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Focus areas for data acquisition for potential domestic resources of 11 critical minerals in the conterminous United States, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico—Aluminum, cobalt, graphite, lithium, niobium, platinum-group elements, rare earth elements, tantalum, tin, titanium, and tungsten

Released September 18, 2020 09:50 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2019-1023-B

Jane M. Hammarstrom, Connie L. Dicken, Warren C. Day, Albert H. Hofstra, Benjamin J. Drenth, Anjana K. Shah, Anne E. McCafferty, Laurel G. Woodruff, Nora K. Foley, David A. Ponce, Thomas P. Frost, Lisa L. Stillings

In response to a need for information on potential domestic sources of critical minerals, the Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (Earth MRI) was established to identify and prioritize areas for acquisition of new geologic mapping, geophysical data, and elevation data to improve our knowledge of the geologic framework of the United States. Phase 1 of Earth MRI concentrated on those geologic terranes favorable for hosting the rare earth elements (REEs). Phase 2 continued to address the REEs and also identified focus areas for potential domestic sources of 10 more of the 35 critical minerals on the U.S. critical minerals list (aluminum, cobalt, graphite, lithium, niobium, platinum-group elements, tantalum, tin, titanium, tungsten). This report describes the methodology, data sources, and summary results for mineral systems that host these 11 critical minerals in the conterminous United States, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico; Alaska is covered in a separate report. The mineral systems framework adopted for this study links critical mineral commodities to families of genetically related mineral deposit types. The mineral systems approach is an efficient approach, providing a simultaneous evaluation of geologic terranes through aggregation of genetically related mineral deposit types that are much larger than individual ore deposits. Geologic, geochemical, topographic, and geophysical mapping provided by Earth MRI will document geologic features that reflect the extent of individual mineral systems and provide information about critical mineral deposits that may not have been recognized previously.

Each critical mineral commodity is discussed in terms of importance to the Nation’s economy, modes of occurrence, mineral systems, and deposit types along with maps and tables listing examples of focus areas for each critical mineral. Important mineral systems for these critical minerals include chemical weathering systems for aluminum (bauxite); placer systems for titanium and REEs; metamorphic systems for graphite; mafic magmatic systems for platinum-group elements and cobalt; lacustrine evaporite and porphyry tin systems for lithium; and copper-molybdenum-gold (Cu-Mo-Au) systems for tungsten. REEs occur in many different mineral systems. Focus areas were developed by scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey in collaboration with scientists from State geological surveys and other institutions. This first national-scale compilation of focus areas represents an initial step in addressing the Nation’s critical mineral needs by screening areas for acquisition of new data to provide the geologic framework necessary for identifying domestic sources of critical minerals.

A new decision support tool for collaborative adaptive vegetation management in northern Great Plains national parks

Released September 18, 2020 08:04 EST

2020, Parks Stewardship Forum (3)

Isabel W. Ashton, Amy Symstad, Heather Baldwin, Max Post van der Burg, Steven Bekedam, Erin Borgman, Milton Haar, Terri Hogan, Stephanie Rockwood, Daniel J Swanson, Carmen Thomson, Cody Wienk

National Park Service (NPS) units in the northern Great Plains (NGP) were established to preserve and interpret the history of America, protect and showcase unusual geology and paleontology, and provide a home for vanishing large wildlife. A unifying feature among these national parks, monuments, and historic sites is mixed-grass prairie, which not only provides background scenery but is the very foundation of many park missions. As recognition of the prairie’s importance to park fundamental resources and values has grown, so too has the realization that invasive plants threaten these values by reducing native species diversity, altering food webs, and marring the visitor experience. Parks manage invasive species despite uncertainties in treatment effectiveness because management cannot wait for research to provide definitive answers. Under these circumstances, adaptive management (AM) is an appropriate approach. In the NGP, we formed a collaborative adaptive vegetation management team to apply AM towards reducing invasive species (with a focus on exotic annual grasses) and improving native vegetation conditions. In our AM framework, the team uses a Bayesian model built from NPS Inventory & Monitoring and Fire Effects monitoring data and experimental results to predict the effects of management actions on park management units, according to those units’ vegetation condition and management history. These predictions inform management decisions, which are then applied.

Use of time domain electromagnetic soundings and borehole electromagnetic induction logs to delineate the freshwater/saltwater interface on southwestern Long Island, New York, 2015–17

Released September 17, 2020 14:25 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1093

Frederick Stumm, Michael D. Como, Marie A. Zuck

The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, used surface and borehole geophysical methods to delineate the freshwater/saltwater interface in coastal plain aquifers along the southwestern part of Long Island, New York. Over pumping of groundwater in the early 20th century combined with freshwater/saltwater interfaces at the coastline created saltwater intrusion in the upper glacial, Jameco, Magothy, and Lloyd aquifers. This study documents, for the first time, extensive saltwater intrusion of the Lloyd aquifer along the southwestern coast of Long Island, N.Y. Several public-supply wells in the southern parts of Nassau, Queens, and Kings Counties have been adversely affected by saltwater intrusion causing supply wells to be shutdown and abandoned. Due to the ongoing groundwater pumping in southern Nassau County, the freshwater/saltwater interface requires delineation and monitoring for any inland movement.

In 2015–17, the U.S. Geological Survey collected time domain electromagnetic soundings at 12 locations and borehole electromagnetic induction conductivity logs at 9 wells within the study area to delineate several saltwater intrusion wedges. The upper glacial, Jameco, and Magothy aquifers were grouped into one aquifer complex within the study area to simplify interpretations. The coastal plain sediments increase in thickness from west to east and north to south because of their regional dip toward the southeast. Three separate wedges, shallow, intermediate, and deep, of saltwater intrusion were delineated in the upper glacial, Jameco, and Magothy aquifer complex. In addition, analysis of geophysical logs collected in an open borehole of a test well in southern Queens County in 1989 revealed the Lloyd aquifer was nearly completely intruded by saltwater with an estimated chloride concentration of 15,000 milligrams per liter. The geophysical logs from this well provides, for the first time, definitive proof of saltwater intrusion of the Lloyd aquifer on Long Island’s south shore, suggesting the freshwater/saltwater interface was at the coastline and not miles offshore as theorized by previous studies.

Focus areas for data acquisition for potential domestic resources of 11 critical minerals in Alaska—Aluminum, cobalt, graphite, lithium, niobium, platinum group elements, rare earth elements, tantalum, tin, titanium, and tungsten, chap. C of U.S. Geological Survey, Focus areas for data acquisition for potential domestic sources of critical minerals

Released September 17, 2020 13:50 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2019-1023-C

Douglas C. Kreiner, James V. Jones III

Phase 2 of the Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (Earth MRI) focuses on geologic belts that are favorable for hosting mineral systems that may contain select critical minerals. Phase 1 of the Earth MRI program focused on rare earth elements (REE), and phase 2 adds aluminum, cobalt, graphite, lithium, niobium, platinum-group metals, tantalum, tin, titanium, and tungsten. This report describes the methodology and techniques utilized to define focus areas for future data acquisition in Alaska; the conterminous United States are covered in a separate report.

Definition of focus areas relies on a mineral systems framework that considers geologic features that may influence or control the formation and preservation of a mineral deposit and links the critical commodities to genetically related processes. Mineral systems are therefore larger than any given deposit. Evaluation of these larger systems allows for a broader understanding of how and where critical minerals may move through geologic systems.

Delineation of focus areas in Alaska was informed by statewide geological, geochemical, geophysical, and mineral occurrence datasets that are publicly available. Additionally, previously published prospectivity analyses for six different critical mineral-bearing deposit types help identify focus areas. A total of 74 focus areas prospective for the phase 2 critical minerals that occur in 12 different mineral systems were defined in Alaska. Identified focus areas may be used to guide future geologic, geochemical, and geophysical data in the State of Alaska.

U.S. Geological Survey sagebrush ecosystem research annual report for 2020

Released September 17, 2020 08:15 EST

2020, Circular 1470

Steven E. Hanser, Lief A. Wiechman, editor(s)

The sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) ecosystem extends across 251,473 square miles over portions of 13 western States. Affected by multiple stressors, including interactions among fire, invasive plants, and human land uses, this ecosystem has experienced significant loss, fragmentation, and degradation of landscapes once dominated by sagebrush. In turn, wildlife populations have declined following these deleterious conditions. Federal, State, local, and Tribal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and industry have been galvanized by declining wildlife populations to implement management actions to confront the impacts of these stressors and ensure the long-term availability of the sagebrush ecosystem for the broad range of uses critical to stakeholders in the Western United States.

The sagebrush ecosystem provides habitat for more than 350 species of plants and animals that are dependent on sagebrush for all or part of their annual life history. The greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) stands out as an iconic species of this ecosystem. Sage-grouse populations occur in 11 States, and 2 Canadian Provinces and require relatively large expanses of sagebrush-dominated habitat to meet all their seasonal habitat needs. Recent management actions to conserve and maintain the sagebrush ecosystem have focused on the protection and restoration of sage-grouse habitat; however, each of the 350 species has a unique life history and differing area requirements (for example, large areas for mule deer [Odocoileus hemionus] and small areas for pygmy rabbit [Brachylagus idahoensis]), and some species, such as migratory birds, rely on various parts of the sagebrush ecosystem but only for part of the year (for example, Brewer’s sparrow [Spizella breweri]).

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has a broad research program focused on the sagebrush ecosystem, wildlife species within the ecosystem, and the species’ response to stressors and management actions. The program provides a foundation of scientific information for use in major land and resource management decisions in the sagebrush ecosystem. By providing the science to inform these decisions, the USGS is assisting land and resource managers at the Federal, State, Tribal, and local levels working towards the goal of sustainable wildlife populations and restored landscapes. This information can inform planning and management conducted by nongovernmental organizations as well.

USGS research is tailored specifically to inform adaptive management, improve strategies for maintaining existing areas of intact sagebrush, and restoring degraded landscapes. Examples of research support for partners include providing information for actions such as the preclusion of the need to list the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act and recent revisions to Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service resource management plans and land use. The USGS continues to provide foundational science to inform science-based decisions within the U.S. Department of the Interior and other Federal, State, and local agencies and their continued conservation, management, and restoration of the sagebrush ecosystem to help support local economies.

Temperature and water-quality diversity and the effects of surface-water connection in off-channel features of the Willamette River, Oregon, 2015–16

Released September 16, 2020 13:50 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5068

Cassandra D. Smith, Joseph F. Mangano, Stewart A. Rounds

Water-quality conditions (including temperature) in the Willamette River and many of its adjacent off-channel features, such as alcoves and side channels, were monitored between river miles 67 (near Salem, Oregon) and 168 (near Eugene, Oregon) during the summers of 2015 and 2016. One or more parameters (water temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, specific conductance, and [or] water depth) were continuously measured at sites in the main channel (9 sites in 2015; 5 sites in 2016) and select off-channel features (20 features in 2015; 22 features in 2016). This study was initiated in reaction to the unusually warm, dry weather and resulting low streamflows that occurred in the Pacific Northwest in 2015 and the need for flow managers to understand the effects of streamflow on water-quality conditions in off-channel features of the Willamette River. Field monitoring was focused on documenting water-quality conditions during low summer streamflows and during fluctuations in streamflow, including when side channels became alcoves and reconnected to become side channels again.

Water in the main channel of the Willamette River upstream from river mile 50 near Newberg typically is well mixed during summer, with warm water temperatures (greater than 18 degrees Celsius) and high dissolved-oxygen concentrations (often greater than 7.7 milligrams per liter). During low summer flows, a diverse suite of off-channel features exists adjacent to the main channel of the Willamette River. Despite temporal and spatial variability within individual features, comparison of continuous water-temperature data between the main channel and off-channel features indicated that some off-channel features were consistently cooler than the main channel, some were consistently warmer than the main channel, and others frequently fluctuated between warmer or cooler than the main channel. Site-specific characteristics including upstream connection, depth, and presence or absence of aquatic or riparian vegetation were factors that seemed to affect the water quality of a feature.

Results from this study showed a relation between the geomorphology, hydrology, ecology, and water quality of an off-channel feature. Data confirmed that many features that can be classified as cold-water refuges based on water-temperature standards also contained low concentrations of dissolved oxygen that may not be suitable for sensitive fish species. A simplified site classification scheme is proposed that links water-quality conditions in measured off-channel features with site-specific characteristics and summer streamflows. The site classification scheme was extended to create a theoretical process matrix that relates measured water-quality conditions to a list of the processes and site-specific characteristics that could create those conditions.

Potential impacts of mercury released from thawing permafrost

Released September 16, 2020 10:22 EST

2020, Nature-Communications (11)

Kevin Schaefer, Yasin Elshorbany, Elchin Jafarov, Paul F. Schuster, Robert G. Striegl, Kimberly P. Wickland, Elsie M. Sunderland

Mercury (Hg) is a naturally occurring element that bonds with organic matter and, when converted to methylmercury, is a potent neurotoxicant. Here we estimate potential future releases of Hg from thawing permafrost for low and high greenhouse gas emissions scenarios using a mechanistic model. By 2200, the high emissions scenario shows annual permafrost Hg emissions to the atmosphere comparable to current global anthropogenic emissions. By 2100, simulated Hg concentrations in the Yukon River increase by 14% for the low emissions scenario, but double for the high emissions scenario. Fish Hg concentrations do not exceed United States Environmental Protection Agency guidelines for the low emissions scenario by 2300, but for the high emissions scenario, fish in the Yukon River exceed EPA guidelines by 2050. Our results indicate minimal impacts to Hg concentrations in water and fish for the low emissions scenario and high impacts for the high emissions scenario.

Development of a method to identify complex wells and assess the accuracy of basin withdrawals in Utah

Released September 16, 2020 09:09 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1106

Brittany L. Gold, Cory E. Angeroth, Thomas M. Marston

Power consumption coefficients (PCCs) and dedicated flowmeter records for irrigation wells in three Utah groundwater basins were analyzed to develop a method to better characterize the accuracy of annual groundwater withdrawal estimates. The PCC method has been used by the U.S. Geological Survey in Utah since 1963 as a way to estimate groundwater withdrawal. As a result, most irrigation wells in Utah have historic records consisting of multiple PCCs. Over time, numerous wells have been retrofitted with dedicated flowmeters to more accurately describe groundwater use for irrigation. The combination of historical PCCs and flowmeter data was examined to classify wells as simple, complex, or borderline. The PCCs for each well were statistically analyzed for each period of record to determine the PCC coefficient of variation (CV). Variance, standard deviation, and CV also were calculated for each well, yielding similar results. The CV was selected as the best statistical method for classifying wells. Through field verification and examination of records, CV thresholds were established, allowing wells to be classified as simple, complex, or borderline. This well classification provides information on the uncertainty and best methods for quantifying annual groundwater withdrawals from irrigation wells in a basin. 

Annual irrigation groundwater withdrawals in Tooele, Parowan, and Goshen Valleys were calculated by using various combinations of historical PCC records and data from dedicated flowmeters. Differences between annual groundwater withdrawal using the most recent measurements, and historic minimum, maximum, mean, and median PCCs were compared. The smallest percent difference between annual groundwater withdrawal calculated using the most recently measured PCCs, which is the current method for calculating withdrawal in most basins, in Tooele and Parowan Valleys, was 7 and 9 percent respectively, using historical median and mean. 

In Goshen Valley, most wells have dedicated flowmeters, and there is a subset of wells that have 2016 power usage data, historical PCC records, and 2016 reported dedicated flowmeter withdrawal. Using this subset of irrigation wells, the smallest percent different between withdrawal from dedicated flowmeters and withdrawal calculated by using other methods was 5 percent (using withdrawal calculated with historical mean PCCs for each well). Annual groundwater withdrawal calculated using the most recently measured PCCs was 9-percent less than dedicated flowmeter reported withdrawal. So, if withdrawal from dedicated flowmeters is as close to reality as possible, then in the case of Goshen Valley, using historical mean PCCs to calculate withdrawal is closer to reality than using the most recently measured PCCs to calculate withdrawal.

Distribution and abundance of Aquila chrysaetos (golden eagles) in East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan area, California

Released September 16, 2020 06:43 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1107

J. David Wiens, Patrick S. Kolar, Douglas A. Bell

The East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan (HCP/NCCP) Preserve System was designed to protect and enhance ecological diversity and function in eastern Contra Costa County, California. Aquila chrysaetos (golden eagle) is a special-status species expected to benefit from biological goals of the HCP/NCCP. As part of a broader study, we estimated site-occupancy, abundance, and reproduction of golden eagles in the HCP/NCCP inventory area in 2019. We completed 99 surveys and recorded a total of 50 detections of territorial pairs of eagles at 20 (67 percent) of 30 sites (13.9-square-kilometer [km2] plots). Detection probability of territorial pairs was highest in January and February (≥0.75) and lowest in mid-June to late July (<0.50). After correcting for imperfect detection, the expected probability of site-occupancy was 0.69 (standard error [SE] = 0.09), and mean expected abundance was 0.76 pairs per site (SE = 0.16), or 27.4 pairs per 500 km2. We found evidence of successful nesting (≥1 young fledged) for 3 (14 percent) of 22 pairs of eagles monitored in 2019. Our study design and baseline results should be useful for future monitoring and conservation of golden eagles in the HCP/NCCP area.

How plants influence resilience of salt marsh and mangrove wetlands to sea-level rise

Released September 15, 2020 12:13 EST

2020, Estuaries and Coasts

Donald R. Cahoon, Karen L. McKee, James Morris

This review evaluates the importance of plants and associated biological processes in determining the vulnerability of coastal wetlands to sea-level rise. Coastal wetlands occur across a broad sedimentary continuum from minerogenic to biogenic, providing an opportunity to examine the relative importance of biological processes in wetland resilience to sea-level rise. We explore how plants influence sediment accretion, elevation capital (vertical position in the tidal frame), and compaction or erosion of deposited material. We focus on salt marsh and mangrove wetlands, which occupy a similar physiographic niche and display similar physical and biological controls on resilience to sea-level rise. In both habitats, plants stabilize emergent mudflats and help sustain the wetland position in the tidal frame relative to ocean height through both surface and subsurface process controls on soil elevation. Plants influence soil elevations by modifying (1) mineral sediment deposition and retention, (2) organic matter contributions to soil volume, and (3) resistance to compaction and erosion. Recognition of the importance of plants in coastal wetland resilience to sea-level rise is key to accurate predictions about the future fate of salt marshes and mangrove forests and for development of effective management and restoration plans.

Land-use change and future water demand in California’s central coast

Released September 14, 2020 07:07 EST

2020, Land (9) 322-343

Tamara Wilson, N. Van Schmidt, Ruth Langridge

Understanding future land-use related water demand is important for planners and resource managers in identifying potential shortages and crafting mitigation strategies. This is especially the case for regions dependent on limited local groundwater supplies. For the groundwater dependent Central Coast of California, we developed two scenarios of future land use and water demand based on sampling from a historical land change record: a business-as-usual scenario (BAU; 1992–2016) and a recent-modern scenario (RM; 2002–2016). We modeled the scenarios in the stochastic, empirically based, spatially explicit LUCAS state-and-transition simulation model at a high resolution (270-m) for the years 2001–2100 across 10 Monte Carlo simulations, applying current land zoning restrictions. Under the BAU scenario, regional water demand increased by an estimated ~222.7 Mm3 by 2100, driven by the continuation of perennial cropland expansion as well as higher than modern urbanization rates. Since 2000, mandates have been in place restricting new development unless adequate water resources could be identified. Despite these restrictions, water demand dramatically increased in the RM scenario by 310.6 Mm3 by century’s end, driven by the projected continuation of dramatic orchard and vineyard expansion trends. Overall, increased perennial cropland leads to a near doubling to tripling perennial water demand by 2100. Our scenario projections can provide water managers and policy makers with information on diverging land use and water use futures based on observed land change and water use trends, helping to better inform land and resource management decisions.

Comparison of anadromous and landlocked Atlantic salmon genomes reveals signatures of parallel and relaxed selection across the northern hemisphere

Released September 13, 2020 06:56 EST

2020, Evolutionary Applications

Erik Kjaerner-Semb, Rolf B Edvardsen, Fernando Ayllon, Petra Vogelsang, Tomasz Furmanek, Carl Johan Rubin, Alexey E. Vaselov, Tom Ole Nilsen, Stephen D. McCormick, Craig R Primmer, Anna Wargelius

Most Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) populations follow an anadromous life cycle, spending early life in freshwater, migrating to the sea for feeding and returning to rivers to spawn. At the end of the last ice age ~10,000 years ago, several populations of Atlantic salmon became landlocked. Comparing their genomes to their anadromous counterparts can help identify genetic variation related to either freshwater residency or anadromy. The objective of this study was to identify consistently divergent loci between anadromous and landlocked Atlantic salmon strains throughout their geographical distribution, with the long‐term aim of identifying traits relevant for salmon aquaculture, including fresh and seawater growth, omega‐3 metabolism, smoltification and disease resistance. We used a Pool‐seq approach (n=10‐40 individuals per population) to sequence the genomes of twelve anadromous and six landlocked Atlantic salmon populations covering a large part of the northern hemisphere and conducted a genome‐wide association study to identify genomic regions having been under different selection pressure in landlocked and anadromous strains. A total of 28 genomic regions were identified, and included cadm1 on Chr 13, and ppargc1a on Chr 18. Seven of the regions additionally displayed consistently reduced heterozygosity in fish obtained from landlocked populations, including the genes gpr132cdca4 and sertad2 on Chr 15. We also found 16 regions, including igf1 on Chr 17, which consistently display reduced heterozygosity in the anadromous populations compared to the freshwater populations, indicating relaxed selection on traits associated with anadromy in landlocked salmon. In conclusion, we have identified 37 regions which may harbor genetic variation relevant for improving fish welfare and quality in the salmon farming industry and for understanding life history traits in fish.

