Aquatic Systems


Water is a key societal and environmental issue on local, regional, national and global scales. The increasing and competing demands for water present enormous challenges to natural resource managers and stakeholders. Scientific information is imperatively needed in decision making of water-related environmental issues.

The Aquatic Systems Branch (ASB) is home to scientists from multiple USGS research centers who are dedicated to advancing science and providing scientific supports to solve water-related environmental problems. Our scientists have been leaders in Ecological Flows, Riparian Ecology, Ecosystem Management and Contaminant Biology. We employ state of the science approaches that combine expertise and facilities in field sampling, remote sensing, experiments in aquatic lab, green house, and botanical garden, simulation and predictive modeling, decision support tools, to generate and test hypotheses, and to develop multiple lines of quantitative information which support planning and design in natural resource decision making and aquatic restoration.

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...