Land use in areas near or adjacent to protected areas can influence the success of protected areas as a conservation method. The USGS Western Geographic Science Center developed a methodology to assess the threat of future land use conversions to California’s protected areas under different climate/emission scenarios.
This NASA-sponsored project is an international collaboration among the University of Arizona, USGS, and several Brazilian institutions. The science goal is to use remote sensing methods to understand and predict ecosystem carbon cycle responses to climatic variability. The USGS component, which is co-sponsored by the USGS Land Change Science Program, focuses on observation and analysis of radiation-related factors that influence vegetation seasonality and photosynthesis.
For over 40 years, scientists have documented a dramatic northward movement of many bird species found in the United States. To better understand the relationship between climate change and migratory patterns, USGS and Smithsonian Institution scientists have partnered to form the Migratory Connectivity Project. Scientists will study global migratory animal movements throughout their annual cycles to improve conservation efforts.
Phenology is an important way to observe impacts of climate change on ecosystems. Long-term, landscape-scale phenology monitoring has gained substantial interest in the last 25 years, largely due to observed changes in the timing of growing season events.
Ecosystems – Birds
In 2012, the USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center (UMESC) started a new program in collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Bowling Green State University, and the University of Toledo to study the migration patterns of landbirds in relation to the southern shore of Lake Erie. It is thought that the Great Lakes shorelines, and especially Lake Erie with its roughly east-west orientation, cause birds to concentrate over land during migration to avoid crossing large expanses of water. The U.S.
In summer 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) launched the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative (MBHI) in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The goal of the program was to enhance migratory bird habitat on private lands and thus offset habitat loss caused by the oil spill. Rice fields and other lands that could be flooded were managed to create mudflats during the migration period.
In the arid Southwest, much remains unknown about how migratory birds use different habitats when they stop to rest and refuel during migration. The relatively unpopulated and remote expanses of the West present logistical and cost challenges to field-based studies of migration ecology. USGS scientists at the Fort Collins Science Center (FORT) and the Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center turned to data collected remotely by weather surveillance radars (WSR-88D) and satellites (land use and land cover data from the USGS National Map Seamless Server).
The USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center in cooperation with the U.S.
The USGS UMESC partnered with the USFWS Horicon National Wildlife Refuge in Wisconsin to study Sandhill crane movements in relation to landscape features and wind energy development using a mobile marine radar unit. These data are being used in a modeling framework in conjunction with remotely sensed crop information, elevation, and weather data to understand how the birds behave in relation to the landscape, habitat, weather conditions, and the wind turbines. The work is intended to aid the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with the evaluation of wind power development proposals.
Sagebrush ecosystems are among the most abundant and threatened habitats in North America. Exotic plant invasions, oil and gas drilling, housing developments, altered fire patterns, over-grazing, climate change, and other factors all contribute to degradation and fragmentation of sagebrush ecosystems. These impacts can have detrimental effects on species that depend on sagebrush, such as sage grouse. Effective management and preservation of habitats require long-term landscape knowledge that is local in detail.