In 2018, members of the USGS Western Ecological Research Center (WERC) Dixon Field Station attached Global Positioning System-Global System for Mobile Communication (GPS-GSM) accelerometer transmitters to 257 geese and 300 ducks to monitor migration patterns and behavior, with the end goal of providing timely and actionable data for their project cooperators.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is both a user and a provider of remotely sensed data. The USGS 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-based 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 Unmanned Aircraft Systems, 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.
The northern Gulf of Mexico is a dynamic environment, serving as critical habitat for marine bird species and supporting substantial yet spatially variable oil and gas activity. Under-monitoring of marine birds in the region has constrained the ability to mitigate, anticipate, and respond to potential stressors such as oil spills, pollution events, or tropical storms.
The Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve (JELA) in southeastern Louisiana is being invaded by feral hogs (Sus scrofa) and needs a systemic survey to determine the distribution and number of hogs that exist within the park boundary.
Over two-thirds of all land birds and over half of the migratory species in North America move long distances to areas in Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean islands. For birds crossing the Gulf of Mexico, habitats along the northern coast provide the last possible stopover before autumn migrants make a nonstop flight.
Telemetry has advanced understanding of wildlife biology in lockstep with advances in technology. Recent development of automated radio tracking systems can provide precise information on habitat use at small-scale and large-scale movements across continents by continually monitoring for tag frequencies.
The USGS is advancing the development of machine learning algorithms to detect and classify seabirds, waterfowl, and other marine wildlife from digital aerial imagery in collaboration with Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Vision Group at the International Computer Science Institute.
The USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center uses Very High Frequency (VHF) and Global Positioning System (GPS) radio collars to study white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and gray wolf (Canis lupus) movements, ecology, and populations in the Superior National Forest (SNF) of northeastern Minnesota.
Freshwater algal blooms are estimated to cost the United States economy up to $4.6 billion annually in disruptions to tourism, recreation, drinking water supply, and aquatic food production. Yet knowledge of where and when these blooms occur still often depends on public reporting.
Cyanobacterial blooms in eutrophic inland waters are a worldwide concern. Blooms are exacerbated by high nutrient inputs and warmer waters and have been appearing with increasing frequency in water bodies used for drinking water or recreation. This problem will likely worsen as the climate warms.
Mercury is a contaminant of concern in the San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta (Bay-Delta) estuary and watershed.