Geomagnetism Program research plan, 2020–2024

Released September 11, 2020 15:15 EST

2020, Circular 1469

Jeffrey J. Love, Anna Kelbert, Benjamin S. Murphy, E. Joshua Rigler, Kristen A. Lewis

The Geomagnetism Program of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) monitors geomagnetic field variation through operation of a network of observatories across the United States and its territories, and it pursues scientific research needed to estimate and assess geomagnetic and geoelectric hazards. Over the next five years (2020–2024 inclusive) and in support of national and agency priorities, Geomagnetism Program research scientists plan to pursue an integrated set of research projects broadly encompassing empirical estimation and mapping of geomagnetic disturbance, modeling of solid-Earth conductivity structure and surface impedance, and mapping of magnetic-storm-induced geoelectric fields. Analyses are empirically based, relying on measured time series as well as statistical and numerical modeling of geomagnetic-monitoring data from ground-based observatories and surface-impedance tensors acquired during magnetotelluric surveys. The plan describes augmentation and development of the Geomagnetism Program's existing research portfolio, assuming present funding levels and staffing numbers. Because the projects are interdependent, they cannot be straightforwardly prioritized. They will all be pursued as resources and time permit; additional funding and staffing would enable the projects to be broadened and more rapidly completed. Where appropriate and subject to budgetary constraints and staffing numbers, research on specific projects might be accelerated or even judiciously expanded—some opportunities for expansion are discussed in this plan. Results will provide realistic illumination of the nature of the ground-level expression of space-weather disturbance, a subject of particular importance for projects focused on evaluating the vulnerability of electric-power-grid systems. This plan does not cover Geomagnetism Program operations, which are primarily concerned with the operation of magnetic observatories and, now, magnetotelluric surveys, although the context of such observatories and surveys is discussed. The research element of the program provides guidance for the expansion of program operations and research projects. In addition to the research projects summarized here, program scientists continue to provide leadership to the national and international geomagnetic, magnetotelluric, and space-weather communities.

What are the effects of climate variability and change on ungulate life-histories, population dynamics, and migration in western North America? A systematic map protocol

Released September 11, 2020 08:21 EST

2020, Environmental Evidence (9)

Kate Malpeli, Sarah R. Weiskopf, Laura Thompson, Amanda R. Hardy

Climate is an important driver of ungulate life-histories, population dynamics, and migratory behaviors, and can affect the growth, development, fecundity, dispersal, and demographic trends of populations. Changes in temperature and precipitation, and resulting shifts in plant phenology, winter severity, drought and wildfire conditions, invasive species distribution and abundance, predation, and disease have the potential to directly or indirectly affect ungulates. However, ungulate responses to climate variability and change are not uniform and vary by species and geography. Here, we present a systematic map protocol aiming to describe the abundance and distribution of evidence on the effects of climate variability and change on ungulate life-histories, population dynamics, and migration in North America. This map will help to identify knowledge gaps and clusters of evidence, and can be used to inform future research directions and adaptive management strategies.

Impacts of periodic dredging on macroinvertebrate prey availability for benthic foraging fishes in central San Francisco Bay, California

Released September 11, 2020 07:59 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1086

Susan E. W. De La Cruz, Isa Woo, Laurie Hall, Alison Flanagan, Hannah Mittelstaedt


Because of its importance for species covered under Federal Fishery Management Plans (FMPs), the San Francisco Bay (SFB) estuary has been designated as Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA; 16 United States Code §18559b). Within this estuary, benthic macroinvertebrate communities provide important prey resources for many economically significant fish species that rely on EFH. Periodic maintenance dredging can impact benthic communities; however, there is a lack of scientific information specific to SFB regarding dredging effects on macroinvertebrates in fish foraging areas. In addition, rates of benthic community recolonization and recovery following dredging and subsequent effects on foraging fish are unknown. For this reason, it is difficult for regulatory and resource agencies to determine the impacts of maintenance dredging. Thus, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the consortium of agencies (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], U.S. Army Corp of Engineers [USACE], San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board [SFRWQCB], and San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission [BCDC]) that make up the San Francisco Bay Long Term Management Strategy for Dredging (LTMS) identified a study of dredging impacts on SFB fish foraging habitat as one of their highest priorities in their 2011 Programmatic EFH Agreement (U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2011). 

The LTMS agencies identified the region of interest as shallow (<13 feet [<4 meters (m)] mean lower low water [MLLW]), soft-bottom (silt/clay soil texture) areas in the Central Bay of SFB that were periodically dredged (every 1–3 years). Fish species of interest were compiled by NMFS and included those managed by the Pacific Groundfish, Pacific Salmon, and Coastal Pelagic FMPs (pursuant to the MSA) as well as those listed under the California State or Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA; 16 U.S.C. §1531–1544) as threatened or endangered. Target species included leopard shark (Triakis semifasciata), big skate (Raja binoculata), English sole (Parophrys vetulus), starry flounder (Platichthys stellatus), brown rockfish (Sebastes auriculatus), green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris; threatened species under Federal ESA), northern anchovy (Engraulis mordax), longfin smelt (Spirinchus thaleichthys, threatened under California ESA), and Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax). In addition, Dungeness crab (Cancer magister), California halibut (Paralichthys californicus), and white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) also were included because they are substantial contributors to the California State fishery. 

To address LTMS priorities, U.S. Geological Survey, Western Ecological Research Center, San Francisco Bay Estuary Field Station (hereafter USGS) conducted a multi-phased project including an initial literature review, study design, pilot study, and implementation of a full study. The overarching goal was to assess the effects of periodic dredge operations (every 1–3 years) on benthic habitat for foraging fish in the Central Bay, with emphasis on the foraging requirements of target fish species and analyses of benthic macroinvertebrates in dredged areas compared to adjacent undredged reference areas. The USGS partnered with University of California, Davis, fisheries expert James Hobbs to synthesize existing knowledge of fish foraging ecology and review benthic infauna community composition in SFB with a focus on the Central Bay. The literature review (Phase I; De La Cruz and others, 2016) addressed key questions identified by the LTMS on benthic foraging fish in the study area, including the following: (1) What are target fish eating? (2) What are the seasonal differences in prey items and macroinvertebrate assemblages? (3) What are the annual differences in prey items and macroinvertebrate assemblages? (4) What are the predominant macroinvertebrate functional groups from the perspective of fish foraging? Phase II consisted of creating a framework for a functional assessment of maintenance dredging effects on foraging fish and drafting a full study design (De La Cruz and others, 2017), which was then tested in the Phase III pilot study. The Phase IV full study incorporated lessons learned from the pilot study. Here we focus on the results of the full study and implications for benthic foraging fishes.

Keystone predators govern the pathway and pace of climate impacts in a subarctic marine ecosystem

Released September 11, 2020 07:41 EST

2020, Science (369) 1351-1354

Douglas B Rasher, Robert S Stenek, Jochen Halfar, Kristy J Kroeker, Justin B. Ries, M. Tim Tinker, Phoebe T W Chan, J Fietzke, Nicolas Kamenos, Brenda H. Konar, Jonathan S. Lefcheck, Christopher J D Norley, Ben Weitzman, Issac T Westfield, James A Estes

Predator loss and climate change are hallmarks of the Anthropocene yet their interactive effects are largely unknown. Here, we show that massive calcareous reefs, built slowly by the alga Clathromorphum nereostratum over centuries to millennia, are now declining because of the emerging interplay between these two processes. Such reefs, the structural base of Aleutian kelp forests, are rapidly eroding because of overgrazing by herbivores. Historical reconstructions and experiments reveal that overgrazing was initiated by the loss of sea otters, Enhydra lutris (which gave rise to herbivores capable of causing bioerosion), and then accelerated with ocean warming and acidification (which increased per capita lethal grazing by 34 to 60% compared with preindustrial times). Thus, keystone predators can mediate the ways in which climate effects emerge in nature and the pace with which they alter ecosystems.

40 years strong—Long-time Geoscience Australia, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) partnership benefits both agencies and the world

Released September 10, 2020 13:24 EST

2020, General Information Product 206

U.S. Geological Survey

In 1979, the Australian Government chose the city of Alice Springs to host a Landsat Ground Station because of its location in central Australia. This location enables satellite coverage of the entire Australian continent. Its antennas have played a key role in supporting international satellite programs over more than 40 years.

Assessment of undiscovered gas resources of the Sacramento Basin Province in California, 2019

Released September 10, 2020 12:00 EST

2020, Fact Sheet 2020-3036

Christopher J. Schenk, Tracey J. Mercier, Marilyn E. Tennyson, Cheryl A. Woodall, Kristen R. Marra, Heidi M. Leathers-Miller, Phuong A. Le

Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated undiscovered, technically recoverable mean resources of 512 billion cubic feet of gas in the Upper Jurassic–Neogene Total Petroleum System of the Sacramento Basin Province in California.

Spatial and temporal patterns in streamflow, water chemistry, and aquatic macroinvertebrates of selected streams in Fairfax County, Virginia, 2007–18

Released September 10, 2020 09:35 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5061

Aaron J. Porter, James S. Webber, Jonathan W. Witt, John D. Jastram

Urbanization substantially alters the landscape in ways that can impact stream hydrology, water chemistry, and the health of aquatic communities. Stormwater best management practices (BMPs) are the primary tools used to mitigate the effects of urban stressors such as increased runoff, decreased baseflow, and increased nutrient and sediment transport. To date, Fairfax County Virginia’s stormwater management program has made substantial investments into the implementation of both structural and nonstructural BMPs aimed at restoring and protecting watersheds. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with Fairfax County, Virginia, established a long-term water-resources monitoring program to evaluate the watershed-scale effects of these investments. Monitoring began at 14 stations in 2007 and was expanded to 20 stations in 2013. This report utilized the first 10 years of data collection to (1) assess water quantity and quality, as well as ecological condition; (2) compute annual nutrient and sediment loads; and (3) evaluate trends in streamflow, water quality, and ecological condition. Efforts are underway to link the biotic and abiotic patterns described herein to watershed management practices as well as factors such as land use change, public works infrastructure, and climate.

Hydrologic, chemical, and benthic macroinvertebrate community conditions in the streams monitored were similar to those observed in other studies of urban streams. Multidecadal trends in baseflow indices and runoff ratios at long-term Chesapeake Bay Non-tidal Network streamgages (CB-NTN) indicate a decrease in groundwater recharge and increase in storm runoff as a result of urbanization. Streamflow yields varied spatially with land cover, geology, and soil characteristics, whereas flashiness was positively related to impervious area. Dissolved oxygen typically was lowest in the Coastal Plain and across all Triassic Lowlands streams, and highest in the Piedmont. Dissolved oxygen concentrations generally were above Virginia’s minimum criterion of 4.0 milligrams per liter (mg/L), most violations occurred at Paul Spring Branch in the Coastal Plain during the warmest months of the year owing to increased chemical and biological oxygen demand. Typical pH values of the monitored streams centered on neutrality (pH = 7); however, diurnal fluctuations were most prevalent in the continuous pH data at Flatlick Branch (FLAT; a Triassic Lowlands station), as a result of increased photosynthesis catalyzed by phosphorus-rich geology. Specific conductance (SC) varied spatially owing to geology (highest at Triassic Lowlands stations) and anthropogenic disturbance (watersheds with high impervious land cover). Specific conductance typically was inversely related to streamflow except in winter months following deicing road salt applications, when values increased by several orders of magnitude. A significant increase in SC of about 2 percent per year was observed from the combined trend result of all monitoring stations over the 10-year period. Significant SC increases occurred at nearly all monitoring stations. Increasing trends were observed during winter and nonwinter months, which suggests that salts applied to deice roadways and other impervious surfaces are stored in the environment and released year-round.

Suspended-sediment (SS) concentrations in monthly samples did not vary significantly between most stations, but typically were highest in the spring and lowest in the fall as a result of seasonal differences in streamflow and climate. Suspended-sediment yields ranged from 62 to 1,428 tons per square mile (ton/mi2), with a median of 302 ton/mi2. Annual loads were greatest during the wettest water years (October 1-September 30; 2008, 2011, and 2014), with the greatest interannual variability occurring at Difficult Run above Fox Lake (DIFF) and South Fork Little Difficult Run (SFLIL). Suspended sediment was primarily composed of silts and clays; however, the proportion of sand in suspended sediment was related positively to streamflow. Cross-correlation analyses suggested the dominant sources of SS were streambank erosion and resuspension of in-channel material at DIFF and FLAT; whereas, upland sources and erosion of upper streambanks were more common at Dead Run (DEAD), Long Branch (LONG), and SFLIL.

Median total phosphorus (TP) concentrations ranged from 0.016 to 0.077 mg/L, with a networkwide median of 0.022 mg/L, were highest in the warm season (April-September), and were composed primarily of dissolved phosphorous. Although TP concentrations were relatively low across the network, the highest concentrations were consistently at stations located in the Triassic Lowlands, owing to phosphorous-rich geology, and in the Coastal Plain, owing to the low-phosphorous sorptive capacity of those soils. A significant increase in TP concentration occurred in a few stations, but the combined trend results from all stations demonstrated a significant increase of about 4 percent per year. Networkwide increases were also observed in total dissolved phosphorus, orthophosphate, and total particulate phosphorus. The composition of TP shifted from dissolved to particulate as streamflow increased and for this reason loads primarily were composed of particulate phosphorous. Median annual TP loads were highest at FLAT and DEAD and ranged from 247 to 642 pounds per square mile (lbs/mi2) networkwide. Interannual variability in phosphorous yields was apparent at most stations; the highest loading years were also the wettest years during the study period and coincident with the highest peak annual flows.

Total nitrogen (TN) concentrations typically were low throughout the network with exceptions occurring at stations located in watersheds with a high density of septic infrastructure. Elevated TN concentrations also were observed in some watersheds without a high density of septic systems and may be attributable to geologic and soil properties that limit denitrification as well as other unknown anthropogenic inputs. Total nitrogen typically was dominated by nitrate during baseflows; however, the proportion of particulate nitrogen increased during stormflows. Total nitrogen yields were similar across stations, with medians ranging from about 3,600 to 6,300 lbs/mi2 and were related to annual streamflow volume. Total nitrogen concentrations and flow-normalized concentrations decreased over the 10-year period at 7 stations, with median reductions of about 2.5 percent. Increasing trends were observed at the two stations with the highest median TN concentration (Captain Hickory Run and SFLIL, 3–5 mg/L), both watersheds contain a high density of septic infrastructure. The combined trend results from all stations revealed no trend in TN and a declining trend in nitrate of about 2 percent per year.

Overall, benthic community metrics indicated that streams throughout Fairfax County were initially of poor health; however, many metrics show an improving trend (from poor to fair based on the Fairfax County Index of Biological Integrity [IBI]). Significant increasing trends in IBI occurred at the network-scale and at 4 individual stations; additionally, scores improved by at least 1 qualitative category (for example, poor to fair, fair to good) at 11 of the 14 stations between 2009 (the first year all 14 stations were sampled) and 2017. Changes in all metrics suggest that the biodiversity, function, and condition of streams in Fairfax County are improving, but some of these improvements are driven by increased diversity and percent composition of organisms that are tolerant of the urban environment.

Spatial and vertical bias in down-looking ship-based acoustic estimates of fish density in Lake Superior: Lessons learned from multi-directional acoustics

Released September 10, 2020 09:20 EST

2020, Journal of Great Lakes Research

Ryan C Grow, Thomas R. Hrabik, Daniel Yule, Bryan G. Matthias, Jared T. Myers, Chad Abel

Hydroacoustic surveys using hull-mounted down-looking transducers are useful for estimating pelagic fish densities; however, this method may miss shallow fish owing to the acoustic surface dead zone and vessel avoidance. Our objective was to compare pelagic fish density estimates acquired by a traditional down-looking acoustic survey to estimates obtained by a new multi-directional-towed sled capable of sampling the entire water column using upward-, sideways-, and downward-aimed transducers simultaneously. We deployed both systems concurrently in the western arm of Lake Superior during a period of stable stratification. We found the two survey approaches provided significantly different estimates of fish density in the upper water column layer (~4–9 m below the lake surface) with the sled up-looking transducer providing 56 times higher densities compared to the traditional ship down-looking method. Densities also varied significantly in the 9–14 m layer where densities were 6.2 times higher in the sled survey. Midwater trawl sampling indicated that cisco (Coregonus artedi) and rainbow smelt (Osmerus mordax) were the predominant species occupying the uppermost 14 m of the water column. The two acoustic approaches provided similar results at water column depths >14 m where rainbow smelt and kiyi (Coregonus kiyi) were predominant. Overall, the sled-based method estimates were, on average, 2.5 times higher for the whole water column. Our findings show that the new sled can reduce bias by better sampling the surface dead zone leading to more accurate estimation of pelagic fish densities for both management and research.

Microbiomes from biorepositories? 16S rRNA bacterial amplicon sequencing of archived and contemporary intestinal samples of wild mammals (Eulipotyphla: Soricidae)

Released September 10, 2020 07:26 EST

2020, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution

Stephen E. Greiman, Joseph A. Cook, Timothy Odem, Katelyn Cranmer, Schuyler W Liphardt, Damian M. Menning, Sarah A. Sonsthagen, Sandra L. Talbot

Interest in gut microbial community composition has exploded recently as a result of the increasing ability to characterize these organisms and a growing understanding of their role in host fitness. New technologies, such as next generation amplicon (16S rRNA) sequencing, have enabled identification of bacterial communities from samples of diverse origin (e.g., fecal, skin, genital, environmental, etc.). Relatively little work, however, has explored the feasibility of utilizing historical samples (e.g., museum archived samples) of varying age, quality, and preservation type. Because natural history collections span multiple decades, these biorepositories have the potential to provide fundamental historical baselines to measure and better understand biodiversity on a changing planet. Utilizing even a small proportion of museum specimens could provide a means of sampling past microbial communities, allowing for direct comparison to contemporary communities and more complete understanding of dynamic shifts through time. We examined the feasibility of obtaining 16S rRNA amplicon microbiome data from whole gastrointestinal tracts (GIs) of shrews of varying age and preservation method, including 5 freshly collected shrew GIs immediately fixed in liquid nitrogen (LN2), 10 ten-year old shrew GIs frozen at −20°C (whole animal), and 10 shrews of varying ages (4 from 1968, 1 from 1980, 1 from 2001, 1 from 2004, 1 from 2007, 1 from 2011 and 2 from 2013) fixed and stored whole in 70% ethanol. Not surprisingly, results of 16S rDNA amplicon sequencing reveal significantly different bacterial communities between different preservation techniques and age of samples. Ten-year old frozen samples had bacterial communities most similar to freshly collected (LN2) samples, while the bacterial communities of both were significantly different from the 70% ethanol preserved samples of various ages. Amongst those preserved in 70% ethanol, age of samples also influenced bacterial community composition. Additionally, we compare results of OTU based and ASV based analyses. Looking ahead, field collectors and museums should develop and adopt best practices related to frozen preservation to ensure adequate material for future microbiome investigations.

The effects of management practices on grassland birds—Sedge Wren (Cistothorus platensis)

Released September 09, 2020 10:42 EST

2020, Professional Paper 1842-V

Jill A. Shaffer, Lawrence D. Igl, Douglas H. Johnson, Marriah L. Sondreal, Christopher M. Goldade, Barry D. Parkin, Travis L. Wooten, Betty R. Euliss

Keys to Sedge Wren (Cistothorus platensis) management include providing tall, dense grasslands with moderate forb coverage and minimizing disturbances during the breeding season. Sedge Wrens have been reported to use habitats with 30–166 centimeters (cm) average vegetation height, 8–80 cm visual obstruction reading, 15–75 percent grass cover, 3–78 percent forb cover, less than or equal to (≤) 15 percent shrub cover, less than (<) 35 percent bare ground, 10–30 percent litter cover, and ≤6 cm litter depth.

The effects of management practices on grassland birds—Lesser Prairie-Chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus)

Released September 09, 2020 10:42 EST

2020, Professional Paper 1842-D

Brent E. Jamison, Lawrence D. Igl, Jill A. Shaffer, Douglas H. Johnson, Christopher M. Goldade, Betty R. Euliss

The key to Lesser Prairie-Chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) management is maintaining expansive sand shinnery oak (Quercus havardii) or sand sagebrush (Artemisia filifolia) grasslands. Within these grasslands, areas should contain short herbaceous cover for lek sites (that is, an area where male prairie-chickens gather to engage in courtship displays to attract mates); shrubs or tall residual grasses for nesting; and areas with about 25 percent canopy cover of shrubs, forbs, or grasses 25–30 centimeters (cm) tall for brood rearing. Historically, the Lesser Prairie-Chicken was considered a gamebird that was hunted throughout its range. In response to low population levels and considerations related to listing the species as State or Federally threatened, recreational hunting seasons currently are closed throughout the species’ range. This account does not address harvest or its effects on populations but instead focuses on the effects of habitat management. Lesser Prairie-Chickens have been reported to use habitats with less than or equal to (≤) 600 cm average vegetation height (including shrubs), ≤70 cm visual obstruction reading, 4–78 percent grass cover, ≤30 percent forb cover, ≤66 percent shrub cover, 3–61 percent bare ground, 2–58 percent litter cover, and ≤3 cm litter depth.

