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Publications recently added to the Pubs Warehouse

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Western purple martin (Progne subis arboricola) occurrence on the Siuslaw National Forest, Summer 2019

Released December 03, 2020 14:34 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1130

Joan Hagar, Eric Branch

The western subspecies of the purple martin (Progne subis arboricola) is currently listed as a “critically” sensitive species in four ecoregions of western Oregon: Coast Range, Klamath Mountains, West Cascades, and Willamette Valley (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, 2019). Importantly distinct from the abundant and widespread eastern subspecies (Progne subis subis), the western subspecies is of particular concern to Federal forest managers. Whereas the eastern subspecies is almost entirely dependent on artificial human-provided housing, the western subspecies continues to rely on natural cavities for nesting habitat (Bettinger, 2003). Accurate estimates of the regional abundance of the western purple martin are difficult to obtain; the most recent statewide census for Oregon, conducted in 2005, estimated the population at 1,100 pairs (Western Purple Martin Working Group, 2010). Several factors, including a small population size, loss of breeding habitat, and reductions in the number of suitable nesting sites have put populations of the western purple martin at risk throughout much of the Pacific Northwest region (Rockwell, 2019).

The 150th anniversary of the 1869 Powell expedition—USGS participation in the Sesquicentennial Colorado River Exploring Expedition and reflections from the ~1,000-mile journey down the Green and Colorado Rivers

Released December 03, 2020 14:25 EST

2020, Circular 1475

Annie Scott, Eleanour Snow

In 1869, John Wesley Powell completed the first well-recorded scientific river journey to explore an extensive region of the Colorado River Basin. Powell later helped to establish the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and served as its second director (1881–94), cementing his position in the folklore of the Survey. In 2019, the USGS marked the 150th anniversary of Powell’s first expedition with a broad-scale educational campaign as an opportunity to highlight current USGS science in the region through the lens of an exciting river expedition, with the goal of inspiring the next generation of USGS scientists. The project included a partnership with the Sesquicentennial Colorado River Exploring Expedition (SCREE), which traveled the length of the original route for ~1,000 river miles from Green River, Wyoming, to Lake Mead, Nevada, including the Grand Canyon. Small, interdisciplinary groups of USGS employees joined each segment of the journey, gathered data to be used for educational purposes, participated in community outreach events, and upon return shared their experiences with their local communities. This report documents a photographic journey of the expedition, personal vignettes from the USGS participants, Science Stories to explain the scope of the experiments, and Then and Now articles (which were published online during the expedition), to explore some of the changes that have occurred since the first expedition.

Compilation of mercury data and associated risk to human and ecosystem health, Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Wisconsin

Released December 03, 2020 08:05 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1095

Douglas A. Burns

Mercury is an environmentally ubiquitous neurotoxin, and its methylated form presents health risks to humans and other biota, primarily through dietary intake. Because methylmercury bioaccumulates and biomagnifies in living tissue, concentrations progressively increase at higher trophic positions in ecosystem food webs. Therefore, the greatest health risks are for organisms at the highest trophic positions and for humans who consume organisms such as fish from these high trophic positions. Data on environmental mercury concentrations in various media and biota provide a basis for comparison among sites and regions and for evaluating ecosystem health risks. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Natural Resources Department, Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, have compiled a dataset from analyses of mercury concentrations in surface water, bed sediment, fish tissue, Rana clamitans (green frog) tissue, Haliaeetus leucocephalus (bald eagle) feathers, Lontra canadensis (North American river otter) hair, Zizania palustris (northern wild rice), and litterfall from samples collected in the Bad River watershed, Wisconsin during 2004–18. These data originated from either the Natural Resources Department or another agency based on samples collected within or near to Bad River Tribal lands before transfer to the U.S. Geological Survey for compilation and analysis at the onset of the project. This report describes the compiled mercury dataset, provides comparisons to similar measurements in the region and elsewhere, and evaluates health risks to humans and to the sampled biota. Except for litterfall, data were not collected on a consistent, regular basis over a sufficient period to evaluate temporal patterns. The reported mercury concentrations are generally similar to those reported elsewhere in the upper Great Lakes region. Reported values are consistent with atmospheric deposition as the principal source and reflect a favorable environment for mercury methylation. Fish mercury concentrations increased at higher food web positions and generally increased with length in most species measured. Sander vitreus (walleye) present the greatest risk to humans among fishes considered here because of their high trophic position and associated elevated mercury concentrations in combination with relatively high walleye consumption rates by the Native American community. Methylmercury concentrations in wild rice are generally low and likely pose little health risk. Despite reports of declining atmospheric mercury deposition across eastern North America during the past decade, a downward trend in litterfall mercury deposition was not evident in samples collected during 2012–18. Limitations in this data compilation and analysis were noted due to missing information such as collection dates and site locations for some samples. Regular monitoring of mercury in litterfall and surface waters along with periodic collection of fish would enable evaluation of temporal change in the mercury cycle that might affect future risk to humans and aquatic ecosystem inhabitants.

Geologic map of Jezero crater and the Nili Planum region, Mars

Released December 02, 2020 15:18 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Map 3464

Vivian Z. Sun, Kathryn M. Stack

The cratered highlands located northwest of Isidis Planitia have been recognized as one of the best preserved Noachian landscapes currently exposed on Mars; the area hosts a record of diverse surface processes, diagenesis, and aqueous alteration. This region has consistently been considered a high priority for landed-mission exploration and includes the anticipated landing site of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover within Jezero crater. Past mapping, focused on Jezero crater and the surrounding area, Nili Planum, has varied in spatial extent, map scale, and purpose, though no previous maps have provided a continuous, high-resolution geologic map at uniform scale connecting the two locations. This map represents the first, large-scale, continuous geologic map spanning both Jezero crater and Nili Planum that is based on high-resolution images.

The map area contains the majority of both Jezero crater and Nili Planum at a publication map scale of 1:75,000, which was chosen to encompass the Jezero and southern Nili Planum landing sites under consideration for the Mars 2020 mission at the time of project initiation. This map covers an area that is exactly 1° by 1° (~60 by 60 km), spanning lat 76.8° N. to long 77.8° E. and lat 17.7° to long 18.7° N. The primary base map used for this geologic map is composed of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s Context Camera (CTX) images, compiled into a 6 meter per pixel (m/pixel) mosaic. A nighttime Thermal Emission Imaging System 100 m/pixel image mosaic, digital terrain models constructed from CTX images, High-Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) topographic data, and High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRise) images also aided in unit identification and the assessment of stratigraphic relations. We defined map units on the basis of various characteristics visible in the CTX data at map scale, such as their texture, tone, morphology, marginal characteristics, geographic location, and stratigraphic relations to other units. Some units occur solely within Jezero crater, while Nili Planum contains a sequence of units that are present across the broader northwest Isidis Planitia region. Other units occur in both Jezero crater and Nili Planum, including bedrock, aeolian, and crater units. This map publication provides a regional geologic framework that connects the geologic units across Jezero crater and Nili Planum and the history they imply, facilitates future local-scale observations by landed missions of the Jezero crater and Nili Planum region, and enables the extrapolation of units that have been defined primarily by mineralogic composition to areas where there is no existing orbital spectroscopic data.

Low-flow characteristics of streams from Wailua to Hanapēpē, Kauaʻi, Hawaiʻi

Released December 02, 2020 14:59 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5128

Chui Ling Cheng

The purpose of this study is to characterize streamflow availability under natural (unregulated) low-flow conditions for streams in southeast Kaua‘i, Hawai‘i. The nine main study-area basins, from north to south, include Wailua River, Hanamā‘ulu, Nāwiliwili, Pūʻali, Hulēʻia, Waikomo, Lāwaʻi, and Wahiawa Streams, and Hanapēpē River. The results of this study can be used by water managers to develop technically sound instream-flow standards for the study-area streams.

Low-flow characteristics for natural streamflow conditions were represented by flow-duration discharges that are equaled or exceeded between 95 and 50 percent of the time. Short-term continuous-record stream-gaging stations that monitored low flows on Waiahi and right branch Lāwaʻi Streams were established to serve as potential index stations for partial-record sites in the study area. Continuous-record stream-gaging station on Hanapēpē River monitored natural flow during calendar year 2017 and the streamflow record during that period was used to estimate low-flow characteristics at the station. Partial-record sites were established on 3 main streams and 15 tributary streams, upstream from existing surface-water diversions. Low-flow characteristics were determined using historical and current streamflow data from continuous-record stream-gaging stations and miscellaneous sites, as well as additional data collected as part of this study. Low-flow-duration discharges for the following streams were estimated for the 59-year base period (water years 1961–2019) using two record-augmentation techniques: right branch ʻŌpaekaʻa Stream, North Fork Wailua River, north and south fork Waikoko Streams, ‘Ili‘ili‘ula Stream, north and south fork Hanamāʻulu Streams, Kamo‘oloa Stream, Pāohia Stream, Ku‘ia Stream, Lāwa‘i Stream, Wahiawa Stream, and Hanapēpē River. The 95-percent flow-duration discharges (Q95) ranged from 0.018 to 42 cubic feet per second (ft3/s). The 50-percent flow-duration discharges (Q50) ranged from 1.1 to 69 ft3/s. Upper-bound estimates of low-flow duration discharges at partial-record sites on south fork Hanamāʻulu, Hanamāʻulu tributary, ʻŌmaʻo, and Pōʻeleʻele Streams were estimated based on the highest discharges measured as part of this study during Q95 to Q50 flow conditions, which were 0.44, 0.40, 0.19, and 0.22 ft3/s, respectively. Measured discharges on Nāwiliwili, Pū‘ali, and left branch Wahiawa Streams do not correlate with data at any active long-term continuous-record stream-gaging stations (10 or more complete water years of natural-flow record) and therefore low-flow duration discharges could not be estimated.

This study also estimated streamflow gains and losses using seepage-run discharge measurements in eight of the nine study basins (Pūʻali Stream basin was excluded). A majority of the streams gained flow downstream from the uppermost diversions. Measured seepage-gain rates ranged between 0.03 and 24.3 ft3/s per mile of stream reach. Seepage gains are presumed to originate mainly from groundwater discharge in the Wailua River, Hanamā‘ulu Stream, Nāwiliwili Stream, Hulēʻia Stream, Lāwa‘i Stream, Wahiawa Stream, and Hanapēpē River basins. Under natural-flow conditions and flow conditions of the seepage runs, a majority of the study-area streams flow continuously from the mountains to the ocean. Where a stream discharges into a reservoir––Hanamā‘ulu and Wahiawa Streams––a dry reach may occur immediately downstream from the reservoir to the point of seepage gain in the stream.

Quality of data from the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Network for water years 2013–17

Released December 02, 2020 12:25 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5116

Laura Medalie, Laura M. Bexfield

Water samples from 122 sites in the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Network were collected in 2013–17 to document ambient water-quality conditions in surface water of the United States and to determine status and trends of loads and concentrations for nutrients, contaminants, and sediment to estuaries and streams. Quality-control (QC) samples collected in the field with environmental samples were combined with QC samples from laboratory processing to provide information and documentation about the quality of the environmental data.

Quality assurance for inorganic and organic compounds assessed in the National Water Quality Network includes collection of field blanks to determine contamination bias and field replicates to determine variability bias. No contamination bias was found for 6 of the 13 nutrient compounds analyzed, and some potential contamination bias for some years was found for the other 7 nutrient compounds. Contamination bias was not found for carbon compounds or ultraviolet-absorbance measurements and was not assessed for sediment. All major ions and trace elements except potassium and lithium showed moderate contamination bias for at least 1 water year; generally, this bias was not at environmentally relevant concentrations. All compounds in the nutrient, carbon, and sediment group and in the major ions and trace elements group had low variability both in detection frequency and in concentration. Exceptions to this low variability were total particulate inorganic carbon and sediment for 2015, both of which are particulate substances with intrinsically high sampling variability.

The risk of contamination bias for pesticides in National Water Quality Network samples was low, as indicated by very few detections in field blanks. Sixteen pesticide compounds showed potential contamination bias based on unexpected detections in third-party blind spikes (false-positive results for compounds that are not included in the spike mixture of a sample, where the identity as a QC sample is unknown to the analyst), and 47 different compounds (out of 225 pesticide compounds) showed potential contamination bias from laboratory blanks. However, when timing and relative magnitudes of detections in blank samples, environmental samples, and benchmark concentrations are considered, most of this potential contamination is not relevant to interpretation of published pesticide results. Overall variability in detection frequency for pesticides from field replicates was low or moderate. Also based on field replicates, 55 pesticides had overall high variability in concentrations for at least 1 water year, although these assessments likely overestimate high variability.

At least 1 QC issue was found for 87 pesticides; however, most of the QC issues had no or little effect on the interpretation of environmental results because the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Laboratory addressed the QC issue before publishing the environmental results, environmental results were almost entirely nondetections, concentrations of environmental results were higher than potential contamination bias, or benchmark concentrations were orders of magnitude higher than all environmental results. Eight compounds affected by two QC issues had a benchmark less than 100 nanograms per liter and warranted careful consideration of timing and magnitude of QC results in relation to surface-water results before interpretive use.

Considerations for incorporating quality control into water quality sampling strategies for the U.S. Geological Survey

Released December 02, 2020 12:25 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1109

Laura Medalie

This report describes considerations for incorporating routine quality-assessment and quality-control evaluations into U.S. Geological Survey discrete water-sampling programs and projects. U.S. Geological Survey water-data science in 2020 is characterized by robustness, external reproducibility, collaborative large-volume data analysis, and efficient delivery of water-quality data. Confidence in data, or robustness, can be increased by supplementing traditional field-based quality-control data with laboratory quality control (QC) data, such as third-party blind spikes and blind blanks, laboratory blanks, and laboratory-reagent spikes. Laboratory quality-control data can provide additional information about bias and variability, method performance, and false-positive and false-negative rates that are not available from field QC data alone. Reproducibility is supported by means of standardizing metadata and documentation. Collaborative analysis brings together disparate elements of various types of quality-control review and communicates persistent data quality issues for compounds to data users internal and external to the U.S. Geological Survey. Efficient delivery of water-quality data is achieved when quality-control review is accomplished in the same expedited (near real-time) time frame as distribution of environmental results to the public and might be improved with consideration given to data versioning or to a system of alerting data users to data interpretation that might differ from originally published data.

Planetary cave exploration progresses

Released December 01, 2020 07:42 EST

2020, Eos, Earth and Space Science News (101)

Timothy N. Titus, C. M. Phillips-Lander, P. J. Boston, J. J. Wynne, L. Kerber

Planetary caves have been identified on the Moon and on Mars, and are likely to occur across the Solar System. They present a new frontier for planetary science, subsurface astrobiology, geology and human exploration. The fourth in a series of scientific meetings focusing on the science and exploration of planetary caves brought together 55 terrestrial and planetary scientists, robotics and instrumentation engineers, and students (16 including 1 undergraduate). Conference participants discussed the state of the art of relevant sciences and current engineering capabilities as applied to planetary cave exploration and research. Specifically, they considered cave formation mechanisms, preserved geological records, cave micro-climate and astrobiological potential, engineering challenges of subsurface exploration, and potential robotic mission concepts to explore the subsurface of other worlds, especially the Moon and Mars.

Water levels and selected water-quality conditions in the Mississippi River Valley alluvial aquifer in eastern Arkansas, 2014

Released December 01, 2020 05:43 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5123

Kirk D. Rodgers, Amanda R. Whaling

In 2014, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Arkansas Geological Survey and the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission, determined water-level altitudes in 468 wells in eastern Arkansas and collected water-quality samples from 144 wells. Water-level altitudes were calculated based on the measured depth to water in each well and used to construct a potentiometric-surface map of the Mississippi River Valley alluvial aquifer, and the water-quality samples were analyzed for chloride and bromide concentrations. Upon completion of the potentiometric-surface map, 10 depressions in the potentiometric surface were identified in the Mississippi Alluvial Plain: two large depressions, five small depressions, and three areas of decreased water levels. Analyses of water-quality samples identified several areas of elevated chloride/bromide ratios.

A water-level altitude difference map was constructed using 345 groundwater levels measured in 2010 and 2014. Differences in water-level altitude ranged from –10.2 feet in Craighead County to 18.00 feet in Prairie County. Analysis of the overall water-level altitude differences indicated a decline in approximately 84 percent of the wells measured in both 2010 and 2014, including in areas where previous studies indicated water-level altitude increases between 2008 and 2012. Analysis of long-term hydrographs of wells in the study area indicated that mean annual water levels declined in all but two counties. The decline in water levels observed in the hydrographs suggests continued growth of the cones of depression caused by groundwater use in the Mississippi River Valley alluvial aquifer.

Assessment of undiscovered oil and gas resources in the Mancos-Menefee composite and underlying Todilto Total Petroleum Systems of the San Juan Basin Province, New Mexico and Colorado, 2020

Released November 30, 2020 17:30 EST

2020, Fact Sheet 2020-3049

Kristen R. Marra, Christopher J. Schenk, Tracey J. Mercier, Heidi M. Leathers-Miller, Marilyn E. Tennyson, Thomas M. Finn, Cheryl A. Woodall, Michael E. Brownfield, Phuong A. Le, Ronald M. Drake II

Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated undiscovered, technically recoverable mean resources of 12 million barrels of oil and 27 trillion cubic feet of gas in the Mancos-Menefee Composite and underlying Todilto Total Petroleum Systems of the San Juan Basin Province, New Mexico and Colorado.

