In an era of shrinking budgets yet increasing demands for conservation, the value of existing (i.e., historical) data are elevated. Lengthy time series on common, or previously common, species are particularly valuable and may be available only through the use of historical information. We provide first estimates of the probability of survival and longevity (0.67–0.79 and 5–7 years, respectively) for a subalpine population of a small-bodied, ostensibly common amphibian, the Boreal Chorus Frog (Pseudacris maculata (Agassiz, 1850)), using historical data and contemporary, hypothesis-driven information–theoretic analyses. We also test a priori hypotheses about the effects of color morph (as suggested by early reports) and of drought (as suggested by recent climate predictions) on survival. Using robust mark–recapture models, we find some support for early hypotheses regarding the effect of color on survival, but we find no effect of drought. The congruence between early findings and our analyses highlights the usefulness of historical information in providing raw data for contemporary analyses and context for conservation and management decisions.
Infectious disease is an important consideration when contemplating reintroduction of a species to an area from which it has been extirpated and is one risk that has escalated in recent decades as use of large-scale and hands-on conservation measures increase. Reintroduction (in essence moving animals around), is a management tool considered when populations are failing or extirpations have occurred, yet is obviously at odds with many of the tenets of disease management. We focus on extirpations attributed to disease and formulate a decision tree to guide managers considering reintroduction. If disease was not the original cause of extinction or decline, it still is important to consider as inadvertent introduction of disease with reintroduced hosts may cause a reintroduction to fail, or may threaten members of the recipient ecological community. If disease was an important agent of extinction or decline, then the disease threat must be addressed before reintroduction is contemplated, or the effort is highly likely to fail. If disease resistant or tolerant stock are available, then reintroducing these animals may succeed. If such stock are not available, then it is important to determine whether reservoirs are present, and if they are, to develop strategies to manage disease adequately in the reservoirs. If reservoirs are not present, then the biggest threat to a reintroduction is the presence of still-infected members of the species being reintroduced. We illustrate these principles with two case studies, the boreal toad (Anaxyrus (Bufo) boreas), threatened by the amphibian chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) and the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus hariisii), threatened by a transmissible cancer.
A Multiscale Index of Landscape Intactness for the Western United States
Landscape intactness has been defined as a quantifiable estimate of naturalness measured on a gradient of anthropogenic influence. We developed a multiscale index of landscape intactness for the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) landscape approach, which requires multiple scales of information to quantify the cumulative effects of land use. The multiscale index of landscape intactness represents a gradient of anthropogenic influence as represented by development levels at two analysis scales.
To create the index, we first mapped the surface disturbance footprint of development, for the western U.S., by compiling and combining spatial data for urban development, agriculture, energy and minerals, and transportation for 17 states. All linear features and points were buffered to create a surface disturbance footprint. Buffered footprints and polygonal data were rasterized at 15-meter (m), aggregated to 30-m, and then combined with the existing 30-meter inputs for urban development and cultivated croplands. The footprint area was represented as a proportion of the cell and was summed using a raster calculator. To reduce processing time, the 30-m disturbance footprint was aggregated to 90-m. The 90-m resolution surface disturbance footprint is retained as a separate raster data sets in this data release (Surface Disturbance Footprint from Development for the Western United States). We used a circular moving window to create a terrestrial development index for two scales of analysis, 2.5-kilometer (km) and 20-km, by calculating the percent of the surface disturbance footprint at each scale. The terrestrial development index at both the 2.5-km (Terrestrial Development Index for the Western United States: 2.5-km moving window) and 20-km (Terrestrial Development Index for the Western United States: 20-km moving window) were retained as separate raster data sets in this data release. The terrestrial development indexes at two analysis scales were ranked and combined to create the multiscale index of landscape intactness (retained as Landscape Intactness Index for the Western United States) in this data release. To identify intact areas, we focused on terrestrial development index scores less than or equal to 3 percent, which represented relatively low levels of development on multiple-use lands managed by the BLM and other land management agencies.
The multiscale index of landscape intactness was designed to be flexible, transparent, defensible, and applicable across multiple spatial scales, ecological boundaries, and jurisdictions. To foster transparency and facilitate interpretation, the multiscale index of landscape intactness data release retains four component data sets to enable users to interpret the multiscale index of landscape intactness: the surface disturbance footprint, the terrestrial development index summarized at two scales (2.5-km and 20-km circular moving windows), and the overall landscape intactness index. The multiscale index is a proposed core indicator to quantify landscape integrity for the BLM Assessment, Inventory, and Monitoring program and is intended to be used in conjunction with additional regional- or local-level information not available at national levels (such as invasive species occurrence) necessary to evaluate ecological integrity for the BLM landscape approach.
Federal investments in ecosystem restoration projects protect Federal trusts, ensure public health and safety, and preserve and enhance essential ecosystem services. These investments also generate business activity and create jobs. It is important for restoration practitioners to be able to quantify the economic impacts of individual restoration projects in order to communicate the contribution of these activities to local and national stakeholders. This report provides a detailed description of the methods used to estimate economic impacts of case study projects and also provides suggestions, lessons learned, and trade-offs between potential analysis methods.
