Each year the Rocky Mountains Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (RM-CESU) recognizes a student for outstanding contribution to a RM-CESU project and the recipient of the 2016 award is Greg Wann, CSU Cooperator to the U.S. Geological Survey. Wann was recognized for a project entitled "Demography and Vulnerability of Grouse Populations," that was initiated in 2014.
A genetic analysis of scat from the Pacific Pocket Mouse (Perognathus longimembris pacificus) provided a better understanding of the diet of these tiny herbivores. USGS researchers Deborah Iwanowicz (LSC), Amy Vandergast (WERC), and Scott Cornman (FORT) used high-throughput "genetic barcoding" to reconstruct the diet of this scarce and nocturnal species. The research was performed in collaboration with scientists at the University of California, San Diego, and various U.S.
Economist, Dr. James Meldrum, was one of several presenters at the "Understanding SW Colorado Resident's Perceptions of their Wildfire Risk" presentation on November 15, 2016 in Durango, Colorado on behalf of WiRe. WiRe is an interdisciplinary wildfire research team from the U.S. Geological Survey, Rocky Mountain Research Station, the University of Colorado Institute of Behavioral Science, and practitioner groups, looking at community adaptedness to wildland fire.
Four Florida-based representatives from the Invasive Species Science Branch, including three youth interns, ran the Race Against Invasives 5K in Everglades National Park on October 22, 2016. Racers ran alongside interagency colleagues from the National Park Service, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida State University, and Florida International University.
A new study used the annual counts of male sage-grouse at communal breeding sites in Wyoming to measure population size over time in relation to the density of oil and gas wells. These data determined that Greater Sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) populations in the state declined 2.5 percent annually between 1984 and 2008, with the rise in domestic energy production contributing to the decline.
In summer 2016, the Fort Collins Science Center participated in the USDA’s People’s Garden project at the at the Natural Resources Research Center (NRRC) in Fort Collins, Colorado. Initiated in 2009, the project is a national, USDA-led effort to plant gardens at federal facilities or assist nearby organizations with creating gardens at their facilities (e.g., schools, senior centers, Boys and Girls Clubs, churches).
A paper featuring preliminary results of a science collaboration co-led by FORT scientist Paul Cryan was published this week in Scientific Reports. The paper, titled "First Direct Evidence of Long-distance Seasonal Movements and Hibernation in a Migratory Bat," describes the earliest results of ongoing efforts to find new ways of following the long-distance migration movements and hibernation patterns of small bats.
Colorado State University cooperator, Dr. David Eads, and FORT Research Wildlife Biologist, Dr. Dean Biggins, and colleagues, published a manuscript on the potential importance of droughts in the ecology of plague (Yersinia pestis), an introduced, zoonotic disease that can devastate populations of prairie dogs (Cynomys)and endangered Black-footed Ferrets (Mustela nigripes).
The Fort Collins Science Center hosted the bi-annual Software for Assisted Habitat Modeling (SAHM) Workshop in the Resource for Advanced Modeling (RAM) facility this week. SAHM works by combining environmental predictor layers of a study area, such as climate and remote sensing data, with field sampling measurements for a particular species. Statistical models then use this data to analyze habitat requirements and potential distribution.
Dr. David Eads, Colorado State University cooperator, and Dr.John Hoogland from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, recently used long-term data to evaluate correlations between precipitation and parasitism of Black-tailed Prairie Dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) by fleas.
FORT ecologist, Ellis Margolis, spoke with a reporter from the Albuquerque Journal on August 19, 2016 about a new fire history project in the Taos Valley Watersheds, New Mexico. Margolis, Craig Allen, and Collin Haffey from the USGS New Mexico Landscapes Field Station, along with the University of Arizona, are working with the U.S.
The USGS Community for Data Integration (CDI) Data at Risk (DaR) project team has announced five legacy data projects that will be the focus of their FY16 preservation and release efforts. The DaR project is a collaborative effort led by the Fort Collins Science Center and the Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center to develop methods to inventory, evaluate, prioritize and release USGS legacy science data.
FORT postdoctoral research ecologist, Tim Assal, will present research at the Ecological Society of America (ESA) annual meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on August 12, 2016.