Assessment of undiscovered gas resources in the Lewis Shale Total Petroleum System of the San Juan Basin Province, New Mexico and Colorado, 2020

Released November 30, 2020 17:30 EST

2020, Fact Sheet 2020-3048

Kristen R. Marra, Christopher J. Schenk, Tracey J. Mercier, Heidi M. Leathers-Miller, Marilyn E. Tennyson, Thomas M. Finn, Cheryl A. Woodall, Michael E. Brownfield, Phuong A. Le, Ronald M. Drake II

Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated undiscovered, technically recoverable mean resources of 2.6 trillion cubic feet of gas in the Lewis Shale Total Petroleum System of the San Juan Basin Province, New Mexico and Colorado.

Assessment of undiscovered gas resources of the Fruitland Total Petroleum System, San Juan Basin Province, New Mexico and Colorado, 2020

Released November 30, 2020 17:30 EST

2020, Fact Sheet 2020-3047

Kristen R. Marra, Christopher J. Schenk, Tracey J. Mercier, Heidi M. Leathers-Miller, Marilyn E. Tennyson, Thomas M. Finn, Cheryl A. Woodall, Michael E. Brownfield, Phuong A. Le, Ronald M. Drake II

Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated undiscovered, technically recoverable mean resources of 39 trillion cubic feet of gas within continuous and conventional reservoirs of the Fruitland Total Petroleum System in the San Juan Basin Province, New Mexico and Colorado.

Optimization assessment of a groundwater-level observation network in the Middle Rio Grande Basin, New Mexico

Released November 30, 2020 08:28 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5007

Andre B. Ritchie, Jeff D. Pepin

The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA), measures groundwater levels continuously (hourly) and discretely (semiannually and annually) at a network of wells and piezometers (hereafter called the observation network) within the Middle Rio Grande Basin in central New Mexico. Groundwater levels that are measured in this observation network provide a long-term hydrologic dataset that is heavily relied upon to make water management decisions. The desire to upgrade and perform maintenance on this observation network initiated this study, which assesses the spatial and temporal importance of measurements towards optimization of monitoring the observation network to reduce or redirect monitoring costs. This report describes the methods and results of the optimization assessment of this observation network, which included separate spatial and temporal methodologies and an evaluation using principal component analysis (PCA).

Results from the spatial optimization assessment can be used to help identify observation network sites that do not significantly affect the generation of winter groundwater-elevation contour maps of the production zone. Results from the temporal optimization assessment and PCA can also be consulted when deciding which sites to remove from the network, especially for sites that are monitored more frequently than annually. Results from the temporal optimization assessment can be used to inform the minimum monitoring frequency at the observation network required to capture the trends shown in higher frequency monitoring. The PCA results distinguish spatially distributed characteristic water-level trends that can inform the management decisions that are made when using the spatial and temporal optimization assessment results. Reducing the temporal frequency or spatial density of monitoring is ultimately a management decision that depends on the amount of data loss or degradation that is deemed acceptable while still meeting the network objectives of the ABCWUA. This study can also serve as a starting point to a data gap analysis of local aquifer characteristics and help guide enhanced observation network design as needs arise or in advance of future water management decisions.

The results of the spatial optimization assessment indicate that as many as 20 specified sites can be removed from the observation network with a relatively small loss in the ability to represent the kriged groundwater-elevation surfaces of the production zone that were generated by using median groundwater elevations for two periods: the 2001 time interval and 2015 time interval. This analysis also demonstrated the importance of wells at the margin of the study area and in areas where there are large hydrologic gradients. At many of the 47 hourly monitored sites analyzed in the temporal optimization assessment, temporal trends were well represented for at least one of the reduced monitoring frequencies tested, indicating that a reduced frequency may be sufficient to adequately characterize seasonal and long-term trends. PCA and k-means clustering analysis of the 15 hourly monitored sites that are screened within the production zone indicate that the sites can be categorized into four groups, or clusters, of differing groundwater-level hydrograph characteristics. Except for one cluster, all of the clusters have the potential to be well represented by fewer index monitoring sites.

Characterizing patterns of genomic variation in the threatened Utah prairie dog: Implications for conservation and management

Released November 29, 2020 08:40 EST

2020, Evolutionary Applications

Rachel M. Giglio, Tonie E. Rocke, Jorge E. Osorio, Emily K. Latch

Utah prairie dogs (Cynomys parvidens) are federally threatened due to eradication campaigns, habitat destruction, and outbreaks of plague. Today, Utah prairie dogs exist in small, isolated populations, making them less demographically stable and more susceptible to erosion of genetic variation by genetic drift. We characterized patterns of genetic structure at neutral and putatively adaptive loci in order to evaluate the relative effects of genetic drift and local adaptation on population divergence. We sampled individuals across the Utah prairie dog species range and generated 2,955 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) using double digest restriction site associated DNA sequencing (ddRAD). Genetic diversity was lower in low elevation sites compared to high elevation sites. Population divergence was high among sites and followed an isolation‐by‐distance (IBD) model. Our results indicate that genetic drift plays a substantial role in the population divergence of the Utah prairie dog, and colonies would likely benefit from translocation of individuals between recovery units, which are characterized by distinct elevations, despite the detection of environmental associations with outlier loci. By understanding the processes that shape genetic structure, better informed decisions can be made with respect to the management of threatened species to ensure that adaptation is not stymied.

An analysis of streamflow trends in the southern and southeastern US from 1950-2015

Released November 29, 2020 07:46 EST

2020, Water (12)

Kirk D. Rodgers, Victor L. Roland II, Anne B. Hoos, Elena Crowley-Ornelas, Rodney Knight

In this article, the mean daily streamflow at 139 streamflow-gaging stations (sites) in the southern and southeastern United States are analyzed for spatial and temporal patterns. One hundred and thirty-nine individual time-series of mean daily streamflow were reduced to five aggregated time series of Z scores for clusters of sites with similar temporal variability. These aggregated time-series correlated significantly with a time-series of several climate indices for the period 1950–2015. The mean daily streamflow data were subset into six time periods—starting in 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1990, and 2000, and each ending in 2015, to determine how streamflow trends at individual sites acted over time. During the period 1950–2015, mean monthly and seasonal streamflow decreased at many sites based on results from traditional Mann–Kendall trend analyses, as well as results from a new analysis (Quantile-Kendall) that summarizes trends across the full range of streamflows. A trend departure index used to compare results from non-reference with reference sites identified that streamflow trends at 88% of the study sites have been influenced by non-climatic factors (such as land- and water-management practices) and that the majority of these sites were located in Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia. Analysis of the results found that for sites throughout the study area that were influenced primarily by climate rather than human activities, the step increase in streamflow in 1970 documented in previous studies was offset by subsequent monotonic decreases in streamflow between 1970 and 2015. View Full-Text

colorspace: A toolbox for manipulating and assessing colors and palettes

Released November 29, 2020 07:27 EST

2020, Journal of Statistical Software (96)

Achim Zeileis, Jason C. Fisher, Kurt Hornik, Ross Ihaka, Claire D. McWhite, Paul Murrell, Reto Stauffer, Claus O. Wilke

The R package colorspace provides a flexible toolbox for selecting individual colors or color palettes, manipulating these colors, and employing them in statistical graphics and data visualizations. In particular, the package provides a broad range of color palettes based on the HCL (hue-chroma-luminance) color space. The three HCL dimensions have been shown to match those of the human visual system very well, thus facilitating intuitive selection of color palettes through trajectories in this space. Using the HCL color model, general strategies for three types of palettes are implemented: (1) Qualitative for coding categorical information, i.e., where no particular ordering of categories is available. (2) Sequential for coding ordered/numeric information, i.e., going from high to low (or vice versa). (3) Diverging for coding ordered/numeric information around a central neutral value, i.e., where colors diverge from neutral to two extremes. To aid selection and application of these palettes, the package also contains scales for use with ggplot2, shiny and tcltk apps for interactive exploration, visualizations of palette properties, accompanying manipulation utilities (like desaturation and lighten/darken), and emulation of color vision deficiencies. The shiny apps are also hosted online at

Compositional changes in sediments of subalpine lakes, Uinta Mountains (Utah): Evidence for the effects of human activity on atmospheric dust inputs

Released November 27, 2020 13:54 EST

2010, Journal of Paleolimnology (44) 161-175

Richard L. Reynolds, Jessica S. Mordecai, Joseph G. Rosenbaum, Michael E. Ketterer, Megan K. Walsh, Katrina Moser

Sediments in Marshall and Hidden Lakes in the Uinta Mountains of northeastern Utah contain records of atmospheric mineral-dust deposition as revealed by differences in mineralogy and geochemistry of lake sediments relative to Precambrian clastic rocks in the watersheds. In cores spanning more than a thousand years, the largest changes in composition occurred within the past approximately 140 years. Many elements associated with ore deposits (Ag, As, Bi, Cd, Cu, In, Mo, Pb, S, Sb, Sn, and Te) increase in the lake sediments above depths that correspond to about AD 1870. Sources of these metals from mining districts to the west of the Uinta Mountains are suggested by (1) the absence of mining and smelting of these metals in the Uinta Mountains, and (2) lower concentrations of most of these elements in post-settlement sediments of Hidden Lake than in those of Marshall Lake, which is closer to areas of mining and the densely urbanized part of north-central Utah that is termed the Wasatch Front, and (3) correspondence of Pb isotopic compositions in the sediments with isotopic composition of ores likely to have been smelted in the Wasatch Front. A major source of Cu in lake sediments may have been the Bingham Canyon open-pit mine 110 km west of Marshall Lake. Numerous other sources of metals beyond the Wasatch Front are likely, on the basis of the widespread increases of industrial activities in western United States since about AD 1900. In sediment deposited since ca. AD 1945, as estimated using 239+240Pu activities, increases in concentrations of Mn, Fe, S, and some other redox-sensitive metals may result partly from diagenesis related to changes in redox. However, our results indicate that these elemental increases are also related to atmospheric inputs on the basis of their large increases that are nearly coincident with abrupt increases in silt-sized, titanium-bearing detrital magnetite. Such magnetite is interpreted as a component of atmospheric dust, because it is absent in catchment bedrock. Enrichment of P in sediments deposited after ca. AD 1950 appears to be caused largely by atmospheric inputs, perhaps from agricultural fertilizer along with magnetite-bearing soil.

Towards the understanding of hydrogeochemical seismic responses in karst aquifers: A retrospective meta-analysis focused on the Apennines (Italy)

Released November 26, 2020 06:48 EST

2020, Minerals (10)

Gilberto Binda, Andrea Pozzi, Alessandro Michetti, Paula Noble, Michael R. Rosen

Earthquakes are known to affect groundwater properties, yet the mechanisms causing chemical and physical aquifer changes are still unclear. The Apennines mountain belt in Italy presents a rich literature of case studies documenting hydrogeochemical response to seismicity, due to the high frequency of seismic events and the presence of different regional aquifers in the area. In this study, we synthesize published data from the last 30 years in the Apennine region in order to shed light on the main mechanisms causing earthquake induced water changes. The results suggest the geologic and hydrologic setting specific to a given spring play an important role in spring response, as well as the timing of the observed response. In contrast to setting, the main focal mechanisms of earthquake and the distance between epicenter and the analyzed springs seems to present a minor role in defining the response. The analysis of different response variables, moreover, indicates that an important driver of change is the degassing of CO2, especially in thermal springs, whereas a rapid increase in solute concentration due to permeability enhancement is observable in different cold and shallow springs. These findings also leave open the debate regarding whether earthquake precursors can be recognized beyond site-specific responses. Such responses can be understood more comprehensively through the establishment of a regional long-term monitoring system and continuous harmonization of data and sampling strategies, achievable in the Apennine region through the set-up of a monitoring network.

Use of real-time sensors to temporally characterize water quality in groundwater and surface water in Mason County, Illinois, 2017–19

Released November 25, 2020 14:35 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5108

Lance R. Gruhn, William S. Morrow

The persistence of high nitrate concentrations in shallow groundwater has been well documented in the shallow glacial aquifer of Mason County, Illinois. Nitrates in groundwater can be a concern when concentrations exceed 10 milligrams per liter in drinking water. Additionally, nitrate in groundwater can contribute to surface water nitrogen loads that can cause increased algal growth. Algal growth increases oxygen consumption causing anoxic conditions as observed in the Gulf of Mexico Hypoxic Zone.

From March 8, 2017, to March 31, 2019, groundwater level, continuous nitrate, dissolved oxygen, specific conductance, water temperature, and pH data were collected in a monitoring well to temporally assess changes in water quality using high frequency data. During this same period, instantaneous field measurements of water quality and groundwater levels were made in surface water and groundwater in and near Quiver Creek in the presumed groundwater flow path about 0.6 mile from the continuous monitoring well. Groundwater nitrate concentrations continuously measured in the aquifer during this time ranged from 14.7 to 23.2 milligrams per liter, whereas instantaneously measured nitrate concentrations in Quiver Creek ranged from 0.9 to 6.4 milligrams per liter. Nitrate concentrations measured by piezometer varied laterally and vertically in the Quiver Creek floodplain and beneath the stream. Irrigation and fertigation for agriculture is widely practiced in Mason County. This may seasonally affect the groundwater flow and movement as well as the persistence of nitrate in this area. Continuously and instantaneously measured nitrate concentrations and groundwater levels indicate that during the irrigation season, discharge to Quiver Creek from the shallow groundwater system may be limited. During and following periods when estimated irrigation use is highest, the low-nitrate deeper groundwater may be the dominant contributor to the Quiver Creek surface water, whereas during recharge events and when the system is not under the stress of irrigation, there is more contribution from the local and higher-nitrate shallow groundwater.

Bathymetric and velocimetric surveys at highway bridges crossing the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers on the periphery of Missouri, July–August 2018

Released November 24, 2020 16:52 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5088

Richard J. Huizinga

Bathymetric and velocimetric data were collected by the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Missouri Department of Transportation, near 7 bridges at 6 highway crossings of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers on the periphery of the State of Missouri from July 16 to August 13, 2018. A multibeam echosounder mapping system was used to obtain channel-bed elevations for river reaches about 1,640 feet longitudinally and generally extending laterally across the active channel from bank to bank during moderate flood-flow conditions. These surveys indicate the channel conditions at the time of the surveys and provide characteristics of scour holes that may be useful in the development of predictive guidelines or equations for scour holes. These data also may be useful to the Missouri Department of Transportation as a low to moderate flood-flow comparison to help assess the bridges for stability and integrity issues with respect to bridge scour during floods.

Bathymetric data were collected around every pier that was in water, except those at the edge of water, and scour holes were present at most piers for which bathymetry could be obtained, except those on banks, on bedrock, or surrounded by riprap. Occasionally, the scour hole near a pier was difficult to discern from nearby bed features. The observed scour holes at the surveyed bridges were generally examined with respect to shape and depth.

Although partial exposure of substructural support elements was observed at several piers, at most sites the exposure likely can be considered minimal compared to the overall substructure that remains buried in bed material at these piers. The notable exceptions are piers 12 and 13 at structure L0135 on State Highway 51 at Chester, Illinois, at which the bedrock material was fully exposed around the piers.

The presence of riprap blankets, pier size and nose shape, and alignment to flow had a substantial effect on the size of the scour hole observed for a given pier. Piers that were surrounded by riprap blankets had scour holes that were substantially smaller (to nonexistent) compared to piers at which no rock or riprap were present. Narrow piers having round or sharp noses that were aligned with flow often had scour holes that were difficult to discern from nearby bed features, whereas piers having wide or blunt noses resulted in larger, deeper scour holes. Several of the structures had piers that were skewed to primary approach flow, and scour holes near these piers generally displayed deposition on the leeward side of the pier and greater depth on the side of the pier with impinging flow.

Predicted pH of groundwater in the Mississippi River Valley alluvial and Claiborne aquifers, south-central United States

Released November 24, 2020 14:14 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Map 3465

James A. Kingsbury, Katherine J. Knierim, Connor J. Haugh

Regional aquifers in the Mississippi embayment are the principal sources of water used for public and domestic supply, irrigation, and industrial uses throughout the region. An understanding of how water quality varies spatially, temporally, and with depth are critical aspects to ensuring long-term sustainable use of these resources. A boosted regression tree (BRT) model was used by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to map water quality in the three regional aquifers with the largest groundwater withdrawals in the embayment: the Mississippi River Valley alluvial (MRVA) aquifer, middle Claiborne aquifer (MCAQ), and lower Claiborne aquifer (LCAQ).

The BRT model was used to predict pH to 1-kilometer raster grid cells for seven aquifer layers (one MRVA, four MCAQ, two LCAQ) following the hydrogeologic framework of the Mississippi embayment aquifer system regional MODFLOW model. The methods and approach used for pH predictions are the same as those used recently by the USGS to predict specific conductance and chloride in the aquifers. Explanatory variables for the BRT models included variables describing well location and construction, surficial variables such as soil properties and land use, and variables extracted from the groundwater flow model, such as groundwater levels and ages. The primary source of pH data was the USGS National Water Information System database. Additional data from State ambient groundwater monitoring programs and the Safe Drinking Water Information System also were used. For wells sampled multiple times, the most recent sample was used. Because groundwater residence times are long (greater than 100 years) throughout much of the study area, the possible effects of changes in water quality over time were considered small compared to the improvement in overall model accuracy by using available historical data. Values of pH from 3,362 wells for samples collected between 1960 and 2018 were used as training data for the BRT model. An additional 839 samples were used as holdout data to evaluate model performance. The predictive performance of the pH model is lower than for the training dataset, as indicated by an r-squared value of 0.89 for the training data and an r-squared of 0.71 for the holdout data. The root mean squared errors for the training and holdout data are 0.32 and 0.50 standard pH units, respectively. Data generated during this study and the model output are available from the companion data release.

