes along the Pamunkey and 0.59 (0.45, 0.72) in marshes along the Mattaponi. Occupancy probability along the Pamunkey was strongly influenced by salinity, increasing logistically by a factor of 1.62 (0.6, 2.65) per parts per thousand of salinity. In contrast, there was not a strong salinity gradient on the Mattaponi and therefore vegetative community structure determined occupancy probability on that river. Estimated detection probability across both marshes was 0.63 (0.62, 0.65), but detection rates decreased as the season progressed. Monitoring wildlife within wetlands presents unique challenges for conservation managers. Our findings provide insight not only into how rails responded to environmental variation but also into the general utility of ARUs for occupancy modeling of the distribution and habitat associations of rails within tidal marsh systems.

Winter swarming behavior by the exotic cladoceran Daphnia lumholtzi Sars, 1885 in a Kentucky (USA) reservoir

Released February 06, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, BioInvasions Records

John R. Beaver, Thomas R. Renicker, Claudia E. Tausz, Jade L. Young, Jennifer C. Thomason, Zachary L. Wolf, Amber L. Russell, Mac A. Cherry, Kyle C. Scotese, Dawn T. Koenig

We describe swarming behavior in the invasive cladoceran Daphnia lumholtzi Sars, 1885 in a Kentucky, USA, reservoir during winter 2017. The taxon is a highly successful tropical invader and has spread throughout the lower latitude systems in the USA since its discovery in 1991. Other than a few isolated reports, the abundance of D. lumholtzi is often <1 organism L-1. Previous studies indicate that D. lumholtzi is a largely thermophilic species often peaking in abundance in late summer after native daphnids are gone from the water column of lakes and reservoirs. Prior to our study, there have been no published reports of swarming behavior by this species. We document the occurrence of massive swarms (>10,000 organisms L-1) of sexually reproducing females of this exotic cladoceran at water column temperatures <10°C.

Alternate wetting and drying decreases methylmercury in flooded rice (Oryza sativa) systems

Released February 06, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Soil Science Society of America Journal (82) 115-125

K. Christy Tanner, Lisamarie Windham-Myers, Mark C. Marvin-DiPasquale, Jacob Fleck, Bruce A. Linquist

In flooded soils, including those found in rice (Oryza sativa L.) fields, microbes convert inorganic Hg to more toxic methylmercury (MeHg). Methylmercury is accumulated in rice grain, potentially affecting health. Methylmercury in rice field surface water can bioaccumulate in wildlife. We evaluated how introducing aerobic periods into an otherwise continuously flooded rice growing season affects MeHg dynamics. Conventional continuously flooded (CF) rice field water management was compared with alternate wetting and drying, where irrigation was stopped twice during the growing season, allowing soil to dry to 35% volumetric moisture content, at which point plots were reflooded (AWD-35). Methylmercury studies began at harvest in Year 3 and throughout Year 4 of a 4-yr replicated field experiment. Bulk soil, water, and plant samples were analyzed for MeHg and total Hg (THg), and iron (Fe) speciation was measured in soil samples. Rice grain yield over 4 yr did not differ between treatments. Soil chemistry responded quickly to AWD-35 dry-downs, showing significant oxidation of Fe(II) accompanied by a significant reduction of MeHg concentration (76% reduction at harvest) compared with CF. Surface water MeHg decreased by 68 and 39% in the growing and fallow seasons, respectively, suggesting that the effects of AWD-35 management can last through to the fallow season. The AWD-35 treatment reduced rice grain MeHg and THg by 60 and 32%, respectively. These results suggest that the more aerobic conditions caused by AWD-35 limited the activity of Hg(II)-methylating microbes and may be an effective way to reduce MeHg concentrations in rice ecosystems.

Investigating runoff efficiency in upper Colorado River streamflow over past centuries

Released February 06, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Water Resources Research

Connie A. Woodhouse, Gregory T. Pederson

With increasing concerns about the impact of warming temperatures on water resources, more attention is being paid to the relationship between runoff and precipitation, or runoff efficiency. Temperature is a key influence on Colorado River runoff efficiency, and warming temperatures are projected to reduce runoff efficiency. Here, we investigate the nature of runoff efficiency in the upper Colorado River (UCRB) basin over the past 400 years, with a specific focus on major droughts and pluvials, and to contextualize the instrumental period. We first verify the feasibility of reconstructing runoff efficiency from tree-ring data. The reconstruction is then used to evaluate variability in runoff efficiency over periods of high and low flow, and its correspondence to a reconstruction of late runoff season UCRB temperature variability. Results indicate that runoff efficiency has played a consistent role in modulating the relationship between precipitation and streamflow over past centuries, and that temperature has likely been the key control. While negative runoff efficiency is most common during dry periods, and positive runoff efficiency during wet years, there are some instances of positive runoff efficiency moderating the impact of precipitation deficits on streamflow. Compared to past centuries, the 20th century has experienced twice as many high flow years with negative runoff efficiency, likely due to warm temperatures. These results suggest warming temperatures will continue to reduce runoff efficiency in wet or dry years, and that future flows will be less than anticipated from precipitation due to warming temperatures.

Hydroclimatology of the Missouri River basin

Released February 06, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Journal of Hydrometeorology (19) 161-182

Erika K. Wise, Connie A. Woodhouse, Gregory McCabe, Gregory T. Pederson, Jeannine-Marie St. Jacques

Despite the importance of the Missouri River for navigation, recreation, habitat, hydroelectric power, and agriculture, relatively little is known about the basic hydroclimatology of the Missouri River basin (MRB). This is of particular concern given the droughts and floods that have occurred over the past several decades and the potential future exacerbation of these extremes by climate change. Here, observed and modeled hydroclimatic data and estimated natural flow records in the MRB are used to 1) assess the major source regions of MRB flow, 2) describe the climatic controls on streamflow in the upper and lower basins , and 3) investigate trends over the instrumental period. Analyses indicate that 72% of MRB runoff is generated by the headwaters in the upper basin and by the lowest portion of the basin near the mouth. Spring precipitation and temperature and winter precipitation impacted by changes in zonal versus meridional flow from the Pacific Ocean play key roles in surface water supply variability in the upper basin. Lower basin flow is significantly correlated with precipitation in late spring and early summer, indicative of Atlantic-influenced circulation variability affecting the flow of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. Although increases in precipitation in the lower basin are currently overriding the effects of warming temperatures on total MRB flow, the upper basin’s long-term trend toward decreasing flows, reduction in snow versus rain fraction, and warming spring temperatures suggest that the upper basin may less often provide important flow supplements to the lower basin in the future.

Accommodating state shifts within the conceptual framework of the wetland continuum

Released February 06, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Wetlands

David M. Mushet, Owen McKenna, James W. LaBaugh, Ned H. Euliss Jr., Donald O. Rosenberry

The Wetland Continuum is a conceptual framework that facilitates the interpretation of biological studies of wetland ecosystems. Recently summarized evidence documenting how a multi-decadal wet period has influenced aspects of wetland, lake and stream systems in the southern prairie-pothole region of North America has revealed the potential for wetlands to shift among alternate states. We propose that incorporation of state shifts into the Wetland Continuum, as originally proposed or as modified by Hayashi et al., is a relatively simple matter if one allows for shifts of wetlands along the horizontal, groundwater axis of the framework under conditions of extreme and sustained wet or dry conditions. We suggest that the ease by which state shifts can be accommodated within both the original and modified frameworks of the Wetland Continuum is a testament to the robustness of the concept when it is related to the alternative-stable-state concept.

Semi-arid grassland bird responses to patch-burn grazing and drought

Released February 06, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Journal of Wildlife Management (82) 445-456

Susan K. Skagen, David J. Augustine, Justin D. Derner

As grassland birds of central North America experience steep population declines with changes in land use, management of remaining tracts becomes increasingly important for population viability. The integrated use of fire and grazing may enhance vegetation heterogeneity and diversity in breeding birds, but the subsequent effects on reproduction are unknown. We examined the influence of patch-burn grazing management in shortgrass steppe in eastern Colorado on habitat use and reproductive success of 3 grassland bird species, horned lark (Eremophila alpestris), lark bunting (Calamospiza melanocorys), and McCown’s longspur (Rhynchophanes mccownii), at several spatial scales during 2011 and 2012. Although no simple direct relationship to patch-burn grazing treatment existed, habitat selection depended on precipitation- and management-induced vegetation conditions and spatial scale. All species selected taller-than-expected vegetation at the nest site, whereas at the territory scale, horned larks and McCown’s longspurs selected areas with low vegetation height and sparse cover of tall plants (taller than the dominant shortgrasses). Buntings nested primarily in unburned grassland under average rainfall. Larks and longspurs shifted activity from patch burns during average precipitation (2011) to unburned pastures during drought (2012). Daily survival rate (DSR) of nests varied with time in season, species, weather, and vegetation structure. Daily survival rate of McCown’s longspur nests did not vary with foliar cover of relatively tall vegetation at the nest under average precipitation but declined with increasing cover during drought. At the 200-m scale, increasing cover of shortgrasses, rather than taller plant species, improved DSR of larks and longspurs. These birds experience tradeoffs in the selection of habitat at different spatial scales: tall structure at nests may reduce visual detection by predators and provide protection from sun, wind, and rain, yet taller structure surrounding territories may host nest predators. Patch-burn grazing management in combination with other strategies that retain taller-structured vegetation may help sustain a diversity of breeding habitats for shortgrass birds under varying weather conditions.

Regional variability of nitrate fluxes in the unsaturated zone and groundwater, Wisconsin, USA

Released February 06, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Water Resources Research

Christopher T. Green, Lixia Liao, Bernard T. Nolan, Paul F. Juckem, Christopher L. Shope, Anthony J. Tesoriero, Bryant Jurgens

Process-based modeling of regional NO3− fluxes to groundwater is critical for understanding and managing water quality, but the complexity of NO3− reactive transport processes make implementation a challenge. This study introduces a regional vertical flux method (VFM) for efficient estimation of reactive transport of NO3− in the vadose zone and groundwater. The regional VFM was applied to 443 well samples in central-eastern Wisconsin. Chemical measurements included O2, NO3−, N2 from denitrification, and atmospheric tracers of groundwater age including carbon-14, chlorofluorocarbons, tritium, and tritiogenic helium. VFM results were consistent with observed chemistry, and calibrated parameters were in-line with estimates from previous studies. Results indicated that (1) unsaturated zone travel times were a substantial portion of the transit time to wells and streams (2) since 1945 fractions of applied N leached to groundwater have increased for manure-N, possibly due to increased injection of liquid manure, and decreased for fertilizer-N, and (3) under current practices and conditions, approximately 60% of the shallow aquifer will eventually be affected by downward migration of NO3−, with denitrification protecting the remaining 40%. Recharge variability strongly affected the unsaturated zone lag times and the eventual depth of the NO3− front. Principal components regression demonstrated that VFM parameters and predictions were significantly correlated with hydrogeochemical landscape features. The diverse and sometimes conflicting aspects of N management (e.g. limiting N volatilization versus limiting N losses to groundwater) warrant continued development of large-scale holistic strategies to manage water quality and quantity.

Relations between total phosphorus and orthophosphorus concentrations and rainfall, surface-water discharge, and groundwater levels in Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation, Florida, 2014–16

Released February 06, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Open-File Report 2018-1014

W. Scott McBride, Dorothy F. Sifuentes

The Seminole Tribe of Florida (the Tribe) is partnering with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to develop a numeric phosphorus criterion for the 52,000-acre Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation (BCSIR), which is located downgradient of the Everglades Agricultural Area, and of other public and private lands, in southeastern Hendry County and northwestern Broward County in southern Florida. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Tribe, used water-quality data collected between October 2014 and September 2016 by the Tribe and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), along with data from rainfall gages, surface-water stage and discharge gages, and groundwater monitoring wells, to (1) examine the relations between local hydrology and measured total phosphorus (TP) and orthophosphorus (OP) concentrations and (2) identify explanatory variables for TP concentrations. Of particular concern were conditions when TP exceeded 10 parts per billion (ppb) (0.01 milligram per liter [mg/L]) given that the State of Florida and the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians Alligator Alley Reservation (located downstream of the BCSIR) have adopted a 10-ppb maximum TP criterion for surface waters.

From October 2014 to September 2016, the Tribe collected 47–52 samples at each of nine water-quality sites for analysis of TP and OP, except at one site where 28 samples were collected. For all sites sampled, concentrations of TP (as phosphorus [P]) ranged from less than 0.002 mg/L (2 ppb) to a maximum of nearly 0.50 mg/L (500 ppb), whereas concentrations of OP (as P), the reactive form of inorganic phosphorus readily absorbed by plants and (or) abiotically absorbed, ranged from less than 0.003 mg/L (3 ppb) to a maximum of 0.24 mg/L (240 ppb). The median and interquartile ranges of concentrations of TP and OP in the samples collected in 2014–16 by the Tribe were similar to the median and interquartile ranges of concentrations in samples collected by the SFWMD at nearby sites during the same period. Differences in concentrations can likely be explained by differences in sample collection methods, sampling locations, sample collection time, and the hydrology during sampling or by the number of samples collected. A major limitation of this study was the short duration of sample collection, which covers a limited range of hydrologic conditions within the BCSIR.

The effect of surface-water and groundwater hydrologic conditions on TP and OP concentrations was assessed by using rainfall data and surface-water stage and discharge records. The highest TP and OP concentrations occurred during peak surface-water flows in the canals following long dry periods. Concentrations of TP and OP increased internal to the BCSIR in the western half of the BCSIR during wet periods, but increased concentrations tended to lag behind rainfall events, likely because control structures upstream of sampling sites do not release flows until the water levels in the canals reach predetermined levels. This pattern may indicate that bed sediments in the canals contain high concentrations of phosphorus that becomes resuspended during high flows or that phosphorus salts that had accumulated on dry land during dry periods are carried into the canals by runoff. The largest TP spikes usually occurred at the beginning of high-flow events, but then quickly tapered off even when flows remained high.

Groundwater flows were assessed in the BCSIR by using groundwater level observations from two preexisting USGS monitoring well clusters, each characterized by a shallow well installed in the surficial aquifer system and a deeper well installed in the intermediate aquifer system. Groundwater levels were evaluated with respect to surface-water levels and discharge in the BCSIR during the period of surface-water sampling. During dry conditions water levels in canals were often higher than groundwater levels in the surficial aquifer, indicating the potential for surface water to recharge the surficial aquifer. During wetter conditions, this trend reversed, and there was potential for shallow groundwater discharge into the canals.

From October 2014 to September 2016, concentrations of TP tended to decrease as surface-water inflows moved across the BCSIR from north to south. In both the western and eastern halves of the reservation, the mean concentration of TP was lower in the surface-water outflows from the BCSIR than in the inflows. The mean concentration of TP in the inflows to the western reservation was 0.04 mg/L (40 ppb), whereas the mean concentration of TP in the outflows was 0.03 mg/L (30 ppb). In the eastern reservation, the mean concentration of TP in the inflows was 0.07 mg/L (70 ppb), whereas the mean concentration of TP in the outflows was 0.04 mg/L (40 ppb).