Adam Knox, the Guam-based Brown Treesnake Rapid Response Team Coordinator with the Fort Collins Science Center Invasive Species Branch, served as the lead guest speaker for the National Park Service Junior Ranger Program at War in the Pacific National Historical Park (WAPA) on Guam. Knox presented the story of the Brown Treesnake (Boiga irregularis) invasion of Guam as well as biological information on snakes to local youth and families.
A new U.S. Geological Survey publication entitled “A Field Ornithologist’s Guide to Genomics: Practical Considerations for Ecology and Conservation” was published on July 27, 2016 in the journal The Auk: Ornithological Advances. In this review paper, researchers Dr. Sara Oyler-McCance, Mendenhall Fellows Dr. Kevin Oh and Dr. Kathryn Langin, and Dr.
FORT bioinformaticist, Dr. Robert Cornman, contributed to a publication led by Dr. Cassidy Hahn and Dr. Luke Iwanowicz of Leetown Science Center, entitled "Transcriptome Discovery in Non-Model Wild Fish Species for the Development of Quantitative Transcript Abundance Assays" that was published online in Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part D: Genomics and ProteomicsonJuly 12, 2016.
FORT’s Green Team has overhauled its main recycling center to encourage recycling of previously unrecycled items and improve proper sorting of recyclable items. With crucial assistance from FORT’s facility manager, the Green Team installed shelving to make space for additional recycling bins for separating electronics from DVDs/CDs, batteries, small metals, and toner cartridges; and plastic bags from bubble wrap and plastic packing pillows.
Ecologist, Tim Assal, was an invited speaker at the Aspen Days workshop in Lander, Wyoming on July 12–14, 2016. The workshop was led by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and the Western Aspen Alliance to discuss emerging research and partnerships necessary to sustain aspen ecosystems. His presentation highlighted research from the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative on the condition and trends of aspen communities.
During the month of May, the Fort Collins Science Center competed in the annual Federal Bike Challenge with two teams, Team FORT and Fantastic FORT. It's a friendly competition that encourages the reduction of CO2 by promoting alternative transportation. Teams log bike hours to and from work, errands, and recreational trips. Team FORT took second place overall in the Department of the Interior and placed second overall for USGS.
Social Scientists Debuts HDgov at the International Symposium on Society and Resource Management Conference
Dr. Rudy Schuster and colleagues will present a poster at the International Symposium on Society and Resource Management conference in Houghton, Michigan on June 24, 2016, to highlight HDgov.
Interdisciplinary Climate Change Study Presented at the International Symposium on Society and Resource Management
Representing the Fort Collins Science Center at the International Symposium on Society and Resource Management (ISSRS) is Dr. Rudy Schuster and NinaBurkardt, M.S., who will be presenting on a project that develops integrated adaptation planning tools for climate change scenarios.
Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) also referred to as "drones," are growing in demand for research and are seen as a tool that may provide a safer, more cost-effective, and quieter alternative to traditional research methods. In a recent publication, scientists reviewed examples where UAS have been used to document wildlife abundance, behavior, and habitat, and illustrate the strengths and weaknesses of this technology with two case studies.
FORT scientists, Dr. Sara Oyler-McCance, research geneticist, and Dr. Scott Cornman, bioinformaticist, contributed to an article published in Methods in Ecology and Evolution. Other USGS authors include Matthew Laramie (M.S.) and Dr. David Pilliod from the Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center (FRESC). The manuscript grew out of a symposium on environmental DNA techniques that was co-organized by the U.S.
For two days last week, 4 current staff members of the Fort Collins Science Center (Ernie Valdez, Paul Cryan, Collin Haffey, Craig Allen) and 4 former/retired (Laura Ellison, Cindy Ramotnik, Mike Bogan, Tom O'Shea) participated in a BioBlitz at Bandelier National Monument. During a BioBlitz, members of the public team-up with experts in particular taxa to identify as many species as possible.
A recent press release announced that a USGS, Amphibian Research and Monitoring (ARMI)-led study re-affirmed that amphibians are declining in the United States but showed that the threats faced by amphibians differ by region, highlighting the challenge that there is no simple solution to halting or reversing these declines.