Influenza A viruses remain infectious for more than seven months in northern wetlands of North America

Released September 09, 2020 09:21 EST

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

Andrew M. Ramey, Andrew B. Reeves, Judith Z. Drexler, Joshua T. Ackerman, Susan E. W. De La Cruz, Andrew S. Lang, Christina Leyson, Paul T. Link, Diann Prosser, Gregory J. Robertson, Jordan Wight, Sungsu Youk, Erica Spackman, Mary Pantin-Jackwood, Rebecca L. Poulson, David E. Stallknecht

In this investigation, we used a combination of field- and laboratory-based approaches to assess if influenza A viruses (IAVs) shed by ducks could remain viable for extended periods in surface water within three wetland complexes of North America. In a field experiment, replicate filtered surface water samples inoculated with duck swabs were tested for IAVs upon collection and again after an overwintering period of approximately 6–7 months. Numerous IAVs were molecularly detected and isolated from these samples, including replicates maintained at wetland field sites in Alaska and Minnesota for 181–229 days. In a parallel laboratory experiment, we attempted to culture IAVs from filtered surface water samples inoculated with duck swabs from Minnesota each month during September 2018–April 2019 and found monthly declines in viral viability. In an experimental challenge study, we found that IAVs maintained in filtered surface water within wetlands of Alaska and Minnesota for 214 and 226 days, respectively, were infectious in a mallard model. Collectively, our results support surface waters of northern wetlands as a biologically important medium in which IAVs may be both transmitted and maintained, potentially serving as an environmental reservoir for infectious IAVs during the overwintering period of migratory birds.

High concentration methane hydrate in a silt reservoir from the deep-water Gulf of Mexico

Released September 09, 2020 08:07 EST

2020, AAPG Bulletin (104) 1971-1995

Stephen Philips, Peter Flemings, Melanie Holland, Peter Schultheiss, William F. Waite, Junbong Jang, Ethan Petrou, Helen Hammon

We present results from 30 quantitative degassing experiments of pressure core sections collected during The University of Texas-Gulf of Mexico 2-1 (UT-GOM2-1) Hydrate Pressure Coring Expedition at Green Canyon Block 955 in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico as part of The University of Texas at Austin–US Department of Energy Deepwater Methane Hydrate Characterization and Scientific Assessment. The hydrate saturation (Sh), the volume fraction of the pore space occupied by hydrate, is 79% to 93% within sandy silt beds (centimeters to meters in thickness) between 413 and 442 m below seafloor in 2032 m water depth. Sandy silt intervals are characterized by high compressional wave velocity (Vp) (2515–3012 m s−1) and are interbedded with clayey silt sections that have lower Sh (2%–35%) and lower Vp (1684–2023 m s−1). Clayey silt intervals are composed of thin laminae of silts with high Sh within clay-rich intervals containing little to no hydrate. Degassing of single-lithofacies sections reveals higher-resolution variation in Sh than is possible to observe in well logs; however, the average Sh of 64% through the reservoir is similar to well log estimates. Gas recovered from the hydrates during these experiments is composed almost entirely of methane (99.99% CH4, <100 ppm C2H6 on average), with an isotopic composition (δ13C: −60.4‰ and −63.6‰ Vienna Peedee belemnite and δ2H: −178.2‰ and −179.0‰ Vienna standard mean ocean water) that suggests the methane is primarily from a microbial source. A subset of six degassing experiments performed using very small pressure decrements indicates that the salinity within these samples is close to the average seawater concentration, suggesting that hydrate either formed slowly or formed during a rapid event at least tens of thousands of years before present.

Pressure coring a Gulf of Mexico deep-water turbidite gas hydrate reservoir: Initial results from The University of Texas–Gulf of Mexico 2-1 (UT-GOM2-1) Hydrate Pressure Coring Expedition

Released September 09, 2020 07:49 EST

2020, AAPG Bulletin (104) 1847-1876

Peter Flemings, Stephen Phillips, Ray Boswell, Timothy Collett, Ann Cook, Tiannong Dong, Matthew Frye, David Goldberg, Giles Guerin, Melanie Holland, Junbong Jang, Kevin Meazell, Jamie Morrison, Joshua O'Connell, Ethan Petrou, Tom Pettigrew, Peter Polito, Alexey Portnov, Manasj Santra, Peter Schultheiss, Yongkoo Seol, William Shedd, Evan S. Solomon, Carla Thomas, William F. Waite, Kehua You

The University of Texas Hydrate Pressure Coring Expedition (UT-GOM2-1) recovered cores at near in situ formation pressures from a gas hydrate reservoir composed of sandy silt and clayey silt beds in Green Canyon Block 955 in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico. The expedition results are synthesized and linked to other detailed analyses presented in this volume. Millimeter- to meter-scale beds of sandy silt and clayey silt are interbedded on the levee of a turbidite channel. The hydrate saturation (the volume fraction of the pore space occupied by hydrate) in the sandy silts ranges from 79% to 93%, and there is little to no hydrate in the clayey silt. Gas from the hydrates is composed of nearly pure methane (99.99%) with less than 400 ppm of ethane or heavier hydrocarbons. The δ13C values from the methane are depleted (−60‰ to −65‰ Vienna Peedee belemnite), and it is interpreted that the gases were largely generated by primary microbial methanogenesis but that low concentrations of propane or heavier hydrocarbons record at least trace thermogenic components. The in situ pore-water salinity is very close to that of seawater. This suggests that the excess salinity generated during hydrate formation diffused away because the hydrate formed slowly or because it formed long ago. Because the sandy silt deposits have high hydrate concentration and high intrinsic permeability, they may represent a class of reservoir that can be economically developed. Results from this expedition will inform a new generation of reservoir simulation models that will illuminate how these reservoirs might be best produced.

Assessment of water quality and fecal contamination sources at Hook Pond, East Hampton, New York

Released September 09, 2020 07:05 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5071

Shawn C. Fisher, Brendan A. McCarthy, Christopher M. Kephart, Dale W. Griffin


The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Village of East Hampton, New York, conducted a 1-year study from August 2017 to August 2018 to provide data necessary to improve understanding of the sources of nutrients and pathogens to Hook Pond watershed to allow for possible mitigation or reduction of loads. Chronic eutrophication and recent concern over harmful cyanobacteria in Hook Pond are the result of past and present land uses and a changing climate that have prompted the Village of East Hampton and local businesses to study and remediate factors contributing to the persistent loading of nutrients, organic contaminants, and pathogens. This assessment of Hook Pond, Hook Pond Dreen, and shallow groundwater provides the most comprehensive set of water-quality data to date. Interpretations presented in this study and the data on which they are based can be used to support management decisions, inform and contribute to modeling, and serve as a baseline for future assessments.

Results from continuous monitoring of water temperature, specific conductance, and elevation at Hook Pond site 10 (Maidstone Club golf cart bridge), as well as ancillary weather and tidal data from nearby stations, were used to help explain seasonal and storm-related concentration variation of nitrogen, phosphorus, wastewater-indicator compounds, and pathogens. Data collected were also compared to existing historical data. Physicochemical constituents measured on a routine basis throughout the pond and along the tributary showed the spatial variability in water temperature, specific conductance, dissolved oxygen, pH, turbidity, and chlorophyll a and phycocyanin fluorescence. A lakebed survey was compiled based on the year-round sampling throughout the pond for future comparisons. Water-quality data from shallow groundwater at points around Hook Pond and adjacent to Hook Pond Dreen were interpreted and quantified to estimate relative contributions and species of nutrients, wastewater-indicator compounds, and microbial source tracking (MST) markers to base flow. To supplement the continuous water-surface elevation data, a single set of discharge measurements was collected under normal (nonstorm) conditions to better understand the relative contributions and dilution of surface waters by contaminated groundwater.

The nutrient and physicochemical data from this study can be used in conjunction with current and future models and decision support tools to guide planned and ongoing restoration efforts, such as dredging to reduce sediment accumulation, opening a pathway to the ocean (which would change the salinity and flow dynamics of the pond and adjacent groundwater), and addressing growing concerns over cyanobacterial blooms, while serving as a baseline for measuring changes resulting from sea-level rise, climate change, and changes in nutrient loading. The microbial source tracking and indicator bacteria results can help direct efforts to reduce runoff and direct contributions of fecal contamination from dogs and waterfowl along Hook Pond Dreen. The results can also be used to assess the current state of wastewater infrastructure surrounding and contributing to Hook Pond Dreen, based on detection of human markers throughout the year and with both Bacteroides and coliphage methods.

Water Quality of groundwater used for public supply in principal aquifers of the western United States

Released September 08, 2020 13:39 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5078

Celia Z. Rosecrans, MaryLynn Musgrove

Groundwater provides nearly half of the Nation’s drinking water. As the Nation’s population grows, the importance of (and need for) high-quality drinking-water supplies increases. As part of a national-scale effort to assess groundwater quality in principal aquifers (PAs) that supply most of the groundwater used for public supply, the U.S. Geological Survey National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Project staff sampled six principal aquifers in the western United States between 2013 and 2017: (1) the Basin and Range carbonate-rock aquifers, (2) Basin and Range basin-fill aquifers, (3) Rio Grande aquifer system, (4) High Plains aquifer, (5) Colorado Plateaus aquifers, and (6) Columbia Plateau basaltic-rock aquifers. These six PAs supply a large part of the Nation’s drinking water and cover a large geographic extent of the western conterminous United States. Groundwater samples were analyzed for a large suite of water-quality constituents including major ions, nutrients, trace elements, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), pesticide compounds, radioactive constituents, age tracers, and, in selected PAs, perchlorate. Two types of assessments were made: (1) a status assessment that describes the quality of the groundwater resource at time of collection and (2) an understanding assessment that evaluates relations between groundwater quality and potential explanatory factors that represent characteristics of the aquifer system. The assessments characterize untreated groundwater quality, which might be different than the quality of drinking water delivered to consumers. The assessments are based on water-quality data collected from 352 wells and 6 springs using an equal-area grid sampling design. This sampling approach allows for the estimation of the proportion of high, moderate, or low concentrations relative to federal water-quality benchmarks of selected constituents in the area of each PA. Results were compared to established benchmarks for drinking-water quality to provide context for evaluating the quality of untreated groundwater: Federal regulatory benchmarks for protecting human health, non-regulatory human-health benchmarks, and non-regulatory benchmarks for nuisance chemicals. Not all constituents that were analyzed have benchmarks and thus were not considered for assessments. Concentrations are characterized as high if they are greater than their benchmark. Concentrations are considered moderate if they are greater than one-half their benchmark (for inorganic constituents), or greater than one-tenth their benchmark (for organic constituents). Concentrations are considered low if they are less than moderate or the constituent was not detected. 

Status assessment results indicated that inorganic constituents more commonly occurred at high and moderate concentrations in the six PAs than organic constituents, and organic constituents predominately occurred at low concentrations. Inorganic constituents that exceeded health-based benchmarks (high concentrations) were present in all six PAs; aquifer-scale proportion were 30 percent in the Rio Grande aquifer system, 22 percent in the Basin and Range basin-fill aquifers, 20 percent in the Basin and Range carbonate-rock aquifers, 19 percent in the High Plains aquifer, 16 percent in the Colorado Plateaus aquifers, and 8 percent in the Columbia Plateau basaltic-rock aquifers. Arsenic, fluoride, manganese, and total dissolved solids were the constituents most commonly present at high concentrations. Organic constituents with human-health benchmarks (pesticide compounds and VOCs) did not occur at high concentrations and moderate concentrations were infrequent; aquifer-scale proportions ranged from 0 to 5 percent. Detections of organic compounds at low concentrations, however, occurred in all six PAs, with detection frequencies ranging from 10 to 26 percent for pesticide compounds and from 10 to 46 percent for VOCs. Specific organic constituents with detection frequencies greater than 10 percent were four herbicides (atrazine, didealkylatrazine, bromoform, and propazine), one insecticide (propoxur), and two VOCs (the trihalomethanes chloroform and bromodichloromethane). Where collected—in the Rio Grande aquifer system and High Plains aquifer—perchlorate did not occur at high concentrations; moderate aquifer-scale proportions were 3 and 11 percent, respectively. 

The understanding assessment included statistical tests to evaluate relations between constituent concentrations and potential explanatory factors to identify natural and human factors that affect groundwater quality. Potential explanatory factors included depth to bottom of well perforation, groundwater age category, land use, aquifer lithology, hydrologic conditions, and geochemical conditions. Higher concentrations of trace elements, radioactive constituents, and constituents with non-health-based benchmarks generally were associated with unconsolidated sand and gravel aquifer lithologies, premodern groundwater age, greater aridity, and more alkaline pH. Organic constituents with detection frequencies greater than 10 percent generally were associated with urban land use, shallower well depths, and higher total dissolved solids concentrations. The results for the six western PAs provide important insights into the quality of groundwater that is used for drinking water in the western United States, as well as natural and human factors that affect groundwater quality in this region.

Review of methods to repair and maintain lithophilic fish spawning habitat

Released September 08, 2020 09:33 EST

2020, Water (12)

Audrey Baetz, Taaja Tucker, R. DeBruyne, Alex Gatch, T. Hook, J. Fischer, Edward F. Roseman

Rocky reefs provide important spawning and refuge habitats for lithophilic spawning fishes. However, many reefs have been lost or severely degraded through anthropogenic effects like dredging, channelization, or sedimentation. Constructed reefs have been used to mitigate these effects in some systems, but these reefs are also subject to degradation which may warrant custodial maintenance. Monitoring and maintenance of natural or constructed spawning reefs are not common practices; therefore, few methodologies have been created to test the effectiveness of such tools. We conducted a literature review to assess available information on maintenance of rocky spawning habitats used by lithophilic fishes. We identified 54 rocky spawning habitat maintenance projects, most of which aimed to improve fish spawning habitats through the addition of spawning substrate (n = 33) or cleaning of substrate (n = 23). In comparison to shallow riverine studies focused on salmonids, we found little information on deep-water reefs, marine reefs, or other fish species. We discuss the possible application of potential spawning habitat cleaning methods from other disciplines (e.g., treasure hunting; archeology) that may provide effective means of reef maintenance that can be used by restoration practitioners. 

Climate change Is likely to alter future wolf - moose - forest interactions at Isle Royale National Park, United States

Released September 08, 2020 09:17 EST

2020, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution (8)

Nathan R. De Jager, Jason J. Rohweder, Matthew J. Duveneck

We evaluated how climate change and variable rates of moose browsing intensity, as they relate to wolf predation, might affect the forests of Isle Royale National Park, Michigan, United States by conducting a modeling experiment. The experiment consisted of contrasting three different scenarios of wolf management and with a static (current conditions) and changing climate (high emissions). Our results indicate that the interactive effects of wolf predation and climate change are likely to be temporally variable and dependent on biogeographic and forest successional processes. During the first 50 years of 120-year simulations, when the effects of climate change were less impactful, higher simulated rates of predation by wolves reduced moose population densities, resulting in greater forest biomass and higher carrying capacities for moose. However, over the longer term, early successional and highly palatable aspen and birch forests transitioned to late successional spruce and fir forests, regardless of climate or predation intensity. After 50 years, the effects of climate change and predation were driven by effects on balsam fir, a late successional conifer species that is fed on by moose. High-intensity predation of moose allowed balsam fir to persist over the long term but only under the static climate scenario. The climate change scenario caused a reduction in balsam fir and the other boreal species that moose currently feed on, and the few temperate species found on this isolated island were unable to compensate for such reductions, causing strong declines in total forest biomass. The direct effects of moose population management via reintroduction of wolves may become increasingly ineffective as the climate continues to warm because the productivity of boreal plant species may not be sufficient to support a moose population, and the isolation of the island from mainland temperate tree species may reduce the likelihood of compensatory species migrations.

High sensitivity of Bering Sea winter sea ice to winter insolation and carbon dioxide over the last 5,500 years

Released September 08, 2020 08:51 EST

2020, Science Advances (6)

Miriam C. Jones, Max Berkelhammer, Katherine Keller, Kei Yoshimura, Matthew J. Wooller

Anomalously low winter sea ice extent and early retreat in CE 2018 and 2019 challenge previous notions that winter sea ice in the Bering Sea has been stable over the instrumental record, although long-term records remain limited. Here, we use a record of peat cellulose oxygen isotopes from St. Matthew Island along with isotope-enabled general circulation model (IsoGSM) simulations to generate a 5500-year record of Bering Sea winter sea ice extent. Results show that over the last 5500 years, sea ice in the Bering Sea decreased in response to increasing winter insolation and atmospheric CO2, suggesting that the North Pacific is highly sensitive to small changes in radiative forcing. We find that CE 2018 sea ice conditions were the lowest of the last 5500 years, and results suggest that sea ice loss may lag changes in CO2 concentrations by several decades.

Effects of water level alteration on carbon cycling in peatlands

Released September 08, 2020 08:49 EST

2020, Ecosystem Health and Sustainability (6)

Yehui Zhong, Jiang Ming, Beth Middleton

Globally, peatlands play an important role in the carbon (C) cycle. High water level is a key factor in maintaining C storage in peatlands, but water levels are vulnerable to climate change and anthropogenic disturbance. This review examines literature related to the effects of water level alteration on C cycling in peatlands to summarize new ideas and uncertainties emerging in this field. Peatland ecosystems maintain their function by altering plant community structure to adapt to changing water levels. Regarding primary production, woody plants are more productive in unflooded, well-aerated conditions, while Sphagnum mosses are more productive in wetter conditions. The responses of sedges to water level alteration are species-specific. While peat decomposition is faster in unflooded, well aerated conditions, increased plant production may counteract the C loss induced by increased ecosystem respiration (ER) for a period of time. In contrast, rising water table maintains anaerobic conditions and enhances the role of the peatland as a C sink. Nevertheless, changes in DOC flux during water level fluctuation is complicated and depends on the interactions of flooding with environment. Notably, vegetation also plays a role in C flux but particular species vary in their ability to sequester and transport C. Bog ecosystems have a greater resilience to water level alteration than fens, due to differences in biogeochemical responses to hydrology. The full understanding of the role of peatlands in global C cycling deserves much more study due to uncertainties of vegetation feedbacks, peat–water interactions, microbial mediation of vegetation, wildfire, and functional responses after hydrologic restoration.

Drivers and consequences of apex predator diet composition in the Canadian Beaufort Sea

Released September 08, 2020 08:15 EST

2020, Oecologia

Katie R. N. Florko, Gregory W. Thiemann, Jeffrey F. Bromaghin

Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) rely on annual sea ice as their primary habitat for hunting marine mammal prey. Given their long lifespan, wide geographic distribution, and position at the top of the Arctic marine food web, the diet composition of polar bears can provide insights into temporal and spatial ecosystem dynamics related to climate-mediated sea ice loss. Polar bears with the greatest ecological constraints on diet composition may be most vulnerable to climate-related changes in ice conditions and prey availability. We used quantitative fatty acid signature analysis (QFASA) to estimate the diets of polar bears (n = 419) in two western Canadian Arctic subpopulations (Northern Beaufort Sea and Southern Beaufort Sea) from 1999 to 2015. Polar bear diets were dominated by ringed seal (Pusa hispida), with interannual, seasonal, age- and sex-specific variation. Foraging area and sea ice conditions also affected polar bear diet composition. Most variation in bear diet was explained by longitude, reflecting spatial variation in prey availability. Sea ice conditions (extent, thickness, and seasonal duration) declined throughout the study period, and date of sea ice break-up in the preceding spring was positively correlated with female body condition and consumption of beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas), suggesting that bears foraged on beluga whales during entrapment events. Female body condition was positively correlated with ringed seal consumption, and negatively correlated with bearded seal consumption. This study provides insights into the complex relationships between declining sea ice habitat and the diet composition and foraging success of a wide-ranging apex predator.

SurfRCaT: A tool for remote calibration of pre-existing coastal cameras to enable their use as quantitative coastal monitoring tools

Released September 07, 2020 10:06 EST

2020, SoftwareX (12)

Matthew P. Conlin, Peter N Adams, Benjamin Wilkinson, Gregory Dusek, Margaret Louise Palmsten, Jenna A. Brown

The Surf-camera Remote Calibration Tool (SurfRCaT) is a Python-based software application to calibrate and rectify images from pre-existing video cameras that are operating at coastal sites in the United States. The software enables remote camera calibration and subsequent image rectification by facilitating the remote-extraction of ground control points using airborne lidar observations, and guides the user through the entire process. No programming or code interaction are necessary to use the software. Calibration parameters and subsequent rectified image products derived from the software are saved locally. Users can apply SurfRCaT to any camera imagery that has stationary structures within the camera’s field of view. Given current recreational camera infrastructure, SurfRCaT could increase the number of potential quantitative coastal video monitoring stations in the United States by an order of magnitude.