Multiple-well monitoring site adjacent to the North and South Belridge Oil Fields, Kern County, California

Released November 24, 2020 12:43 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1116

Rhett R. Everett, Anthony A. Brown, Janice M. Gillespie, Adam Kjos, Nicole C. Fenton

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the California State Water Resources Control Board, is evaluating several questions about oil and gas development and groundwater resources in California, including (1) the location of groundwater resources; (2) the proximity of oil and gas operations to groundwater and the geologic materials between them; (3) evidence (or no evidence) of fluids from oil and gas sources in groundwater; and (4) the pathways or processes responsible when fluids from oil and gas sources are present in groundwater (U.S. Geological Survey, 2017). As part of this evaluation, the USGS installed a multiple-well monitoring site in the southern San Joaquin Valley groundwater basin adjacent to the North and South Belridge oil fields, about 7 miles southwest of Lost Hills, California. Data collected at the Belridge multiple-well monitoring site (BWSD) provide information about the geology, hydrology, geophysical properties, and geochemistry of the aquifer system, thus enhancing understanding of relations between adjacent groundwater and the North and South Belridge oil fields in an area where there are few groundwater data. This report presents construction information for the BWSD and initial hydrogeologic data collected from the site. A similar site installed to the east of the Lost Hills oil field, 11.5 miles to the north of the BWSD site, was described by Everett and others (2020a).

Assessment of undiscovered conventional oil and gas resources of Southeast Asia, 2020

Released November 24, 2020 10:05 EST

2020, Fact Sheet 2020-3046

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

Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated undiscovered, technically recoverable mean resources of 10.5 billion barrels of oil and 271.5 trillion cubic feet of gas within 33 geologic provinces of Southeast Asia.

Assessment of Ambystomatid salamander populations and their breeding habitats in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Released November 23, 2020 10:50 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5081

Craig D. Snyder, John A. Young, James T. Julian, Tim L. King, Shanon E. Julian

This report presents abundance and occurrence data for three species of ambystomad salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum, A. jeffersonianum, and A. opacum) collected over a 3-year period (2000, 2001, and 2002) at 200 potentional breeding sies within the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (DEWA). In addition, numerous measures of inpond, near-pond, and landscape attributes were measured and used to inform statistical models to determine species-habitat relationships in the DEWA.

The results of a 3-year study of ambystomatid salamander breeding habits and habitats in the (DEWA) that was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the National Park Service, are described in the report. The objectives of the study were to document the population status and critical breeding habitats of the three species of ambystomatid salamanders known to be present in the DEWA—Ambystoma maculatum (spotted salamander), A. opacum (marbled salamander), and A. jeffersonianum (Jefferson salamander). DEWA managers are interested in ecological information on these species for several reasons. First, at the time the study began, there was little known regarding the status of pond-breeding amphibians and their habitats in the DEWA. Second, because they require undegraded habitats in both terrestrial and aquatic habitats to successfully complete their life cycles, the status of ambystomatid salamanders is widely viewed as indicative of overall ecosystem health. Third, because ambystomatid salamanders and other pond-breeding amphibians have been observed in numerous artificial impoundments with the DEWA, park managers would like to assess whether dismantling or discontinuing maintenance of artificial impoundments could affect pond-breeding amphibians and possibly other species that use pond or wetland habitats in the Park.

In 2001, 2002, and 2003, the size and location of 200 wetlands, ponds, and artificial impoundments, and related landscape positions (Ridge versus Valley; Pennsylvania side versus New Jersey side of the Delaware river) were mapped, and site habitat data relating to salamander occurrence and abundance patterns were collected. The data collected during this study provide important new baseline information on ambystomatid salamanders and wetland habitats in the DEWA that will enhance long-term inventory and monitoring efforts. In addition, breeding habitat assessments indicate that ambystomatid salamanders may be sensitive to a wide variety of stresses important in the DEWA and in the region. In particular, recent trends in development (for example, roads) in and near the DEWA, regional increases in the acidity of precipitation, and predicted long-term warming trends for the region could be detrimental to pond-breeding salamander populations because of their effects on breeding site quality and quantity, and on the integrity of migration corridors. In contrast, the results of the study indicate management plans to eliminate small impoundments are not likely to adversely affect salamanders in DEWA, at least in the short-term. However, it is possible that these small impoundments may offer stable habitats that provide a rescure effect during long-term droughts.

Small mammal responses to wetland restoration in the Greater Everglades ecosystem

Released November 22, 2020 07:56 EST

2020, Restoration Ecology

Stephanie Romanach, Laura D'Acunto, Julia Chapman, Matthew R Hanson

Wetlands have experienced dramatic losses in extent around the world, disrupting ecosystem function, habitat, and biodiversity. In Florida’s Greater Everglades, a massive restoration effort costing billions of dollars and spanning multiple decades is underway. As Everglades restoration is implemented in incremental projects, scientists and planners monitor the outcomes of projects. In this study, we evaluated the progress of a restoration project in the southwestern Everglades. We aimed to determine whether the presence and density of small mammals differed between areas with hydrologic restoration of the ecosystem and areas without restoration. Our three focal species were: marsh rice rat (Oryzomys palustris), hispid cotton rat (Sigmodon hispidus), and cotton mouse (Peromyscus gossypinus). Using spatially explicit capture‐recapture models, we found greater densities of cotton mouse in restored habitat and lower densities of hispid cotton rat in sites with higher water levels. Additionally, we found an increase in the presence of the marsh rice rat in restored areas compared to unrestored, but captures were too low to reliably assess significance. Our study provides evidence that ongoing restoration in the southwestern Everglades is already impacting the small mammal community.

A comparison of plant communities in restored, old field, and remnant coastal prairies

Released November 22, 2020 07:41 EST

2020, Restoration Ecology

Laura Feher, Larry Allain, Michael Osland, Elisabeth Pigott, Christopher Reid, Nicholas Latiolais

Temperate grasslands are experiencing worldwide declines due to habitat conversion. Grassland restoration efforts are employed to compensate for these losses. However, there is a need to better understand the ecological effects of grassland restoration and management practices. We investigated the effects of three different grassland management regimes on plant communities of coastal prairie ecosystems in southwest Louisiana (USA). We compared old fields, prairie remnants, and restored prairies. Coastal prairies are a unique type of grassland historically present across southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana. Old fields represent former coastal prairie habitats allowed to revegetate naturally without active management. Remnant coastal prairies are small, isolated patches of comparatively intact prairie. Restored coastal prairies have been actively restored by planting native coastal prairie vegetation and managed with prescribed burning, mowing, and/or removal of invasive non‐native species. Our work was conducted in 3 old fields, 4 remnants, and 4 restored prairies. Old fields were dominated by non‐native species with low conservation value, whereas remnant prairies were dominated by native species with high conservation value. Remnants had a mean species richness of 75 species per site, which is higher than most other tallgrass prairie ecosystems in North America. Restored sites were dominated by native species with high conservation value, although the composition differed between restored and remnant sites. Collectively, our results: (1) reinforce the importance of identifying and preserving remnant coastal prairies; and (2) show that restoration of degraded coastal prairies is a viable strategy for supporting the persistence of these unique grassland ecosystems.

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

Released November 20, 2020 14:35 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5090

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

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

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

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

Systematic characterization of morphotectonic variability along the Cascadia convergent margin: Implications for shallow megathrust behavior and tsunami hazards

Released November 20, 2020 09:17 EST

2020, Geosphere

Janet Watt, Daniel Brothers

Studies of recent destructive megathrust earth­quakes and tsunamis along subduction margins in Japan, Sumatra, and Chile have linked forearc mor­phology and structure to megathrust behavior. This connection is based on the idea that spatial varia­tions in the frictional behavior of the megathrust influence the tectono-morphological evolution of the upper plate. Here we present a comprehen­sive examination of the tectonic geomorphology, outer wedge taper, and structural vergence along the marine forearc of the Cascadia subduction zone (offshore northwestern North America). The goal is to better understand geologic controls on outer wedge strength and segmentation at spatial scales equivalent to rupture lengths of large earthquakes (≥M 6.7), and to examine potential linkages with shallow megathrust behavior.

We use cross-margin profiles, spaced 25 km apart, to characterize along-strike variation in outer wedge width, steepness, and structural vergence (measured between the toe and the outer arc high). The width of the outer wedge varies between 17 and 93 km, and the steepness ranges from 0.9° to 6.5°. Hierarchical cluster analysis of outer wedge width and steepness reveals four distinct regions that also display unique patterns of structural ver­gence and shape of the wedge: Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada (average width, linear wedge, seaward and mixed vergence); Washington, USA (higher width, concave wedge, landward and mixed vergence); northern and central Oregon, USA (average width, linear and convex wedge, mixed and seaward vergence); and southern Oregon and northern California, USA (lower width, convex wedge, seaward and mixed vergence). Variabil­ity in outer wedge morphology and structure is broadly associated with along-strike megathrust segmentation inferred from differences in oceanic asthenospheric velocities, patterns of episodic tremor and slow slip, GPS models of plate locking, and the distribution of seismicity near the plate interface. In more detail, our results appear to delin­eate the extent, geometry, and lithology of dynamic and static backstops along the margin. Varying backstop configurations along the Cascadia mar­gin are interpreted to represent material-strength contrasts within the wedge that appear to regulate the along- and across-strike taper and structural vergence in the outer wedge. We argue that the morphotectonic variability in the outer wedge may reflect spatial variations in shallow megathrust behavior occurring over roughly the last few million years. Comparing outer wedge taper along the Cascadia margin to a global compilation suggests that observations in the global catalog are not accurately representing the range of hetero­geneity within individual margins and highlights the need for detailed margin-wide morphotectonic analyses of subduction zones worldwide.

Comparison of machine learning approaches used to identify the drivers of Bakken oil well productivity

Released November 20, 2020 08:06 EST

2020, Statistical Analysis and Data Mining

Emil D. Attanasi, Philip A. Freeman, Timothy Coburn

Geologists and petroleum engineers have struggled to identify the mechanisms that drive productivity in horizontal hydraulically fractured oil wells. The machine learning algorithms of Random Forest (RF), gradient boosting trees (GBT) and extreme gradient boosting (XGBoost) were applied to a dataset containing 7311 horizontal hydraulically fractured wells drilled into the middle member of the Bakken Formation from 2010 through 2017. The initial goal is to use these data‐driven machine learning algorithms to identify the most important explanatory predictors of well productivity within nine subareas and the composite area. Predictor variables representing initial gas production, the initial 180‐day water cut, and vertical depth vary spatially and are identified with geologically favorable areas. Well‐completion predictors include the well lateral length, number of fracture stages, volume of proppant per stage, and the volume of injected fluids per stage. The performance of methods is compared based on a common test sample. The analysis then examines the comparative predictive performance of the three algorithms for 1330 wells that had initiated production after the initial 7311 well sample had been producing. The computations of predictor importance identified the initial 180‐day water cut and the 30‐day initial gas production predictors as having a dominant influence in most subareas and for the composite area. The relative importance of well completion predictor variables, that is, the number of fracture stages per well, volume of injected proppant per stage, volume of injected fluids per stage, and lateral length, varied considerably across the subareas. For the common test or holdout sample, the models calibrated with the XGBoost algorithm had superior predictive power. The predictive power of all the algorithms trained on the data from the original sample suffered some loss when tested with a sample of wells that had started production after the end of that period. Implications of the empirical findings and strategies to mitigate loss of predictive power are discussed in the concluding section.

Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus)

Released November 20, 2020 08:03 EST

2020, Book chapter, Bears of the world: Ecology, conservation and management

Karyn D. Rode, Martyn E. Obbard, Stanislav Belikov, Andrew E. Derocher, George M. Durner, Gregory Thiemann, Morten Tryland, Robert J. Letcher, Randi Meyersen, Christian Sonne, Bjorn Jenssen, Rune Dietz, Dag Vongraven

This chapter comprises the following sections: names, taxonomy, subspecies and distribution, descriptive notes, habitat, movements and home range, activity patterns, feeding ecology, reproduction and growth, behavior, parasites and diseases, status in the wild, and status in captivity.

How Is climate change affecting polar bears and giant pandas?

Released November 20, 2020 08:01 EST

2020, Book chapter, Bears of the world: Ecology, conservation, and management

Melissa Songer, Todd C. Atwood, David C. Douglas, Qiongyu Huang, Renqiang Li, Nicholas Pilfold, Ming Xu, George M. Durner

Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are the primary cause of climate change and an estimated increase of 3.7 to 4.8 °C is predicted by the year 2100 if emissions continue at current levels. Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) and giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) provide an interesting comparison study of the impact of climate change on bear species. While polar bears and giant pandas are arguably the most distant of the bear species with regard to life histories and behavior, both are likely to be significantly impacted by the broad-scale changes to their environment that are predicted to result from climate change. Herein, we review the conservation status of both species and their habitats, and present current and predicted evidence of the impacts of a changing climate on polar bear and giant panda survival.

Development of a novel framework for modeling field-scale conservation effects of depressional wetlands in agricultural landscapes

Released November 20, 2020 07:46 EST

2020, Journal of Soil and Water Conservation (6) 695-703

Owen P. McKenna, Javier M. Osorio, Katherine D. Behrman, Luca Doro, David M. Mushet

The intermixed cropland, grassland, and wetland ecosystems of the upper mid-western United States combine to provide a suite of valuable ecological services. Grassland and wetland losses in the upper midwestern United States have been extensive, but government-funded conservation programs have protected and restored hundreds of thousands of acres of wetland and grassland habitat in the region. The value of restored wetlands in agricultural fields is complex, and the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) has been lacking the methodology to include these conservation practices in their analyses. Our aim is to develop a reproducible methodology for simulating wetlands within the CEAP cropland modeling framework used to evaluate other agricultural conservation practices. Furthermore, we evaluate the effect of using upland conservation practices on the functioning of restored wetlands. By simulating the addition of a depressional wetland that effectively removes 6% of the field from crop production, we obtained a 15% reduction in annual runoff and a 29% and 28% reduction in mean annual nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) losses, respectively. The presence of the depressional wetland in the field is estimated to also reduce edge-of-field losses of sediments by 20% and sediment-bound N and P by 19% and 23%, respectively. Additionally, adding a grass filter strip around the wetland greatly decreased sediment inputs to the wetland, increasing the effective life of the wetland, in terms of its ability to perform valued services, by decades to centuries. Our method for modeling depressional wetlands embedded in cropped fields provides a means to quantify the effects of wetland conservation practices on field-level losses for regional assessments, such as the CEAP.

Increased burning in a warming climate reduces carbon uptake in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem despite productivity gains

Released November 20, 2020 07:33 EST

2020, Journal of Ecology

Paul D. Henne, Todd J. Hawbaker, Robert M. Scheller, Feng S Zhao, Hong S He, Wenru Xu, Zhiliang Zhu

1. The effects of changing climate and disturbance on mountain forest carbon stocks vary with tree species distributions and over elevational gradients. Warming can increase carbon uptake by stimulating productivity at high elevations but also enhance carbon release by increasing respiration and the frequency, intensity, and size of wildfires.

2. To understand the consequences of climate change for temperate mountain forests, we simulated interactions among climate, wildfire, tree species, and their combined effects on regional carbon stocks in forests of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, USA with the LANDIS‐II landscape change model. Simulations used historical climate and future potential climate represented by downscaled projections from five general circulation models (GCMs) that bracket the range of variability under the representative concentration pathway (RCP) 8.5 emissions scenario.

3. Total ecosystem carbon increased by 67% through 2100 in simulations with historical climate, and by 38 – 69% with GCM climate. Differences in carbon uptake among GCMs resulted primarily from variation in area burned, not productivity. Warming increased productivity by extending the growing season, especially near upper treeline, but did not offset biomass losses to fire. By 2100, simulated area burned increased by 27 – 215% under GCM climate, with the largest increases after 2050. With warming >3 °C in mean annual temperature, the increased frequency of large fires reduced live carbon stocks by 4 – 36% relative to the control, historical climate scenario. However, relative losses in total carbon were delayed under GCMs with large increases in summer precipitation and buffered by carbon retained in soils and the wood of fire‐killed trees. Increasing fire size limited seed dispersal, and reductions in soil moisture limited seedling establishment; both effects will likely constrain long‐term forest regeneration and carbon uptake.

4. Synthesis.Forests in the GYE can maintain a carbon sink through the mid‐century in a warming climate but continued warming may cause the loss of forest area, live aboveground biomass, and ultimately, ecosystem carbon. Future changes in carbon stocks in similar forests throughout western North America will depend on regional thresholds for extensive wildfire and forest regeneration and therefore, changes may occur earlier in drier regions.