Dr. Bob Reed visited Olander Elementary School in Fort Collins, Colorado on May 5, 2016, to present on the biology of snakes to 28 students in a 5th-grade class. The presentation focused on the Colorado educational standard of 'how animals adapt to their environment,' and Dr. Reed brought several live snakes as visual aids. Reed has been invited back for a second presentation.
Adam Knox, the Guam-based Coordinator of the USGS Brown Treesnake Rapid Response Team, was contacted by Maui News, a local news outlet in Hawaii. The reporter was covering a recent Brown Treesnake Rapid Response Team training course held on Guam that was attended by three members of the Maui Invasive Species Committee.
Dr. Kate Schoenecker visited Preston Middle School in Fort Collins, Colorado on May 9 and May 10, 2016, to present to 6th-grade science classes. She gave six presentations over the two-day period, speaking about ecology, energy transfer, and what exactly does an ecologist do?
Dr. Robert Scott Cornman, bioinformaticist, co-authored a paper recently published in mBio, a publication of the American Society of Microbiology. This article reviewed the state of knowledge regarding the bee microbiome, as well as future needs and challenges. The authors constitute a loose consortium promoting increased standardization and sharing of microbiome data, as well as access to computational tools.
Rudy Schuster, branch chief of the Social and Economic Analysis Branch at the Fort Collins Science Center, has been elected to a 4-year term on the International Association for Society and Natural Resources (IASNR) Council. The Council is responsible for guiding and determining IASNR governance, operations, and activities. IASNR has 4,200 members located in 45 countries.
Dave Hamilton, who has served as the Center Director of the Fort Collins Science Center for the past eight years and as Assistant Center Director for five years previously, retired last week after over thirty years of Federal service. We thank Dave for his leadership and wish him well! Please read more about his journey in the science feature, available at https://www.fort.usgs.gov/science-feature/12971
Holly Miller and Colleagues Honored with 2016 John I. Davidson President’s Award for Practical Papers
Social Scientist, Holly Miller, and coauthors tied for second place for the 2016 John I.
The U.S. Geological Survey has a 130-year history of collecting information about the world in which we live, work, and play. In many cases, these data are in danger of being lost due to preservation or access challenges, such as media obsolescence or pending science staff retirements.
The U.S. Geological Survey issued a joint press release with the Oregon Zoo on April 20, 2016 featuring results of a new study using zoo polar bears to help scientists better understand the effects of the polar bear's changing diet in remote Arctic regions.
A USGS-led study, published this week in Environmental Science and Technology, identifies two traits in chemicals that make them most likely to accumulate to toxic levels as they build up in aquatic food webs. Dr. David Walters, along with Canadian researchers, studied the biomagnification of chemicals in the food chain as they metabolize, thus leading to adverse effects on human and wildlife health and the environment.
The National Park Service (NPS) released their annual National Park Visitor Spending Effects Report on April 21, 2016, highlighting the economic contributions of visitor spending to local communities, states, and the nation. The report estimates how trip-related visitor spending cycles through local economies, generating business sales and supporting jobs and income within park gateway communities. FORT economist and lead author, Cathy Cullinane Thomas, reports that NPS visitation and visitor
FORT Scientist Presents on Climate Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems to International Research Communities in Italy
FORT research ecologist, Dr. Craig D.
The U.S. Geological Survey released a report on April 5, 2016, that evaluates the economic impacts associated with 21 Department of the Interior (DOI) restoration projects.
Annual counts of male Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) displaying at lek sites are an important resource for monitoring populations of this species, but seasonal and diurnal variation in lek attendance may increase variance and bias of trend analyses.
Michelle Collier participated in a Vintage Everglades day event at Everglades National Park on March 12, 2016. The focus of the day was "Women in Conservation" and the presentation she helped give was about women field biologists. Collier spoke about her background and highlighted some of the field activities she undertakes as a USGS Biological Science Technician working with invasive reptiles in the Everglades.
FORT Research Ecologist, Dr. Jill Baron, will be talking about nitrogen issues to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on Friday, March 25, 2016. It is a presentation by Baron, the current Director of the North American Nitrogen Center and the past director, Dr. Eric Davidson (University of Maryland), regarding the effects of human-caused nitrogen on environmental and human health.