Trace and rare earth elements determination in milk whey from the Veneto region, Italy

Released September 06, 2020 08:10 EST

2020, Food Control (121)

Raffaelo Tedesco, Maria del Carmen Villoslada Hidalgo, Massimiliano Varde, Natalie Kehrwald, Carlo Barbante, Giulio Cozzi

Multi-element analyses determine the content of 17 trace elements (Al, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Se, Sr, Cd, Cs, Ba, Pb, U) and 14 rare earth elements (La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Sm, Eu, Gd, Tb, Dy, Ho, Er, Yb, Lu, Y) in whey samples from cow and goat milk by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and inductively coupled plasma-sector field mass spectrometry. A total of 261 milk whey samples were collected from four locations in the Veneto region of northeastern (NE) Italy. These samples contain a wide range concentration of 17 trace elements (0.06–1530 μg kg−1) and 14 rare earth elements (0.16–28.2 ng kg−1) in whey samples, but do not reach toxic concentrations. Elemental fingerprinting of trace and rare earth elements in cow and goat milk whey provide information on the dairy quality and, as they reflect the local environmental conditions, result in an excellent indicator of their geographical origin.

A global biophysical typology of mangroves and its relevance for ecosystem structure and deforestation

Released September 04, 2020 11:33 EST

2020, Scientific Reports (10)

Thomas A. Worthington, Philine S.E. zu Ermgassen, Daniel A. Friess, Ken Krauss, Catherine E. Lovelock, Rick Tingey, Colin D. Woodroffe, Pete Bunting, N. Cormier, David Lagomasino, Richard Lucas, Nicholas J. Murray, William J. Sutherland, Mark Spalding

Julia Thorley, editor(s)

Mangrove forests provide many ecosystem services but are among the world’s most threatened ecosystems. Mangroves vary substantially according to their geomorphic and sedimentary setting; while several conceptual frameworks describe these settings, their spatial distribution has not been quantified. Here, we present a new global mangrove biophysical typology and show that, based on their 2016 extent, 40.5% (54,972 km2) of mangrove systems were deltaic, 27.5% (37,411 km2) were estuarine and 21.0% (28,493 km2) were open coast, with lagoonal mangroves the least abundant (11.0%, 14,993 km2). Mangroves were also classified based on their sedimentary setting, with carbonate mangroves being less abundant than terrigenous, representing just 9.6% of global coverage. Our typology provides a basis for future research to incorporate geomorphic and sedimentary setting in analyses. We present two examples of such applications. Firstly, based on change in extent between 1996 and 2016, we show while all types exhibited considerable declines in area, losses of lagoonal mangroves (− 6.9%) were nearly twice that of other types. Secondly, we quantify differences in aboveground biomass between mangroves of different types, with it being significantly lower in lagoonal mangroves. Overall, our biophysical typology provides a baseline for assessing restoration potential and for quantifying mangrove ecosystem service provision.

2020 Joint Agency Commercial Imagery Evaluation—Remote sensing satellite compendium

Released September 03, 2020 14:22 EST

2020, Circular 1468

Shankar N. Ramaseri Chandra, Jon B. Christopherson, Kimberly A. Casey

The Joint Agency Commercial Imagery Evaluation (JACIE) is a collaboration between five Federal agencies that are major users and producers of satellite land remote sensing data. In recent years, the JACIE group has observed ever-increasing numbers of remote sensing satellites being launched. This rapidly growing wave of new systems creates a need for a single reference for land remote sensing satellites that provides basic system specifications and linkage to any JACIE assessment that may have been completed on existing systems. This volume has been assembled by the Requirements, Capabilities, and Analysis for Earth Observation Project under the U.S. Geological Survey National Land Imaging Program as a contribution to the JACIE community. This is the second edition of the JACIE compendium, which is planned to be updated and released annually.

Post-release survival of fallout Newell’s Shearwater fledglings from a rescue and rehabilitation program on Kauai, Hawaii

Released September 03, 2020 11:02 EST

2020, Endangered Species Research (43) 39-50

Andre F. Raine, Tracy Anderson, Megan Vynne, Scott Driskill, Helen Raine, Josh Adams

Light attraction impacts nocturnally active fledgling seabirds worldwide and is a particularly acute problem on Kaua‘i (the northern-most island in the main Hawaiian Island archipelago) for the Critically Endangered Newell’s shearwater Puffinus newelli. The Save Our Shearwaters (SOS) program was created in 1979 to address this issue and to date has recovered and released to sea more than 30500 fledglings. Although the value of the program for animal welfare is clear, as birds cannot simply be left to die, no evaluation exists to inform post-release survival. We used satellite transmitters to track 38 fledglings released by SOS and compared their survival rates (assessed by tag transmission duration) to those of 12 chicks that fledged naturally from the mountains of Kaua‘i. Wild fledglings transmitted longer than SOS birds, and SOS birds with longer rehabilitation periods transmitted for a shorter duration than birds released immediately or rehabilitated for only 1 d. Although transmitter durations from grounded fledglings were shorter (indicating impacts to survivorship), some SOS birds did survive and dispersed out to sea. All surviving birds (wild and SOS) traveled more than 2000 km to the southwest of Kaua‘i, where they concentrated mostly in the North Pacific Equatorial Countercurrent Province, revealing a large-scale annual post-breeding aggregation zone for fledgling Newell’s shearwaters. While there was reduced survival among birds undergoing rehabilitation, SOS remains an important contribution toward the conservation of Newell’s shearwater because a proportion of released birds do indeed survive. However, light attraction, the root cause of fallout, remains a serious unresolved issue on Kaua’i.

Detection and measurement of land subsidence and uplift using Global Positioning System surveys and interferometric synthetic aperture radar, Coachella Valley, California, 2010–17

Released September 03, 2020 09:24 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5093

Michelle Sneed, Justin T. Brandt

Groundwater has been a major source of agricultural, recreational, municipal, and domestic supply in the Coachella Valley of California since the early 1920s. Pumping of groundwater resulted in groundwater-level declines as large as 50 feet (ft) or 15 meters (m) by the late 1940s. Because of concerns that the declines could cause land subsidence, the Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have cooperatively investigated subsidence in the Coachella Valley since 1996. 

Importation of Colorado River water to the southern Coachella Valley began in 1949, resulting in a reduction in groundwater pumping and a recovery of groundwater levels during the 1950s through the 1970s. Since the late 1970s, the demand for water in the valley increased to the point that groundwater levels again declined in response to increased pumping and, consequently, increased the potential for land subsidence caused by aquifer-system compaction. Several management actions to increase recharge or to reduce reliance on groundwater have been implemented since as early as 1973 to address overdraft in the Coachella Valley. The implementation of three particular projects has markedly improved groundwater conditions in some of the historically most overdrafted areas of the valley: (1) groundwater substitution with surface-water imports since 2006 using Colorado River water through the Mid-Valley Pipeline project, which was expanded through 2017; (2) budget-based, tiered rates since 2009; and (3) managed aquifer recharge at the Thomas E. Levy Groundwater Replenishment Facility since 2009. 

Global Positioning System (GPS) surveying and interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) methods were used to determine the location, extent, and magnitude of the vertical land-surface changes in the Coachella Valley during 2010–17, updating 1993–2010 information presented in previous USGS reports. The GPS measurements taken at 24 geodetic monuments in August 2010 and September 2015 indicated that the land-surface elevation was stable at 17 monuments but changed at seven monuments during the 5-year period. Subsidence ranged from 0.17 to 0.43 ±0.09 ft (52 to 132 ±28 millimeters, or mm) at three monuments, and uplift ranged from 0.11 to 0.18 ±0.09 ft (33 to 54 ±28 mm) at four monuments between 2010 and 2015. At two of the monuments that subsided, the subsidence rates decreased between 2010 and 2015 from those computed between 2005 and 2010. Data prior to 2010 were not available for the third monument that subsided; thus, the 2010–15 subsidence rate could not be compared to an earlier period. At three of the monuments that uplifted between 2010 and 2015, data collected in 2005 and 2010 indicated stability. Data prior to 2010 were not available for the fourth monument that uplifted; thus, the 2010–15 uplift rate could not be compared to an earlier period. 

InSAR analyses for December 28, 2014–June 27, 2017, indicated that the land surface uplifted as much as about 0.20 ft (60 mm) near the Whitewater River Groundwater Replenishment Facility in the northern Coachella Valley and subsided as much as about 0.26 ft (80 mm) in the La Quinta area and less in Palm Desert, Indian Wells, and other localized areas in the southern Coachella Valley. These areas were identified as subsidence areas in previous reports covering periods during 1993–2010. The comparison of 2014–17 subsidence rates with those derived for 1995–2010 generally indicated a substantial slowing of subsidence, however. Analyses of deformation in the northern Coachella Valley were not included in the previous reports, so a comparison to deformation during the earlier period could not be made. 

Water levels in wells near the subsiding geodetic monuments, in and near the three subsiding areas shown by InSAR, and throughout the valley generally indicated seasonal fluctuations and longer-term stability or rising groundwater levels since about 2010. These results mark a reversal in trends of groundwater-level declines during the preceding decades. This trend reversal provides new insights into aquifer-system mechanics. Although many areas have stopped subsiding, and a few have even uplifted, the few areas that did subside during 2010–17—albeit at a slower rate—indicate a mixed aquifer-system response. Subsidence when groundwater levels are stable or recovering indicates that residual compaction may have occurred. At the same time, coarse-grained materials and thin aquitards may have expanded as groundwater levels recovered. The continued valley-wide stabilization and recovery of groundwater levels since 2010 likely is a result of various projects designed to increase recharge or to reduce reliance on groundwater. 

Possibility for reverse zoonotic transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to free-ranging wildlife: A case study of bats

Released September 03, 2020 09:11 EST

2020, PLoS Pathogens (9) e1008758

Kevin J. Olival, Paul M. Cryan, Brian R. Amman, Ralph S. Baric, David S. Blehert, Cara E. Brook, Charles H. Calisher, Kevin T. Castle, Jeremy TH Coleman, Peter Daszak, Jonathan H. Epstein, Hume Field, Winifred F. Frick, Amy T. Gilbert, David T.S. Hayman, Hon S. Ip, William B Karesh, Christine K. Johnson, Rebekah C Kading, Tigga Kingston, Jeffrey M. Lorch, Ian H Mendenhall, Alison J. Peel, Kendra L Phelps, Raina K. Plowright, DeeAnn M Reeder, Jonathan D. Reichard, Jonathan M. Sleeman, Daniel G. Streicker, Jonathan S. Towner, Lin-Fa Wang

The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the substantial public health, economic, and societal consequences of virus spillover from a wildlife reservoir. Widespread human transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) also presents a new set of challenges when considering viral spillover from people to naïve wildlife and other animal populations. The establishment of new wildlife reservoirs for SARS-CoV-2 would further complicate public health control measures and could lead to wildlife health and conservation impacts. Given the likely bat origin of SARS-CoV-2 and related beta-coronaviruses (β-CoVs), free-ranging bats are a key group of concern for spillover from humans back to wildlife. Here, we review the diversity and natural host range of β-CoVs in bats and examine the risk of humans inadvertently infecting free-ranging bats with SARS-CoV-2. Our review of the global distribution and host range of β-CoV evolutionary lineages suggests that 40+ species of temperate-zone North American bats could be immunologically naïve and susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV-2. We highlight an urgent need to proactively connect the wellbeing of human and wildlife health during the current pandemic and to implement new tools to continue wildlife research while avoiding potentially severe health and conservation impacts of SARS-CoV-2 "spilling back" into free-ranging bat populations.

Science to support water-resource management in the upper Roanoke River watershed

Released September 02, 2020 15:40 EST

2020, Fact Sheet 2020-3040

James S. Webber, John D. Jastram

Flooding, excessive sedimentation, and high bacteria counts are among the most challenging water resource issues affecting the Upper Roanoke River watershed. These issues threaten public safety, impair the watershed’s living resources, and threaten drinking water supplies, though mitigation is costly and difficult to manage.

Urban development, land disturbance, and changing climatic patterns continue to challenge watershed managers who are tasked with protecting and improving the water quality of the Upper Roanoke River watershed. The U.S. Geological Survey helps watershed managers meet these demands by providing high-quality data and analyses designed to inform watershed restoration activities.

GeMS (Geologic Map Schema)—A standard format for the digital publication of geologic maps

Released September 02, 2020 13:56 EST

2020, Techniques and Methods 11-B10

U.S. Geological Survey National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program


This report describes and defines GeMS (for Geologic Map Schema), a new standardized database schema—that is, a database design—for the digital publication of geologic maps. It originally was intended for geologic mapping funded by the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program of the U.S. Geological Survey, but its use can be extended to other programs and agencies as well. It is intended to bridge the gap between traditional geologic mapping and GIS communities at an operational level.

GeMS provides for the encoding in digital form of the content contained in individual geologic maps published by the U.S. Geological Survey and by state geological surveys. The design is focused on the publication, transfer, and archiving of map data and less on the creation of map data, the visual representation of map data, or the compilation of data from many different map sources.

Although GeMS is designed for a single-map database, it also is intended to provide a stepping stone toward the development of multiple-map databases, in particular the National Geologic Map Database. The database design contained herein will significantly promote that goal. All questions or comments about GeMS should be directed via email to

Resolving species boundaries in the critically imperiled freshwater mussel species, Fusconaia mitchelli (Bivalvia: Unionidae)

Released September 02, 2020 10:03 EST

2020, Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research

Chase H. Smith, Nathan Johnson, Kaitlyn Havlik, Robert D. Doyle, Charles R. Randklev

Species are a fundamental unit of biology, and defining accurate species boundaries is integral to effective conservation and management of imperiled taxa. Freshwater mussels (Bivalvia: Unionidae) are among the most imperiled groups of organisms in North America, yet species boundaries remain uncertain for many taxa. The False Spike, Fusconaia mitchelli (Simpson in Dall, 1895), is a freshwater mussel considered to be endemic to central Texas (Brazos, Colorado, and Guadalupe drainages). Recent research revealed significant intraspecific genetic variation between geographically separated populations of Fmitchelli, which could be indicative of speciation; however, small sample sizes for several of the populations precluded formal taxonomic revision. Here, we increase taxon sampling and use multilocus DNA sequence data and traditional morphometrics to re‐evaluate species boundaries in Fmitchelli. We sequenced three loci: the protein‐coding mitochondrial DNA genes cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 and NADH dehydrogenase 1, and the nuclear internal transcribed spacer 1. Phylogenetic analyses depicted deep genetic divergence between Fmitchelli in the Guadalupe and those in the Brazos and Colorado drainages, which was further supported by available biogeographic information. Morphometric analyses and coalescent‐based species delimitation models integrating both DNA sequence and morphological data provided strong support for the divergence observed between the two geographically isolated clades of Fmitchelli. Based on these results, we revise taxonomy accordingly by elevating the junior synonym Fusconaia iheringi (Wright, 1898) to represent the Brazos and Colorado populations and restrict the distribution of Fmitchelli to the Guadalupe River drainage. Our findings may impact pending management decisions to protect Fmitchelli under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Relating carbon monoxide photoproduction to dissolved organic matter functionality

Released September 02, 2020 09:32 EST

2008, Environmental Science and Technology (42) 3271-3276

Aron Stubbins, Vesper Hubbard, Guenther Uher, Cliff S. Law, Robert C. Upstill-Goddard, George Aiken, K. Mopper

Aqueous solutions of humic substances (HSs) and pure monomeric aromatics were irradiated to investigate the chemical controls upon carbon monoxide (CO) photoproduction from dissolved organic matter (DOM). HSs were isolated from lakes, rivers, marsh, and ocean. Inclusion of humic, fulvic, hydrophobic organic, and hydrophilic organic acid fractions from these environments provided samples diverse in source and isolation protocol. In spite of these major differences, HS absorption coefficients (a) and photoreactivities (a bleaching and CO production) were strongly dependent upon HS aromaticity (r2 >0.90; n = 11), implying aromatic moieties are the principal chromophores and photoreactants within HSs, and by extension, DOM. Carbonyl carbon and CO photoproduction were not correlated, implying that carbonyl moieties are not quantitatively important in CO photoproduction. CO photoproduction efficiency of aqueous solutions of monomeric aromatic compounds that are common constituents of organic matter varied with the nature of ring substituents. Specifically, electron donating groups increased, while electron withdrawing groups decreased CO photoproductivity, supporting our conclusion that carbonyl substituents are not quantitatively important in CO photoproduction. Significantly, aromatic CO photoproduction efficiency spanned 3 orders of magnitude, indicating that variations in the CO apparent quantum yields of natural DOM may be related to variations in aromatic DOM substituent group chemistry.

Forecasting for a fractured land: A case study of the communication and use of aftershock forecasts from the Mw 7.8 2016 Kaikōura earthquake in Aotearoa New Zealand

Released September 02, 2020 07:12 EST

2020, Seismological Research Letters

Julia S. Becker, Sally H. Potter, Sara McBride, Emma E. Hudson-Doyle, Matthew Gerstenberger, Anne-Marie Christopherson

Operational earthquake forecasts (OEFs) are represented as time‐dependent probabilities of future earthquake hazard and risk. These probabilities can be presented in a variety of formats, including tables, maps, and text‐based scenarios. In countries such as Aotearoa New Zealand, the U.S., and Japan, OEFs have been released by scientific organizations to agencies and the public, with the intent of providing information about future earthquake hazard and risk, so that people can use this information to inform their decisions and activities. Despite questions being raised about the utility of OEF for decision‐making, past earthquake events have shown that agencies and the public have indeed made use of such forecasts. Responses have included making decisions about safe access into buildings, cordoning, demolition safety, timing of infrastructure repair and rebuild, insurance, postearthquake building standards, postevent land‐use planning, and public communication about aftershocks. To add to this body of knowledge, we undertook a survey to investigate how agencies and GNS Science staff used OEFs that were communicated following the Mw 7.8 2016 Kaikōura earthquake in Aotearoa New Zealand. We found that agencies utilized OEFs in many of the ways listed previously, and we document individual employee’s actions taken in their home‐life context. Challenges remain, however, regarding the interpretation of probabilistic information and applying this to practical decision‐making. We suggest that science agencies cannot expect nontechnical users to understand and utilize forecasts without additional support. This might include developing a diversity of audience‐relevant OEF information for communication purposes, alongside advice on how such information could be utilized.

Mass mortality in freshwater mussels (Actinonaias pectorosa) in the Clinch River, USA, linked to a novel densovirus

Released September 02, 2020 06:55 EST

2020, Scientific Reports (10)

Jordon Richard, Eric Leis, Christopher D. Dunn, Rose Agbalog, Diane L. Waller, Susan Knowles, Joel G. Putnam, Tony Goldberg

Freshwater mussels (order Unionida) are among the world’s most biodiverse but imperiled taxa. Recent unionid mass mortality events around the world threaten ecosystem services such as water filtration, nutrient cycling, habitat stabilization, and food web enhancement, but causes have remained elusive. To examine potential infectious causes of these declines, we studied mussels in Clinch River, Virginia and Tennessee, USA, where the endemic and once-predominant pheasantshell (Actinonaias pectorosa) has suffered precipitous declines since approximately 2016. Using metagenomics, we identified 17 novel viruses in Clinch River pheasantshells. However, only one virus, a novel densovirus (Parvoviridae; Densovirinae), was epidemiologically linked to morbidity. Clinch densovirus 1 was 11.2 times more likely to be found in cases (moribund mussels) than controls (apparently healthy mussels from the same or matched sites), and cases had 2.7 (log10) times higher viral loads than controls. Densoviruses cause lethal epidemic disease in invertebrates, including shrimp, cockroaches, crickets, moths, crayfish, and sea stars. Viral infection warrants consideration as a factor in unionid mass mortality events either as a direct cause, an indirect consequence of physiological compromise, or a factor interacting with other biological and ecological stressors to precipitate mortality.

Social Values for Ecosystem Services, version 4.0 (SolVES 4.0)—Documentation and user manual

Released September 01, 2020 15:25 EST

2020, Techniques and Methods 7-C25

Benson C. Sherrouse, Darius J. Semmens

The geographic information system tool, Social Values for Ecosystem Services (SolVES), was developed to incorporate quantified and spatially explicit measures of social values into ecosystem service assessments. SolVES 4.0 provides an open-source version of SolVES, which was designed to assess, map, and quantify the social values of ecosystem services. Social values—the perceived, nonmarket values the public ascribes to ecosystem services, particularly cultural services, such as aesthetics and recreation—can be evaluated for various stakeholder groups. These groups are distinguishable by factors such as their attitudes and preferences regarding public uses (for example, motorized recreation and logging). As with previous versions, SolVES 4.0 derives a quantitative 10-point, social-values metric—the value index—from a combination of spatial and nonspatial responses to public value and preference surveys. The tool also calculates metrics characterizing the underlying environment, such as average distance to water and dominant landcover. SolVES 4.0 has been developed with Python using a QGIS user interface and a PostgreSQL database for required data. SolVES is integrated with Maxent maximum entropy modeling software to generate more complete social-value maps and offer robust statistical models describing the relation between the value index and explanatory environmental variables. A model’s goodness of fit to a primary study area and its potential performance in transferring social values to similar areas using value-transfer methods can be evaluated. SolVES 4.0 provides an improved open-source, public-domain tool for decision makers and researchers to evaluate the social values of ecosystem services and to facilitate discussions among diverse stakeholders regarding the tradeoffs among ecosystem services in a variety of biophysical and social contexts including mountain, forest, coastal, riparian, agricultural, and urban environments around the globe.

