Tidal marsh wetlands across the world have been lost due to human impacts. Because these marshes are critical to myriad wildlife taxa, they are often the focus of restoration projects. The Suisun Marsh of California, which is part of the San Francisco Bay Estuary and the largest brackish marsh on the United States Pacific Coast, is a critical stopover for thousands of migratory waterfowl transiting along the Pacific Flyway.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is both a user and a provider of remotely sensed data. The USGS operates and manages the Landsat satellite series and a Web-enabled archive of global Landsat imagery dating back to 1972. Landsat represents the world’s longest continuously acquired collection of space-borne moderate-resolution land remote sensing data and the entire archive became available for download at no charge in December 2008. The USGS also distributes aerial photography through The National Map, and archives and distributes historical aerial photography, light detection and ranging (lidar) data, declassified imagery, hyperspectral imagery, data collected by Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS), and imagery from a variety of government, foreign, and commercial satellites. These data are used for a wide variety of applications such as mineral resource development, monitoring the health of U.S. and global ecosystems, land use change, emergency response, and assessments of natural hazards such as fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, droughts, and floods.
Visibility Correction Factors for Multiple Species of Sea Ducks and Diving Ducks Using an Aerial Remote Sensing Approach
Aerial ocular surveys are the most cost- and time-efficient method of evaluating the relative abundance and spatial distributions of breeding, staging, and wintering waterfowl. However, the survey method is subject to substantial visibility bias, and visibility correction factors must be calculated to correct for incomplete detection. Calculation of these factors in remote or hard to access places, such as open water environments, is difficult, but new technologies offer a solution.
Many wildlife species reside in sensitive habitats that make detection and monitoring difficult. For waterfowl, measuring brood production can serve as an early indicator of habitat quality and provide important insight into understanding overall ecosystem drivers. Early and comprehensive detection of duckling production and brood counts can inform recreational hunting, ecosystem function, and community composition.
The western United States Gulf of Mexico coast provides important habitat for migrating and wintering waterfowl and shorebirds. The Gulf Coast Joint Venture, comprised of staff from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and Ducks Unlimited, is one of 25 migratory bird Joint Ventures in North America and is focused on advancing conservation of priority bird habitats in this region.
Disturbances to animals can cause changes in behavior. Therefore, it is critical for wildlife managers to understand what disturbances may impact animals and how animals adapt to them. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists analyzed the relationship between human-based disturbance and animal movement and habitat use.
Accurate maps of seasonal habitat for greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) across broad extents are of paramount importance to conservation efforts in sagebrush ecosystems across the Great Basin, particularly for habitat assessments and mitigation efforts. However, the ability to model sage-grouse habitat at fine spatial scales necessary for microhabitat assessment is constrained by the spatial and spectral resolution of most remotely sensed measurements of vegetation composition.
Waterfowl rely on continent-wide wetland networks supporting migratory pathways that connect important breeding and wintering grounds. Locally, wetland habitat availability is affected by water policy and regional environmental characteristics that result in substantial annual variation in the quantity and quality of habitats available to waterfowl and other waterbirds.
Waterfowl populations within California's Central Valley are unusual among most North American waterfowl populations in that the region contains both resident and migratory populations of several species. The region supports 60% of the waterfowl and waterbirds that stopover for at least part of the year along the Pacific Flyway, a major north-south migratory pathway. The Central Valley also produces 8% of the entire Nation's crops and over half of California’s $50 billion agriculture cash receipts.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in collaboration with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and Dr. Stella Yu’s research group at the University of Michigan, is advancing the development of machine learning algorithms to detect and classify seabirds, waterfowl, and other marine wildlife from digital aerial imagery.
California’s oceanic waters provide habitat for numerous migratory, resident, and breeding species of seabirds and marine mammals. Recent technological advances have made offshore wind energy infrastructure development a possibility for the deep waters off the U.S. West Coast. Multiple wind energy projects have been proposed for the region including two wind energy areas in deep offshore waters off central and northern California.