Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Publications recently added to the Pubs Warehouse

(500 records max)
U.S. Geological Survey—Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center 2018 research activity report

Released August 06, 2020 12:32 EST

2020, Circular 1465

Mark H. Sherfy, editor(s)

The mission of Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center is to provide scientific information needed to conserve and manage the Nation’s natural capital for current and future generations, with an emphasis on migratory birds, Department of the Interior trust resources, and ecosystems of the Nation’s interior. This report provides an overview of the studies conducted at Northern Prairie during fiscal year 2018 in pursuit of this mission. Studies are organized under a framework developed by the U.S. Geological Survey Ecosystems Mission Area, identifying primary and secondary alignment with focal areas of research, and summarizing recent scientific products resulting from these studies. Partnerships with Federal, State, and non-Governmental organizations are essential to a robust program of applied ecological research, and we thank our many collaborators and colleagues whose contributions made this work possible.

A hybrid approach for predictive soil property mapping using conventional soil survey data

Released August 06, 2020 10:36 EST

2020, Soil Science Society of America Journal

Travis W. Nauman, Michael C. Duniway

Soil property maps are important for land management and earth systems modeling. A new hybrid point-disaggregation predictive soil property mapping strategy improved mapping in the Colorado River Basin, and can be applied to other areas with similar data (e.g. conterminous United States). This new approach increased sample size ~6-fold over past efforts. Random forests related environmental raster layers representing soil forming factors to samples to predict 15 soil properties (pH, texture fractions, rock, electrical conductivity, gypsum, CaCO3, sodium adsorption ratio, available water capacity, bulk density, erodibility, organic matter) at 7 depths, depth to restrictive layer, and surface rock size and cover. Cross-validations resulted in coefficient of determinations averaging 0.52, with a range of 0.20 to 0.76; and mean absolute errors ranged from 3% to 98% of training data averages with a mean of 41%. Uncertainty estimates were also developed by creating relative prediction intervals (RPIs) for the entire study area, which allow end users to evaluate uncertainty relative to original data distributions. Average error increased with higher RPI values (higher uncertainty), and areas with the highest RPI are consistently under-sampled, suggesting that additional sampling in these areas may improve prediction accuracy. Greater uncertainty was also observed in areas with shale parent materials and physiographic settings uncommon relative to the broader study area.

2019 fiscal year state of the Survey

Released August 06, 2020 09:45 EST

2020, Report

U.S. Geological Survey, Office of Budget, Planning, and Integration

This first of its kind publication, the USGS “2019 Fiscal Year State of the Survey” report, highlights notable USGS accomplishments over the past year that have contributed to meeting our goals and priorities in support of the Department of the Interior Strategic Plan. The activities summarized in this report demonstrate how integrated science and administrative support contribute to fulfilling our vision of being a world leader in the natural sciences through our scientific excellence and responsiveness to society’s need. And it celebrates the great work and dedication of our employees in helping advance our scientific knowledge and understanding of the Earth and its processes.

The "State of the Survey" is much more than a simple listing of accomplishments. It is a colorful visual tour through our diverse scientific endeavors. Within its pages you will find short videos on algal blooms, ShakeAlert, flood prediction, and more. You will find maps of where our centers and stations are located, charts of our funding sources, and pictures of our researchers at work.

Dynamics of lake trout production in the main basin of Lake Huron

Released August 06, 2020 09:05 EST

2020, ICES Journal of Marine Science (77) 975-987

Ji X. He, James R. Bence, Charles P. Madenjian, Randall M. Claramunt

To inform lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) fishery management in Lake Huron that has undergone rapid ecosystem changes, we quantified lake trout production dynamics by coupling age-structured stock assessment and fish bioenergetics models. Our approach revealed the connection between piscivore production and prey consumption, included growth compensation to reproduction losses, and allowed comparisons between long-term dynamics of fishery harvests and fish production. We found that despite the collapse of alewives, a major non-native pelagic prey fish, lake trout production appeared to be sustainable. To a certain degree, the effect of recent recruitment declines on lake trout production was offset by release of harvest pressure from subadult lake trout, and reduction of fishing and sea lamprey induced mortality on adult lake trout. Evidence for sustainability also included the finding that no changes in average ratios of annual production to beginning-of-the-year biomass. Juvenile P:B ratio remained as high as 2.1. The effect of growth declines on adult and subadult production was offset by reduction in population mortality. Body growth and condition did not continue to decline when lake trout became more and more reliant on round goby as food, and the dynamics of total consumption of prey fish continued to be recipient controlled.

Daily estimates reveal fine-scale temporal and spatial variation in fish survival across a stream network

Released August 06, 2020 09:02 EST

2019, Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences (76) 1446-1458

Evan S. Childress, Keith Nislow, Andrew R. Whiteley, Matthew O'Donnell, Benjamin Letcher

Environmental drivers of population vital rates, such as temperature and precipitation, often vary at short time scales, and these fluctuations can have important impacts on population dynamics. However, relationships between survival and environmental conditions are typically modeled at coarse temporal scales, ignoring the role of daily environmental variation in survival. Our goal was to determine the importance of fine-scale temporal variation in survival to population dynamics of stream salmonids. We extended the Cormack–Jolly–Seber model to estimate daily survival rates from seasonal samples of individually marked brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in a stream network. Daily variation in temperature and flow were strongly associated with survival, but relationships varied between juvenile and adult trout and among streams. In all streams, juveniles had higher mortality in warm, low-flow conditions, but in the two larger streams, cold, high-flow conditions also reduced juvenile survival. Adult survival decreased during low flows, particularly in the fall spawning period. Differing survival responses among stream network components to short-term environmental events created shifts in optimal location for maximum survival across life stages, seasons, and years.

Steps taken for calculating estimated ultimate recoveries of wells in the Eagle Ford Group and associated Cenomanian–Turonian strata, U.S. Gulf Coast, Texas, 2018

Released August 06, 2020 05:52 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5077

Heidi Leathers-Miller

In 2018, the U.S. Geological Survey published an assessment of technically recoverable continuous oil and gas resources of the Eagle Ford Group and associated Cenomanian–Turonian strata in the U.S. Gulf Coast of Texas. Estimated ultimate recoveries (EURs) were calculated with production data from IHS MarkitTM using DeclinePlus software in the Harmony interface. These EURs were a major component of the aforementioned quantitative resource assessment fact sheet. The calculated mean EURs for each oil assessment unit (AU) ranged from 113,000 barrels of oil in the Cenomanian–Turonian Mudstone Continuous Oil AU to 223,000 barrels of oil in the Submarine Plateau-Karnes Trough Continuous Oil AU. The calculated mean EURs for each gas AU ranged from 2.261 billion cubic feet of gas in the Submarine Plateau-Karnes Trough Continuous Gas AU to 3.116 billion cubic feet of gas in the Eagle Ford Marl Continuous Gas AU.

Latest Pleistocene to present geology of Mount Baker Volcano, northern Cascade Range, Washington

Released August 04, 2020 15:58 EST

2020, Professional Paper 1865

Kevin M. Scott, David S. Tucker, Jon L. Riedel, Cynthia A. Gardner, John P. McGeehin

Mount Baker is the prominent andesitic stratocone that forms the youngest volcanic center in the Mount Baker volcanic field. Its heavily glaciated cone, rising to 3,286 meters, is an international landmark, dominating the skyline of Vancouver, British Columbia, even though the volcano is located 25 kilometers south of the international border. Mount Baker caught the attention of scientists and the public alike in 1975–76 during a period of increased steaming, thermal output, and near-vent lithic tephra falls. Although a magmatic eruption did not ensue, it awoke the populace to the possibility of renewed volcanic activity in the Cascade Range (the first since the 1914–17 eruptions of Lassen Peak, Calif.)—a possibility fulfilled just five short years later with the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in southwest Washington. The 1980 Mount St. Helens eruption, with its dramatic edifice collapse, extraordinary pyroclastic density current, and catastrophic lahars, invigorated the scientific community into studying these then little-known processes. It also highlighted the need to better understand eruptive histories at other Cascade Range volcanoes in order to prepare for future eruptions.

The 1975 unrest also spawned one of the earliest volcano hazard assessments in the Cascade Range, which recognized the rich history of postglacial events at Mount Baker and identified the risk posed by volcanic mudflows, or lahars. The focus of this study is to more fully describe the late-glacial to present surficial geology, to better constrain the timing of events (including 19th-century floods), and to dovetail this history with Hildreth and others’ (2003) bedrock study.

Water-level data for the Albuquerque Basin and adjacent areas, central New Mexico, period of record through September 30, 2019

Released August 04, 2020 14:33 EST

2020, Data Series 1129

Joseph E. Beman

The Albuquerque Basin, located in central New Mexico, is about 100 miles long and 25–40 miles wide. The basin is hydrologically defined as the extent of consolidated and unconsolidated deposits of Tertiary and Quaternary age that encompasses the structural Rio Grande Rift between San Acacia to the south and Cochiti Lake to the north. A 20-percent population increase in the basin from 1990 to 2000 and a 22-percent population increase from 2000 to 2010 resulted in an increased demand for water in areas within the basin. Drinking-water supplies throughout the basin were obtained solely from groundwater resources until December 2008, when the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority (ABCWUA) began treatment and distribution of surface water from the Rio Grande through the San Juan-Chama Drinking Water Project.

An initial network of wells was established by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in cooperation with the City of Albuquerque from April 1982 through September 1983 to monitor changes in groundwater levels throughout the Albuquerque Basin. In 1983, this network consisted of 6 wells with analog-to-digital recorders and 27 wells where water levels were measured monthly. As of 2019, the network consisted of 120 wells and piezometers. (A piezometer is a specialized well open to a specific depth in the aquifer, often of small diameter and nested with other piezometers screened at different depths.) The USGS, in cooperation with the ABCWUA, the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer, and Bernalillo County, measures water levels from the 120 wells and piezometers in the network; this report, prepared in cooperation with the ABCWUA, presents water-level data collected by USGS personnel at those 120 sites through water year 2019 (October 1, 2018, through September 30, 2019). Water levels that were collected from those discontinued wells in previous water years were published in previous USGS reports.

Adjusted geomagnetic data—Theoretical basis and validation

Released August 04, 2020 12:30 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1053

E. Joshua Rigler, Abram E. Claycomb

Adjusted geomagnetic data are magnetometer measurements with provisional correction factors applied such that vector quantities are oriented in a local Cartesian frame in which the X axis points north, the Y axis points east, and the Z axis points down. These correction factors are determined from so-called absolute measurements, which are “ground truth” observations made in the field using specialized magnetometers and survey equipment that are (nearly) colocated with the automated and continuously running magnetic measurement instrumentation. Correction factors can be substantial, up to hundreds of nanoTeslas, depending on the geologic and geomagnetic characteristics of the observatory site. They also tend to evolve over time because of instrument response instability and changing site characteristics. Historically, correction factors were determined offline, up to 1 year or more post-measurement, and applied to raw measurements to produce “Definitive” data for scientific analysis. Growing demand for corrected real-time geomagnetic data to better support space weather operations motivated development of an “Adjusted” geomagnetic data product. Modern computational tools, and some notable practical concerns, dictated a transition to affine transformations in lieu of more traditional baseline corrections, as well as a calibration parameter estimation algorithm that is more robust and statistically optimal, and therefore better suited for automated and unsupervised execution. A theoretical basis for this algorithm is presented, along with a demonstration and validation based on a comparison of results obtained with traditional techniques. Discrepancies between Definitive corrected data and near real-time Adjusted data obtained using affine transformations are minimal, generally much less than 5 nanoTeslas per vector component, and less than 1 nanoTesla for the total field magnitude, which satisfies International Real-Time Magnetic Observatory Network (INTERMAGNET) standards.

Fate and behavior tools related to inland spill response—Workshop on the U.S. Geological Survey’s role in Federal science support

Released August 04, 2020 09:16 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1063

Daniel J. Sullivan, Faith A. Fitzpatrick

Executive Summary

There is a growing body of tools available for science support for determining the fate and behavior of industrial and agricultural chemicals that are rapidly injected (“spilled”) into aquatic environments. A 2-day roundtable-style workshop was held by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Middleton, Wisconsin, in December 2017 to describe and explore existing Federal science support for spill fate and behavior tools used for inland spills, ongoing and new fate and behavior studies, and science gaps in planning and response tools as part of the USGS Midcontinent Region’s efforts to include spill response as part of its strategic plans. A total of 28 attendees representing a variety of Federal, State, and regional entities presented on programs and tools used in various aspects of spill response. Most programs and tools discussed were for spills in riverine environments but tools and applications for spills in lakes, on land surfaces, in urban storm sewer networks, and groundwater also were discussed. A primary workshop focus was to facilitate communication and increase potential for future collaboration among agencies for inland spill science support. The role and need for more USGS science support within the inland spill community was discussed. Enhanced communication is needed within the USGS and the U.S. Department of the Interior science programs, as well as within and among other agencies that do emergency planning and response. A main conclusion of the workshop was that there are untapped resources of the USGS outlined in the agency’s science strategy that could strengthen science support for fate and behavior tools in inland areas, especially in the Upper Mississippi River, Ohio River, and Great Lakes Basins where large freshwater resources overlap with dense corridors of oil and hazardous substances, with transportation networks, and with large populations centers.

Fate and behavior tools are being developed quickly for inland spill response by multiple Federal agencies in partnership with local and regional entities. Applicability of these tools ranges from planning and preparedness, to the early stages of spill response for protection of human life and property, and to the application of monitoring and models to assess the long-term consequences of spills. Key findings from the workshop, with an emphasis on potential further development of USGS science support, include the following:

•The national and regional response to spills occurs within an established system that must be respected by all parties involved in spill response. The USGS’s role is to support spill responders who are physically working at a spill scene, deploying booms and using other efforts to contain and recover spilled materials.

•The USGS has tools that have been used throughout spill response operations, from early response to recovery and restoration. Developing a more formal role for the USGS to participate in science support for inland spills on a consistent basis is a desired outcome. This will require the USGS to improve internal and external communication and would be best accomplished by assigning one or more coordinator positions within the agency to plan and oversee USGS spill-response efforts. More involvement of the USGS on National and Regional Response Teams, especially in the realm of the Science and Technology Subcommittees, will gofar in increasing external communication and integration of fate and behavior tools.

•Rapid response to spills requires modeling and mapping of plumes and associated time-of-travel estimation for a range of stream sizes across the United States. Many existing models use USGS streamgage data and the USGS National Hydrography Dataset. Nearly all existing models would benefit from updated linkages to USGS StreamStats and its soon-to-be released time-of-travel estimates,real-time velocity, stream morphology, and slope data. Integrating USGS tools with those from other agencies could be done to better serve the larger spill response community.

• A problem is that existing models to rapidly predict plume extent, as well as more followup/longer-term fate and transport models, can be unknown or unavailable to spill responders. Thus, creating and strengthening linkages among USGS scientists skilled at using these tools is needed to support spill response with the on-scene responders.

• Research for inland spill fate and behavior done outside of an immediate spill response can assist with spill planning and preparedness by (1) revealing sites likely to experience spills in the future (high-risk sites) and (2) understanding how a spilled substance might behave under a range of environmental conditions. However, USGS research on this topic has been scarce and subject to funding availability. Examples include the 2010 Line 6B Spill release into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, where the USGS provided science support for a variety of fate and behavior tools for stream and impoundment environments. A long-term research site in Bemidji, Minnesota, provides important insights into transformations and longevity of spilled oil in groundwater and groundwater-surface water interactions.

• Linking stream models to other components of this inland environment, including groundwater, overland flow, and karst, is needed. Stream network data can be linked to underground conduits such as storm sewers and karst groundwater systems. Stream models can also be linked with geospatial data such as that contained in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s
interactive mapping tools.

• The USGS is uniquely qualified to collect water-quality data during spills in the United States because of its many geographically dispersed water science centers, its knowledge and preparedness for flood measurement and documentation, and its cadre of skilled water-quality employees. Rapid-deployment gages, used for floods, could also be used for spills if they included spill-specific sensors. Coordinated expertise at USGS water and environmental science centers can be used for monitoring spill effects and for assessing risk to water quality and ecological communities.

• Scientists at the USGS have proven capable of providing science coordination and technical assistance within the Incident Command Structure at the request of the lead on-scene coordinator. This external coordination, as well as internal communication within USGS Water, Hazards, and Ecosystems Mission Areas, could be improved by establishing and naming a USGS spills coordinator. Scott Morlock, Jo Ellen Hinck, and Faith Fitzpatrick are currently (2017) serving in informal coordination roles in addition to their traditional duties.

Macroinvertebrate oviposition habitat selectivity and egg-mass desiccation tolerances: Implications for population dynamics in large regulated rivers

Released August 04, 2020 09:13 EST

2020, Freshwater Science

Scott W. Miller, Matt Schroer, Jesse R. Fleri, Theodore A. Kennedy

Aquatic insects exhibit complex life cycles that include egg, larval, adult, and, in some instances, pupal stages. Disturbances at any of these life stages can affect overall population dynamics. Yet, efforts to understand the effects of disturbances, such as hydrologic alterations, overwhelmingly focus on the larval life stage of aquatic insects. We evaluated the potential for load-following flows associated with hydroelectric power production to act as a population bottleneck for aquatic insects via reductions in the availability and temporal persistence of optimal oviposition habitats. Specifically, we quantified the oviposition habitat selectivity of Baetis spp. (Baetidae), Brachycentrus occidentalis (Brachycentridae), Chironomidae (Diptera), and Hydropsyche occidentalis (Hydropsychidae) downstream of Flaming Gorge Dam, Utah, USA. We found that all taxa except H. occidentalis preferentially laid eggs on large emergent substrates located along the river edge. Peak discharge associated with load-following flows substantially reduced the number of emergent substrates available for oviposition, and daily low flows exposed eggs in these habitats to desiccation and drying. When subjected to experimental drying, both Baetis and H. occidentalis eggs experienced nearly 100% mortality after 2 h, whereas most B. occidentalis remained viable after 8 h. Our paired field and experimental results are consistent with the hypothesis that load-following flows from hydroelectric dams produce a population bottleneck for aquatic insects by short circuiting recruitment processes. Environmental flows that seek to improve the health of tailwater aquatic insect populations would benefit from consideration of habitat requirements for all life stages of aquatic insects.

Water resources of Evangeline Parish, Louisiana

Released August 04, 2020 09:02 EST

2020, Fact Sheet 2020-3020

Chid J. Murphy, Vincent E. White

Information concerning the availability, use, and quality of water in Evangeline Parish, Louisiana, is critical for proper water-supply management. The purpose of this fact sheet is to present information that can be used by water managers, parish residents, and others for stewardship of this vital resource. In 2014, about 282.66 million gallons per day (Mgal/d) of water were withdrawn in Evangeline Parish, including about 122.05 Mgal/d from groundwater sources and 160.61 Mgal/d from surface-water sources. Withdrawals for agricultural use, composed of aquaculture, general irrigation, livestock, and rice irrigation, accounted for 45 percent (126.86 Mgal/d) of the total water withdrawn. Withdrawals for power-generation use accounted for about 52 percent (146.33 Mgal/d) of the total water withdrawn. Other categories of use included public supply, industry, and rural domestic. Water-use data collected at 5-year intervals from 1960 to 2010 and again in 2014 indicated that water withdrawals peaked in 1980.

Water resources of Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana

Released August 04, 2020 09:02 EST

2020, Fact Sheet 2020-3011

Vincent E. White

Information concerning the availability, use, and quality of water in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana, is critical for proper water-supply management. The purpose of this fact sheet is to present information that can be used by water managers, parish residents, and others for stewardship of this vital resource. In 2014, about 70 million gallons per day (Mgal/d) of water were withdrawn in Avoyelles Parish, including about 59.27 Mgal/d from groundwater sources and 10.95 Mgal/d from surface-water sources. Withdrawals for agricultural use—composed of aquaculture, general irrigation, livestock, and rice irrigation—accounted for 93 percent (65.59 Mgal/d) of the total water withdrawn. Other categories of use included public supply and rural domestic. Water-use data collected at 5-year intervals from 1960 to 2010 and again in 2014 indicated that water withdrawals peaked in 2014.

Ecological forecasting—21st century science for 21st century management

Released August 04, 2020 07:20 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1073

John B. Bradford, Jake F. Weltzin, Molly Mccormick, Jill Baron, Zack Bowen, Sky Bristol, Daren Carlisle, Theresa Crimmins, Paul Cross, Joe DeVivo, Mike Dietze, Mary Freeman, Jason Goldberg, Mevin Hooten, Leslie Hsu, Karen Jenni, Jennifer Keisman, Jonathan Kennen, Kathy Lee, David Lesmes, Keith Loftin, Brian W. Miller, Peter Murdoch, Jana Newman, Karen L. Prentice, Imtiaz Rangwala, Jordan Read, Jennifer Sieracki, Helen Sofaer, Steve Thur, Gordon Toevs, Francisco Werner, C. LeAnn White, Timothy White, Mark Wiltermuth

Natural resource managers are coping with rapid changes in both environmental conditions and ecosystems. Enabled by recent advances in data collection and assimilation, short-term ecological forecasting may be a powerful tool to help resource managers anticipate impending near-term changes in ecosystem conditions or dynamics. Managers may use the information in forecasts to minimize the adverse effects of ecological stressors and optimize the effectiveness of management actions. To explore the potential for ecological forecasting to enhance natural resource management, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) convened a workshop titled "Building Capacity for Applied Short-Term Ecological Forecasting" on May 29—31, 2019, with participants from several Federal agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as well as all mission areas within the USGS.

Participants broadly agreed that short-term ecological forecasting—on the order of days to years into the future—has tremendous potential to improve the quality and timeliness of information available to guide resource management decisions. Participants considered how ecological forecasting could directly affect their agency missions and specified numerous critical tools for addressing natural resource management concerns in the 21st century that could be enhanced by ecological forecasting. Given this breadth of possible applications for forecast products, participants developed a repeatable framework for evaluating potential value of a forecast product for enhancing resource management. Applying that process to a large list of forecast ideas that were developed in a brainstorming session, participants identified a small set of promising forecast products that illustrate the value of ecological forecasting for informing resource management. Workshop outcomes also include insights about important likely obstacles and next steps. In particular, reliable production and delivery of operational ecological forecasts will require a sustained commitment by research agencies, in partnership with resource management agencies, to maintain and improve forecasting tools and capabilities.

FLOwPER user guide—For collection of FLOw PERmanence field observations

Released August 03, 2020 14:42 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1075

Kristin L. Jaeger, Jonathan Burnett, Emily D. Heaston, Steve M. Wondzell, Nathan Chelgren, Jason B. Dunham, Sherri Johnson, Mike Brown

The accurate mapping of streams and their streamflow conditions in terms of presence or absence of surface water is important to both understanding physical, chemical, and biological processes in streams and to managing land, water, and ecological resources. This document describes a field form, FLOwPER (FLOw PERmanence), available within a mobile application (app), for standardized data collection of the presence or absence of surface flow in streams. The FLOwPER Database is a publicly available geodataset that can be used for research and management applications. This document provides instructions on how to (1) access and download the FLOwPER field form within the mobile app service, (2) use and complete a FLOwPER field form, and (3) view and download data from the FLOwPER Database.

Mineral resource database for deposits related to the Mesoproterozoic Midcontinent Rift System, United States and Canada

Released August 03, 2020 11:00 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1069

Laurel G. Woodruff, Klaus J. Schulz, Connie L. Dicken, Suzanne W. Nicholson

The Midcontinent Rift System (MRS) of North America is one of the world’s largest continental rifts and has an age of 1.1 Ga (giga-annum). The MRS hosts a diverse suite of magmatic and hydrothermal mineral deposits in the Lake Superior region where rift rocks are exposed at or near the surface. As part of the construction of a database summarizing information on mineral deposits in the MRS, data from regional mineral deposits were downloaded from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Mineral Resources Data System (MRDS), the USGS Mineral Deposit Database (USMIN), and the Ontario Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines Mineral Deposit Inventory (MDI). Deposits related to MRS rocks or mineralizing events were identified and compiled into a database to develop a space/time classification for MRS-related mineral deposits. Information from MRDS, USMIN, and MDI records and from the extensive literature describing MRS mineral deposits was used to classify each entry by deposit type, host rock age and type, and estimated mineralization age. Most deposits were readily classified because of unique mineralogy, location, or well-constrained host rock. These deposits were then put into a tectonic evolutionary framework for the MRS, which showed that many deposits formed within discrete spatial and temporal stages of rift evolution.

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

Released August 03, 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.

Incipient bed-movement and flood-frequency analysis using hydrophones to estimate flushing flows on the upper Colorado River, Colorado, 2019

Released July 31, 2020 18:00 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5069

Michael S. Kohn, Mathieu D. Marineau, Laura A. Hempel, Richard R. McDonald

In 2019, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Upper Colorado River Wild and Scenic Stakeholder Group, studied the magnitude and recurrence interval of streamflow (discharge) needed to initiate bed movement of gravel-sized and finer sediment in a segment of the Colorado River in Colorado to better understand sediment movement and its relation to flow regimes of the river. The study area extended from the confluence of the Blue and Colorado Rivers near Kremmling, Colorado, downstream to the confluence of the Eagle and Colorado Rivers near Dotsero, Colo. Bed movement occurred more frequently and at lower streamflows from State Bridge to Catamount Bridge compared to the study area upstream from State Bridge. As a result, the flushing flow was characterized in the study area using two definitions: the “upstream flushing flow” for locations above State Bridge and the “downstream flushing flow” for locations below State Bridge.

Acoustic data from stationary hydrophones continuously deployed in the spring and summer of 2019 and longitudinal hydrophone acoustic profiles manually collected in summer 2019 were used to identify the streamflow needed for incipient gravel-bed movement and establish flushing flows defined for this study. The upstream flushing flow was defined as 3,000 cubic feet per second (ft3/s) at streamgage 09058000 Colorado River near Kremmling, Colo. (the Kremmling streamgage) based on the underwater acoustic data from the downstream location at the Radium stationary site (2,950 ft3/s at the Kremmling streamgage which was rounded to 3,000 ft3/s). The downstream flushing flow was defined as 2,400 ft3/s at the Kremmling streamgage or 3,100 ft3/s at streamgage 09060799 Colorado River at Catamount Bridge, Colo. (the Catamount Bridge streamgage) based on the more conservative streamflow associated with the flushing flow defined using underwater acoustic data from the downstream location at the above Catamount Bridge stationary site (2,310 ft3/s at the Kremmling streamgage which was rounded to 2,400 ft3/s and 3,040 ft3/s at the Catamount Bridge streamgage which was rounded to 3,100 ft3/s).