TP and OP concentrations were evaluated relative to other water-quality parameters, including turbidity, suspended solids, nitrate plus nitrite, dissolved oxygen, pH, and specific conductance, to determine if any relations existed between TP and other variables. Weak relations were indicated for turbidity and suspended solids at two sites, which indicates that there may be a relation of increased TP to mobilization of sediment.

Flood of August 24–25, 2016, Upper Iowa River and Turkey River, northeastern Iowa

Released February 05, 2018 13:15 EST

2018, Open-File Report 2017-1128

S. Mike Linhart, Padraic S. O'Shea

Major flooding occurred August 24–25, 2016, in the Upper Iowa River Basin and Turkey River Basin in northeastern Iowa following severe thunderstorm activity over the region. About 8 inches of rain were recorded for the 24-hour period ending at 4 p.m., August 24, at Decorah, Iowa, and about 6 inches of rain were recorded for the 24-hour period ending at 7 a.m., August 24, at Cresco, Iowa, about 14 miles northwest of Spillville, Iowa. A maximum peak-of-record discharge of 38,000 cubic feet per second in the Upper Iowa River at streamgage 05388250 Upper Iowa River near Dorchester, Iowa, occurred on August 24, 2016, with an annual exceedance-probability range of 0.2–1 percent. High-water marks were measured at six locations along the Upper Iowa River between State Highway 26 near the mouth at the Mississippi River and State Highway 76 about 3.5 miles south of Dorchester, Iowa, a distance of 15 river miles. Along the profiled reach of the Turkey River, a maximum peak-of-record discharge of 15,300 cubic feet per second at streamgage 05411600 Turkey River at Spillville, Iowa, occurred on August 24, 2016, with an annual exceedance-probability range of 1–2 percent. A maximum peak discharge of 35,700 cubic feet per second occurred on August 25, 2016, along the profiled reach of the Turkey River at streamgage 05411850 Turkey River near Eldorado, Iowa, with an annual exceedance-probability range of 0.2–1 percent. High-water marks were measured at 11 locations along the Turkey River between County Road B64 in Elgin and 220th Street, located about 4.5 miles northwest of Spillville, Iowa, a distance of 58 river miles. The high-water marks were used to develop flood profiles for the Upper Iowa River and Turkey River.

Development and validation of quantitative PCR assays to measure cytokine transcript levels in the Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris)

Released February 05, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Journal of Wildlife Diseases

Jason Ferrante, Margaret Hunter, James F.X. Wellehan

Cytokines have important roles in the mammalian response to viral and bacterial infections, trauma, and wound healing. Because of early cytokine production after physiologic stresses, the regulation of messenger RNA (mRNA) transcripts can be used to assess immunologic responses before changes in protein production. To detect and assess early immune changes in endangered Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris), we developed and validated a panel of quantitative PCR assays to measure mRNA transcription levels for the cytokines interferon (IFN)-γ; interleukin (IL)-2, -6, and -10; tumor necrosis factor-α, and the housekeeping genes glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) and β-actin (reference genes). Assays were successfully validated using blood samples from free-ranging, apparently healthy manatees from the east and west coasts of central Florida. No cytokine or housekeeping gene transcription levels were significantly different among age classes or sexes. However, the transcription levels for GAPDH, IL-2, IL-6, and IFN-γ were significantly higher (P<0.05) in manatees from the east coast of Florida than they were from those from the west coast. We found IL-10 and β-actin to be consistent between sites and identified β-actin as a good candidate for use as a reference gene in future studies. Our assays can aid in the investigation of manatee immune response to physical trauma and novel or ongoing environmental stressors.

The Colorado River and its deposits downstream from Grand Canyon in Arizona, California, and Nevada

Released February 05, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Open-File Report 2018-1005

Ryan S. Crow, Debra L. Block, Tracey J. Felger, P. Kyle House, Philip A. Pearthree, Brian F. Gootee, Ann M. Youberg, Keith A. Howard, L. Sue Beard

Understanding the evolution of the Colorado River system has direct implications for (1) the processes and timing of continental-scale river system integration, (2) the formation of iconic landscapes like those in and around Grand Canyon, and (3) the availability of groundwater resources. Spatial patterns in the position and type of Colorado River deposits, only discernible through geologic mapping, can be used to test models related to Colorado River evolution. This is particularly true downstream from Grand Canyon where ancestral Colorado River deposits are well-exposed. We are principally interested in (1) regional patterns in the minimum and maximum elevation of each depositional unit, which are affected by depositional mechanism and postdepositional deformation; and (2) the volume of each unit, which reflects regional changes in erosion, transport efficiency, and accommodation space. The volume of Colorado River deposits below Grand Canyon has implications for groundwater resources, as the primary regional aquifer there is composed of those deposits. To this end, we are presently mapping Colorado River deposits and compiling and updating older mapping. This preliminary data release shows the current status of our mapping and compilation efforts. We plan to update it at regular intervals in conjunction with ongoing mapping.

Exposed subsurface ice sheets in the Martian mid-latitudes

Released February 02, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Science (359) 199-201

Colin M. Dundas, Ali M Bramson, Lujendra Ojha, James J. Wray, Michael T. Mellon, Shane Byrne, Alfred S. McEwen, N. E. Putzig, Donna Viola, Sarah Sutton, E. Clark, J.W. Holt

Thick deposits cover broad regions of the Martian mid-latitudes with a smooth mantle; erosion in these regions creates scarps that expose the internal structure of the mantle.We investigated eight of these locations and found that they expose deposits of water ice that can be >100 meters thick, extending downward from depths as shallow as 1 to 2 meters below the surface.The scarps are actively retreating because of sublimation of the exposed water ice.The ice deposits likely originated as snowfall during Mars’ high-obliquity periods and have now compacted into massive, fractured, and layered ice.We expect the vertical structure of Martian ice-rich deposits to preserve a record of ice deposition and past climate.

An historical overview and update of wolf-moose interactions in northeastern Minnesota

Released February 02, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Wildlife Society Bulletin

L. David Mech, John Fieberg, Shannon Barber-meyer

Wolf (Canis lupus) and moose (Alces americanus) populations in northeastern Minnesota, USA, have fluctuated for decades and, based on helicopter counts, moose numbers declined to a new low from 2006 to about 2012. Other steep declines were found in 1991 and 1998 during periods when moose counts were done with ®xed-wing aircraft; these declines also appeared to be real. Winter wolf numbers, monitored in part of the moose range, had been increasing since about 2002 to the highest population in decades in 2009. However, from 2009 to 2016, wolves decreased precipitously, and the moose-population decline leveled off from 2012 to 2017. Calf:population ratios from 1985 to 1997 and from 2005 to 2016 were inversely related to wolf numbers in the wolf-study area the previous winter both as wolves increased and decreased in abundance. Similarly, log annual growth rates of moose numbers were negatively correlated with counts of wolves in the prior year. Other factors such as nutrition and parasites, and possibly climate change, likely have been involved in the recent moose decline. However, wolves, as in other areas, appear to have contributed to the decline in the northeastern Minnesota moose population at least in part through predation on calves, supporting earlier reports. Published 2018. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

Potential for western US seasonal snowpack prediction

Released February 02, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (115) 1180-1185

Sarah B. Kapnick, Xiaosong Yang, Gabriel A. Vecchi, Thomas L. Delworth, Rich Gudgel, Sergey Malyshev, Paul C. Milly, Elena Shevliakova, Seth Underwood, Steven A. Margulis

Western US snowpack—snow that accumulates on the ground in the mountains—plays a critical role in regional hydroclimate and water supply, with 80% of snowmelt runoff being used for agriculture. While climate projections provide estimates of snowpack loss by the end of th ecentury and weather forecasts provide predictions of weather conditions out to 2 weeks, less progress has been made for snow predictions at seasonal timescales (months to 2 years), crucial for regional agricultural decisions (e.g., plant choice and quantity). Seasonal predictions with climate models first took the form of El Niño predictions 3 decades ago, with hydroclimate predictions emerging more recently. While the field has been focused on single-season predictions (3 months or less), we are now poised to advance our predictions beyond this timeframe. Utilizing observations, climate indices, and a suite of global climate models, we demonstrate the feasibility of seasonal snowpack predictions and quantify the limits of predictive skill 8 month sin advance. This physically based dynamic system outperforms observation-based statistical predictions made on July 1 for March snowpack everywhere except the southern Sierra Nevada, a region where prediction skill is nonexistent for every predictor presently tested. Additionally, in the absence of externally forced negative trends in snowpack, narrow maritime mountain ranges with high hydroclimate variability pose a challenge for seasonal prediction in our present system; natural snowpack variability may inherently be unpredictable at this timescale. This work highlights present prediction system successes and gives cause for optimism for developing seasonal predictions for societal needs.

Remote sensing and modeling to fill the “gap” in missing natural capital

Released February 02, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Book chapter, The changing wealth of nations 2018 : Building a sustainable future

Kenneth J. Bagstad, Simon Willcock, Glenn-Marie Lange

This chapter reviews recent advances in remote sensing and environmental modeling that address the first step in ecosystem accounting: biophysical quantification of ecosystem services. The chapter focuses on those ecosystem services in which the most rapid advances are likely, including crop pollination, sediment regulation, carbon sequestration and storage, and coastal flood regulation.

The discussion highlights data sources and modeling approaches that can support wealth accounting, next steps for mapping and biophysical modeling of ecosystem services, and considerations for integrating biophysical modeling and monetary valuation. These approaches could make the inclusion of some ecosystem services increasingly feasible in future versions of wealth accounts.

Patterns of circulating corticosterone in a population of rattlesnakes afflicted with snake fungal disease: Stress hormones as a potential mediator of seasonal cycles in disease severity and outcomes

Released February 02, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Physiological and Biochemical Zoology (91) 765-775

Craig M. Lind, Ignacio T. Moore, Çağlar Akçay, Ben J. Vernasco, Jeffrey M. Lorch, Terence M. Farrell

Snake fungal disease (SFD) is an emerging threat to snake populations in the United States. Fungal pathogens are often associated with a physiological stress response mediated by the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA), and afflicted individuals may incur steep coping costs. The severity of SFD can vary seasonally; however, little is known regarding (1) how SFD infection relates to HPA activity and (2) how seasonal shifts in environment, life history, or HPA activity may interact to drive seasonal patterns of infection severity and outcomes. To test the hypothesis that SFD is associated with increased HPA activity and to identify potential environmental or physiological drivers of seasonal infection, we monitored baseline corticosterone, SFD infection severity, foraging success, body condition, and reproductive status in a field-active population of pigmy rattlesnakes. Both plasma corticosterone and the severity of clinical signs of SFD peaked in the winter. Corticosterone levels were also elevated in the fall before the seasonal rise in SFD severity. Severely symptomatic snakes were in low body condition and had elevated corticosterone levels compared to moderately infected and uninfected snakes. The monthly mean severity of SFD in the population was negatively related to population-wide estimates of body condition and temperature measured in the precedent month and positively correlated with corticosterone levels measured in the precedent month. Symptomatic females were less likely to enter reproductive bouts compared to asymptomatic females. We propose the hypothesis that the seasonal interplay among environment, host energetics, and HPA activity initiates trade-offs in the fall that drive the increase in SFD prevalence, symptom severity, and decline in condition observed in the population through winter.

Effects of lava heating on volatile-rich slopes on Io

Released February 02, 2018 00:00 EST

2017, Journal of Geophysical Research E: Planets (122) 546-559

Colin M. Dundas

The upper crust of Io may be very rich in volatile sulfur and SO2. The surface is also highly volcanically active, and slopes may be warmed by radiant heat from the lava. This is particularly the case in paterae, which commonly host volcanic eruptions and long-lived lava lakes. Paterae slopes are highly variable, but some are greater than 70°. I model the heating of a volatile slope for two end-member cases: instantaneous emplacement of a large sheet flow, and persistent heating by a long-lived lava lake. In general, single flows can briefly raise sulfur to the melting temperature, or drive a modest amount of sublimation of SO2. Persistently lava-covered surfaces will drive much more significant geomorphic effects, with potentially significant sublimation and slope retreat. In addition to the direct effects, heating is likely to weaken slope materials and may trigger mass wasting. Thus, if the upper crust of Io is rich in these volatile species, future missions with high-resolution imaging are likely to observe actively retreating slopes around lava lakes and other locations of frequent eruptions.

Estimating the impact of oyster restoration scenarios on transient fish production

Released February 02, 2018 00:00 EST

2017, Restoration Ecology (25) 798-809

Elizabeth McCoy, Stuart R. Borrett, Megan K. LaPeyre, Bradley J. Peterson

Oyster reef restoration projects are increasing in number both to enhance oyster density and to retain valuable ecosystem services provided by oyster reefs. Although some oyster restoration projects have demonstrated success by increasing density and biomass of transient fish, it still remains a challenge to quantify the effects of oyster restoration on transient fish communities. We developed a bioenergetics model to assess the impact of selected oyster reef restoration scenarios on associated transient fish species. We used the model to analyze the impact of changes in (1) oyster population carrying capacity; (2) oyster population growth rate; and (3) diet preference of transient fish on oyster reef development and associated transient fish species. Our model results indicate that resident fish biomass is directly affected by oyster restoration and oyster biomass, and oyster restoration can have cascading impacts on transient fish biomass. Furthermore, the results highlight the importance of a favorable oyster population growth rate during early restoration years, as it can lead to rapid increases in mean oyster biomass and biomass of transient fish species. The model also revealed that a transient fish's diet solely dependent on oyster reef-derived prey could limit the biomass of transient fish species, emphasizing the importance of habitat connectivity in estuarine areas to enhance transient fish species biomass. Simple bioenergetics models can be developed to understand the dynamics of a system and make qualitative predictions of management and restoration scenarios.

Operationalizing the telecoupling framework for migratory species using the spatial subsidies approach to examine ecosystem services provided by Mexican free-tailed bats

Released February 02, 2018 00:00 EST

2017, Ecology and Society (22)

Laura Lopez Hoffman, James E. Diffendorfer, Ruscena Widerholt, Wayne E. Thogmartin, Gary McCraken, Rodrigo Medellin, Kenneth J. Bagstad, Amy Russell, Darius J. Semmens

Drivers of environmental change in one location can have profound effects on ecosystem services and human well-being in distant locations, often across international borders. The telecoupling provides a conceptual framework for describing these interactions—for example, locations can be defined as sending areas (sources of flows of ecosystem services, energy, or information) or receiving areas (recipients of flows). However, the ability to quantify feedbacks between ecosystem change in one area and societal benefits in other areas requires analytical approaches. We use spatial subsidies—an approach developed to measure the degree to which a migratory species’ ability to provide services in one location depends on habitat in another location—as an example of how telecoupling can be operationalized. Using the cotton pest control and ecotourism services of Mexican free-tailed bats as an example, we determined that of the 16 states in the United States and Mexico where the species resides, three states (Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado) are receiving areas, while the rest of the states are sending areas. In addition, the magnitude of spatial subsidy can be used as an indicator of the degree to which different locations are telecoupled to other locations. In this example, the Mexican free-tailed bat ecosystem services to cotton production and ecotourism in Texas and New Mexico are heavily dependent on winter habitat in four states in central and southern Mexico. In sum, spatial subsidies can be used to operationalize the telecoupling conceptual framework by identifying sending and receiving areas, and by indicating the degree to which locations are telecoupled to other locations.