Research conducted by FORT Scientists Tim Assal and Pat Anderson in the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative was recently featured on the NASA Landsat Program’s Science Blog. In a recent paper in the journal Forest Ecology and Management, Assal et al. (2016) document the effect of multiple droughts on the condition of forest along the shrubland ecotone using a long-term series of satellite observations.
Brown Treesnake Rapid Response Team Deployed to Saipan after Two Snake Sightings: Officials Urge Citizens to Report Sightings
SAIPAN – Two recent reports of two brown treesnakes on Saipan is prompting federal and state officials to urge citizens of Hawaii, Guam and other Pacific Islands to report any sightings of these invasive snakes to authorities. Snakes can be reported by calling (671) 777-HISS or (670) 28-SNAKE.
During a visit to Everglades National Park (ENP) on March 9, 2016, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Jo-Ellen Darcy, will tour the South Florida Natural Resources Center's Daniel Beard Research Center. Michelle Collier and Emma Hanslowe, along with NPS staff, will give a presentation on invasive plants and animals, including the work that USGS staff undertakes on invasive reptiles in ENP.
FORT’s Jonathan Friedman will be teaching the USGS-NTC Training Class, “Geomorphic Analysis of Fluvial Systems” in Baltimore, Maryland, May 9-13, 2016. This 5-day class, targeted to USGS Science Center personnel and cooperators, covers channel form, processes of channel change, flow hydraulics, sediment transport, flood disturbance, effects of vegetation, and river restoration. The instructors will be USGS research scientists Faith Fitzpatrick, Jonathan Friedman, Allen Gellis, and Jim O’Conno
A report on the economic impacts of 21 ecosystem restoration projects will be released in the next few weeks. USGS economists, Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Chris Huber, worked with the Interior Department’s Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Program (NRDAR) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Socioeconomics Program to estimate jobs and business activity generated through expenditures on restoration activities.
On February 23, 2016, FORT’s Everglades-based biologist, Dr. Bryan Falk, was interviewed by Laura Anastasia, a writer for the educational classroom magazine Scholastic, for an article on invasive Burmese pythons. Dr. Falk discussed the impacts of the pythons on the Everglades ecosystem and what types of python research are currently underway. He also emphasized how low detection probabilities are the major hurdle to managing this invasive population.
FORT’s Adam Knox will be featured in a short television broadcast interview with Saipan Channel 2 News, a news article in Marianas Variety, and he and will be featured in a radio interview with KKMP Saipan and another radio interview along with Dr. Bob Reed.
Dr. Craig D. Allen, FORT Research Ecologist, was interviewed for German Public Radio, discussing the global increase of mega-fires, how these fires are impacting ecosystems, and how fires are linked to climate change.
On February 18, 2016, Dr. David Merritt, a riparian ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service, met with Dr. Gregor Auble of FORT to film in the dendrochronology lab. Dr. Merritt is collaborating with the University of Nebraska to produce the documentary “Platte River Time Lapse”. The film crew documented the processing of samples within the lab environment as well as producing several high-resolution images of tree cores. The film is set for release sometime in the next year.
On February 18 and 23, 2016 FORT ecologists stationed at the Jemez Mountain Field Station attended a series of meetings in Taos, New Mexico to discuss a new project which will determine historical fire regimes for the local mountain watersheds. The meetings included local and tribal governments, land management agencies and other stakeholders that are part of the Taos Valley Watershed Coalition. The USGS research team, led by Dr.
Dr. Jill Baron, FORT Research Ecologist, gave two public lectures this week in Colorado's high country. The first lecture took place on Wednesday, February 10, 2016, in Carbondale, Colorado and the second was Thursday, February 11, 2016, in Aspen, Colorado. Both lectures were sponsored by the Wilderness Workshop and Dr. Baron’s topic was “The biggest global change you’ve never heard of: how nitrogen is affecting Colorado’s high country.”
On February 5, 2016, Dr. Bob Reed, FORT Research Wildlife Biologist, was interviewed by Rachel Becker for a new online science magazine, bioGraphic. In this interview, Dr. Reed discussed python biology, the impacts of invasive species, and control tools for invasive reptiles like the Tegu lizard. This new online science magazine is set to launch in March 2016 by the California Academy of Sciences.
