Policy Analysis & Science Assistance


The Fort Collins Science Center’s Policy Analysis and Science Assistance (PASA) Branch provides unique capabilities in the U.S. Geological Survey by leading projects that integrate social, behavioral, economic, and biological analyses in the context of human–natural resource interactions. Resource planners, managers, and policymakers in the U.S. Departments of the Interior (DOI) and Agriculture (USDA), State and local agencies, and international agencies use information from PASA studies to make informed natural-resource management and policy decisions. PASA scientist’s primary functions are to conduct both theoretical and applied social science research, provide technical assistance, and offer training to advance performance in policy-relevant research areas. Management and research issues associated with human-resource interactions typically occur in a unique context, involve difficult-to-access populations, require knowledge of both natural and biological science in addition to social science, and require the skill to integrate multiple science disciplines. In response to these challenging contexts, PASA researchers apply a wide variety of social science concepts and methods which work in concert with our rangeland/agricultural, wildlife, ecology, and biology capabilities. The goal of PASA’s research is to enhance natural-resource management, agency functions, policies, and decision making.

Branch Chief


Do Restored Wetlands Provide Quality Amphibian Habitat in an Agricultural Landscape?

March 2014


Boreal Toad Photo Credit: David Herasimtschuk

The Des Moines Lobe of central Iowa has undergone drastic land-use changes over the last two centuries, with 90% of the state’s wetlands converted primarily by agricultural practices and urban development. The introduction of tile drainage to improve land for agriculture facilitated this conversion and still contributes to the productivity of this agricultural landscape. Consequently, natural wetland habitat has become rare and fragmented, affecting species with limited mobility, such as amphibians. Amphibians are an important component of these wetland systems where they provide food for other animals and eat copious amounts of insects. However, many amphibian species...