A general modeling framework for describing spatially structured population dynamics

Released February 02, 2018 00:00 EST

2017, Ecology and Evolution (8) 493-508

Christine Sample, John Fryxell, Joanna Bieri, Paula Federico, Julia Earl, Ruscena Wiederholt, Brady Mattsson, Tyler Flockhart, Sam Nicol, James E. Diffendorfer, Wayne E. Thogmartin, Richard A. Erickson, D. Ryan Norris

Variation in movement across time and space fundamentally shapes the abundance and distribution of populations. Although a variety of approaches model structured population dynamics, they are limited to specific types of spatially structured populations and lack a unifying framework. Here, we propose a unified network-based framework sufficiently novel in its flexibility to capture a wide variety of spatiotemporal processes including metapopulations and a range of migratory patterns. It can accommodate different kinds of age structures, forms of population growth, dispersal, nomadism and migration, and alternative life-history strategies. Our objective was to link three general elements common to all spatially structured populations (space, time and movement) under a single mathematical framework. To do this, we adopt a network modeling approach. The spatial structure of a population is represented by a weighted and directed network. Each node and each edge has a set of attributes which vary through time. The dynamics of our network-based population is modeled with discrete time steps. Using both theoretical and real-world examples, we show how common elements recur across species with disparate movement strategies and how they can be combined under a unified mathematical framework. We illustrate how metapopulations, various migratory patterns, and nomadism can be represented with this modeling approach. We also apply our network-based framework to four organisms spanning a wide range of life histories, movement patterns, and carrying capacities. General computer code to implement our framework is provided, which can be applied to almost any spatially structured population. This framework contributes to our theoretical understanding of population dynamics and has practical management applications, including understanding the impact of perturbations on population size, distribution, and movement patterns. By working within a common framework, there is less chance that comparative analyses are colored by model details rather than general principles

Host susceptibility to snake fungal disease is highly dispersed across phylogenetic and functional trait space

Released February 02, 2018 00:00 EST

2017, Science Advances (3)

Frank T. Burbrink, Jeffrey M. Lorch, Karen R. Lips

Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) reduce host population sizes, cause extinction, disassemble communities, and have indirect negative effects on human well-being. Fungal EIDs have reduced population abundances in amphibians and bats across many species over large areas. The recent emergence of snake fungal disease (SFD) may have caused declines in some snake populations in the Eastern United States (EUS), which is home to a phylogenetically and ecologically diverse assembly of 98 taxa. SFD has been documented in only 23 naturally occuring species, although this is likely an underestimate of the number of susceptible taxa. Using several novel methods, including artificial neural networks, we combine phylogenetic and trait-based community estimates from all taxa in this region to show that SFD hosts are both phylogenetically and ecologically randomly dispersed. This might indicate that other species of snakes in the EUS could be currently infected or susceptible to SFD. Our models also indicate that information about key traits that enhance susceptiblity is lacking. Surveillance should consider that all snake species and habitats likely harbor this pathogen.

Assessing the impacts of future climate conditions on the effectiveness of winter cover crops in reducing nitrate loads into the Chesapeake Bay Watershed using SWAT model

Released February 02, 2018 00:00 EST

2017, Transactions of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (60) 1939-1955

Sangchul Lee, Ali M. Sadeghi, In-Young Yeo, Gregory W. McCarty, W. Dean Hively

Winter cover crops (WCCs) have been widely implemented in the Coastal Plain of the Chesapeake Bay watershed (CBW) due to their high effectiveness at reducing nitrate loads. However, future climate conditions (FCCs) are expected to exacerbate water quality degradation in the CBW by increasing nitrate loads from agriculture. Accordingly, the question remains whether WCCs are sufficient to mitigate increased nutrient loads caused by FCCs. In this study, we assessed the impacts of FCCs on WCC nitrate reduction efficiency on the Coastal Plain of the CBW using Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model. Three FCC scenarios (2085 – 2098) were prepared using General Circulation Models (GCMs), considering three Intergovernmnental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) greenhouse gas emission scenarios. We also developed six representative WCC implementation scenarios based on the most commonly used planting dates and species of WCCs in this region. Simulation results showed that WCC biomass increased by ~ 58 % under FCC scenarios, due to climate conditions conducive to the WCC growth. Prior to implementing WCCs, annual nitrate loads increased by ~ 43 % under FCC scenarios compared to the baseline scenario (2001 – 2014). When WCCs were planted, annual nitrate loads were substantially reduced by ~ 48 % and WCC nitrate reduction efficiency water ~ 5 % higher under FCC scenarios relative to the baseline. The increase rate of WCC nitrate reduction efficiency varied by FCC scenarios and WCC planting methods. As CO2 concentration was higher and winters were warmer under FCC scenarios, WCCs had greater biomass and therefore showed higher nitrate reduction efficiency. In response to FCC scenarios, the performance of less effective WCC practices (e.g., barley, wheat, and late planting) under the baseline indicated ~ 14 % higher increase rate of nitrate reduction efficiency compared to ones with better effectiveness under the baseline (e.g., rye and early planting), due to warmer temperatures. According to simulation results, WCCs were effective to mitigate nitrate loads accelerated by FCCs and therefore the role of WCCs in mitigating nitrate loads is even more important in the given FCCs.

Bathymetry of Ashokan, Cannonsville, Neversink, Pepacton, Rondout, and Schoharie Reservoirs, New York, 2013–15

Released February 01, 2018 09:00 EST

2018, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5064

Elizabeth A. Nystrom

Drinking water for New York City is supplied from several large reservoirs, including a system of reservoirs west of the Hudson River. To provide updated reservoir capacity tables and bathymetry maps of the City’s six West of Hudson reservoirs, bathymetric surveys were conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey from 2013 to 2015. Depths were surveyed with a single-beam echo sounder and real-time kinematic global positioning system along planned transects at predetermined intervals for each reservoir. A separate quality assurance dataset of echo sounder points was collected along transects at oblique angles to the main transects for accuracy assessment. Field-survey data were combined with water surface elevations in a geographic information system to create three-dimensional surfaces in the form of triangulated irregular networks (TINs) representing the elevations of the reservoir geomorphology. The TINs were linearly enforced to better represent geomorphic features within the reservoirs. The linearly enforced TINs were then used to create raster surfaces and 2-foot-interval contour maps of the reservoirs. Elevation-area-capacity tables were calculated at 0.01-foot intervals. The results of the surveys show that the total capacity of the West of Hudson reservoirs has decreased by 11.5 billion gallons (Ggal), or 2.3 percent, since construction, and the useable capacity (the volume above the minimum operating level required to deliver full flow for drinking water supply) has decreased by 7.9 Ggal (1.7 percent). The available capacity (the volume between the spillway elevation and the lowest intake or sill elevation used for drinking water supply) decreased by 9.6 Ggal (2.0 percent), and dead storage (the volume below the lowest intake or sill elevation) decreased by 1.9 Ggal (11.6 percent).

Forest floor and mineral soil respiration rates in a northern Minnesota red pine chronosequence

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Forests (9) 1-15

Matthew Powers, Randall Kolka, John B. Bradford, Brian J. Palik, Martin Jurgensen

We measured total soil CO2 efflux (RS) and efflux from the forest floor layers (RFF) in red pine (Pinus resinosaAit.) stands of different ages to examine relationships between stand age and belowground C cycling. Soil temperature and RS were often lower in a 31-year-old stand (Y31) than in 9-year-old (Y9), 61-year-old (Y61), or 123-year-old (Y123) stands. This pattern was most apparent during warm summer months, but there were no consistent differences in RFF among different-aged stands. RFF represented an average of 4–13% of total soil respiration, and forest floor removal increased moisture content in the mineral soil. We found no evidence of an age effect on the temperature sensitivity of RS, but respiration rates in Y61 and Y123 were less sensitive to low soil moisture than RS in Y9 and Y31. Our results suggest that soil respiration’s sensitivity to soil moisture may change more over the course of stand development than its sensitivity to soil temperature in red pine, and that management activities that alter landscape-scale age distributions in red pine forests could have significant impacts on rates of soil CO2 efflux from this forest type.

Perissodactyla diet

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Book chapter, Encyclopedia of animal cognition and behavior

Kathryn A. Schoenecker

Perissodactyla (Schoch 1989) includes tapirs, rhinoceros, wild asses, horses, and zebras. It is the order of hoofed mammals referred to as “odd-toed ungulates” because its members have one to three weight-bearing toes and walk on hoofs or “ungules.” They are herbivores that are specialized to exploit grasslands and brushy habitat (rhinos, horses, asses, zebras) or dense tropical forests (tapirs). All share a common digestive system called hindgut fermentation, or cecal digestion (in the cecum), and can consume relatively tough, coarse forage. Some perissodactyls are “browsers” that forage primarily on woody shrubs and trees, whereas others are “grazers” with a graminoid-dominated diet. They are all predominantly opportunistic feeders and select for quantity over quality of forage; that is, they consume more abundant low-quality forage instead of searching and selecting for higher-quality forage because it gives them the advantage of reducing search effort, which conserves energy.

Planetary dune workshop expands to include subaqueous processes

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Conference Paper, Eos, Earth & Space Science News

Timothy N. Titus, Gerald Bryant, David M. Rubin

Dune-like structures appear in the depths of Earth’s oceans, across its landscapes, and in the extremities of the solar system beyond. Dunes rise up under the thick dense atmosphere of Venus, and they have been found under the almost unimaginably ephemeral atmosphere of a comet.

Effects of environmental variables on invasive amphibian activity: Using model selection on quantiles for counts

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Ecosphere (9) 1-14

Benjamin J. Muller, Brian S. Cade, Lin Schwarzkoph

Many different factors influence animal activity. Often, the value of an environmental variable may influence significantly the upper or lower tails of the activity distribution. For describing relationships with heterogeneous boundaries, quantile regressions predict a quantile of the conditional distribution of the dependent variable. A quantile count model extends linear quantile regression methods to discrete response variables, and is useful if activity is quantified by trapping, where there may be many tied (equal) values in the activity distribution, over a small range of discrete values. Additionally, different environmental variables in combination may have synergistic or antagonistic effects on activity, so examining their effects together, in a modeling framework, is a useful approach. Thus, model selection on quantile counts can be used to determine the relative importance of different variables in determining activity, across the entire distribution of capture results. We conducted model selection on quantile count models to describe the factors affecting activity (numbers of captures) of cane toads (Rhinella marina) in response to several environmental variables (humidity, temperature, rainfall, wind speed, and moon luminosity) over eleven months of trapping. Environmental effects on activity are understudied in this pest animal. In the dry season, model selection on quantile count models suggested that rainfall positively affected activity, especially near the lower tails of the activity distribution. In the wet season, wind speed limited activity near the maximum of the distribution, while minimum activity increased with minimum temperature. This statistical methodology allowed us to explore, in depth, how environmental factors influenced activity across the entire distribution, and is applicable to any survey or trapping regime, in which environmental variables affect activity.

On factors influencing air-water gas exchange in emergent wetlands

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Journal of Geophysical Research G: Biogeosciences

David T. Ho, Victor C Engel, Sara Ferron, Benjamin Hickman, Jay Choi, Judson W. Harvey

Knowledge of gas exchange in wetlands is important in order to determine fluxes of climatically and biogeochemically important trace gases and to conduct mass balances for metabolism studies. Very few studies have been conducted to quantify gas transfer velocities in wetlands, and many wind speed/gas exchange parameterizations used in oceanographic or limnological settings are inappropriate under conditions found in wetlands. Here six measurements of gas transfer velocities are made with SF6 tracer release experiments in three different years in the Everglades, a subtropical peatland with surface water flowing through emergent vegetation. The experiments were conducted under different flow conditions and with different amounts of emergent vegetation to determine the influence of wind, rain, water flow, waterside thermal convection, and vegetation on air-water gas exchange in wetlands. Measured gas transfer velocities under the different conditions ranged from 1.1 cm h−1 during baseline conditions to 3.2 cm h−1 when rain and water flow rates were high. Commonly used wind speed/gas exchange relationships would overestimate the gas transfer velocity by a factor of 1.2 to 6.8. Gas exchange due to thermal convection was relatively constant and accounted for 14 to 51% of the total measured gas exchange. Differences in rain and water flow among the different years were responsible for the variability in gas exchange, with flow accounting for 37 to 77% of the gas exchange, and rain responsible for up to 40%.

A molecular investigation of soil organic carbon composition across a subalpine catchment

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Soil Systems (2) 1-23

Hsiao-Tieh Hsu, Corey R. Lawrence, Matthew J. Winnick, John R. Bargar, Katharine Maher

The dynamics of soil organic carbon (SOC) storage and turnover are a critical component of the global carbon cycle. Mechanistic models seeking to represent these complex dynamics require detailed SOC compositions, which are currently difficult to characterize quantitatively. Here, we address this challenge by using a novel approach that combines Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) and bulk carbon X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) to determine the abundance of SOC functional groups, using elemental analysis (EA) to constrain the total amount of SOC. We used this SOC functional group abundance (SOC-fga) method to compare variability in SOC compositions as a function of depth across a subalpine watershed (East River, Colorado, USA) and found a large degree of variability in SOC functional group abundances between sites at different elevations. Soils at a lower elevation are predominantly composed of polysaccharides, while soils at a higher elevation have more substantial portions of carbonyl, phenolic, or aromatic carbon. We discuss the potential drivers of differences in SOC composition between these sites, including vegetation inputs, internal processing and losses, and elevation-driven environmental factors. Although numerical models would facilitate the understanding and evaluation of the observed SOC distributions, quantitative and meaningful measurements of SOC molecular compositions are required to guide such models. Comparison among commonly used characterization techniques on shared reference materials is a critical next step for advancing our understanding of the complex processes controlling SOC compositions.