Seismic attenuation monitoring of a critically stressed San Andreas fault

Released November 20, 2020 07:06 EST

2020, Geophysical Research Letters (47)

Luca Malagnini, Thomas E. Parsons

We show that seismic attenuation ( urn:x-wiley:00948276:media:grl61586:grl61586-math-0001) along the San Andreas fault (SAF) at Parkfield correlates with the occurrence of moderate‐to‐large earthquakes at local and regional distances. Earthquake‐related urn:x-wiley:00948276:media:grl61586:grl61586-math-0002 anomalies are likely caused by changes in permeability from dilatant static stress changes, damage by strong shaking from local sources, and pore unclogging/clogging from mobilization of colloids by dynamic strains. We find that, prior to the 2004 M6 Parkfield earthquake, prefailure conditions for some local events of moderate magnitude correspond to positive anomalies of urn:x-wiley:00948276:media:grl61586:grl61586-math-0003 on the Pacific side, with local and regional earthquakes producing sharp attenuation reversals. After the 2004 Parkfield earthquake, we see higher urn:x-wiley:00948276:media:grl61586:grl61586-math-0004 anomalies along the SAF, but low sensitivity to local and regional earthquakes, probably because the mainshock significantly altered the permeability state of the rocks adjacent to the SAF, and its sensitivity to earthquake‐induced stress perturbations.

Landscape and climatic influences on actual evapotranspiration and available water using the Operational Simplified Surface Energy Balance (SSEBop) Model in eastern Bernalillo County, New Mexico, 2015

Released November 19, 2020 07:20 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5095

Kyle R. Douglas-Mankin, Ryan J. McCutcheon, Aurelia C. Mitchell, Gabriel B. Senay

The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Bernalillo County Public Works Division, conducted a 1-year study in 2015 to assess the spatial and temporal distribution of evapotranspiration (ET) and available water within the East Mountain area in Bernalillo County, New Mexico. ET and available water vary spatiotemporally because of complex interactions among environmental factors, including vegetation characteristics, soil characteristics, topography, and climate.

Precipitation data from the Parameter-Elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model (PRISM) (P) were used in conjunction with actual ET (ETa) data from the Operational Simplified Surface Energy Balance (SSEBop) model to estimate available water (P ETa) at 100-meter (m) resolution in the study area. Maps, descriptive statistics, boxplots, regression analyses (continuous data), and multiple comparison tests (categorical data) were used to characterize P, ETa, and available water and their relations to topographic, soil, and vegetation datasets in the East Mountain area. Five categories of the natural land-cover type (evergreen forest, shrub, herbaceous, deciduous forest, and mixed forest) and four categories of developed land-cover type specific to residential intensity (developed open, developed low, developed medium, and developed high) were analyzed individually and in interaction with multiple elevation, tree canopy, and soil texture classes.

Annual mean P in 2015 in the East Mountain area was 608 millimeters (mm), and annual mean ETa was 543 mm (89 percent of annual P in 2015), indicating that in 2015, a spatial mean of about 65 mm of water was available for runoff, soil moisture replenishment, or groundwater recharge. Monthly ETa was greatest in July and smallest in January. The intervening months did not show smooth temporal or consistent spatial changes from month to month. Months with lower ETa (January to March, October to December) also tended to have greater available water, indicating that soil moisture (water supply) and potential ET (water demand) may have been out of phase.

Regression analyses showed that monthly ETa data had the highest correlation with annual ETa among the atmospheric, topographic, soil, or vegetation datasets, particularly during the early and late growing season (March, April, May, and September). In contrast, monthly P was highly variable and not as highly correlated with annual ETa. Among landscape variables, correlations with annual ETa were highest for tree canopy cover (coefficient of determination [R2] = 0.46). Correlations between ETa and other landscape variables were lower (R2 = 0.06–0.19): available soil water in the top 100 centimeters, soil bulk density of layer 1, slope, sand content of soil layer 1, soil depth, available soil water in the top 25 centimeters, leaf area index, aspect eastness, and elevation. Evergreen forest areas had the highest annual median ETa, followed by mixed forest, open residential areas, and deciduous forest. Available water typically was higher in landcover types with lower ETa: herbaceous cover, followed by deciduous forest, high-intensity developed areas, and shrub. Deciduous forest had the second highest median available water, despite having the fourth highest ETa, because deciduous forest had greater P than most other areas. Annual median ETa typically was greatest in the second highest elevation band (2,401–2,800 m above the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 [NAVD 88]), and lower in the highest elevation band (2,801–3,254 m above NAVD 88), despite having greater P, likely because of decreased tree canopy cover or a shift from evergreen to deciduous trees at the highest elevations.

Annual median ETa increased with tree canopy cover, regardless of landcover type. ETa correlation was higher with tree canopy than with leaf area index or normalized difference vegetation index. This result indicates that it is important to include the thermal band (from satellite multispectral data) in vegetation indices used to describe ETa, perhaps to account for the influence of energy limitation or water limitation on ET. Of all natural landcover types, finer soils had the most available water, whereas coarser soils had the least available water. Relations of soil type with PETa were different than with ETa, indicating ET and available water have a complex response to differences in soil type. Further modeling would be useful in determining soils’ infiltration, storage, conductivity, and plant-water availability relations to individual storms for each position in the landscape, as well as the corresponding effects of these processes on ET and available water.

The best multivariate linear model for annual ETa had an R2 value of 0.62. Monthly ETa models had R2 values between 0.16 and 0.65. Models usually, but not always, performed best during the growing season. These results indicate that even the best multivariate linear models cannot explain a notable amount of the variability in ET. The monthly ETa models with the highest correlations (August and September) followed a July having almost twice the mean precipitation for July (1981–2010), which indicates that a soil-moisture variable is needed to more accurately model monthly ETa. Further study is needed to better characterize this system, the variables that affect ET and available water, and the partitioning of available water into runoff, soil moisture storage, and groundwater recharge.

Reproduction and denning by San Clemente Island Foxes: Age, sex, and polygamy

Released November 18, 2020 09:14 EST

2020, The Southwestern Naturalist (64) 164-172

Emily E. Hamblen, William F. Andelt, Thomas R. Stanley

Channel Island foxes (Urocyon littoralis) live on six of the eight California Channel Islands, and each island is inhabited by a distinct subspecies. Until recently, four of these subspecies were listed under the Endangered Species Act as endangered. Although three of the four subspecies have been delisted, and one subspecies was downlisted to threatened, all subspecies are still vulnerable because of small population sizes and potential threats from predation and disease. Consequently, information on reproductive behavior for each subspecies, including the San Clemente Island fox (Urocyon littoralis clementae), is important for understanding fox population dynamics. We determined reproductive status of 28 island foxes through observations of radio collared yearlings and adults with or without juveniles between 25 February and 8 October 2009. We found a greater number of adult foxes than yearling foxes and a greater number of female foxes than male foxes observed with juveniles. Also, there was a significantly greater probability of observing adult female foxes with juveniles than yearling males with juveniles. Only 1 of 28 radio collared foxes exhibited either polygamous or “helper” behaviors. Parturition started approximately 2 months earlier than historically recorded for other Channel Island fox subspecies. Our results suggest that in future studies of reproductive success more effort should be placed on monitoring adult females than yearling males. If emergence from dens continues to occur earlier than previously recorded, the current recommended time period for trapping (20 June–31 January) might need revision to exclude January to reduce stress to pregnant females. If all foxes have similar probabilities of transmitting disease on a given contact with juveniles, our data suggest that it may be appropriate to focus more vaccination efforts on females than males and adults than yearlings because they contact juveniles more frequently.

Impacts of environmental conditions on fleas in black-tailed prairie dog burrows

Released November 18, 2020 08:10 EST

2020, Journal of Vector Ecology (45) 356-365

Julia E. Poje, Tonie E. Rocke, Michael D. Samuel

Sylvatic plague, caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis and transmitted by fleas, occurs in prairie dogs of the western United States. Outbreaks can devastate prairie dog communities, often causing nearly 100% mortality. Three competent flea vectors, prairie dog specialists Oropsylla hirsuta and O. tuberculata, and generalist Pulex simulans, are found on prairie dogs and in their burrows. Fleas are affected by climate, which varies across the range of black‐tailed prairie dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus), but these effects may be ameliorated somewhat due to the burrowing habits of prairie dogs. Our goal was to assess how temperature and precipitation affect off‐host flea abundance and whether relative flea abundance varied across the range of black‐tailed prairie dogs. Flea abundance was measured by swabbing 300 prairie dog burrows at six widely distributed sites in early and late summer of 2016 and 2017. Relative abundance of flea species varied among sites and sampling sessions. Flea abundance and prevalence increased with monthly mean high temperature and declined with higher winter precipitation. Predicted climate change in North America will likely influence flea abundance and distribution, thereby impacting plague dynamics in prairie dog colonies.

Field comparison of five in situ turbidity sensors

Released November 17, 2020 10:45 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1123

Teri T. Snazelle

Five commercially available turbidity sensors were field tested by the U.S. Geological Survey Hydrologic Instrumentation Facility for accuracy and data comparability. The tested sensors were the Xylem EXO (EXO), the Hach Solitax sc (Solitax), the In Situ Aqua TROLL sensor installed onto a TROLL 600 sonde (TROLL 600), the Campbell Scientific OBS501 (OBS501), and the Observator ANALITE NEP–5000 (NEP–5000). The sensors were deployed at Pearl River at National Space Technology Laboratories Station, Mississippi (U.S. Geological Survey site 02492620), and were serviced weekly. In addition to the five in situ turbidity sensors, corresponding discrete samples were collected and analyzed during the evaluation on a calibrated Hach 2100N benchtop turbidimeter. The OBS501 malfunctioned early in the evaluation and eventually failed, resulting in few data from the sensor.

During this study, the four remaining sensors (minus the OBS501) changed similarly throughout the field test; however, sensor data from the EXO consistently demonstrated lower results than the Solitax, TROLL 600, and NEP–5000, possibly because of the variation in raw signal processing among manufacturers. Results from a single factor analysis of variance test and a Tukey Honestly Significant Difference test verified the low bias observed in the EXO data and indicated there was a significant difference between the EXO data and data from the Solitax, TROLL 600, and NEP–5000 but an insignificant difference among the data when the Solitax, TROLL 600, and NEP–5000 were compared to each other.

Measured and calculated nitrate and dissolved organic carbon concentrations and loads at the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam, S-79, south Florida, 2014-17

Released November 17, 2020 08:05 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1094

Amanda Booth

The U.S. Geological Survey monitored dissolved nitrate plus nitrite as nitrogen (N) and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations and calculated loads of these constituents at the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam (S-79) from April 2014 to December 2017. Flows from Lake Okeechobee controlled by S-77, S-78 and S-79 affect water quality in the downstream Caloosahatchee River Estuary, where increased nutrients and dissolved organic matter are of concern. Numerous algal blooms have occurred in the Caloosahatchee River and downstream estuaries in recent years (2005–18) and are often attributed to eutrophication. Dissolved nitrate plus nitrite as N (hereafter, referred to as nitrate) data were collected at 15-minute intervals using a submersible ultraviolet optical nitrate sensor. The instrument data were corrected for interferences, as determined by the relation between instrument measurements and 20 concurrent laboratory values. A surrogate model, based on 36 concurrent measurements of DOC, fluorescence of chromophoric dissolved organic matter, and specific conductance, was developed to calculate DOC at 15-minute intervals.

Mean and median calculated nitrate concentrations for the study period (2014–17) were both 0.21 milligram per liter (mg/L). Monthly mean nitrate concentrations ranged from 0.04 mg/L in April 2017 to 0.48 mg/L in November 2015. Monthly mean nitrate concentrations and the proportion of water that was attributed to Lake Okeechobee discharge, released through S-79, were weakly correlated and indicate that the nitrate concentrations typically decreased as the percentage of water released from the lake increased. Annual nitrate loads were 278 metric tons in 2015, 782 metric tons in 2016, and 525 metric tons in 2017. Monthly mean nitrate loads ranged from 1.2 metric tons in April 2017 to 171.3 metric tons in February 2016. Nitrate loads increased linearly with an increase in flow and typically increased during the wet season, May to October. Monthly loads of nitrate were strongly correlated with flow at S-77 and S-79.

Mean and median calculated DOC concentrations for the study period were 18.3 mg/L and 18.9 mg/L, respectively. Monthly mean DOC concentrations ranged from 12.6 mg/L in May 2017 to 21.5 mg/L in September 2015. Generally, DOC concentrations were lower during the dry season months (November to April) and higher during the wet season months. Monthly mean DOC concentrations were moderately correlated with monthly mean flow volumes at S-79. There was a strong correlation between monthly mean DOC concentrations and the proportion of water released at S-79 that can be attributed directly to Lake Okeechobee, indicating that contributions between Moore Haven Lock and Dam (S-77) and S-79 have a higher DOC concentration than water released from Lake Okeechobee. Monthly mean nitrate concentrations and monthly mean DOC concentrations were strongly correlated. Annual loads of DOC were 23,960 metric tons in 2015 and 65,610 metric tons in 2016 (2014 and 2017 data were incomplete). Monthly loads of DOC ranged from 284 metric tons in May 2017 to 15,122 metric tons in September 2017, the latter corresponding to the effects from Hurricane Irma. Monthly loads of DOC were strongly correlated with flow at S-77 and S-79.

Ancient Egyptian mummified shrews (Mammalia: Eulipotyphla: Soricidae) and mice (Rodentia: Muridae) from the Spanish Mission to Dra Abu el-Naga, and their implications for environmental change in the Nile valley during the past two millennia

Released November 16, 2020 07:43 EST

2020, Quaternary Research

Neal Woodman, Salima Ikram

Excavation of Ptolemaic Period (ca. 309–30 BC) strata within Theban Tombs 11, 12, -399-, and UE194A by the Spanish Mission to Dra Abu el-Naga (also known as the Djehuty Project), on the west bank of the Nile River opposite Luxor, Egypt, yielded remains of at least 175 individual small mammals that include four species of shrews (Eulipotypha: Soricidae) and two species of rodents (Rodentia: Muridae). Two of the shrews (Crocidura fulvastra and Crocidura pasha) no longer occur in Egypt, and one species (Crocidura olivieri) is known in the country only from a disjunct population inhabiting the Nile delta and the Fayum. Although deposited in the tombs by humans as part of religious ceremonies, these animals probably derived originally from local wild populations. The coexistence of this diverse array of shrew species as part of the mammal community near Luxor indicates greater availability of moist floodplain habitats than occur there at present. These were probably made possible by a greater flow of the Nile, as indicated by geomorphological and palynological evidence. The mammal fauna recovered by the Spanish Mission provides a unique snapshot of the native Ptolemaic community during this time period, and it permits us to gauge community turnover in the Nile valley of Upper Egypt during the last 2000 years. It also serves as a relevant example for understanding the extinction and extirpation of mammal species as effects of future environmental changes predicted by current climatic models.

How to identify win–win interventions that benefit human health and conservation

Released November 16, 2020 07:38 EST

2020, Nature Sustainability

Skylar R. Hopkins, Susanne H. Sokolow, Julia C Buck, Giulio A. De Leo, Isabel J. Jones, Laura H Kwong, Christopher LeBoa, Andrea J Lund, Andrew J MacDonald, Nicole Nova, Sarah H Olson, Alison J. Peel, Chelsea L. Wood, Kevin D. Lafferty

To reach the Sustainable Development Goals, we may need to act on synergies between some targets while mediating trade-offs between other targets. But what, exactly, are synergies and trade-offs, and how are they related to other outcomes, such as ‘win–win’ solutions? Finding limited guidance in the existing literature, we developed an operational method for distinguishing win–wins from eight other possible dual outcomes (lose–lose, lose–neutral and so on). Using examples related to human health and conservation, we illustrate how interdisciplinary problem-solvers can use this framework to assess relationships among targets and compare multi-target interventions that affect people and nature.

Along-margin variations in breakup volcanism at the Eastern North American Margin

Released November 16, 2020 07:22 EST

2020, Journal of Geophysical Research (125)

John A. Greene, Masako Tominaga, Nathaniel C. Miller

We model the magnetic signature of rift-related volcanism to understand the distribution and volumeofmagmatic activity that occurred during the breakup of Pangaea and early Atlantic opening at the Eastern North American Margin (ENAM).Along-strike variations in the amplitude and character of the prominent East Coast Magnetic Anomaly (ECMA) suggest that the emplacement of the volcanic layers producing this anomaly similarly varied along the margin. We use three-dimensional magnetic forward modeling constrained by seismic interpretationsto identify along-margin variations in volcanic thickness and width that can explain the observed amplitude and character of the ECMA. Our model results suggest that the ECMA is produced by a combination of both first-order (~600-1000 km)and second-order (~50-31100 km) magmatic segmentation. The first-order magmatic segmentation could have resulted from preexisting variations in crustal thickness and rheology developed during the tectonic amalgamation of Pangaea. The second-order magmatic segmentation developed during continental breakup and likely influenced the segmentation and transform fault spacing of the initial, and modern, Mid-Atlantic Ridge. These variations in magmatism showhow extension and thermal weakening was distributed at the ENAM during continental breakup and how this breakup magmatism was related to both previous and subsequent Wilson Cycle stages.

Cortisol is an osmoregulatory and glucose-regulating hormone in Atlantic sturgeon, a basal ray-finned fish

Released November 16, 2020 07:06 EST

2020, Journal of Experimental Biology (223)

Stephen D. McCormick, Meghan L. Taylor, Amy M. Regish

Our current understanding of the hormonal control of ion regulation in aquatic vertebrates comes primarily from studies on teleost fishes, with relatively little information on more basal fishes. We investigated the role of cortisol in regulating seawater tolerance and its underlying mechanisms in an anadromous chondrostean, the Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus). Exposure of freshwater-reared Atlantic sturgeon to seawater (25 ppt) resulted in transient (1–3 day) increases in plasma chloride, cortisol and glucose levels and long-term (6–14 day) increases in the abundance of gill Na+/K+/2Cl cotransporter (NKCC), which plays a critical role in salt secretion in teleosts. The abundance of gill V-type H+-ATPase, which is thought to play a role in ion uptake in fishes, decreased after exposure to seawater. Gill Na+/K+-ATPase activity did not increase in 25 ppt seawater, but did increase in fish gradually acclimated to 30 ppt. Treatment of Atlantic sturgeon in freshwater with exogenous cortisol resulted in dose-dependent increases in cortisol, glucose and gill NKCC and H+-ATPase abundance. Our results indicate that cortisol has an important role in regulating mechanisms for ion secretion and uptake in sturgeon and provide support for the hypothesis that control of osmoregulation and glucose by corticosteroids is a basal trait of jawed vertebrates.