On February 4, 2016, Leanne Hansen, FORT Biologist, was interviewed by David Hart from the National Wild Turkey Federation Magazine. Mr. Hart is interested in Leanne's work using the unmanned aircraft system (UAS) to study Sandhill crane (Grus Canadensis) and Greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) populations.
Everglades-based biologists Dr. Bryan Falk and Michelle Collier met with a group of natural resource professionals from the Government of Cuba on January 28, 2016, to brief them about the biology and impacts of invasive reptiles.
FORT Ecologists, Collin Haffey and Ellis Margolis, met with a reporter from the Albuquerque Journal on January 26, 2016. During this meeting, they discussed the opening of the first tree ring lab in New Mexico, all the things that tree rings can tell us (fire histories, archeology, stream flow reconstructions, climate variability, etc.), and the place-based philosophy of the Jemez Mountains Field Station.
Paul Cryan, FORT Research Biologist, spoke with Stephanie Paige Ogburn of KUNC on January 21, 2016, after the recent release of an article that he co-authored with USGS emeritus scientist Tom O'Shea entitled, “Multiple mortality events in bats: a global review.” They discussed the differences in bat mortality today and historically.
Biologist Discusses Brown Treesnake Rapid Response with Governor Torres of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
FORT Biologist, Adam Knox, met with the governor of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands on the afternoon of January 19, 2016. During this meeting, they focused on providing his office with background information about the recent Brown Treesnake sighting and information on the survey/monitoring plan going forward. The Governor closed the meeting by thanking us for our efforts and pledging his full support for the inter-agency operation
Dr. Jill Baron, FORT research ecologist, has been promoted to ST scientist within the USGS. There are only 544 ST scientists in all of the Federal Government. Out of ~1250 research scientists in USGS, 42 are STs, and Baron brings the current number of women ST scientists to three. Dr. Baron’s research achievements and scientific contributions in ecosystem ecology and biogeochemistry have helped guide the directions of these fields.
On January 14, 2016, Dr. Bob Reed, FORT, research wildlife biologist, was interviewed by Sarah Emerson with Vice Media Group for their science and technology site, Motherboard. In the interview, they discussed the 2016 Python Challenge and Burmese python population management in Florida.
On January 14, 2106, Adam Knox, FORT biologist, was interviewed by KKMP Radio Saipan. During this interview, he discussed the team’s status of rapid response, including a new snake report, things the community can do, and descriptive information about Brown Treesnake biology and ecology. Knox stressed the importance of community involvement and the team’s gratitude for the community’s continued support.
On January 13, 2016, Adam Knox, FORT biologist, was interviewed by Channel 2 News Saipan about Brown Treesnake sightings and rapid response. During the interview, they had a snake capture demonstration in which the reporter successfully captured a Brown Treesnake. The interview is available at:http://www.saipantv.com/video.asp?vidID=1316.
Everglades-based biologist, Dr. Bryan Falk, briefed Michael Bean, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, on the biology and impacts of invasive reptiles on January 11, 2016. Discussion topics focused on the Burmese python, particularly the challenges related to the snakes' low detection probability.
Plant pollen is the main source of protein in the honey bee diet. Identifying the plants honey bees visit has been laborious and difficult to implement at a landscape level to guide conservation practices. Recently developed genetic techniques offer a promising option. A USGS study recently published in PLoS One describes a new genetic approach to cataloging pollen sources and its application in an important apicultural region.
Monitoring of Greater Sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) populations is necessary to detect population-level responses to anthropogenic disturbances. Meaningful assessment of population changes in potentially impacted energy fields requires the establishment of monitoring at similar, non-impacted, control sites.
On January 7, 2016, Adam Knox, FORT biologist, spoke with KKMP Radio Saipan. During this interview Knox gave information about Brown Treesnake outreach and information as well as introducing the staff at the Guam field station and thanking the community for their support. Knox and other USGS biologists from the Guam field station are currently on Saipan conducting intensive searches after two snake sightings were reported by members of the public.