The annual series of peak-streamflow data at the Kremmling streamgage were used to estimate annual exceedance probability (AEP) streamflows to compare to the flushing flow. Results from the Denver Water Platte and Colorado Simulation Model were used to generate daily peak-streamflows for a future conditions scenario provided for this report. The upstream flushing flow of approximately 3,000 ft3/s at the Kremmling streamgage has an AEP near 0.50 (2-year return period) depending on the period of historical record and an AEP near 0.43 (2.33-year return period) for the future period. The downstream flushing flow of approximately 2,400 ft3/s at the Kremmling streamgage has an AEP near 0.67 (1.5-year return period) depending on the period of historical record and an AEP near 0.67 (1.5-year return period) for the future period.

Calibration of the U.S. Geological Survey National Crustal Model

Released July 31, 2020 12:40 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1052

Oliver S. Boyd

The U.S. Geological Survey National Crustal Model (NCM) is being developed to include spatially varying estimates of site response in seismic hazard assessments. Primary outputs of the NCM are continuous velocity and density profiles from the Earth’s surface to the mantle transition zone at 410-kilometer (km) depth for each location on a 1-km grid across the conterminous United States. Datasets used to produce the NCM may have a resolution of better than 1 km near the Earth’s surface in some regions, but, with increasing depth, NCM resolution decreases to tens to hundreds of kilometers in the mantle. Basic subsurface information is provided by the NCM geologic framework, thermal model, and petrologic and mineral physics database. In this report, the velocities and densities that can be extracted from the NCM are calibrated through the development of a porosity model based on Biot-Gassmann theory and more than 2,000 compressional- and (or) shear-wave velocity profiles less than 10 km deep from across the conterminous United States and southwestern Canada.

Sediment and rock porosities are derived from shear-wave velocity and are found to depend on effective pressure, rock type, and age (for sedimentary and extrusive volcanic deposits). Porosity-effective pressure functions are then estimated for each rock type (and age for sedimentary and extrusive volcanic deposits). Unconsolidated sediments are found to have higher porosities than consolidated units, which have higher porosities than unweathered igneous units; young sedimentary units (for example, Quaternary age units) tend to have higher porosities than older sedimentary units (for example, pre-Cenozoic age units); porosity decreases with increasing effective pressure; and porosities can decrease quickly through the weathered layer of intrusive rocks.

Comparing two Los Angeles area velocity models and the U.S. Geological Survey Bay Area velocity model with the NCM, the NCM does a better job on average of reproducing observed shear-wave velocities below 1 km per second because it has less bias and uncertainty. Approaching and above 1 km per second, the NCM tends to underpredict observed shear-wave velocity. Whereas several factors could contribute to this, the primary factor is probably bias in the NCM geologic framework. For example, the NCM will predict lower velocities in places where the depth to bedrock and basement appear shallower in the measured velocity profiles than specified in the NCM geologic framework. With regard to observed compressional-wave velocity and density, the NCM has significantly less bias than California models for the former, especially below 2 km per second, and all models tend to overpredict density for densities less than about 2,200 kilograms per cubic meter.

Effect of FeS on the unit cell edge of sphalerite, a revision

Released July 30, 2020 15:27 EST

1959, Economic Geology (54) 1040-1046

Brian J. Skinner, P.B. Barton Jr., G. Kullerud

Redeterminations of the relation between the composition and unit-cell size of Fe-bearing sphalerites, necessitated because of partial oxidation of the FeS sample used in earlier measurements, are presented. It is noted that the Fe-ZnS solvus curve may also require revision and should be used with caution, particularly for temperature determinations in the higher ranges.

seawaveQ—An R package providing a model and utilities for analyzing trends in chemical concentrations in streams with a seasonal wave (seawave) and adjustment for streamflow (Q) and other ancillary variables, version 2.0.0

Released July 30, 2020 09:24 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1082

Karen R. Ryberg, Benjamin C. York

The seawaveQ R package provides functionality and help to fit a parametric regression model, SEAWAVE-Q, to pesticide concentration data from stream-water samples to assess trends. The model incorporates the strong seasonality and high degree of censoring common in pesticide data, and users can incorporate numerous ancillary variables such as streamflow anomalies. The model is fitted to pesticide data using maximum likelihood methods for censored data and is robust in terms of pesticide, stream location, and degree of censoring of the concentration data. This R package standardizes this methodology for trend analysis, documents the code, and provides help and tutorial information.

In previous investigations, the SEAWAVE-Q model assumed a linear trend across the period analyzed. For short trend periods, this assumption of a linear trend is adequate. However, as the period of record analyzed becomes longer, the assumption of linearity is problematic because of changes in pesticide regulation and use, some of which can be abrupt. In this update to the model, a restricted cubic spline option was added for long trend periods. This option allows for more flexibility in the time component of the model. Bootstrap functionality is included to determine statistical significance. Model results with the new restricted cubic spline option are compared to the linear trend option for two pesticide-site combinations.

Estimating streamflow and base flow within the nontidal Chesapeake Bay riverine system

Released July 30, 2020 05:47 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5055

Patrick C. Buffington, Paul D. Capel

Daily mean streamflow was estimated for all the nontidal parts of the Chesapeake Bay riverine system with the Unit Flows in Networks of Channels computer application using measured streamflow at the most downstream gage of selected rivers. The streamflows estimated by the Unit Flows in Networks of Channels computer application were aggregated at the 12-digit Hydrologic Unit Code level, after which base flow was estimated by two hydrograph-separation methods. Based on six sites selected for comparison, modeled streamflows are typically within an order of magnitude of measured streamflows, and monthly mean streamflows are in better agreement than daily streamflows. For the six selected sites, the base-flow values calculated by the two hydrograph-separation methods were compared. The monthly base-flow values also were in better agreement than the daily base-flow values. The modeled data were animated to better visualize spatial and temporal variability of streamflow and base-flow index.

Legacy effects of hydrologic alteration in playa wetland responses to droughts

Released July 28, 2020 15:46 EST

2020, Wetlands

Micah T. Russell, Jennifer M. Cartwright, Gail H. Collins, Ryan A. Long, Jan H. Eitel

Wetland conservation increasingly must account for climate change and legacies of previous land-use practices. Playa wetlands provide critical wildlife habitat, but may be impacted by intensifying droughts and previous hydrologic modifications. To inform playa restoration planning, we asked: (1) what are the trends in playa inundation? (2) what are the factors influencing inundation? (3) how is playa inundation affected by increasingly severe drought? (4) do certain playas provide hydrologic refugia during droughts, and (5) if so, how are refugia patterns related to historical modifications? Using remotely sensed surface-water data, we evaluated a 30-year time series (1985–2015) of inundation for 153 playas of the Great Basin, USA. Inundation likelihood and duration increased with wetter weather conditions and were greater in modified playas. Inundation probability was projected to decrease from 22% under average conditions to 11% under extreme drought, with respective annual inundation decreasing from 1.7 to 0.9 months. Only 4% of playas were inundated for at least 2 months in each of the 5 driest years, suggesting their potential as drought refugia. Refugial playas were larger and more likely to have been modified, possibly because previous land managers selected refugial playas for modification. These inundation patterns can inform efforts to restore wetland functions and to conserve playa habitats as climate conditions change.

Estimates of groundwater discharge by evapotranspiration, Stump Spring and Hiko Springs, Clark County, southern Nevada, 2016–18

Released July 28, 2020 09:24 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5075

Michael T. Moreo, Susan G. Buto, David W. Smith, Nora C. Nelson

This report documents methodology and results of a study that estimated groundwater discharge by evapotranspiration (GWET) from phreatophytic vegetation in two desert riparian areas with ephemeral spring discharge in Clark County, southern Nevada. The phreatophytes consisted primarily of western honey mesquite [Prosopis glandulosa var. torreyana (L.D. Benson) M.C. Johnst.] at Stump Spring and mixed shrubs at Hiko Springs. An eddy-covariance station and precipitation gage were established to concurrently measure actual evapotranspiration (AET) and precipitation. Site-scale GWET rates—computed by subtracting measured precipitation from AET—were 239 ±45 millimeters per year (mm/yr) based on measurements over one growing season at Stump Spring and 109 ±27 mm/yr averaged over two growing seasons at Hiko Springs.

The volume of GWET for each groundwater discharge area (GDA) was estimated by developing relations between site-scale computed GWET rates and phreatophytic vegetation represented by a Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). A GDA was delineated for the natural drainage in each area by mapping the extent of phreatophytes using high-resolution imagery. A second GDA was delineated at Stump Spring by mapping the extent of phreatophytes in the Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). Site-scale GWET rates were scaled up by applying the site-based GWET -NDVI relations to NDVI distributions in each GDA. The areas of phreatophytic vegetation within each GDA, area-weighted mean GWET rates, and GWET volumes were as follows: (1) Stump Spring—59 hectares (ha), 126 mm/yr, 7.4 ± 1.4 ×104 cubic meters per year (m3/yr) (60 ± 11 acre-feet/yr); Stump Spring ACEC—49 ha, 98 mm/yr, 4.9 ± 0.9 × 104 m3/yr (39 ± 7 acre-feet/yr); and (2) Hiko Springs—7.2 ha, 112 mm/yr, 0.8 ±0.2 × 104 m3/yr (6.6 ±1.6 acre-feet/yr). The GWET rate computed at Stump Spring compared favorably with published GWET rates for mesquite.

Biotelemetry data for Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) captured in coastal southern California, February 2017–December 2019

Released July 28, 2020 07:45 EST

2020, Data Series 1128

Jeff A. Tracey, Melanie C. Madden, James C. Molden, Jeremy B. Sebes, Peter H. Bloom, Robert N. Fisher

Because of a lack of clarity about the status of golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) in coastal southern California, the U.S. Geological Survey, in collaboration with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, and San Diego Management and Monitoring Program, began a multi-year survey and tracking program of golden eagles to address questions regarding habitat use, movement behavior, nest occupancy, genetic population structure, and human impacts on eagles. Golden eagle trapping and tracking efforts began in September 2014. During trapping efforts from September 29, 2014, to February 23, 2017, 37 golden eagles were captured. During trapping efforts from February 24, 2017, to December 2, 2019, an additional 7 golden eagles (4 females and 3 males) were captured, and one previously captured female was recaptured in San Diego County. Biotelemetry data for 27 of the 44 golden eagles that were transmitting data from February 24, 2017, to December 2, 2019, are presented. These eagles ranged as far north as British Columbia, Canada, and as far south as Ciudad Insurgentes, Baja California, Mexico.

Geochemical assessment of the Hueco Bolson, New Mexico and Texas, 2016–17

Released July 28, 2020 06:33 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5056

Patricia B. Ging, Delbert G. Humberson, Scott J. Ikard

Understanding groundwater quality in transboundary aquifers like the Hueco Bolson is important for the 2.7 million people along the United States and Mexico border living in and near the combined metropolitan areas of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and El Paso, Texas, who rely on groundwater for water supply. To better understand water-quality conditions in the Mexico–New Mexico–Texas transboundary area, 23 water-supply wells were sampled in the Hueco Bolson within the United States near El Paso, Tex., during August–September 2016 and May–June 2017. Groundwater samples were analyzed for physical properties, major ions, dissolved solids, nutrients, trace elements, organic compounds, and selected isotopes such as strontium, hydrogen, oxygen, tritium, and carbon-14.

Most of the water samples from the Hueco Bolson water-supply wells were classified as a sodium-chloride type water. Only four wells sampled in the study area had dissolved-solids concentrations greater than 1,000 milligrams per liter (mg/L), with three of those wells closest to the Rio Grande/Río Bravo del Norte (hereinafter referred to as the Rio Grande).

Nitrate concentrations in the groundwater samples collected in the study area ranged from below the long-term method detection level of 0.04 to 6.2 mg/L. Arsenic was the only trace element detected in the wells sampled that had concentrations exceeding the designated drinking-water standard of 10 micrograms per liter (μg/L). Four of the 23 wells had arsenic concentrations greater than 10 μg/L, and these wells were all located near the Rio Grande. Three of the wells with the highest uranium concentrations (greater than 10 μg/L) were also located near the Rio Grande, and two of those wells were the same wells that had arsenic concentrations greater than 10 μg/L. Groundwater samples were analyzed for 83 organic compounds, but only 6 were detected—simazine, prometryn, prometon, atrazine, deethylatrazine, and dichloroaniline. All concentrations for the organic compounds detected were less than 0.03 μg/L, and the detections were only in five groundwater wells, three of which were located near the Rio Grande.

Strontium, hydrogen, and oxygen isotopic values indicate that recharge water to the central and northern sections of the study area originates from near the Franklin Mountains, whereas groundwater in the southern section of the study area is likely from the Rio Grande valley. Tritium and carbon-14 values indicate that most of the wells that were sampled contained water that is considered premodern, which means that it is more than several hundred years old. Three wells with modern groundwater (approximately less than 70 years old) are located near the Rio Grande and are the same wells that had elevated arsenic or uranium concentrations and organic compound detections. Most of the results of the geochemical analyses indicate that groundwater near the Rio Grande has higher dissolved-solids concentrations, higher concentrations of several trace elements, and slightly more organic compound detections than the groundwater farther away from the Rio Grande; therefore, the groundwater may be affected by the Rio Grande and surrounding land-use activities.

Assessment of water and proppant quantities associated with petroleum production from the Eagle Ford Group, Gulf Coast, Texas, 2019

Released July 27, 2020 16:10 EST

2020, Fact Sheet 2020-3037

Nicholas J. Gianoutsos, Seth S. Haines, Brian A. Varela, Katherine J. Whidden, Justin E. Birdwell, Lauri A. Burke, Ronald M. Drake II, Thomas M. Finn, Katherine L. French, Karen E. Jenni, Scott A. Kinney, Phuong A. Le, Heidi M. Leathers-Miller, Kristen R. Marra, Tracey J. Mercier, Stanley T. Paxton, Janet K. Pitman, Christopher J. Schenk, Brian N. Shaffer, Chilisa M. Shorten, Marilyn E. Tennyson, Cheryl A. Woodall

Building on a geology-based assessment of undiscovered, technically recoverable petroleum resources in the Eagle Ford Group in south Texas, the U.S. Geological Survey has estimated the required water and proppant demands and formation water production volumes associated with possible future development of these petroleum resources. The results of the water and proppant assessment are presented here, along with related drilling information and relevant water budget volumes for the region.

Quality of pesticide data for groundwater analyzed for the National Water-Quality Assessment Project, 2013–18

Released July 27, 2020 15:40 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5072

Laura M. Bexfield, Kenneth Belitz, Mark W. Sandstrom, Delicia Beaty, Laura Medalie, Bruce D. Lindsey, Lisa H. Nowell

The National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) submitted nearly 1,900 samples collected from groundwater sites across the United States in 2013–18 for analysis of 225 pesticide compounds (pesticides and pesticide degradates, hereafter referred to as “pesticides”) by USGS National Water Quality Laboratory schedule 2437 (S2437). For the associated NAWQA study of pesticide occurrence and concentration in groundwater, and for other studies using pesticide results determined by S2437, it is necessary to assess the ability of reported results to meet data-quality requirements that will allow study objectives to be achieved. This assessment of the quality of S2437 results reported in 2013–18 examined data from field and laboratory quality-control samples, along with third-party performance assessment samples, to estimate bias and variability and to identify their potential sources, with an emphasis on implications for the interpretation of pesticide data for groundwater. Results indicate that measurements produced by the S2437 method for most pesticides have bias and variability that would be considered acceptable for many interpretative studies, which could therefore use the results without qualification or censoring. However, the reported data for a subset of pesticides have the potential for unacceptable contamination bias, high or low recovery bias, or high variability as a consequence of method performance and (or) nonlaboratory factors that could preclude their use for certain common objectives or could necessitate adjustment or qualification to meet those objectives.

Based on data for laboratory blanks, censoring of some detections for a subset of pesticides reported by the laboratory in environmental samples might be necessary or desirable to avoid an unacceptably high likelihood of a false-positive result caused by laboratory contamination. The 90-percent upper confidence limit for the 95th percentile of laboratory blank concentration equals or exceeds the minimum reported groundwater concentration in at least 1 water year for 28 pesticides. During at least 1 water year, this upper confidence limit exceeds the maximum laboratory detection limit for 17 pesticides and exceeds the maximum laboratory reporting limit for 3 pesticides (ametryn, atrazine, and diazinon). The level of contamination indicated by this upper confidence limit should not substantially affect the suitability of reported environmental concentrations for any compound for comparison with corresponding human-health benchmarks.

Despite being subjected to the same laboratory processes as laboratory blanks, field blanks indicated little evidence of contamination bias. This observation could largely be the consequence of data-reporting practices, which utilize detections in laboratory blanks to censor results in associated field samples (including blanks and environmental samples) when relative concentrations indicate that a result could have a substantial contribution from laboratory contamination. Laboratory censoring appears likely to reduce the risk of false-positive results in environmental samples below the level that laboratory blank results alone would imply.

Whereas data available for third-party blind blank samples analyzed in 2018 indicate that only propoxur had any false-positive results, data for pesticides that were not spiked into blind spike samples analyzed in 2013–18 indicate that the false-positive rates for 31 pesticides exceeded 1 percent when considering only detections reported at concentrations greater than the maximum detection limit. Although about half of these pesticides lack substantial supporting evidence of contamination bias based on laboratory blank or field blank detections, indicating that spiking issues or degradation of parent compounds within the spiked samples might be a contributing factor to some false-positive results, these results indicate the need to closely examine detections reported for some pesticides in environmental samples analyzed during a similar period for possible contributions from contamination bias. Data for blind spike samples that were spiked at concentrations above the maximum reporting limit indicate that false-negative rates for eight pesticides exceed 10 percent; substantial low bias could affect results reported for these pesticides in environmental samples analyzed during a similar period.

Data for laboratory reagent spikes, which measure recovery of pesticides in blank water, show little evidence for unacceptable recovery bias for S2437 pesticides. However, field matrix spikes, which measure recovery of pesticides in environmental matrices, indicate that degradation and (or) matrix effects could result in moderate to substantial low bias for groundwater results for several pesticides. Low bias could cause some reported concentrations to be categorized as being below a benchmark when the actual concentration in groundwater is greater than the benchmark. Occurrence and concentrations in groundwater could be substantially underrepresented for six pesticides with benchmarks (1H-1,2,4-triazole, asulam, bifenthrin, cis-permethrin, fenbutatin oxide, and naled) that have median recoveries between zero and 50 percent in field matrix spikes. Two compounds (didealkylatrazine and 2-hydroxy-6-ethylamino-4-amino-s-triazine) have median recoveries near or greater than 150 percent in field matrix spikes, indicating a substantial high bias. Plots of data for all spike types show clear changes in the typical recovery with time for some pesticides, which would require further examination for evaluation of temporal trends in environmental concentrations.

Data for laboratory reagent spikes indicate that nearly all S2437 pesticides have acceptable variability resulting from random measurement error. Only two compounds (fenbutatin oxide and naled) have F-pseudosigma values greater than 30 percent for recovery, which implies the potential for relatively high variability in reported concentrations and could affect comparison of concentrations to benchmarks and determination of whether concentrations for samples collected at separate locations or times are truly different with a specified level of confidence. Data for third-party blind spike samples show relatively high variability for a greater number of pesticides, although these results likely reflect the influence of degradation and (or) differences in the magnitude and variability of concentrations used for blind spikes relative to laboratory reagent spikes. Detailed analysis of variability using field replicate data is possible for only 12 pesticides on S2437; low variability in analyte detection and concentration is indicated for most of these pesticides in groundwater.

Assessing the influence of natural copper-nickel-bearing bedrocks of the Duluth Complex on water quality in Minnesota, 2013–15

Released July 27, 2020 15:39 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5039

Sarah M. Elliott, Perry M. Jones, Laurel G. Woodruff, Carrie E. Jennings, Aliesha L. Krall, Daniel L. Morel

The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Natural Resources Research Institute, completed an assessment of regional water quality in areas of potential base-metal mining in Minnesota. Bedrock, soil, streambed sediment, and surface-water samples were collected in three watersheds that cross the basal part of the Duluth Complex with different mineral-deposit settings: (1) copper-nickel-platinum group element mineralization (Filson Creek), (2) iron-titanium-oxide mineralization (headwaters of the St. Louis River), and (3) no identified mineralization (Keeley Creek). At least 10 bedrock, 30 soil (2 each from 15 sites), and as many as 13 streambed sediment samples were collected in each watershed and analyzed for 44 major and trace elements, total and inorganic carbon, and 10 loosely bound metals (when possible). Surface-water samples were collected at four to nine locations in each watershed three to four times per year for 2 years (total of 141 environmental samples). Surface-water samples were analyzed for 10 trace metals (total and dissolved concentrations), 8 trace elements, 8 major ions (dissolved concentrations), alkalinity, and total and dissolved organic carbon.

Metal and element concentrations in solid media varied by watershed, representing local geology. Copper-nickel sulfide mineralization in the Filson Creek watershed was evidenced in bedrock, soil, and streambed sediments. In the Keeley Creek watershed, silicate mineralogy of underlying bedrock contributed metals to streambed sediments. Thick glacial cover masked potential bedrock contributions to solid media in the St. Louis River watershed. Water-quality data indicate that waters in all three watersheds are dilute. Water quality is more similar between the Filson and Keeley Creek watersheds, compared to the St. Louis River watershed, because of the difference in glacial cover. Metal concentrations (copper and nickel, in particular) in surface-water samples follow similar patterns of concentrations in solid media, indicating the influence of bedrock on water quality in Filson and Keeley Creeks. Data from this study provide a baseline of metal concentrations and general water quality within an area of active mineral exploration.

Citizen science collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey in Alaska

Released July 27, 2020 12:42 EST

2020, Fact Sheet 2020-3026

Elizabeth Powers, Dee Williams

Citizen science is science undertaken by the public, usually in collaboration with professional scientific institutions. It encourages citizens to tackle real-world scientific problems and augments traditional science by expanding the coverage of data collection and by reducing costs of fieldwork in remote locations. Information collected by volunteers enables us all to gain a deeper understanding of how the natural world works and how it is changing. The U.S. Geological Survey is a leading Federal agency in fostering citizen-science collaborations, and the examples in this publication show the value of those collaborations.

A not so sudden impact—Historical relations between conifers and insects can help predict damage by nonnative insects

Released July 27, 2020 12:00 EST

2020, Fact Sheet 2020-3039

Lekeah A. Durden, Ashley N. Schulz, Angela M. Mech, Kathryn A. Thomas

The arrival and establishment of nonnative insects in North America is increasingly problematic. International trade has created opportunities to move wood products and nursery stock worldwide, which has increased the risk of insect introduction to regions or countries where they are not native. One group of researchers, the High-impact Insect Invasions Working Group (HIIWG), has developed a predictive model that can be used to estimate the likelihood that a newly arriving nonnative insect may significantly impact North American conifers. The HIIWG examined several traits and factors associated with nonnative insects feeding on conifers (a conifer specialist) already established in North America. Using these data, the HIIWG identified which combination of factors best predicted the risk that a conifer specialist would have a high impact. The researchers then developed a statistical model to predict the probability that a conifer specialist yet to arrive in North America would cause significant damage to conifers if the insect became established. Using three factors, the model calculates the odds of any particular conifer specialist having a high impact on a North American conifer in a range between 1 in 6.5 to 1 in 2,858. This model is a valuable tool to help identify invading insects with the potential to be the most damaging if the insect becomes established in North America. In addition, application of tools like this model can increase positive environmental outcomes for land managers by focusing their efforts on conifer populations that are deemed most vulnerable to extensive mortality

Chemical constituent concentrations in stream water, streambed sediment, and soils of Fort Belvoir, Virginia—A characterization of ambient conditions in 2019

Released July 27, 2020 11:05 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1059

Karen C. Rice, Douglas B. Chambers


The U.S. Army Fort Belvoir (FTBL) installation is on the banks of the Potomac River in Fairfax County, northeastern Virginia. The installation was founded by the U.S. Army during World War I. It has been home to a variety of military organizations over the course of its more than 100-year history and currently houses more than 145 mission partners. The installation consists of two noncontiguous units, the Main Post, and a smaller area to the northwest, Fort Belvoir North Area (FTNA). FTBL encompasses 8.91 square miles.

There is concern that activities on FTBL, including a long history of training, operations, and maintenance, may have resulted in contamination of stream water, streambed sediment, and (or) soils. Of particular concern is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Target Analyte List (TAL). TAL refers to “the list of inorganic compounds/elements designated for analysis as contained in the version of the EPA Contract Laboratory Program Statement of Work for Inorganics Analysis, Multi-Media, Multi-Concentration in effect as of the date on which the laboratory is performing the analysis” ( Because of the potential for TAL contamination at FTBL, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with U.S. Army Fort Belvoir, conducted a survey of FTBL’s stream water, streambed sediment, and soils during calendar year 2019.

The terminology “ambient concentrations” is used in this report to represent the concentrations of the TAL and other constituents at the time of sampling. This is in contrast to “background concentrations,” a term that “refers to areas in which the concentrations of chemicals have not been elevated by site activities”. Although some of the samples collected for this project may represent “background concentrations,” there is no assurance that they do, so all data collected are described as having “ambient concentrations.”

The purpose of the study was to obtain environmental data to characterize ambient concentrations of EPA TAL constituents in stream water, streambed sediment, and soils in FTBL, Virginia. This report describes methods and results of sampling stream water, streambed sediment, and soils during 2019. The purpose of this report is four-fold: (1) to describe the field sampling methods used to collect stream water, streambed sediment, and soils; (2) to describe the laboratory methods used to analyze the samples; (3) to report summaries of the field and laboratory results; and (4) to report the quality assurance and quality control results.

