CERC Branch: Ecology

Research in the Ecology Branch focuses on characterizing and understanding the exposure and response of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems to habitat alteration. Research is focused on the population, community, and ecosystem levels of biological organization. Scientific expertise includes behavior, botany, ecology, toxicology, physiology, and risk assessment.

The Ecology Branch has both laboratory and field capabilities that are frequently deployed through integrated field and laboratory studies across a wide range of habitats throughout the world. These integrated, multidisciplinary studies are conducted in conjunction with investigations conducted in experimental ecosystems including constructed streams, ponds, and greenhouse facilities located at CERC.

Areas of emphasis include ecological evaluations of chemical substances resulting from agricultural, industrial and mineral extraction activities; on-site assessment of habitats disturbed by multiple stressors; invasive species ecology and mitigation; endangered species ecology and recovery; climate change; fire ecology and management; ecological risk assessments; and monitoring. Research is focused on both system response as well as ecological resistance, resiliency and recovery processes. The results of these studies are used to add to our basic understanding of natural and altered ecosystems, and are applied in the emerging fields of adaptive management and restoration ecology.

In The News

  • Hagerman Refuge, USGS Lead the Way on Dust Suppression
    Saturday, March 01, 2014
  • Hagerman is Ground Zero for National Study to Control Dust
    Thursday, July 12, 2012
    "We wanted to help Hagerman solve a problem here at the refuge and to do that in an environmentally safe way," U.S. Geological Survey biologist Bethany Williams said. Scientists are at Hagerman Wildlife Refuge this week, testing products that control dust on gravel roads. Their challenge: the products have to be environmentally safe. "Right now, refuges are under a near moratorium on dust control because we don't know about some of those environmental effects," Williams said. Read More
  • Hagerman Closes Wildlife Drive for Week
    Monday, July 09, 2012
    "We are doing applications all this week and then following up for a full year afterward looking at how well the products perform but then also make sure they don't have any negative effects on roadside vegetation, wildlife, or water quality," says Williams.
    YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X6U1MNn3wjw&feature=youtube_gdata_player Read More
  • Missouri: Climate Concerns Add to Challenges Facing Sturgeon Recovery Efforts
    Tuesday, April 26, 2011
    “Essentially we are trying to build a more comprehensive picture of how the fish may react [to changes in water level and temperature that might be associated with a changing climate],” said Mark Wildhaber, USGS research ecologist.  Read More
  • Researchers Develop Models to Predict Pallid Sturgeon’s Response to Climate Change
    Thursday, December 09, 2010
    Researchers at the United States Geological Survey’s Columbia Environmental Research Center – along with those at the University of Missouri and Iowa State University – are developing models to help predict how the Missouri River’s sturgeon population could respond to climate change.  Read More
  • Endangered Pallid Sturgeon
    Saturday, December 04, 2010
    Over the past week I’ve been working on a story about a study at the USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center. Researchers there, in conjunction with those at the University of Missouri and the Iowa State University, are developing models to help predict how the Missouri River sturgeon population may respond to climate change.
    --Courtney Flatt
    Producer for Business Beat, Reporter and Web Producer  Read More
  • New Tool for Studying Radiation's Effects
    Tuesday, November 16, 2010
    Most research on the ecological and human health effects of ionizing radiation has focused on high doses over short periods of time. But chronic exposure to low doses may cause problems too. Researchers presented a new tool to study the consequences of such exposures in living animals at the annual meeting of the Society of Environmental and Toxicological Chemistry (SETAC) in Portland, Oregon on November 10: a transgenic fish that fluoresces in response to radiation-induced changes.  Read More
  • Fish Give Biologists a Challenge
    Monday, October 25, 2010
    Robin Calfee sets up an experiment last Monday to see what scents attract Asian carp. Calfee, a biologist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Columbia Environmental Research Center, is studying the behavior of Asian carp in an attempt to figure out ways to control their population.  Read More
  • CERC Scientist Wins 2009 Boeing Award
    Tuesday, February 03, 2009
    The American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) just notified the winners of its prestigious 2009 Boeing Award for Best Paper in Image Analysis and Interpretation. The award was given to USGS scientist Matthew Struckhoff, Columbia Environmental Research Center, and his co-authors, for the article entitled, "Mapping Vegetation Communities Using Statistical Data Fusion in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Missouri, USA," which appeared in the February 2008 issue of the journal. The ASPRS advances knowledge of mapping sciences through imaging and geospatial information, a professional, international society.  Read More
Looking for more information?