The migratory bird treaty and a century of waterfowl conservation

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Journal of Wildlife Management (82) 247-259

Michael G. Anderson, Ray T. Alisauskas, Bruce D. J. Batt, Robert J. Blohm, Kenneth F. Higgins, Matthew Perry, James K. Ringelman, James S. Sedinger, Jerome R. Serie, David E. Sharp, David L. Trauger, Christopher K. Williams

In the final decades of the nineteenth century, concern was building about the status of migratory bird populations in North America. In this literature review, we describe how that concern led to a landmark conservation agreement in 1916, between the United States and Great Britain (on behalf of Canada) to conserve migratory birds shared by Canada and the United States. Drawing on published literature and our personal experience, we describe how subsequent enabling acts in both countries gave rise to efforts to better estimate population sizes and distributions, assess harvest rates and demographic impacts, design and fund landscape-level habitat conservation initiatives, and organize necessary political and regulatory processes. Executing these steps required large-scale thinking, unprecedented regional and international cooperation, ingenuity, and a commitment to scientific rigor and adaptive management. We applaud the conservation efforts begun 100 years ago with the Migratory Bird Treaty Convention. The agreement helped build the field of wildlife ecology and conservation in the twentieth century but only partially prepares us for the ecological and social challenges ahead. 

Biomarker responses of Peromyscus leucopus exposed to lead and cadmium in the Southeast Missouri Lead Mining District

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Environmental Monitoring and Assessment (190) 1-16

W. Nelson Beyer, Stan W. Casteel, Kristen R. Friedrichs, Eric Gramlich, Ruth A. Houseright, John W. Nichols, Natalie Karouna-Renier, Dae Young Kim, Kathleen Rangen, Barnett A. Rattner, Sandra Schultz

Biomarker responses and histopathological lesions have been documented in laboratory mammals exposed to elevated concentrations of lead and cadmium. The exposure of white-footed mice (Peromyscus leucopus) to these metals and the potential associated toxic effects were examined at three contaminated sites in the Southeast Missouri Lead Mining District and at a reference site in MO, USA. Mice from the contaminated sites showed evidence of oxidative stress and reduced activity of red blood cell δ-aminolevulinic acid dehydratase (ALAD). Histological examinations of the liver and kidney, cytologic examination of blood smears, and biomarkers of lipid peroxidation and DNA damage failed to show indications of toxic effects from lead. The biomagnification factor of cadmium (hepatic concentration/soil concentration) at a site with a strongly acid soil was 44 times the average of the biomagnification factors at two sites with slightly alkaline soils. The elevated concentrations of cadmium in the mice did not cause observable toxicity, but were associated with about a 50% decrease in expected tissue lead concentrations and greater ALAD activity compared to the activity at the reference site. Lead was associated with a decrease in concentrations of hepatic glutathione and thiols, whereas cadmium was associated with an increase. In addition, to support risk assessment efforts, we developed linear regression models relating both tissue lead dosages (based on a previously published a laboratory study) and tissue lead concentrations in Peromyscus to soil lead concentrations.

Spatial patterns in occupancy and reproduction of Golden Eagles during drought: Prospects for conservation in changing environments

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, The Condor (120) 106-124

David Wiens, Patrick Kolar, W. Grainger Hunt, Teresa Hunt, Mark R. Fuller, Douglas A. Bell

We used a broad-scale sampling design to investigate spatial patterns in occupancy and breeding success of territorial pairs of Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) in the Diablo Range, California, USA, during a period of exceptional drought (2014–2016). We surveyed 138 randomly selected sample sites over 4 occasions each year and identified 199 pairs of eagles, 100 of which were detected in focal sample sites. We then used dynamic multistate modeling to identify relationships between site occupancy and reproduction of Golden Eagles relative to spatial variability in landscape composition and drought conditions. We observed little variability among years in site occupancy (3-yr mean = 0.74), but the estimated annual probability of successful reproduction was relatively low during the study period and declined from 0.39 (± 0.08 SE) to 0.18 (± 0.07 SE). Probabilities of site occupancy and reproduction were substantially greater at sample sites that were occupied by successful breeders in the previous year, indicating the presence of sites that were consistently used by successfully reproducing eagles. We found strong evidence for nonrandom spatial distribution in both occupancy and reproduction: Sites with the greatest potential for occupancy were characterized by rugged terrain conditions with intermediate amounts of grassland interspersed with patches of oak woodland and coniferous forest, whereas successful reproduction was most strongly associated with the amount of precipitation that a site received during the nesting period. Our findings highlight the contribution of consistently occupied and productive breeding sites to overall productivity of the local breeding population, and show that both occupancy and reproduction at these sites were maintained even during a period of exceptional drought. Our approach to quantifying and mapping site quality should be especially useful for the spatial prioritization of compensation measures intended to help offset the impacts of increasing human land use and development on Golden Eagles and their habitats.

Use of real-time dust monitoring and surface condition to evaluate success of unpaved road treatments

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Conference Paper, Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting

Bethany K. Kunz, Nicholas Green, Janice Albers, Mark L. Wildhaber, Edward E. Little

No abstract available.

The suitability of using dissolved gases to determine groundwater discharge to high gradient streams

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Journal of Hydrology (557) 561-572

Tom Gleeson, Andrew H. Manning, Andrea Popp, Mathew Zane, Jordan F. Clark

Determining groundwater discharge to streams using dissolved gases is known to be useful over a wide range of streamflow rates but the suitability of dissolved gas methods to determine discharge rates in high gradient mountain streams has not been sufficiently tested, even though headwater streams are critical as ecological habitats and water resources. The aim of this study is to test the suitability of using dissolved gases to determine groundwater discharge rates to high gradient streams by field experiments in a well-characterized, high gradient mountain stream and a literature review. At a reach scale (550 m) we combined stream and groundwater radon activity measurements with an in-stream SF6 tracer test. By means of numerical modeling we determined gas exchange velocities and derived very low groundwater discharge rates (∼15% of streamflow). These groundwater discharge rates are below the uncertainty range of physical streamflow measurements and consistent with temperature, specific conductance and streamflow measured at multiple locations along the reach. At a watershed-scale (4 km), we measured CFC-12 and δ18O concentrations and determined gas exchange velocities and groundwater discharge rates with the same numerical model. The groundwater discharge rates along the 4 km stream reach were highly variable, but were consistent with the values derived in the detailed study reach. Additionally, we synthesized literature values of gas exchange velocities for different stream gradients which show an empirical relationship that will be valuable in planning future dissolved gas studies on streams with various gradients. In sum, we show that multiple dissolved gas tracers can be used to determine groundwater discharge to high gradient mountain streams from reach to watershed scales.

Assessing intrinsic and specific vulnerability models ability to indicate groundwater vulnerability to groups of similar pesticides: A comparative study

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Physical Geography

Steven Douglas, Barnali Dixon, Dale W. Griffin

With continued population growth and increasing use of fresh groundwater resources, protection of this valuable resource is critical. A cost effective means to assess risk of groundwater contamination potential will provide a useful tool to protect these resources. Integrating geospatial methods offers a means to quantify the risk of contaminant potential in cost effective and spatially explicit ways. This research was designed to compare the ability of intrinsic (DRASTIC) and specific (Attenuation Factor; AF) vulnerability models to indicate groundwater vulnerability areas by comparing model results to the presence of pesticides from groundwater sample datasets. A logistic regression was used to assess the relationship between the environmental variables and the presence or absence of pesticides within regions of varying vulnerability. According to the DRASTIC model, more than 20% of the study area is very highly vulnerable. Approximately 30% is very highly vulnerable according to the AF model. When groundwater concentrations of individual pesticides were compared to model predictions, the results were mixed. Model predictability improved when concentrations of the group of similar pesticides were compared to model results. Compared to the DRASTIC model, the AF model more accurately predicts the distribution of the number of contaminated wells within each vulnerability class.

Sirenian life history

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Book chapter, Encyclopedia of marine mammals

Robert K. Bonde

Sirenians, including the manatees and dugongs, are large herbivorous mammals that have evolved to an aquatic form since the Eocene epoch. Sirenians have unique adaptations, including dense bone for ballast and a longitudinal hemidiaphragm separating paired lungs (which aid in maintaining a horizontal posture in the water column), species-specific rostral deflection, and unique dentition for specialized feeding, which all contribute to their success. All sirenians produce one calf per breeding cycle and have long calf-dependency periods. Low reproduction rates are common for long-lived, large mammals, but may compromise their existence in today’s quickly changing world today. All sirenian populations are listed as either threatened or endangered, and some local stocks have been completely extirpated by human activities.

The northern pike, a prized native but disastrous invasive: Chapter 14

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Book chapter, Biology and ecology of pike

David Rutz, Robert L. Massengill, Adam Sepulveda, Kristine J. Dunker

As the chapters in this book describe, the northern pike Esox lucius Linneaus, 1758 is a fascinating fish that plays an important ecological role in structuring aquatic communities (chapter 8), has the capacity to aid lake restoration efforts (chapter 11), and contributes substantially to local economies, both as a highlysought after sport fish (chapter 12) and as a commercial fishing resource (chapter 13). However, despite the magnificent attributes of this fish, there is another side to its story. Specifically, what happens when northern pike, a highly efficient predator, becomes established outside its natural range? To explore this question, this chapter will investigate observed consequences from many locations where northern pike (hereafter referred to as “pike”) have been introduced and discuss potential reasons why pike, under the right circumstances, can be considered an invasive species.

Strengthening links between waterfowl research and management

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Journal of Wildlife Management (82) 260-265

Anthony J. Roberts, John M. Eadie, David Howerter, Fred A. Johnson, James Nichols, Michael C. Runge, Mark Vrtiska, Byron K. Williams

Waterfowl monitoring, research, regulation, and adaptive planning are leading the way in supporting science-informed wildlife management. However, increasing societal demands on natural resources have created a greater need for adaptable and successful linkages between waterfowl science and management. We presented a special session at the 2016 North American Duck Symposium, Annapolis, Maryland, USA on the successes and challenges of linking research and management in waterfowl conservation, and we summarize those thoughts in this commentary. North American waterfowl management includes a diversity of actions including management of harvest and habitat. Decisions for waterfowl management are structured using decision analysis by incorporating stakeholder values into formal objectives, identifying research relevant to objectives, integrating scientific knowledge, and choosing an optimal strategy with respect to objectives. Recently, the consideration of the value of information has been proposed as a means to evaluate the utility of research designed to meet objectives. Despite these advances, the ability to conduct waterfowl research with direct management application may be increasingly difficult in research institutions for several reasons including reduced funding for applied research and the lower perceived value of applied versus theoretical research by some university academics. In addition, coordination between researchers and managers may be logistically constrained, and communication may be ineffective between the 2 groups. Strengthening these links would help develop stronger and more coordinated approaches for the conservation of waterfowl and the wetlands upon which they depend.

Using expert knowledge to incorporate uncertainty in cause-of-death assignments for modeling of cause-specific mortality

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Ecology and Evolution (8) 509-520

Daniel P. Walsh, Andrew S. Norton, Daniel J. Storm, Timothy R. Van Deelen, Dennis M. Heisy

Implicit and explicit use of expert knowledge to inform ecological analyses is becoming increasingly common because it often represents the sole source of information in many circumstances. Thus, there is a need to develop statistical methods that explicitly incorporate expert knowledge, and can successfully leverage this information while properly accounting for associated uncertainty during analysis. Studies of cause-specific mortality provide an example of implicit use of expert knowledge when causes-of-death are uncertain and assigned based on the observer's knowledge of the most likely cause. To explicitly incorporate this use of expert knowledge and the associated uncertainty, we developed a statistical model for estimating cause-specific mortality using a data augmentation approach within a Bayesian hierarchical framework. Specifically, for each mortality event, we elicited the observer's belief of cause-of-death by having them specify the probability that the death was due to each potential cause. These probabilities were then used as prior predictive values within our framework. This hierarchical framework permitted a simple and rigorous estimation method that was easily modified to include covariate effects and regularizing terms. Although applied to survival analysis, this method can be extended to any event-time analysis with multiple event types, for which there is uncertainty regarding the true outcome. We conducted simulations to determine how our framework compared to traditional approaches that use expert knowledge implicitly and assume that cause-of-death is specified accurately. Simulation results supported the inclusion of observer uncertainty in cause-of-death assignment in modeling of cause-specific mortality to improve model performance and inference. Finally, we applied the statistical model we developed and a traditional method to cause-specific survival data for white-tailed deer, and compared results. We demonstrate that model selection results changed between the two approaches, and incorporating observer knowledge in cause-of-death increased the variability associated with parameter estimates when compared to the traditional approach. These differences between the two approaches can impact reported results, and therefore, it is critical to explicitly incorporate expert knowledge in statistical methods to ensure rigorous inference.

Resource competition model predicts zonation and increasing nutrient use efficiency along a wetland salinity gradient

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Ecology

Donald Schoolmaster, Camille L. Stagg

A trade-off between competitive ability and stress tolerance has been hypothesized and empirically supported to explain the zonation of species across stress gradients for a number of systems. Since stress often reduces plant productivity, one might expect a pattern of decreasing productivity across the zones of the stress gradient. However, this pattern is often not observed in coastal wetlands that show patterns of zonation along a salinity gradient. To address the potentially complex relationship between stress, zonation, and productivity in coastal wetlands, we developed a model of plant biomass as a function of resource competition and salinity stress. Analysis of the model confirms the conventional wisdom that a trade-off between competitive ability and stress tolerance is a necessary condition for zonation. It also suggests that a negative relationship between salinity and production can be overcome if (1) the supply of the limiting resource increases with greater salinity stress or (2) nutrient use efficiency increases with increasing salinity. We fit the equilibrium solution of the dynamic model to data from Louisiana coastal wetlands to test its ability to explain patterns of production across the landscape gradient and derive predictions that could be tested with independent data. We found support for a number of the model predictions, including patterns of decreasing competitive ability and increasing nutrient use efficiency across a gradient from freshwater to saline wetlands. In addition to providing a quantitative framework to support the mechanistic hypotheses of zonation, these results suggest that this simple model is a useful platform to further build upon, simulate and test mechanistic hypotheses of more complex patterns and phenomena in coastal wetlands.

Comparative analyses of hydrological responses of two adjacent watersheds to climate variability and change using the SWAT model

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (22) 689-708

Sangchul Lee, In-Young Yeo, Ali M. Sadeghi, Gregory W. McCarty, Wells Hively, Megan W. Lang, Amir Sharifi

Water quality problems in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed (CBW) are expected to be exacerbated by climate variability and change. However, climate impacts on agricultural lands and resultant nutrient loads into surface water resources are largely unknown. This study evaluated the impacts of climate variability and change on two adjacent watersheds in the Coastal Plain of the CBW, using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model. We prepared six climate sensitivity scenarios to assess the individual impacts of variations in CO2concentration (590 and 850 ppm), precipitation increase (11 and 21 %), and temperature increase (2.9 and 5.0 °C), based on regional general circulation model (GCM) projections. Further, we considered the ensemble of five GCM projections (2085–2098) under the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 scenario to evaluate simultaneous changes in CO2, precipitation, and temperature. Using SWAT model simulations from 2001 to 2014 as a baseline scenario, predicted hydrologic outputs (water and nitrate budgets) and crop growth were analyzed. Compared to the baseline scenario, a precipitation increase of 21 % and elevated CO2 concentration of 850 ppm significantly increased streamflow and nitrate loads by 50 and 52 %, respectively, while a temperature increase of 5.0 °C reduced streamflow and nitrate loads by 12 and 13 %, respectively. Crop biomass increased with elevated CO2 concentrations due to enhanced radiation- and water-use efficiency, while it decreased with precipitation and temperature increases. Over the GCM ensemble mean, annual streamflow and nitrate loads showed an increase of  ∼  70 % relative to the baseline scenario, due to elevated CO2 concentrations and precipitation increase. Different hydrological responses to climate change were observed from the two watersheds, due to contrasting land use and soil characteristics. The watershed with a larger percent of croplands demonstrated a greater increased rate of 5.2 kg N ha−1 in nitrate yield relative to the watershed with a lower percent of croplands as a result of increased export of nitrate derived from fertilizer. The watershed dominated by poorly drained soils showed increased nitrate removal due do enhanced denitrification compared to the watershed dominated by well-drained soils. Our findings suggest that increased implementation of conservation practices would be necessary for this region to mitigate increased nitrate loads associated with predicted changes in future climate.