Groundwater quality in relation to drinking water health standards and geochemical characteristics for 54 domestic wells in Clinton County, Pennsylvania, 2017

Released July 27, 2020 10:30 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5022

John W. Clune, Charles A. Cravotta III

Despite the reliance on groundwater by approximately 2.4 million rural Pennsylvania residents, publicly available data to characterize the quality of private well water are limited. As part of a regional effort to characterize groundwater in rural areas of Pennsylvania, samples from 54 domestic wells in Clinton County were collected and analyzed in 2017. The samples were evaluated for a wide range of constituents and compared to drinking-water health standards and geochemical characteristics. The sampled wells were completed to depths ranging from 46 to 500 feet in bedrock that was of predominantly sandstone, shale, or carbonate lithology. Results of this study show that the sampled groundwater quality in Clinton County generally met most drinking-water standards that apply to public water supplies. However, a percentage of samples exceeded drinking-water maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for total coliform bacteria (57.4 percent), Escherichia coli (E. coli) (25.9 percent), nitrate (1.9 percent), and arsenic (1.9 percent); and secondary maximum contaminant levels (SMCLs) for pH (31.5 percent), manganese (29.6 percent), iron (13 percent), total dissolved solids (7.4 percent), aluminum (1.9 percent), and chloride (1.9 percent). Sodium concentrations exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency drinking-water advisory recommendation in 16.7 percent of the samples. Radon-222 activities exceeded the proposed drinking-water standard of 300 picocuries per liter (pCi/L) in 59.3 percent of the samples. The only volatile organic compounds (VOCs) detected were acetone and methyl ethyl ketone in two separate samples; neither constituent exceeded drinking-water standards.

Higher median nitrate concentrations were found in the carbonate (3.26 milligrams per liter [mg/L]) versus shale (less than 0.04 mg/L) and sandstone (0.27 mg/L) aquifer subsets. Most of the elevated nitrate concentrations were associated with E. coli detections in the carbonate aquifers, where transmissive bedrock can facilitate groundwater contamination by human activities at the land surface.

The median pH of groundwater from the sandstone aquifers (6.53) was less than those for the shale aquifers (7.31) and carbonate aquifers (7.43). Generally, the lower pH samples had greater potential for elevated concentrations of dissolved metals, including beryllium, copper, lead, nickel, and zinc, whereas the higher pH samples had greater potential for elevated concentrations of total dissolved solids, sodium, fluoride, boron, and uranium. Near-neutral samples (pH 6.5 to 7.5) had greater hardness and alkalinity concentrations than other samples with pH outside this range. Many samples from the shale or sandstone aquifers, particularly those with pH less than 6.5, were identified as having serious potential corrosivity based on the combination of the calcite saturation index and the chloride to sulfate mass ratio; however, none of the samples from the carbonate aquifers was identified as seriously corrosive.

Groundwater from 3.7 percent of the wells had concentrations of methane greater than the Pennsylvania action level of 7 mg/L, and 48 of the 54 wells (88.9 percent) had detectable concentrations of methane greater than the 0.0002 mg/L detection limit. Greater methane concentrations were found more frequently in groundwater sampled from the shale aquifers than the carbonate or sandstone aquifers in the study area. Most of the samples containing elevated methane (greater than 0.2 mg/L) were located outside the area of the Appalachian Plateaus. The elevated concentrations of methane generally were associated with suboxic groundwater (dissolved oxygen less than 0.5 mg/L) that had near-neutral to alkaline pH and were correlated with concentrations of iron, manganese, ammonia, sodium, lithium, barium, fluoride, and boron. The stable carbon and hydrogen isotopic compositions of methane in two of four samples analyzed for isotopes were consistent with compositions reported for mud-gas logging samples from gas-bearing geologic units (thermogenic gas) in the Appalachian Plateaus region, whereas two others were consistent with methane of microbial origin or a mixture of microbial and thermogenic gas.

Forty-two percent of samples had chloride concentrations greater than 20 mg/L with variable bromide concentrations. Corresponding chloride/bromide ratios are consistent with low-bromide sources such as road-deicing salt and septic effluent or animal waste, or, in a few cases, high-bromide brine. Brines characterized by relatively high bromide are naturally present in deeper parts of the regional groundwater system and, in some cases, may be mobilized by gas drilling. The chloride, bromide, and other constituents in road-deicing salt or brine solutions tend to be diluted by mixing with fresh groundwater in shallow aquifers used for water supply. One of the four groundwater samples with methane concentrations greater than 4 mg/L had chloride and bromide concentrations and a chloride/bromide ratio that indicates mixing with a salinity source such as road-deicing salt, whereas the chloride and bromide concentrations and ratios for the other three high-methane samples indicate mixing with a small amount of brine (0.03 percent or less). In two other eastern Pennsylvania county studies where gas drilling is absent, groundwater with comparable chloride/bromide ratios, bromide, and chloride concentrations plus other element associations have been reported. Additional sampling and analysis, such as isotopic analysis of the dissolved gas, fracture analysis, and more detailed evaluation of surrounding land uses, may be warranted to better understand the origin of the methane and brine constituents in groundwater at specific locations.

A standard operating procedure for the preparation of purposely killed juvenile salmon used to test survival model assumptions

Released July 27, 2020 09:59 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1083

Ryan G. Tomka, Theresa L. Liedtke, Conrad Frost, Collin D. Smith

This document describes a standard operating procedure (SOP) for the preparation of purposely killed juvenile salmon, implanted with telemetry transmitters, to be released into rivers, lakes, or streams to test one of the survival model assumptions. Procedures for releases of purposely killed fish (hereinafter dead fish releases) were developed by staff from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Columbia River Research Laboratory, on the basis of laboratory experiments and practical experience with telemetry studies in the Columbia River Basin. Initially, we used extended exposure to high dose anesthetic baths to euthanize fish for dead fish releases. This approach was selected on the basis of euthanization procedures described in the literature for studies that required an effective and rapid procedure, such as stress physiology assessments. Ultimately, this technique was deemed insufficient because detection records suggested that some fish seemed to revive and continue their migration with limited effect. That is, the detection histories of dead fish were very similar to those of live fish. To overcome this challenge, we adapted our procedures to require a combination of euthanization procedures on individual fish to ensure that there was no opportunity for revival. A combination of euthanization procedures for dead fish releases was used in one study in Germany. This SOP has been used by the U.S. Geological Survey to test survival model assumptions in several field studies and has consistently performed well. In addition, limited laboratory tests were completed to ensure that no live juvenile salmon were found in holding tanks for 24 hours following the procedures described in this SOP.

A guidebook to spatial datasets for conservation planning under climate change in the Pacific Northwest

Released July 27, 2020 08:58 EST

2020, Report

Travis Belote, Kyle W. Blasch, Steve Campbell, Jennifer M. Cartwright, Jeanne C. Chambers, Raymond J. Davis, Solomon Dobrowski, Jason B. Dunham, Diana Gergel, Daniel Isaak, Kristin Jaeger, Meade Krosby, Jesse Langdon, Joshua J. Lawler, Caitlin E Littlefield, Charles H Luce, Jeremy D Maestas, Anthony Martinez, Arjan J.H. Meddens, Julia Michalak, Sean A. Parks, Wendy Peterman, Ken Popper, Chris Ringo, Thomas R. Sando, Michael Schindel, Diana Stralberg, David M. Theobald, Nathan Walker, Chad Wilsey, Zhiqiang Yang, Andrew Yost

Jennifer M. Cartwright, editor(s)

This guidebook provides user-friendly overviews of a variety of spatial datasets relevant to conservation and management of natural resources in the face of climate change in the Pacific Northwest, United States. Each guidebook chapter was created using a standardized template to summarize a spatial dataset or a group of closely related datasets. Datasets were selected according to standardized criteria based on input through a collaborative process involving researchers and natural-resource managers throughout the Pacific Northwest region. In each chapter, basic spatial and temporal information is provided for the dataset, along with a conceptual overview, glossary of key terms, links to download data and supporting documentation, a brief methods summary describing how the dataset was created, guidelines for dataset interpretation, assessment of uncertainties along with evaluation of caveats and simplifying assumptions, and information about potential and actual conservation applications of the dataset. Collectively, this information provides natural-resource managers with “snapshots” of a variety of datasets representing diverse processes and conditions, including climate projections, changes in hydrologic conditions, vegetation and fire-regime shifts, animal habitat changes, species movements, and topographic and soil conditions relevant to climate change. Along with other types of data and site-specific information, the datasets described in this guidebook have the potential to inform management of valued natural resources throughout the Pacific Northwest region in the context of adaptation to changing climate conditions.

Comparison of storm runoff models for a small watershed in an urban metropolitan area, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Released July 26, 2020 14:54 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5058

Zachary M. Shephard, Kyle R. Douglas-Mankin

In order to comply with a current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency watershed-based National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, the City of Albuquerque required a better understanding of the rainfall-runoff processes in its small urban watersheds. That requirement prompted the initiation of the assessment of three existing watershed models that were developed to simulate those processes. Three existing rainfall-runoff modeling software packages—Hydrologic Engineering Center Hydrologic Modeling System (HEC-HMS) (using two sets of methods), Program for Predicting Polluting Particle Passage Through Pits, Puddles, and Ponds (P8), and Arid-Lands Hydrologic Model (AHYMO)—were compared to determine which provided the best balance of accuracy and usability for simulating storm runoff in small watersheds in the urbanized area of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Additionally, results of this study could help inform model users who have interest in simulating storm runoff in similar urban areas throughout the United States. Each model was used to simulate storm runoff in the Hahn Arroyo watershed, an urbanized watershed with concrete-lined arroyo channels in the northeastern quadrant of Albuquerque that exhibits flashy, monsoonal-driven storm runoff. Model results were compared to observed discharge data, according to literature-recommended performance measures and performance evaluation criteria. The HEC-HMS model using the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) curve number (CN) and SCS unit hydrograph methods ranked the highest when averaging the individual performance measures (Nash-Sutcliffe Efficiency, percent bias, and coefficient of determination) rankings together across the hourly calibration and validation periods, followed by P8, which was tied with the HEC-HMS initial and constant approach. For daily rankings using the same rank-averaging approach, the HEC-HMS CN-based model and P8 were tied for the highest ranking, followed by the HEC-HMS initial and constant approach. Alternatively, rating performance using validation period results as an indication of the expected confidence in forecasted results for future conditions, the P8 model performed best for both hourly and daily time-steps, followed by the HEC-HMS CN-based model and the HEC-HMS initial and constant-based model. However, based on the literature performance evaluation criteria, the HEC-HMS and P8 models overall had marginally satisfactory performance only for operation at the daily time-step. Direct comparison of the HEC-HMS and P8 models to the AHYMO is difficult, given the different performance assessment criteria used to assess these models separately in this study, as recommended by the literature. The AHYMO results generally lacked precision, given the wide range in the performance assessment values across events in percent error in peak discharge, difference in timing of peak discharge, percent error in total runoff volume, and difference in duration of event relative to observed data. For some events, however, the AHYMO results were fairly accurate, and AHYMO was likely a good predictor of the timing of storm runoff and the shape of the hydrograph. This study did not assess the results for all potential applications of the models in the Albuquerque urbanized area. Further study may be required to assess the model performance capabilities in other modeling applications.

Amazon sediment transport and accumulation along the continuum of mixed fluvial and marine processes

Released July 24, 2020 10:33 EST

2020, Annual Review of Marine Science

Charles A. Nittrouer, David J. DeMaster, Steven A. Kuehl, Alberto G. Figueiredo, Richard W. Sternberg, L. Ercilio C. Faria, Odete M. Silveira, Meade A. Allison, Gail C. Kineke, Andrea S. Ogston, Pedro W.M. Souza Filho, Nils E. Asp, Daniel J. Nowacki, Aaron T. Fricke

Sediment transfer from land to ocean begins in coastal settings and, for large rivers such as the Amazon, has dramatic impacts over thousands of kilometers covering diverse environmental conditions. In the relatively natural Amazon tidal river, combinations of fluvial and marine processes transition toward the ocean, affecting the transport and accumulation of sediment in floodplains and tributary mouths. The enormous discharge of Amazon fresh water causes estuarine processes to occur on the continental shelf, where much sediment accumulation creates a large clinoform structure and where additional sediment accumulates along its shoreward boundary in tidal flats and mangrove forests. Some remaining Amazon sediment is transported beyond the region near the river mouth, and fluvial forces on it diminish. Numerous perturbations to Amazon sediment transport and accumulation occur naturally, but human actions will likely dominate future change and now is the time to document, understand, and mitigate their impacts.

Global quieting of high-frequency seismic noise due to COVID-19 pandemic lockdown measures

Released July 23, 2020 18:12 EST

2020, Science

Thomas Lecocq, Stephen Hicks, Koen Van Noten, Kasper van Wijk, Paula Koelemeijer, Raphael S.M. De Plaen, Frederick Massin, Gregor Hillers, Robert E. Anthony, Maria-Theresia Apoloner, Mario Arroyo-Solorzano, Jelle D. Assink, Pinar Buyukakpinar, Andrea Cannata, Flavio Cannavo, Sebastian Carrasco, Corentin Caudron, Esteban J. Chaves, David G. Cornwell, David Craig, Oliver F.C. den Ouden, Jordi Diaz, Stefanie Donner, Christos P. Evangelidis, Laslo Evers, Benoit Fauville, Gonzalo A. Fernandez, Dimitrios Giannopoulos, Steven J. Gibbons, Tarsilo Girona, Bogdan Grecu, Marc Grunberg, Gyorgy Hetenyi, Anna Horleston, Adolfo Inza, Jessica C.E. Irving, Mohammadreza Jamalreyhani, Alan Kafka, Mathijs R. Koymans, Celeste Labedz, Eric Larose, Nathaniel J. Lindsey, Mika McKinnon, Tobias Megies, Meghan S. Miller, William G. Minarik, Louis Moresi, Victor H. Marquez-Ramirez, Martin Mollhoff, Ian Nesbitt, Shankho Niyogi, Javier Ojeda, Adrien Oth, Simon Proud, Jay Pulli, Lise Retailleau, Annukka E. Rintamaki, Claudio Satriano, Martha K. Savage, Shanhar Shani-Kamiel, Reinoud Sleeman, Efthimios Sokos, Klaus Stammler, Alexander E. Stott, Shiba Subedi, Mathilde B. Sorensen, Taka'aki Taira, Mar Tapia, Faith Turhan, Ben van der Pluijm, Mark Vanstone, Jerome Vernge, Tommi A.T. Vuorinen, Tristram Warren, Joachim Wassermann, Han Xiao

Human activity causes vibrations that propagate into the ground as high-frequency seismic waves. Measures to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic caused widespread changes in human activity, leading to a months-long reduction in seismic noise of up to 50%. The 2020 seismic noise quiet period is the longest and most prominent global anthropogenic seismic noise reduction on record. While the reduction is strongest at surface seismometers in populated areas, this seismic quiescence extends for many kilometers radially and hundreds of meters in depth. This provides an opportunity to detect subtle signals from subsurface seismic sources that would have been concealed in noisier times and to benchmark sources of anthropogenic noise. A strong correlation between seismic noise and independent measurements of human mobility suggests that seismology provides an absolute, real-time estimate of population dynamics.

Monitoring and real-time modeling of Escherichia coli bacteria for the Chattahoochee River, Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Georgia, 2000–2019

Released July 23, 2020 15:45 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1048

Brent T. Aulenbach, Anna M. McKee

The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CRNRA) is a National Park Service unit/park with 48 miles of urban waterway in the Atlanta metropolitan area. The Chattahoochee River within the CRNRA is a popular place for water-based recreation but is known to periodically experience elevated levels of fecal-coliform bacteria associated with warm-blooded animals that can result in a variety of pathogen-related human illnesses. In 2000, the National Park Service entered into a public-private partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, called the Chattahoochee River BacteriALERT program, to monitor Escherichia coli (E. coli), which is a fecal indicator bacteria and a proxy for human health risk from waterborne pathogens. The BacteriALERT network monitors E. coli densities at three stations on the Chattahoochee River within the CRNRA, at Norcross (USGS station 02335000), Powers Ferry (USGS station 02335880), and Atlanta (USGS station 02336000). E. coli densities determined from water samples were compared to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Beach Action Value (BAV) of 235 colony forming units per 100 milliliters to assess whether conditions were considered safe for freshwater, primary contact recreational use. Sample E. coli densities exceeded the BAV for 15.5 percent of the samples collected at Norcross (n = 1,969) and 30.3 percent of the samples at Atlanta (n = 1,938) for the study period October 23, 2000, to May 23, 2019, and 33.6 percent of the samples from Powers Ferry (n = 134) for the study period May 5, 2016, to May 23, 2019.

Models to predict E. coli densities in near real-time were developed for the three BacteriALERT stations. Models were developed using forward-stepwise multiple linear regression with the Bayesian Information Criteria and were calibrated with samples collected between October 4, 2007, and May 23, 2019. Explanatory variables included season, turbidity, water temperature, streamflow, upstream tributary streamflows, and temporal trend. The most statistically significant explanatory variables in the models were turbidity, upstream tributary streamflows, and season. The Norcross model had an increasing trend in E. coli densities of 2.3 percent per year. A significant trend was not detected for the Atlanta station, while trends were not assessed for Powers Ferry models due to the short (3-year) calibration period. Model adjusted R2s ranged from 0.686 (Atlanta) to 0.795 (Norcross with time trend) indicating that the models explained a substantial portion of the variations in E. coli densities. Evaluation of model predictions and residuals indicated that models were well posed and exhibited little bias. The models performed well in accurately determining compliance and exceedance of the BAV with low misidentification rates ranging from 3.5 percent (Norcross) to 11.3 percent (Powers Ferry). Misidentification was most common for densities near the BAV, and misidentification rates in the study were low despite fairly low model precisions because E. coli densities were infrequently near the BAV. The precisions of the models developed herein were comparable to the more complex models developed by Lawrence (2012) that were never implemented in the BacteriALERT program due to their computational complexity. The predictive E. coli models developed herein will improve the ability to assess the health risks of water-based recreational activities in the CRNRA in near real-time.

Pesticide concentrations associated with augmented flow pulses in the Yolo Bypass and Cache Slough Complex, California

Released July 23, 2020 13:18 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1076

James L. Orlando, Matt De Parsia, Corey Sanders, Michelle Hladik, Jared Frantzich

Surface-water and suspended-sediment samples were collected and analyzed by the U.S. Geological Survey for multiple current-use pesticides and pesticide degradates approximately every 2 weeks at up to five sites in the Yolo Bypass and Cache Slough Complex before, during, and after augmented flow pulses in summer and fall 2016 and 2018 as well as during ambient flow conditions in summer and fall 2017 (no flow pulse). In 2016, augmented flows occurred during the summer (July) and required the pumping of Sacramento River water by local Reclamation Districts into the Colusa Basin Drain and Yolo Bypass Toe Drain. In contrast, augmented flows in 2018 occurred in the fall (August–September) and used agricultural tailwater (primarily rice field discharge water) to create the flow pulse. Water samples were analyzed by the U.S. Geological Survey for a suite of 175 current-use pesticides and pesticide degradates using gas chromatography with mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry laboratory methods. Suspended sediments filtered from the water samples were analyzed for 143 pesticides and degradates by gas chromatography with mass spectrometry.

During the study, 53 pesticides were detected, and all the samples contained mixtures of multiple pesticides at concentrations ranging from below method detection limits to 8,780 nanograms per liter. Pesticides used in growing rice were the dominant pesticides present at four of the five sites sampled and urban-use pesticides dominated at the remaining site. Overall, total pesticide concentrations tended to be higher at sites in the northern part of the Yolo Bypass and lower at southern sites, except for the farthest downstream site which received additional pesticide inputs from the Sacramento River. Flow-pulse water source influenced total pesticide concentrations in the Yolo Bypass and Cache Slough Complex, and the highest total pesticide concentrations at each site were detected either immediately before or during the flow pulse generated with agricultural tailwater in 2018. Data gathered during this study will aid the California Department of Water Resources and other agencies working in the region in adaptively managing pulse flows in the Yolo Bypass and Cache Slough Complex, as one of several California Natural Resources Agency’s Delta Smelt Resiliency strategies.

Benthic habitat is an integral part of freshwater Mysis ecology

Released July 23, 2020 12:11 EST

2020, Freshwater Biology

Jason D. Stockwell, Brian O'Malley, Sture Hansson, Rosie C Chapina, Lars G. Rudstam, Brian C. Weidel

  1. Diel vertical migration (DVM) is common in aquatic organisms. The trade‐off between reduced predation risk in deeper, darker waters during the day and increased foraging opportunities closer to the surface at night is a leading hypothesis for DVM behaviour.
  2. Diel vertical migration behaviour has dominated research and assessment frameworks for Mysis , an omnivorous mid‐trophic level macroinvertebrate that exhibits strong DVM between benthic and pelagic habitats and plays key roles in many deep lake ecosystems. However, some historical literature and more recent evidence indicate that mysids also remain on the bottom at night, counter to expectations of DVM.
  3. We surveyed the freshwater Mysis literature using Web of Science (WoS; 1945–2019) to quantify the frequency of studies on demographics, diets, and feeding experiments that considered, assessed, or included Mysis that did not migrate vertically but remained in benthic habitats. We supplemented our WoS survey with literature searches for relevant papers published prior to 1945, journal articles and theses not listed in WoS, and additional references known to the authors but missing from WoS (e.g. only 47% of the papers used to evaluate in situ diets were identified by WoS).
  4. Results from the survey suggest that relatively little attention has been paid to the benthic components of Mysis ecology. Moreover, the literature suggests that reliance on Mysis sampling protocols using pelagic gear at night provides an incomplete picture of Mysis populations and their role in ecosystem structure and function.
  5. We summarise current knowledge of Mysis DVM and provide an expanded framework that more fully considers the role of benthic habitat. Acknowledging benthic habitat as an integral part of Mysis ecology will enable research to better understand the role of Mysis in food web processes.

An invasive disease, sylvatic plague, increases fragmentation of black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus) colonies

Released July 23, 2020 11:25 EST

2020, PLoS ONE

Krystal M. Keuler, Gebbiana M. Bron, Randall Griebel, Katherine Richgels


A disease can be a source of disturbance, causing population declines or extirpations, altering species interactions, and affecting habitat structure. This is particularly relevant for diseases that affect keystone species or ecosystem engineers, leading to potentially cascading effects on ecosystems.


We investigated the invasion of a non-native disease, plague, to a keystone species, prairie dogs, and documented the resulting extent of fragmentation and habitat loss in western grasslands. Specifically, we assessed how the arrival of plague in the Conata Basin, South Dakota, United States, affected the size, shape, and aggregation of prairie dog colonies, an animal species known to be highly susceptible to plague.


Colonies in the prairie dog complex were mapped every 1 to 3 years from 1993 to 2015. Plague was first confirmed in 2008 and we compared prairie dog complex and colony characteristics before and after the arrival of plague.


As expected the colony complex and the patches in colonies became smaller and more fragmented after the arrival of plague; the total area of each colony and the mean area per patch within a colony decreased, the number of patches per colony increased, and mean contiguity of each patch decreased, leading to habitat fragmentation.


We demonstrate how an emerging infectious disease can act as a source of disturbance to natural systems and lead to potentially permanent alteration of habitat characteristics. While perhaps not traditionally thought of as a source of ecosystem disturbances, in recent years emerging infectious diseases have shown to be able to have large effects on ecosystems if they affect keystone species.

Linking land and sea through an ecological-economic model of coral reef recreation

Released July 23, 2020 10:53 EST

2020, Ecological Economics (177)

Kirsten L. L. Oleson, Kenneth J. Bagstad, Carlo Fezzi, Megan Barnes, Mary Donovan, Kim A. Falinski, Kelvin Gorospe, Hla Htun, Joey Lecky, Ferdinando Villa, Tamara Wong

Coastal zones are popular recreational areas that substantially contribute to social welfare. Managers can use information about specific environmental features that people value, and how these might change under different management scenarios, to spatially target actions to areas of high current or potential value. We explored how snorkelers’ experience would be affected by separate and combined land and marine management actions in West Maui, Hawaiʻi, using a Bayesian Belief Network (BBN) and a spatially explicit ecosystem services model. The BBN simulates the attractiveness of a site for recreation by combining snorkeler preferences for coastal features with expert opinions on ecological dynamics, snorkeler behavior, and management actions. A choice experiment with snorkelers elucidated their preferences for sites with better ecological and water-quality conditions. Linking the economic elicitation to the spatially explicit BBN to evaluate land-sea management scenarios provides specific guidance on where and how to act in West Maui to maximize ecosystem service returns. Improving coastal water quality through sediment runoff and cesspool effluent reductions (land management), and enhancing coral reef ecosystem conditions (marine management) positively affected overall snorkeling attractiveness across the study area, but with differential results at specific sites. The highest improvements were attained through joint land-sea management, driven by strong efforts to increase fish abundance and reduced sediment; however, the effects of management at individual beaches varied.

Application of empirical land-cover changes to construct climate change scenarios in federally managed lands

Released July 23, 2020 10:16 EST

2020, Remote Sensing (12)

Christopher E. Soulard, Matthew B. Rigge

Sagebrush-dominant ecosystems in the western United States are highly vulnerable to climatic variability. To understand how these ecosystems will respond under potential future conditions, we correlated changes in National Land Cover Dataset “Back-in-Time” fractional cover maps from 1985-2018 with Daymet climate data in three federally managed preserves in the sagebrush steppe ecosystem: Beaty Butte Herd Management Area, Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, and Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge. Future (2018 to 2050) abundance and distribution of vegetation cover were modeled at a 300-m resolution under a business-as-usual climate (BAU) scenario and a Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 climate change scenario. Spatially explicit map projections suggest that climate influences may make the landscape more homogeneous in the near future. Specifically, projections indicate that pixels with high bare ground cover become less bare ground dominant, pixels with moderate herbaceous cover contain less herbaceous cover, and pixels with low shrub cover contain more shrub cover. General vegetation patterns and composition do not differ dramatically between scenarios despite RCP 8.5 projections of + 1.2 °C mean annual minimum temperatures and +7.6 mm total annual precipitation. Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge is forecast to undergo the most change, with both models projecting larger declines in bare ground and larger increases in average herbaceous and shrub cover compared to Beaty Butte Herd Management Area and Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge. These scenarios present plausible future outcomes intended to guide federal land managers to identify vegetation cover changes that may affect habitat condition and availability for species of interest.