Stable isotope dynamics of herbivorous reef fishes and their ectoparasites

Released November 14, 2020 08:18 EST

2020, Diversity (12)

William Jenkins, Amanda Demopoulos, Matthew C. Nicholson, Paul C. Sikkel

Acanthurids (surgeonfishes) are an abundant and diverse group of herbivorous fishes on coral reefs. While their contribution to trophic linkages and dynamics in coral reef systems has received considerable attention, the role of linkages involving their parasites has not. As both consumers of fish tissue and prey to microcarnivores, external parasites may play a significant role in trophic transfer between primary consumers (and hence their predominantly algae-based diet) and the broader coral reef community. Stable isotope analysis is a common tool for studying trophic linkages which can be used for studies involving parasites. We examined the stable isotope ecology (13C and 15N) of copepod (Caligus atromaculatus) and monogenean (Neobenedenia sp.) ectoparasites collected from two species of Caribbean acanthurids (Acanthurus coeruleus and Acanthurus bahianus). There were significant intraspecific differences in isotope discrimination factors between parasites collected from the two different host species as well as interspecific differences between parasites collected from the same host species. Discrimination factors for 15N were consistently positive but varied in magnitude depending on host and parasite species and were slightly lower than what would be expected for consumers. The 13C discrimination factors for both monogeneans and copepods collected from A. coeruleus were consistently positive but were negative for copepods collected from A. bahianus. These findings emphasize the complexity of the stable isotope trophic interactions occurring between parasites and their hosts, highlighting the value of these types of host-parasite isotopic studies.

Reducing leaf litter contributions of phosphorus and nitrogen to urban stormwater through municipal leaf collection and street cleaning practices

Released November 13, 2020 14:32 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5109

William R. Selbig, Nicolas H. Buer, Roger T. Bannerman, Phillip Gaebler

As the boundaries of urban land use continue to expand, environmental managers are looking for innovative ways to reduce export of nutrients from urban sources. Municipal services such as leaf collection and street cleaning have the potential to reduce nutrient pollution at its source while continuing to offer services valued by residents. This study characterized reductions of total and dissolved forms of phosphorus and nitrogen in stormwater runoff from paired catchments, testing the method and frequency of municipal leaf collection and street cleaning programs.

Overall, the performance of municipal programs was related to the frequency and not the form of treatment. Catchments receiving a weekly street cleaning by a regenerative-air street cleaner had the highest reduction in phosphorus load, ranging from 65 to 71 percent (probability value [p] is less than 0.05) for total phosphorus and 57 to 70 percent (p is less than 0.05) for dissolved phosphorus, regardless of leaf collection method or frequency. Reduction in nitrogen load was generally mixed, with many of the catchments showing no statistically significant changes after treatment. In general, nutrient concentrations, and subsequent percent reduction of nutrient loads, were positively correlated with street tree canopy. Collection of only leaf piles, leaving streets unswept, showed no significant reduction in loads of total or dissolved phosphorus and an 83 percent increase in load of total nitrogen. The majority of nutrient concentrations were in the dissolved fraction making source control through leaf collection and street cleaning more effective at reducing the amount of dissolved nutrients in stormwater runoff than structural practices such as wet detention ponds. Based on the results of this study, municipal leaf management programs would be most effective with weekly street cleaning in areas of high street tree canopy, whereas the method and frequency of leaf pile collection is of less importance to the mitigation of nutrients in stormwater runoff.

Arsenic and uranium occurrence in private wells in Connecticut, 2013–18—A spatially weighted and bedrock geology assessment

Released November 13, 2020 14:30 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1111

Eliza L. Gross, Craig J. Brown

The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Connecticut Department of Public Health, conducted a study to determine the presence of arsenic and uranium in private drinking water wells in Connecticut. Samples were collected during 2013–18 from wells completed in 115 geologic units, with 2,433 samples analyzed for arsenic and 2,191 samples analyzed for uranium. The study concluded four major findings.

  • In a spatially weighted analysis of groundwater samples collected from more than 2,000 private wells in bedrock aquifers in Connecticut, 3.9 percent of collected samples contained arsenic concentrations greater than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) maximum contaminant level (MCL) of 10 micrograms per liter (µg/L), and 4.7 percent of collected samples contained uranium concentrations greater than the EPA MCL of 30 µg/L.
  • Of the 2,433 water samples collected and analyzed from bedrock aquifers in Connecticut, 4.2 percent (102) contained arsenic concentrations at greater than 10 µg/L, and of the 2,191 water samples collected and analyzed from bedrock aquifers in Connecticut, 5.4 percent (118) contained uranium concentrations greater than 30 µg/L.
  • Uranium concentrations greater than or equal to 1 µg/L are relatively ubiquitous across the State of Connecticut, with these concentrations present in 44.9 percent of the State, according to spatially weighted statewide-scale proportion analysis.
  • Of the 115 geologic units studied, 44 had at least one sample with arsenic or uranium concentrations that exceeded the respective constituent’s EPA MCL.

Mainstems: A logical data model implementing mainstem and drainage basin feature types based on WaterML2 Part 3: HY Features concepts

Released November 13, 2020 07:32 EST

2021, Environmental Modelling and Software (135)

David L. Blodgett, J. Micheal Johnson, Mark Sondheim, Michael Wieczorek, Nels Frazier

The Mainstems data model implements the catchment and flowpath concepts from WaterML2 Part 3: Surface Hydrology Features (HY_Features) for persistent, cross-scale, identification of hydrologic features. The data model itself provides a focused and lightweight method to describe hydrologic networks with minimum but sufficient information. The design is intended to provide a model for data integration that can be used for network navigation and persistent hydrologic indexing (hydrographic addressing) functionality. Mainstems is designed to provide long-term stability with minimal maintenance requirements. The data model is not meant to advance hydrologic process representation or uniquely represent geomorphic characteristics. The principle assumption in Mainstems is that all drainage basins have one - and only one - headwater source area and a single mainstem that flows to a single outlet. Using these base feature types, (headwater, outlet, mainstem, and drainage basin) a nested set of drainage basins - and the associated dendritic network of mainstems - can be identified.

Improving the ability to include freshwater wetland plants in process-based models

Released November 12, 2020 11:27 EST

2020, Journal of Soil and Water Conservation (75) 704-712

Amber S. Williams, David M. Mushet, Megan Lang, Gregory W. McCarty, Jill A. Shaffer, Sharon N. Kahara, Mari-Vaughn V. Johnson, James R. Kiniry

Considerable effort and resources have been placed into conservation programs designed to reduce or alleviate negative environmental effects of crop production and into evaluation of the benefits of these programs. Wetlands are an important source of ecosystem services, but modeling wetland plants is an emerging science. To date, wetland plant growth has not been explicitly accounted for in ecosystem service models that quantify conservation program effects. As part of an effort to more accurately simulate wetland plants within process-based models, we expanded upon plant growth data collected in an earlier effort with additional sampling at two of four previously sampled areas, and included a fifth sampling site. We then used data from the five sites spanning five years as wetland plant parameters at both the species and functional group levels for the Agricultural Land Management Alternative with Numerical Assessment Criteria (ALMANAC) model. In addition to individual species, modelers are interested in functional groups representing a collection of species because it is unrealistic to model every species occurring in an ecosystem. ALMANAC simulations were completed at three sites for both individual wetland plant species and functional groups. At each site, simulated plant yields were within 1 Mg ha–1 (±7%) of measured values (r2 = 0.99). Multisite species simulated yields were within 37% of measured values (r2 = 0.95). Functional groups performed as well as individual species simulations. Functional group simulated yields were within 1 Mg ha–1 (±5%) of measured yields. Plant growth is a major component of these wetland ecosystems, and ALMANAC verified wetland plant parameters support more accurate assessments of conservation programs and practices on the influence of wetland ecosystems embedded within agricultural fields. The improved plant parameters we provide here will be transferred to other process-based models that focus on other ecosystem components such as soil and water effects, facilitating wetland evaluations across the United States and elsewhere.

Ungulate migrations of the western United States, Volume 1

Released November 12, 2020 09:50 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5101

Matthew Kauffman, Holly Copeland, Jodi Berg, Scott Bergen, Eric Cole, Matthew Cuzzocreo, Sarah Dewey, Julien Fattebert, Jeff Gagnon, Emily Gelzer, Chris Geremia, Tabitha Graves, Kent Hersey, Mark Hurley, Rusty Kaiser, James Meacham, Jerod Merkle, Arthur Middleton, Tristan Nuñez, Brendan Oates, Daniel Olson, Lucas Olson, Hall Sawyer, Cody Schroeder, Scott Sprague, Alethea Steingisser, Mark Thonhoff

Across the western United States, many ungulate herds must migrate seasonally to access resources and avoid harsh winter conditions. Because these migration paths cover vast landscapes (in other words migration distances up to 150 miles [241 kilometers]), they are increasingly threatened by roads, fencing, subdivisions, and other development. Over the last decade, many new tracking studies have been conducted on migratory herds, and analytical methods have been developed that allow for population-level corridors and stopovers to be mapped and prioritized. In 2018, the U.S. Geological Survey assembled a Corridor Mapping Team to provide technical assistance to western states working to map bison, elk, moose, mule deer, and pronghorn migrations using existing Global Positioning System data. Led by the Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, the team consists of federal scientists, university researchers, and biologists and analysts from participating state agencies. 

In its first year, the team has worked to develop standardized analytical and computational methods and a workflow applicable to datasets typically collected by state agencies. In 2019, the team completed analyses necessary to map corridors, stopovers, routes and winter ranges in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming. A total of 26 corridors, 16 migration routes, 25 stopovers, and 9 winter ranges were mapped across these states and are included in this report. This report and associated data release provide the means for the habitats required for migration to be taken into account by state and federal transportation officials, land and wildlife managers, planners, and other conservationists working to maintain big-game migration in the western states.

Leave no trace communication: Effectiveness based on assessments of resource conditions

Released November 11, 2020 17:35 EST

2020, Journal of Interpretation Research (25) 5-25

Nita Settina, Jeffrey L. Marion, Forrest Schwartz

The efficacy of different Leave No Trace (LNT) communication interventions designed to persuade forest visitors to practice low-impact camping behaviors were evaluated. Three depreciative campsite behaviors—littering, tree damage, and surface disposal of human waste—were evaluated by before-and-after resource condition assessments. Three LNT communication interventions were evaluated against a control: (1) an LNT brochure and poster display (non-personal), (2) personal LNT communication by a forest naturalist, and (3) a combination of both non-personal and personal methods. The study population was overnight campers using dispersed road-accessed campsites in Western Maryland’s Green Ridge State Forest. LNT communication successfully improved resource conditions for the targeted depreciative behaviors. For litter and human waste, personal communication by a forest naturalist was effective, but the non-personal method was ineffective. In contrast, tree damage was significantly reduced by both non-personal and personal communication methods. Combining personal and non-personal communication efforts did not result in an increased benefit. The core implication of this study is that several camping resource impacts can be measurably reduced when uniformed staff personally communicate the desired low impact practices.

A lagrangian-to-eulerian metric to identify estuarine pelagic habitats

Released November 11, 2020 09:23 EST

2020, Estuaries and Coasts

Paul Stumpner, Jon R. Burau, Alexander L. Forrest

Estuaries are among the world’s most productive ecosystems, but recent natural and anthropogenic changes have stressed these ecosystems. Tools to assess estuarine pelagic habitats are important to support and maintain healthy ecosystem function. In this work, we demonstrate that estuarine pelagic habitats can be identified by a simple ratio, termed the LE ratio, that takes into account the tidal excursion along a channel (a Lagrangian length scale) and the distance along that channel (an Eulerian length scale). To develop and assess this concept, numerical simulations of the 1D advection–dispersion equation of a conservative tracer and tidal excursion estimates based on data were used to formulize a conceptual model and to define exchange zones within a tidal channel. This conceptual model was then used to predict the extent of pelagic habitats in a terminal channel network in the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta. Exchange zones mapped onto these channels were found to be in good agreement with independent estimates of residence time. Sensitivity analyses of the numerical model suggest that productive pelagic habitats can be expanded by a factor of 2 by either increasing dispersion or increasing spring–neap variability in mean tidal velocity. Such changes can also enhance flushing in upper channel reaches. These findings are relevant for tidal marsh restoration projects that aim to expand beneficial aquatic habitats by varying exchange or residence time over the spring–neap cycle, because this variability may interact synergistically with varying rates of phytoplankton growth due to spatiotemporal changes in environmental conditions.

Developing behavioral and evidence-based programs for wildfire risk mitigation

Released November 11, 2020 09:10 EST

2020, Fire (3)

Hilary Byerly, James R. Meldrum, Hannah Brenkert-Smith, Patricia A. Champ, Jamie Gomez, Lilia C. Falk, Christopher M. Barth

The actions of residents in the wildland–urban interface can influence the private and social costs of wildfire. Wildfire programs that encourage residents to take action are often delivered without evidence of effects on behavior. Research from the field of behavioral science shows that simple, often low-cost changes to program design and delivery can influence socially desirable behaviors. In this research report, we highlight how behavioral science and experimental design may advance efforts to increase wildfire risk mitigation on private property. We offer an example in which we tested changes in outreach messaging on property owners’ interest in wildfire risk information. In partnership with a regional wildfire organization, we mailed 4564 letters directing property owners to visit personalized wildfire risk webpages. By tracking visitation, we observed that 590 letter recipients (12%) sought information about their wildfire risk and response varied by community. This research–practice collaboration has three benefits: innovation in outreach, evidence of innovation through experimental design, and real impacts on interest in wildfire mitigation among property owners. Future collaborations may inform behavioral and evidence-based programs to better serve residents and the public interest as the risks from wildfires are projected to grow.

A 450-year record of environmental change from Castle Lake, California (USA), inferred from diatoms and organic geochemistry

Released November 11, 2020 08:45 EST

2020, Journal of Paleolimnology

Paula Noble, Gary A. McGaughey, Michael R. Rosen, Christopher C. Fuller, Marco A. Aquino-López, Sudeep Chandra

A 39-cm sediment core from Castle Lake, California (USA) spans the last ~ 450 years and was analyzed for diatoms and organic geochemistry (δ15N, δ13C, and C:N), with the goal of determining sensitivity to natural climate variation and twentieth century anthropogenic effects. Castle Lake is a subalpine, nitrogen-limited lake with ~ 5 months of annual ice cover. Human impacts include light recreational use, past fish stocking, and experimental use by the Castle Lake Research Station. The base of the core (below 32 cm; pre mid-1700s) represents the period of maximum ice cover. In contrast, the end of the Little Ice Age (mid 1700s–early 1800s) is dominated by cyclotelloids (mostly Discostella stelligera), indicating significant open-water periods, a condition that persisted into the early 1900s. Cyclotelloids began to decline in the 1960s and were replaced by the Fragilaria tenera grp. (peak in 1970s), succeeded by Asterionella formosa (peak ~ 2010), and accompanied by a reduction in δ15N values and a decrease in C:N that may represent increased atmospheric nitrogen deposition. Another anthropogenic signal was discerned in the core and was interpreted to be the result of an ammonium nitrate fertilization experiment of the epilimnion that was conducted in 1980 and 1981. This signal was manifested in the core largely by a negative excursion in δ15N, possibly caused by fractionation during denitrification in surface sediment. A phytoplankton monitoring dataset collected by the Castle Lake Research Station from 1967 to 1984 corroborates the timing of increased araphid euplanktonic species in the 1970s, and increases in two benthic diatoms (Staurosirella pinnata and Tabellaria fenestrata), entrained in the phytoplankton tows during the experimentation years. Both ice cover and nitrogen addition appear to be strong drivers that affected the lake diatoms, although additional drivers, such as fish stocking and associated cascade effects need further exploration. These data will be helpful for interpreting longer core records from Castle Lake, should the opportunity arise, as well as cores from similar systems in the region.

2018 Kaua'i forest bird population estimates and trends

Released November 11, 2020 08:17 EST

2020, Report

Eben H. Paxton, Kevin W. Brinck, Lisa H. Crampton, Justin Hite, Maria Costantini

Kaua‘i's native forest birds have experienced steep declines since the beginning of systematic surveys in 1981, and declines have accelerated in recent decades. This report details the analysis of the most recent surveys conducted in 2018. Incorporating the new survey results, long-term trends continue to show sharp declines for all native honeycreeper species with the exception of ‘apapane (Himatione sanguinea), which has stable numbers in core areas of its range. Kaua‘i ‘elepaio (Chasiempis sclateri) continued to decline in the outer portions of its range but increased in the core areas of its range. Abundance estimates of forest birds ranged from slightly higher to slightly lower in most species, indicating a relatively stable period from 2012–2018, and a pause from the rapid declines seen in earlier periods. Many native species now exist in very low numbers, and variation in estimates from survey to survey will increase.

