The Fort Collins Science Center (FORT) is a multi-disciplinary research and development center of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) located in Fort Collins, Colorado. Organizationally, FORT is within the USGS Southwest Region, although our work extends across the Nation and into several other countries. FORT research focuses on needs of the land- and water-management bureaus within the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), other Federal agencies, and those of State and non-government organizations. As a Science Center, we emphasize a multi-disciplinary science approach to provide information for resource-management decisionmaking. FORT’s vision is to maintain and continuously improve the integrated, collaborative, world-class research needed to inform effective, science-based land and resource management. Our science and technological development activities and unique capabilities support all USGS scientific Mission Areas and contribute to successful, collaborative science efforts across the USGS and DOI. We organized our report into an Executive Summary, a cross-reference table, and an appendix. The executive summary provides brief highlights of some key FORT accomplishments for each Mission Area. The table cross-references all major FY2012 and FY2013 science accomplishments with the various Mission Areas that each supports. The one-page accomplishment descriptions in the appendix are organized by USGS Mission Area and describe the many and diverse ways in which our science is applied to resource issues. As in prior years, lists of all FY2012 and FY2013 publications and other product types also are appended.
National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, Version 3.0 [Website]
O’Malley, R., E. Fort, N. Hartke-O’Berg, E. Varela-Acevedo, and H. Padgett
The mission of the USGS's National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC) is to serve the scientific needs of managers of fish, wildlife, habitats, and ecosystems as they plan for a changing climate. DOI Climate Science Centers (CSCs) are management by NCCWSC and include this mission as a core responsibility, in line with the CSC mission to provide scientific support for climate-adaptation across a full range of natural and cultural resources.
NCCWSC is a Science Center application designed in Drupal with the Bootstrap 3 theme. As a content management system, Drupal allows the science center to keep their website up-to-date with current publications, news, meetings and projects. Bootstrap allows the site to be adaptive at different screen sizes and is developed on the 960 grid.
The interactive effects of excess reactive nitrogen and climate change on aquatic ecosystems and water resources of the United States
Baron, J.S., E.K. Hall, B.T. Nolan, J.C. Finlay, E.S. Bernhardt, J.A. Harrison, F. Chan, E.W. Boyer
Nearly all freshwaters and coastal zones of the US are degraded from inputs of excess reactive nitrogen (Nr), sources of which are runoff, atmospheric N deposition, and imported food and feed. Some major adverse effects include harmful algal blooms, hypoxia of fresh and coastal waters, ocean acidification, long-term harm to human health, and increased emissions of greenhouse gases. Nitrogen fluxes to coastal areas and emissions of nitrous oxide from waters have increased in response to N inputs. Denitrification and sedimentation of organic N to sediments are important processes that divert N from downstream transport. Aquatic ecosystems are particularly important denitrification hotspots. Carbon storage in sediments is enhanced by Nr, but whether carbon is permanently buried is unknown. The effect of climate change on N transport and processing in fresh and coastal waters will be felt most strongly through changes to the hydrologic cycle, whereas N loading is mostly climate-independent. Alterations in precipitation amount and dynamics will alter runoff, thereby influencing both rates of Nr inputs to aquatic ecosystems and groundwater and the water residence times that affect Nr removal within aquatic systems. Both infrastructure and climate change alter the landscape connectivity and hydrologic residence time that are essential to denitrification. While Nr inputs to and removal rates from aquatic systems are influenced by climate and management, reduction of N inputs from their source will be the most effective means to prevent or to minimize environmental and economic impacts of excess Nr to the nation’s water resources.
Characterizing invertebrate traits in wadeable streams of the contiguous US: Differences among ecoregions and land uses
Much is known about invertebrate community traits in basins across Europe, but no comprehensive description of traits exists for the continental US. Little is known about the trait composition of invertebrates in reference or least-disturbed basins of the US, how trait composition varies among ecoregions, or how consistently traits respond to land use. These elements are essential to development of trait-based tools for conservation and assessment of biological integrity. We compared invertebrate traits of least-disturbed basins among ecoregions of the US. Benthic invertebrate data (presence/absence) from 1987 basins were translated into 56 binary traits (e.g., bivoltine, clinger). Basins were classified as least-disturbed, agricultural, or urban, and grouped into 9 ecoregions. Landuse, climatic, physiographic, and hydrologic data were used to describe ecoregions and to evaluate least-disturbed basin quality. The unique habitat template of each ecoregion selected for trait compositions in least-disturbed basins that differed among ecoregions. Among the traits examined, life-history (e.g., voltinism, development) and ecological traits (e.g., rheophily, thermal preference) differed most among ecoregions. Agricultural and urban land uses selected for trait compositions that differed from least-disturbed, but the extent of the differences depended on ecoregion and quality of the least-disturbed basins. No trait compositions unique to specific land uses were found. However, a disturbance syndrome was observed in that the magnitude and direction of trait responses to urban and agricultural land uses were consistent among ecoregions. Each ecoregion had a unique trait composition, but trait compositions could be used to aggregate ecoregions into 3 broad regions: Western Mountains, Plains and Lowlands, and Eastern Highlands. Our results indicate that large-scale trait-based assessment tools for the US will require calibration to account for regional differences in the trait composition of basins and in the quality of least-disturbed basins.