Flowering plants preferred by bees of the Prairie Pothole Region

Released July 23, 2020 09:26 EST

2020, Fact Sheet 2020-3038

Stacy Simanonok, Clint R. V. Otto

Land managers have stressed the need for improved pollinator habitat on private and public lands of the Prairie Pothole Region. Understanding flowering plant preferences of pollinators will improve the cost-effectiveness of conservation seeding mixes. The purpose of this fact sheet is to assist conservation planners and producers with developing seed mixes by highlighting flowering plants that are preferred by honey bees and wild bees across a variety of grassland cover types in the Prairie Pothole Region.

The importance of explicitly modelling sea-swell waves for runup on reef-lined coasts

Released July 23, 2020 08:44 EST

2020, Coastal Engineering (160) 1-11

Ellen Quataert, Curt D. Storlazzi, Ap van Dongeren, Robert T. McCall

The importance of explicitly modelling sea-swell waves for runup was examined using a 2D XBeach short wave-averaged (surfbeat, “XB-SB”) and a wave-resolving (non-hydrostatic, “XB-NH”) model of Roi-Namur Island on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of Marshall Islands. Field observations on water levels, wave heights, and wave runup were used to drive and evaluate both models, which were subsequently used to determine the effect of sea-level rise and extreme wave conditions on wave runup and its components. Results show that specifically modelling the sea-swell component (using XB-NH) provides a better approximation of the observed runup than XB-SB (which only models the time-variation of the sea-swell wave height), despite good model performance of both models on reef flat water levels and wave heights. XB-SB has a bias of −0.108 – 0.057 m and scatter index of 0.083–0.639, whereas XB-NH has bias of −0.132 – 0.055 m and 0.122–0.490, respectively. However, both models under-predict runup peaks. The difference between XB-SB and XB-NH increases for more extreme wave events and higher sea levels, as XB-NH resolves individual waves and therefore captures SS-wave motions in runup. However, for even larger forcing conditions with offshore wave heights of 6 m, the island is flooded in both XB-SB and XB-NH computations, regardless the sea-swell wave energy contribution. In such cases XB-SB would be adequate to model flooding depths and extents on the island while requiring 4–5 times less computational effort.

Brianna postcard

Released July 23, 2020 07:08 EST

2020, General Information Product 205

U.S. Geological Survey

Brianna is a hydrologist in the Hydrologic Investigations (Studies) Unit. She received a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering and a master’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Kansas.

Brad postcard

Released July 23, 2020 07:07 EST

2020, General Information Product 204

U.S. Geological Survey

Brad is a hydrologist in the Surface Water Investigation Unit. He received his bachelor of science degree in natural sciences from Concordia University in Wisconsin and his master’s degree in freshwater sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Hydrologic technician postcard

Released July 23, 2020 07:06 EST

2020, General Information Product 203

U.S. Geological Survey

Hydrologic technicians collect water data related to water quantity, quality, availability, and movement in surface-water and groundwater environments.

For more information, visit

Chantelle postcard

Released July 23, 2020 07:05 EST

2020, General Information Product 202

U.S. Geological Survey

Chantelle is a hydrologist in the Surface Water Investigation Unit. She received her bachelor of science degree in environmental geology from the University of Kansas.

Hydrologist postcard

Released July 23, 2020 07:04 EST

2020, General Information Product 201

U.S. Geological Survey

Hydrologists study the properties, distribution, and effects of water on the Earth’s surface, in the soil and underlying rocks, and in the atmosphere.

For more information, visit

Chemist postcard

Released July 23, 2020 07:03 EST

2020, General Information Product 200

U.S. Geological Survey

Chemists design analytical methods, analyze samples, and review instrument results to ensure high-quality, defensible data are provided to our Nation’s decision makers.

For more information, visit

Michaelah postcard

Released July 23, 2020 07:02 EST

2020, General Information Product 199

U.S. Geological Survey

Michaelah is an environmental chemist in the Organic Geochemistry Research Unit. She received her bachelor of science degree in environmental chemistry from the University of Kansas and her master’s degree in biomimicry from Arizona State University.

Influence of soil microbiota on Taxodium distichum seedling performance during extreme flooding events

Released July 22, 2020 11:52 EST

2020, Plant Ecology

Lorena Torres-Martínez, Mareli Sánchez-Julia, Elizabeth Kimbrough, Trey Hendrix, Miranda Hendrix, Richard H. Day, Ken W. Krauss, Sunshine A Van Bael

Plant associations with soil microbiota can modulate tree seedling growth and survival via mutualistic or antagonistic interactions. It is uncertain, however, whether soil microbiota influence seedling growth of coastal trees when exposed to extreme flooding regimes. We evaluated the role of soil microbes in promoting baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) seedling performance under different inundation scenarios and determined the influence of flooding on the colonization of in planta beneficial microbes. Seedlings reared in sterile and non-sterile soil were exposed to three different flooding regimes historically experienced in Louisiana swamps. Seedling growth was assessed, and the colonization by beneficial symbionts such as arbuscular mycorrizhal fungi (AMF), and dark septate endophytes (DSE) was evaluated in harvested roots. Seedlings grown in sterile soil had six times higher growth than seedlings reared in non-sterile soil. As a result, we evaluated pathogen load in the roots by assessing oomycete colonization. Flooding influenced the in planta colonization of DSE and oomycetes, but did not affect the colonization of mutualist AMF fungi. DSE and oomycetes were rarer in flooded conditions, while AMF remained abundant. Seedling biomass production was not correlated with in planta fungal colonization or pathogen load. Soil microbiota can negatively influence baldcypress seedling growth, and no growth benefit was evidenced from the root colonization of mutualist fungi. Flooding can modify baldcypress-fungal interactions by diminishing colonization of DSE. Overall, baldycpress seedlings were more sensitive to the presence of microbiota than flooding, and thus restoration efforts should focus on having a better understanding of plant–microbe interactions in swamps.

11‑Deoxycortisol controls hydromineral balance in the most basal osmoregulating vertebrate, sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus)

Released July 22, 2020 09:45 EST

2020, Scientific Reports (10)

Ciaran S Shaughnessy, Andre Barany-Ruiz, Stephen D. McCormick

It is unknown whether and how osmoregulation is controlled by corticosteroid signaling in the phylogenetically basal vertebrate group Agnatha, including lampreys and hagfishes. It is known that a truncated steroid biosynthetic pathway in lampreys produces two predominant circulating corticosteroids, 11-deoxycortisol (S) and 11-deoxycorticosterone (DOC). Furthermore, lampreys express only a single, ancestral corticosteroid receptor (CR). Whether S and/or DOC interact with the CR to control osmoregulation in lampreys is still unknown. We examined the role of the endogenous corticosteroids in vivo and ex vivo in sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) during the critical metamorphic period during which sea lamprey increase osmoregulatory capacity and acquire seawater (SW) tolerance. We demonstrate in vivo that increases in circulating [S] and gill CR abundance are associated with increases in osmoregulatory capacity during metamorphosis. We further show that in vivo and ex vivo treatment with S increases activity and expression of gill active ion transporters and improves SW tolerance, and that only S (and not DOC) has regulatory control over active ion transport in the gills. Lastly, we show that the lamprey CR expresses an ancestral, spironolactone-as-agonist structural motif and that spironolactone treatment in vivo increases osmoregulatory capacity. Together, these results demonstrate that S is an osmoregulatory hormone in lamprey and that receptor-mediated discriminative corticosteroid regulation of hydromineral balance is an evolutionarily basal trait among vertebrates.

Establishing Forster’s Tern (Sterna forsteri) nesting sites at pond A16 using social attraction for the South Bay Salt Pond restoration project

Released July 22, 2020 09:43 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1081

C. Alex Hartman, Joshua T. Ackerman, Mark P. Herzog, Yiwei Wang, Cheryl Strong

Forster’s terns (Sterna forsteri), historically one of the most numerous colonial-breeding waterbirds in South San Francisco Bay, California, have experienced recent decreases in the number of nesting colonies and overall breeding population size. The South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project aims to restore 50–90 percent of former salt evaporation ponds to tidal marsh habitat in South San Francisco Bay. During phase 1 of the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project, the breaching of several pond levees to begin the process of tidal marsh restoration inundated island nesting habitat that had been used by Forster’s terns, American avocets (Recurvirostra americana), and other waterbirds. Additional nesting habitat could be lost as more managed ponds are converted to tidal marsh in the future. To address this issue, the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project organized the construction of new nesting islands in managed ponds that will not be restored to tidal marsh, thereby providing enduring island nesting habitat for waterbirds. In 2012, 16 new islands were constructed in Pond A16 in the Alviso complex of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, which increased the number of islands in this pond from 4 to 20. However, despite a long history of nesting on the four islands in Pond A16 before the 2012 construction activities, no Forster’s terns have nested in Pond A16 during the 7-year period (2012–18) after island construction.

During the 2017 and 2019 breeding seasons, we used social attraction measures (decoys and colony call playback systems) to attract Forster’s terns to islands within Pond A16 to re-establish nesting colonies. We maintained these systems from March through August in each year. To evaluate the effect of these social attraction measures, we completed surveys (between April and August) where we recorded the number and location of all Forster’s terns and other waterbirds using Pond A16, and we monitored waterbird nests. We compared bird survey and nest monitoring data collected in 2017 and 2019 to data collected in 2015 and 2016, prior to the implementation of social attraction measures, allowing for direct evaluation of the effect of social attraction efforts on Forster’s terns.

To increase the visibility and stakeholder involvement of this project, we engaged in multiple outreach activities in 2017, 2019, and 2020, including the development of a project website and educational video; publication of popular articles in 2017 and 2020; the development of outreach materials describing the project to the general public; and public presentations to relay findings to managers, stakeholders, and the general public.

The relative abundance of Forster’s terns in Pond A16, after adjusting for the overall South San Francisco Bay breeding population each year, was higher during the nesting period in 2017 and 2019 (when social attraction was used) than in 2015 and 2016 (before social attraction was used). Furthermore, more Forster’s terns were observed during the pre-nesting and nesting periods in the areas of Pond A16 where decoys and call systems were deployed. Although no Forster’s tern nests were observed in Pond A16 before social attraction was implemented (2015, 2016), or during the first-year social attraction was implemented (2017), 35 Forster’s tern nests were recorded during the second year of social attraction implementation in 2019. These 35 nests represent a re-establishment of a Forster’s tern nesting colony to Pond A16 for the first time in 8 years. As social attraction efforts often benefit from multiple years of decoy and call system deployment, results from 2017 and 2019 suggest that continued implementation of social attraction measures could help to ensure Forster’s tern breeding colonies persist in Pond A16 and other areas of South San Francisco Bay.

The utility of zooarchaeological data to guide listing efforts for an imperiled mussel species (Bivalvia: Unionidae: Pleurobema riddellii)

Released July 22, 2020 09:19 EST

2020, Conservation Science and Practice

Charles R. Randklev, Steve Wolverton, Nathan Johnson, Chase H. Smith, Traci DuBose, Clint Robertson, Julian Conley

The status of species in freshwater systems shift over time due to natural and anthropogenic causes. Determining the magnitude and cause of these shifts requires a long‐term perspective. This process is complicated when there are also questions about the taxonomic validity of a species. Addressing these issues is important because both can undermine conservation and management efforts if incorrect. Pleurobema riddellii , Louisiana Pigtoe, is under review for protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, but its status in the Trinity River basin, where the taxon was described, remains in doubt due to questions about its taxonomy and occurrence within this basin. To address these questions, we compared shell morphometrics of P. riddellii dating to the late Holocene with modern P. riddellii , late Holocene Fusconaia sp., and modern Fusconaia sp. using multivariate analyses to test associations between the putative morphotypes. Based on these analyses, we demonstrate that P. riddellii was likely present in the Trinity during the late Holocene, which indicates questions about its taxonomic validity or presence in this basin are unfounded. Our study further highlights the role zooarchaeological studies can play in status assessments and their utility in better understanding biogeographic patterns for rare species.

The chemostratigraphy of the Murray formation and role of diagenesis at Vera Rubin ridge in Gale crater, Mars, as observed by the ChemCam instrument

Released July 21, 2020 13:08 EST

2020, Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets

Jens Frydenvang, Nicholas Mangold, Roger C. Wiens, Abigail A. Fraeman, Lauren A. Edgar, Christopher M. Fedo, Jonas L'Haridon, Candice C. Bedford, Sanjeev Gupta, John P. Grotzinger, Jon C. Bridges, Ben C. Clark, Elizabeth B. Rampe, Olivier Gasnaut, Sylvestre Maurice, Patrick J. Gasda, Nina L. Lanza, Ann M. Olilla, Pierre-Yves Meslin, Valerie Payre, Fred J. Calef, Mark R Salvatore, Christopher H House

Geochemical results are presented from Curiosity’s exploration of the Vera Rubin ridge (VRR), in addition to the full chemostratigraphy of the predominantly lacustrine mudstone Murray formation up to and including VRR. VRR is a prominent ridge flanking Aeolis Mons (informally Mt. Sharp), the central mound in Gale crater, Mars, and was a key area of interest for the Mars Science Laboratory mission. ChemCam data show that VRR is overall geochemically similar to lower-lying members of the Murray formation, even though the top of VRR is characterized by strong hematite spectral signatures as observed from orbit. While overall geochemically similar, VRR is characterized by a prominent decrease in Li abundance and Chemical Index of Alteration across the ridge. This decrease follows the morphology of the ridge rather than elevation and is inferred to reflect a non-depositionally controlled decrease in clay mineral abundance in VRR rocks. Additionally, a notable enrichment in Mn above baseline levels is observed on VRR. While not supporting a single model, the results suggest that VRR rocks were likely affected by multiple episodes of post-depositional groundwater interactions that made them more erosionally resistant than surrounding Murray rocks – thus resulting in the modern-day ridge after subsequent erosion.

Discharge and dissolved-solids characteristics and trends of Snake River above Jackson Lake at Flagg Ranch, Wyoming, 1986–2018

Released July 21, 2020 12:57 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5062

Olivia L. Miller, Cheryl A. Eddy-Miller

The headwaters of the Snake River are in the mountains of northwestern Wyoming. Maintaining the recognized high quality of water in Grand Teton National Park is a National Park Service (NPS) priority. To characterize and understand the water resources of Grand Teton National Park, the NPS established a monitoring program to monitor the quality of area surface waters. Beginning in 2006, water was sampled by the NPS and analyzed for a range of chemical species at the Snake River above Jackson Lake at Flagg Ranch streamgage 13010065 (hereafter referred to as “Snake River at Flagg Ranch”), a site where the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) previously sampled and analyzed water from 1986 through 2004. The USGS, in cooperation with the NPS, evaluated water-quality data collected by both entities to determine if discharge and total dissolved solids (referred to as dissolved solids) have changed in the Snake River at the Flagg Ranch.

To understand potential changes with time in dissolved solids, discharge was analyzed between January 1986 and December 2018, which corresponds with the time period when water-quality data were collected. Mean annual discharge varied during this time, with high, low, mean, and median flows generally increasing from 1986 through 1998, decreasing through 2005, and then generally increasing through 2018.

Combining water-quality data collected by the USGS and NPS provides a longer, more complete dataset for analyses. During the period of time when NPS was the sampling agency, specific conductance data were collected, but dissolved-solids data were not. The specific conductance data from both agencies were evaluated to determine if combining the data was justified. The interquartile ranges of data collected by both agencies are similar, and rapid, large changes in values during the period of transition between USGS and NPS sampling do not occur. The USGS and NPS datasets are not statistically different in the spring, summer, or fall, but are statistically different in the winter. The winter differences could be a function of the lack of wintertime NPS sampling, which excludes higher-concentration, lower-discharge data or a function of changes in the actual concentration in the stream. Although there is some difference in the winter datasets, the similarity in sampling methods and general overall data characteristics justifies combining the data for trend analyses.

Because the dissolved-solids parameter is useful for managers, it is often calculated from specific conductance using a linear regression model when dissolved-solids data are absent. For this study, creating a modeled dataset of dissolved solids for the NPS data collection period of time provided a longer, more complete dataset of dissolved-solids concentrations.

The concentrations of dissolved solids over time are identified by season and indicate that samples collected in the fall and winter have higher concentrations than samples collected in spring and summer. Specifically, the mean dissolved-solids concentrations in fall and winter are around 188 milligrams per liter (mg/L), whereas the mean concentrations are around 130 mg/L in spring and summer. This difference is generally attributed to the dilution of spring and summer samples by snowmelt generated runoff during the high-flow period of the year.

Trend analyses of dissolved-solids concentrations and loads indicate that an upward trend in concentration from 1986 to 2018 is likely, and a downward trend in load is highly likely. Comparing 1986 to 2018, dissolved-solids concentration is estimated to have increased by 2.25 mg/L (1.4 percent). During that same period, the dissolved-solids load is estimated to have decreased 11.8 million kilograms per year (12-percent decrease). This decrease is consistent with the estimated decrease in annual mean of daily mean discharge. Because 10 percent of the total change in dissolved-solids load is related to a change in the concentration-discharge relationship and 2 percent is related to changes in discharge, the decreased load is related less to changes in discharge and more to landscape scale processes that are affecting the concentration-discharge relationship.

As noted above, the data collected by the USGS and NPS are generally comparable with regards to sampling and analytical methods, and data collected by both agencies were used as one dataset for trend analyses. The current NPS sampling schedule, however, is creating a dataset biased towards lower concentration dissolved-solids data, which occurs during higher summer flows, by only sampling during April through November. From 1986 to 2018, the percentage of NPS samples is small enough that the effect on trends is expected to be minimal. Because of the importance of low flow (winter season) data, it is likely that an April through November sampling regime may affect the ability to detect trends or determine seasonality in the future. Collection of winter data in particular is important based on the findings that the changes in the modeled concentration-discharge relationship over time have been most pronounced during the winter (represented by February) months.

U.S. Geological Survey STATEMAP Program—Geologic mapping for the public good

Released July 21, 2020 12:13 EST

2020, Fact Sheet 2019-3060

Abby Ackerman, Darcy K. McPhee

As of 2020, STATEMAP has invested more than $150 million in 48 State geological surveys, matched dollar for dollar, to complete geologic mapping projects crucial to the health and security of State natural resources and residents. For more information about STATEMAP and other geologic mapping efforts supported by the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program, visit

Evidence of previous faulting along the 2019 Ridgecrest, California earthquake ruptures

Released July 21, 2020 11:43 EST

2020, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America

Jessica Thompson Jobe, Belle Philibosian, Colin Chupik, Timothy E. Dawson, Scott E. K. Bennett, Ryan D. Gold, Christopher Duross, Tyler C. Ladinsky, Katherine Kendrick, Elizabeth Haddon, Ian Pierce, Brian J. Swanson, Gordon G. Seitz

The July 2019 Ridgecrest earthquake sequence in southeastern California was characterized as surprising because only ~35% of the rupture occurred on previously mapped faults. Employing more detailed inspection of pre-event high-resolution topography and imagery in combination with field observations, we document evidence of active faulting in the landscape along the entire fault system. Scarps, deflected drainages, and lineaments and contrasts in topography, vegetation, and ground color demonstrate previous slip on a dense network of orthogonal faults, consistent with patterns of surface rupture observed in 2019. Not all of these newly mapped fault strands ruptured in 2019. Outcrop-scale field observations additionally reveal tufa lineaments and sheared Quaternary deposits. Neotectonic features are commonly short (<2 km), discontinuous, and display en echelon patterns along both the M 6.4 and M 7.1 ruptures. These features are generally more prominent and better preserved outside the late Pleistocene lake basins. Fault expression may also be related to deformation style: scarps and topographic lineaments are more prevalent in areas where substantial vertical motion occurred in 2019. Where strike-slip displacement dominated in 2019, the faults are mainly expressed by less prominent tonal and vegetation features. Both the NE- and NW-trending active fault systems are subparallel to regional bedrock fabrics that were established as early as ~150 Ma, and may be reactivating these older structures. Overall, we estimate that 50-70% (i.e., an additional 15-35%) of the 2019 surface ruptures could have been recognized as active faults with detailed inspection of pre-event data. Similar detailed mapping of potential neotectonic features could help improve seismic hazard analyses in other regions of eastern California and elsewhere that have distributed faulting or incompletely mapped faults. In areas where faults cannot be resolved as single thoroughgoing structures, a zone of potential faulting should be used as a hazard model input.

Conservative plumage masks extraordinary phylogenetic diversity in the Grallaria rufula (Rufous Antpitta) complex of the humid Andes

Released July 21, 2020 09:19 EST

2020, Auk (137)

Terry Chesser, Morton L Isler, Andres M Cuervo, C Daniel Cadena, Spencer C Galen, Laura M. Bergner, Robert C. Fleischer, Gustavo A Bravo, Daniel F Lane, Peter A. Hosner

The Grallaria rufula complex is currently considered to consist of 2 species, G. rufula (Rufous Antpitta) and G. blakei (Chestnut Antpitta). However, it has been suggested that the complex, populations of which occur in humid montane forests from Venezuela to Bolivia, comprises a suite of vocally distinct yet morphologically cryptic species. We sequenced nuclear and mitochondrial DNA for 80 individuals from across the distribution of the complex to determine the extent of genetic variation between and within described taxa. Our results revealed 18 geographically coherent clades separated by substantial genetic divergence: 14 within rufula, 3 within blakei, and 1 corresponding to G. rufocinerea (Bicolored Antpitta), a species with distinctive plumage found to be nested within the complex. Neither G. rufula nor G. blakei as presently defined was monophyletic. Although 6 of the 7 recognized subspecies of G. rufula were monophyletic, several subspecies contained substantial genetic differentiation. Genetic variation was largely partitioned across recognized geographic barriers, especially across deep river valleys in Peru and Colombia. Coalescent modeling identified 17 of the 18 clades as significantly differentiated lineages, whereas analyses of vocalizations delineated 16 biological species within the complex. The G. rufula complex seems unusually diverse even among birds of the humid Andes, a prime location for cryptic speciation; however, the extent to which other dispersal-limited Andean species groups exhibit similar degrees of cryptic differentiation awaits further study.

Effects of barred owl (Strix varia) removal on population demography of northern spotted owls (Strix occidentalis caurina) in Washington and Oregon—2019 annual report

Released July 21, 2020 08:51 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1089

J. David Wiens, Katie M. Dugger, Damon B. Lesmeister, Krista E. Dilione, David C. Simon

Strix occidentalis caurina (northern spotted owl; hereinafter referred to as spotted owl) have rapidly declined throughout the subspecies’ geographic range. Competition with invading Strix varia (barred owl) has been identified as an immediate cause of those declines. A pilot study in California showed that removal of barred owls coupled with conservation of suitable habitat conditions can slow or even reverse population declines of spotted owls. It is unknown, however, whether similar results can be obtained in areas with different forest conditions, greater densities of barred owls, and fewer remaining spotted owls. We used a before-after-control-impact experimental design on three study areas with long-term demographic information on spotted owls to determine if removal of barred owls can improve population trends of spotted owls. This report summarizes research accomplishments and initial results from the first 4.5 years (from March 2015 to August 2019) of implementing barred owl removal experiments in Washington and Oregon.

Evaluation of the Washington State Department of Transportation stormwater monitoring and effectiveness program for 2014–19

Released July 21, 2020 08:23 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1079

Craig A. Senter, Richard W. Sheibley

The U.S. Geological Survey was asked by the Washington State Department of Transportation to provide technical assistance as a third-party reviewer of their stormwater effectiveness monitoring program during the transition between the completion of the 2014 Washington State Department of Ecology permit requirements and start of the new 2019 Washington State Department of Ecology permit requirements. For the purposes of this evaluation, the U.S. Geological Survey reviewed Washington State Department of Transportation’s 2014 National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit. This review focuses on sections S7, S8, G9, and appendix 4 of the permit that are specific to monitoring. These sections cover the methods of monitoring, the constituents that were monitored, laboratory requirements, reporting requirements, and data archival. Next, all quality-assurance project plans for the 2014 general permit and annual reports required for the permit were reviewed. The quality-assurance project plans and annual reports were reviewed to ensure that monitoring was executed and reported as required by the 2014 general permit. The monitoring requirements put forth from the permits were fully addressed in quality-assurance project plans and were completed and presented in the annual monitoring reports. Overall, the Washington State Department of Transportation monitoring program does not change much under its new 2019 permit. The Washington State Department of Transportation has followed through with the plan set out in each of its approved quality-assurance project plans and therefore, is in a good position to meet or exceed the new permit requirements in the upcoming 5-year permit cycle.

Groundwater age and susceptibility of south Atlantic and Gulf Coast principal aquifers of the contiguous United States

Released July 21, 2020 07:42 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5050

John E. Solder

Groundwater susceptibility to contamination was investigated by using environmental tracer-based groundwater age metrics in the south Atlantic and Gulf Coast principal aquifer systems of the Southeastern Coastal Plain, Mississippi embayment–Texas coastal uplands, and the Coastal Lowlands. Samples of dissolved gas, tritium, sulfur hexafluoride, tritiogenic helium, and carbon-14 were collected from 231 public supply wells in the 3 principal aquifer systems. Dissolved gas models were used to characterize recharge conditions and they identified recharge mechanisms that ranged from rapid, but short-lived, water table rises (possibly associated with large scale flooding), to slower diffuse recharge not associated with large water table fluctuations. Dissolved gas and geochemical correction models were used to calculate and (or) correct tracer concentrations before input to lumped parameter models of groundwater age. Lumped parameter models that were fit to tracer concentrations indicated groundwater was relatively old across the aquifer systems, with an estimated mean age of about 30,000 years. Estimates of groundwater age were related to hydrogeology, with increasing groundwater ages associated with greater depth, confinement, and distance from the recharge zone. Young groundwater with mean ages less than 2,000 years generally was in unconfined parts of the aquifer system, except for local areas of heavy groundwater extraction from unconfined aquifer units where estimated mean ages were up to 15,000 years. Lumped parameter model optimized age distributions describe the relative contribution of differing flow paths to the mean age, and a composite distribution of all samples from the three aquifer systems indicated that about 15 percent of the total sampled water had an age of less than 100 years. Various metrics of susceptibility, to land surface and geogenic contamination sources, derived from the age distributions, indicated geogenic sources as the primary threat to groundwater quality in the aquifer systems. Values of the susceptibility index (unitless) and fraction of recharge since 2,000 and 15,000 years before present are provided for assessment of individual well susceptibility. The data and interpretation methods presented here provide an additional means of investigating the susceptibility and sustainability of groundwater resources of the Southeastern Coastal Plain, Mississippi embayment–Texas coastal uplands, and the Coastal Lowlands aquifer systems.