Quality assurance/quality control procedure for New Jersey’s water-use data for the New Jersey Water Transfer Data System (NJWaTr)

Released November 10, 2020 11:25 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1085

Jennifer L. Shourds

This report is an instructional reference document that describes methods developed and used by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) New Jersey Water Science Center (NJWSC) to assure the quality and completeness of water-use data as provided by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Bureau of Water Allocation. These data are owned wholly by the State of New Jersey. The role of the USGS NJWSC is to assure the quality of these data by compiling, reviewing, and checking the datasets before uploading them into the New Jersey Water Transfer Data System (NJWaTr) database on an annual basis. The complete uploaded version of the NJWaTr database serves as the repository for New Jersey’s approved and published water-use data. The State of New Jersey maintains a public-facing version of the NJWaTr database (available online at that contains monthly water-use data at the municipality and 14-digit Hydrologic Unit Code subwatershed level. The protected version of the NJWaTr database that contains monthly site-specific water-use data is available from the NJDEP upon request.

Relations among geology, physiography, land use, and stream habitat conditions in the Buffalo and Current River systems, Missouri and Arkansas

Released November 10, 2020 10:45 EST

2001, Biological Science Report 2001-0005

Maria S. Panfil, Robert B. Jacobson

This study investigated links between drainage-basin characteristics and stream habitat conditions in the Buffalo National River, Arkansas and the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Missouri. It was designed as an associative study - the two parks were divided into their principle tributary drainage basins and then basin-scale and stream-habitat data sets were gathered and compared between them. Analyses explored the relative influence of different drainage-basin characteristics on stream habitat conditions. They also investigated whether a relation between land use and stream characteristics could be detected after accounting for geologic and physiographic differences among drainage basins. Data were collected for three spatial scales: tributary drainage basins, tributary stream reaches, and main-stem river segments of the Current and Buffalo Rivers. Tributary drainage-basin characteristics were inventoried using a Geographic Information System (GIS) and included aspects of drainage-basin physiography, geology, and land use. Reach-scale habitat surveys measured channel longitudinal and cross-sectional geometry, substrate particle size and embeddedness, and indicators of channel stability. Segment-scale aerial-photo based inventories measured gravel-bar area, an indicator of coarse sediment load, along main-stem rivers. Relations within and among data sets from each spatial scale were investigated using correlation analysis and multiple linear regression. Study basins encompassed physiographically distinct regions of the Ozarks. The Buffalo River system drains parts of the sandstone-dominated Boston Mountains and of the carbonate-dominated Springfield and Salem Plateaus. The Current River system is within the Salem Plateau. Analyses of drainage-basin variables highlighted the importance of these physiographic differences and demonstrated links among geology, physiography, and land-use patterns. Buffalo River tributaries have greater relief, steeper slopes, and more streamside bluffs than the Current River tributaries. Land use patterns in both river systems correlate with physiography - cleared land area is negatively associated with drainage-basin average slope. Both river systems are dominantly forested (0-35 per-cent cleared land), however, the potential for landscape disturbance may be greater in the Buffalo River system where a larger proportion of cleared land occurs on steep slopes (>15 degrees). When all drainage basins are grouped together, reach-scale channel characteristics show the strongest relations with drainage-basin physiography. Bankfull channel geometry and residual pool dimensions are positively correlated with drainage area and topographic relief variables. After accounting for differences in drainage area, channel dimensions in Buffalo River tributaries tend to be larger than in Current River tributaries. This trend is consistent with the flashy runoff and large storm flows that can be generated in rugged, sandstone-dominate terrain. Substrate particle size is also most strongly associated with physiography; particle size is positively correlated with topographic relief variables. When tributaries are subset by river system, relations with geology and land use variables become apparent. Buffalo River tributaries with larger proportions of carbonate bedrock and cleared land area have shallower channels, better-sorted, gravel-rich substrate, and more eroding banks than those with little cleared land and abundant sandstone bedrock. Gravel-bar area on the Buffalo River main stem was also larger within 1-km of carbonate-rich tributary junctions. Because geology and cleared land are themselves correlated, relations with anthropogenic and natural factors could often not be separated. Channel characteristics in the Current River system show stronger associations with physiography than with land use. Channels are shallower and have finer substrates in the less rugged, karst-rich, western basins than in the

Trends in recent historical and projected climate data for the Colorado River Basin and potential effects on groundwater availability

Released November 10, 2020 10:11 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5107

Fred D. Tillman, Subhrendu Gangopadhyay, Tom Pruitt

Understanding recent historical and projected trends in precipitation and temperature in the Colorado River Basin, and estimating what the projected changes in these climate parameters may mean for groundwater resources in the region, is important for water managers and policymakers to sustainably manage water resources in the basin. Historical (1896–2019) precipitation and temperature data for the upper and lower Colorado River Basins were analyzed to better understand recent trends in climate data that may affect groundwater resources in the area. Historical data indicate multidecadal-scale cyclical patterns in precipitation in both the upper and lower basins. Although upper basin precipitation had no statistical trend over the recent historical period, the lower basin had a weak negative trend over this period. Multidecadal-scale cyclical patterns in temperature also are observed in historical climate data in both the upper and lower basins, at least until the early 1970s. Beginning at that time, both the upper and lower basins experienced strong, monotonic positive trends in temperature. Basic principles of hydrology indicate that periods of decreasing precipitation as well as increasing temperature would have a negative effect, that is, reduction in groundwater infiltration and hence, reduced recharge of aquifer systems.

Projected climate data from 97 Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) ensemble members across the full range of Representative Concentration Pathway (RCPs) from water years 1951 through 2099 were evaluated to understand what current global climate models are projecting about future conditions in the Colorado River Basin, and what this might mean for groundwater systems in the region. Precipitation in the upper basin is projected to increase throughout the rest of the century, rising to 6 percent above the 1951–2015 historical period by mid-century and to 9 percent above the historical period by the end of the century. Temperature in the upper basin also is projected to be above the recent historical median throughout the rest of the century, with steady warming in decadal average temperatures expected until the last quarter of this century. In contrast to projected precipitation in the upper basin, precipitation in the lower basin is projected to be the same as, or slightly less than, the historical period throughout most of the rest of this century. Like projected temperature in the upper basin, temperature in the lower basin also is projected to be above the recent historical median throughout the rest of the century. Comparing median projections for all future decades with median results from all historical decades, future precipitation is expected to be greater than that of the past in the upper basin, though no significant difference is projected for precipitation in the lower basin. Significant increases (p-value<0.05) are expected in temperature in both the upper and lower basins.

To estimate the effects of projected precipitation and temperature on groundwater systems in the region, results from the 97 member CMIP5 climate projection ensemble were used as input in a Soil-Water Balance (SWB) groundwater infiltration model for the Colorado River Basin. SWB simulation results indicate that the upper Colorado River Basin is expected to experience decades of above-historical-average groundwater infiltration through the end of the century. For the lower Colorado River Basin, simulated groundwater infiltration is projected to be consistently less than the recent (1951–2015) historical period for most of the remaining century. A comparison of the distribution of all median simulated groundwater infiltration results between recent historical and future periods indicates projected groundwater infiltration in the upper basin is significantly (p-value<0.05) greater over the combined 2020–2099 future period than the recent (1951–2015) historical period. Moreover, in 41 of 71 (58 percent) possible future decades in this century, groundwater infiltration is projected to be greater than the 75th percentile of historical simulated groundwater infiltration. Projected groundwater infiltration in the lower Colorado River Basin across all future decades is significantly less than in the historical period. Of the 71 future decades in the century, projected groundwater infiltration in the lower basin is expected to be less than the 25th percentile of historical infiltration in 55 (77 percent) of the 10-year periods. Important differences in projected precipitation between the upper (increasing precipitation) and lower (decreasing precipitation) basins largely drive the different responses of simulated groundwater infiltration in the upper (increasing infiltration) and lower (decreasing infiltration) basins. It will be useful to revisit projections in groundwater infiltration in the Colorado River Basin when more up-to-date projections of precipitation become available from the next Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phases or by using climate input developments through Regional Climate Modeling efforts and stochastic weather generators.

Alkalic-type epithermal gold deposit model; Chapter R in Mineral deposit models for resource assessment

Released November 10, 2020 09:50 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2010-5070-R

Karen D. Kelley, Paul G. Spry, Virginia T. McLemore, David L. Fey, Eric D. Anderson

This report summarizes the primary characteristics of alkalic-type epithermal gold (Au) deposits and provides an updated descriptive model. These deposits, primarily of Mesozoic to Neogene age, are among the largest epithermal gold deposits in the world. Considered a subset of low-sulfidation epithermal deposits, they are spatially and genetically linked to small stocks or clusters of intrusions containing high alkali-element contents. Deposits occur as disseminations, breccia-fillings, and veins and may be spatially and genetically related to skarns and low-grade porphyry copper (Cu) or molybdenum (Mo) systems. Gold commonly occurs as native gold, precious metal tellurides, and as sub-micron gold in arsenian pyrite. Quartz, carbonate, fluorite, adularia, and vanadian muscovite/roscoelite are the most common gangue minerals. Alkalic-type gold deposits form in a variety of geological settings including continent-arc collision zones and back-arc or post-subduction rifts that are invariably characterized by a transition from convergent to extensional or transpressive tectonics.

The geochemical compositions of alkaline igneous rocks spatially linked with these deposits span the alkaline-subalkaline transition. Their alkali enrichment may be masked by potassic alteration, but the unaltered or least altered rocks (1) have chondrite normalized patterns that are commonly light rare earth element (LREE) enriched, (2) are heavy rare earth element (HREE) depleted, and (3) have high large ion lithophile contents and variable enrichment of high-field strength elements. Radiogenic isotopes suggest a mantle derivation for the alkalic magmas but allow crustal contamination.

Oxygen and hydrogen isotope compositions show that the fluids responsible for deposit formation are dominantly magmatic, although meteoric or other external fluids (seawater, evolved groundwater) also contributed to the ore-forming fluids responsible for these deposits. Carbon and sulfur isotope compositions in vein-hosted carbonates and sulfide gangue minerals, respectively, coincide with magmatic values, although a sedimentary source of carbon and sulfur is evident in several deposits.

Deep-seated structures are critical for the upwelling of hydrous alkalic magmas and for focusing magmatic-hydrothermal fluids to the site of precious metal deposition. The source of gold, silver (Ag), tellurium (Te), vanadium (V), and fluorine (F) was probably the alkalic igneous rocks themselves, and the coexistence of native gold, gold tellurides, and roscoelite in several deposits is primarily a function of similar physicochemical conditions during deposition (for example, overlapping pH and oxygen fugacity (fO2).

Potential environmental impacts related to the mining and processing of alkalic-type epithermal gold deposits include acid mine drainage with high levels of metals, especially zinc (Zn), copper, lead (Pb), and arsenic. However, because alkalic-type gold deposits typically contain carbonates, which contribute calcium and magnesium ions that increase water hardness, aquatic life may be afforded some protection. Impacts vary widely as a function of host rocks, climate, topography, and mining methods.

Geologic mapping to (1) highlight the distribution of potassic alteration; (2) define fault density and orientation of structures; (3) determine the distribution of alkaline rocks and hydrothermal breccias; and (4) identify uniquely colored gangue minerals, such as fluorite and roscoelite, will be critical to exploration and future discoveries. Geophysical techniques that identify potassium (K) anomalies (for example, radiometric and spectroscopic surveys), as well as magnetic, resistivity, aeromagnetic, and gravity surveys, may help locate zones of high-permeability that control advecting hydrothermal fluids. Geochemical surveys that include analyses for Au, Ag, barium, Te, K, F, V, Mo, and mercury, which are key elements in these deposits, should be undertaken along with the measurement of other pathfinder elements such as arsenic, bismuth, Cu, iron, nickel, Pb, antimony, selenium, and Zn.

History of U.S. Geological Survey scientific peer review and approval, 1879–2019

Released November 10, 2020 09:34 EST

2020, Fact Sheet 2020-3050

Keith Kirk, Carolyn Reid, Sandra Cooper

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), a bureau within the U.S. Department of the Interior, has valued and used a scientific peer review and approval process since its creation in 1879. Bureau approval, formerly called Director’s approval, has been described in several USGS documents since 1900, and peer review has been codified in policy since 1959. Peer review of USGS manuscripts is intended to ensure the accuracy of data, the scientific validity of interpretations, and the consideration of alternative interpretations. This rigorous quality assurance process is considered deliberative because of the iterative exchange of ideas and opinions among the involved parties.

Peer review practices differed between USGS organizational units until implementation of USGS Fundamental Science Practices  (FSP) in 2006, which formalized Bureau-wide science practices, including peer review and approval, for all Bureau scientific information products released to the public or other Federal agencies. FSP policies also address review and approval requirements pertaining to the release of USGS-funded data and software and endorse quality-control standards for USGS laboratories. Bureau approval signifies the scientific excellence of information products, validates and ensures that all necessary reviews have been conducted, and confirms that information products meet USGS science quality standards and have the full backing of the Bureau. The extent, scope, and history of the peer review and approval process within the USGS are documented herein, so future USGS scientists and the public understand how consistent approaches in developing, reviewing, and publishing USGS scientific information have been and continue to be essential in maintaining the reputation of the Bureau for reliable and impartial Earth science research and data collection.

Identifying turbulence features hindering swimming capabilities of grass carp larvae (Ctenopharyngodon idella) through submerged vegetation

Released November 10, 2020 09:05 EST

2020, Journal of Ecohydraulics

Rafael O. Tinoco, Andres F. Prada, Amy E. George, Benjamin H. Stahlschmidt, P. Ryan Jackson, Duane C. Chapman

Aquatic vegetation can provide habitat and refuge for a variety of species in streams. However, the flow features generated by submerged patches of vegetation can also pose a challenge for fish larvae. We conducted a series of experiments with live grass carp larvae (starting ∼50 h post hatch) in a laboratory racetrack flume, using a submerged array of rigid cylinders to mimic vegetation. We used particle image velocimetry to characterize the flow field, and particle tracking velocimetry to obtain position and displacement of the fish. Four speeds and two submergence ratios were investigated. In contrast with previous studies with grass carp eggs, our data showed an active response from larvae to determine their position. Our study shows that: (1) mean velocity by itself is not a reliable predictor, as some larvae will seemingly prefer to be in areas of higher speeds with lower shear and turbulence, (2) turbulence characteristics can be used to identify areas avoided by larvae, (3) turbulence length scales are relevant to determine spatial distribution of larvae and their swimming capabilities within and above vegetated patches and similar roughness elements in streams. These findings can inform the design of monitoring and control strategies in rivers based on turbulence and turbulence scales generated by natural and man-made instream structures.

Physical stream habitat dynamics in Lower Bear Creek, northern Arkansas

Released November 10, 2020 09:05 EST

2003, Biological Science Report 2003-0002

Joanna M. Reuter, Robert B. Jacobson, Caroline M. Elliott

We evaluated the roles of geomorphic and hydrologic dynamics in determining physical stream habitat in Bear Creek, a stream with a 239 km2 drainage basin in the Ozark Plateaus (Ozarks) in northern Arkansas. During a relatively wet 12-month monitoring period, the geomorphology of Bear Creek was altered by a series of floods, including at least four floods with peak discharges exceeding a 1-year recurrence interval and another flood with an estimated 2- to 4-year recurrence interval. These floods resulted in a net erosion of sediment from the study reach at Crane Bottom at rates far in excess of other sites previously studied in the Ozarks. The riffle-pool framework of the study reach at Crane Bottom was not substantially altered by these floods, but volumes of habitat in riffles and pools changed. The 2- to 4-year flood scoured gravel from pools and deposited it in riffles, increasing the diversity of available stream habitat. In contract, the smaller floods eroded gravel from the riffles and deposited it in pools, possibly flushing fine sediment from the substrate but also decreasing habitat diversity. Channel geometry measured at the beginning of the study was use to develop a two-dimensional, finite-element hydraulic model at assess how habitat varies with hydrologic dynamics. Distributions of depth and velocity simulated over the range of discharges observed during the study (0.1 to 556 cubic meters per second, cms) were classified into habitat units based on limiting depths and Froude number criteria. The results indicate that the areas of habitats are especially sensitive to change to low to medium flows. Races (areas of swift, relatively deep water downstream from riffles) disappear completely at the lowest flows, and riffles (areas of swift, relatively shallow water) contract substantially in area. Pools also contract in area during low flow, but deep scours associated with bedrock outcrops sustain some pool area even at the lowest modeled flows. Modeled boundary shear stresses were used to evaluate which flows are responsible for the most mobilization of the bed, and therefore, habitat maintenance. Evaluation of the magnitude and frequency of bed-sediment entrainment shows that most of the habitat maintenance results from flows that occur on average about 4 to 7 days a year. Our analysis documents the geomorphic and hydrologic dynamics that form and maintain habitats in a warmwater stream in the Ozarks. The range of flows that occurs on this stream can be partitioned into those that sustain habitat by providing the combinations of depth and velocity that stream organisms live with most of the time, and those flows that surpass sediment entrainment thresholds, alter stream geomorphology, and therefore maintain habitat. The quantitative relations show sensitivity of habitats to flow variation, but do not address how flow may vary in the future, or the extent to which stream geomorphology may be affected by variations in sediment supply.

