Marine Protection Areas have been established in Dry Tortugas National Park and Buck Island Reef National Monument (BIRNM) to protect natural and fisheries resources and associated coral reef habitats. BIRNM includes one of the most important nesting areas for endangered hawksbill and other turtles. Habitat use by endangered sea turtles is monitored by instrumenting turtles with both acoustic and satellite tags. This research aims to contribute to their protection by deciphering spatial and temporal habitat-use patterns.
An article about global positioning system and animal behavior co-authored by USGS scientist Mark Fuller was among the 10 articles most cited in 2010 from the Journal Philosophical Transactions B. The article “Global position system and associated technologies in animal behavior and ecological research” provides background information on a satellite-based, three-dimensional system developed by the U.S. Department of Defense. It also discusses the transformation of GPS into a wildlife-tracking system and reviews its integration with other systems to collect, store, and transfer data.
In 2009-2011, USGS used data collected from portable marine radar units to study the foraging movements of sandhill cranes in wind energy development areas. These data are being used in conjunction with remotely sensed crop information, elevation, and weather data to aid the FWS with the evaluation of wind power development proposals along the Lake Erie coastline in Ohio where potential near-shore and offshore wind power development may provide obstacles to migration.
Black oystercatchers are large, dark shorebirds with reddish bills that live along the coast from Alaska to Baja California. They are a Species of High Conservation Concern and understanding oystercatcher movements and habitat use throughout the year is a priority for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. USGS and USFWS scientists collaborated in an international effort to assess range-wide movements using satellite and conventional transmitters.
The Burmese Python is an exotic species that has invaded thousands of square kilometers of southern Florida, including virtually all of Everglades National Park. They are believed to be severely affecting this ecosystem by consuming large numbers of native prey animals, including Federally endangered species (for example, Key Largo woodrats, wood storks) and Species of Concern in the State of Florida (for example, limpkin, round-tailed muskrats). A better understanding of the ecological impacts of pythons is required to protect natural resources and prioritize python control efforts.
Crocodilians are present throughout virtually all Everglades freshwater wetlands and estuarine areas. Everglades National Park has undergone a number of hydrological engineering projects to improve water delivery to south Florida that impact the health of this ecosystem. Crocodiles and alligators are among top predators within the Greater Everglades ecosystem, and the impacts are a concern for all life stages. Crocodilian response is directly related to suitability of environmental conditions and hydrologic change.
A USGS wildlife biologist was one of 30 international scientists to participate in a planning meeting for the International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space (ICARUS), a global small-animal tracking system, in Rottach-Egern, Germany on July 8-11, 2011.
Lidar is a form of remote sensing in which laser pulses are reflected off objects to create three-dimensional maps. Recent technical advances have made acquiring and processing lidar data more efficient. Oregon State University and the USGS are examining the value of lidar for ecological studies ranging from individual trees to landscapes. One objective is to develop a lidar tool to identify once-widespread Oregon white oak trees under encroaching conifer canopies.
NEXRAD weather radar data were used to observe the movements of waterfowl disturbed by boaters in the Upper Mississippi River System. Observers stationed on a bluff overlooking Lake Onalaska recorded disturbances in Voluntary Wildlife Avoidance Areas NEXRAD data were then collected from dates and times corresponding to the larger disturbance events. Using the radar data, it was found that the