Wave-resolving Shoreline Boundary Conditions for Wave-Averaged Coastal Models

Released September 01, 2020 14:54 EST

2020, Ocean Modeling (153)

Francesco Memmola, Alessandro Coluccelli, Aniello Russo, John C. Warner, Maurizio Brocchini

Downscaling broadscale ocean model information to resolve the fine-scale swash-zone dynamics has a number of applications, such as improved resolution of coastal flood hazard drivers, modeling of sediment transport and seabed morphological evolution. A new method is presented, which enables wave-averaged models for the nearshore circulation to include short-wave induced swash zone dynamics that evolve at the wave group scale (i.e. averaged over the short waves). Such dynamics, which cannot be described, by construction through wave-averaged models, play a fundamental role in nearshore hydrodynamics and morphodynamics. The method is based on the implementation of a set of Shoreline Boundary Conditions (SBCs) in wave-averaged models. The chosen set of SBCs allows for proper computation of the short-wave properties at a mean shoreline () taken as the envelope of the actual shoreline. The suitability of the approach is assessed through implementation of the SBCs into the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) coupled to a spectral wave model (InWave for IG waves and SWAN for wind waves). As the aim is to assess the viability of the approach, the SBCs are implemented only through a one-way coupling to ROMS (i.e. ROMS forcing the SBCs). Four different test cases – with constant, periodic and bichromatic offshore forcing – are run to assess the model performances. The main results of the analysis are: (a) the proposed SBCs can well reproduce the shoreline motion and swash zone dynamics in there for all chosen tests (RMSE and BIAS less than 20 % up to a cross-shore resolution of 4.0 m ( or )) and (b) implementation of the SBCs allows ROMS to accurately simulate the swash zone flows even at a resolution 40 times coarser than that needed by ROMS with its own wet–dry routine to properly describe the same flows. The latter result clearly demonstrates the major computational advantage of using the proposed SBCs. We also show that most of the swash zone dynamics is due to the mean flow (i.e. incoming Riemann variable) and the local (at ) wave height. However, especially in the case of bichromatic waves, the swash zone water volume content also seems to play a crucial role.

Canine distemper virus in the sea otter population (Enhydra lutris) in Washington State, USA

Released September 01, 2020 12:04 EST

2020, Journal of Wildlife Diseases

Nancy Thomas, C. LeAnn White, Jeremiah Saliki, Krysten L. Schuler, Deanna Lynch, Ole Nielsen, J.P. Dubey, Susan Knowles

Before 2001, all serosurveys for morbilliviruses in sea otters (Enhydra lutris) in California, Washington, and Alaska, USA, documented a 0% seroprevalence. The first published serologic detections of morbillivirus in sea otters occurred in 2001–02 in live-captured Washington sea otters, with a documented 80% seroprevalence. We conducted a retrospective study of sea otter cases from 1989 to 2010 compiled at the US Geological Survey, National Wildlife Health Center to identify cases of morbilliviral disease in Washington sea otters and to characterize the disease using immunohistochemistry, reverse transcription (RT)-PCR, genetic sequencing, virus isolation, and serology. We identified six cases of morbilliviral disease and 12 cases of morbilliviral infection in this population of sea otters during 2000–10. Significant histologic findings included inflammation in the white and gray matter of the brain characterized by lymphoplasmacytic perivascular cuffing, neuronal necrosis, and satellitosis in gray matter and by spongiosis, myelin degeneration, spheroids, and gemistocytes in white matter. Intranuclear and intracytoplasmic viral inclusion bodies were found in neurons, Purkinje cells, and glia. Immunohistochemistry for canine distemper virus (CDV) showed positive staining in neurons, glial cells, and cell processes. A pan-morbillivirus RT-PCR with subsequent restriction endonuclease digestion or sequencing identified CDV. Virus isolation was not successful. Two sea otters with morbilliviral encephalitis showed greater antibody titers to CDV than phocine distemper virus. Histologic changes were confined to the central nervous system and resembled neurologic canine distemper in domestic dogs. Cases of sea otters with morbilliviral infection without histologic changes could represent early infections or incompletely cleared sublethal infections. We found that morbillivirus was present in the Washington sea otter population as early as 2000, and we provide a description of the pathology of canine distemper in sea otters.

Groundwater quality in relation to drinking water health standards and hydrogeologic and geochemical characteristics for 47 domestic wells in Potter County, Pennsylvania, 2017

Released September 01, 2020 10:10 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5038

Daniel G. Galeone, Charles A. Cravotta III, Dennis W. Risser

As part of a regional effort to characterize groundwater in rural areas of Pennsylvania, water samples from 47 domestic wells in Potter County were collected from May through September 2017. The sampled wells had depths ranging from 33 to 600 feet in sandstone, shale, or siltstone aquifers. Groundwater samples were analyzed for physicochemical properties that could be evaluated in relation to drinking-water health standards, geology, land use, and other environmental factors. Laboratory analyses included concentrations of major ions, nutrients, bacteria, trace elements, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ethylene and propylene glycol, alcohols, gross-alpha/beta-particle activity, uranium, radon-222, and dissolved gases. A subset of samples was analyzed for radium isotopes (radium-226 and -228) and for the isotopic composition of methane.

Results of this 2017 study show that groundwater quality generally met most drinking-water standards that apply to public water supplies. However, a percentage of samples exceeded maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for total coliform bacteria (69.6 percent), Escherichia coli (30.4 percent), arsenic, and barium; and secondary maximum contaminant levels (SMCLs) for field pH, manganese, sodium, iron, total dissolved solids, aluminum, and chloride. All of the analyzed VOCs were below limits of detection and associated drinking water criteria. Radon-222 activities exceeded the proposed drinking-water standard of 300 picocuries per liter in 80.9 percent of the samples.

The field pH of the groundwater ranged from 4.6 to 9.0. 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 values outside this range. Calcium/bicarbonate waters were the predominant hydrochemical type for the sampled aquifers, with mixed water types for many samples, including variable contributions from calcium, magnesium, and sodium combined with bicarbonate, sulfate, chloride, and nitrate.

Water from 45 wells had concentrations of methane greater than the 0.0002 milligrams per liter (mg/L) detection limit. One sample had the maximum value of 11 mg/L, which exceeds the Pennsylvania action level of 7 mg/L. Additionally, three other samples had concentrations of methane greater than 4 mg/L. Outgassing of such levels of methane from the water to air within a confined space can result in a potential hazard. 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 with relatively elevated concentrations of iron, manganese, ammonia, lithium, fluoride, and boron. Other constituents, including barium, sodium, chloride, and bromide, commonly were elevated, but not limited to, those well-water samples with elevated methane. Low levels of ethane (as much as 1.2 mg/L) were present in eight samples with the highest methane concentrations. Five samples were analyzed for methane isotopes. The isotopic and hydrocarbon compositions in these five samples suggest the methane may be of microbial origin or a mixture of thermogenic and microbial gas, but differed from the compositions reported for mud-gas logging samples collected during drilling of gas wells.

The concentrations of sodium (median 8.2 mg/L), chloride (median 7.64 mg/L), and bromide (median 0.02 mg/L) for the 47 groundwater samples collected for this study ranged widely and were positively correlated with one another and with specific conductance and associated measures of ionic strength. Sixty percent of the Potter County well-water samples had chloride concentrations less than 10 mg/L. Samples with higher chloride concentrations had variable bromide concentrations and corresponding chloride/bromide ratios that are consistent with sources such as road-deicing salt and septic effluent (low bromide) or brine (high bromide). Brines are naturally present in deeper parts of the regional groundwater system and, in some cases, may be mobilized by gas drilling. It is also possible that valley wells were drilled close to or into the brine-freshwater interface, so brine signatures do not necessarily indicate contamination due to 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. Although 1 of 8 groundwater samples with the highest methane concentrations (greater than 0.2 mg/L) had concentrations of chloride and bromide with corresponding chloride/bromide ratios that indicated mixing with road-deicing salt, the other 7 of 8 samples with elevated methane had concentrations of chloride and bromide with corresponding chloride/bromide ratios that indicated mixing with a small amount of brine (0.02 percent or less) similar in composition to those reported for gas and oil well brines in Pennsylvania. In several eastern Pennsylvania counties where gas drilling is absent, groundwater with comparable chloride/bromide ratios and chloride concentrations have been reported. Approximately 50 percent of Potter County well-water samples, including two samples with the fourth (72.9 mg/L) and fifth (47.0 mg/L) highest chloride concentrations, have chloride/bromide ratios that indicate predominantly anthropogenic sources of chloride, such as road-deicing salt or septic effluent.

Living with wildfire in the Squilchuck Drainage - Chelan County, Washington: 2020 data report

Released September 01, 2020 09:16 EST

2020, Data Report RMRS-RN-87

Hannah Brenkert-Smith, Patricia A. Champ, Jon Riley, Christopher M. Barth, Colleen Donovan, James R. Meldrum, Carolyn Wagner

Research on the social dimensions of wildfire provides opportunities to understand how communities and the people who reside in those communities interact with the threat of wildfire. Overall, three findings from this project were particularly noteworthy. First, household survey results indicate that residents in the Squilchuck Drainage, Chelan County, Washington have high expectations of response services in the event of a wildfire. Second, the survey data indicated Chelan County Fire District 1 (CCFD1) was the most frequently reported source of wildfire risk information and was characterized as a source of useful information. Finally, the project in the Squilchuck Drainage was an opportunity to examine how heterogeneous communities inhabit a contiguous biophysical location. Reported findings highlight the fact that even in relatively small geographic spaces, the social variation could have important implications for how a wildfire mitigation program attends to the varying social conditions within the communities that they serve.

Robotic environmental DNA bio-surveillance of freshwater health

Released September 01, 2020 07:46 EST

2020, Scientific Reports (10)

Adam J. Sepulveda, Jim M. Birch, Elliott Barnhart, Christopher M. Merkes, Kevan Yamahara, Roman III Marin, Stacy Kinsey, Peter R. Wright, Christian Schmidt

Autonomous water sampling technologies may help to overcome the human resource challenges of monitoring biological threats to rivers over long time periods and large geographic areas. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute has pioneered a robotic Environmental Sample Processor (ESP) that overcomes some of the constraints associated with traditional sampling since it can automate water sample filtration and preservation of the captured material or homogenize it for immediate analyses in situ. The ESP was originally developed for marine environment applications. Here we evaluated whether the ESP can provide reliable, timely information on environmental (e)DNA detections of human and fish pathogens and introduced fishes at U.S. Geological Survey streamgage sites in freshwater rivers. We compared eDNA collected via ESP at high frequency (e.g., every 3 h) with manual eDNA collections collected at lower frequency (e.g., weekly). We found that water samples filtered and preserved by ESPs successfully detected the DNA of human pathogens, fish pathogens and introduced fishes. Both ESP and manually collected samples provided similar information about target DNA presence. We suggest that the greatest current benefit of the ESP is the cost savings of high frequency, bio-surveillance at remote or hard to access sites. The full potential of robotic technologies like the ESP will be realized when they can more easily execute in situ analyses of water samples and rapidly transmit results to decision-makers.

Uranium bioaccumulation dynamics in the mayfly Neocloeon triangulifer and application to site-specific prediction

Released September 01, 2020 07:14 EST

2020, Environmental Science & Technology

Brianna L. Henry, Marie-Noele Croteau, David Walters, Janet L. Miller, Daniel J. Cain, Christopher C. Fuller

Little is known about the underlying mechanisms governing the bioaccumulation of uranium (U) in aquatic insects. We experimentally parameterized conditional rate constants for aqueous U uptake, dietary U uptake, and U elimination for the aquatic baetid mayfly Neocloeon triangulifer. Results showed that this species accumulates U from both the surrounding water and diet, with waterborne uptake prevailing. Elevated dietary U concentrations decreased feeding rates, presumably by altering food palatability or impairing the mayfly’s digestive processes, or both. Nearly 90% of the accumulated U was eliminated within 24 h after the waterborne exposure ceased, reflecting the desorption of weakly bound U from the insect’s integument. To examine whether the experimentally derived rate constants for N. triangulifer could be generalized to baetid mayflies, mayfly U concentrations were predicted using the water chemistry and U measured in periphyton from springs in Grand Canyon (United States) and were compared to U concentrations in spring-dwelling mayflies. Predicted and observed mayfly U concentrations were in good agreement. Under the modeled site-specific conditions, waterborne U uptake accounted for 52–93% of the bioaccumulated U. U accumulation was limited in these wild populations due to a combination of factors including low concentrations of bioavailable dissolved U species, slow U uptake rates from food, and fast U elimination.

Shaping land use change and ecosystem restoration in a water-stressed agricultural landscape to achieve multiple benefits

Released August 31, 2020 18:58 EST

2020, Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems (4)

Benjamin P. Bryant, T. Rodd Kelsey, Adrian L. Vogl, Stacie A. Wolny, Duncan J. MacEwan, Paul Selmants, Tanushree Biswas, H. Scott Butterfield

Irrigated agriculture has grown rapidly over the last 50 years, helping food production keep pace with population growth, but also leading to significant habitat and biodiversity loss globally. Now, in some regions, land degradation and overtaxed water resources mean historical production levels may need to be reduced. We demonstrate how analytically supported planning for habitat restoration in stressed agricultural landscapes can recover biodiversity and create co-benefits during transitions to sustainability. We apply our approach in California's San Joaquin Valley where groundwater regulations are driving significant land use change. We link agricultural-economic and land use change models to generate plausible landscapes with different cropping patterns, including temporary fallowing and permanent retirement. We find that a large fraction of the reduced cultivation is met through temporary fallowing, but still estimate over 86,000 hectares of permanent retirement. We then apply systematic conservation planning to identify optimized restoration solutions that secure at least 10,000 hectares of high quality habitat for each of five representative endangered species, accounting for spatially varying opportunity costs specific to each plausible future landscape. The analyses identified consolidated areas common to all land use scenarios where restoration could be targeted to enhance habitat by utilizing land likely to be retired anyway, and by shifting some retirement from regions with low habitat value to regions with high habitat value. We also show potential co-benefits of retirement (derived from avoided nitrogen loadings and soil carbon sequestration), though these require careful consideration of additionality. Our approach provides a generalizable means to inform multi-benefit adaptation planning in response to agricultural stressors.

Cottonwoods, water, and people-Integrating analysis of tree rings with observations of elders from the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes of the Wind River Reservation, Wyoming

Released August 31, 2020 12:55 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1072

Shannon M. McNeeley, Jonathan M. Friedman, Tyler A. Beeton, Richard D. Thaxton

We assessed the history of flow and riparian ecosystem change along the Wind River using cottonwood tree-ring data, streamgage records, historical temperature and precipitation data, drought indices, and local observations and Traditional Ecological Knowledge from elders of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes of the Wind River Reservation, Wyoming. This assessment identified impacts that have occurred to riparian resources of concern to the Tribes, which will assist in prioritizing drought planning efforts. Impacts included reduced abundance, reduced regeneration, and increased mortality in cottonwoods (Populus deltoides and P. angustifolia); an increase in invasive species, especially Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia), that are gradually replacing cottonwoods and other native woody plants; decreased abundance of native and culturally important plants; reduced abundance of culturally important fish; reduced volume and changes to the timing of flows; and changes in river course. This assessment documented the biophysical and social factors that have contributed to riparian ecosystem change and to reduced water availability and flows, including agricultural diversion, drought, and fire. Cottonwoods along the Wind River are as much as 300 years old. By relating tree-ring width to recorded streamflows, we were able to reconstruct streamflows confidently back to the 1850s and speculatively back to the mid-1700s. Extending the historical record of streamflows allows for a more-complete understanding of hydroclimatic variability and provides a foundation for developing preparedness and response strategies for drought management. Ring width of cottonwood trees at the Boysen Site was more strongly correlated to river flow than to local precipitation or temperature, indicating that growth of trees is controlled more by montane snowmelt than by local weather. Therefore, tree rings are a better indicator of water supply than of the local conditions controlling water demand. The extended flow record from tree rings revealed the occurrence of a major period of low flow from 1870 to 1910 that was not evident in the shorter instrumental records of flow and weather. Information from tree rings, streamflow measurements, drought indices, and elder observations all suggest that the early 2000s drought was the most severe, sustained drought in the last century. Our results illustrate how drought is experienced in different ways across locations and sectors, which underscores the importance of using multiple indicators for drought management. These results will contribute to ongoing assessment, monitoring, and planning efforts at the Wind River Reservation.

Dendrochronology of a rare long-lived mediterranean shrub

Released August 31, 2020 08:41 EST

2020, Tree-Ring Research (2) 61-73

Ellis Margolis, Keith Lombardo, Andrew E. Smith

Ceanothus verrucosus (CEVE) is a globally rare, long-lived, chaparral shrub endemic to coastal southern California (CA) and northern Mexico. There is concern for CEVE persistence because of habitat loss, fire, and climate change, yet little is known about basic features of the plant, including whether it contains annual rings, plant age, and climate–growth response. Growth-ring analysis was challenging because of semi-ring-porous structure, false, and missing rings. We successfully crossdated CEVE annual rings, primarily from Cabrillo National Monument, CA, using a nearby Pinus torreyana chronology. The oldest living individual had 116 rings; the oldest inner-ring date was 1873; and most of the plants established between 1894 and 1905, all older than previous estimates. CEVE mortality occurred during a dry period from the late 1940s through the early 1960s. Correlations between age and stem measurements were weak to moderate (r = 0.10 to 0.56) posing challenges for field-based estimates of plant ages, which are important for population modeling. Variability in CEVE ring width had a strong positive correlation with prior cool-season (October–April) precipitation, yet 2- to 7-day warm-season precipitation events were recorded as rare false rings in multiple years, indicating extreme plasticity in cambial phenology and growth response to moisture.

Genetic diversity targets and indicators in the CBD post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework must be improved

Released August 31, 2020 08:23 EST

2020, Biological Conservation (248)

Sean M. Hoban, Michael W. Bruford, Josephine D'Urban Jackson, Margarida Lopes-Fernandes, Myriam Heuertz, Paul A. Hohenlohe, Per Sjögren-Gulve, Gernot Segelbacher, Cristiano Vernesi, Sally Aitken, Laura D. Bertola, Paulette Bloomer, Martin Breed, Hernando Rodríguez-Correa, W. Chris Funk, Catherine E. Grueber, Margaret Hunter, Rodolfo Jaffe, Libby Liggins, Joachim Mergeay, Farideh Moharrek, David O'Brien, Rob Ogden, Clarisse Palma-Silva, Ivan Paz-Vinas, Jennifer Pierson, Uma Ramakrishnan, Murielle Simo-Droissart, Naoki Tani, Lisette Waits, Linda Laikre

The 196 parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will soon agree to a post-2020 global framework for conserving the three elements of biodiversity (genetic, species, and ecosystem diversity) while ensuring sustainable development and benefit sharing. As the most significant global conservation policy mechanism, the new CBD framework has far-reaching consequences- it will guide conservation actions and reporting for each member country until 2050. In previous CBD strategies, as well as other major conservation policy mechanisms, targets and indicators for genetic diversity (variation at the DNA level within species, which facilitates species adaptation and ecosystem function) were undeveloped and focused on species of agricultural relevance. We assert that, to meet global conservation goals, genetic diversity within all species, not just domesticated species and their wild relatives, must be conserved and monitored using appropriate metrics. Building on suggestions in a recent Letter in Science (Laikre et al., 2020) we expand argumentation for three new, pragmatic genetic indicators and modifications to two current indicators for maintaining genetic diversity and adaptive capacity of all species, and provide guidance on their practical use. The indicators are: 1) the number of populations with effective population size above versus below 500, 2) the proportion of populations maintained within species, 3) the number of species and populations in which genetic diversity is monitored using DNA-based methods. We also present and discuss Goals and Action Targets for post-2020 biodiversity conservation which are connected to these indicators and underlying data. These pragmatic indicators and goals have utility beyond the CBD; they should benefit conservation and monitoring of genetic diversity via national and global policy for decades to come.