A new species of freshwater mussel in the genus Popenaias Frierson, 1927, from the Gulf coastal rivers of central Mexico (Bivalvia: Unionida: Unionidae) with comments on the genus

Released July 20, 2020 16:02 EST

2020, Zootaxa (4816) 457-490

Kentaro Inoue, Kevin S. Cummings, Jeremy S. Tiemann, Thomas D. Miller, Nathan Johnson, Chase H. Smith, Charles R. Randklev

The Gulf coastal drainages of central Mexico are a faunal transition zone between North and South America and harbor a unique assemblage of freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Unionida). However, little information is available regarding the taxonomy, distribution, and evolutionary history of the Mexican mussel fauna due to limited sampling over the last 100 years. To address these knowledge gaps, we evaluated species-level diversity in the genus Popenaias Frierson, 1927, in Mexican Gulf coastal drainages as part of a larger effort to inform conservation efforts for members of this genus both in Mexico and the United States of America. Based on our analyses, we describe Popenaias berezai n. sp. from the Río Valles of the Río Pánuco basin, San Luis Potosí, Mexico. We also provide presumptive distributional range, phylogenetic structure, and molecular and morphological diagnoses of the new species and provide comments on the other species currently in Popenaias. Our findings highlight the high levels of endemism among freshwater mussels in Mexican Gulf coastal drainages and will help guide impending conservation actions for P. popeii, which is listed as “endangered” in the United States.

Comparison of regression relations of bankfull discharge and channel geometry for the glaciated and nonglaciated settings of Pennsylvania and southern New York

Released July 20, 2020 12:50 EST

2018, Scientific Investigations Report 2018-5066

John W. Clune, Jeffrey J. Chaplin, Kirk E. White

Streambank erosion in areas of past glacial deposition has been shown to be a dominant source of sediment to streams. Water resource managers are faced with the challenge of developing long and short term (emergency) stream restoration efforts that rely on the most suitable channel geometry for project design. A geomorphic dataset of new (2016, n=5) and previous (1999–2006, n=96) estimates of bankfull discharge and channel dimensions at U.S. Geological Survey streamflow-gaging stations was compiled to present and contrast the glaciated and unglaciated noncarbonate settings of southern New York and Pennsylvania that included selected areas of Maryland. Empirical models were developed by using simple linear regressions that relate bankfull discharge and channel geometry to drainage area (regional curves). Significant relations (p<0.05) were able to explain variability with coefficient of determination (R2 ) values of 0.89 for bankfull discharge, 0.94 for cross-sectional area, 0.87 for bankfull width, and 0.83 for bankfull depth. These regression relations for the glaciated noncarbonate settings of northern Pennsylvania and southern New York were able to provide a slightly better fit than regional curve models developed previously for the entire noncarbonate region of Pennsylvania. Although, the analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) results for comparison between regression equations for the glaciated and unglaciated settings showed that except for the significant intercept of bankfull discharge versus drainage area (F=8.26, p-value<0.005), the regression equations are not significantly different between the glaciated and unglaciated setting of Pennsylvania and southern New York. Therefore, data stratification by glaciation does not improve regional curves relations developed previously for the noncarbonate (glaciated and unglaciated) and carbonate settings of Pennsylvania and Maryland. Further analysis that incorporates data stratification or multivariate approaches based on mean annual runoff, precipitation, slope, stream classification, or other relevant parameters may optimize the accuracy and utility of statewide models. The new estimates of bankfull discharge and channel dimensions at streamflowgaging sites and updated drainage areas from StreamStats were incorporated into previously developed regional curves to produce an updated set of regression relations of bankfull discharge and channel geometry for the noncarbonate and carbonate settings of Pennsylvania and Maryland.

On the use of receiver operating character tests for evaluating spatial earthquake forecasts

Released July 20, 2020 09:00 EST

2020, Geophysical Research Letters

Thomas E. Parsons

Spatial forecasts of triggered earthquake distributions have been ranked using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) tests. The test is a binary comparison between regions of positive and negative forecast against positive and negative presence of earthquakes. Forecasts predicting only positive changes score higher than Coulomb methods, which predict positive and negative changes. I hypothesize that removing the possibility of failures in negative forecast realms yields better ROC scores. I create a ‘perfect’ Coulomb forecast where all earthquakes only fall into positive stress change areas and compare with an informationless all-positive forecast. The ‘perfect’ Coulomb forecast barely beats the informationless forecast, and adding as few as 4 earthquakes occurring in the negative stress regions causes the Coulomb forecast to be no better than an informationless forecast under a ROC test. ROC tests also suffer from data imbalance when applied to earthquake forecasts because there are many more negative cases than positive.

Salinity, water level, and forest structure contribute to baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) rhizosphere and endosphere community structure

Released July 19, 2020 09:32 EST

2020, Wetlands

Candice Y Lumibao, Elizabeth Kimbrough, Steven Formel, Richard Day, Andrew From, William H. Conner, Ken Krauss, Sunshine A Van Bael

As rising sea levels alter coastal ecosystems, there is a pressing need to examine the effects of saltwater intrusion on coastal communities. Using 16S Illumina profiling, we characterized the communities of baldcypress tree (Taxodium distichum) root endosphere and rhizosphere soil bacteria. Our study utilized established sites along salinity and flooding gradients in the United States of Georgia, Louisiana, and South Carolina. We hypothesized that environmental variables, namely salinity and water level, as well as distance between sites would be correlated with baldcypress-associated rhizosphere and root endosphere bacterial communities. We found that geographic distance correlated with rhizosphere but not root endosphere bacterial communities, suggesting that the trees may have stabilized their endosphere communities via recruitment of a more specific suite of taxa from the surrounding soil. Mean water level, mean salinity, and the volume of woody debris were associated with both endosphere and rhizosphere bacterial communities in baldcypress trees. The density of host trees was also associated with endosphere community composition. Our study is the first to use 16S Illumina sequencing to characterize bacterial communities in baldcypress trees— a key restoration species in coastal swamp ecosystems under threat from rising sea levels.

Conditions and timing of high-grade metamorphism and ductile deformation of the southern segment of the Central Anatolian Ophiolite

Released July 19, 2020 08:14 EST

2020, International Journal of Earth Sciences

Molly S. Radwany, Leah E. Morgan, Donna L. Whitney

Ophiolitic fragments scattered over a wide area of Central Anatolia exhibit varying degrees of metamorphism, from unmetamorphosed to upper amphibolite facies, although geochemical similarities suggest they are all part of the Central Anatolian Ophiolite (CAO). Magmatic crystallization of oceanic crust in the CAO at ~ 91 Ma coincided with high-grade metamorphism of rocks that underlie the southern, highest grade part of the CAO, raising questions about the tectonic relationship of the ophiolite to underlying metasedimentary and plutonic rocks. New geochronology results show that the 40Ar/39Ar hornblende age of amphibolite-facies metagabbro in the high-grade metamorphic part of the CAO is ~ 87 Ma, similar to hornblende ages from amphibolite in the underlying Niğde metamorphic/plutonic massif. Biotite in a deformed quartzofeldspathic rock associated with high-grade meta-ophiolitic rocks yielded an 40Ar–39Ar age of ~ 78 Ma, similar to biotite ages from the Niğde Massif. Hornblende in gabbro from unmetamorphosed CAO yielded an older 40Ar/39Ar age of ~ 90 Ma, similar to the previously determined crystallization age of the ophiolite. These data indicate that the southern part of the ophiolite was incorporated into and therefore metamorphosed and deformed with the orogenic mid-crust now exposed in the Niğde metamorphic–plutonic complex, whereas the northern, unmetamorphosed part of the ophiolite was obducted onto the continent. This distinct difference in different parts of the ophiolite may indicate oblique collision or irregularities in the continental margin, resulting in part of the ophiolite being incorporated into the orogenic crust and subsequently exhumed and cooled with it, and another part being obducted.

Characterization of the unconventional Tuscaloosa marine shale reservoir in southwestern Mississippi, USA: Insights from optical and SEM petrography

Released July 18, 2020 12:29 EST

2020, Marine and Petroleum Geology (121)

Celeste D. Lohr, Brett J. Valentine, Paul C. Hackley, Frank T. Dulong

This study presents new optical petrography and electron microscopy data, interpreted in the context of previously published petrophysical, geochemical, and mineralogical data, to further characterize the Tuscaloosa marine shale (TMS) as an unconventional reservoir in southwestern Mississippi. The basal high resistivity zone has a higher proportion of Type II sedimentary organic matter than the overlying TMS, indicating it is more prone to oil generation. Optical petrography and electron microscopy reveal a heterogeneous clay matrix with ubiquitous pyrite grains, quartz, feldspar, glaucony, foraminifera, shell fragments, and rarer occurrences of apatite and crinoid fragments as well as liptinite, alginite, inertinite, and vitrinite. Our petrographic observations suggest that higher abundances of detrital quartz grains coupled with minimal authigenic cements result in higher porosity and permeability. However, the TMS is also more clay-rich than other unconventional shale oil and gas plays, which can impair the effectiveness of hydraulic fracture stimulation. Thin section observations reveal alternating clay and calcium carbonate laminae that are interpreted to reflect changes in sediment flux. Planktonic foraminifera indicate an overlying oxygenated water column while benthic inoceramid fragments and pervasive authigenic pyrite suggest anoxic or dysoxic bottom water conditions. Apatite fragments in thin section suggest mixing events and an influx of nutrient-rich sediments. Overall, these observations suggest that a variety of paleodepositional environments occurred in the TMS and the lithofacies diversity resulting from these small-scale depositional cycles makes it difficult to determinatively identify areas conducive to enhanced economic hydrocarbon recovery.

Mapping croplands of Europe, Middle East, Russia, and Central Asia using Landsat 30-m data, machine learning algorithms and Google Earth Engine

Released July 18, 2020 07:32 EST

2020, ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (167) 104-122

Aparna Phalke, Mutlu Ozdogan, Prasad Thenkabail, Tyler Erickson, Noel Gorelick

Accurate and timely information on croplands is important for environmental, food security, and policy studies. Spatially explicit cropland datasets are also required to derive information on crop type, crop yield, cropping intensity, as well as irrigated areas. Large area defined as continental to global cropland mapping is challenging due to differential manifestation of croplands, wide range of cultivation practices and limited reference data availability. This study presents the results of a cropland extent mapping of 64 Countriescovering large parts of Europe, Middle East, Russia and Central Asia. To cover such a vast area, roughly 160,000 Landsat scenes from 3,351 footprints between 2014 and 2016 were processed within the Google Earth Engine (GEE) cloud-platform. We used the pixel-based supervised Random Forest (RF) machine learning algorithm with a set of satellite data inputs capturing diverse spectral, temporal and topographical characteristics across twelve agroecological zones (AEZs). The reference data to train the classification model were collected from very high spatial resolution imagery (VHRI) and ancillary datasets. The result is a binary map showing cultivated/non-cultivated areas ca. 2015. The map produced an overall accuracy of 94 percent with roughly 14 percent omission and commission errors for the cropland class based on a large set of independent validation samples. The map suggests the entire study area has a total 546 million hectares (Mha) of croplands occupying 18 percent of the land area. Comparison between national cropland area estimates from United Nations Food and Agricultural Organizations (FAO) and those derived from this work also showed an R-square value of 0.95. For the entire Landsat-derived 30-m product the overall accuracy was 93.8% with cropland class providing producers accuracy of 86.5% (errors of omissions = 13.5%) and users accuracy of 85.7% (errors of commissions = 14.3%). This Landsat-derived 30-m cropland product (GFSAD30) provided 10-30% greater cropland areas compared to UN FAO in the 64 Countries. Finally, the map-to-map comparison between GFSAD30 with several other cropland products revealed that the best similarity matrix was with the 30m global land cover (GLC30) product providing an overall accuracy of 88.8 percent (Kappa 0.7) with producers cropland similarity of 89.2 percent (errors of omissions = 10.8%) and users cropland similarity of 81.8 percent (errors of commissions = 8.1%). GFSAD30 captured the missing croplands in GLC30 product around significantly irrigated agricultural areas in Germany and Belgium and rainfed agriculture in Italy. This study also established that the real strength of GFSAD30 product, compared to other products, were in: 1. Identifying precise location of croplands, and 2. Capturing fragmented croplands. The cropland extent map dataset is available through NASAs Land Processes Distributed Active Archive Center (LP DAAC) at, while the training and reference data as well as visualization are available at the Global Croplands website.

An updated genetic marker for detection of Lake Sinai Virus and metagenetic applications

Released July 17, 2020 10:52 EST

2020, PeerJ (8)

Deborah D. Iwanowicz, Judy Y. Wu-Smart, Tugce Olgun, Autumn Smart, Clint R. V. Otto, Dawn Lopez, Jay D. Evans, Robert S. Cornman


Lake Sinai Viruses (LSV) are common RNA viruses of honey bees (Apis mellifera) that frequently reach high abundance but are not linked to overt disease. LSVs are genetically heterogeneous and collectively widespread, but despite frequent detection in surveys, the ecological and geographic factors structuring their distribution in A. mellifera are not understood. Even less is known about their distribution in other species. Better understanding of LSV prevalence and ecology have been hampered by high sequence diversity within the LSV clade.


Here we report a new polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay that is compatible with currently known lineages with minimal primer degeneracy, producing an expected 365 bp amplicon suitable for end-point PCR and metagenetic sequencing. Using the Illumina MiSeq platform, we performed pilot metagenetic assessments of three sample sets, each representing a distinct variable that might structure LSV diversity (geography, tissue, and species).


The first sample set in our pilot assessment compared cDNA pools from managed A. mellifera hives in California (n = 8) and Maryland (n = 6) that had previously been evaluated for LSV2, confirming that the primers co-amplify divergent lineages in real-world samples. The second sample set included cDNA pools derived from different tissues (thorax vs. abdomen, n = 24 paired samples), collected from managed A. mellifera hives in North Dakota. End-point detection of LSV frequently differed between the two tissue types; LSV metagenetic composition was similar in one pair of sequenced samples but divergent in a second pair. Overall, LSV1 and intermediate lineages were common in these samples whereas variants clustering with LSV2 were rare. The third sample set included cDNA from individual pollinator specimens collected from diverse landscapes in the vicinity of Lincoln, Nebraska. We detected LSV in the bee Halictus ligatus (four of 63 specimens tested, 6.3%) at a similar rate as A. mellifera (nine of 115 specimens, 7.8%), but only one H. ligatus sequencing library yielded sufficient data for compositional analysis. Sequenced samples often contained multiple divergent LSV lineages, including individual specimens. While these studies were exploratory rather than statistically powerful tests of hypotheses, they illustrate the utility of high-throughput sequencing for understanding LSV transmission within and among species.

A comparative phylogeographic approach to facilitate recovery of an imperiled freshwater mussel (Bivalvia: Unionida: Potamilus inflatus)

Released July 17, 2020 10:26 EST

2020, Diversity (12)

Chase H. Smith, Nathan Johnson

North American freshwaters are among the world’s most threatened ecosystems, and freshwater mussels are among the most imperiled inhabiting these systems. A critical aspect of conservation biology is delineating patterns of genetic diversity, which can be difficult when a taxon has been extirpated from a significant portion of its historical range. In such cases, evaluating conservation and recovery options may benefit by using surrogate species as proxies when assessing overall patterns of genetic diversity. Here, we integrate the premise of surrogate species into a comparative phylogeographic framework to hypothesize genetic relationships between extant and extirpated populations of Potamilus inflatus by characterizing genetic structure in co-distributed congeners with similar life histories and dispersal capabilities. Our mitochondrial and nuclear sequence data exhibited variable patterns of genetic divergence between Potamilus spp. native to the Mobile and Pascagoula + Pearl + Pontchartrain (PPP) provinces. However, hierarchical Approximate Bayesian Computation indicated that the diversification between Mobile and PPP clades was synchronous and represents a genetic signature of a common history of vicariance. Recent fluctuations in sea-level appear to have caused Potamilus spp. in the PPP to form a single genetic cluster, providing justification for using individuals from the Amite River as a source of brood stock to re-establish extirpated populations of P. inflatus. Future studies utilizing eDNA and genome-wide molecular data are essential to better understand the distribution of P. inflatus and establish robust recovery plans. Given the imperilment status of freshwater mussels globally, our study represents a useful methodology for predicting relationships among extant and extirpated populations of imperiled species.

Observations of an extreme atmospheric river storm with a diverse sensor network

Released July 17, 2020 09:38 EST

2020, Earth and Space Science (7)

Benjamin J. Hatchett, Q. Cao, Phillip B. Dawson, C. J. Ellis, C. W. Hecht, B. Kawzenuk, J. T. Lancaster, T. C. Osborne, A. M. Wilson, M. L. Anderson, M. D. Dettinger, J. F. Kalansky, M. L. Kaplan, D. P. Lettenmaier, N. S. Oakley, R. M. Ralph, D. W. Reynolds, A. B. White, M. Sierks, E. Sumargo

Observational networks enhance real‐time situational awareness for emergency and water resource management during extreme weather events. We present examples of how a diverse, multitiered observational network in California provided insights into hydrometeorological processes and impacts during a 3‐day atmospheric river storm centered on 14 February 2019. This network, which has been developed over the past two decades, aims to improve understanding and mitigation of effects from extreme storms influencing water resources and natural hazards. We combine atmospheric reanalysis output and additional observations to show how the network allows: (1) the validation of record cool season precipitable water observations over southern California; (2) the identification of phenomena that produce natural hazards and present difficulties for short‐term weather forecast models, such as extreme precipitation amounts and snow level variability; (3) the use of soil moisture data to improve hydrologic model forecast skill in northern California's Russian River basin; and (4) the combination of meteorological data with seismic observations to identify when a large avalanche occurred on Mount Shasta. This case study highlights the value of investments in diverse observational assets and the importance of continued support and synthesis of these networks to characterize climatological context and advance understanding of processes modulating extreme weather.

A 36-year record of rock avalanches in the Saint Elias Mountains of Alaska, with implications for future hazards

Released July 16, 2020 15:45 EST

2020, Frontiers in Earth Science (8)

Erin K. Bessette-Kirton, Jeffrey A. Coe

Glacial retreat and mountain-permafrost degradation resulting from rising global temperatures have the potential to impact the frequency and magnitude of landslides in glaciated environments. Several recent events, including the 2015 Taan Fiord rock avalanche, which triggered a tsunami with one of the highest wave runups ever recorded, have called attention to the hazards posed by landslides in regions like southern Alaska. In the Saint Elias Mountains, the presence of weak sedimentary and metamorphic rocks and active uplift resulting from the collision of the Yakutat and North American tectonic plates create landslide-prone conditions. To differentiate between the typical frequency of landsliding resulting from the geologic and tectonic setting of this region, and landslide processes that may be accelerated due to changes in climate, we used Landsat imagery to create an inventory of rock avalanches in a 3700 km2 area of the Saint Elias Mountains. During the period from 1984-2019, we identified 220 rock avalanches with a mean recurrence interval of 60 days. We compared our landslide inventory with a catalog of M ≥ 4 earthquakes to identify potential coseismic events, but only found three possible earthquake-triggered rock avalanches. We observed a distinct temporal cluster of 41 rock avalanches from 2013 through 2016 that correlated with above average air temperatures (including the three warmest years on record in Alaska, 2014-2016); this cluster was similar to a temporal cluster of recent rock avalanches in nearby Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. The majority of rock avalanches initiated from bedrock ridges in probable permafrost zones, suggesting that ice loss due to permafrost degradation, as opposed to glacial thinning, could be a dominant factor contributing to rock-slope failures in the high elevation areas of the Saint Elias Mountains. Although earthquake-triggered landslides have episodically occurred in southern Alaska, evidence from our study suggests that area-normalized rates of non-coseismic rock avalanches were greater during the period from 1964 to 2019, and that the frequency of these events will continue to increase as the climate continues to warm. These findings highlight the need for hazard assessments in Alaska that address changes in landslide patterns related to climate change.

Hydrogeologic and geochemical characterization of groundwater resources in Pine and Wah Wah Valleys, Iron, Beaver, and Millard Counties, Utah

Released July 16, 2020 13:28 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2019-5139

Philip M. Gardner, Thomas M. Marston, Susan G. Buto, Lynette E. Brooks

Pine and Wah Wah Valleys are neighboring structural basins that encompass about 1,330 square miles in Beaver, Iron, and Millard Counties in Utah, approximately 50 miles northwest of Cedar City, Utah, and 50 miles southeast of Baker, Nevada. Perennial streamflow is limited and only exists in higher-altitude reaches of small mountain streams in both basins. Groundwater is in unconsolidated basin-fill aquifers and bedrock mountain aquifers. Groundwater in Pine and Wah Wah Valleys is being targeted for large-scale groundwater extraction and export to provide municipal supply to the growing population in Iron County, Utah. Concern about declining groundwater levels and spring flows from proposed groundwater withdrawals has increased interest in an improved understanding of the groundwater system. Previous studies have indicated that an average of 28,000 acre-feet per year of recharge occurs mostly as infiltration of precipitation in high-altitude regions in the two basins. Groundwater discharge in the mountain hydrologic systems was estimated to average 8,500 acre-feet per year and is assumed to be consumed before subsequently recharging the valley basin-fill aquifers. Subsurface groundwater outflow moves from basin-fill aquifers in Pine and Wah Wah Valleys northward to adjacent regional basins and was estimated to average 19,500 acre-feet per year.

An updated water-level map for the basin-fill aquifers in Pine and Wah Wah Valleys indicates that groundwater moves northward along the lengths of both valleys toward adjacent basins. Measured depths to water range from about 210 to 750 feet below land surface in Wah Wah Valley, and from about 300 to 620 feet below land surface in Pine Valley. Long-term water levels at seven wells completed in the basin-fill aquifers of Pine and Wah Wah Valleys with records spanning more than 40 years are generally stable with observed fluctuations of less than 5 feet. Observed discharge from two springs monitored between 2013 and 2016 also is generally stable.

Groundwater leaving Pine and Wah Wah Valleys through the subsurface moves northward, converges with regional groundwater flow, and discharges by evapotranspiration at regional groundwater discharge areas, likely Tule Valley, Utah. In this study, basin-scale groundwater discharge was estimated by (1) mapping the groundwater discharge areas in each valley; (2) evaluating the 2005–11 summer multispectral satellite images against the Basin and Range carbonate-rock aquifer system study evapotranspiration measurements to select scenes broadly representative of average conditions in the study area and partitioning the groundwater discharge areas into evapotranspiration units using the selected satellite images and field reconnaissance; and (3) scaling evapotranspiration to the evapotranspiration units using evapotranspiration-rate estimates from several studies in the Great Basin. The resulting updated estimates of average annual groundwater evapotranspiration in the Tule Valley and Sevier Lake groundwater discharge areas were 35,000 and 10,500 acre-feet per year, respectively, with a likely uncertainty of plus or minus 35 percent.

Groundwater samples from 13 sites in Pine Valley and 11 sites in Wah Wah Valley were analyzed for major ions and nutrients, to characterize geochemistry and water quality. Groundwater samples also were analyzed for the stable isotopes of oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon, the radioactive isotopes of carbon and hydrogen, and dissolved noble gases including helium-3, helium-4, neon, argon, krypton and xenon. Groundwater sampling sites included 12 wells and 12 springs. Carbon-14 and tritium/helium groundwater age dating indicate that groundwater in the basin-fill aquifers is typically thousands to tens of thousands of years older than groundwater in the shallow mountain aquifers. Dissolved-solids concentrations are lower and noble-gas temperatures are warmer in the valley wells compared to almost all groundwater sampled from wells and springs in the surrounding mountains. These results indicate a hydraulic discontinuity between the mountain and valley aquifers throughout much of the study area, and that much of the valley recharge is not derived from direct infiltration of precipitation in the mountains.

Aquatic invasive species in the Chesapeake Bay drainage—Research-based needs and priorities of U.S. Geological Survey partners and collaborators

Released July 16, 2020 09:05 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1057

Christine L. Densmore

Executive Summary

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is revising the Chesapeake Bay-based science plan to align it with recent U.S. Department of Interior and USGS science priorities that include, as stated in the plan, providing “an integrated understanding of the factors affecting fish habitat, fish health, and landscape conditions” in Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. A report of partner agencies’ needs and priorities related to aquatic invasive species (AIS) science was identified as an informational gap; a report would help to further development of the science program related to aquatic animal health and habitat. This objective was addressed through review of pertinent documentation and conversations with representatives of State, Federal, and regional agencies with vested interests in AIS management in Chesapeake Bay and the Chesapeake Bay drainage area, and this document was produced to summarize the related findings.

All agencies and organizations (13) reported that AIS are of general concern, with most stakeholder groups reporting AIS-related issues to be of high priority, including invasive fishes and invertebrates, invasive plants, and microbes including aquatic animal pathogens.

  • Invasive fishes are of great concern to all partner agencies. Channa argus (northern snakehead) and Ictalurus furcatus (blue catfish) are high priority and represent the two most named AIS of concern for these agencies. Nine of 10 stakeholder groups listed northern snakehead as a high priority species, and 6 listed blue catfish as a high priority species as well. Pylodictis olivaris (flathead catfish), invasive crayfish species, and dressenid mussels were also prioritized by multiple partner groups, each receiving specific mention by at least 3 of the 10 stakeholder groups in discussions or documents. Invasive carp, such as Hypophthalmichthys molatrix (silver carp), also received mention by multiple agencies (3 of the 10 stakeholder groups) because these fish represent priority AIS in nearby watersheds and a threat for introduction and dissemination within the Chesapeake Bay watershed from these neighboring regions.
  • Invasive plants are among priority species, and Hydrilla verticillata (hydrilla) topped the list. Hydrilla was reported as a priority species by 5 of the stakeholder groups queried. Trapa natans and T. bispinosa (water chestnut), Phragmites australis (common reed), and Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife) were also among the aquatic invasive plants that were prioritized by multiple partner agencies.
  • Multiple stakeholder groups (5 of the 10 groups) also considered Didymosphenia geminata (didymo) and various aquatic animal pathogens among their priority AIS for management considerations.