Determinants of Pseudogymnoascus destructans within bat hibernacula: Implications for surveillance and management of white-nose syndrome

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Journal of Applied Ecology (55) 820-829

Michelle L. Verant, Elizabeth A. Bohuski, Katherine L. D. Richgels, Kevin J. Olival, Jonathan H. Epstein, David Blehert

  1. Fungal diseases are an emerging global problem affecting human health, food security and biodiversity. Ability of many fungal pathogens to persist within environmental reservoirs can increase extinction risks for host species and presents challenges for disease control. Understanding factors that regulate pathogen spread and persistence in these reservoirs is critical for effective disease management.
  2. White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a disease of hibernating bats caused by Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), a fungus that establishes persistent environmental reservoirs within bat hibernacula, which contribute to seasonal disease transmission dynamics in bats. However, host and environmental factors influencing distribution of Pdwithin these reservoirs are unknown.
  3. We used model selection on longitudinally collected field data to test multiple hypotheses describing presence–absence and abundance of Pd in environmental substrates and on bats within hibernacula at different stages of WNS.
  4. First detection of Pd in the environment lagged up to 1 year after first detection on bats within that hibernaculum. Once detected, the probability of detecting Pd within environmental samples from a hibernaculum increased over time and was higher in sediment compared to wall surfaces. Temperature had marginal effects on the distribution of Pd. For bats, prevalence and abundance of Pd were highest on Myotis lucifugus and on bats with visible signs of WNS.
  5. Synthesis and applications. Our results indicate that distribution of Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd) within a hibernaculum is driven primarily by bats with delayed establishment of environmental reservoirs. Thus, collection of samples from Myotis lucifugus, or from sediment if bats cannot be sampled, should be prioritized to improve detection probabilities for Pd surveillance. Long-term persistence of Pd in sediment suggests that disease management for white-nose syndrome should address risks of sustained transmission from environmental reservoirs.

Modulators of mercury risk to wildlife and humans in the context of rapid global change

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Ambio (47) 170-197

Collin A. Eagles-Smith, Ellen K. Silbergeld, Niladri Basu, Paco Bustamante, Fernando Diaz-Barriga, William A. Hopkins, Karen A. Kidd, Jennifer F. Nyland

Environmental mercury (Hg) contamination is an urgent global health threat. The complexity of Hg in the environment can hinder accurate determination of ecological and human health risks, particularly within the context of the rapid global changes that are altering many ecological processes, socioeconomic patterns, and other factors like infectious disease incidence, which can affect Hg exposures and health outcomes. However, the success of global Hg-reduction efforts depends on accurate assessments of their effectiveness in reducing health risks. In this paper, we examine the role that key extrinsic and intrinsic drivers play on several aspects of Hg risk to humans and organisms in the environment. We do so within three key domains of ecological and human health risk. First, we examine how extrinsic global change drivers influence pathways of Hg bioaccumulation and biomagnification through food webs. Next, we describe how extrinsic socioeconomic drivers at a global scale, and intrinsic individual-level drivers, influence human Hg exposure. Finally, we address how the adverse health effects of Hg in humans and wildlife are modulated by a range of extrinsic and intrinsic drivers within the context of rapid global change. Incorporating components of these three domains into research and monitoring will facilitate a more holistic understanding of how ecological and societal drivers interact to influence Hg health risks.

Limited contribution of ancient methane to surface waters of the U.S. Beaufort Sea shelf

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Science Advances (4)

Katy J. Sparrow, John D. Kessler, John R. Southon, Fenix Garcia-Tigreros, Kathryn M. Schreiner, Carolyn D. Ruppel, John B. Miller, Scott J. Lehman, Xiaomei Xu

In response to warming climate, methane can be released to Arctic Ocean sediment and waters from thawing subsea permafrost and decomposing methane hydrates. However, it is unknown whether methane derived from this sediment storehouse of frozen ancient carbon reaches the atmosphere. We quantified the fraction of methane derived from ancient sources in shelf waters of the U.S. Beaufort Sea, a region that has both permafrost and methane hydrates and is experiencing significant warming. Although the radiocarbon-methane analyses indicate that ancient carbon is being mobilized and emitted as methane into shelf bottom waters, surprisingly, we find that methane in surface waters is principally derived from modern-aged carbon. We report that at and beyond approximately the 30-m isobath, ancient sources that dominate in deep waters contribute, at most, 10 ± 3% of the surface water methane. These results suggest that even if there is a heightened liberation of ancient carbon–sourced methane as climate change proceeds, oceanic oxidation and dispersion processes can strongly limit its emission to the atmosphere.

Environmental DNA (eDNA): A tool for quantifying the abundant but elusive round goby (Neogobius melanostomus)

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, PLoS ONE (13) 1-22

Meredith Nevers, Muruleedhara Byappanahalli, Charles C. Morris, Dawn Shively, Katarzyna Przybyla-Kelly, Ashley M. Spoljaric, Joshua Dickey, Edward Roseman

Environmental DNA (eDNA) is revolutionizing biodiversity monitoring, occupancy estimates, and real-time detections of invasive species. In the Great Lakes, the round goby (Neogobius melanostomus), an invasive benthic fish from the Black Sea, has spread to encompass all five lakes and many tributaries, outcompeting or consuming native species; however, estimates of round goby abundance are confounded by behavior and habitat preference, which impact reliable methods for estimating their population. By integrating eDNA into round goby monitoring, improved estimates of biomass may be obtainable. We conducted mesocosm experiments to estimate rates of goby DNA shedding and decay. Further, we compared eDNA with several methods of traditional field sampling to compare its use as an alternative/complementary monitoring method. Environmental DNA decay was comparable to other fish species, and first-order decay was lower at 12°C (k = 0.043) than at 19°C (k = 0.058). Round goby eDNA was routinely detected in known invaded sites of Lake Michigan and its tributaries (range log10 4.8–6.2 CN/L), but not upstream of an artificial fish barrier. Traditional techniques (mark-recapture, seining, trapping) in Lakes Michigan and Huron resulted in fewer, more variable detections than eDNA, but trapping and eDNA were correlated (Pearson R = 0.87). Additional field testing will help correlate round goby abundance with eDNA, providing insight on its role as a prey fish and its impact on food webs.

How could a freshwater swamp produce a chemical signature characteristic of a saltmarsh?

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, ACS Earth and Space Chemistry (2) 9-20

Terrence McCloskey, Christopher G. Smith, Kam-biu Liu, Marci E. Marot, Christian Haller

Reduction–oxidation (redox) reaction conditions, which are of great importance for the soil chemistry of coastal marshes, can be temporally dynamic. We present a transect of cores from northwest Florida wherein radical postdepositional changes in the redox regime has created atypical geochemical profiles at the bottom of the sedimentary column. The stratigraphy is consistent along the transect, consisting of, from the bottom upward, carbonate bedrock, a gray clay, an organic mud section, a dense clay layer, and an upper organic mud unit representing the current saltwater marsh. However, the geochemical signature of the lower organic mud unit suggests pervasive redox reactions, although the interval has been identified as representing a freshwater marsh, an unlikely environment for such conditions. Analyses indicate that this discrepancy results from postdepositional diagenesis driven by millennial-scale environmental parameters. Rising sea level that led to the deposition of the capping clay layer, created anaerobic conditions in the freshwater swamp interval, and isolated it hydrologically from the rest of the sediment column. The subsequent infiltration of marine water into this organic material led to sulfate reduction, the buildup of H2S and FeS, and anoxic conditions. Continued sulfidation eventually resulted in euxinic conditions, as evidenced by elevated levels of Fe, S, and especially Mo, the diagnostic marker of euxinia. Because this chemical transformation occurred long after the original deposition the geochemical signature does not reflect soil chemistry at the time of deposition and cannot be used to infer syn-depositional environmental conditions, emphasizing the importance of recognizing diagenetic processes in paleoenvironmental studies.

Tidal extension and sea-level rise: recommendations for a research agenda

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment (16) 37-43

Scott H. Ensign, Gregory Noe

Sea-level rise is pushing freshwater tides upstream into formerly non-tidal rivers. This tidal extension may increase the area of tidal freshwater ecosystems and offset loss of ecosystem functions due to salinization downstream. Without considering how gains in ecosystem functions could offset losses, landscape-scale assessments of ecosystem functions may be biased toward worst-case scenarios of loss. To stimulate research on this concept, we address three fundamental questions about tidal extension: Where will tidal extension be most evident, and can we measure it? What ecosystem functions are influenced by tidal extension, and how can we measure them? How do watershed processes, climate change, and tidal extension interact to affect ecosystem functions? Our preliminary answers lead to recommendations that will advance tidal extension research, enable better predictions of the impacts of sea-level rise, and help balance the landscape-scale benefits of ecosystem function with costs of response.

Hydrogeologic controls and geochemical indicators of groundwater movement in the Niles Cone and southern East Bay Plain groundwater subbasins, Alameda County, California

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Scientific Investigations Report 2018-5003

Nicholas F. Teague, John A. Izbicki, Jim Borchers, Justin T. Kulongoski, Bryant C. Jurgens

Beginning in the 1970s, Alameda County Water District began infiltrating imported water through ponds in repurposed gravel quarries at the Quarry Lakes Regional Park, in the Niles Cone groundwater subbasin, to recharge groundwater and to minimize intrusion of saline, San Francisco Bay water into freshwater aquifers. Hydraulic connection between distinct aquifers underlying Quarry Lakes allows water to recharge the upper aquifer system to depths of 400 feet below land surface, and the Deep aquifer to depths of more than 650 feet. Previous studies of the Niles Cone and southern East Bay Plain groundwater subbasins suggested that these two subbasins may be hydraulically connected. Characterization of storage capacities and hydraulic properties of the complex aquifers and the structural and stratigraphic controls on groundwater movement aids in optimal storage and recovery of recharged water and provides information on the ability of aquifers shared by different water management agencies to fulfill competing storage and extraction demands. The movement of recharge water through the Niles Cone groundwater subbasin from Quarry Lakes and the possible hydraulic connection between the Niles Cone and the southern East Bay Plain groundwater subbasins were investigated using interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR), water-chemistry, and isotopic data, including tritium/helium-3, helium-4, and carbon-14 age-dating techniques.

InSAR data collected during refilling of the Quarry Lakes recharge ponds show corresponding ground-surface displacement. Maximum uplift was about 0.8 inches, reasonable for elastic expansion of sedimentary materials experiencing an increase in hydraulic head that resulted from pond refilling. Sodium concentrations increase while calcium and magnesium concentrations in groundwater decrease along groundwater flowpaths from the Niles Cone groundwater subbasin through the Deep aquifer to the northwest toward the southern East Bay Plain groundwater subbasin. Residual effects of pre-1970s intrusion of saline water from San Francisco Bay, including high chloride concentrations in groundwater, are evident in parts of the Niles Cone subbasin. Noble gas recharge temperatures indicate two primary recharge sources (Quarry Lakes and Alameda Creek) in the Niles Cone groundwater subbasin. Although recharge at Quarry Lakes affects hydraulic heads as far as the transition zone between the Niles Cone and East Bay Plain groundwater subbasins (about 5 miles), the effect of recharged water on water quality is only apparent in wells near (less than 2 miles) recharge sources. Groundwater chemistry from upper aquifer system wells near Quarry Lakes showed an evaporated signal (less negative oxygen and hydrogen isotopic values) relative to surrounding groundwater and a tritium concentration (2 tritium units) consistent with recently recharged water from a surface-water impoundment.

Uncorrected carbon-14 activities measured in water sampled from wells in the Niles Cone groundwater subbasin range from 16 to 100 percent modern carbon (pmC). The geochemical reaction modeling software NETPATH was used to interpret carbon-14 ages along a flowpath from Quarry Lakes toward the East Bay Plain groundwater subbasin. Model results indicate that changes in groundwater chemistry are controlled by cation exchange on clay minerals and weathering of primary silicate minerals. Old groundwater (lower carbon-14 activities) is characterized by high dissolved silica and pH. Interpreted carbon-14 ages ranged from 830 to more than 7,000 years before present and are less than helium-4 ages that range from 2,000 to greater than 11,000 years before present. The average horizontal groundwater velocity along the studied flowpath, as calculated using interpreted carbon-14 ages, through the Deep aquifer of the Niles Cone groundwater subbasin is between 3 and 12 feet per year. The groundwater velocity decreases near the boundary of the transition zone to the southern East Bay Plain groundwater subbasin to about 0.5 feet per year. These changes may result from water recharged from different sources converging in flowpaths north of the transition zone, or a boundary to flow between the Niles Cone and southern East Bay Plain groundwater subbasins, likely owing to changes in lithology caused by depositional patterns.

Intermediate sulfidation type base metal mineralization at Aliabad-Khanchy, Tarom-Hashtjin metallogenic belt, NW Iran

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Ore Geology Reviews (93) 1-18

Hossein Kouhestani, Mir Ali Asghar Mokhtari, Zhaoshan Chang, Craig A. Johnson

The Aliabad-Khanchy epithermal base metal deposit is located in the Tarom-Hashtjin metallogenic belt (THMB) of northwest Iran. The mineralization occurs as Cu-bearing brecciated quartz veins hosted by Eocene volcanic and volcaniclastic rocks of the Karaj Formation. Ore formation can be divided into five stages, with most ore minerals, such as pyrite and chalcopyrite being formed in the early stages. The main wall-rock alteration is silicification, and chlorite, argillic and propylitic alteration. Microthermometric measurements of fluid inclusion assemblages show that the ore-forming fluids have eutectic temperatures between −30 and −52 °C, trapping temperatures of 150–290 °C, and salinities of 6.6–12.4 wt% NaCl equiv. These data demonstrate that the ore-forming fluids were medium- to high-temperature, medium- to low-salinity, and low-density H2O–NaCl–CaCl2 fluids. Calculated δ18O values indicate that ore-forming hydrothermal fluids had δ18Owater ranging from +3.6‰ to +0.8‰, confirming that the ore–fluid system evolved from dominantly magmatic to dominantly meteoric. The calculated 34SH2S values range from −8.1‰ to −5.0‰, consistent with derivation of the sulfur from either magma or possibly from local volcanic wall-rock. Combined, the fluid inclusion and stable isotope data indicate that the Aliabad-Khanchy deposit formed from magmatic-hydrothermal fluids. After rising to a depth of between 790 and 500 m, the fluid boiled and subsequent hydraulic fracturing may have led to inflow and/or mixing of early magmatic fluids with circulating groundwater causing deposition of base metals due to dilution and/or cooling. The Aliabad-Khanchy deposit is interpreted as an intermediate-sulfidation style of epithermal mineralization. Our data suggest that the mineralization at Aliabad-Khanchy and other epithermal deposits of the THMB formed by hydrothermal activity related to shallow late Eocene magmatism. The altered Eocene volcanic and volcaniclastic rocks, especially at the intersection of subvolcanic stocks with faults were the most favorable sites for epithermal ore bodies in the THMB.

