Western Ecological Research Center (WERC)


The Western Ecological Research Center (WERC) is a USGS Ecosystems Mission Area operation serving primarily California and Nevada. WERC scientists work closely with Federal, State, academic, and other collaborators to address a diverse array of high-profile topics. Topics include research on effects of wildfire, sea level rise, drought, energy development and more on federal Trust species.

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Date published: September 13, 2018

Secrets of Suisun Marsh's Birds of Prey

Did you know that the USGS is studying raptors in California? Biologists with the USGS Western Ecological Research Center are hard at work in the field, learning more about the ecology of Northern Harriers and their interactions with migratory waterfowl of concern to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Date published: August 28, 2018

Toad Crossing Ahead: New Study Tests Elevated Roads as Underpasses for Rare Toad

Many amphibians are either too small or too slow to avoid an oncoming car. For some populations of the Federally threatened Yosemite toad (Anaxyrus canorus), this has meant increased mortality from vehicle strikes in addition to other threats from disease, drought, and habitat loss.

Date published: August 6, 2018

Invasive Crayfish Increase Number of Mosquitoes in Southern California Mountains

A new study published in Conservation Biology ties the presence of invasive crayfish to higher numbers of mosquito larvae within the Santa Monica Mountains, CA. The area is only about an hour away from the heart of Los Angeles, and is home to diverse wildlife, which already face threats...


Year Published: 2018

Toward salt marsh harvest mouse recovery: A review

The salt marsh harvest mouse (SMHM, Reithrodontomys raviventris) is an endangered species, endemic to the San Francisco Estuary. Despite being protected for almost half a century and being included in a large number of recovery, restoration, and management plans, significant data gaps hinder conservation and management of the species, a...

Smith, Katherine R.; Riley, Melissa K.; Barthman-Thompson, Laureen; Woo, Isa; Statham, Mark J.; Estrella, Sarah; Kelt, Douglas A.
Smith, K. R, Riley, M. K, Barthman–Thompson, L., Woo, I., Statham, M. J, Estrella, S., & Kelt, D. A. (2018). Towards Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse Recovery: A Review. San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science, 16(2). https://doi.org/10.15447/sfews.2018v16iss2art2

Year Published: 2018

Collision and displacement vulnerability to offshore wind energy infrastructure among marine birds of the Pacific Outer Continental Shelf

Marine birds are vulnerable to collision with and displacement by offshore wind energy infrastructure (OWEI). Here we present the first assessment of marine bird vulnerability to potential OWEI in the California Current System portion of the U.S. Pacific Outer Continental Shelf (POCS). Using population size, demography, life history,...

Kelsey, Emily C.; Felis, Jonathan J.; Czapanskiy, Max; Peresksta, David M.; Adams, Josh
Emma C. Kelsey, Jonathan J. Felis, Max Czapanskiy, David M. Pereksta, Josh Adams, Collision and displacement vulnerability to offshore wind energy infrastructure among marine birds of the Pacific Outer Continental Shelf, Journal of Environmental Management, Volume 227, 2018, Pages 229-247, ISSN 0301-4797, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2018.08.051.

Year Published: 2018

Prioritizing conserved areas threatened by wildfire and fragmentation for monitoring and management

In many parts of the world, the combined effects of habitat fragmentation and altered disturbance regimes pose a significant threat to biodiversity. This is particularly true in Mediterranean-type ecosystems (MTEs), which tend to be fire-prone, species rich, and heavily impacted by human land use. Given the spatial complexity of overlapping...

Tracey, Jeff A.; Rochester, Carlton J.; Hathaway, Stacie A.; Preston, Kristine L.; Syphard, Alexandra D.; Vandergast, Amy G.; Diffendorfer, James E.; Franklin, Janet; MacKenzie, Jason B.; Oberbauer, Tomas A.; Tremor, Scott; Winchell, Clark S.; Fisher, Robert N.
Tracey JA, Rochester CJ, Hathaway SA, Preston KL, Syphard AD, Vandergast AG, et al. (2018) Prioritizing conserved areas threatened by wildfire and fragmentation for monitoring and management. PLoS ONE 13(9): e0200203. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0200203