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.
Trends in amphibian occupancy in the United States
Though a third of amphibian species worldwide are thought to be imperiled, existing assessments simply categorize extinction risk, providing little information on the rate of population losses. We conducted the first analysis of the rate of change in the probability that amphibians occupy ponds and other comparable habitat features across the United States. We found that overall occupancy by amphibians declined 3.7% annually from 2002 to 2011. Species that are Red-listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declined an average of 11.6% annually. All subsets of data examined had a declining trend including species in the IUCN Least Concern category. This analysis suggests that amphibian declines may be more widespread and severe than previously realized.
Irrigation canals as sink habitat for trout and other fishes in a Wyoming drainage
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.
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.
Information on black-footed ferret biology collected within the framework of ferret conservation
Once feared to be extinct, black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) were rediscovered near Meeteetse, Wyoming, in 1981, resulting in renewed conservation and research efforts for this highly endangered species. A need for information directly useful to recovery has motivated much monitoring of ferrets since that time, but field activities have enabled collection of data relevant to broader biological themes. This special feature is placed in a context of similar books and proceedings devoted to ferret biology and conservation. Articles include general observations on ferrets, modeling of potential impacts of ferrets on prairie dogs (Cynomys spp.), discussions on relationships of ferrets to prairie dog habitats at several spatial scales (from individual burrows to patches of burrow systems) and a general treatise on the status of black-footed ferret recovery.
Utilizing Remote Sensing and GIS to Detect Prairie Dog Colonies
The locations of black-tailed prairie dog (Cynomys ludovicianus [Ord]) colonies on a 550-km2 study site in northeastern Wyoming, United States, were estimated using 3 remote sensing methods: raw satellite imagery (Landsat 7 ETMþ), enhanced satellite imagery (integration of imagery with thematic layers via a Geographic Information System), and aerial reconnaissance (observations taken from a small plane). A supervised classification of the raw satellite imagery yielded an overall accuracy of 64.4%, relative to ground-truthed locations of prairie dog colonies. The enhanced satellite imagery, resulting from a filtering of the data based on an index derived from the sum of weighted ecological factors associated with prairie dog colonies (slopes, land cover, soil, and ‘‘greenness’’ via the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index) yielded an overall accuracy of 69.2%. The aerial reconnaissance method provided 65.1% accuracy. The highest rate of false positives resulted from the aerial reconnaissance method (39.9%). The highest rate of false negatives resulted from the raw satellite imagery (60.0%), a value that was markedly reduced via the enhancement with ecological data from thematic layers (45.8%). Given the accuracy, interpretability of results, repeatability, objectivity, cost, and safety, the enhanced satellite imagery method is the recommended approach to large-scale detection of black-tailed prairie dog colonies. If a greater accuracy is required, this method can be employed as a coarse filter to narrow the scale and scope of a more costly and laborious fine-scale analysis effectively.