Granular flows at recurring slope lineae on Mars indicate a limited role for liquid water

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2017, Nature Geoscience (10) 903-907

Colin M. Dundas, Alfred S. McEwen, Matthew Chojnacki, Moses Milazzo, Shane Byrne, Jim McElwaine, Anna Urso

Recent liquid water flow on Mars has been proposed based on geomorphological features, such as gullies. Recurring slope lineae — seasonal flows that are darker than their surroundings — are candidate locations for seeping liquid water on Mars today, but their formation mechanism remains unclear. Topographical analysis shows that the terminal slopes of recurring slope lineae match the stopping angle for granular flows of cohesionless sand in active Martian aeolian dunes. In Eos Chasma, linea lengths vary widely and are longer where there are more extensive angle-of-repose slopes, inconsistent with models for water sources. These observations suggest that recurring slope lineae are granular flows. The preference for warm seasons and the detection of hydrated salts are consistent with some role for water in their initiation. However, liquid water volumes may be small or zero, alleviating planetary protection concerns about habitable environments.

An open source high-performance solution to extract surface water drainage networks from diverse terrain conditions

Released February 01, 2018 00:00 EST

2017, Cartography and Geographic Information Science

Larry V. Stanislawski, Kornelijus Survila, Jeffrey Wendel, Yan Liu, Barbara P. Buttenfield

This paper describes a workflow for automating the extraction of elevation-derived stream lines using open source tools with parallel computing support and testing the effectiveness of procedures in various terrain conditions within the conterminous United States. Drainage networks are extracted from the US Geological Survey 1/3 arc-second 3D Elevation Program elevation data having a nominal cell size of 10 m. This research demonstrates the utility of open source tools with parallel computing support for extracting connected drainage network patterns and handling depressions in 30 subbasins distributed across humid, dry, and transitional climate regions and in terrain conditions exhibiting a range of slopes. Special attention is given to low-slope terrain, where network connectivity is preserved by generating synthetic stream channels through lake and waterbody polygons. Conflation analysis compares the extracted streams with a 1:24,000-scale National Hydrography Dataset flowline network and shows that similarities are greatest for second- and higher-order tributaries.

Mineral commodity summaries 2018

Released January 31, 2018 15:00 EST

2018, Report

Joyce A. Ober

This report is the earliest Government publication to furnish estimates covering 2017 nonfuel mineral industry data. Data sheets contain information on the domestic industry structure, Government programs, tariffs, and 5-year salient statistics for more than 90 individual minerals and materials.

Flood-inundation maps for the Withlacoochee River From Skipper Bridge Road to St. Augustine Road, within the City of Valdosta, Georgia, and Lowndes County, Georgia

Released January 31, 2018 10:00 EST

2018, Scientific Investigations Report 2018-5011

Jonathan W. Musser

Digital flood-inundation maps for a 12.6-mile reach of the Withlacoochee River from Skipper Bridge Road to St. Augustine Road (Georgia State Route 133) were developed to depict estimates of the areal extent and depth of flooding corresponding to selected water levels (stages) at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) streamgage at Withlacoochee River at Skipper Bridge Road, near Bemiss, Ga. (023177483). Real-time stage information from this streamgage can be used with these maps to estimate near real-time areas of inundation. The forecasted peak-stage information for the USGS streamgage at Withlacoochee River at Skipper Bridge Road, near Bemiss, Ga. (023177483), can be used in conjunction with the maps developed for this study to show predicted areas of flood inundation.

A one-dimensional step-backwater model was developed using the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Hydrologic Engineer-ing Center’s River Analysis System (HEC–RAS) software for the Withlacoochee River and was used to compute flood profiles for a 12.6-mile reach of the Withlacoochee River. The hydraulic model was then used to simulate 23 water-surface profiles at 1.0-foot (ft) intervals at the Withlacoochee River near the Bemiss streamgage. The profiles ranged from the National Weather Service action stage of 10.7 ft, which is 131.0 ft above the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD 88), to a stage of 32.7 ft, which is 153.0 ft above NAVD 88. The simulated water-surface profiles were then combined with a geographic information system digital elevation model—derived from light detection and ranging (lidar) data having a 4.0-ft horizontal resolution—to delineate the area flooded at each 1.0-ft interval of stream stage.

Earthquake potential in California-Nevada implied by correlation of strain rate and seismicity

Released January 31, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Geophysical Research Letters

Yuehua Zeng, Mark D. Petersen, Zheng-Kang Shen

Rock mechanics studies and dynamic earthquake simulations show that patterns of seismicity evolve with time through (1) accumulation phase, (2) localization phase, and (3) rupture phase. We observe a similar pattern of changes in seismicity during the past century across California and Nevada. To quantify these changes, we correlate GPS strain rates with seismicity. Earthquakes of M > 6.5 are collocated with regions of highest strain rates. By contrast, smaller magnitude earthquakes of M ≥ 4 show clear spatiotemporal changes. From 1933 to the late 1980s, earthquakes of M ≥ 4 were more diffused and broadly distributed in both high and low strain rate regions (accumulation phase). From the late 1980s to 2016, earthquakes were more concentrated within the high strain rate areas focused on the major fault strands (localization phase). In the same time period, the rate of M > 6.5 events also increased significantly in the high strain rate areas. The strong correlation between current strain rate and the later period of seismicity indicates that seismicity is closely related to the strain rate. The spatial patterns suggest that before the late 1980s, the strain rate field was also broadly distributed because of the stress shadows from previous large earthquakes. As the deformation field evolved out of the shadow in the late 1980s, strain has refocused on the major fault systems and we are entering a period of increased risk for large earthquakes in California.

Development and release of phenological data products—A case study in compliance with federal open data policy

Released January 31, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Open-File Report 2018-1007

Alyssa H. Rosemartin, Madison L. Langseth, Theresa M. Crimmins, Jake F. Weltzin

In Autumn 2015, USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN) staff implemented new U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) data-management policies intended to ensure that the results of Federally funded research are made available to the public. The effort aimed both to improve USA-NPN data releases and to provide a model for similar programs within the USGS. This report provides an overview of the steps taken to ensure compliance, following the USGS Science Data Lifecycle, and provides lessons learned about the data-release process for USGS program leaders and data managers.

Missouri StreamStats—A water-resources web application

Released January 31, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Fact Sheet 2018-3003

Jarrett T. Ellis

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) maintains and operates more than 8,200 continuous streamgages nationwide. Types of data that may be collected, computed, and stored for streamgages include streamgage height (water-surface elevation), streamflow, and water quality. The streamflow data allow scientists and engineers to calculate streamflow statistics, such as the 1-percent annual exceedance probability flood (also known as the 100-year flood), the mean flow, and the 7-day, 10-year low flow, which are used by managers to make informed water resource management decisions, at each streamgage location. Researchers, regulators, and managers also commonly need physical characteristics (basin characteristics) that describe the unique properties of a basin. Common uses for streamflow statistics and basin characteristics include hydraulic design, water-supply management, water-use appropriations, and flood-plain mapping for establishing flood-insurance rates and land-use zones. The USGS periodically publishes reports that update the values of basin characteristics and streamflow statistics at selected gaged locations (locations with streamgages), but these studies usually only update a subset of streamgages, making data retrieval difficult. Additionally, streamflow statistics and basin characteristics are most often needed at ungaged locations (locations without streamgages) for which published streamflow statistics and basin characteristics do not exist.

Missouri StreamStats is a web-based geographic information system that was created by the USGS in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to provide users with access to an assortment of tools that are useful for water-resources planning and management. StreamStats allows users to easily obtain the most recent published streamflow statistics and basin characteristics for streamgage locations and to automatically calculate selected basin characteristics and estimate streamflow statistics at ungaged locations.

Maps showing predicted probabilities for selected dissolved oxygen and dissolved manganese threshold events in depth zones used by the domestic and public drinking water supply wells, Central Valley, California

Released January 31, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Scientific Investigations Map 3397

Celia Z. Rosecrans, Bernard T. Nolan, JoAnn M. Gronberg

The purpose of the prediction grids for selected redox constituents—dissolved oxygen and dissolved manganese—are intended to provide an understanding of groundwater-quality conditions at the domestic and public-supply drinking water depths. The chemical quality of groundwater and the fate of many contaminants is influenced by redox processes in all aquifers, and understanding the redox conditions horizontally and vertically is critical in evaluating groundwater quality. The redox condition of groundwater—whether oxic (oxygen present) or anoxic (oxygen absent)—strongly influences the oxidation state of a chemical in groundwater. The anoxic dissolved oxygen thresholds of <0.5 milligram per liter (mg/L), <1.0 mg/L, and <2.0 mg/L were selected to apply broadly to regional groundwater-quality investigations. Although the presence of dissolved manganese in groundwater indicates strongly reducing (anoxic) groundwater conditions, it is also considered a “nuisance” constituent in drinking water, making drinking water undesirable with respect to taste, staining, or scaling. Three dissolved manganese thresholds, <50 micrograms per liter (µg/L), <150 µg/L, and <300 µg/L, were selected to create predicted probabilities of exceedances in depth zones used by domestic and public-supply water wells. The 50 µg/L event threshold represents the secondary maximum contaminant level (SMCL) benchmark for manganese (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2017; California Division of Drinking Water, 2014), whereas the 300 µg/L event threshold represents the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) health-based screening level (HBSL) benchmark, used to put measured concentrations of drinking-water contaminants into a human-health context (Toccalino and others, 2014). The 150 µg/L event threshold represents one-half the USGS HBSL. The resultant dissolved oxygen and dissolved manganese prediction grids may be of interest to water-resource managers, water-quality researchers, and groundwater modelers concerned with the occurrence of natural and anthropogenic contaminants related to anoxic conditions. Prediction grids for selected redox constituents and thresholds were created by the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) modeling and mapping team.

Evaluation of the Radar Stage Sensor manufactured by Forest Technology Systems—Results of laboratory and field testing

Released January 31, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Open-File Report 2017-1085

Gerald A. Kunkle

Two identical Radar Stage Sensors from Forest Technology Systems were evaluated to determine if they are suitable for U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) hydrologic data collection. The sensors were evaluated in laboratory conditions to evaluate the distance accuracy of the sensor over the manufacturer’s specified operating temperatures and distance to water ranges. Laboratory results were compared to the manufacturer’s accuracy specification of ±0.007 foot (ft) and the USGS Office of Surface Water (OSW) policy requirement that water-level sensors have a measurement uncertainty of no more than 0.01 ft or 0.20 percent of the indicated reading. Both of the sensors tested were within the OSW policy requirement in both laboratory tests and within the manufacturer’s specification in the distance to water test over tested distances from 3 to 15 ft. In the temperature chamber test, both sensors were within the manufacturer’s specification for more than 90 percent of the data points collected over a temperature range of –40 to +60 degrees Celsius at a fixed distance of 8 ft. One sensor was subjected to an SDI-12 communication test, which it passed. A field test was conducted on one sensor at a USGS field site near Landon, Mississippi, from February 5 to March 29, 2016. Water-level measurements made by the radar during the field test were in agreement with those made by the Sutron Accubar Constant Flow Bubble Gauge.

Upon the manufacturer’s release of updated firmware version 1.09, additional SDI-12 and temperature testing was performed to evaluate added SDI-12 functions and verify that performance was unaffected by the update. At this time, an Axiom data logger is required to perform a firmware update on this sensor. The data confirmed the results of the original test. Based on the test results, the Radar Stage Sensor is a suitable choice for USGS hydrologic data collection.

Sea surface temperature estimates for the mid-Piacenzian Indian Ocean—Ocean Drilling Program sites 709, 716, 722, 754, 757, 758, and 763

Released January 30, 2018 12:45 EST

2018, Open-File Report 2017-1158

Marci M. Robinson, Harry J. Dowsett, Danielle K. Stoll

Despite the wealth of global paleoclimate data available for the warm period in the middle of the Piacenzian Stage of the Pliocene Epoch (about 3.3 to 3.0 million years ago [Ma]; Dowsett and others, 2013, and references therein), the Indian Ocean has remained a region of sparse geographic coverage in terms of microfossil analysis. In an effort to characterize the surface Indian Ocean during this interval, we examined the planktic foraminifera from Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) sites 709, 716, 722, 754, 757, 758, and 763, encompassing a wide range of oceanographic conditions. We quantitatively analyzed the data for sea surface temperature (SST) estimation using both the modern analog technique (MAT) and a factor analytic transfer function. The data will contribute to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Pliocene Research, Interpretation and Synoptic Mapping (PRISM) Project’s global SST reconstruction and climate model SST boundary condition for the mid-Piacenzian and will become part of the PRISM verification dataset designed to ground-truth Pliocene climate model simulations (Dowsett and others, 2013).

Chirp subbottom profile data collected in 2015 from the northern Chandeleur Islands, Louisiana

Released January 30, 2018 11:15 EST

2018, Data Series 1077

Arnell S. Forde, Nancy T. DeWitt, Jake J. Fredericks, Jennifer L. Miselis

As part of the Barrier Island Evolution Research project, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center conducted a nearshore geophysical survey around the northern Chandeleur Islands, Louisiana, in September 2015. The objective of the project is to improve the understanding of barrier island geomorphic evolution, particularly storm-related depositional and erosional processes that shape the islands over annual to interannual time scales (1–5 years). Collecting geophysical data can help researchers identify relations between the geologic history of the islands and their present day morphology and sediment distribution. High-resolution geophysical data collected along this rapidly changing barrier island system can provide a unique time-series dataset to further the analyses and geomorphological interpretations of this and other coastal systems, improving our understanding of coastal response and evolution over medium-term time scales (months to years). Subbottom profile data were collected in September 2015 offshore of the northern Chandeleur Islands, during USGS Field Activity Number 2015-331-FA. Data products, including raw digital chirp subbottom data, processed subbottom profile images, survey trackline map, navigation files, geographic information system data files and formal Federal Geographic Data Committee metadata, and Field Activity Collection System and operation logs are available for download.