Distance effects of gas field infrastructure on pygmy rabbits in southwestern Wyoming

Released August 31, 2020 08:11 EST

2020, Ecosphere (11)

Stephen S. Germaine, Timothy Assal, Aaron Freeman, Sarah K. Carter

As domestic energy development activity continues in the western United States, wildlife conservation planning in affected regions is increasingly important. The geologic basins where oil and gas energy exploration is occurring are primarily sagebrush steppe rangelands. Sagebrush steppe habitats may support more than 20 vertebrate species of conservation concern, and for many of these species, information is lacking on the effects of gas energy development. In earlier work, we demonstrated a negative relationship among development density of gas field infrastructure and pygmy rabbits (Brachylagus idahoensis). We now examine the spatial relationship among gas field infrastructure, pygmy rabbits, and their habitat on four major gas fields in southwest Wyoming. Using data collected from 120 plots over three years (2011–2013) and 2012 National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) imagery, we evaluated (1) whether well pads are more likely to be located in areas of pygmy rabbit habitat, (2) whether the presence and abundance of pygmy rabbits are related to distance from infrastructure, and, if so, (3) how much of the total surface area on a gas field is affected. Well pads on three gas fields occurred in higher quality pygmy rabbit habitat than did a set of randomly generated points, and the abundance and probability of pygmy rabbits being present were lower within approximately 0.5–1.5 km of the nearest road and 2 km of well pads and utilities. Buffering a digital layer of roads and well pads on one gas field revealed that nearly 82% of the (4417 km2) surface area was within 1 km of infrastructure, and over 95% of the gas field surface area was within 2 km. This need not be the case on future gas fields. Directional and horizontal well drilling technologies now make it possible for gas to be recovered from a greater area per well pad, enabling future gas field developments that require fewer well pads, roads, and pipeline corridors. Such changes would enable increased well pad spacing and provide the opportunity to locate gas field infrastructure in areas of poor quality wildlife habitat, avoid high priority habitat, and conserve a greater amount of on‐field wildlife habitat overall.

Paleoclimate ocean conditions shaped the evolution of corals and their skeletal composition through deep time

Released August 31, 2020 08:05 EST

2020, Nature Ecology & Evolution

Andrea M. Quattrini, Eliana Rodriguez-Burgueno, B. C. Faircloth, P. Cowman, M. R. Brugler, G. Farfan, M. E. Hellberg, M. V. Kitahara, Cheryl Morrison, D. A. Paz-Garcia, J. D. Reimer, C. S. McFadden

Identifying how past environmental conditions shaped the evolution of corals and their skeletal traits provides a framework for predicting their persistence and that of their non-calcifying relatives under impending global warming and ocean acidification. Here, we show that ocean geochemistry, particularly aragonite-calcite seas, drives patterns of morphological diversification in anthozoans (corals, sea anemones) by examining skeletal trait evolution in the context of a robust, time-calibrated phylogeny. The lability of skeletal composition among octocorals suggests a greater ability to adapt to changes in ocean chemistry compared to the homogeneity of the aragonitic skeleton of scleractinian corals. Pulses of diversification in anthozoans follow mass extinctions and reef crises, with sea anemones and proteinaceous corals filling empty niches as tropical reef-builders went extinct. Changing environmental conditions will likely diminish aragonitic reef-building scleractinians, but the evolutionary history of the Anthozoa suggests other groups will persist and diversify in their wake.

Exposure of an Early to Middle Noachian valley network in three dimensions on Mars

Released August 29, 2020 09:28 EST

2021, Icarus (354)

James A. Skinner Jr., Corey M. Fortezzo, Peter J. Mouginis-Mark

We document a set of channels in a section of the Martian cratered highlands located between crustal massifs northeast of Hellas Planitia that are visible in cross section and planview >200 m below the surface. The morphometry and spatial distribution of the outcrops provide concrete geological evidence of a dynamic aqueous system in a structural sub-basin during the Early to Middle Noachian, bolstering evidence of conditions compatible with sustained liquid water on the surface very early in Mars' history.

Investigating apparent misalignment of predator-prey dynamics: Great Lakes lake trout and sea lampreys

Released August 29, 2020 07:56 EST

2020, Fisheries Research (232)

Jean V. Adams, Michael L. Jones, James R. Bence

Interpreting ecological dynamics is challenging when observed patterns are not aligned with presumed models. Investigating possible sources of uncertainty is critical to understand the underlying system and ultimately inform management decisions. In this study, we used simulation to investigate the hypothesis that observed inconsistencies in Great Lakes lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) and sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) predator-prey dynamics were caused by measurement error in the abundance and predation metrics. When lake trout abundances increase and sea lamprey abundances decrease, predation rates are expected to decline (and vice versa). Occasionally predation rates do not change as expected, leading to an inconsistency in expected predator-prey dynamics. We used a Type II functional response model to align lake trout relative abundance, adult sea lamprey abundance, and sea lamprey marking rates of lake trout in each Great Lake. Then we added measurement error to each of the simulated metrics to see how it contributed to observed inconsistencies in the marking rates. The simulated inconsistency rate was far less than the observed inconsistency rate in Lakes Superior and Erie, indicating that measurement error was not primarily responsible for the misalignment of metrics, contrary to our hypothesis. Rather than ignoring these inconsistencies as unfortunate consequences of imperfect assessments, we recommend that future inconsistencies be scrutinized for possible mechanistic explanations. We suspect that predator-prey dynamics are being influenced by spatially structured within-lake components and the presence of alternative hosts, neither of which were accounted for in the functional response model we used.

Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center—2019 annual report

Released August 28, 2020 15:15 EST

2020, Circular 1467

Sara Ernst

The 2019 annual report of the U.S. Geological Survey Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center highlights accomplishments of 2019, includes a list of 2019 publications, and summarizes the work of the center, as well as the work of each of its science groups. This product allows readers to gain a general understanding of the focus areas of the center’s scientific research and learn more about specific projects and progress made throughout 2019, all while enjoying interesting photographs taken in various environments and laboratories, and applicable maps and figures.

Use of boosted regression trees to quantify cumulative instream flow resulting from curtailment of irrigation in the Sprague River basin, Oregon

Released August 28, 2020 09:28 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2019-5130

Tamara M. Wood

A boosted regression trees (BRT) approach was used to estimate the amount by which streamflow is increased when irrigation is regulated (curtailed) upstream of a streamgage on the Sprague River in southern-central Oregon. The BRT approach differs from most other approaches that require baseline conditions for comparison, where those baseline conditions are determined from past observations by searching for hydrologically similar years when irrigation was not regulated. Such baseline conditions are always imperfect estimates of the true baseline conditions. The BRT approach instead estimates unique baseline conditions for any year in which irrigation is regulated by calculating the baseline condition based on measurements of precipitation and weather observations that determine evapotranspiration, and other measurements that are proxies for the effects of climate and regional groundwater pumping on water-table elevation, using a model that has been trained in years of no regulation. The amount by which streamflow is increased by regulation is then calculated by subtracting the estimated baseline conditions from the measured streamflow. The approach is challenged by the fact that the streamflow increase may be a small fraction of the total streamflow; nonetheless, during 2 years in which regulation was started early and was implemented consistently through the season, the increased flow made up about one third of the flow past the streamgage during the regulation period. An advantage of this approach is that with rigorous model testing with holdout data, the threshold for detecting streamflow increase and intervals around the estimates of increase at a desired level of confidence can be quantified. The model relies on datasets that are readily available and updated continuously and therefore can be used operationally to inform resource management.

Coming of age: Morphometric variation in the hand skeletons of juvenile and adult Lesser Treeshrews (Scandentia: Tupaiidae: Tupaia minor Günther, 1876)

Released August 28, 2020 09:06 EST

2020, Journal of Mammalogy (101) 1151-1164

Neal Woodman, Ananth Miller-Murthy, Link E. Olson, Eric J. Sargis

Morphometric analyses of the manus skeleton have proven useful in understanding species limits and morphological divergence among tupaiid treeshrews (Scandentia: Tupaiidae). Specimens in these studies are typically limited to mature individuals with fully erupted permanent dentition, which eliminates potentially confounding variation attributable to age, but can also exclude rare taxa and small island populations that are poorly represented in systematic collections. To determine the real limits associated with including immature animals in such studies, we used multivariate analyses to study sexual and age variation of the manus skeleton within two allopatric populations of the Lesser Treeshrew (Tupaia minor Günther, 1876) from the Malay Peninsula and from Borneo that we treated as separate samples. Individuals were aged using dental eruption of the permanent dentition. We also recorded the degree of epiphyseal fusion of the bones of the manus based on x-rays of study skins. We then tested our ability to distinguish the two populations using a series of discriminant function analyses of hand measurements from samples that included varying proportions of immature individuals and adults. We found no evidence of sexual dimorphism in hand proportions, permitting us to combine females and males in our samples. Epiphyseal fusion of the metacarpals and phalanges typically occurs by the time the third molars have completely erupted, and fusion of the distal epiphyses of the radius and ulna typically occurs by the time the permanent fourth premolars are in place. There is occasional asynchrony between dental age and epiphyseal fusion. In both populations, the hands of most infants and subadults provide morphometric values within the range of variation of adults, although they are typically distributed in the lower part of the adult range and have the potential to bias the sample toward lower mean size. The inclusion of infants and subadults when attempting to discriminate between two taxa generally results in lower rates of correct classifications, although the rates increase as the sample of immature individuals is limited to older subadults. As a general rule, we recommend that infants and subadults continue to be excluded from analyses when exploring taxonomic boundaries among treeshrews. In cases of extremely small sample sizes of adults, however, older subadults—in which the permanent third premolars are erupting or in place—can be used with appropriate caution.

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

Released August 28, 2020 08:45 EST

2020, Open-File Report 2020-1095

Douglas A. Burns

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

Compositional layering in Io driven by magmatic segregation and volcanism

Released August 28, 2020 07:22 EST

2020, Journal of Geophysical Research (125)

Dan C Spencer, Richard F. Katz, Ian J. Hewitt, David A. May, Laszlo P. Kestay

The compositional evolution of volcanic bodies like Io is not well understood. Magmatic segregation and volcanic eruptions transport tidal heat from Io's interior to its surface. Several observed eruptions appear to be extremely high temperature (≥ 1600 K), suggesting either very high degrees of melting, refractory source regions, or intensive viscous heating on ascent. To address this ambiguity, we develop a model that couples crust and mantle dynamics to a simple compositional system. We analyse the model to investigate chemical structure and evolution. We demonstrate that magmatic segregation and volcanic eruptions lead to stratification of the mantle, the extent of which depends on how easily high temperature melts from the more refractory lower mantle can migrate upwards. We propose that Io's highest temperature eruptions originate from this lower mantle region, and that such eruptions act to limit the degree of compositional stratification.

Use of environmental DNA to detect grass carp spawning events

Released August 27, 2020 20:12 EST

2020, Fishes (5)

Cari-Ann Hayer, Michael F. Bayless, Amy E. George, Nathan Thompson, Catherine A. Richter, Duane C. Chapman

The timing and location of spawning events are important data for managers seeking to control invasive grass carp populations. Ichthyoplankton tows for grass carp eggs and larvae can be used to detect spawning events; however, these samples can be highly debris-laden, and are expensive and laborious to process. An alternative method, environmental DNA (eDNA) technology, has proven effective in determining the presence of aquatic species. The objectives of this project were to assess the use of eDNA collections and quantitative eDNA analysis to assess the potential spawning of grass carp in five reservoir tributaries, and to compare those results to the more traditional method of ichthyoplankton tows. Grass carp eDNA was detected in 56% of sampling occasions and was detected in all five rivers. Concentrations of grass carp eDNA were orders of magnitude higher in June, corresponding to elevated discharge and egg presence. Grass carp environmental DNA flux (copies/h) was lower when no eggs were present and was higher when velocities and discharge increased and eggs were present. There was a positive relationship between grass carp eDNA flux and egg flux. Our results support the further development of eDNA analysis as a method to detect the spawning events of grass carp or other rheophilic spawners. 

Bathymetric surveys of Morse and Geist Reservoirs in central Indiana made with a multibeam echosounder, 2016, and comparison with previous surveys

Released August 27, 2020 12:35 EST

2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5067

Justin A. Boldt, Zachary W. Martin

The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with Citizens Energy Group, conducted a bathymetric survey of Morse and Geist Reservoirs in central Indiana in April and May of 2016 with a multibeam echosounder. Both reservoirs serve as water supply, flood control, and recreational resources for the city of Indianapolis and the surrounding communities.

Morse and Geist Reservoirs were surveyed to create updated bathymetric maps, determine storage capacities (volume) at specified water-surface elevations, and compare current conditions to historical surveys. Bathymetric data were collected using a high-resolution multibeam echosounder, and supplemental data were collected in coves and other shallow areas using an acoustic Doppler current profiler. The data were processed and combined using HYPACK and ArcMap software to develop a triangulated irregular network, a 5-foot gridded bathymetric dataset, a reservoir capacity table, and a bathymetric contour map for each reservoir.

The computed volume of Morse Reservoir was 23,136 acre-feet (7.54 billion gallons) with a surface area of 1,439 acres (62.7 million square feet). The computed volume of Geist Reservoir was 21,146 acre-feet (6.89 billion gallons) with a surface area of 1,853 acres (80.7 million square feet).

Between 1996 and 2016, lake bottom elevations have increased by a mean of 0.32 feet in Morse Reservoir and 0.27 feet in Geist Reservoir. The data indicate higher sedimentation rates in the upper parts of each reservoir as compared to near the dam and higher sedimentation rates in Morse Reservoir (0.5 inch per year) than in Geist Reservoir (0.2 inch per year). The differences between the current and historical surveys may be due to sedimentation, differences in accuracy between previous surveys, or a combination of both.

Changes in prey, turbidity, and competition reduce somatic growth and cause the collapse of a fish population

Released August 27, 2020 11:31 EST

2020, Ecological Monographs

Josh Korman, Mike Yard, Maria C. Dzul, Charles Yackulic, Michael Dodrill, Bridget Deemer, Theodore Kennedy

Somatic growth exerts strong control on patterns in the abundance of animal populations via effects on maturation, fecundity, and survival rates of juveniles and adults. In this paper, we quantify abiotic and biotic drivers of rainbow trout growth in the Colorado River, AZ, and the resulting impact on spatial and temporal variation in abundance. Inferences are based on approximately 10,000 observations of individual growth grates obtained through an intensive mark‐recapture effort conducted over five years (2012‐2016) in a 130 km‐long study segment downstream of Glen Canyon Dam. Prey availability, turbidity‐driven feeding efficiency, and intra‐specific competition were the dominant drivers of rainbow trout growth. Discharge, water temperature, and solar insulation were also evaluated but had a smaller influence. Mixed‐effect models explained 79‐82% of the variability in observed growth rates, with fixed covariate effects explaining 79‐87% of the total variation in growth parameters across five reaches and 18 quarterly sampling intervals. Reductions in growth owing in part to a phosphorous‐driven decline in prey availability, led to substantive weight loss and poor fish condition. This in turn lowered survival rates and delayed maturation, which led to a rapid decline in abundance and later recruitments. Reductions in feeding efficiency, due to episodic inputs of fine sediment from tributaries, and warmer water temperatures, contributed to reduced growth in downstream reaches, which led to more severe declines in abundance. Somatic growth rates increased following the population collapse due to reduced competition, and in the absence of substantive increases in prey availability. Our study elucidates important linkages between abiotic and biotic factors, somatic growth, and vital rates, and demonstrates how variation in somatic growth influences temporal and spatial patterns in abundance.

Spatiotemporal modeling of dengue fever risk in Puerto Rico

Released August 27, 2020 09:06 EST

2020, Spatial and Spatio-temporal Epidemiology (35)

Gavino Puggioni, Jannelle Couret, Emily Serman, Ali S Akanda, Howard S. Ginsberg

Dengue Fever (DF) is a mosquito vector transmitted flavivirus and a reemerging global public health threat. Although several studies have addressed the relation between climatic and environmental factors and the epidemiology of DF, or looked at purely spatial or time series analysis, this article presents a joint spatio-temporal epidemiological analysis. Our approach accounts for both temporal and spatial autocorrelation in DF incidence and the effect of temperatures and precipitation by using a hierarchical Bayesian approach. We fitted several space-time areal models to predict relative risk at the municipality level and for each month from 1990 to 2014. Model selection was performed according to several criteria: the preferred models detected significant effects for temperature at time lags of up to four months and for precipitation up to three months. A boundary detection analysis is incorporated in the modeling approach, and it was successful in detecting municipalities with historically anomalous risk.

    Water priorities for the Nation—U.S. Geological Survey Integrated Water Availability Assessments

    Released August 26, 2020 19:25 EST

    2020, Fact Sheet 2020-3044

    Mark P. Miller, Brian R. Clark, Sandra M. Eberts, Patrick M. Lambert, Patricia Toccalino

    The United States faces growing challenges to its water supply, infrastructure, and aquatic ecosystems because of population growth, climate change, floods and droughts, and aging water delivery systems. To help address these challenges, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Water Resources Mission Area has established new strategic priorities that capitalize on the operational and scientific strengths of the USGS to address these complex societal issues. The USGS Integrated Water Availability Assessment Program within the Water Resources Mission Area will provide nationally consistent assessments of water available for human and ecological needs and identify factors that limit water availability. Integrated Water Availability Assessments will assess current conditions, long-term trends, factors responsible for current conditions and observed trends, and provide forecasts of future changes at national and regional scales.

    Grade and tonnage model for tungsten skarn deposits—2020 update

    Released August 26, 2020 13:45 EST

    2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5085

    Carlin J. Green, Graham W. Lederer, Heather L. Parks, Michael L. Zientek

    This report presents an updated grade and tonnage model for tungsten skarn deposits. As a critical component of the U.S. Geological Survey’s three-part form of quantitative mineral resource assessment, robust grade and tonnage models are essential to transforming mineral resource assessments into effective tools for decision makers. Using the best data available at the time of publication, this represents the first attempt in nearly 30 years to capture current mineral inventory and cumulative production data for worldwide tungsten skarn deposits. The accuracy of modern assessments of undiscovered tungsten skarn resources is highly influenced by the use of current data on the distribution of the grades and tonnages of well-explored tungsten skarn deposits. Primary factors affecting the changes to these distributions in the model presented here compared with those of previous models are the inclusion of important deposits, especially those in China that had been omitted in previous models; expanded mineral inventories resulting from increased exploration; and changes to international reporting standards. These factors have resulted in dramatic increases in average ore tonnage and slight decreases in the average grade of tungsten skarn deposits compared with previous models. Large increases in contained metal are observed among many of the individual deposits incorporated within this model that were also included in previous tungsten skarn grade and tonnage models. This report also provides recommendations for input parameters related to grade and tonnage models to use with software tools designed to facilitate the three-part form of quantitative mineral resource assessments.

    Concentrations and size distribution of TiO2 and Ag engineered particles in five wastewater treatment plants in the United States

    Released August 26, 2020 11:10 EST

    2020, Science of the Total Environment (753)

    Md. Mahmudun Nabi, Jingjing Wang, Madeleine Meyer, Marie-Noele Croteau, Niveen Ismail, Mohammed Baalousha

    The growing use of engineered particles (e.g., nanosized and pigment sized particles, 1 to 100 nm and 100 to 300 nm, respectively) in a variety of consumer products increases the likelihood of their release into the environment. Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are an important pathways of introduction of engineered particles to the aquatic systems. This study reports the concentrations, removal efficiencies, and particle size distributions of Ag and TiO2 engineered particles in five WWTPs in three states in the United States. The concentration of Ag engineered particles was quantified as the total Ag concentration, whereas the concentration of TiO2 engineered particles was quantified using mass-balance calculations and shifts in the elemental ratio of Ti/Nb above their natural background elemental ratio. Ratios of Ti/Nb in all WWTP influents, activated sludges, and effluents were 2–12 times higher (e.g., 519 to 3243) than the natural background Ti/Nb ratio (e.g., 267 ± 9), indicating that 49–92% of Ti originates from anthropogenic sources. The concentration of TiO2 engineered particles (in μg TiO2 L−1) in the influent, activated sludge, and effluent varied within the ranges of 70–670, 3570–6700, and 7–30, respectively. The concentration of Ag engineered particles (in μg Ag L−1) in the influent, activated sludge, and effluent varied within the ranges of 0.11–0.33, 1.45–1.65, and 0.01–0.04, respectively. The overall removal efficiency (e.g., effluent/influent concentrations) of TiO2 engineered particles (e.g., 90 to 96%) was higher than that for Ag engineered particles (e.g., 82 to 95%). Particles entering WWTPs are in the nanosized range for Ag (e.g., >99%) and a mixture of nanosized (e.g., 15 to 90%) and pigment sized particles (e.g., 10 to 85%) for TiO2. Nearly all Ag (>99%) and 55 to 100% of TiO2 particles discharged to surface water with WWTP effluent are within the nanosize range. This study provides evidence that TiO2 and Ag engineered nanomaterials enter aquatic systems with WWTP effluents, and that their concentrations are expected to increase with the increased applications of TiO2 and Ag engineered nanomaterials in consumer products.

    Assessment of dissolved-selenium concentrations and loads in the Lower Gunnison River Basin, Colorado, as part of the Selenium Management Program, 2011–17

    Released August 26, 2020 10:30 EST

    2020, Open-File Report 2020-1078

    Mark F. Henneberg

    The Gunnison Basin Selenium Management Program implemented a water-quality monitoring network in 2011 to measure concentrations of selenium in the lower Gunnison River Basin in Colorado. Selenium is a trace element that bioaccumulates in aquatic food chains. Selenium is essential for life, but elevated amounts can cause reproductive failure, deformities, and other harmful effects. The primary goal of the Selenium Management Program is to meet the State of Colorado water-quality standard of 4.6 micrograms per liter (µg/L) for dissolved selenium at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) streamflow-gaging station number 09152500—Gunnison River near Grand Junction, Colorado—herein referred to as “Whitewater.” The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation, has completed a review of dissolved-selenium data collected from the Selenium Management Program network during Water Year (WY) 2017 (October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017) to further the understanding of the status and trends of selenium in the basin. This report presents the percentile values for selenium because regulatory agencies in Colorado make decisions based on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act section 303(d), which uses percentile values for concentrations. Also presented are dissolved-selenium loads at 14 sites in the lower Gunnison River Basin for WYs 2011–17. Annual dissolved-selenium loads were calculated for six sites with continuous U.S. Geological Survey streamflow-gaging stations. These six sites are referred to as “core” sites in this report. The remaining sites, which do not have streamflow-gaging stations, are referred to as “ancillary” sites in this report. During WY 2017, the loads calculated at the six core sites ranged from 306 pounds (lb) at Uncompahgre River at Colona to 12,600 lb at Whitewater, respectively.

