In order to better understand and protect species with minimal or decreasing populations, it is imperative to determine their actual existing population size. The focal species for this project is the Gunnison sage-grouse (GUSG), which became a proposed endangered species under the Endangered Species Act, thus confirming the need for better population estimates. Lek site counting during mating season has historically been the primary method for estimating population size since the grouse are very difficult to count at other times of the year. The objective of this project was to use historical data and available technology to identify additional potential lekking sites. This was done by determining areas throughout the study area that have the same landscape characteristics as those where known lekking activities occur. More accurate population counts could be the outcome of locating more lek sites.
One of the remaining seven GUSG populations, the Crawford population (estimated at 128 individuals) exists in an area that includes the Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area and the northern portion of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (our study area). While the Crawford population is small, it is still considered a self-sustaining population; the persistence and growth of this population directly contribute to genetic diversity conservation of this declining species. To date, only observational and anecdotal information about the Crawford population’s range, movements, and seasonal habitat use exist.
From 1978 to the present, GUSG population monitoring has been accomplished through annual lek counts conducted each spring during GUSG mating season. Although this method has provided information on GUSG population trends, it is somewhat limited because counts are based only on known lekking sites and historically minimal efforts have been made to identify additional lek sites. To meet the objective of locating more potential lekking sites, we used a suite of spatial data, geographic information system tools, and maximum entropy species distribution tools. Based on expert knowledge and landscape variables, the modeling process evolved into a hybrid approach for delineating areas that would have a significant probability for supporting GUSG lekking activities. Based on model results, a sampling protocol was developed for model verification. The results of this project provide wildlife managers with a more sophisticated methodology to evaluate GUSG habitat for potential lekking sites.
Where eagles nest, the wind also blows: consolidating habitat and energy needs [Science Feature]
Energy development is rapidly escalating in resource-rich Wyoming, and with it the risks posed to raptor populations. These risks are of increasing concern to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is responsible for protecting the persistence of protected species, including raptors. In support of a Federal mandate to protect trust species and the wind energy industry’s need to find suitable sites on which to build wind farms, scientists at the USGS Fort Collins Science Center (FORT) and their partners are conducting research to help reduce impacts to raptor species from wind energy operations. Potential impacts include collision with the turbine blades and habitat disruption and disturbance from construction and operations. This feature describes a science-based tool—a quantitative predictive model—being developed and tested by FORT scientists to potentially avoid or reduce such impacts. This tool will provide industry and resource managers with the biological basis for decisions related to sustainably siting wind turbines in a way that also conserves important habitats for nesting golden eagles. Because of the availability of comprehensive data on nesting sites, golden eagles in Wyoming are the prototype species (and location) for the first phase of this investigation.
Modeling Human Population Growth using Dasymetric Mapping: Scenario Building for Wildlife Management
Assal, T.J. and Montag, J.M
Updated Date (text):
Parent Publication Title:
Topics in Land Use Research II, Association of American Geographers 2010 Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., April 17, 2010
Public Review Release—Feedback on this report will be accepted through August 1, 2012. To provide comments, please click below, then go to section marked "Offer your comments on our draft strategies": http://www.usgs.gov/start_with_science/
Core Science Systems is a new mission of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) that grew out of the 2007 Science Strategy, “Facing Tomorrow’s Challenges: U.S. Geological Survey Science in the Decade 2007–2017.” This report describes the vision for this USGS mission and outlines a strategy for Core Science Systems to facilitate integrated characterization and understanding of the complex earth system. The vision and suggested actions are bold and far-reaching, describing a conceptual model and framework to enhance the ability of USGS to bring its core strengths to bear on pressing societal problems through data integration and scientific synthesis across the breadth of science.
The context of this report is inspired by a direction set forth in the 2007 Science Strategy. Specifically, ecosystem-based approaches provide the underpinnings for essentially all science themes that define the USGS. Every point on earth falls within a specific ecosystem where data, other information assets, and the expertise of USGS and its many partners can be employed to quantitatively understand how that ecosystem functions and how it responds to natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Every benefit society obtains from the planet—food, water, raw materials to build infrastructure, homes and automobiles, fuel to heat homes and cities, and many others, are derived from or effect ecosystems.