Updated procedures for using drill cores and cuttings at the Lithologic Core Storage Library, Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho

Released January 30, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Open-File Report 2018-1001

Mary K.V. Hodges, Linda C. Davis, Roy C. Bartholomay

In 1990, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy Idaho Operations Office, established the Lithologic Core Storage Library at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). The facility was established to consolidate, catalog, and permanently store nonradioactive drill cores and cuttings from subsurface investigations conducted at the INL, and to provide a location for researchers to examine, sample, and test these materials.

The facility is open by appointment to researchers for examination, sampling, and testing of cores and cuttings. This report describes the facility and cores and cuttings stored at the facility. Descriptions of cores and cuttings include the corehole names, corehole locations, and depth intervals available.

Most cores and cuttings stored at the facility were drilled at or near the INL, on the eastern Snake River Plain; however, two cores drilled on the western Snake River Plain are stored for comparative studies. Basalt, rhyolite, sedimentary interbeds, and surficial sediments compose most cores and cuttings, most of which are continuous from land surface to their total depth. The deepest continuously drilled core stored at the facility was drilled to 5,000 feet below land surface. This report describes procedures and researchers' responsibilities for access to the facility and for examination, sampling, and return of materials.

Greenhouse gas emissions from diverse Arctic Alaskan lakes are dominated by young carbon

Released January 29, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Nature Climate Change (8) 166-171

Clayton D. Elder, Xiaomei Xu, Jennifer Walker, Jordan L. Schnell, Kenneth M. Hinkel, Amy Townsend-Small, Christopher D. Arp, John Pohlman, Benjamin V. Gaglioti, Claudia I. Czimzik

Climate-sensitive Arctic lakes have been identified as conduits for ancient permafrost-carbon (C) emissions and as such accelerate warming. However, the environmental factors that control emission pathways and their sources are unclear; this complicates upscaling, forecasting and climate-impact-assessment efforts. Here we show that current whole-lake CH4 and CO2 emissions from widespread lakes in Arctic Alaska primarily originate from organic matter fixed within the past 3–4 millennia (modern to 3,300 ± 70 years before the present), and not from Pleistocene permafrost C. Furthermore, almost 100% of the annual diffusive C flux is emitted as CO2. Although the lakes mostly processed younger C (89 ± 3% of total C emissions), minor contributions from ancient C sources were two times greater in fine-textured versus coarse-textured Pleistocene sediments, which emphasizes the importance of the underlying geological substrate in current and future emissions. This spatially extensive survey considered the environmental and temporal variability necessary to monitor and forecast the fate of ancient permafrost C as Arctic warming progresses.

Using a food web model to inform the design of river restoration—An example at the Barkley Bear Segment, Methow River, north-central Washington

Released January 29, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Open-File Report 2018-1002

Joseph R. Benjamin, J. Ryan Bellmore, Daniel Dombroski

With the decline of Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and steelhead (O. mykiss), habitat restoration actions in freshwater tributaries have been implemented to improve conditions for juveniles. Typically, physical (for example, hydrologic and engineering) based models are used to design restoration alternatives with the assumption that biological responses will be improved with changes to the physical habitat. Biological models rarely are used. Here, we describe simulations of a food web model, the Aquatic Trophic Productivity (ATP) model, to aid in the design of a restoration project in the Methow River, north-central Washington. The ATP model mechanistically links environmental conditions of the stream to the dynamics of river food webs, and can be used to simulate how alternative river restoration designs influence the potential for river reaches to sustain fish production. Four restoration design alternatives were identified that encompassed varying levels of side channel and floodplain reconnection and large wood addition. Our model simulations suggest that design alternatives focused on reconnecting side channels and the adjacent floodplain may provide the greatest increase in fish capacity. These results were robust to a range of discharge and thermal regimes that naturally occur in the Methow River. Our results suggest that biological models, such as the ATP model, can be used during the restoration planning phase to increase the effectiveness of restoration actions. Moreover, the use of multiple modeling efforts, both physical and biological, when evaluating restoration design alternatives provides a better understanding of the potential outcome of restoration actions.

Quaternary sediment thickness and bedrock topography of the glaciated United States east of the Rocky Mountains

Released January 26, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Scientific Investigations Map 3392

David R. Soller, Christopher P. Garrity

Beginning roughly 2.6 million years ago, global climate entered a cooling phase known as the Pleistocene Epoch. As snow in northern latitudes compacted into ice several kilometers thick, it flowed as glaciers southward across the North American continent. These glaciers extended across the northern United States, dramatically altering the landscape they covered. East of the Rocky Mountains, the ice coalesced into continental glaciers (called the Laurentide Ice Sheet) that at times blanketed much of the north-central and northeastern United States. To the west of the Laurentide Ice Sheet, glaciers formed in the mountains of western Canada and the United States and coalesced into the Cordilleran ice sheet; this relatively smaller ice mass extended into the conterminous United States in the northernmost areas of western Montana, Idaho, and Washington. Throughout the Pleistocene, landscape alteration occurred by (1) glacial erosion of the rocks and sediments; (2) redeposition of the eroded earth materials in a form substantially different from their source rocks, in terms of texture and overall character; and (3) disruption of preexisting drainage patterns by the newly deposited sediments. In many cases, pre-glacial drainage systems (including, for example, the Mississippi River) were rerouted because their older drainage courses became blocked with glacial sediment.

The continental glaciers advanced and retreated many times across those areas. During each ice advance, or glaciation, erosion and deposition occurred, and the landscape was again altered. Through successive glaciations, the landscape and the bedrock surface gradually came to resemble their present configurations. As continental ice sheets receded and the Pleistocene ended, erosion and deposition of sediment (for example in stream valleys) continued to shape the landscape up to the present day (albeit to a lesser extent than during glaciation). The interval of time since the last recession of the glaciers is called the Holocene and, together with the Pleistocene, constitutes the Quaternary Period of geologic time; this publication characterizes the three-dimensional geometry of the Quaternary sediments and the bedrock surface that lies beneath.

The pre-glacial landscape was underlain mostly by weathered bedrock generally similar in nature to that found in many areas of the non-glaciated United States. Glacial erosion and redeposition of earth materials produced a young, mineral-rich soil that formed the basis for the highly productive agricultural economy in the U.S. midcontinent. Extensive buried sands and gravels within the glacial deposits also provided a stimulus to other economic sectors by serving as high-quality aquifers supplying groundwater to the region’s industry and cities. An understanding of the three-dimensional distribution of these glacial sediments has direct utility for addressing various societal issues including groundwater quality and supply, and landscape and soil response to earthquake-induced shaking.

The Quaternary sediment thickness map and bedrock topographic map shown here provide a regional overview and are intended to supplement the more detailed work on which they are based. Detailed mapping is particularly useful in populated areas for site-specific planning. In contrast, regional maps such as these serve to place local, detailed mapping in context; to permit the extrapolation of data into unmapped areas; and to depict large-scale regional geologic features and patterns that are beyond the scope of local, detailed mapping. They also can enhance the reader’s general understanding of the region’s landscape and geologic history and provide a source of information for regional decision making that could benefit by improved predictability of bedrock depth beneath the unconsolidated Quaternary sediments. To enable these maps to be analyzed in conjunction with other types of information, this publication also includes the map data in GIS compatible format.

Geology and assessment of undiscovered oil and gas resources of the Jan Mayen Microcontinent Province, 2008

Released January 26, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Professional Paper 1824-L

Thomas E. Moore, Janet K. Pitman

T.E. Moore, D.L. Gautier, editor(s)

The Jan Mayen Microcontinent encompasses a rectangular, mostly submarine fragment of continental crust that lies north of Iceland in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. These continental rocks were rifted away from the eastern margin of Greenland as a consequence of a westward jump of spreading centers from the now-extinct Aegir Ridge to the currently active Kolbeinsey Ridge in the Oligocene and early Miocene. The microcontinent is composed of the high-standing Jan Mayen Ridge and a series of smaller ridges that diminish southward in elevation and includes several deep basins that are underlain by strongly attenuated continental crust. The geology of this area is known principally from a loose collection of seismic reflection and refraction lines and several deep-sea scientific drill cores.

The Jan Mayen Microcontinent petroleum province encompasses the entire area of the microcontinent and was defined as a single assessment unit (AU). Although its geology is poorly known, the microcontinent is thought to consist of late Paleozoic and Mesozoic rift basin stratigraphic sequences similar to those of the highly prospective Norwegian, North Sea, and Greenland continental margins. The prospectivity of the AU may be greatly diminished, however, by pervasive extensional deformation, basaltic magmatism, and exhumation that accompanied two periods of continental rifting and breakup in the Paleogene and early Neogene. The overall probability of at least one petroleum accumulation of >50 million barrels of oil equivalent was judged to be 5.6 percent. As a consequence of the low level of probability, a quantitative assessment of this AU was not conducted.

The 3D Elevation Program—Flood risk management

Released January 25, 2018 16:45 EST

2018, Fact Sheet 2017-3081

William J. Carswell Jr., Vicki Lukas

Flood-damage reduction in the United States has been a longstanding but elusive societal goal. The national strategy for reducing flood damage has shifted over recent decades from a focus on construction of flood-control dams and levee systems to a three-pronged strategy to (1) improve the design and operation of such structures, (2) provide more accurate and accessible flood forecasting, and (3) shift the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program to a more balanced, less costly flood-insurance paradigm. Expanding the availability and use of high-quality, three-dimensional (3D) elevation information derived from modern light detection and ranging (lidar) technologies to provide essential terrain data poses a singular opportunity to dramatically enhance the effectiveness of all three components of this strategy. Additionally, FEMA, the National Weather Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have developed tools and joint program activities to support the national strategy.

The USGS 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) has the programmatic infrastructure to produce and provide essential terrain data. This infrastructure includes (1) data acquisition partnerships that leverage funding and reduce duplicative efforts, (2) contracts with experienced private mapping firms that ensure acquisition of consistent, low-cost 3D elevation data, and (3) the technical expertise, standards, and specifications required for consistent, edge-to-edge utility across multiple collection platforms and public access unfettered by individual database designs and limitations.

High-quality elevation data, like that collected through 3DEP, are invaluable for assessing and documenting flood risk and communicating detailed information to both responders and planners alike. Multiple flood-mapping programs make use of USGS streamflow and 3DEP data. Flood insurance rate maps, flood documentation studies, and flood-inundation map libraries are products of these programs.

Globally sourced mineral commodities used in U.S. Navy SEAL gear—An illustration of U.S. net import reliance

Released January 25, 2018 16:00 EST

2018, General Information Product 183

Jamie Brainard, Nedal T. Nassar, Joseph Gambogi, Michael S. Baker, Michael T. Jarvis

A U.S. Navy SEAL (an acronym for sea, air, land) carries gear containing at least 23 nonfuel mineral commodities for which the United States is greater than 50 percent net import reliant. The graphics display the leading world producers of selected nonfuel mineral commodities used to manufacture U.S. Navy SEAL gear. SEALs are members of the U.S. Navy's special operations forces.

Public views of wetlands and waterfowl conservation in the United States—Results of a survey to inform the 2018 update of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan

Released January 24, 2018 15:20 EST

2018, Open-File Report 2017-1148

Emily J. Wilkins, Holly M. Miller

Executive Summary

This report provides information from a general public survey conducted in early 2017 to help inform the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) 2018 update. This report is intended for use by the NAWMP advisory committees and anyone interested in the human dimensions of wetlands and waterfowl management. A mail-out survey was sent to 5,000 addresses in the United States, which were selected randomly in proportion to the population of each State. A total of 1,030 completed surveys representing 49 States were returned, resulting in a 23 percent overall response rate.

When comparing the demographics of the respondents to the U.S. census data, this sample overrepresented people who are male, older, highly educated, and white. Data were weighted on gender and age to make the results more representative of the overall U.S. population. Additionally, this sample had higher participation rates in all wildlife-related recreation activities than has been found in previous studies; this indicates there may have been selection bias, with people interested in nature-related topics more likely to complete the survey. Therefore, results likely represent a segment of the U.S. public that is more oriented toward and aware of wildlife and conservation issues than the general public as a whole. Because of this bias, responses for each question were also broken down by recreationist type (hunters, anglers, wildlife viewers, and no wildlife-related recreation). Additionally, responses for each question were split by administrative flyway (Atlantic, Central, Mississippi, Pacific) and residency (urban, urban cluster, rural) to better understand the different groups.

Most respondents knew of wetlands in their local area or community, and more than half had visited wetlands in the previous 12 months. Of those who had visited wetlands, the most common reasons were for walking/hiking/biking and enjoying nature/picnicking. In addition, this sample was very concerned about the reduction or loss of ecosystem services resulting from wetlands degradation or loss. A majority of respondents were somewhat or very concerned about 9 out of 10 wetlands benefits, with hunting opportunities being the only benefit the majority of people were not concerned about. People were the most concerned about clean water, clean air, and providing a home for wildlife. In contrast, people were least concerned about hunting opportunities and wetlands providing scenic places for inspiration or spiritual renewal. Communication about wetlands that focuses on habitat, clean air, and clean water may resonate with the widest variety of people. However, if communication is targeted toward wildlife-related recreationists, including more information about the recreation benefits of wetlands and emphasizing habitat benefits may be the most effective.

Many people reported having participated in conservation behaviors in the last year. The most popular activity was making the yard more desirable to wildlife, with more than three-fourths of respondents participating, followed by donating money to support wildlife/habitat conservation and talking to others in their community about conservation issues. There was lower participation in conservation behavior specifically related to wetlands and waterfowl, with two-fifths of respondents voting for candidates or ballot issues to support wetlands/waterfowl conservation and one-third advocating for political action to conserve wetlands/waterfowl.

In order to better understand how to reach out to the public on nature-related topics, preferences in information channels and trust in information sources were explored. Respondents were mostly likely to want to receive their information through personal experience, by reading or accessing online content, and through watching visual media online. People were least likely to want to receive information through listening to recorded audio media, attending educational opportunities, and listening to live audio media. These results emphasize the importance of having content available online in an easily accessible and appealing format. Visual media in particular seems to be preferred across a wide variety of people. Additionally, people had the highest trust in scientific organizations, universities/educational organizations, and friends/family/neighbors/colleagues. The least trusted sources were national media/news, religious organizations, and local media/news. Urban respondents had higher trust levels overall, particularly for the government. Hunters and those in rural areas had lower levels of trust in the government but higher trust in family/friends.