Biomonitoring of Environmental Status and Trends (BEST) Program: Environmental contaminants and their effects on fish in the Mississippi River Basin

Released November 10, 2020 09:05 EST

2002, Biological Science Report 2002-0004

Christopher J. Schmitt

We collected, examined, and analyzed 1378 fish of 22 species from 47 sites in the Mississippi River basin (MRB) during 1995 and from a reference site in 1996. The sampling sites in the MRB represented National Contaminant Biomonitoring Program (NCBP) stations situated at key points on major rivers and National Water- Quality Assessment Program (NAWQA) stations located on lower-order rivers and streams in the Eastern Iowa Basins (EIB) and Mississippi Embayment (MSE) Study Units. The reference site was the water supply system of the USGS-Leetown Science Center in rural Jefferson County, WV. Common carp (Cyprinus carpio; carp) and black basses (Micropterus spp.; bass), the targeted species, together represented 82% of the fish collected. Each fish was examined in the field for externally and internally visible gross lesions, selected organs were weighed to compute various ponderal and organo-somatic indices, and selected tissues and fluids were obtained and preserved for analysis of biomarkers. Fish health indicators included splenic macrophage aggregates, lysozyme activity, and hispathological analysis of liver, kidney, and other tissues. Reproductive biomarkers included analysis of plasma concentrations of vitellogenin (vtg) and the sex steroid hormones 17-estradiol (E2) and 11-ketotestosterone (11- kt); and the histological determination of percent oocyte atresia (in female fish) and gonadal stage. Hepatic ethoxyresorufin O-deethylase (EROD) activity was also measured. Composite samples of whole fish from each station were grouped by species and gender and analyzed for persistent organochlorine and elemental contaminants and for dioxin-like activity (TCDD-EQ) using the H4IIE rat hepatoma cell bioassay. Organochlorine and inorganic contaminant concentrations in fish were generally low relative to historical levels at most sites, but remained present at concentrations representing threats to piscivorous wildlife in some locations. Toxaphene and DDT (mostly as p,p?-DDE) concentrations remained elevated in fish from the cottongrowing regions of the lower Mississippi valley, and were generally greater in the smaller streams draining agricultural areas (that is, in the MSE Study Unit) than at large river sites. Cyclodiene pesticide concentrations were also greatest in the EIB Study Unit and elsewhere in the corn-growing regions of the mid-MRB. Former point-sources of organochlorine pesticides also remained evident, especially in the Mississippi River near Memphis, TN. Consistent with previous findings, total PCB concentrations tended to be greatest (1-3 g/g) in the industrialized and urbanized Ohio River and Upper Mississippi sub-basins and at Memphis, TN, and were generally correlated with TCDD-EQ and EROD activity. Conversely, PCB concentrations were low (<0.1 g/g) in the more agricultural parts of the MRB. Concentrations of inorganic contaminants were also relatively low and stable or declining relative to past levels at most sites. Exceptions were Hg and Se; Hg concentrations were slightly elevated (>0.3 g/g) in bass from the Mississippi River at Memphis and several other sites and in carp from one MSE site. Concentrations of Se were also great enough to constitute a hazard to piscivorous wildlife (>0.6 g/g) at several MRB sites in the western parts of the MRB and were especially high (4-5 g/g) in fish from John Martin Reservoir, CO, where elevated concentrations were reported previously. Biomarker results indicated that fish from many stations had been exposed to contaminants, but at no sites did findings indicate exposure to high concentrations of toxic chemicals. Noteworthy among biomarker findings was that 73% of the male smallmouth bass (Micropterus dolomieui) from the Mississippi River at Lake City, MN (Lake Pepin) were intersex as indicated by the histological detection of ovotestes; and the combined EROD and H4IIE results indicated that fish from several rural sites in the

A national pilot study of mercury contamination of aquatic ecosystems along multiple gradients" Bioaccumulation in fish

Released November 10, 2020 09:00 EST

2001, Biological Science Report 2001-0009

William G. Brumbaugh, David P. Krabbenhoft, Dennis R. Helsel, James G. Wiener, Kathy R. Echols

Water, sediment, and fish were sampled in the summer and fall of 1998 at 106 sites from 20 U.S. watershed basins to examine relations of mercury (Hg) and methylmercury (MeHg) in aquatic ecosystems. Bioaccumulation of Hg in fish from these basins was evaluated in relation to species, Hg and MeHg in surficial sediment and water, and watershed characteristics. Bioaccumulation was strongly (positively) correlated with MeHg in water (r = 0.63, p < 0.001) but only moderately with the MeHg in sediment (r = 0.33, p < 0.001) or total Hg in water (r = 0.28, p < 0.01). Of the other significantly measured parameters, pH, DOC, sulfate, sediment LOI, and the percent wetlands of each basin were also significantly correlated with Hg bioaccumulation in fish. The best model for predicting Hg bioaccumulation included Me Hg in water, PH of the water, % wetlands in the basin, and the AVS content of the sediment. These four variables accounted for 45% of the variability of the fish fillet Hg concentration normalized (divided) by total length; however, the majority was described by MeHg in water. A MeHg water concentration 0.12 ng/L was on average, associated with a fish fillet Hg concentration of 0.3 mg/kg wet weight for an age-3 fish when all species were considered. For age-3 largemouth bass, a MeHg water concentration of 0.058 ng/L was associated with the 0.3 mg/kg fillet concentration. Based on rankings for Hg in sediment, water, and fish, sampling sites from the following five study basins had the greatest Hg contamination: Nevada Basin and Range, South Florida Basin, Sacramento River Basin (California), Santee River Basin and Caostal Drainages (South Carolina), and the Long Island and New Jersey Coastal Drainags. A sampling and analysis strategy based on this pilot study is planned for all USGS/NAWQA study units over the next decade.

Spatial variability in seasonal snowpack trends across the Rio Grande headwaters (1984 - 2017)

Released November 10, 2020 08:42 EST

2020, Journal of Hydrometeorology (21) 2713-2733

Graham A. Sexstone, Colin A. Penn, Glen Liston, Kelly Gleason, C. David Moeser, David W. Clow

This study evaluated the spatial variability of trends in simulated snowpack properties across the Rio Grande headwaters of Colorado using the SnowModel snow evolution modeling system. SnowModel simulations were performed using a grid resolution of 100 m and 3-hourly time step over a 34-yr period (1984–2017). Atmospheric forcing was provided by phase 2 of the North American Land Data Assimilation System, and the simulations accounted for temporal changes in forest canopy from bark beetle and wildfire disturbances. Annual summary values of simulated snowpack properties [snow metrics; e.g., peak snow water equivalent (SWE), snowmelt rate and timing, and snow sublimation] were used to compute trends across the domain. Trends in simulated snow metrics varied depending on elevation, aspect, and land cover. Statistically significant trends did not occur evenly within the basin, and some areas were more sensitive than others. In addition, there were distinct trend differences between the different snow metrics. Upward trends in mean winter air temperature were 0.3°C decade−1, and downward trends in winter precipitation were −52 mm decade−1. Middle elevation zones, coincident with the greatest volumetric snow water storage, exhibited the greatest sensitivity to changes in peak SWE and snowmelt rate. Across the Rio Grande headwaters, snowmelt rates decreased by 20% decade−1, peak SWE decreased by 14% decade−1, and total snowmelt quantity decreased by 13% decade−1. These snow trends are in general agreement with widespread snow declines that have been reported for this region. This study further quantifies these snow declines and provides trend information for additional snow variables across a greater spatial coverage at finer spatial resolution.

Stress gradients interact with disturbance to reveal alternative states in salt marsh: Multivariate resilience at the landscape scale

Released November 09, 2020 07:45 EST

2020, Journal of Ecology

Scott Jones, Camille Stagg, Erik S. Yando, W. Ryan James, Kevin J. Buffington, Mark W. Hester

  1. Stress gradients influence many ecosystem processes and properties, including ecosystem recovery from and resistance to disturbance. While recent analytical approaches have advanced multivariate metrics of ecosystem resilience that allow quantification of conceptual resilience models and identification of thresholds of state change, these approaches are not often translated to landscape scales.
  2. Using natural and restored salt marshes in Louisiana, USA, we quantified plant community recovery and resistance metrics along flooding stress gradients. n‐dimensional hypervolumes of plant community biomass and structure were simulated using field data collected from disturbance‐recovery experiments. The relationships between multivariate resilience metrics and flooding stress gradients were then mapped at community‐ and landscape‐relevant scales by scaling with airborne‐derived data across the region.
  3. Greater pre‐disturbance abiotic stress decreased live belowground, but not aboveground, biomass, and ultimately led to lower post‐disturbance total recovery, recovery rates, and resistance of plant communities. Vegetated plots flooded >52% of the time transitioned to an alternative, unvegetated state after disturbance. Mapping revealed differences in spatial patterns of resilience‐ highlighting low, interior marsh edges as especially vulnerable to the combination of chronic flooding stress and acute disturbance. At the landscape scale, approximately half of the area (48%) is vulnerable to state change after pulse disturbances.

Synthesis. Ultimately, we quantify the ball‐and‐cup conceptual model for a salt marsh ecosystem and its alternative state, mudflat. We find that increasing abiotic stress due to climate change diminishes ecosystem resilience, but the interaction with common episodic disturbances is necessary to reveal transitions to alternative states and quantify state change thresholds. Quantifying and mapping resilience and where alternative states may exist in this fashion improves ecologists’ ability to investigate the mechanisms of stress gradient control on emergent ecosystem properties, while providing spatially explicit resources for managing ecosystems according to their projected resilience.

Shorebird reproductive response to exceptionally early and late springs varies across sites in Arctic Alaska

Released November 09, 2020 06:40 EST

2020, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution (8)

Rebecca L McGuire, Richard B. Lanctot, Sarah T. Saalfeld, Daniel R. Ruthrauff, Joe Liebezeit

While increases in overall temperatures are widely reported in the Arctic, large inter-annual variation in spring weather, with extreme early and late conditions, is also occurring. Using data collected from three sites in Arctic Alaska, we explored how shorebird breeding density, nest initiation, nest synchrony, nest survival, and phenological mismatch varied between two exceptionally early (2015 and 2016) and late (2017 and 2018) springs. We assessed these differences in the context of long-term data from each site and whether species exhibited conservative or opportunistic reproductive strategies. Conservative shorebirds typically display nest-site fidelity and territoriality, consistent population densities, relatively even individual spacing, and monogamous mating systems with bi-parental incubation. In contrast, opportunistic shorebirds display the opposite traits, and a polygamous mating system with uniparental incubation. In this study, we evaluated 2,239 nests from 13 shorebird species, 2015–2018, and found that shorebirds of both strategies bred earlier and in higher numbers in early, warm springs relative to historic levels (based on 3,789 nests, 2005–2014); opposite trends were observed in late springs. In early springs, nests were initiated less synchronously than in late springs. Nest survival was unrelated to spring type, but was greater in earlier laid nests overall. Invertebrate food resources emerged earlier in early springs, resulting in a greater temporal asynchrony between invertebrate emergence and chick hatching in early than late springs. However, invertebrate abundance was quite variable among sites and years regardless of spring type. Overall, our results were generally consistent with predicted relationships between spring conditions and reproductive parameters. However, we detected differences among sites that could not be explained by other ecological factors (e.g., predators or alternative prey). Differences in shorebird community composition and other subtler methodological/ecological differences among sites highlight the difficulty of understanding the complex nature of these ecological systems and the importance of evaluating questions at multiple sites across multiple years. Our study demonstrates that shorebirds exhibit a high degree of behavioral flexibility in response to variable Arctic conditions, but whether this flexibility is enough to allow them to optimally track changing environmental conditions or if evolutionary adjustments will be necessary is unknown.

Probabilistic patterns of inundation and biogeomorphic changes due to sea-level rise along the northeastern U.S. Atlantic coast

Released November 07, 2020 08:25 EST

2020, Landscape Ecology

Erika E. Lentz, Sara L. Zeigler, E. Robert Thieler, Nathaniel G. Plant


Coastal landscapes evolve in response to sea-level rise (SLR) through a variety of geologic processes and ecological feedbacks. When the SLR rate surpasses the rate at which these processes build elevation and drive lateral migration, inundation is likely.


To examine the role of land cover diversity and composition in landscape response to SLR across the northeastern United States.


Using an existing probabilistic framework, we quantify the probability of inundation, a measure of vulnerability, under different SLR scenarios on the coastal landscape. Resistant areas—wherein a dynamic response is anticipated—are defined as unlikely (p < 0.33) to inundate. Results are assessed regionally for different land cover types and at 26 sites representing varying levels of land cover diversity.


Modeling results suggest that by the 2050s, 44% of low-lying, habitable land in the region is unlikely to inundate, further declining to 36% by the 2080s. In addition to a decrease in SLR resistance with time, these results show an increasing uncertainty that the coastal landscape will continue to evolve in response to SLR as it has in the past. We also find that resistance to SLR is correlated with land cover composition, wherein sites containing land cover types adaptable to SLR impacts show greater potential to undergo biogeomorphic state shifts rather than inundating with time.


Our findings support other studies that have highlighted the importance of ecological composition and diversity in stabilizing the physical landscape and suggest that flexible planning strategies, such as adaptive management, are particularly well suited for SLR preparation in diverse coastal settings.

Bedrock geologic map of the 15' Sleetmute A-2 quadrangle, southwestern Alaska

Released November 06, 2020 12:18 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Map 3450

Robert Blodgett, Frederic H. Wilson, Nora B. Shew, James G. Clough

Twelve unnamed, bedrock stratigraphic units are recognized within the Sleetmute A-2 1:63,360-scale quadrangle of southwestern Alaska. These units range in age from late(?) Proterozoic through Devonian and can be divided into two distinct facies belts: (1) a southern facies of dominantly shallow-water platform carbonate and minor siliciclastic rocks (including Early Ordovician–Early Devonian platform edge algal buildups) with subordinate transgressive tongues of deeper-water platy carbonates; and (2) a northern facies belt of approximately age equivalent deep-water carbonate and siliciclastic rocks deposited in slope and basinal environments. Both facies belts belong to the Farewell terrane of Decker and others (1994). Two structural provinces are also recognized, which correspond directly with these belts. The Farewell terrane is interpreted as a continental margin sequence that rifted from Siberia. Many of the bedrock units recognized in the Sleetmute A-2 quadrangle are equivalent to units previously recognized to the east and northeast in the Lime Hills, McGrath, and Medfra quadrangles. Shallow-water carbonate platform rocks make up the majority of the southern facies and occur primarily along the crest and north side (and to a lesser degree along the south side) of a prominent crescentic-shaped, east-west trending anticlinal axis exposed in the southern part of the Sleetmute A-2 quadrangle. Because of the relatively low thermal alteration indices of the rocks of this area and the presence of highly porous dolostone intervals of good reservoir quality in the platform facies, this region elicited interest for petroleum exploration in the 1980s. However, low total organic carbon (TOC) content of potential source rocks within the Ordovician–Silurian basinal facies belt indicates low petroleum resource potential for this area.

Towards a U.S. national program for monitoring native bees

Released November 06, 2020 10:01 EST

2020, Biological Conservation (252)

Hollis Woodward, Sarah Federman, Rosalind R. James, Bryan Danforth, Terry Griswold, David W. Inouye, Quinn McFrederick, Lora Morandin, Deborah Paul, Elizabeth Sellers, James P Strange, Mace Vaughan, Neal M. Williams, Michael Branstetter, Casey T. Burns, James Cane, Alison B Cariveau, Daniel Cariveau, Anna Childers, Christopher Childers, Diana L. Cox-Foster, Elaine Evan, Kelsey K. Graham, Kevin Hackett, Kimberly Huntzinger, Rebecca Irwin, Shalene Jha, Sarah Lawson, Christina Liang, Margarita M. Lopez-Uribe, Andony Melathopoulos, Heather M.C. Moylett, Clint R. V. Otto, Lauren Ponisio, Leif L Richardson, Robyn Rose, Rajwinder Singh, Wayne Wehling

North America has more than 4000 bee species, yet we have little information on the health, distribution, and population trends of most of these species. In the United States, what information is available is distributed across multiple institutions, and efforts to track bee populations are largely uncoordinated on a national scale. An overarching framework for monitoring U.S. native bees could provide a system that is responsive to national needs, resources, and capacities. Five major action areas and priorities for structuring a coordinated effort include: (1) Defining the scope, aims, and cost of a national native bee monitoring program; (2) Improving the national capacity in bee taxonomy and systematics; (3) Gathering and cataloging data that are standardized, accessible, and sustainable; (4) Identifying survey methods and prioritizing taxa to monitor; and (5) Prioritizing geographic areas to be monitored. Here, we detail the needs, challenges, and opportunities associated with developing a multi-layered U.S. national plan for native bee monitoring.

    Literature reviewed estimates of riparian consumptive water use in the drylands of Northeast Arizona, USA

    Released November 06, 2020 09:41 EST

    2020, Open-File Report 2020-1129

    Pamela L. Nagler

    This report provides the best estimates of riparian area evapotranspiration (ET) on the rivers and streams of the Navajo Nation by (1) quantifying the natural riparian vegetation water use within the Little Colorado River watershed using a literature search for comparable riparian ET estimates, and (2) in conjunction with the given area of stream-side plant cover on the Navajo Nation, provides the best estimate of consumptive use, the total water requirement (in acre-feet). This report includes riparian water use information only from the literature for riparian areas that are in similar dryland ecosystems in the Southwest, and not specific to the perennial tributaries and springs on the Navajo Nation within the Little Colorado River watershed. The report also includes any information found regarding the location of Navajo Nation weather station variables, such as where we can derive required data inputs from the Navajo Nation to estimate actual ET rates (in millimeters per day or millimeters per year). We provide estimates of annual riparian plant water use and calculations that include reference ET (potential ET or ETo), precipitation (in millimeters), and the calculations of consumptive water requirements of riparian vegetation. We cite our data sources and provide references used to determine the consumptive water requirement (acre-feet).