The vision for Core Science Systems builds on core strengths of the USGS in characterizing and understanding complex earth and biological systems through research, modeling, mapping, and the production of high quality data on the nation’s natural resource infrastructure. Together, these research activities provide a foundation for ecosystem-based approaches through geologic mapping, topographic mapping, and biodiversity mapping. The vision describes a framework founded on these core mapping strengths that makes it easier for USGS scientists to discover critical information, share and publish results, and identify potential collaborations that transcend all USGS missions. The framework is designed to improve the efficiency of scientific work within USGS by establishing a means to preserve and recall data for future applications, organizing existing scientific knowledge and data to facilitate new use of older information, and establishing a future workflow that naturally integrates new data, applications, and other science products to make it easier and more efficient to conduct interdisciplinary research over time. Given the increasing need for integrated data and interdisciplinary approaches to solve modern problems, leadership by the Core Science Systems mission will facilitate problem solving by all USGS missions in ways not formerly possible...
Comparison of dasymetric mapping techniques for small-area population estimates
The classification and distribution mapping of the vegetation of Mesa Verde National Park (MEVE) and surrounding environment was achieved through a multi-agency effort between 2004 and 2007. The National Park Service’s Southern Colorado Plateau Network facilitated the team that conducted the work, which comprised the U.S. Geological Survey’s Southwest Biological Science Center, Fort Collins Research Center, and Rocky Mountain Geographic Science Center; Northern Arizona University; Prescott College; and NatureServe...
Vegetation Classification and Distribution Mapping Report : Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Thomas, K.A., M.L. McTeague, L. Ogden, K. Schulz, T. Fancher, R. Waltermire, and A. Cully
The classification and distribution mapping of the vegetation of Canyon de Chelly National Monument (CACH) and surrounding environment was accomplished through a multi-agency effort between 2003 and 2007. The National Park Service’s Southern Colorado Plateau Network facilitated the team that conducted the work, which comprised the U.S. Geological Survey’s Southwest Biological Science Center and Fort Collins Science Center, Navajo Natural Heritage Program, Northern Arizona University, and NatureServe...
Land use and habitat conditions across the southwestern Wyoming sagebrush steppe: development impacts, management effectiveness and the distribution of invasive plants
Manier, D.J., C. Aldridge, P. Anderson, G. Chong, C. Homer, M. O’Donnell, and S. Schell
Updated Date (text):
Parent Publication Title:
Proceedings of the 16th Wildland Shrub Symposium, Logan, Utah, May 2010
For the past several years, USGS has taken a multi-faceted approach to investigating the condition and trends in sagebrush steppe ecosystems. This recent effort builds upon decades of work in semi-arid ecosystems providing a specific, applied focus on the cumulative impacts of expanding human activities across these landscapes. Here, we discuss several on-going projects contributing to these efforts:
mapping and monitoring the distribution and condition of shrub steppe communities with local detail at a regional scale,
assessing the relationships between specific, land-use features (for example, roads, transmission lines, industrial pads) and invasive plants, including their potential (environmentally defined) distribution across the region, and
monitoring the effects of habitat treatments on the ecosystem, including wildlife use and invasive plant abundance.
This research is focused on the northern sagebrush steppe, primarily in Wyoming, but also extending into Montana, Colorado, Utah and Idaho. The study area includes a range of sagebrush types (including, Artemisia tridentate ssp. tridentate, Artemisia tridentate ssp. wyomingensis, Artemisia tridentate ssp. vaseyana, Artemisia nova) and other semi-arid shrubland types (for example, Sarcobatus vermiculatus, Atriplex confertifolia, Atriplex gardneri), impacted by extensive interface between steppe ecosystems and industrial energy activities resulting in a revealing multiple-variable analysis. We use a combination of remote sensing (AWiFS ((1 Any reference to platforms, data sources, equipment, software, patented or trade-marked methods is for information purposes only. It does not represent endorsement of the U.S.D.I., U.S.G.S. or the authors), Landsat and Quickbird platforms), Geographic Information System (GIS) design and data management, and field-based, replicated sampling to generate multiple scales of data representing the distribution of shrub communities for the habitat inventory. Invasive plant sampling focused on the interaction between human infrastructure and weedy plant distributions in southwestern Wyoming, while also capturing spatial variability associated with growing conditions and management across the region. In a separate but linked study, we also sampled native and invasive composition of recent and historic habitat treatments. Here, we summarize findings of this ongoing work, highlighting patterns and relationships between vegetation (native and invasive), land cover, landform, and land-use patterns in the sagebrush steppe.
The Art and Science of Weed Mapping with Citizen Scientists
Crall, A.W., G.J. Newman, D.M. Waller, T.J. Stohlgren, K.A. Holfelder, and J. Graham
Species distribution models are often used to characterize a species' native range climate, so as to identify sites elsewhere in the world that may be climatically similar and therefore at risk of invasion by the species. This endeavor provoked intense public controversy over recent attempts to model areas at risk of invasion by the Indian Python (Python molurus). We evaluated a number of MaxEnt models on this species to assess MaxEnt's utility for vertebrate climate matching.