In this sample, few respondents reported hunting waterfowl (5 percent) or hunting other game (16 percent) in the last year. Additionally, few respondents said they were very or somewhat likely to hunt waterfowl in the following 12 months. Even after considering that self-selection bias would make it more likely for hunters to respond to the survey, the relatively small number of respondents who identified as hunters reinforces that engagement of other wildlife-related recreationists is critical to meeting the third goal of the NAWMP 2012 revision—to increase numbers of wetlands/waterfowl conservationists. Many people also had negative perceptions of hunting. Half of the respondents stated that hunting would be unpleasant, and two-fifths believed hunting would be boring. In contrast, people had more favorable attitudes toward birdwatching, with only one-sixth saying it would be unpleasant and less than one-third saying it would be boring. A majority of respondents thought they could easily go hunting or birdwatching in the following 12 months. Overall, people had much more positive views toward birdwatching and expressed fewer barriers to participating in it. When asked what would prevent them from hunting, the most frequently stated reasons were moral opposition, no interest, personal health, and time constraints; for birdwatching, the most popular responses were nothing, no interest, and time constraints. These responses indicate it may be beneficial to move beyond hunting and find ways for other groups, such as birdwatchers, to play a more active role in conservation.

Although not many people hunted and many people tended to have negative attitudes toward hunting, over three-fourths of people said they knew a hunter. Given that wildlife viewers, those who did not participate in wildlife-related recreation, and urban residents tended to have negative attitudes toward hunting and (or) were not interested in participating, attempting to recruit them to participate in hunting may not be effective. However, given how many people across all groups knew a hunter and the relatively high levels of trust people had in their friends/family, hunters may be effective ambassadors for promoting waterfowl and wetlands conservation among nonhunters. Additionally, because people had less preference for viewing waterfowl and other game birds compared to their preference for seeing hummingbirds and birds of prey, conservation efforts that extend beyond waterfowl and include other species that benefit from wetlands may have more appeal to a broader range of people.

Pleistocene glaciation of the Jackson Hole area, Wyoming

Released January 24, 2018 12:30 EST

2018, Professional Paper 1835

Kenneth L. Pierce, Joseph M. Licciardi, John M. Good, Cheryl Jaworowski

Pleistocene glaciations and late Cenozoic offset on the Teton fault have played central roles in shaping the scenic landscapes of the Teton Range and Jackson Hole area in Wyoming. The Teton Range harbored a system of mountain-valley glaciers that produced the striking geomorphic features in these mountains. However, the comparatively much larger southern sector of the Greater Yellowstone glacial system (GYGS) is responsible for creating the more expansive glacial landforms and deposits that dominate Jackson Hole. The glacial history is also inextricably associated with the Yellowstone hotspot, which caused two conditions that have fostered extensive glaciation: (1) uplift and consequent cold temperatures in greater Yellowstone; and (2) the lowland track of the hotspot (eastern Snake River Plain) that funneled moisture to the Yellowstone Plateau and the Yellowstone Crescent of High Terrain (YCHT).

The penultimate (Bull Lake) glaciation filled all of Jackson Hole with glacial ice. Granitic boulders on moraines beyond the south end of Jackson Hole have cosmogenic 10Be exposure ages of ~150 thousand years ago (ka) and correlate with Marine Isotope Stage 6. A thick loess mantle subdues the topography of Bull Lake moraines and caps Bull Lake outwash terraces with a reddish buried soil near the base of the loess having a Bk horizon that extends down into the outwash gravel. The Bull Lake glaciation of Jackson Hole extended 48 kilometers (km) farther south than the Pinedale, representing the largest separation of these two glacial positions in the Western United States. The Bull Lake is also more extensive than the Pinedale on the west (22 km) and southwest (23 km) margins of the GYGS but not on the north and east. This pattern is explained by uplift and subsidence on the leading and trailing “bow-wave” of the YCHT, respectively.

During the last (Pinedale) glaciation, mountain-valley glaciers of the Teton Range extended to the western edge of Jackson Hole and built bouldery moraines that commonly enclose lakes. On the southern margin of the GYGS, prominent glacial outwash terraces define three phases of the Pinedale glaciation in Jackson Hole: Pinedale-1 (Pd-1) by Antelope Flats with subdued channel patterns on the east side of Jackson Hole; Pinedale-2 (Pd-2) by a large outwash fan that includes Baseline Flat on the west side of Jackson Hole with well-defined channel patterns; and Pinedale-3 (Pd-3) by The Potholes and other outwash fans farther up the Snake River in central Jackson Hole. During Pinedale glaciation, three glacial lobes of the GYGS fed into Jackson Hole, and the relative importance of these lobes changed dramatically through time. During the Pd-1 glaciation, the eastern Buffalo Fork lobe dominated whereas in Pd-2 and Pd-3 time the northern Snake River lobe dominated. This is consistent with migration of the GYGS center of ice mass westward and southward as glaciers built up towards the moisture source provided by storms moving northeastward up the eastern Snake River Plain. The recession of the eastern Buffalo Fork lobe in Pd-2 and Pd-3 times is consistent with an enlarged ice mass on the Yellowstone Plateau that placed the eastern part of the GYGS in a precipitation or snow shadow.

In Pd-1 time, the Buffalo Fork lobe reached its maximum extent and was joined by the Pacific Creek lobe. This culmination may correlate with the ~21–18 ka ages of moraines in the Teton Range and nearby ranges. Three subdivisions of Pd-1 glaciation built moraines that are nearly or entirely covered by outwash almost 100 meters thick. In Pd-2 time, the Snake River lobe joined with the Pacific Creek lobe and built a large outwash fan south of the present-day Jackson Lake. Boulders on a moraine at the head of this fan are dated to 15.5 ± 0.5 ka. The relation between Teton glaciers and those of the GYGS is indicated by outwash from these Pd-2 moraines that partly buries outer Jenny Lake moraines dated to 15.2 ± 0.7 ka. East of the large outwash fan, Pd-2 ice advanced across the glacial-age Triangle X-2 lake sediments, perhaps in a surge. The Buffalo Fork lobe retreated more than 20 km up valley from its Pd-1 position and Pd-2 ice of the Snake River and Pacific Creek lobes advanced into the area previously occupied by the Buffalo Fork lobe. The Pd-3 position flanks the margin of Jackson Lake and represents a retreat to a stable position after the Pd-2 7-km advance that may have been a surge across the Triangle X-2 lake sediments. The Potholes and South Landing outwash fans were built in the area deglaciated by the retreat from Pd-2 to Pd-3 time. The Spalding Bay outwash fan continued to incise and a meltwater stream flowed just outside the Teton glacier that filled the present Jenny Lake and deposited the 14.4 ± 0.8 ka inner Jenny Lake moraines.

Glacial outwash terraces increase in slope toward their respective moraines of the GYGS and are complex in both north-south and east-west directions. The Pd-1 terrace slopes to the west where it is buried by the Pd-2 outwash. The post-depositional tilting of the Pd-1 outwash terrace is an order of magnitude smaller than the original westward depositional slope. The Pd-1, 2, and 3 terraces have a shingle-like geometry such that the highest terrace decreases in age down valley, and in southern Jackson Hole, the Pd-3 terrace is only 3–5 m above the Snake River.

In Pd-1 time the combined Buffalo Fork and Pacific Creek lobes scoured out four basins: (1) Emma Matilda Lake; (2) Two Ocean Lake; (3) a deep basin from lower Pacific Creek to beneath the Oxbows and Jackson Lake Dam; and (4) the largest basin from the lower Buffalo Fork to Deadmans Bar of the Snake River. These basins are largely filled with fine-grained sediment and are now marked by moist lowlands or lakes. In Pd-2 and Pd-3 time the Snake River lobe scoured the present 120-m deep Jackson Lake and possibly the 120-m deeper sediment-filled basin. Subglacial erosion of the Jackson Lake basin by confined water jets is supported by eskers that climb up to the head of the South Landing outwash fan.


Simulated hydrologic response to climate change during the 21st century in New Hampshire

Released January 24, 2018 09:30 EST

2018, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5143

David M. Bjerklie, Luke P. Sturtevant

The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services and the Department of Health and Human Services, has developed a hydrologic model to assess the effects of short- and long-term climate change on hydrology in New Hampshire. This report documents the model and datasets developed by using the model to predict how climate change will affect the hydrologic cycle and provide data that can be used by State and local agencies to identify locations that are vulnerable to the effects of climate change in areas across New Hampshire.

Future hydrologic projections were developed from the output of five general circulation models for two future climate scenarios. The scenarios are based on projected future greenhouse gas emissions and estimates of land-use and land-cover change within a projected global economic framework. An evaluation of the possible effect of projected future temperature on modeling of evapotranspiration is summarized to address concerns regarding the implications of the future climate on model parameters that are based on climate variables. The results of the model simulations are hydrologic projections indicating increasing streamflow across the State with large increases in streamflow during winter and early spring and general decreases during late spring and summer. Wide spatial variability in changes to groundwater recharge is projected, with general decreases in the Connecticut River Valley and at high elevations in the northern part of the State and general increases in coastal and lowland areas of the State. In general, total winter snowfall is projected to decrease across the State, but there is a possibility of increasing snow in some locations, particularly during November, February, and March. The simulated future changes in recharge and snowfall vary by watershed across the State. This means that each area of the State could experience very different changes, depending on topography or other factors. Therefore, planning for infrastructure and public safety needs to be flexible in order to address the range of possible outcomes indicated by the various model simulations. The absolute magnitude and timing of the daily streamflows, especially the larger floods, are not considered to be reliably simulated compared to changes in frequency and duration of daily streamflows and changes in accumulated monthly and seasonal streamflow volumes.

Simulated current and future streamflow, groundwater recharge, and snowfall datasets include simulated data derived from the five general circulation models used in this study for a current reference time period and two future time periods. Average monthly streamflow time series datasets are provided for 27 streamgages in New Hampshire. Fourteen of the 27 streamgages associated with daily streamflow time series showed a good calibration. Average monthly groundwater recharge and snowfall time series for the same reference time period and two future time periods are also provided for each of the 467 hydrologic response units that compose the model.

Flood-inundation maps for the Patoka River in and near Jasper, southwestern Indiana

Released January 23, 2018 09:15 EST

2018, Scientific Investigations Report 2017-5138

Kathleen K. Fowler

Digital flood-inundation maps for a 9.5-mile reach of the Patoka River in and near the city of Jasper, southwestern Indiana (Ind.), from the streamgage near County Road North 175 East, downstream to State Road 162, were created by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the Indiana Department of Transportation. The flood-inundation maps, which can be accessed through the USGS Flood Inundation Mapping Science web site at, depict estimates of the areal extent and depth of flooding corresponding to selected water levels (stages) at the USGS streamgage Patoka River at Jasper, Ind. (station number 03375500). The Patoka streamgage is located at the upstream end of the 9.5-mile river reach. Near-real-time stages at this streamgage may be obtained from the USGS National Water Information System at or the National Weather Service Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service at, although flood forecasts and stages for action and minor, moderate, and major flood stages are not currently (2017) available at this site (JPRI3).

Flood profiles were computed for the stream reach by means of a one-dimensional step-backwater model. The hydraulic model was calibrated by using the most current stage-discharge relation at the Patoka River at Jasper, Ind., streamgage and the documented high-water marks from the flood of April 30, 2017. The calibrated hydraulic model was then used to compute five water-surface profiles for flood stages referenced to the streamgage datum ranging from 15 feet (ft), or near bankfull, to 19 ft. The simulated water-surface profiles were then combined with a geographic information system digital elevation model (derived from light detection and ranging [lidar] data having a 0.98 ft vertical accuracy and 4.9 ft horizontal resolution) to delineate the area flooded at each water level.

The availability of these flood-inundation maps, along with real-time stage from the USGS streamgage at the Patoka River at Jasper, Ind., will provide emergency management personnel and residents with information that is critical for flood response activities such as evacuations and road closures as well as for postflood recovery efforts.

Summary of wildlife-related research on the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, 2002–17

Released January 23, 2018 00:00 EST

2018, Open-File Report 2018-1003

John M. Pearce, Paul L. Flint, Todd C. Atwood, David C. Douglas, Layne G. Adams, Heather E. Johnson, Stephen M. Arthur, Christopher J. Latty

We summarize recent (2002–17) publicly available information from studies within the 1002 Area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as well as terrestrial and coastal ecosystems elsewhere on the Arctic Coastal Plain that are relevant to the 1002 Area. This report provides an update on earlier research summaries on caribou (Rangifer tarandus), forage quality and quantity, polar bears (Ursus maritimus), muskoxen (Ovibos moschatus), and snow geese (Chen caerulescens). We also provide information on new research related to climate, migratory birds, permafrost, coastal erosion, coastal lagoons, fish, water resources, and potential effects of industrial disturbance on wildlife. From this literature review, we noted evidence for change in the status of some wildlife and their habitats, and the lack of change for others. In the 1002 Area, muskox numbers have decreased and the Porcupine Caribou Herd has exhibited variation in use of the area during the calving season. Polar bears are now more common on shore in summer and fall because of declines in sea ice in the Beaufort Sea. In a study spanning 25 years, there were no significant changes in vegetation quality and quantity, soil conditions, or permafrost thaw in the coastal plain of the 1002 Area. Based on studies from the central Arctic Coastal Plain, there are persistent and emerging uncertainties about the long-term effects of energy development for caribou. In contrast, recent studies that examined direct and indirect effects of industrial activities and infrastructure on birds in the central Arctic Coastal Plain found little effect for the species and disturbances examined, except for the possibility of increased predator activity near human developments.

Underwater research methods for study of nuclear bomb craters, Enewetak, Marshall Islands

Released January 23, 2018 00:00 EST

1990, Conference Paper

E.A. Shinn, R.B. Halley, J.L. Kindinger, J.H. Hudson, R.A. Slate

Three craters, created by the explosion of nuclear fusion devices, were mapped, sampled, core drilled and excavated with airlifts at Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands by using scuba and a research submersible. The craters studied were Mike, Oak, and Koa. Tests took place near sea level at the transition between lithified reef flat and unlithified lagoonal sediments, where water depth ranged from 1 to 4 m. Craters produced by the blasts ranged from 30 to 60 m in depth. The purpose of our study was to determine crater diameter and depth immediately after detonation. Observations of submerged roadways and testing structures and upturned crater rims similar to those characteristic of meteor impacts indicate that the initial, or transient, craters were smaller than their present size. At some later time, while the area was too radioactive for direct examination, the sides of the craters slumped owing to dewatering of under lying pulverized rock. Core drilling of crater margins with a diver-operated hydraulic coring device provided additional data. On the seaward margin of the atoll, opposite Mike, a large portion of the atoll rim approximately the size of a city block had slumped into the deep ocean, leaving a clean vertical rock section more than 400m high. An abundance of aggressive grey reef sharks displaying classic territorial behavior prevented use of scuba at the Mike slump site. The two-person submersible R.V. Delta provided protection and allowed observations down to 300 m. During the 6-week period of study, we made more than 300 scuba and 275 submersible dives. Mapping was with side scan sonar and continuous video sweeps supplemented by tape-recorded verbal descriptions made from within the submersible. A mini-ranger navigation system linked to the submersible allowed plotting of bottom features, depth and sediment type with spatial accuracy to within 2 m.