    By using discrete water-quality samples and the associated discharge measurements, instantaneous loads were calculated for 14 sites in WYs 2011–17 where discrete water-quality sampling took place. Median instantaneous loads ranged from 0.52 pounds per day (lb/d) at Uncompahgre River at Colona to 35.7 lb/d at Whitewater. Mean instantaneous loads ranged from 0.63 lb/d at Cummings Gulch at mouth to 35.5 lb/d at Whitewater. Most tributary sites in the basin had a median instantaneous dissolved-selenium load of less than 20.0 lb/d. In general, dissolved-selenium loads at Gunnison River main-stem sites showed an increase from upstream to downstream.

    The State of Colorado’s water-quality standard for dissolved selenium of 4.6 µg/L was compared to the 85th percentiles for dissolved selenium at selected sites. Annual 85th percentiles for dissolved selenium were calculated by using estimated dissolved-selenium concentrations from linear regression models for the six core sites with U.S. Geological Survey streamflow-gaging stations. The 85th-percentile concentrations for WY 2017 based on this method ranged from 0.68 µg/L at Uncompahgre River at Colona to 140 µg/L at Loutzenhizer Arroyo at North River Road. The 85th percentiles for concentrations of dissolved selenium also were calculated from water-quality samples collected during WY 2017 from sites with sufficient data. The annual 85th-percentile concentrations based on the discrete samples ranged from 0.75 µg/L at Uncompahgre River at Colona to 106 µg/L at Loutzenhizer Arroyo at North River Road.

    An analysis was completed for Whitewater to determine if an upward or downward trend exists for dissolved-selenium loads during two time periods. The first time period included all data at Whitewater, whereas the second time period focused on more recent data. The trend analysis indicates a decrease from 22,200 to 12,600 lb, which is a 43.1 percent (9,600 lb) reduction during the time period WY 1986 through WY 2017. The trend analysis for the annual dissolved-selenium load for WY 1995 through WY 2017 indicates a decrease of 6,600 lb per year, or 35.5 percent. An evaluation of laboratory bias was completed for selenium data which was used in the trend analysis. Findings indicated a potential positive bias of approximately 12 percent may exist in the data from October 2005 through August 2015.

    Distribution and transport of Olympia oyster, Ostrea lurida, larvae in northern Puget Sound, Washington, USA

    Released August 26, 2020 08:05 EST

    2020, Journal of Shellfish Research (39) 215-233

    S.K. Grossman, Eric Grossman, Julie S. Barber, S.K. Gamblewood, Sean C Crosby

    As efforts for restoring Olympia oyster (Ostrea lurida) populations have expanded, there is an increased need to understand local factors that could influence the long-term success of these projects. To address concerns over potential limitations to recruitment at a restoration site in northern Puget Sound, Washington, USA, a study was developed to characterize physical processes governing larval transport in conjunction with larval abundance and environmental factors. Larval presence was not associated with tide cycle, season, or a combination of tide cycle and season. In terms of location, larvae were more likely to be present at offshore and intertidal sites versus the estuarine lagoon where the adult population resides. Larval density was higher during late summer ebbs versus early summer floods. Across sampling dates and locations, larval sizes ranged from 184 to 263 µm, indicating that larvae were released into the water column throughout the reproductive season and retained in the embayment for at least ~16 days. Throughout different tidal cycles in Skagit Bay, acoustic Doppler current profilers were used to measure current direction and velocities, concurrent with plankton sampling. Surface currents in the study area alternated between a clockwise and counterclockwise gyre during initial ebb and flood tides, respectively. Larvae exported from the source population during initial to mid-ebbs are swept into a northward gyre, and potentially retained at intertidal sites alongshore. These results will provide resource managers attempting to restore native bivalves with the ability to expand populations by identifying optimal areas for habitat enhancement through natural recruitment.

    Developing post-alert messaging for ShakeAlert, the earthquake early warning system for the West Coast of the United States of America

    Released August 26, 2020 07:04 EST

    2020, International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction (50)

    Sara McBride, Ann Bostrom, Jeannette Sutton, Robert Michael deGroot, Annemarie S. Baltay, Brian Terbush, Paul Bodin, Maximilian Dixon, Emily Holland, Ryan Arba, Paul C. Laustsen, Sophia Liu, Margaret Vinci

    As ShakeAlert, the earthquake early warning system for the West Coast of the U.S., begins its transition to operational public alerting, we explore how post-alert messaging might represent system performance. Planned post-alert messaging can provide timely, crucial information to both emergency managers and ShakeAlert operators as well as calibrate expectations among various publics or public user groups and inform their responses to future alerts. There is a concern among the scientists and emergency managers that false alerts may negatively impact trust in the system, so quickly disseminated post-alert messages are necessary. For a new early warning system, such as ShakeAlert, this is particularly relevant given that the potentially affected population is likely to be unfamiliar with this system. We address this concern in six steps: (1) assessment of ShakeAlert performance to date, (2) characterization of human behavior and response to earthquake alerts, (3) presentation of a decision tree for issuing post-alert messages, (4) design of a critical set of post-alert messaging scenarios, (5) elaboration of these scenarios with message templates for a variety of communication channels, and (6) development of a typology of earthquake alerts. We further explore methods for monitoring and evaluating ShakeAlert post-alert messaging, for continuous improvement to the system.

    Flood-frequency estimation for very low annual exceedance probabilities using historical, paleoflood, and regional information with consideration of nonstationarity

    Released August 25, 2020 14:37 EST

    2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5065

    Karen R. Ryberg, Kelsey A. Kolars, Julie E. Kiang, Meredith L. Carr

    Streamflow estimates for floods with an annual exceedance probability of 0.001 or lower are needed to accurately portray risks to critical infrastructure, such as nuclear powerplants and large dams. However, extrapolating flood-frequency curves developed from at-site systematic streamflow records to very low annual exceedance probabilities (less than 0.001) results in large uncertainties in the streamflow estimates. Traditionally, methods for statistically estimating flood frequency have relied on the systematic streamflow record, which provides a time series of annual maximum flood peaks, often including some historical peaks. However, most peak-flow records are less than 100 years, and uncertainties are large when trying to extrapolate magnitudes of very low annual exceedance probability events.

    Other data may be available that extend the record beyond the systematic dataset. Historical data are defined as data from outside the period of systematic records but within the period of human records. Examples of historical information include flood estimates from other agencies and newspaper accounts that can be translated to flood magnitude point estimates, interval estimates, or perception thresholds (such as a statement that an 1880 flood was the largest since 1869). Paleoflood data, which may also extend the dataset, include a broad range of information about flood occurrence or magnitude from sources like sediment deposits or tree rings.

    Several assumptions are made in flood-frequency analysis, and an understanding of whether the data conform to these assumptions is desired. A particularly difficult assumption to evaluate for flood-frequency analysis is the underlying assumption that the flood series is stationary—the assumption that a time series of peak flow varies around a constant mean within a particular range of values (constant variance). As the hydrologic community’s understanding of natural systems and anthropogenic effects on streamflows has evolved, the community has come to understand that many surface-water systems exhibit one or more forms of nonstationarity, and thus the stationarity assumption is often violated to some degree. However, there is currently (2020) no consensus among hydrologists regarding the most appropriate flood-frequency-analysis methods for nonstationary systems, and this topic remains an active area of research.

    A literature review was completed to summarize the state of the science of flood frequency. The literature review highlights tools available to detect nonstationarities and identifies approaches that include external information to inform flood-frequency analysis. To demonstrate methods for initial data analysis and for incorporating historical and paleoflood information in flood-frequency analysis, five sites were selected: the Red River of the North at James Avenue Pumping Station, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada; lower reach, Rapid Creek, South Dakota; Spring Creek, South Dakota; Cherry Creek near Melvin, Colorado; and Escalante River near Escalante, Utah. The sites were chosen for the availability of published historical and paleoflood data and for their geographic diversity and unique characteristics, which highlighted issues such as autocorrelation, change points, trends, outlier peaks, or short periods of record.

    An initial data analysis that involved examining records for autocorrelation, change points, and trends was completed for all sites. The flood-frequency analysis completed for this study used version 7.2 of the U.S. Geological Survey PeakFQ program. Multiple analyses were done on each site documenting the change in the flood-frequency curve when additional historical or paleoflood data were added. When other flood-frequency studies were available, their results were compared to the results here. The comparisons in some cases simply show the effect of additional years of data, whereas other comparisons show results from probability distributions or fitting methods other than those used in PeakFQ.

    For the Red River of the North, flood-frequency analysis shows that paleoflood data appear necessary to reasonably estimate very low annual exceedance probabilities. For the analysis of the lower reach of Rapid Creek and Spring Creek, paleoflood information helped put a high outlier from the systematic period in context; however, very low annual exceedance probabilities at these sites still had extraordinarily large confidence bounds. These sites also showed that paleoflood information might be transferred from one site to another, with the caveat that this is a case where we had existing paleoflood data to test the transfer of paleoflood information—this is not the case at many sites, and transferring paleoflood information requires assumptions about the comparability of floods at the sites. The Cherry Creek analysis affirmed the result of an earlier study that showed that the generalized Pareto distribution was not a good distribution for estimating very low annual exceedance probabilities. The Escalante River analysis showed that adding paleoflood information might increase uncertainty for very low annual exceedance probabilities, compared to analysis with the systematic period of record information only, when the paleoflood peaks are of much larger magnitudes than the systematic record.

    Development of regional skew coefficients for selected flood durations in the Columbia River Basin, northwestern United States and British Columbia, Canada

    Released August 25, 2020 12:25 EST

    2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5073

    Greg D. Lind, Jonathan R. Lamontagne, Adam J. Stonewall

    Flood-frequency (hereinafter frequency) estimates provide information used to design, operate, and maintain hydraulic structures such as bridges and dams. Failures of these structures could cause catastrophic loss of property, life, or both. In addition to frequency estimates that use annual peak streamflow, frequency estimates of flood durations are required to safely and effectively operate the numerous dams in the Columbia River Basin of the northwestern United States, and British Columbia, Canada. Frequency studies rely on U.S. Geological Survey Guidelines for Determining Flood Flow Frequency (Bulletin 17C, published in 2018). A major consideration in estimating frequencies is the use of skew coefficients, which measure the asymmetry of flood flow distributions. Large uncertainties are associated with estimating the at-site skew coefficients directly from streamflow records, which are limited in length. Skew also is sensitive to extreme events for limited record lengths. Bulletin 17C recommends using regional skew coefficients to weight with the at-site skew estimate for more reliable frequency estimates. In this study, streamflow records from 313 unregulated U.S. Geological Survey streamgage sites and 97 regulated sites with naturalized streamflow records provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were used to develop regional skew models for the Columbia River Basin. The naturalized streamflow records were synthesized by removing regulatory components such as withdrawals and reservoir storage. Skew models were developed for 1-, 3-, 7-, 10-, 15-, 30-, and 60-day flood durations and used to estimate regional skew coefficients for the Columbia River Basin.

    This report used Bayesian statistical regression methods to develop and analyze regional skew models based on hydrologically important basin characteristics. After examining a suite of available basin characteristics, mean annual precipitation had the strongest correlation to skew across the flood durations. Regional skew regression models were fit using mean annual precipitation for selected subbasins in the Columbia River Basin.

    Reducing water scarcity by improving water productivity in the United States

    Released August 25, 2020 11:55 EST

    2020, Environmental Research Letters (15)

    Landon Marston, Gambhir Lamsal, Zachary H. Ancona, Peter V Caldwell, Brian Richter, Benjamin Ruddell, Richard Rushforth, Kyle F. Davis

    Nearly one-sixth of U.S. river basins are unable to consistently meet societal water demands while also providing sufficient water for the environment. Water scarcity is expected to intensify and spread as populations increase, new water demands emerge, and climate changes. Improving water productivity by meeting realistic benchmarks for all water users could allow U.S. communities to expand economic activity and improve environmental flows. Here we utilize a spatially detailed database of water productivity to set realistic benchmarks for over 400 industries and products. We assess unrealized water savings achievable by each industry in each river basin within the conterminous U.S. by bringing all water users up to industry- and region-specific water productivity benchmarks. Some of the most water stressed areas throughout the U.S. West and South have the greatest potential for water savings, with around half of these water savings obtained by improving water productivity in the production of corn, cotton, and alfalfa. By incorporating benchmark-meeting water savings within a national hydrological model (WaSSI), we demonstrate that depletion of river flows across Western U.S. regions can be reduced on average by 6.2–23.2%, without reducing economic production. Lastly, we employ an environmentally extended input-output model to identify the U.S. industries and locations that can make the biggest impact by working with their suppliers to reduce water use 'upstream' in their supply chain. The agriculture and manufacturing sectors have the largest indirect water footprint due to their reliance on water-intensive inputs but these sectors also show the greatest capacity to reduce water consumption throughout their supply chains.

    Stratigraphic units of shallow unconsolidated deposits in Deadwood, South Dakota, delineated by real-time kinematic surveys

    Released August 25, 2020 11:11 EST

    2020, Scientific Investigations Map 3459

    Wyatt S. Tatge, Colton J. Medler, William G. Eldridge, Joshua F. Valder

    The City of Deadwood, South Dakota, has been working on a new archeological investigation in preparation for economic growth and expansion within the city limits, through the Deadwood Historic Preservation Office. During the excavation process, buried artifacts and historical features from the late 1800s have been uncovered. The stratigraphy of shallow unconsolidated deposits in the city of Deadwood, S. Dak., was surveyed on January 29, 2020, using real-time kinematic survey methods and described to identify variations in geologic material, thickness, and depth from the land surface in support of archeological studies by the city. The findings of the study will provide city managers and the public with reliable and impartial information for their use by advancing field or analytical methodology and understanding of hydrologic processes in the study area. The primary excavation site was surveyed, and stratigraphic units were delineated from changes in material properties or depositional environment. The primary excavation site consisted of nine stratigraphic units; however, some units were not consistent along the length of the excavation and pinched out along the cross section. Survey data points also were collected for artifacts and other sites of interest. The shallow surficial geology in the study area was affected by human construction, fires, and flooding.

    Complexity of groundwater age mixing near a seawater intrusion zone based on multiple tracers and Bayesian inference

    Released August 25, 2020 09:27 EST

    2021, Science of the Total Environment (753)

    YeoJin Ju, Arash Massoudieh, Christopher Green, Kang-Kun Lee, Dugin Kaown

    Aquifer flow systems near seawater interfaces can be complicated by density-driven flows and the formation of stagnation zones, which inevitably introduces uncertainty into groundwater age-dating. While age-dating has proved effective to understand the seawater intrusion and aquifer salinization process in coastal aquifers, further efforts are needed to propagate model and data uncertainty to the uncertainty associated with the inferred age distributions. This study was performed in a coastal aquifer located close to the Yellow Sea, South Korea, where there is a decreasing trend of groundwater levels due to recent heavy exploitation, raising a warning of induced seawater intrusion. We inferred the groundwater age distributions in wells around the intrusion zone and estimated the uncertainty associated with the inference based on multiple age tracers including 3H, tritiogenic 3He, radiogenic 4He, CFC-11, CFC-12 and CFC-113 using Bayesian inference. We examined various models representing the age distributions including traditional parametric Lumped Parameter Models (LPMs) and two non-parametric “shape-free” models. The results showed that the mean ages at the study site ranged from 10.9 to 522.5 y. Complex, multimodal distributions of ages occurred near a seawater intrusion area and upland recharge zones, implying converging paths of a wide range of different ages in those regions. In particular, the age distributions estimated near the seawater intrusion interface were characterized by heavy-tailed mixing structures with elevated concentrations of 4He. This likely indicates density-driven upward flow at the seawater intrusion interface, forcing old groundwater rich in 4He into the shallow aquifer. The Bayesian inference estimated large uncertainties particularly for the old age distributions, which was attributed partly to the gradual accumulation of 4He in groundwater. The Bayesian inference improved understanding of flow dynamics at a complex seawater interface and identified opportunities to further reduce uncertainty of old water age estimates that characterize upwelling groundwater near the interface.

    Large stocks of peatland carbon and nitrogen are vulnerable to permafrost thaw

    Released August 25, 2020 08:34 EST

    2020, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (117) 20438-20446

    Gustaf Hugelius, Julie Loisel, Sarah Chadburn, Robert B. Jackson, Miriam C. Jones, Glen MacDonald, Maija Marushchak, David Olefeldt, Maara S. Packalen, Matthias B. Siewert, Claire C. Treat, Merritt Turetsky, Carolina Voigt, Zicheng Yu

    Over many millennia, northern peatlands have accumulated large amounts of carbon and nitrogen, thus cooling the global climate. Over shorter timescales, peatland disturbances can trigger losses of peat and release of greenhouses gases. Despite their importance to the global climate, peatlands remain poorly mapped, and the vulnerability of permafrost peatlands to warming is uncertain. This study compiles over 7,000 field observations to present a data-driven map of northern peatlands and their carbon and nitrogen stocks. We use these maps to model the impact of permafrost thaw on peatlands and find that warming will likely shift the greenhouse gas balance of northern peatlands. At present, peatlands cool the climate, but anthropogenic warming can shift them into a net source of warming.

    Measuring basal force fluctuations of debris flows using seismic recordings and empirical green's functions

    Released August 25, 2020 07:31 EST

    2020, Journal of Geophysical Research Earth Surface (125)

    Kate Allstadt, Maxime Farin, Richard M. Iverson, Maciej Obryk, Jason W. Kean, Victor C. Tsai, Thomas D Rapstine, Matthew Logan

    We present a novel method for measuring the fluctuating basal normal and shear stresses of debris flows by using along‐channel seismic recordings. Our method couples a simple parameterization of a debris flow as a seismic source with direct measurements of seismic path effects using empirical Green's functions generated with a force hammer. We test this method using two large‐scale (8 and 10 m3) experimental flows at the U.S. Geological Survey debris‐flow flume that were recorded by dozens of three‐component seismic sensors. The seismically derived basal stress fluctuations compare well in amplitude and timing to independent force plate measurements within the valid frequency range (15–50 Hz). We show that although the high‐frequency seismic signals provide band‐limited forcing information, there are systematic relations between the fluctuating stresses and independently measured flow properties, especially mean basal shear stress and flow thickness. However, none of the relationships are simple, and since the flow properties also correlate with one another, we cannot isolate a single factor that relates in a simple way to the fluctuating forces. Nevertheless, our observations, most notably the gradually declining ratio of fluctuating to mean basal stresses during flow passage and the distinctive behavior of the coarse, unsaturated flow front, imply that flow style may be a primary control on the conversion of translational to vibrational kinetic energy. This conversion ultimately controls the radiation of high‐frequency seismic waves. Thus, flow style may provide the key to revealing the nature of the relationship between fluctuating forces and other flow properties.

    Quantifying model structural uncertainty using airborne electromagnetic data

    Released August 25, 2020 07:28 EST

    2020, Geophysical Journal International

    Burke J. Minsley, N. Leon Foks, Paul A. Bedrosian

    The ability to quantify structural uncertainty in geological models that incorporate geophysical data is affected by two primary sources of uncertainty: geophysical parameter uncertainty and uncertainty in the relationship between geophysical parameters and geological properties of interest. Here, we introduce an open-source, trans-dimensional Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo (McMC) algorithm GeoBIPy—Geophysical Bayesian Inference in Python—for robust uncertainty analysis of time-domain or frequency-domain airborne electromagnetic (AEM) data. The McMC algorithm provides a robust assessment of geophysical parameter uncertainty using a trans-dimensional approach that lets the AEM data inform the level of model complexity necessary by allowing the number of model layers itself to be an unknown parameter. Additional components of the Bayesian algorithm allow the user to solve for parameters such as data errors or corrections to the measured instrument height above ground. Probability distributions for a user-specified number of lithologic classes are developed through posterior clustering of McMC-derived resistivity models. Estimates of geological model structural uncertainty are thus obtained through the joint probability of geophysical parameter uncertainty and the uncertainty in the definition of each class. Examples of the implementation of this algorithm are presented for both time-domain and frequency-domain AEM data acquired in Nebraska, USA.

    Effects of urbanization on water quality in the Edwards aquifer, San Antonio and Bexar County, Texas

    Released August 24, 2020 09:58 EST

    2020, Fact Sheet 2020-3028

    Stephen P. Opsahl, MaryLynn Musgrove, Keith E. Mecum


    Continuous water-quality monitoring data and chemical analysis of surface-water and groundwater samples collected during 2017–19 in the recharge zone of the Edwards aquifer were used to develop a better understanding of the surface-water/groundwater connection in and around Bexar County in south-central Texas. This fact sheet is provided to inform water-resource managers, city planners, the scientific community, and the general public about the effects of urbanization on water quality in the Edwards aquifer recharge zone.