Science needs that were recurrently indicated by stakeholders to support management of invasive species include

  • Technology to enhance biosurveillance capability, such as reliable environmental DNA based detection methodology;
  • Risk assessment modeling to forewarn of and prioritize AIS-related threats;
  • Increased information and intervention methods related to vectors and pathways of AIS introductions;
  • Increased information about the biology and life history of AIS, including information related to trophic interactions, health and disease, and distribution and abundance; and
  • Potential applications of mitigation strategies, including genetically based biocontrol mechanisms.

Potential next steps to address the science needs include

  • Development of biosurveillance and risk assessment tools for identification of AIS in proactive management;
  • Development of proactive management techniques to prevent AIS introductions through recognized vectors and pathways;
  • Development of interagency biosurveillance programs to best utilize personnel, funds, and other resources among interested agencies and organizations;
  • Investigations to address life history, consequences, and movement/dissemination of top priority invasive species in the region;
  • Investigations to determine the potential for novel mitigation technologies, such as the application of synthetic biological (genetic) control methods; and
  • Investigations with focus on emerging and high priority AIS in the region, including fishes (blue catfish, flathead catfish, northern snakehead), invertebrates (invasive crayfish and mollusks) and plants (hydrilla, water chestnut, phragmites).

Distribution of earthquakes on a branching fault system using integer programming and greedy sequential methods

Released July 15, 2020 10:40 EST

2020, Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems

Eric L. Geist, Thomas E. Parsons

A new global optimization method is used to determine the distribution of earthquakes on a complex, connected fault system. The method, integer programming, has been advanced in the field of operations research, but has not been widely applied to geophysical problems until recently. In this application, we determine the optimal distribution of earthquakes on mapped faults to minimize the global misfit in slip rates for multi-fault ruptures. Integer programming solves for a decision vector composed of every possible location that a sample of earthquakes can occur on every fault, subject to slip-rate uncertainty constraints. Step over connections are straightforward to include, whereas branching fault connections are not. To include branching ruptures, we distinguish between individual multi-fault rupture paths, as opposed to formulating the integer-programming problem based on individual faults as in previous studies. The new method is applied to the complex fault system in the San Francisco Bay Area as a case study. Results from the integer-programming method are compared to those from a local optimization method, termed the greedy-sequential method. Several experiments using these two methods indicate that shape of the on-fault magnitude distributions and which branching faults are involved in multi-fault ruptures depend on how much emphasis is placed on fitting the target slip rate. In cases where the underlying data are not strong enough to warrant chasing the target slip rate, it is better to focus on the distribution of feasible results that better represents the uncertainty in the solutions imposed by the data.

Legacy and current-use toxic contaminants in Pacific sand lance (Ammodytes personatus) from Puget Sound, Washington

Released July 15, 2020 10:27 EST

2020, Marine Pollution Bulletin (158)

Kathleen E. Conn, Theresa L. Liedtke, Renee K. Takesue, Richard S. Dinicola

Forage fish are primary prey for seabirds, fish and marine mammals. Elevated levels of pollutants in Puget Sound, Washington salmon and killer whale tissues potentially could be sufficiently high to elicit adverse effects and hamper population recovery efforts. Contaminant transfer and biomagnification of the toxic compounds measured in this study likely contribute to those elevated concentrations. Pacific sand lance tissues from nine locations were analyzed for a suite of legacy and emerging contaminants including polychlorinated biphenyls, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, chlorinated pesticides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, alkylphenols, and chlorinated paraffins. Chemicals were detected at all sites generally below available health effect levels for the host. However, sub-lethal effects are known to occur and additive effects from exposure to multiple compounds, like this study’s mixture, are not well understood. Biomagnification calculations suggest that, in some locations, concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls in forage fish could result in predator tissue concentrations that exceed effect levels.

Seasonal dynamics and interannual variability in mercury concentrations and loads through a three-reservoir complex

Released July 15, 2020 09:52 EST

2020, Environmental Science & Technology (51) 9305-9314

Austin K. Baldwin, Brett Poulin, Jesse Naymik, Charles Hoovestol, Gregory M. Clark, David P. Krabbenhoft

The Hells Canyon Complex (HCC) along the Snake River (Idaho-Oregon border, USA) encompasses three successive reservoirs that seasonally stratify, creating anoxic conditions in the hypolimnion that promote methylmercury (MeHg) production. This study quantified seasonal dynamics and interannual variability in mercury concentrations (inorganic divalent mercury (IHg) and MeHg) and loads at four reservoir inflow and outflow locations through the HCC (2014-2017). We observed (1) that the HCC is a net sink for both IHg and MeHg, (2) interannual variability in IHg and MeHg loads largely reflecting streamflow conditions, and (3) seasonal variability in particulate IHg loading at the inflow (greatest from February to April) and MeHg export from the outflow (greatest from September to December) of the HCC. Seasonal export of MeHg was evidenced by increases in monthly mean concentrations of unfiltered MeHg (approximately twofold) and the percentage of total mercury (THg) as MeHg (≥ fourfold) coincident with reservoir destratification. Despite evidence of seasonal export of MeHg from the HCC, annual loads indicate a 42% decrease in unfiltered MeHg from HCC inflow to outflow. Results from this study improve the understanding of seasonal variability in mercury transport through and transformation within a reservoir complex.

Hypoxia augments edge effects of water column stratification on fish distribution

Released July 15, 2020 09:36 EST

2020, Fisheries Research (231)

Derek W. Chamberlin, Carey Knight, Richard Kraus, Ann Marie Gorman, Wenzhao Xu, Paris D. Collingsworth

Hypoxic conditions in both freshwater and marine habitats have a significant effect on the distribution of fish in the water column, resulting in some fishes aggregating near the edges of the hypoxic zone. These aggregations may increase fish susceptibility to fishing gears, with attendant effects on stock assessment inferences. We investigated how hypoxic conditions influenced catch rates of yellow perch (Perca flavescens) in both fishery independent bottom trawls and stationary commercial trap nets. Specifically, we examined how the presence of hypoxia affected trap net catch rates and how hypoxia interacted with hypolimnion thickness to modify trawl catch rates. Bottom trawl catch rates were significantly higher in hypoxic conditions than in normoxic conditions, and in each of these scenarios catch rates declined as hypolimnion thickness increased. By comparison, trap net catch rates had a dome-shaped response to the duration of hypoxia with the highest catch rates occurring at intermediate levels. Increased catch rates in hypoxic conditions potentially causes yellow perch population models, which rely on both trap net and trawl indices, to overestimate abundance and could result in overfishing.

Hydrologic conditions in Kansas, water year 2019

Released July 15, 2020 06:52 EST

2020, Fact Sheet 2020-3029

Chantelle A. Davis

The U.S. Geological Survey Kansas Water Science Center, in cooperation with Federal, State, and local agencies, maintains a long-term network of hydrologic monitoring stations in the State of Kansas. These include a network of 217 real-time streamgages and 12 real-time reservoir-level monitoring stations in water year 2019. The data and associated analyses from the streamgages and monitoring stations provide a unique overview of hydrologic conditions and help improve the understanding of Kansas’ water resources. Annual assessments of hydrologic conditions are made by comparing statistical analyses of current and past water year data for the period of record. Long-term monitoring of hydrologic conditions in Kansas provides imperative information for many uses including managing water resources and protecting human life and property and promoting agricultural practices, industrial activities, operation of reservoirs, development of infrastructure, ecological assessments, and recreational purposes.

Shoreline retreat of the Corte Madera marshes, 1853 to 2016, Marin County, California

Released July 14, 2020 12:47 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1074

Bradley A. Carkin, Robert E. Kayen, Florence L. Wong

The greater San Francisco Bay estuary, prior to human intervention, encompassed about 2,200 km2 of tidal and salt marshes. Over time, these areas became increasingly diked, developed, and altered from their natural state. In addition, natural forces are always driving a continually shifting equilibrium.

This study area, the Corte Madera marshes, is a tidal marsh or wetland located in southeastern Marin County, and it borders an embayment of central San Francisco Bay along about 2.8 km of shoreline. Most of this shoreline is located within the Corte Madera Marsh Ecological Reserve, managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Other areas within the marsh include (1) unincorporated Greenbrae (at the boardwalk), (2) diked land (that is, isolated from tidal action) owned by the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District, and (3) urbanized areas such as in the Mariner Cove subdivision of Corte Madera. The present tidal marsh area was historically subdivided into the following informally named tracts, listed from north to south: Heerdt marsh, north Muzzi marsh, inner and outer Muzzi marshes, Marta’s marsh, and Triangle marsh.

The purpose of this study is to derive the magnitudes and rates of shoreline change (both erosion and accretion) for the Corte Madera shoreline, with particular emphasis on the time period from 1931 to 2016. The rates of change are then related to different shoreline types (that is, natural or diked) and (or) locations on the shoreline.

Trapping of suspended sediment by submerged aquatic vegetation in a tidal freshwater region: Field observations and long-term trends

Released July 14, 2020 12:23 EST

2020, Estuaries and Coasts

Paul A. Work, Maureen A. Downing-Kunz, Judith Z. Drexler

Widespread invasion by non-native, submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) may modify the sediment budget of an estuary, reducing the availability of inorganic sediment required by marshes to maintain their position in the tidal frame. The instantaneous trapping rate of suspended sediment in SAV patches in an estuary has not previously been quantified via field observations. In this study, flows of water and suspended sediment through patches of invasive SAV were measured at three tidally forced, freshwater sites, all located within the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in California. An acoustic Doppler current profiler deployed from a roving vessel provided velocity and backscatter data used to quantify fluxes of both water and suspended sediment. Sediment trapping efficiency, defined as instantaneous net trapped flux divided by incident flux, was positive in 24 of 29 cases, averaging + 5%. Coupled with 3 years of measured sediment flux data at one site, this suggests that trapping averages 3.7 kg m−2 year−1. This estimate compares favorably with the mean mass accumulation rate of 3.8 kg m−2 year−1 estimated from dated sediment cores collected at the study sites. Long-term measurements made upstream reveal a strong negative trend (− 1.8% year−1) in suspended sediment concentration, and intra-annual changes in both suspended sediment concentration and percent fines. The large footprint and high spatial density of invasive SAV coupled with declining sediment supply are diminishing downstream suspended sediment concentrations, potentially reducing the resiliency of marshes in the Delta and lower estuary to future sea-level rise.

Monthly suspended-sediment apportionment for a western Lake Erie agricultural tributary

Released July 14, 2020 10:09 EST

2020, Journal of Great Lakes Research

Tanja N. Williamson, Edward G. Dobrowolski, Allen Gellis, Timur Sabitov, Lillian Gorman Sanisaca

Black Creek, a headwater to the Maumee River and western Lake Erie, is an agricultural basin with a mix of cropland (66%), pasture (19%), and forest (7%) linked by a road network to the rural community. Suspended sediment was collected monthly during the 2018 water year for the main stem and two sub-basins using in-situ, passive samplers that integrated a range of streamflow conditions. Sediment fingerprinting used 44 indicators to apportion samples among five sources: cropland, pasture, forest, road dirt, and streambanks. Cropland, pasture, and streambanks had similar ranges in sediment-bound phosphorus (679-1670 ppm). Cropland contributed 21 ± 15% (monthly mean ± standard deviation; 0-46% among individual months) of suspended sediment during the year. Fall and spring peaks in cropland contribution highlight the ongoing importance of on-field management, but this small contribution of suspended sediment relative to the expanse of cropland may reflect implementation of best-management practices. Pasture contributed 0-66% (16±19%) of suspended-sediment and roads 0-26% (6±6%). Streambanks contributed 12-100% (55±25%) and was the only source identified in all sediment samples. In this basin, most cropland-adjacent streambanks are protected by a riparian setback. However, streams traversing other land-use types are not as consistently protected, and these setbacks do not protect the stream channel from discharge of water from sump pumps, road culverts, or tile drains. The contribution of sediment from other land uses combined with that from the agricultural drainage network (as streambank material) underscores the need to consider water movement in the basin as a whole.

Predicting microcystin concentration action-level exceedances resulting from cyanobacterial blooms in selected lake sites in Ohio

Released July 14, 2020 10:06 EST

2020, Environmental Monitoring and Assessment (192)

Donna S. Francy, Amie M.G. Brady, Erin Stelzer, Jessica Cicale, Courtney Paige Hackney, Harrison D Dalby, Pamela Struffolino, Daryl F. Dwyer

Cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms and the toxins they produce are a global water-quality problem. Monitoring and prediction tools are needed to quickly predict cyanotoxin action-level exceedances in recreational and drinking waters used by the public. To address this need, data were collected at eight locations in Ohio, USA, to identify factors significantly related to observed concentrations of microcystins (a freshwater cyanotoxin) that could be used in two types of site-specific regression models. Real-time models include easily- or continuously-measured factors that do not require that a sample be collected; comprehensive models use a combination of discrete sample-based measurements and real-time factors. The study sites included two recreational sites and six water treatment plant sites. Real-time models commonly included variables such as phycocyanin, pH, specific conductance, and streamflow or gage height. Many real-time factors were averages over time periods antecedent to the time the microcystin sample was collected, including water-quality data compiled from continuous monitors. Comprehensive models were useful at some sites with lagged variables for cyanobacterial toxin genes, dissolved nutrients, and (or) nitrogen to phosphorus ratios. Because models can be used for management decisions, important measures of model performance were sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of estimates above or below the microcystin concentration threshold standard or action level. Sensitivity is how well the predictive tool correctly predicts exceedance of a threshold, an important measure for water-resource managers. Sensitivities >90% at four Lake Erie water treatment plants indicated that models with continuous monitor data were especially promising. The planned next steps are to collect more data to build larger site-specific datasets and validate models before they can be used for management decisions.

Comparative phylogenomics reveal complex evolution of life history strategies in a clade of bivalves with parasitic larvae (Bivalvia: Unionoida: Ambleminae)

Released July 14, 2020 10:04 EST

2020, Cladistics

Chase H. Smith, John M. Pfeiffer, Nathan Johnson

Freshwater mussels are a species‐rich group with biodiversity patterns strongly shaped by a life history strategy that includes an obligate parasitic larval stage. In this study, we set out to reconstruct the life history evolution and systematics in a clade of freshwater mussels adapted to parasitizing a molluscivorous host fish. Anchored hybrid enrichment and ancestral character reconstruction revealed a complex pattern of life history evolution with host switching and multiple instances of convergence, including reduction in size of larvae, increased fecundity, and growth during encapsulation. Our phylogenomic analyses also recovered non‐monophyly of taxa exhibiting multiple traits used as the basis for previous taxonomic hypotheses. Taxa with axe‐head shaped glochidia were resolved as paraphyletic, but our results strongly suggest the complex morphology is an adaptation to reduce larval size, with reduction in size further accentuated in taxa previously assigned to Leptodea . To more accurately reflect the evolutionary history of this group, we make multiple systematic changes, including the description of a new genus, Atlanticoncha gen. nov. , and the synonymy of the genus Leptodea under Potamilus . Our findings contribute to the growing body of literature showing that cladistic hypotheses based solely on morphological characters, including larval morphology, can be flawed in freshwater mussels.

Causes of land change in the U.S. Interior Highlands, 2001–2011

Released July 14, 2020 09:50 EST

2020, Data Series 1127

Mark A. Drummond, Michael P. Stier, Jamie L. McBeth, Roger F. Auch, Janis L. Taylor, Jodi L. Riegle

The causes of land change from 2001 through 2011 for the Interior Highlands region of the south-central United States were assessed using satellite imagery, historical land-use and land-cover data, and digital orthophotos. The study was designed to develop improved regional land-use and land-cover change information, including identification of the proximate causes of change. The four leading causes of land change involved various stages of forest change: harvest (376,497 hectares), reforestation (105,150 hectares), stand loss to fire (98,875 hectares), and thinning (54,029 hectares). The study provides baseline spatial data for understanding human and ecological dynamics in the region. The spatial data, including metadata, are available in the data release associated with this report at

A synthesis of the biology and ecology of sculpin species in the Laurentian Great Lakes and implications for the adaptive capacity of the benthic ecosystem

Released July 14, 2020 09:32 EST

2020, Reviews in Fisheries Science and Aquaculture

Kelly F. Robinson, Charles R. Bronte, David Bunnell, Peter T. Euclide, Darryl W. Hondorp, John J. Janssen, Matthew S. Kornis, Derek H. Ogle, Will Otte, Stephen Riley, Mark Vinson, Shea L. Volkel, Brian C. Weidel

The Laurentian Great Lakes have experienced recent ecosystem changes that could lead to reductions in adaptive capacity and ultimately a loss of biodiversity and production throughout the food web. Observed changes in Great Lakes benthic communities include declines of native species and widespread success of invasive species like dreissenid mussels in all but Lake Superior. Understanding the ecology of native benthic deepwater preyfish and the reasons for their declines is important for predicting future losses in adaptive capacity and diversity, as well as managing the Great Lakes ecosystem to avoid such losses. Native sculpin species (Cottus bairdii, C. cognatus, C. ricei, Myoxocephalus thompsonii) historically were among the most abundant of the Great Lakes native deepwater benthic preyfish community and are an important link between offshore benthic and pelagic food webs. With one exception, these species have declined in abundance throughout the Great Lakes in recent years, but relatively little is known about their biology and ecology. This review synthesizes the available knowledge for the Great Lakes sculpin species and provides suggestions for future research efforts, which include understanding reproductive ecology and spawning behavior, connectivity and dispersal of populations, early life history, and influences of interactions with native and non-native species.

Spatial proximity moderates genotype uncertainty in genetic tagging studies

Released July 13, 2020 15:08 EST

2020, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (117) 17903-17912

Ben C. Augustine, Andy Royle, Daniel W. Linden, Angela K. Fuller

Accelerating declines of an increasing number of animal populations worldwide necessitate methods to reliably and efficiently estimate demographic parameters such as population density and trajectory. Standard methods for estimating demographic parameters from noninvasive genetic samples are inefficient because lower-quality samples cannot be used, and they assume individuals are identified without error. We introduce the genotype spatial partial identity model (gSPIM), which integrates a genetic classification model with a spatial population model to combine both spatial and genetic information, thus reducing genotype uncertainty and increasing the precision of demographic parameter estimates. We apply this model to data from a study of fishers (Pekania pennanti) in which 37% of hair samples were originally discarded because of uncertainty in individual identity. The gSPIM density estimate using all collected samples was 25% more precise than the original density estimate, and the model identified and corrected three errors in the original individual identity assignments. A simulation study demonstrated that our model increased the accuracy and precision of density estimates 63 and 42%, respectively, using three replicated assignments (e.g., PCRs for microsatellites) per genetic sample. Further, the simulations showed that the gSPIM model parameters are identifiable with only one replicated assignment per sample and that accuracy and precision are relatively insensitive to the number of replicated assignments for high-quality samples. Current genotyping protocols devote the majority of resources to replicating and confirming high-quality samples, but when using the gSPIM, genotyping protocols could be more efficient by devoting more resources to low-quality samples.

Robust age estimation of southern sea otters from multiple morphometrics

Released July 12, 2020 14:29 EST

2020, Ecology and Evolution

Teri E. Nicholson, Karl A. Mayer, Michelle M. Staedler, Tyler O Gagne, Michael J. Murray, Marissa A Young, Joseph Tomoleoni, M Tim Tinker, Kyle S. Van Houtan

Reliable age estimation is an essential tool to assess the status of wildlife populations and inform successful management. Aging methods, however, are often limited by too few data, skewed demographic representation, and by single or uncertain morphometric relationships. In this study, we synthesize age estimates in southern sea otters Enhydra lutris nereis from 761 individuals across 34 years of study, using multiple noninvasive techniques and capturing all life stages from 0 to 17 years of age. From wild, stranded, and captive individuals, we describe tooth eruptions, tooth wear, body length, nose scarring, and pelage coloration across ontogeny and fit sex‐based growth functions to the data. Dental eruption schedules provided reliable and identifiable metrics spanning 0.3–9 months. Tooth wear was the most reliable predictor of age of individuals aged 1–15 years, which when combined with total length, explained >93% of observed age. Beyond age estimation, dental attrition also indicated the maximum lifespan of adult teeth is 13‒17 years, corresponding with previous estimates of life expectancy. Von Bertalanffy growth function model simulations of length at age gave consistent estimates of asymptotic lengths (male Loo = 126.0‒126.8 cm, female Loo = 115.3‒115.7 cm), biologically realistic gestation periods (t 0 = 115 days, SD = 10.2), and somatic growth (male k = 1.8, SD = 0.1; female k = 2.1, SD = 0.1). Though exploratory, we describe how field radiographic imaging of epiphyseal plate development or fusions may improve aging of immature sea otters. Together, our results highlight the value of integrating information from multiple and diverse datasets to help resolve conservation problems.

Group density, disease, and season shape territory size and overlap of social carnivores

Released July 12, 2020 07:48 EST

2020, Journal of Animal Ecology

E E Brandell, Nicholas M. Fountain-Jones, Marie L. J. Gilbertson, Paul Cross, PJ Hudson, Douglas W. Smith, Daniel R. Stahler, Craig Packer, Meggan E. Craft

1. The spatial organization of a population can influence the spread of information, behaviour, and pathogens. Territory size and territory overlap, components of spatial organization, provide key information as these metrics may be indicators of habitat quality, resource dispersion, contact rates, and environmental risk (e.g., indirectly transmitted pathogens). Furthermore, sociality and behaviour can also shape space use, and subsequently, how space use and habitat quality together impact demography. 2. Our study aims to identify factors shaping the spatial organization of wildlife populations and assess the impact of epizootics on space use. We also use network analysis to describe spatial organization and connectivity of social groups. 3. Here, we assessed the seasonal spatial organization of Serengeti lions and Yellowstone wolves at the group level. We examine the factors predicting mean territory size and mean territory overlap for each population using generalized additive models. We further explore the mechanisms by which disease perturbations could cause changes in spatial organization. 4. We demonstrate that lions and wolves were similar in that group-level factors, such as number of groups, shaped spatial organization more than population-level factors, such as population density. Factors shaping territory size were slightly different than factors shaping territory overlap; for example, wolf pack size was an important predictor of territory overlap, but not territory size. Lion spatial networks were more highly connected, while wolf spatial networks varied seasonally. We found that resource dispersion may be more important for driving territory size and overlap for wolves than for lions. Additionally, canine distemper epizootics may alter lion spatial organization, highlighting the importance of including behavioural and movement ecology in studies of pathogen transmission dynamics. 5. We provide insight about when we might expect to observe the impacts of resource dispersion, disease perturbations, and other ecological factors on spatial organization. Our work highlights the importance of monitoring and managing social carnivore populations at the group level. Future research should elucidate the complex relationships between demographics, social and spatial structure, abiotic and biotic conditions, and pathogen infections.

Robust geographical determinants of infection prevalence and a contrasting latitudinal diversity gradient for haemosporidian parasites in Western Palearctic birds

Released July 11, 2020 15:18 EST

2020, Molecular Ecology

Nicholas J. Clark, Serguei Vyacheslavovich Drovetski, Gary Voelker

Identifying robust environmental predictors of infection probability is central to forecasting and mitigating the ongoing impacts of climate change on vector-borne disease threats. We applied phylogenetic hierarchical models to a dataset of 2,171 Western Palearctic individual birds from 47 species to determine how climate and landscape variation influence infection probability for three genera of haemosporidian blood parasites (Haemoproteus, Leucocytozoon, and Plasmodium). Our comparative models found compelling evidence that birds in areas with higher vegetation density (captured by the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) had higher likelihoods of carrying parasite infection. Magnitudes of this relationship were remarkably similar across parasite genera considering that these parasites use different arthropod vectors and are widely presumed to be epidemiologically distinct. However, we also uncovered key differences among genera that highlighted complexities in their climate responses. In particular, prevalences of Haemoproteus and Plasmodium showed strong but contrasting relationships with winter temperatures, supporting mounting evidence that winter warming is a key environmental filter impacting the dynamics of host-parasite interactions. Parasite phylogenetic community diversities demonstrated a clear but contrasting latitudinal gradient, with Haemoproteus diversity increasing towards the equator and Leucocytozoon diversity increasing towards the poles. Haemoproteus diversity also increased in regions with higher vegetation density, supporting our evidence that summer vegetation density is important for structuring the distributions of these parasites. Ongoing variation in winter temperatures and vegetation characteristics will likely have far-reaching consequences for the transmission and spread of vector-borne diseases.

RestoreNet: An emerging restoration network reveals controls on seeding success across dryland ecosystems

Released July 11, 2020 14:04 EST

2020, Journal of Applied Ecology

Caroline Ann Havrilla, Seth M. Munson, Molly Mccormick, Katherine Mary Laushman, Kathleen R. Balazs, Bradley J. Butterfield

1. Drylands are Earth’s largest terrestrial biome and support one third of the global population. However, they are also highly vulnerable to land degradation. Despite widespread demand for dryland restoration and rehabilitation, little information is available to help land managers effectively reestablish native perennial vegetation across drylands.

2. RestoreNet is an emerging dryland restoration network that systematically tests revegetation techniques across environmental gradients. Using the RestoreNet experimental framework, we tested the effectiveness of restoration treatments (i.e., ConMod nurse plant structures, mulch, pits) that increase soil moisture and seed mixes with different climatic niches to achieve revegetation goals.

3. Across sites, seedling recruitment was consistently influenced by treatment and seed mix type. Pit and mulch treatments increased total seedling density, with pits promoting the highest seeded species recruitment while limiting non-native species establishment. Seeding increased total seedling density regardless of seed mix type, but cooler-adapted seed mixes promoted greater seeded species density and resulted in lower density of unseeded (non-native) species relative to warmer-adapted mixes.

4. Seedling recruitment was also controlled by the temporal and environmental context of restoration with the positive effect of high precipitation greatest in the weeks immediately following seeding. Above-average precipitation during the study period across most of the sites may partially explain why the highest seeded species recruitment occurred in pit treatments and seed mixes with cooler, wetter niche requirements.

5. Synthesis and applications. Results from the dryland restoration network, RestoreNet help to better understand variation in seeding and restoration treatment success across space and time in drylands. Relationships between restoration practices and environmental conditions in our study suggest the importance of anticipatory restoration strategies that forecast seasonal and sub-seasonal weather conditions and select plant species with climate niche requirements appropriate for current and future climate conditions. This information is critical to land managers tasked with improving ecosystem conditions across degraded dryland regions.