Fort Collins Science Center FY2011 Accomplishments Report
The Fort Collins Science Center (FORT) is a multi-disciplinary research and development center of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) located in Fort Collins, Colo. Organizationally, FORT is within the USGS Rocky Mountain Area, although our work extends across the Nation and into several other countries. FORT research focuses on needs of the land- and water-management bureaus within the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), other Federal agencies, and the needs of State and non-government organizations. As a Science Center, we emphasize a multi-disciplinary science approach to provide information for resource-management decisionmaking. FORT’s vision is to maintain and continuously improve the integrated, collaborative, world-class research needed to inform effective, science-based land management. Our innovative scientists and technical specialists accomplish this mission in two fundamental ways:
We build teams across USGS centers and Federal agencies.
Resource management decisions and planning processes require a broad range of biological, ecological, and economic analyses and often must consider a landscape or ecoregional perspective that involves multiple Federal and State agencies and often university and private partners. Our Center has a long history of addressing resource management and planning issues, leveraging shared data and expertise across centers and agencies. This collaborative work has been recognized through three consecutive DOI “Partners in Conservation” awards and our selection as the host site for the USGS John Wesley Powell Center for Analysis and Synthesis.
We provide interdisciplinary science support and Information Technology infrastructure that facilitates integrated and collaborative research.
Advanced Information Technology (IT) and data capabilities at FORT include the Resource for Advanced Modeling laboratory, high throughput and high performance computing resources, and easily accessible libraries of large geospatial datasets. Our Center is also piloting for USGS a number of cutting-edge technologies that could dramatically lower IT costs and improve performance, such as network optimization tools and virtualization. These services provide support to as many as 14 working groups per year for the Powell Center, in addition to new levels of data management and analysis for our own scientists. With an interdisciplinary science staff from several USGS science centers, we are located within the Natural Resource Research Center campus at Colorado State University, where there are more than 1,000 natural resource professionals from six Federal agencies.
Our science and technological development activities and unique capabilities support all six USGS scientific Mission Areas and contribute to successful, collaborative science efforts across the USGS and DOI. This year, we have organized our annual report into an Executive Summary with an appendix of 70 science accomplishments. These one-page accomplishment descriptions are organized by USGS Mission Area. As in prior years, lists of all FY2011 publications and other product types also are appended.
This executive summary of our annual report provides brief highlights of a few key FORT accomplishments for each Mission Area, along with a table cross-referencing all major FY11 accomplishments with the various Mission Areas each supports. I hope you will also peruse the accomplishment descriptions in Appendix 1, as they describe the many and diverse ways in which the “rubber meets the road” here at FORT.
The USGS Leetown Science Center is a “center of excellence for biological science conducting research needed to restore, maintain, enhance, and protect aquatic and terrestrial organisms and their support ecosystems”.
Leetown is a Science Center application designed in Drupal. As a content management system, Drupal allows the science center to keep their website up-to-date with current publications, news, meetings and projects.
Investigating global change, environmental response, and adaptation: Jill Baron's 30 years as an ecosystem ecologist
Three decades of research, 145 publications (including two books), 15 graduate students, leadership in scientific organizations, invited talks around the world, and two collaborative entities that facilitate scientific synthesis—it’s a lot to pack into one career. But USGS research ecologist and Colorado State University senior scientist Jill Baron isn’t finished yet. Since 1981, Dr. Baron has conducted research on the effects of atmospheric deposition (especially nitrogen deposition) on alpine lakes and surrounding ecosystems in the Loch Vale watershed in Rocky Mountain National Park. The foundation for this research is the Loch Vale long-term ecological research and monitoring program, established by Dr. Baron. While Loch Vale provides a site for in-depth, place-based research, Dr. Baron is also involved in national and international initiatives to convey the effects of reactive nitrogen on ecosystems, identify ways for public land managers to prepare for and adapt to climate change, and address the complex interactions of global changes to mountain ecosystems. She is a founding investigator of the Western Mountain Initiative, a multi-agency group of scientists who conduct research to understand and predict the responses of Western mountain ecosystems to climatic variability and change. As a member of the USGS Science Strategy Team, she helped create and now co-directs the John Wesley Powell Center for Earth System Science Analysis and Synthesis. She talks to scientists worldwide as well as school kids and hiking clubs, and provides interviews to scientific and popular media via print, radio, and film. She seems never to stop. But to her, it’s not just about conducting the science and producing data; it’s also about communicating the findings in a way that inspires action and generates solutions. “Being a scientist is both a privilege and a responsibility,” she says. "Scientific knowledge drives us to seek solutions and promote better stewardship of our natural resources.”