    Shorebird research at the U.S. Geological Survey Alaska Science Center

    Released November 06, 2020 08:04 EST

    2020, Fact Sheet 2020-3056

    Dan Ruthrauff, Lee Tibbitts, John Pearce

    Shorebirds—which include sandpipers, plovers, and oystercatchers—are perhaps best known by their presence on sandy beaches, running along the water’s edge while they probe for food. But they are probably less recognized for their impressive long-distance migrations. Millions of individuals travel from across the globe to breed throughout Alaska each spring, making these birds a familiar and important part of local wildlife communities and Alaska Native cultures. Unfortunately, many shorebird populations have steeply declined worldwide. Because shorebirds use the same coastal habitats as humans, anthropogenic development can lead to habitat loss that degrades the extent and quality of coastal sites important to these species. However, Alaska has an abundance of intact coastal ecosystems that provide important breeding and migratory stopover sites for shorebirds, making the State one of the world’s most critical sites for shorebirds. The focus of shorebird research at the U.S. Geological Survey Alaska Science Center is to help identify important breeding and migratory sites, and to investigate the causes of the declines in many shorebird populations.

    Regional coordination between riparian dependence and atmospheric demand in willows (Salix L.) of western North America

    Released November 06, 2020 07:37 EST

    2020, Geological Society of America Bulletin

    Bradley J. Butterfield, Emily C. Palmquist, Kevin R. Hultine


    Plants vary in their hydrological and climatic niches. How these niche dimensions covary among closely related species can help identify co‐adaptations to hydrological and climatic factors, as well as predict biodiversity responses to environmental change.


    Western United States.


    Relationships between riparian dependence and climate niches of willows (Salix L.) were assessed, incorporating phylogenetics and functional traits to understand the adaptive nature of those relationships. The riparian dependence niche was estimated as the mean distance between georeferenced occurrence records and the nearest stream based on the National Hydrography Database. Results were compared to oaks (Quercus L.), a less riparian‐dependent clade, with the expectation of different niche relationships.


    Willows generally occurred closer to streams than expected by chance, but riparian dependence varied substantially among species. Riparian dependence was positively correlated with mean annual temperature and diurnal temperature range niche, both indicators of atmospheric demand on evapotranspiration. Phylogenetic independent contrast correlations for these relationships were significant as well, and the high degree of niche convergence among species indicated evolutionarily labile co‐adaptations to riparian dependence and atmospheric demand. Plant height increased with mean annual temperature niche, and specific leaf area increased with residual variation in height, indicating underlying morphological correlates of niche variation. Oaks, on the other hand, exhibited no relationship between atmospheric demand and riparian dependence, and weaker niche relationships with riparian dependence overall.

    Main conclusions

    These results support the assertion that hydric‐adapted, woody riparian plants compensate for increased atmospheric demand on transpiration with a reliable supply of water provided by riparian habitats and that this trade‐off may be unique from mesic–xeric woody plants. Conservation of warm‐adapted riparian trees and shrubs under increasing temperatures and atmospheric demand may necessitate reversal of groundwater depletion. Cool‐adapted species may be best conserved through maintenance or expansion of riparian buffers as they become more riparian obligate with warming.

    The firn meltwater Retention Model Intercomparison Project (RetMIP): Evaluation of nine firn models at four weather station sites on the Greenland ice sheet

    Released November 06, 2020 06:51 EST

    2020, The Cryosphere (14) 3785-3810

    Baptiste Vandecrux, Ruth Mottram, Peter Langen, Robert Fausto, Martin Olesen, C. Max Stevens, Vincent Verjans, Amber Leeson, Stefan Ligtenberg, Peter Kuipers Munneke, Sergey S. Marchenko, Ward van Pelt, Colin R. Meyer, Sebastian B. Simonsen, Achim Heilig, Samira Samimi, Shawn J. Marshall, Horst Machguth, Michael J. MacFerrin, Masashi Niwano, Olivia L. Miller, Clifford I. Voss, Jason E. Box

    Perennial snow, or firn, covers 80 % of the Greenland ice sheet and has the capacity to retain surface meltwater, influencing the ice sheet mass balance and contribution to sea-level rise. Multilayer firn models are traditionally used to simulate firn processes and estimate meltwater retention. We present, intercompare and evaluate outputs from nine firn models at four sites that represent the ice sheet's dry snow, percolation, ice slab and firn aquifer areas. The models are forced by mass and energy fluxes derived from automatic weather stations and compared to firn density, temperature and meltwater percolation depth observations. Models agree relatively well at the dry-snow site while elsewhere their meltwater infiltration schemes lead to marked differences in simulated firn characteristics. Models accounting for deep meltwater percolation overestimate percolation depth and firn temperature at the percolation and ice slab sites but accurately simulate recharge of the firn aquifer. Models using Darcy's law and bucket schemes compare favorably to observed firn temperature and meltwater percolation depth at the percolation site, but only the Darcy models accurately simulate firn temperature and percolation at the ice slab site. Despite good performance at certain locations, no single model currently simulates meltwater infiltration adequately at all sites. The model spread in estimated meltwater retention and runoff increases with increasing meltwater input. The highest runoff was calculated at the KAN_U site in 2012, when average total runoff across models (±2σ) was 353±610 mm w.e. (water equivalent), about 27±48 % of the surface meltwater input. We identify potential causes for the model spread and the mismatch with observations and provide recommendations for future model development and firn investigation.

    Hydrogeochemistry in the Yukon-Tanana Upland region of east-central Alaska: Possible exploration tool for porphyry-style deposits

    Released November 05, 2020 07:28 EST

    2020, Applied Geochemistry

    Karen D. Kelley, Garth E. Graham

    A hydrogeochemical study using high resolution ICP-MS was undertaken at the Taurus and other porphyry Cu-Mo(-Au) occurrences and Ag-Au-Cu (+/- Pb, Zn) occurrences with epithermal-style characteristics in the Yukon-Tanana upland region of eastern Alaska. Surface water samples were collected from 30 sites on creeks that drain known deposits and occurrences and surrounding presumably unmineralized areas. Water samples for the entire ∼9 km length of McCord Creek, which drains the Taurus deposit, and those from streams draining the areas at and near the Bluff and Dennison porphyry occurrences have high conductivity values (492 to 1250 μS/cm) and consistently high concentrations of B (3-250 μg/L), Co (2.3 to 42 μg/L), Mn (339 to 4750 μg/L), Re (0.012 to 0.1 μg/L), and SO42- (>200 mg/L), all of which are well above the median value for this data set and significantly greater than concentrations in water samples from the unmineralized areas. These are the best pathfinder elements specifically for porphyry style deposits because most of them are not anomalous in waters near epithermal occurrences. Copper concentrations are high (up to 115 μg/L) in some low-pH water samples from McCord Creek and drainages around Bluff, and a few near neutral pH waters have high molybdenum (>1 μg/L), but neither element is consistently anomalous in close vicinity to the porphyry occurrences, possibly due to a metal-poor, sulfide-poor leached cap (average of ∼50 m) that overlies supergene and hypogene mineralized zones and is the dominant rock at surface. High concentrations of Bi and/or As occur in many waters associated with mineralized areas, particularly the Bluff and Dennison occurrences. In general, the element associations related to porphyry deposits reflect the deposit mineralogy, as well as size of the footprint related to alteration and mineralization.

    Historically unprecedented Northern Gulf of Mexico hurricane activity from 650 to 1250 CE

    Released November 05, 2020 07:16 EST

    2020, Scientific Reports (10)

    Jessica R. Rodysill, Jeffrey P. Donnelly, Richard Sullivan, Philip D. Lane, Michael Toomey, Jonathan D. Woodruff, Andrea D. Hawkes, Dana MacDonald, Nicole d’Entremont, Kelly McKeon, Elizabeth Wallace, Peter J. van Hengstum

    Hurricane Michael (2018) was the first Category 5 storm on record to make landfall on the Florida panhandle since at least 1851 CE (Common Era), and it resulted in the loss of 59 lives and $25 billion in damages across the southeastern U.S. This event placed a spotlight on recent intense (exceeding Category 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale) hurricane landfalls, prompting questions about the natural range in variability of hurricane activity that the instrumental record is too short to address. Of particular interest is determining whether the frequency of recent intense hurricane landfalls in the northern Gulf of Mexico (GOM) is within or outside the natural range of intense hurricane activity prior to 1851 CE. In this study, we identify intense hurricane landfalls in northwest Florida during the past 2000 years based on coarse anomaly event detection from two coastal lacustrine sediment archives. We identified a historically unprecedented period of heightened storm activity common to four Florida panhandle localities from 650 to 1250 CE and a shift to a relatively quiescent storm climate in the GOM spanning the past six centuries. Our study provides long-term context for events like Hurricane Michael and suggests that the observational period 1851 CE to present may underrepresent the natural range in landfalling hurricane activity.

    Germination potential of baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) swamp soil seed bank along geographical gradients

    Released November 05, 2020 07:14 EST

    2020, Science of the Total Environment

    Ting Lei, Beth Middleton

    Changing environments of temperature, precipitation and moisture availability can affect vegetation in ecosystems, by affecting regeneration from the seed bank. Our objective was to explore the responses of soil seed bank germination to climate-related environments along geographic gradients. We collected seed banks in baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) swamps along the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico Coast in the United States, which have distinct temperature and/or precipitation gradients, and germinated them in a greenhouse. The frequency, richness and seed density of species germinated from the seed bank were compared between various geographic locations, experimental water regimes (saturated, flooded) and wetland types (tidal, non-tidal and inland swamps). We also analyzed the relationship of seed density to the environment by using a Non-metric Multi-dimensional Scaling (NMDS) model. Sixty-one species germinated from the seed bank, differing in pattern by geographic location, experimental water regime and wetland type. The foundation species (i.e., T. distichum and Cephalanthus occidentalis) germinated with a niche affinity for the northern part of the latitudinal gradient (Tennessee and Illinois) and these species may shift northward with climate change. Some species had higher seed density in the locations that were subject to more persistent drought conditions (e.g., Texas) including Cyperus rotundus and Gratiola virginiana, indicating that these species may be better adapted to sites with high temperature and low precipitation. In contrast, certain species including Saururus cernuus and Ludwigia palustris were present throughout the range of these gradients, and so may be more resilient to any future climate shifts. We found that the regeneration potential of baldcypress swamps might be altered by changes in local and climate environment because of nuances of responses of seed banks to climates along latitudinal and longitudinal gradients. Our study can help predict vegetation regeneration potential to climate change environments depending on the ability of these species to disperse and maintain seed banks.

    An assessment of the thiamine status of Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu) in the Susquehanna River watershed

    Released November 04, 2020 08:47 EST

    2020, Northeastern Naturalist (27) 596-611

    Daniel E. Spooner, Dale C. Honeyfield, Kristin Laura Boggs, Dustin R. Shull, Timothy Wertz, Stephanie Sweet

    Unpredictable recruitment and physical abnormalities (sores and lesions) have been observed in populations of Micropterus dolomieu (Smallmouth Bass) throughout the Susquehanna River basin. Malnutrition has been proposed as one of among several potential stressors, yet little to no information was available to critically assess its feasibility as a causal factor. We measured thiamine profiles of Smallmouth Bass (free thiamine [T], thiamine monophosphate [TP], and thiamine pyrophosphate [TPP]) for 3 tissues (egg, liver, and muscle) collected at 13 sites in the Susquehanna River and compared the values to those in 2 neighboring drainages (Allegheny River and Delaware River). Mass-specific thiamine concentrations in eggs were comparable to published values for Micropterus salmoides (Largemouth Bass), but higher than those found in Sander vitreus (Walleye), and Salvelinus namaycush (Lake Trout) known to consume Alosa pseudoharengus (Alewife), a thiaminase positive forage fish. In general, Smallmouth Bass collected from sites within the Susquehanna River basin had thiamine concentrations comparable to fish at the site in the Allegheny River, yet average thiamine concentrations in fish from the Susquehanna and Allegheny sites were each considerably lower than the average value collected from the Smallmouth Bass in the Delaware River. Future studies should consider a more balanced sampling design among watersheds to assess spatial variability among sites and basins. Average site-specific thiamine concentrations measured in Smallmouth Bass exceeded published minimum threshold values for Lake Trout. Given that Smallmouth Bass appear to have distinct thiamine profiles, concentrations, and timing of egg development, threshold thiamine concentrations parameterized for salmonids may not apply to Smallmouth Bass. As such, empirical studies that parameterize species-specific thiamine thresholds are needed to formally evaluate if thiamine deficiency is an issue for Smallmouth Bass in the Susquehanna River basin. To our knowledge, these are the first data on thiamine concentrations published for Smallmouth Bass.

    Earthquake early warning in Aotearoa New Zealand: A survey of public perspectives to guide warning system development

    Released November 04, 2020 07:58 EST

    2020, Humanities & Social Sciences Communications (7)

    Julia S. Becker, Sally H. Potter, Lauren Vinnel, Kazuya Nakayachi, Sara McBride, David A. Johnston

    Earthquake early warning (EEW) can be used to detect earthquakes and provide advanced notification of strong shaking, allowing pre-emptive actions to be taken that not only benefit infrastructure but reduce injuries and fatalities. Currently Aotearoa New Zealand does not have a nationwide EEW system, so a survey of the public was undertaken to understand whether EEW was considered useful and acceptable by the public, as well as perceptions of how and when such warnings should be communicated, before making an investment in such technology. We surveyed the public’s perspectives (N = 3084) on the usefulness of EEW, preferred system attributes, and what people anticipated doing on receipt of a warning. We found strong support for EEW, for the purposes of being able to undertake actions to protect oneself and others (e.g. family, friends, and pets), and to mentally prepare for shaking. In terms of system attributes, respondents expressed a desire for being warned at a threshold of shaking intensity MM5–6. They suggested a preference for receiving a warning via mobile phone, supported by other channels. In addition to being warned about impending shaking, respondents wanted to receive messages that alerted them to other attributes of the earthquake (including the possibility of additional hazards such as tsunami), and what actions to take. People’s anticipated actions on receipt of a warning varied depending on the time available from the warning to arrival of shaking. People were more likely to undertake quicker and easier actions for shorter timeframes of <10 s (e.g., stop, mentally prepare, take protective action), and more likely to move to a nearby safe area, help others, look for more information, or take safety actions as timeframes increased. Given the public endorsement for EEW, information from this survey can be used to guide future development in Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally with respect to system attributes, sources, channels and messages, in ways that promote effective action.

    Skin fungal assemblages of bats vary based on susceptibility to white-nose syndrome

    Released November 04, 2020 07:52 EST

    2020, ISME Journal

    Karen J Vanderwolf, Lewis Campbell, Tony L Goldberg, David S. Blehert, Jeffrey M. Lorch

    Microbial skin assemblages, including fungal communities, can influence host resistance to infectious diseases. The diversity-invasibility hypothesis predicts that high-diversity communities are less easily invaded than species-poor communities, and thus diverse microbial communities may prevent pathogens from colonizing a host. To explore the hypothesis that host fungal communities mediate resistance to infection by fungal pathogens, we investigated characteristics of bat skin fungal communities as they relate to susceptibility to the emerging disease white-nose syndrome (WNS). Using a culture-based approach, we compared skin fungal assemblage characteristics of 10 bat species that differ in susceptibility to WNS across 10 eastern U.S. states. The fungal assemblages on WNS-susceptible bat species had significantly lower alpha diversity and abundance compared to WNS-resistant species. Overall fungal assemblage structure did not vary based on WNS-susceptibility, but several yeast species were differentially abundant on WNS-resistant bat species. One yeast species inhibited Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), the causative agent on WNS, in vitro under certain conditions, suggesting a possible role in host protection. Further exploration of interactions between Pd and constituents of skin fungal assemblages may prove useful for predicting susceptibility of bat populations to WNS and for developing effective mitigation strategies.

    Assessing ecological uncertainty and simulation model sensitivity to evaluate an invasive plant species’ potential impacts to the landscape

    Released November 04, 2020 07:09 EST

    2020, Scientific Reports (10)

    Catherine S. Jarnevich, Nicholas E. Young, Catherine Cullinane Thomas, Perry Grissom, Dana M. Backer, Leonardo Frid

    Ecological forecasts of the extent and impacts of invasive species can inform conservation management decisions. Such forecasts are hampered by ecological uncertainties associated with non-analog conditions resulting from the introduction of an invader to an ecosystem. We developed a state-and-transition simulation model tied to a fire behavior model to simulate the spread of buffelgrass (Cenchrus ciliaris) in Saguaro National Park, AZ, USA over a 30-year period. The simulation models forecast the potential extent and impact of a buffelgrass invasion including size and frequency of fire events and displacement of saguaro cacti and other native species. Using simulation models allowed us to evaluate how model uncertainties affected forecasted landscape outcomes. We compared scenarios covering a range of parameter uncertainties including model initialization (landscape susceptibility to invasion) and expert-identified ecological uncertainties (buffelgrass patch infill rates and precipitation). Our simulations showed substantial differences in the amount of buffelgrass on the landscape and the size and frequency of fires for dry years with slow patch infill scenarios compared to wet years with fast patch infill scenarios. We identified uncertainty in buffelgrass patch infill rates as a key area for research to improve forecasts. Our approach could be used to investigate novel processes in other invaded systems.