FORT Science Subsites

Fort Collins Science Center Subsites are multi-page features that provide a more extensive explanation of project facets. This includes information articles on courses and facilities at FORT to detailed explanations of science directions and themes. These subsites include:

In its role as the scientific resource and advisor for Department of the Interior land management agencies, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is fostering a place-based approach that collocates USGS researchers onsite and long-term with public land managers. One of them, USGS scientist Craig D. Allen, is collocated at Bandelier National Monument, a unit of the National Park Service. Dr. Allen is director of the Fort Collins Science Center's Jemez Mountains Field Station, which is based at Bandelier. As a place-based scientist, Dr. Allen is responsible for proposing, conducting, arranging, overseeing, facilitating, and communicating about the needed local research and monitoring. He is also helping to develop a place-based science program at the nearby Valles Caldera National Preserve.

In the late 1990s, the BLM entered into a partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center (FORT) to design and implement a research program that would investigate alternative approaches for dealing with rapid population growth as well as other management challenges faced by BLM. A series of expert panels was convened to discuss the subjects of health and handling, fertility control, population estimation, genetics, and habitat assessment. Based on reports produced by these expert panels and information from a variety of other sources, BLM, FORT, and U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service staff prepared a Strategic Research Plan for wild horse and burro management.

The science of ecological flows is interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and integrative. The assessment and prescription of ecological flows requires water resource managers and researchers to access and analyze several different types of data and select appropriate tools and approaches from a wide variety of established methodologies. These data and tools are described in a diverse scientific literature and can be accessed through a variety of web sources, including government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and professional societies.

Since the mid-1990s, several species of non-native, giant constrictor snakes, such as Burmese pythons and boa constrictors, have surfaced in localities throughout southern Florida. Several are known or suspected to be breeding and appear to be spreading northward. Increasingly, media and other reports of sightings or encounters with these animals have emphasized the dangers they could impose on native species, ecosystems, pets, and people. The USGS Fort Collins Science Center (FORT), government resource management agencies, the University of Florida, Davidson College (NC), and The Nature Conservancy have been collaborating on research and intervention methods to cope with an urgent need to understand and control these large, widespread predators.

Public land management agencies continually face resource management problems that are exacerbated by climate warming, land-use change, and other human activities. As the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Fort Collins Science Center (FORT) works with managers in U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) agencies and other federal, state, and private entities, researchers are finding that the science needed to address these complex ecological questions across time and space produces substantial amounts of data.

In a project initiated by the U.S. Geological Survey’s Land Remote Sensing Program, the USGS Fort Collins Science Center’s Policy Analysis and Science Assistance Branch (PASA) is conducting a study to investigate the users, uses, and benefits of Landsat imagery. The goals of this study are to (1) identify and classify Landsat imagery users, (2) better understand the specific uses of the imagery as well as the extent to which it is used, and (3) determine the value of Landsat imagery to the users. 

The mission of the Fort Collins Science Center Molecular Ecology Laboratory is to use the tools and concepts of molecular genetics to address a variety of complex management questions and conservation issues facing the management of the Nation's fish and wildlife resources. Together with our partners, we design and implement studies to document genetic diversity and the distribution of genetic variation among individuals, populations, and species. Information from these studies is used to support wildlife-management planning and conservation actions. Current and past studies have provided information to assess taxonomic boundaries, inform listing decisions made under the Endangered Species Act, identify unique or genetically depauperate populations, estimate population size or survival rates, develop management or recovery plans, breed wildlife in captivity, relocate wildlife from one location to another, and assess the effects of environmental change.

The USGS Fort Collins Science Center's Policy Analysis and Science Assistance Branch (PASA) has been conducting and publishing research on multi-party natural resource negotiation since the 1980s. This research has led to the development of basic and advanced negotiation training courses. Both courses are a mix of lecture, hands-on training, and discussion. Please join us and other natural resource professionals facing similar problems and share your experiences. Come prepared to candidly discuss examples of successes to embrace, stalemates to recognize, and pitfalls to avoid in natural resource negotiations.

Recognizing the opportunities presented by radar technologies, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and university partners collaborated first on individual projects and then formed a broader, informal “collaborative” to coordinate their radar-related research and work together to develop the suite of products needed for conservation of birds and bats. USGS Fort Collins Science Center scientist Janet Ruth has served as the coordinator for this collaborative effort. Having produced two summary documents the next objective was to convene a workshop for researchers, management and regulatory agencies, and other interested parties. The focus of this initial workshop was on strengthening the existing USGS–USFWS–university partnership and expanding the collaborative to include new Federal agency partners. The subject matter centered on discussing available technologies, appropriate applications, management-related needs, and ways to strengthen collaborative research and conservation efforts. The ultimate goal of this collaborative is to facilitate and further the use of radar technologies to better understand the movement patterns and habitat associations of migratory birds and other wildlife, and consequently inform wildlife management and regulatory decision-making.

In 2009, the USGS Fort Collins Science Center renovated its Resource for Advanced Modeling (RAM), a modeling facility for collaborative research within the USGS and the wider research community. The main purpose of the RAM is to bring together remote sensing and climate forecasting experts, habitat modelers, field ecologists, and land managers in a synergistic environment. The RAM provides a collaborative working environment for up to 20 scientists, supported with networked, wireless computing capability for running and testing various scientific models at a variety of spatial scales. In 2012 the RAM added the “VisWall,” a bank of 24 wall-mounted monitors in a 6x4 array that can be used for displaying large or numerous GIS datasets, photos, or other data products. The monitor array can be configured to show a single map spread across all 24 monitors, 24 individual monitor outputs, or a combination of intermediate-sized outputs, such as three 4x2-monitor maps. Investigative teams and working groups using the RAM can employ VisWall for presentations, demonstrations, and robust data exploration.

A custom decision support system, the Smart River GIS, allows simultaneous views of river hydraulics, species-specific habitat, and fish population simulations, for a better understanding of complex ecological interactions. Here at the USGS Fort Collins Science Center, we used existing data sets from the South Platte River in Colorado to develop a prototype, multi-layered geographic information system (GIS) that resource managers can use to improve their understanding of river ecosystems and make better-informed management decisions.

Nationwide, restoration projects compensate the public for environmental losses and injuries and improve the health and resilience of terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems. In addition to environmental benefits, Federal funds invested in restoration activities cycle through local economies, generating business sales and supporting jobs and income. U.S. Geological Survey economists, in collaboration with the Department of Interior (DOI) Office of Policy Analysis, the DOI Restoration Program, and the Bureau of Land Management, are collecting data and developing a series of case studies to increase the available information on the costs and activities for ecosystem restoration and the resultant economic effects of these investments to local economies.

In recognition of his outstanding scientific contributions to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in mammalian wildlife ecology and conservation, USGS scientist Thomas O’Shea was recently honored with the Meritorious Service Award from the U.S. Department of the Interior. This award recognizes DOI employees who have demonstrated longstanding excellence in serving Interior’s mission.