    Temporal and spatial variability of water quality in the San Antonio segment of the Edwards aquifer recharge zone, Texas, with an emphasis on periods of groundwater recharge, September 2017–July 2019

    Released August 24, 2020 09:57 EST

    2020, Scientific Investigations Report 2020-5033

    Stephen P. Opsahl, MaryLynn Musgrove, Keith E. Mecum

    Ongoing urbanization on the Edwards aquifer recharge zone in the greater San Antonio area raises concern about the potential adverse effects on the public water supply from development. To address this concern, the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the City of San Antonio, studied patterns of temporal and spatial changes in water quality at selected surface-water and groundwater sites in the Edwards aquifer recharge zone, with an emphasis on changes during periods of groundwater recharge. Water-quality characteristics were continuously monitored and discrete water samples were collected at two sets of paired surface-water (stream) and groundwater (well) sites during a 2-year period (2017–19) that included relatively dry conditions and a large recharge event in September 2018 when as much as 16 inches of rain fell in parts of the study area.

    Continuous monitoring of water-level altitude, specific conductance, and concentrations of nitrate in two wells completed in the Edwards aquifer provided high-resolution data showing detailed changes in water quality across a broad range of hydrologic conditions. Water levels in the wells responded rapidly (within hours to days) to recharge from both small and large rainfall and runoff events; changes in groundwater quality as a consequence of the influx of surface-derived recharge were indicated by changes in values of the monitored characteristics. A broad range in measured values of the stable isotopes of water expressed as delta deuterium and delta oxygen-18 in the water samples collected from two streams (Salado and West Elm Creeks), in comparison to the tight clustering of the values of these isotopes in groundwater samples, indicates that source waters (surface waters) of widely varying chemical characteristics become homogenized within the aquifer system.

    Concentrations of major ions, trace ions, and nutrient concentrations in stormwater runoff indicate a combination of land-derived and rainfall-derived constituents. The distribution of concentrations of nitrogen species (nitrite, nitrate, and nitrogen in ammonia) among sampling sites transitions from a more variable distribution in stormwater runoff to a more uniform distribution in groundwater in which the dominant form is nitrate. Differences in nitrate isotopic composition and concentration in groundwater across the study area are likely controlled by the relative contributions of natural and anthropogenic nitrogen (with the anthropogenic nitrogen component including a wastewater source) and by the process of nitrification. Among all measured constituents, pesticides detected in discrete stormwater-runoff samples provided the clearest indication that urbanization was adversely affecting water quality; specifically, the more urbanized surface-water site had a greater number of detections and greater variety of detected pesticides. Though temporal variability in the numbers and types of pesticides was evident, the overall proportion of pesticides was dominated by triazine herbicides including atrazine, atrazine degradates, and simazine. The observed hydrologic responses to rainfall and corresponding changes in water quality in wells are thought to result from the direct hydrologic connectivity of surface water and unconfined groundwater; however, patterns of groundwater-quality change indicate mixing from multiple sources such as ambient groundwater, recent surface-derived recharge, and possibly inflow from other aquifers. Therefore, understanding the connection between urbanization and groundwater quality cannot be inferred from the input of stormwater runoff alone as changes related to local and regional hydrologic conditions also need to be considered. It should be noted that a single study comparing the results from two site pairs is not able to support definitive conclusions about the full effect of urbanization on surface water/groundwater quality; however, this study does provide useful insights about the spatial and temporal variability of both stormwater runoff and unconfined groundwater that are consistent with expectations based on the current conceptual model that depicts the Edwards aquifer surface-water/groundwater system as a single water resource.

    Identifying mangrove-coral habitats in the Florida Keys

    Released August 24, 2020 09:47 EST

    2020, PeerJ (8)

    Christina A. Kellogg, Ryan P. Moyer, Mary Jacobsen, Kimberly K. Yates

    Coral reefs are degrading due to many synergistic stressors. Recently there have been a number of global reports of corals occupying mangrove habitats that provide a supportive environment or refugium for corals, sheltering them by reducing stressors such as oxidative light stress and low pH. This study used satellite imagery and manual ground-truthing surveys to search for mangrove-coral habitats in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and then collected basic environmental parameters (temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, pHNBS, turbidity) at identified sites using a multi-parameter water quality sonde. Two kinds of mangrove-coral habitats were found in both the Upper and Lower Florida Keys: (1) prop-root corals, where coral colonies were growing directly on (and around) mangrove prop roots, and (2) channel corals, where coral colonies were growing in mangrove channels under the shade of the mangrove canopy, at deeper depths and not in as close proximity to the mangroves. Coral species found growing on and directly adjacent to prop roots included Porites porites (multiple morphs, including P. divaricata and P. furcata), Siderastrea radians, and Favia fragum. Channel coral habitats predominantly hosted S. radians and a few S. siderea, although single colonies of Solenastrea bournoni and Stephanocoenia intersepta were observed. Although clear, low-turbidity water was a consistent feature of these mangrove-coral habitats, the specific combination of environmental factors that determine which mangrove habitats are favorable for coral recruitment remains to be defined. Circumstantial evidence suggests additional coral communities existed on mangrove shorelines of oceanside and backcountry islands until destroyed, likely by Hurricane Irma. These mangrove-coral habitats may be climate refugia for corals and could be included in ecosystem management plans and considered for their applications in coral restoration.

    Exploring methane behavior in marcellus shale micropores via contrast matching neutron scattering

    Released August 24, 2020 07:22 EST

    2020, Energy & Fuels

    Aaron M. Jubb, Leslie F. Ruppert, Tristan G. A. Youngs, Thomas Headen

    Petroleum in shale reservoirs is hosted in organic matter and mineral pores as well as in natural fractures and voids. For thermally mature plays, e.g., the Marcellus Shale, methane and other light alkane gases are thought to be primarily contained in organic matter pores with radii ≦50 nm. Thus, in order to understand natural gas occurrence, transport, storage, and recoverability within unconventional reservoirs at the dry-gas stage of thermal maturity, it is critical to characterize the associated organic matter porosity across length scales from 50 nm down to the angstrom level. We utilized wide Q-range neutron total scattering to characterize deuterated methane (CD4) adsorption at 60ºC up to the zero average contrast (ZAC) pressure (~60 MPa) within two mineralogically different samples collected from the same producing interval from the Middle Devonian Marcellus Shale. The neutron scattering approach used here provides structural information from the inter-atomic regime up to a nominal pore radius of ~12.5 nm and, by reaching the CD4 ZAC pressure (~60 MPa), it is possible to examine the distribution of open versus closed pores within this pore size range in the samples. Our results indicate that ~10% of the largest pores measured are closed to CD4 for a quartz-rich sample whereas up to 25% of pores with a nominal radius of ~12.5 nm are inaccessible within a sample with an equivalent proportion of quartz, carbonate, and clay. As pore size decreases, accessibility also decreases; all pores with radii ~0.5 nm are effectively closed to CD4 in both samples. Additionally, up to ~4.5× more CD4 is adsorbed within the quartz-rich sample at 60 MPa and we see no evidence for densification of CD4 within the shale pores. These findings suggest that, for shale samples within the dry-gas window, (i) nanometer-scale porosity is primarily located within organic matter, (ii) the amount of available nano-porosity can vary widely over meter scales, and (iii) mineralogy plays a secondary role in dictating methane behavior within these systems.

    Pesticides and their degradates in groundwater reflect past use and current management strategies, Long Island, New York, USA

    Released August 23, 2020 09:11 EST

    2020, Science of the Total Environment (752)

    Irene Fisher, Patrick J. Phillips, Banu Bayraktar, Shirley Chen, Brendan A. McCarthy, Mark W. Sandstrom

    Long Island, New York, has a mix of urban/suburban to agricultural/horticultural land use and nearly 3 million residents that rely on a sole-source aquifer for drinking water. The analysis of shallow groundwater (<40 m below land surface) collected from 54 monitoring wells across Long Island detected 53 pesticides or pesticide degradates. Maximum concentrations for individual pesticides or pesticide degradates ranged from 3 to 368,000 ng/L. The highest concentrations and most frequent pesticide detections occurred in samples collected from the pesticide management (PM) network, set in an agricultural/horticultural area in eastern Long Island with coordinated pesticide management by state and local agencies. The other two networks (Suffolk and Nassau/Queens) were set in suburban and urban areas, respectively, and had less frequent detections and lower pesticide concentrations than the PM network. Pesticide detections and concentration patterns (herbicide, insecticide, or fungicide) differed among the three networks revealing broad differences in land use. The predominance of fungicides metalaxyl, 1H-1,2,4-triazole (propiconazole/myclobutanil degradate), and 4-hydroxychlorothalonil (HCTL, chlorothalonil degradate) in samples from the PM network reflects their intensive use in agricultural settings. Total fungicide concentrations in the PM network ranged from <10 to >300,000 ng/L. The widespread detection of imidacloprid and triazine herbicides, simazine and atrazine, reveal a mixture of current and past use pesticides across the Long Island region. Low concentrations (<200 ng/L) of the triazines in the Suffolk and Nassau/Queens networks may reflect a change in land use and application. Acetanilide herbicides and aldicarb have been discontinued for 20 and 40 years, respectively, yet the concentrations of their degradates were among the highest observed in this study. Acetanilide (total concentrations up to 10,000 ng/L) and aldicarb degradates (up to 270 ng/L) are present in the PM network at much lower concentrations than previous Long Island studies and reflect changes in agricultural practices and pesticide management.

    Evaluating stereo DTM quality at Jezero Crater, Mars with HRSC, CTX, and HiRISE images

    Released August 21, 2020 10:50 EST

    2020, Conference Paper, International archives of the photogrammetry, remote sensing, and spatial information sciences

    Randolph L. Kirk, Robin L. Fergason, Bonnie L. Redding, Donna M. Galuszka, Ethan Smith, David Mayer, Trent M. Hare, Klaus Gwinner

    We have used a high-precision, high-resolution digital terrain model (DTM) of the NASA Mars 2020 rover Perseverance landing site in Jezero crater based on mosaicked images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (MRO HiRISE) camera as a reference dataset to evaluate DTMs based on Mars Express High Resolution Stereo Camera (MEX HRSC) and MRO Context camera (CTX) images. Results are consistent with our earlier HRSC-HiRISE comparisons at the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity landing site in Gale crater, confirming that those results were not compromised by the small area compared and potential problems with spatial registration. Specifically, height errors are on the order of half a pixel and correspond to an image matching error of 0.2–0.3 pixel but estimates of horizontal resolution are 10–20 pixels. Products from the HRSC team pipeline at DLR are smoother but more precise vertically than those produced by using the commercial stereo package SOCET SET®. The DLR products are also homogenous in quality, whereas the SOCET products are less smoothed and have higher errors in rougher terrain. Despite this weak variation, our results are consistent with a rule of thumb of 0.2–0.3 pixel matching precision based on many prior studies. Horizontal resolution is significantly coarser than the DTM ground sample distance (GSD), which is typically 3–5 pixels.

    Solar and sensor geometry, not vegetation response, drive satellite NDVI phenology in widespread ecosystems of the western United States

    Released August 21, 2020 10:01 EST

    2020, Remote Sensing of Environment (249)

    Jodi R. Norris, Jessica J. Walker

    Satellite-derived phenology metrics are valuable tools for understanding broad-scale patterns and changes in vegetated landscapes over time. However, the extraction and interpretation of phenology in ecosystems with subtle growth dynamics can be challenging. US National Park Service monitoring of evergreen pinyon-juniper ecosystems in the western US revealed an unexpected winter-peaking phenological pattern in normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) time-series derived from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) imagery. In this paper, we assess the validity of the winter peaks through ground-based observation of phenology and examination of solar and satellite geometry effects. To test the premise of a true vegetation response, we analyzed NDVI values extracted from a time series of ground-based digital camera (‘phenocam’) images collected September 2017 to December 2018 in a pinyon-juniper woodland in Arizona, US. Results show pinyon and juniper growth peaked in the warm season, as did the other species in the phenocam field of view. NDVI time series from four other sensors (Landsat 7, Sentinel-2, VIIRS, and Proba-V) confirmed that winter peaks in this ecosystem are not limited to MODIS products. Examination of NDVI time series (2003–2018) derived from daily 250-m MODIS data in the broader pinyon-juniper ecosystem revealed that solar-to-sensor angle, sensor zenith angle, and forward/back-scatter reflectance explained >80% of intra-annual variability. Solar-to-sensor angle exerted the greatest control, and the direction of its correlation (positive) was the opposite of that which would be expected if it were driven by vegetation greenness. Solar-to-sensor angle is controlled seasonally by solar zenith angle and daily by variations in satellite overpass geometry. We mapped winter peaks across the western US in Google Earth Engine using 500-m MODIS MCD43A4 data, which correct for reflectance differences caused by view angle. In areas where winter vegetation peaks are ecologically improbable (i.e., locations with sub-freezing December temperatures), consistent winter peaks (≥ 14 years in 2003 to 2018) are widespread in both pinyon-juniper and non-pinyon-juniper conifer ecosystems; winter peaks are common (≥ 5 years in 2003 to 2018) across areas of shrubland. We attribute winter peaks to the positive correlation of NDVI with solar-to-sensor angle and solar zenith angle in combination with sparse, vertically oriented evergreen vegetation canopies. Increasing shadow visibility has been shown to increase overall NDVI, and the prevalence of the winter peaking in evergreen western sparse canopy ecosystems is consistent with this hypothesis. The extent of winter peaking patterns may have been previously overlooked due to temporal compositing, curve fitting, and incomplete snow screening.

    Climate sensitivity to decadal land cover and land use change across the conterminous United States

    Released August 21, 2020 10:01 EST

    2020, Global and Planetary Change (192)

    George Z. Xian, Thomas Loveland, Seth M. Munson, James Vogelmann, Xubin Zeng, Collin Homer

    Transitions to terrestrial ecosystems attributable to land cover and land use change (LCLUC) and climate change can affect the climate at local to regional scales. However, conclusions from most previous studies do not provide information about local climate effects, and little research has directly quantified how LCLUC intensity within different ecoregions relates to climate variation. In this study, we present an observation-based analysis of climate sensitivity to LCLUC based on decadal LCLUC and climate data in different ecoregions. Our results revealed that variations in land surface temperature and vapor pressure were most sensitive to LCLUC across the conterminous United States, while precipitation was less sensitive. Persistent warming effects were produced from LCLUC in Appalachian and some of the central U.S., High Plains, and northwest ecoregions, but cooling effects were evident in the many southeast, northeast and some Great Lakes and Intermountain West ecoregions. Most of the warming and a few cooling ecoregions were sensitive to LCLUC. Ecoregions with increasing vapor pressure were found across the Great Plains, Intermountain West, and West Coast ecoregions and several of these regions in the Great Plains and West Coast were sensitive to LCLUC. A combination of changes in temperature, precipitation, and vapor pressure was used to characterize climate sensitivity associated with LCLUC forcing, and five major persistent patterns were found in some ecoregions. These findings suggest that climate conditions, especially temperature and vapor pressure, in some ecoregions are sensitive to LCLUC and such change should be better incorporated into regional climate assessments.

    Identifying sustainable winter habitat for whooping cranes

    Released August 21, 2020 08:59 EST

    2020, Journal of Nature Conservation

    Kristine L. Metzger, Sarah E. Lehnen, Steven E Sesnie, Matthew J Butler, Aaron T. Pearse, Grant Harris

    The only self-sustaining population of endangered whooping cranes (Grus americana) requires a network of conservation lands for wintering along the Texas Gulf Coast (USA), so that this increasing population can reach downlisting under the Endangered Species Act (1,000 birds). We identify locations providing the highest quality and most sustainable wintering habitat for these whooping cranes through 2100 by predicting future habitats under three projections of sea level rise (0.6, 1.0 and 2.0 m by 2100), while incorporating two scenarios of future urban development. Our method combines predictions of future habitat quality with current whooping crane density estimates to calculate the potential carrying capacity of whooping cranes for each 10 m pixel within this 17,725 km2 area. We found whooping cranes used locations with salt marsh at twice the rate of places lacking marsh. Areas > 15 km from development or < 2 km from estuarine water had increased crane use. Predicted area of salt marsh habitat oscillated across time given different rates of sea level rise. One urbanization scenario predicted 3% and the other 1% of the area converting to development by 2100. We estimated the study area can support 4414 (95% CI: 4096-4789) whooping cranes currently, 4795 (95% CI: 4402-5269) with 0.6 m sea level rise, 3559 (95% CI: 3352-3791) with 1 m sea level rise, and 2480 (95% CI: 2375-2592) with 2 m sea level rise by 2100, under the more aggressive urban development scenario. By anticipating climate-induced habitat loss with species population expansion we provide the requisite spatial information for conservation planners to build a sustainable conservation estate for downlisting whooping cranes. By coupling wildlife biology with conservation planning and on-the-ground implementation, our work exemplifies a proactive approach to recover endangered species.

    Cortisol regulates insulin-like growth-factor binding protein (igfbp) gene expression in Atlantic salmon parr

    Released August 21, 2020 08:46 EST

    2020, Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology (518)

    Jason P. Breves, R.H. Springer-Miller, D A Chenoweth, A L Paskavitz, A Y H Chang, Amy M. Regish, I E Einarsdottir, B Th Bjornsson, Stephen D. McCormick

    The growth hormone (Gh)/insulin-like growth-factor (Igf)/Igf binding protein (Igfbp) system regulates growth and osmoregulation in salmonid fishes, but how this system interacts with other endocrine systems is largely unknown. Given the well-documented consequences of mounting a glucocorticoid stress response on growth, we hypothesized that cortisol inhibits anabolic processes by modulating the expression of hepatic igfbp mRNAs. Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) parr were implanted intraperitoneally with cortisol implants (0, 10, and 40 μg g−1 body weight) and sampled after 3 or 14 days. Cortisol elicited a dose-dependent reduction in specific growth rate (SGR) after 14 days. While plasma Gh and Igf1 levels were unchanged, hepatic igf1 mRNA was diminished and hepatic igfbp1b1 and -1b2 were stimulated by the high cortisol dose. Plasma Igf1 was positively correlated with SGR at 14 days. Hepatic gh receptor (ghr), igfbp1a-2a-2b1, and -2b2 levels were not impacted by cortisol. Muscle igf2, but not igf1 or ghr, levels were stimulated at 3 days by the high cortisol dose. As both cortisol and the Gh/Igf axis promote seawater (SW) tolerance, and particular igfbps respond to SW exposure, we also assessed whether cortisol coordinates the expression of branchial igfbps and genes associated with ion transport. Cortisol stimulated branchial igfbp5b2 levels in parallel with Na+/K+-ATPase (NKA) activity and nka-α1bNa+/K+/2Cl--cotransporter 1 (nkcc1), and cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator 1 (cftr1) mRNA levels. The collective results indicate that cortisol modulates the growth of juvenile salmon via the regulation of hepatic igfbp1s whereas no clear links between cortisol and branchial igfbps previously shown to be salinity-responsive could be established.

    Repetitive sampling and control threshold improve 16S rRNA results from produced waters associated with hydraulically fractured shales

    Released August 21, 2020 07:15 EST

    2020, Frontiers in Microbiology

    Jenna L. Shelton, Elliott Barnhart, Leslie F. Ruppert, Aaron M. Jubb, Madalyn S. Blondes, Christina A. DeVera

    Sequencing microbial DNA from deep subsurface environments is complicated by a number of issues ranging from contamination to non-reproducible results. Many samples obtained from these environments - which are of great interest due to the potential to stimulate microbial methane generation - contain low biomass. Therefore, samples from these environments are difficult to study as sequencing results can be easily impacted by contamination. In this case, the low amount of sample biomass may be effectively swamped by the contaminating DNA and generate misleading results. Additionally, performing field work in these environments can be difficult, as researchers generally have limited access to and time on site. Therefore, optimizing a sampling plan to produce the best results while collecting the greatest number of samples over a short period of time is ideal. This study aimed to recommend an adequate sampling plan for field researchers obtaining microbial biomass for 16S rRNA gene sequencing, applicable specifically to oil and gas-producing environments.
    Forty-nine different samples were collected by filtering specific volumes of produced water from a hydraulically fractured well producing from the Niobrara Shale. Water was collected in two different sampling events 24 hours apart. Four to five samples were collected from 11 specific volumes. These samples along with eight different blanks were submitted for analysis. DNA was extracted from each sample, and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and 16S rRNA Illumina MiSeq gene sequencing were performed to determine relative concentrations of biomass and microbial community composition, respectively. The qPCR results varied across sampled volumes, while no discernible trend correlated contamination to volume of water filtered. This suggests that collecting a larger volume of sample may not result in larger biomass concentrations or better representation of a sampled environment. Researchers could prioritize collecting many low volume samples over few high-volume samples. Our results suggest that there also may be variability in the concentration of microbial communities present in produced waters over short (i.e., hours) time scales, which warrants further investigation. Submission of multiple blanks is also vital to determining how contamination or low biomass effects may influence a sample set collected from an unknown environment.