National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center [Website]
O’Malley, R., E. Fort, N. Hartke-O’Berg, E. Varela-Acevedo
The mission of the USGS’s National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC) is to serve the scientific needs of managers of fish, wildlife, habitats, and ecosystems as they plan for a changing climate. DOI Climate Science Centers (CSCs) are management by NCCWSC and include this mission as a core responsibility, in line with the CSC mission to provide scientific support for climate-adaptation across a full range of natural and cultural resources.
NCCWSC is a Science Center application designed in Drupal. As a content management system, Drupal allows the science center to keep their website up-to-date with current publications, news, meetings and projects.
Long-Term Observations of Boreal Toads at an ARMI Apex Site
Corn, P.S., E. Muths, and D.S. Pilliod
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Questioning Greater Yellowstone’s Future: Climate, Land Use, and Invasive Species. Proceedings of the 10th Biennial Scientific Conference on the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. October 11–13, 2010, Yellowstone National Park, WY, and Laramie, WY
The U.S. Geological Survey’s Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative (ARMI) is a national project with goals to monitor the status and trends of amphibians, conduct research on causes of declines, and provide information and support to management agencies for conservation of amphibian populations. ARMI activities are organized around extensive inventories and place-based monitoring (such as collaboration with the Greater Yellowstone Inventory and Monitoring Network), and intensive population studies and research at selected locations (apex sites). One such site is an oxbow pond on the Buffalo Fork near the Black Rock Ranger Station east of Grand Teton National Park. We have been conducting mark-recapture of boreal toads (Anaxyrus boreas) at Black Rock since 2002. In concert with studies of other toad populations in the Rocky Mountains, we have documented a high rate of incidence of the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) and a negative rate of growth of the toad population, but not the population crash or extinction observed in other populations with high prevalence of Bd...
Ecosystem restoration [Chapter 4]
Cullinane Thomas, C.M., K.E. Skrabis, and W. Gascoigne
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The Department of Interior's Economic Contributions, FY2011
The Department of the Interior plays a substantial role in the U.S. economy, supporting over two million jobs and approximately $385 billion in economic activity for 2011. American citizens and industry, at work and at play, all benefit from Interior’s natural and cultural resource management: maintaining lands for recreation, protecting cultural and historical resources, storing and conveying water, generating power, leasing mineral rights, and providing valuable information to mineral markets.
Highlights of Interior’s economic contributions to key economic sectors in 2011 include:
Recreation and Tourism: Americans and foreign visitors made nearly 435 million visits to Interior-managed lands. These visits supported over 403,000 jobs and contributed around $48.7 billion in economic activity. This economic output represents about 6.5% of the direct output of tourism-related personal consumption expenditures for the United States for 2011 and about 7.6% of the direct tourism related employment.
Energy and Minerals: Exploitation of oil, gas, coal, hydropower and other minerals on Federal lands supported 1.5 million jobs and $275 billion in economic activity.
Water, Timber and Forage: Use of water, timber and other resources produced from Federal lands supported about 290,000 jobs and nearly $41 billion in economic activity.
Grants and Payments: Interior administers numerous grants and payments, supporting programs across the country and improving Federal lands with projects ranging from reclaiming abandoned mines to building coastal infrastructure. $4.2 billion in grants and payments (including support to tribal governments) supported about 83,000 jobs and $10 billion worth of economic contributions.
Interior’s support for tribal governments is an important mechanism for advancing nation-to-nation relationships, improving Indian education, and improving the safety of Indian communities. In FY 2011, this funding contributed about $1.2 billion to economic output and supported about 9,500 jobs.
Through both bureau programs and organizational partnerships, more than 21,000 employment opportunities were provided to people ages 15 to 25 on public lands in FY 2011. NPS and its organizational partners employed the largest number, with 9,089 youth employed.
The physical infrastructure managed by Interior supports a wide variety of resource management and recreation activities. In FY 2011, investments in construction and maintenance totaled about $2.6 billion. This funding contributed about $7.2 billion in economic activity and supported about 49,000 jobs.
Land acquisitions are a key component to ensuring that the ecosystem services provided by Interior-managed lands can be preserved and enhanced. The $144 million spent on land acquisitions in FY 2011 is estimated to contribute about $141 million in economic activity and support about 1,000 jobs.
Some of the valuable services produced under Interior’s management cannot be fully counted in terms of output or jobs: habitat for a wide variety of species, drinking water, energy security, flood and disease control, scientific information, carbon sequestration, recreation, and culture. Evaluation and consideration of the services provided through human production and through land and resource conservation can engage new stakeholders, expand revenue sources, and enhance our landscapes.