Brackish tidal marsh management and the ecology of a declining freshwater turtle

Released July 10, 2020 15:26 EST

2020, Environmental Management

Mickey Agha, Charles Yackulic, Melissa K. Riley, Blair Peterson, Brian D Todd

Water management practices in tidal marshes of the San Francisco Bay Estuary, California are often aimed at increasing suitable habitat for threatened fish species and sport fishes. However, little is known about how best to manage habitat for other sensitive status species like the semiaquatic freshwater Western Pond Turtle (Actinemys marmorata) that is declining throughout much of its range. Here, we examined the basking activity, abundance, survival, and growth of Western Pond Turtles at two brackish water study sites in Suisun Marsh, California that differed in how they were managed, with one having passive management (i.e., no active water regulation) and another having active management (i.e., water regulated for seasonal hunting). Our results revealed that basking activity was greatest when salinity, water stage, and air temperatures were low, shortwave radiation was high, and wind levels were intermediate. These preferred habitat characteristics often reflected conditions that were naturally maintained at the passively managed, muted tidal site. We also found that turtles were more abundant and had higher survival rates in the passively managed habitat compared to the actively managed habitat (201-323 turtles/km2 and 96% survival versus 11-135 turtles/km2 and 77% survival, respectively). Finally, characteristic growth constants from von Bertalanffy models showed that turtles grew more quickly in passively managed habitat compared to the actively managed habitat. Our results suggest that management strategies for this sensitive status species may be more effective if they protect passively managed muted tidal systems that limit or delay extreme cycles of salinity and water levels and conserve elevated terrestrial buffer zones adjacent to muted and full tidal systems.

Seismic stratigraphic framework of the continental shelf offshore Delmarva, U.S.A.: Implications for Mid-Atlantic Bight evolution since the Pliocene

Released July 10, 2020 12:16 EST

2020, Marine Geology (428)

Laura L. Brothers, David S. Foster, Elizabeth A. Pendleton, Wayne E. Baldwin

Understanding how past coastal systems have evolved is critical to predicting future coastal change. Using over 12,000 trackline kilometers of recently collected, co-located multi-channel boomer, sparker and chirp seismic reflection profile data integrated with previously collected borehole and vibracore data, we define the upper (< 115 m below mean lower low water) seismic stratigraphic framework offshore of the Delmarva Peninsula, USA. Twelve seismic units and 11 regionally extensive unconformities (U1-U11) were mapped over 5900 km2 of North America's Mid-Atlantic continental shelf. We interpret U3, U7, U9, U11 as transgressive ravinement surfaces, while U1,2,4,5,6,8,10 are subaerial unconformities illustrating distinct periods of lower sea-level. Based on areal distribution, stratigraphic relationships and dating results (Carbon 14 and amino acid racemization estimates) from earlier vibracore and borehole studies, we interpret the infilled channels as late Neogene and Quaternary courses of the Susquehanna, Potomac, Rappahannock, York, James rivers and tributaries, and a broad flood plain. These findings indicate that the region's geologic framework is more complex than previously thought and that Pleistocene paleochannels are abundant in the Mid-Atlantic. This study synthesizes and correlates the findings of other Atlantic Margin studies and establishes a large-scale Quaternary framework that enables more detailed stratigraphic analysis in the future. Such work has implications for inner continental shelf systems tract evolution, the relationship between antecedent geology and modern coastal systems, assessments of eustacy, glacial isostatic adjustment, and other processes and forcings that play a role in passive margin evolution.

    Preserving connectivity under climate and land-use change: No one-size-fits-all approach for focal species in similar habitats

    Released July 10, 2020 10:44 EST

    2020, Biological Conservation (248)

    Jennifer K. Costanza, James I. Watling, Ron Sutherland, Curtis Belyea, Bistra Dilkina, Heather Cayton, David N. Bucklin, Stephanie Romanach, Nick M. Haddad

    Habitat connectivity is essential for maintaining populations of wildlife species, especially as climate changes. Knowledge about the fate of existing habitat networks in a changing climate and in light of land-use change is critical for determining which types of conservation actions must be taken to maintain those networks. However, information is lacking about how multiple focal species that use similar habitats overlap in the degree and geographic patterns of threats to linkages among currently suitable habitat patches. We sought to address that gap. We assessed climate change threat to existing linkages in the southeastern United States for three wildlife species that use similar habitats but differ in the degree to which their ranges are limited by climate, habitat specificity, and dispersal ability. Linkages for the specialist species (timber rattlesnake), whose range is climate-restricted, were more likely to serve as climate change refugia – that is, they were more likely to be climate-stable – by the middle of the 21st century. This contrasts with the two more generalist species (Rafinesque's big-eared bat and American black bear), whose linkages were threatened by climate change and thus required adaptation measures. Further incorporation of projected land-use change and current protection status for important linkages narrows down our recommended conservation actions for each species. Our results highlight the surprising ways in which even species that use similar habitats will experience differences in the degree and geographic patterns of threats to connectivity. Taking action before these projected changes occur will be critical for successful conservation.

    A holistic modelling approach to project the evolution of inlet-interrupted coastlines over the 21st century

    Released July 10, 2020 10:26 EST

    2020, Frontiers in Marine Science (7)

    Janaka Bamunawala, Ali Dastgheib, Rosh Ranasinghe, AD van der Spek, Shreedhar Maskey, A. Brad Murray, Trang M. Duong, Patrick L. Barnard, Jeewanthi Gangani Sirisena

    Approximately one quarter of the World’s sandy beaches, most of which are interrupted by tidal inlets, are eroding. Understanding the long-term (50-100 year) evolution of inlet-interrupted coasts in a changing climate is therefore of great importance for coastal zone planners and managers. This study therefore focuses on the development and piloting of an innovative model that can simulate the climate-change driven evolution of inlet-interrupted coasts at 50-100 year time scales, while taking into account the contributions from catchment-estuary-coastal systems in a holistic manner. In this new model, the evolution of inlet-interrupted coasts is determined by: (1) computing the variation of total sediment volume exchange between the inlet-estuary system and its adjacent coast, and (2) distributing the computed sediment volume along the inlet-interrupted coast as a spatially and temporally varying quantity. The exchange volume, as computed here, consists of three major components: variation in fluvial sediment supply; basin (or estuarine) infilling due to the sea-level rise-induced increase in accommodation space; and estuarine sediment volume change due to variations in river discharge. To pilot the model, it is here applied to three different catchment-estuary-coastal systems: the Alsea estuary (Oregon, USA), Dyfi estuary (Wales, UK), and Kalutara inlet (Sri Lanka). Results indicate that all three systems will experience sediment deficits by 2100 (i.e. sediment importing estuaries). However, processes and system characteristics governing the total sediment exchange volume, and thus coastline change, vary markedly among the systems due to differences in geomorphic settings and projected climatic conditions. These results underline the importance of accounting for the different governing processes when assessing the future evolution of inlet-interrupted coastlines.

    Marking techniques

    Released July 10, 2020 10:11 EST

    2007, Book chapter, Raptor research and management techniques

    Daniel E. Varland, J.A. Smallwood, Leonard S. Young, Michael N. Kochert

    No abstract available.

    Acidification in the U.S. Southeast: Causes, potential consequences and the role of the Southeast Ocean and Coastal Acidification Network

    Released July 10, 2020 10:09 EST

    2020, Frontiers in Marine Science (7)

    Emily R. Hall, Leslie Wickes, Louis Burnett, Geoffrey I. Scott, Debra Hernandez, Kimberly K. Yates, Leticia Barbero, Janet J. Reimer, Mohammed Baalousha, Jennifer Mintz, Wei-Jun Cai, J. Kevin Craig, M. Richard DeVoe, William S. Fisher, Terri K. Hathaway, Elizabeth B. Jewett, Zackary Johnson, Paula Keener, Rua S. Mordecai, Scott Noakes, Charlie Phillips, Paul Sandifer, Astrid Schnetzer, Jay Styron

    Coastal acidification in southeastern U.S. estuaries and coastal waters is influenced by biological activity, run-off from the land, and increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Acidification can negatively impact coastal resources such as shellfish, finfish, and coral reefs, and the communities that rely on them. Organismal responses for species located in the U.S. Southeast document large negative impacts of acidification, especially in larval stages. For example, the toxicity of pesticides increases under acidified conditions and the combination of acidification and low oxygen has profoundly negative influences on genes regulating oxygen consumption. In corals, the rate of calcification decreases with acidification and processes such as wound recovery, reproduction, and recruitment are negatively impacted. Minimizing the changes in global ocean chemistry will ultimately depend on the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions, but adaptation to these changes and mitigation of the local stressors that exacerbate global acidification can be addressed locally. The evolution of our knowledge of acidification, from basic understanding of the problem to the emergence of applied research and monitoring, has been facilitated by the development of regional Coastal Acidification Networks (CANs) across the United States. This synthesis is a product of the Southeast Coastal and Ocean Acidification Network (SOCAN). SOCAN was established to better understand acidification in the coastal waters of the U.S. Southeast and to foster communication among scientists, resource managers, businesses, and governments in the region. Here we review acidification issues in the U.S. Southeast, including the regional mechanisms of acidification and their potential impacts on biological resources and coastal communities. We recommend research and monitoring priorities and discuss the role SOCAN has in advancing acidification research and mitigation of and adaptation to these changes.

    Land-cover and climatic controls on water temperature, flow permanence, and fragmentation of Great Basin stream networks

    Released July 10, 2020 09:02 EST

    2020, Water (12)

    Andrew S. Gendaszek, Jason B. Dunham, Christian E. Torgersen, David P Hockman-Wert, Michael Heck, Justin Martin Thorson, Jeffrey Michael Mintz, Todd Allai

    The seasonal and inter-annual variability of flow presence and water temperature within headwater streams of the Great Basin of the western United States limit the occurrence and distribution of coldwater fish and other aquatic species. To evaluate changes in flow presence and water temperature during seasonal dry periods, we developed spatial stream network (SSN) models from remotely sensed land-cover and climatic data that account for autocovariance within stream networks to predict the May to August flow presence and water temperature between 2015 and 2017 in two arid watersheds within the Great Basin: Willow and Whitehorse Creeks in southeastern Oregon and Willow and Rock Creeks in northern Nevada. The inclusion of spatial autocovariance structures improved the predictive performance of the May water temperature model when the stream networks were most connected, but only marginally improved the August water temperature model when the stream networks were most fragmented. As stream network fragmentation increased from the spring to the summer, the SSN models revealed a shift in the scale of processes affecting flow presence and water temperature from watershed-scale processes like snowmelt during high-runoff seasons to local processes like groundwater discharge during sustained seasonal dry periods.

    Morphology, structure, and kinematics of the San Clemente and Catalina faults based on high-resolution marine geophysical data, southern California Inner Continental Borderland

    Released July 10, 2020 07:50 EST

    2020, Geosphere (16)

    Maureen A. L. Walton, Daniel Brothers, James E. Conrad, Katherine L. Maier, Emily C. Roland, Jared Kluesner, Peter Dartnell

    Catalina Basin, located within the southern California Inner Continental Borderland (ICB), is traversed by two active submerged fault systems that are part of the broader North America-Pacific plate boundary: the San Clemente fault (along with a prominent splay, the Kimki fault) and the Catalina fault. Previous studies have suggested that the San Clemente fault (SCF) may be accommodating up to half of the approximately 8 mm/yr right-lateral slip distributed across the ICB between San Clemente Island and the mainland coast, and that the Catalina fault (CF) acts as a significant restraining bend in the larger transform system. Here, we provide new high-resolution geophysical constraints on the seabed morphology, deformation history, and kinematics of the active faults in and on the margins of Catalina Basin. We significantly revise SCF mapping and describe a discrete releasing bend that corresponds with lows in gravity and magnetic anomalies, as well as a connection between the SCF and the Santa Cruz fault to the north. Subsurface seismic-reflection data show evidence for a vertical SCF with significant lateral offsets, while the CF exhibits lesser cumulative deformation with a vertical component indicated by folding adjacent to the CF. Geodetic data are consistent with SCF right-lateral slip rates as high as ~3.6 mm/yr and transpressional convergence of <1.5 mm/yr accommodated along the CF. The Quaternary strands of the SCF and CF consistently cut across Miocene and Pliocene structures, suggesting generation of basin and ridge morphology in a previous tectonic environment that has been overprinted by Quaternary transpression. Some inherited crustal fabrics, especially thinned crust and localized, relatively hard crustal blocks, appear to have had a strong influence on the geometry of the main trace of the SCF, whereas inherited faults and other structures (e.g., the Catalina Ridge) appear to have minimal influence on the geometry of active faults in the ICB.

    Forage and habitat for pollinators in the northern Great Plains—Implications for U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation programs

    Released July 09, 2020 16:49 EST

    2020, Open-File Report 2020-1037

    Clint R. V. Otto, Autumn Smart, Robert S. Cornman, Michael Simanonok, Deborah D. Iwanowicz

    Managed and wild pollinators are critical components of agricultural and natural systems. Despite the well-known value of insect pollinators to U.S. agriculture, Apis mellifera (Linnaeus, 1758; honey bees) and wild bees currently face numerous stressors that have resulted in declining health. These declines have engendered support for pollinator conservation efforts across all levels of government, private businesses, and nongovernmental organizations. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Geological Survey initiated an interagency agreement to evaluate honey bee forage across multiple States in the northern Great Plains and upper Midwest. The long-term goal of this study was to provide an empirical evaluation of floral resources used by honey bees, and the relative contribution of multiple land covers and USDA conservation programs to bee health and productivity. Our multi-State analysis of land-use change from 2006 to 2016 revealed loss of grassland and increases in corn and soybean area in North and South Dakota, representing a significant loss of bee-friendly land covers in areas that support the highest density of summer bee yards in the entire United States. Our landscape models demonstrate the importance of the Conservation Reserve Program in providing safe locations for beekeepers to keep honey bees during the summer and highlights how land use in the northern Great Plains has a lasting effect on the health of honey bee colonies during almond pollination the subsequent spring. Our multiseason, multi-State genetic analysis of honey bee-collected pollen revealed Melilotus spp., Asteraceae, Trifolium spp., Fabaceae, Sonchus arvensis, Symphyotrichum cordifolium, and Solidago spp. were the top taxa detected; Melilotus spp. represented 42 percent of all detected taxa. Symphyotrichum cordifolium, Solidago spp., and Grindelia spp. were the top native forbs detected in honey bee-collected pollen. We also conducted plant and bee surveys on private lands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program and Environmental Quality Incentives Program. In general, we found significant variability in floral resources and pollinator utilization across USDA programs and practices. On average, greater than 75 percent of honey bee flower observations on private lands enrolled in a USDA conservation program were on non-native forbs, whereas 33 percent of wild bee flower observations were on non-native forbs. Melilotus officinalis and Medicago sativa were the most visited by honey bees, wherease Medicago sativa and Helianthus maximiliani were the most visited by wild bees. Our analysis of nectar dearth periods in June and September for honey bees revealed that although Melilotus officinalis and Medicago sativa were highly visited, less common native forb species such as Ratibida columnifera, Agastache foeniculum, and Gaillardia aristata were preferred species. However, these preferred species were relatively rare on the landscape and are, therefore, unlikely to make up a sizable part of the honey bee diet. In addition to our empirical results, we also showcase how the U.S. Geological Survey Pollinator Library, a decision-support tool for natural resource managers, can be used to design cost-effective seeding mixes for pollinators. Collectively, the results of this research will assist USDA with maximizing the ecological impact and cost-effectiveness of their conservation programs on pollinators in the northern Great Plains.

    Sediment lithology and borehole erosion testing, American and Sacramento Rivers, California

    Released July 09, 2020 12:35 EST

    2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5063

    Paul A. Work, Daniel N. Livsey

    Executive Summary

    A field investigation intended to measure the potential for erosion of sediments beside the American and Sacramento Rivers near Sacramento, California, is described. The study featured two primary components: (1) drilling and soil sampling to reveal lithology, down to depths matching the local river thalweg, where possible, and (2) borehole erosion tests (BETs) as described by Briaud and others (2017) at many of the same locations. The latter test involved drilling a vertical hole, measuring its diameter profile, inserting a hollow drilling rod to almost the bottom of the hole, and pumping fluid through the drilling rod at a known discharge for a chosen time interval. The hole was then resurveyed to establish an erosion rate (change in borehole radius divided by duration of flow event) as a function of depth, and the test was repeated. This test was performed with water as the erosive fluid at 12 locations, with 1 test repeated with drilling mud. Lithology holes were drilled at these same locations and an additional five locations. Drilling operations took place on river left and river right on the American River and river left (left bank, when looking downstream) on the Sacramento River.

    The drilling to acquire sediment samples and reveal lithology involved the use of a mobile drilling rig equipped with a 6-inch (in.) auger, a 140-pound pneumatic hammer to drive split spoon and Calmod samplers, and a piston to push Shelby tube samplers to obtain samples of clayey material. Blow count (hammer blows per 6-in. sampler advance) was recorded while sampling, and the process was logged using standard U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Sacramento District procedures. Sediment samples were identified and described in the field per ASTM D2488 and then delivered to a USACE laboratory and to Texas A&M University for additional laboratory analysis.

    The BETs were performed with the same drilling rig that performed the drilling for definition of lithology. In most instances, tests were limited to regions above the water table, to avoid slumping of the borehole and heaving sands pushing into the hole. Most of the tests featured sediments that were primarily silty sand or sandy silt.

    The testing procedure involved comparing borehole profiles before and after passing an assumed constant discharge through a drilling rod to the bottom of the drilled hole. Discharge and water losses were logged during the testing procedure, and water losses into the walls of the drilled hole were typically less than 5 percent of the introduced volume. For the tests performed with water, the coefficient of variation of the discharge ranged from 4.5 to 28 percent, with a mean of 13 percent, but the mean discharge appeared to be reasonably steady over the typical test duration of 10–30 minutes. It was thus assumed that discharge was constant and water losses during the tests were neglected. Coefficients of variation of the discharge for the three tests performed with drilling mud were much higher (20–50 percent), but erosion rates were much smaller.

    Resolution of the borehole caliper-reported diameter was 0.1 in. and several of the tests lasted for 10 minutes. With boreholes measured twice, before and after each test, and averaged, these numbers correspond to an apparent erosion rate (radius change divided by test duration) of 0.3 inches per hour (in/hr), which is a theoretical lower bound on what could be measured with this approach and equipment. In practice, 0.5 in/hr appears to be a more realistic lower bound on the detectable erosion rate, based on inspection of computed changes and erosion rates.

    Three flow speeds (5, 8, and 12 feet per second; ft/s) were targeted for the tests. Because of equipment limitations, it was not possible in the field to reach an average of 12 ft/s throughout any given borehole, although much higher flow speeds were reached locally in some cases. Most tests featured at least two different flow rates, and the borehole was typically surveyed at least twice for each condition, to allow averaging to reduce the influence of random diameter measurement errors. Errors arising from out-of-round boreholes appeared to be uncommon.

    Briaud and others (2017) recommend stepped increases in the flow rate during a borehole test. This approach was taken during initial testing but proved to be problematic. The drilled hole would be enlarged by the first (smaller) discharge, and then it would be difficult to reach the desired higher flow speed because of the larger annulus between the drilled hole and the drilling rod that supplied the water for testing. This was largely solved by starting with a high discharge and, in many cases, maintaining it for subsequent tests with the average flow speed decreasing as the hole enlarged.

    Several different measures of erosion rate were computed and investigated by comparison to lithological profiles. The vertically averaged erosion rate for each hole was computed, but this result does not reveal vertical variability of erodibility; and the mean flow speed within the hole is not a good representation of the speed when attempting to determine a relationship between erosion rate and flow speed. Instead, for each 6-inch layer within the hole, vertically averaged erosion rates and local flow speeds were computed and plotted. Where possible, the soil type for each layer was identified. For later laboratory analysis, project protocol dictated collection of Shelby tube samples whenever clay was encountered.

    Plots of erosion rate versus flow speed displayed scatter that indicate that several other factors influence the erosion potential of the soil. Blow count was not a good predictor variable; it is better correlated with soil type than erodibility.

    Soils were classified as sand, silt, or clay, depending on which soil type dominated within a sample. In general, those classified as sand and silt did not reveal clear patterns allowing erosion rate to be computed directly from flow speed, but the test results define the range and bounds on the erosion rate. Results for clay were slightly clearer with the erosion rate increasing with flow speed, once a threshold had been reached. In this case, the erosion rate appeared to change near a speed of 7 ft/s; above this threshold, erosion rates jumped from less than 2 in/hr to greater than 3 in/hr.

    Even for soils with similar classifications, large differences in erodibility were observed between sites and in different layers within an individual hole. One potential means of dealing with this problem would be to perform more tests at each site to allow establishment of relationships between flow speed and erodibility for individual layers within a borehole. The maximum number of tests performed at a site in this study was four, but in some cases, results are available for only one or two flow events. Comparison of data to a set of Erosion Function Apparatus tests that provide better resolution of the vertical variation in the erosion rate versus flow speed relationship would allow further investigation of this idea.

    It was hypothesized that drilling mud could expand the utility of the test in soft sands by reducing the likelihood of slumping that would be interpreted as erosion. The one test that was performed with drilling mud indicated that it greatly reduced the erosion rate of the soils encountered. It yielded very different results from the test performed at the same site with water.

    Erosion rate is often expressed as a function of shear stress applied to a soil. In order to compute shear stress on the walls of the drilled hole, one must assume a form for the relationship between flow speed and shear stress and select a friction factor that is often estimated empirically from head loss, observed water-surface profiles, surface roughness, or other data not available in this report. One methodology for computing shear stress from flow speed is discussed in this report, but the test results have been presented in terms of erosion rate versus flow speed to avoid assuming values that are not verifiable via the field data collected in this study. Erosion rate was computed from directly measured values (sequential borehole profiles) and flow speed was computed directly from measured quantities (discharge and borehole geometry).

    The BET has seen limited application, primarily in clayey soils, whereas most of the soils encountered in this study were primarily sand or silt. The objective of the BET is to determine the erodibility of in situ soil below the ground or riverbed surface. The BET is simple in principle and has the advantage of revealing erodibility of in situ sediments below the ground or riverbed surface; it appears to be very useful in clayey soils, based on previously published work, but is more difficult to apply in sandy soils where slumping and water losses within the hole during testing are more likely to occur. The BET did reveal a large variation in the results both laterally and vertically, even for the same soil-type classification. It is thus recommended that the results be applied considering these spatial variations rather than attempting to universally assign an erosion-rate relationship to a particular soil type. Results have been provided showing the results by site and by sediment classification (sand, silt, and clay), to allow either approach. Where possible, it is important to rely on site-specific results because the erosion-rate relationship for a given soil type varied by site.

    Data collected during this project have been made publicly available online via the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Sciencebase database. The measured borehole profiles, discharge, lithology log sheets, and photos are available in the data release that accompanies this report (see Work and Livsey (2019) in the “Selected References” section for the appropriate link).

    An international code comparison study on coupled thermal, hydrologic and geomechanical processes of natural gas hydrate-bearing sediments

    Released July 09, 2020 09:28 EST

    2020, Journal of Marine and Petroleum Geology (120)

    M.D. White, T.J. Kneafsey, Y. Seol, William F. Waite, S. Uchida, J.S. Lin, E.M. Myshakin, X Gai, S. Gupta, M.T. Reagan, A.F. Queiruga, S. Kimoto

    Geologic reservoirs containing gas hydrate occur beneath permafrost environments and within marine continental slope sediments, representing a potentially vast natural gas source. Numerical simulators provide scientists and engineers with tools for understanding how production efficiency depends on the numerous, interdependent (coupled) processes associated with potential production strategies for these gas hydrate reservoirs. Confidence in the modeling and forecasting abilities of these gas hydrate reservoir simulators (GHRSs) grows with successful comparisons against laboratory and field test results, but such results are rare, particularly in natural settings. The hydrate community recognized another approach to building confidence in the GHRS: comparing simulation results between independently developed and executed computer codes on structured problems specifically tailored to the interdependent processes relevant for gas hydrate-bearing systems. The United States Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory (DOE/NETL), sponsored the first international gas hydrate code comparison study, IGHCCS1, in the early 2000s. IGHCCS1 focused on coupled thermal and hydrologic processes associated with producing gas hydrates from geologic reservoirs via depressurization and thermal stimulation. Subsequently, GHRSs have advanced to model more complex production technologies and incorporate geomechanical processes into the existing framework of coupled thermal and hydrologic modeling. This paper contributes to the validation of these recent GHRS developments by providing results from a second GHRS code comparison study, IGHCCS2, also sponsored by DOE/NETL. IGHCCS2 includes participants from an international collection of universities, research institutes, industry, national laboratories, and national geologic surveys. Study participants developed a series of five benchmark problems principally involving gas hydrate processes with geomechanical components. The five problems range from simple geometries with analytical solutions to a representation of the world’s first offshore production test of methane hydrates, which was conducted with the depressurization method off the coast of Japan. To identify strengths and limitations in the various GHRSs, study participants submitted solutions for the benchmark problems and discussed differing results via teleconferences. The GHRSs evolved over the course of IGHCCS2 as researchers modified their simulators to reflect new insights, lessons learned, and suggested performance enhancements. The five benchmark problems, final sample solutions, and lessons learned that are presented here document the study outcomes and serve as a reference guide for developing and testing gas hydrate reservoir simulators.

    International geoscience collaboration to support critical mineral discovery

    Released July 08, 2020 15:20 EST

    2020, Fact Sheet 2020-3035

    United States Geological Survey, Geoscience Australia, Geological Survey of Canada

    The importance of critical minerals and the need to expand and diversify critical mineral supply chains has been endorsed by the Federal governments of Australia, Canada, and the United States. The geoscience organizations of Geoscience Australia, the Geological Survey of Canada and the U.S. Geological Survey have created the Critical Minerals Mapping Initiative to build a diversified critical minerals industry in Australia, Canada, and the United States by developing a better understanding of known critical mineral resources, determining geologic controls on critical mineral distribution for deposits currently producing byproducts, identifying new sources of supply through critical mineral potential mapping and quantitative mineral assessments, and promoting critical mineral discovery in all three countries.