This analysis estimates the economic impacts of a wide variety of ecosystem restoration projects associated with U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) lands and programs. Specifically, the report provides estimated economic impacts for 21 DOI restoration projects associated with Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration cases and Bureau of Land Management lands. The study indicates that ecosystem restoration projects provide meaningful economic contributions to local economies and to broader regional and national economies, and, based on the case studies, we estimate that between 13 and 32 job-years4 and between $2.2 and $3.4 million in total economic output5 are contributed to the U.S. economy for every $1 million invested in ecosystem restoration. These results highlight the magnitude and variability in the economic impacts associated with ecosystem restoration projects and demonstrate how investments in ecosystem restoration support jobs and livelihoods, small businesses, and rural economies. In addition to providing improved information on the economic impacts of restoration, the case studies included with this report highlight DOI restoration efforts and tell personalized stories about each project and the communities that are positively affected by restoration activities. Individual case studies are provided in appendix 1 of this report and are available from an online database at https://www.fort.usgs.gov/economic-impacts-restoration.
Environmental contaminants and biomarker responses in fish from the Columbia River and its tributaries: Spatial and temporal trends
The Greater Sage-Grouse, has been observed, hunted, and counted for decades. The sagebrush biome, home to the Greater Sage-Grouse, includes sagebrush-steppe and Great Basin sagebrush communities, interspersed with grasslands, salt flats, badlands, mountain ranges, springs, intermittent creeks and washes, and major river systems, and is one of the most widespread and enigmatic components of Western U.S. landscapes. Over time, habitat conversion, degradation, and fragmentation have accumulated across the entire range such that local conditions as well as habitat distributions at local and regional scales are negatively affecting the long-term persistence of this species. Historic patterns of human use and settlement of the sagebrush ecosystem have contributed to the current condition and status of sage-grouse populations. The accumulation of habitat loss, persistent habitat degradation, and fragmentation by industry and urban infrastructure, as indicated by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) findings, presents a significant challenge for conservation of this species and sustainable management of the sagebrush ecosystem. Because of the wide variations in natural and human history across these landscapes, no single prescription for management of sagebrush ecosystems (including sage-grouse habitats) will suffice to guide the collective efforts of public and private entities to conserve the species and its habitat.
This report documents and summarizes several decades of work on sage-grouse populations, sagebrush as habitat, and sagebrush community and ecosystem functions based on the recent assessment and findings of the USFWS under consideration of the Endangered Species Act. As reflected here, some of these topics receive a greater depth of discussion because of the perceived importance of the issue for sagebrush ecosystems and sage-grouse populations. Drawing connections between the direct effects on sagebrush ecosystems and the effect of ecosystem condition on habitat condition, and finally the connection between habitat quality and sage-grouse population dynamics remains an important goal for science, management, and conservation. This effort is necessary, despite the perception that these complicated, indirect relations are difficult to characterize and manage, and the many advances in understanding and application developed toward this end have been documented here to help inform regional planning and policy decisions.
Cottonwood tree rings and climate in western North America
Friedman, J.M., J.R. Edmondson, E.R. Griffin, D.M. Meko, M.F. Merigliano, J.A. Scott, M.L. Scott, and R. Touchan
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45th Annual Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, San Francisco, CA, December 3-7, 2012
ASPN is a Web-based decision tool that assists natural resource managers and planners in identifying and prioritizing social and economic planning issues, and provides guidance on appropriate social and economic methods to address their identified issues.
ASPN covers the breadth of issues facing natural resource management agencies so it is widely applicable for various resources, plans, and projects.
ASPN also realistically accounts for budget and planning time constraints by providing estimated costs and time lengths needed for each of the possible social and economic methods.
ASPN is a valuable starting point for natural resource managers and planners to start working with their agencies’ social and economic specialists. Natural resource management actions have social and economic effects that often require appropriate analyses. Additionally, in the United States, Federal agencies are legally mandated to follow guidance under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires addressing social and economic effects for actions that may cause biophysical impacts. Most natural resource managers and planners lack training in understanding the full range of potential social and economic effects of a management decision as well as an understanding of the variety of methods and analyses available to address these effects. Thus, ASPN provides a common framework which provides consistency within and across natural resource management agencies to assist in identification of pertinent social and economic issues while also allowing the social and economic analyses to be tailored to best meet the needs of the specific plan or project.
ASPN can be used throughout a planning process or be used as a tool to identify potential issues that may be applicable to future management actions. ASPN is useful during the pre-scoping phase as a tool to start thinking about potential social and economic issues as well as to identify potential stakeholders who may be affected. Thinking about this early in the planning process can help with outreach efforts and with understanding the cost and time needed to address the potential social and economic effects. One can use ASPN during the scoping and post-scoping phases as a way to obtain guidance on how to address issues that stakeholders identified. ASPN can also be used as a monitoring tool to identify whether new social and economic issues arise after a management action occurs.
ASPN is developed through a collaborative research effort between the USGS Fort Collins Science Center’s (FORT) Social and Economic Analysis (SEA) Branch and the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. ASPN’s technical development is led by the USGS FORT’s Information Science Branch. An updated release, which will extend ASPN’s functionality and incorporate feature improvements identified in ongoing usability testing, is currently in the planning stages.