    Effects of stormwater runoff from selected bridge decks on conditions of water, sediment, and biological quality in receiving waters in South Carolina, 2013 to 2018

    Released July 08, 2020 11:40 EST

    2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5046

    Celeste A. Journey, Matthew D. Petkewich, Kevin J. Conlon, Andral W. Caldwell, Jimmy M. Clark, Jeffrey W. Riley, Paul M. Bradley

    The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the South Carolina Department of Transportation, investigated the effects of stormwater runoff from bridge decks on stream water quality conditions in South Carolina. The investigation assessed 5 bridges in 3 physiographic provinces in South Carolina (Piedmont, Upper Coastal Plain, and Lower Coast Plain) that had a range of bridge, traffic, and hydrologic characteristics. The five selected South Carolina bridge sites (coincident with U.S. Geological Survey stations) and corresponding highways were Lynches River at Effingham (station 02132000; U.S. Highway 52), North Fork Edisto River at Orangeburg (station 02173500; U.S. Highway 301), Turkey Creek above Huger (station 02172035; South Carolina Highway 41), South Fork Edisto River near Denmark (station 02173000; U.S. Highway 321), and Fishing Creek at Highway 5 below York (station 021473415; South Carolina Highway 5). Bridge decks at the selected sites used open chutes, scuppers, and downspouts to drain stormwater directly into the receiving water at evenly spaced intervals.

    Stream water, sediment, and biological samples were collected and analyzed for a variety of constituents to evaluate the stream conditions for this study. Five to six stream samples were collected at transects upstream and downstream from each selected bridge site using the equal-width-increment technique during observable stormwater runoff. Routine samples of the receiving waters were collected 12 to 14 times at the upstream transect during nonstorm conditions. Samples were analyzed for physical properties, suspended sediment, nutrients, major ions, trace metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and Escherichia coli. Bridge-deck sediment and streambed sediment at upstream and downstream transects were collected once at each bridge site and analyzed for metals and semivolatile organic compounds that include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Benthic macroinvertebrate community surveys were conducted once using Hester-Dendy multiplate artificial substrate samplers deployed at multiple upstream and downstream transects concurrently.

    Statistical analysis of the water-quality data determined that stormwater runoff from bridges did not significantly degrade physical properties, nor nutrient, trace-metal, Escherichia coli, and suspended-sediment concentrations at the selected sites beyond the variability at the upstream transect (no bridge influence) during the study period. During storm sampling at the bridge sites, water-quality conditions were statistically similar upstream and downstream from each bridge, except for greater turbidity, total nitrogen, and total organic nitrogen plus ammonia concentrations found downstream from the bridge site on Fishing Creek; higher total chromium concentrations detected downstream from the bridge site on Turkey Creek; and increased Escherichia coli concentrations found downstream from the bridge site on the North Fork Edisto River. Total recoverable lead, cadmium, and copper concentrations were the only trace metals that periodically exceeded the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control freshwater aquatic-life criteria at some bridge sites (lead, copper, and cadmium in Turkey Creek; cadmium and lead in Fishing Creek; lead in the South Fork Edisto River and Lynches River), but the exceedances occurred more frequently during routine sampling upstream from the bridge sites than during storm sampling at upstream and downstream transects. In general, stormwater runoff from the bridge decks did not seem to be the major source of metal enrichment in receiving waters during the study period. North Fork and South Fork Edisto Rivers and Turkey Creek had only one storm sample that exceeded South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control recreational criterion for Escherichia coli at both the upstream and downstream locations, while Fishing Creek had more frequent exceedances. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were detected infrequently in the stream samples.

    In general, sediment trace-metal concentrations were below the threshold and probable effect concentration at all bridge sites, except for the chromium concentration (45.1 milligrams per kilogram) detected upstream from the bridge site on Fishing Creek that exceeded the threshold effect concentration of 43.4 milligrams per kilogram. Based on enrichment ratios less than 1.5, bridge-deck runoff did not seem to be affecting trace-metal accumulation in the streambed sediment downstream from the bridge sites, except for lead at the bridge site on the Lynches River and manganese at the bridge site on Fishing Creek.

    Individual polycyclic aromatic compound concentrations and the sum of 18 compounds did not exceed any threshold and probable effect concentrations, indicating polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon concentrations in the streambed sediment at downstream and upstream transects were not likely to affect the health of benthic macroinvertebrate communities. Although the cumulative polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon concentrations in downstream sediment at the sites on Turkey and Fishing Creeks were well below the threshold effect concentration of 1,610 micrograms per kilogram, the 3- to 100-fold increase in downstream concentrations indicated a strong probability of a bridge-deck runoff source.

    Overall, benthic macroinvertebrate community health downstream from the bridge sites did not seem to be affected by bridge-deck runoff based on several multivariate analyses that indicated statistically similar benthic macroinvertebrate communities at upstream and downstream transects. Of the five bridge sites in this study, the site on Turkey Creek seemed to have the least healthy benthic macroinvertebrate communities because of the lowest Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera spp. (mayflies, stoneflies, and caddisflies, respectively) taxa, species richness, and diversity; and the highest biotic indices, indicative of poorer ecological health, at upstream and downstream transects. This ecological finding was not unexpected because of seasonal periods of negligible flow when dissolved-oxygen concentrations fell below 4 milligrams per liter during the study period. Of the five bridge sites in this study, the site on the South Fork Edisto River seemed to have healthier benthic macroinvertebrate communities because of the greater mean Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera, and Trichoptera spp. taxa; and lower mean biotic indices at upstream and downstream transects.

    Conceptual model for the removal of cold-trapped H2O ice on the Mars northern seasonal springtime polar cap

    Released July 08, 2020 10:49 EST

    2020, Geophysical Research Letters (47)

    Timothy N. Titus, Kaj Williams, Glen E. Cushing

    The transport of H2O ice along the retreating north polar seasonal CO2 ice cap has previously been modeled and observed. Spectral observations show that H2O ice forms on the interior of the seasonal cap, while thermal observations show these regions to be consistent with CO2 ice. Prior to the sublimation of the seasonal CO2, the observed H2O ice deposits are diminished—and because H2O ice sublimation rates are extremely slow while in direct thermal contact with CO2 ice, an alternate removal process must be operating. We propose a model where the process of removing these H2O deposits starts with insolation‐induced basal sublimation of the underlying CO2 ice. This sublimed gas would “seep” upward and into the interface between the two ices, increasing pressure until the gas pressure fractures the cold‐trapped H2O ice. Small fragments would be suspended while larger fragments would be pushed aside, exposing the underlying CO2 ice.

    Nutrients and warming interact to force mountain lakes into unprecedented ecological state

    Released July 08, 2020 10:21 EST

    2020, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences (287)

    Isabella A. Oleksy, Jill Baron, Peter Leavitt, Sarah Spaulding

    While deposition of reactive nitrogen (N) in the 20th century has been strongly linked to changes in diatom assemblages in high-elevation lakes, pronounced and contemporaneous changes in other algal groups suggest additional drivers. We explored the origin and magnitude of changes in two mountain lakes from the end of the Little Ice Age at ca. 1850, to ca. 2010, using lake sediments. We found dramatic changes in algal community abundance and composition. While diatoms remain the most abundant photosynthetic organisms, concentrations of diatom pigments decreased while pigments representing chlorophytes increased 200-300% since ca. 1950 and total algal biomass more than doubled. Some algal changes began ca. 1900, but shifts in most sedimentary proxies accelerated ca. 1950 commensurate with many human-caused changes to the Earth system. In addition to N deposition, aeolian dust deposition may have contributed phosphorus. Strong increases in summer air and surface water temperatures since 1983 have direct and indirect consequences for high elevation ecosystems. Such warming could have directly enhanced nutrient use and primary production. Indirect consequences of warming include enhanced leaching of nutrients from geologic and cryosphere sources, particularly as glaciers ablate. While we infer causal mechanisms, changes in primary producer communities appear to be without historical precedent and are commensurate with the post-1950 acceleration of global change.

    The grass is not always greener on the other side: Seasonal reversal of vegetation greenness in aspect-driven semiarid ecosystems

    Released July 08, 2020 10:07 EST

    2020, Geophysical Research Letters (47)

    Nikul Kumari, Patricia M. Saco, Jose F. Rodriguez, Samuel A. Johnstone, Ankur Srivastava, Kwok P. Chun, Omer Yetemen

    Our current understanding of semiarid ecosystems is that they tend to display higher vegetation greenness on polar-facing slopes (PFS) than on equatorial-facing slopes (EFS). However, recent studies have argued that higher vegetation greenness can occur on EFS during part of the year. To assess whether this seasonal reversal of aspect-driven vegetation is a common occurrence, we conducted a global scale analysis of vegetation greenness on a monthly time scale over an 18-year period (2000-2017). We examined the influence of climate seasonality on the normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI) values of PFS and EFS at 60 different catchments with aspect-controlled vegetation located across all continents except Antarctica. Our results show that an overwhelming majority of sites (70%) display seasonal reversal, associated with transitions from water-limited to energy-limited conditions during wet winters. These findings highlight the need to consider seasonal variations of aspect-driven vegetation patterns in ecohydrology, geomorphology, and earth system models.

    Segmentation and supercycles: A catalog of earthquake rupture patterns from the Sumatran Sunda Megathrust and other well-studied faults worldwide

    Released July 08, 2020 08:46 EST

    2020, Quaternary Science Reviews (241)

    Belle Philibosian, Aron J. Meltzner

    After more than 100 years of earthquake research, earthquake forecasting, which relies on knowledge of past fault rupture patterns, has become the foundation for societal defense against seismic natural disasters. A concept that has come into focus more recently is that rupture segmentation and cyclicity can be complex, and that a characteristic earthquake model is too simple to adequately describe much of fault behavior. Nevertheless, recognizable patterns in earthquake recurrence emerge from long, high resolution, spatially distributed chronologies. Researchers now seek to discover the maximum, minimum, and typical rupture areas; the distribution, variability, and spatial applicability of recurrence intervals; and patterns of earthquake clustering in space and time. The term “supercycle” has been used to describe repeating longer periods of elastic strain accumulation and release that involve multiple fault ruptures. However, this term has become very broadly applied, lumping together several distinct phenomena that likely have disparate underlying causes. We divide earthquake cycle behavior into four major classes that have different implications for seismic hazard and fault mechanics: 1) quasi-periodic similar ruptures, 2) clustered similar ruptures, 3) clustered complementary ruptures/rupture cascades, and 4) superimposed cycles. “Segmentation” is likewise an ambiguous term; we identify “master segments” and “asperities” as defined by barriers to fault rupture. These barriers may be persistent (rarely or never traversed), frequent (occasionally traversed), or ephemeral (changing location from cycle to cycle). We compile a catalog of the historical and paleoseismic evidence that currently exists for each of these types of behavior on major well-studied faults worldwide. Due to the unique level of paleoseismic and paleogeodetic detail provided by the coral microatoll technique, the Sumatran Sunda megathrust provides one of the most complete records over multiple earthquake rupture cycles. Long historical records of earthquakes along the South American and Japanese subduction zones are also vital contributors to our catalog, along with additional data compiled from subduction zones in Cascadia, Alaska, and Middle America, as well as the North Anatolian and Dead Sea strike-slip faults in the Middle East. We find that persistent and frequent barriers, rupture cascades, superimposed cycles, and quasi-periodic similar ruptures are common features of most major faults. Clustered similar ruptures do not appear to be common, but broad overlap zones between neighboring segments do occur. Barrier regions accommodate slip through reduced interseismic coupling, slow slip events, and/or smaller more localized ruptures, and are frequently associated with structural features such as subducting seafloor relief or fault trace discontinuities. This catalog of observations provides a basis for exploring and modeling root causes of rupture segmentation and cycle behavior. We expect that researchers will recognize similar behavior styles on other major faults around the world.

    Assessing nest attentiveness of Common Terns via video cameras and temperature loggers

    Released July 08, 2020 08:32 EST

    2020, Avian Research (11)

    Jeffery D. Sullivan, Paul R. Marban, Jennifer M. Mullinax, David F. Brinker, Petter C. McGowan, Carl C. Callahan, Diann Prosser

    While nest attentiveness plays a critical role in the reproductive success of avian species, little nest attentiveness data with high temporal resolution is available for many species. However, improvements in both video monitoring and temperature logging devices present an opportunity to improve our understanding of this aspect of avian behavior. To investigate nest attentiveness behaviors and evaluate the ability of these technologies to record the needed data we monitored 13 nests across two Common Tern (Sterna hirundo) breeding colonies with a paired video camera - temperature logger approach, while monitoring 63 additional nests with temperature loggers alone. We examined data respective to four times of day: Morning (civil dawn-11:59), Peak (12:00-16:00), Cooling (16:01-civil dusk), and Night (civil dusk-civil dawn). Our results show that while successful nests had mostly short duration off-bouts and maintained consistent nest attentiveness throughout the day, failed nests had dramatic reductions in nest attentiveness during the Cooling and Night periods (p < 0.05) with one colony experiencing repeated nocturnal abandonment due to predation pressure from a Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus). Incubation appeared to ameliorate ambient temperatures during Night, as nests were significantly warmer during Night when birds were on versus off the nest (p < 0.05). Meanwhile, off bouts during the Peak period occurred during higher ambient temperatures, perhaps due to adults leaving the nest during the hottest periods to perform belly soaking. Unfortunately, temperature logger data alone had limited ability to predict nest attentiveness status, with results highly dependent on time of day and bout duration. While our methods did not affect hatching success (p > 0.05) video-monitored nests did have significantly lower clutch sizes (p < 0.05). Despite the high-quality data recorded in this study, the logistical and potential biological complications reported suggest that careful planning is needed before these devices can be utilized.

    Development of a two-stage life cycle model for Oncorhynchus kisutch (coho salmon) in the upper Cowlitz River Basin, Washington

    Released July 08, 2020 08:31 EST

    2020, Open-File Report 2020-1068

    John M. Plumb, Russell W. Perry

    Recovery of salmon populations in the upper Cowlitz River Basin depends on trap-and-haul efforts owing to impassable dams. Therefore, successful recovery depends on the collection of out-migrating juvenile salmon at Cowlitz Falls Dam (CFD) for transport below downstream dams, as well as the collection of adults for transport upstream from the dams. Tacoma Power began downstream fish collection efforts at CFD in the mid-1990s and has been working consistently since then to improve collection efficiency to support self-sustaining salmon and steelhead (Onchorhynchus spp.) populations in the upper Cowlitz River Basin. Although much work has focused on estimating fish collection efficiency (FCE), there has been relatively little focus on modeling population dynamics to understand how fish collection efficiency and other factors drive production of both juvenile and adult salmon over their life cycle. As a first step towards understanding the factors affecting population dynamics of Oncorhynchus kisutch (coho salmon) in the upper Cowlitz River Basin, we developed a statistical life cycle model using adult escapement and age structure data, juvenile collection data, and juvenile fish collection efficiency estimates. The goal of the statistical life cycle model is to estimate annual production and survival during two critical life-stage transitions: the freshwater production from escapement of adults upstream from CFD to collection of juveniles at CFD, and the juvenile-to-adult survival from the time of collection at the dam to the return of adults. To structure the life cycle model, we used the Ricker stock-recruitment model to estimate juvenile production from the number of parent spawners. This approach allowed us to account for density dependence at high spawner abundances while estimating annual productivity, defined as the number of juveniles produced per spawner at low spawner abundance. We then expressed productivity as a function two key variables affecting the number of juveniles collected and transported at CFD: (1) annual FCE, and (2) the annual number of days that spill occurred at CFD from September 1 to April 30.

    Our key findings were as follows:

    1. FCE was the primary factor affecting productivity of coho salmon upstream from CFD because FCE affects the number of juveniles that survive to continue downstream migration;
    2. Juvenile-to-adult return (JAR) rates were relatively high considering that harvest was included in the estimate, averaging about 3.6 percent and ranging as high as 9.1 percent, suggesting that adult coho salmon may be able to return to CFD at sustainable population sizes; and
    3. Much variation in the estimates of juvenile fish production upriver of CFD was unexplained even after adult escapement and FCE were accounted for, suggesting that the model may be improved by exploring different covariates and model structures for juvenile production as well as JAR rates.

    Additionally, by including FCE in the model, we estimated that the median pre-collection productivity, defined as the number of juveniles produced per spawner when FCE=1, was 108.4 juveniles per spawner. Because this two-stage life cycle model partitions factors that affect fish production in river compared to the ocean environment and fish life stages, the model estimates should help inform fishery managers about the overall role that fish collection at CFD may have on the recovery and sustainability of coho salmon populations.

    Geologic history of Goban Spur, Northwest Europe continental margin

    Released July 07, 2020 11:09 EST

    1985, Initial reports of the Deep Sea Drilling Project (80) 1187-1216

    P.C. de Graciansky, Claude (Wylie) Poag

    Drilling on Leg 80 of the Deep Sea Drilling Project-International Phase of Ocean Drilling was conducted on a transect of four sites (548-551) across the continent-ocean boundary at Goban Spur, a prominent southwest-trending structural and topographic high on the Irish continental slope. Drilling results have been integrated with physiographic, gravimetric, paleomagnetic, and seismostratigraphic data to provide a comprehensive interpretation of the geologic history of this sediment-starved passive margin.

    The geologic history of Goban Spur and adjacent regions may be divided into three periods: (1) a pre-rift period, beginning at the end of the Hercynian orogeny, was marked by several phases of regional faulting. From the late Paleozoic to the Triassic, a major phase was responsible for the development of northeast-trending grabens and horsts, which were especially active areas of deposition during the early and middle Mesozoic. A second phase created northwesttrending listric, normal fault systems which delineated the pre-Atlantic rift system of the Early Cretaceous. (2) A terminal period of active rifting began approximately at the Jurassic/Cretaceous boundary (late Cimmerian phase), and was marked by a regional emergence. Syn-rift deposition is recorded at Goban Spur by accumulation of a transgressive sequence of hyposaline to pelagic sediments, chiefly Barremian. Interpretation of seismic profiles indicates that (?)Aptian sequences also were deposited in the deeper half-grabens during this phase of rifting. Volcanic rocks appear to be rare or absent in the syn-rift deposits on Goban Spur. (3) The post-rifting period began when ocean crust was accreted in a trough approximately 2000 m deep, beneath what is now the Porcupine Abyssal Plain. This period was marked by the outpouring of pillows and flows of typical oceanic tholeiites, some of which were recovered at Site 550. At the same time, the seaward edge of the continental crust appears to have been deeply intruded by oceanic tholeiites, forming an intermediate crust of transitional geophysical characteristics.

    Post-rift sedimentation started in the early Albian, and was accompanied by continuous regional subsidence. Before the Campanian, variable depositional environments produced quite diverse sedimentary sequences in the isolated halfgrabens. Carbonaceous shales were recovered in Cenomanian strata of the deepest site (550) and in lower Turonian beds at sites of intermediate depth (549-551). Depositional environments became more uniform across the margin after the late Campanian, and sedimentation was clearly influenced by more regional or global oceanographic events. Sea-level oscillations, climatic variations, changes in bottom circulation, and vertical fluctuations of the carbonate compensation depth (CCD) were responsible for lithologic changes and major hiatuses.

    A national-scale assessment of mercury bioaccumulation in United States National Parks using dragonfly larvae as biosentinels through a citizen-science framework

    Released July 07, 2020 10:31 EST

    2020, Environmental Science and Technology (54) 8779-8790

    Collin Eagles-Smith, James Willacker, Sarah J. Nelson, Collen M Flanagan Pritz, David P. Krabbenhoft, Celia Y. Chen, Joshua T. Ackerman, Evan H. Campbell Grant, David Pilliod

    We conducted a national-scale assessment of mercury (Hg) bioaccumulation in aquatic ecosystems using dragonfly larvae as biosentinels, by developing a citizen science network to facilitate biological sampling. Implementing a carefully designed sampling methodology for citizen scientists, we developed an effective framework for landscape-level inquiry that might otherwise be resource limited. We assessed variation in dragonfly Hg concentrations across >450 sites spanning 100 US National Park Service units, and examined intrinsic and extrinsic factors associated with variation in Hg concentrations. Mercury concentrations ranged between 10.4-1,411 ng/g dry weight across sites and varied among habitat types. Dragonfly total Hg (THg) concentrations were up to 1.8-fold higher in lotic habitats than in lentic habitats, and 37% higher in waterbodies with abundant wetlands along their margins than those without wetlands. Mercury concentrations in dragonflies differed among families, but were correlated (R2>0.80) with each other, enabling adjustment to a consistent family to facilitate spatial comparisons among sampling units. Dragonfly THg concentrations were positively correlated with THg in both fish and amphibians from the same locations, indicating that dragonfly larvae are effective indicators of Hg bioavailability in aquatic food webs. Collectively, this continental-scale study demonstrates the utility of dragonfly larvae for estimating potential mercury risk to fish and wildlife in aquatic ecosystems and provides a framework for engaging citizen science as a component of landscape Hg monitoring programs.

    Height-related changes in forest composition, not tree vulnerability, explain increasing mortality with height during an extreme drought

    Released July 07, 2020 10:30 EST

    2020, Nature Communications (11)

    Nathan L. Stephenson, Adrian Das

    Recently, Stovall et al.1 (hereafter SSY) showed that during an extreme drought, remotely sensed mortality of tall trees was more than double that of short trees. They interpreted this to be a consequence of inherently greater hydraulic vulnerability of tall trees, and suggested that tall-tree vulnerability should thus generalize more broadly. Here we reassess their conclusions using contemporaneous, ground-based data from near their study sites. We found that 90% of trees belonged to taxonomic groups showing declining, not increasing, mortality with height, and that the overall increase in mortality with height was instead a consequence of height-related changes in forest composition, not intrinsically greater vulnerability of tall trees. Similar mechanisms likely explain mortality patterns at SSY’s sites, and, regardless, we show that SSY’s conclusions should not be accepted in the absence of robust tests of alternative mechanisms.

    Beloniformes: Belonidae (Needlefishes) and Hemiramphidae (Halfbeaks)

    Released July 07, 2020 10:13 EST

    2020, Book chapter, Freshwater fishes of North America, volume 2: Characidae to poeciliidae

    Bruce B. Collette, Stephen Walsh

    The order Beloniformes (or Synentognathi) contains two suborders, six families, 37 genera, and about 235 species of atherinomorph fishes (Rosen & Parenti 1981; Collette et al. 1984; Collette 2004). Features common to these fishes include dorsal and anal fins on the rear half of the body, abdominal pelvic fins with six soft rays, no fin spines, lateral line running along the ventral edge of the body, an open nasal pit, and lower pharyngeal bones fused into a triangular plate (leading to the name Synentognathi). Two families, the Flying fishes (Exocoetidae) and the Sauries (Scomberesocidae) are restricted to marine waters but several genera of Needlefishes (Belonidae) and Halfbeaks (Hemiramphidae and Zenarchopteridae) are restricted to fresh waters and other genera contain estuarine, freshwater, and marine species. The family name Belonidae, based on the type genus Belone, means needle in reference to the unusually long and slender jaws of most Needlefishes. Similarly, the family name Hemiramphidae means half-beak, alluding to the conspicuous presence of a long slender lower jar and a short upper jaw in most species. Two species of Needlefishes (Belonidae, Strongylura) and two species of Halfbeaks (Hemiramphidae, Hyporhamphus) occur in North American fresh waters.

    Continuous stream discharge, salinity, and associated data collected in the Lower St. Johns River and its tributaries, Florida, 2018

    Released July 07, 2020 09:20 EST

    2020, Open-File Report 2020-1061

    Patrick J. Ryan

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

    This is the third annual report by the U.S. Geological Survey on data collection for the Jacksonville Harbor deepening project and contains information pertinent to the data collection during the 2018 water year, from October 2017 to September 2018. Changes to the network on the main stem of the St. Johns River include the addition of (1) three new stations to monitor water temperature and salinity at Racy Point, Shands Bridge, and above Buckman Bridge; (2) stage data collection at both Buckman Bridge and Dames Point Bridge; and (3) three additional parameters, namely stage, velocity, and streamflow direction, to the St. Johns River at Jacksonville and Dames Point Bridge.

    Discharge and salinity varied widely during the data collection period, which included residual effects from Hurricane Irma in September 2017 and above-average rainfall for all counties in the project area over the 4-month period from April to July. The annual mean discharge at Durbin Creek was greatest among the tributaries, followed by annual mean discharges at Ortega River, Trout River, Cedar River, Julington Creek, Clapboard Creek, Broward River, Pottsburg Creek, and Dunn Creek. The annual mean discharge for each of the main-stem sites was higher in the 2018 water year than that of the previous 2 years of this study. Among the tributary sites, annual mean salinity was highest at Clapboard Creek, the site closest to the Atlantic Ocean, and lowest at Durbin Creek and Ortega River, the sites farthest from the ocean. Annual mean salinity data from the main-stem sites on the St. Johns River indicate that salinity decreased with distance upstream from the ocean, which is expected. Relative to annual mean salinity calculated since the 2016 water year, annual mean salinity at all monitoring locations was lower for the 2018 water year, except for Durbin Creek, which was the same.

    Human behavioral response in the Ridgecrest earthquakes: Assessing immediate actions based on data from “Did You Feel It?”

    Released July 07, 2020 08:04 EST

    2020, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America

    James D. Goltz, Hyejeong Park, Vince Quitoriano, David J. Wald

    Human behavioral response to earthquake ground motion has long been a subject of multidisciplinary interest and research. In most versions of seismic intensity scales, human perceptions and behavior are one component of the assignment of intensity. Public health research has shown that actions taken during earthquakes have a significant impact on the incidence of injury or the maintenance of safety. Based on this research, emergency managers and organizations promoting emergency preparedness have advocated strategies such as drop, cover, and hold on (DCHO) and promoted this safety measure through public education and annual drills. The “Did You Feel It?” (DYFI) mapping system (see Data and Resources) based on an online questionnaire developed and maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey has provided opportunities for those who have experienced an earthquake to report this experience worldwide since 2004. The DYFI questionnaire, although designed to assign intensity, also contains questions regarding the behavior in which one has engaged during the earthquake. The questionnaire includes other important information that may elucidate behavioral response to earthquakes, including assigned intensity, emotional reaction, and whether damage occurred at the location where the earthquake was experienced. The very large number of people who completed DYFI questionnaires following the July 2019 Ridgecrest, California, earthquakes provides a robust dataset for analysis and suggests that as intensity and levels of fear increase, behavior becomes more active in terms of physical movement to locations of presumed safety. Among active responses including DCHO, going to a doorway, and running outside, DCHO was the least likely to be implemented. The study provides possible explanations for low participation in DCHO despite active campaigns to promote this strategy.