Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Publications recently added to the Pubs Warehouse

(500 records max)
Delineating draft inventory analysis units for National Scenic and Historic Trails inventory, assessment, and monitoring programs

Released July 23, 2024 13:00 EST

2024, Scientific Investigations Report 2024-5060

Sarah M. Lindley, Emily J. Wilkins, Carin Farley, Karla Rogers, Rudy Schuster

As of 2024, there are 32 National Scenic and Historic Trails (NSHTs) in the system administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Park Service, and U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service. The BLM administers, manages, and protects 19 of these trails as part of its system of national conservation lands. Various laws, regulations, and policies require that the BLM conduct and maintain an inventory to protect trail-related resources, qualities, values, associated settings, and primary use or uses. There are set procedures for conducting inventory, assessment, and monitoring (IAM) of NSHTs, as outlined in volumes 1 and 2 of BLM Technical Reference 6280-1. One of the first steps in the IAM process is deciding the area along a trail to inventory. However, volumes 1 and 2 of BLM Technical Reference 6280-1 do not specify how the land area to be inventoried should be delineated. The BLM calls these focus areas for IAM efforts “inventory analysis units” (IAUs), which are defined as the geospatial boundary for the location of an inventory along a trail. This report reviews the approach used to delineate the IAUs for an inventory effort and identifies best practices for creating initial IAUs, termed “draft IAUs.” Draft IAUs would provide standardization across multiple management jurisdictions by applying the same parameters for their delineation. These draft IAUs would provide trail managers with an area surrounding NSHTs that would trigger the need for an inventory if a project were proposed within it and are meant to be refined during localized inventory efforts. The best practices herein are for creating draft IAUs using standard parameters for performing a viewshed analysis to identify a proxy of land to include in an initial inventory effort.

The Native American Research Assistantship Program—Building capacity for Indigenous water-resources monitoring

Released July 23, 2024 13:00 EST

2024, Fact Sheet 2024-3026

Electa Hare-Red Corn, Robert F. Breault, Jason R. Sorenson

Intertribal networks for collecting and analyzing hydrologic and environmental data are growing. The U.S. Geological Survey can be a key partner with Tribal Nations in the further development of network capacity. A first step is the internship opportunity available through the partnership between the USGS and The Wildlife Society: The Native American Research Assistantship Program.

Global variability of the composition and temperature at the 410-km discontinuity from receiver function analysis of dense arrays

Released July 23, 2024 08:51 EST

2024, Earth and Planetary Science Letters (643)

Margaret Elizabeth Glasgow, Hankui K. Zhang, Brandon Schmandt, Wen-Yi Zhou, Jinchi Zhang

Seismic boundaries caused by phase transitions between olivine polymorphs in Earth's mantle provide thermal and compositional markers that inform mantle dynamics. Seismic studies of the mantle transition zone often use either global averaging with sparse arrays or regional sampling from a single dense array. The intermediate approach of this study utilizes many densely spaced seismic arrays distributed around the globe. We systematically compute teleseismic P-to-S receiver functions for each seismic array and invert for the 1-D seismic velocity structure of the mantle transition zone beneath each array to facilitate a comparison between densely sampled regions. We stack 3,600 receiver functions on average at 67 arrays in total. The stack is used in a probabilistic inversion to estimate the mantle transition zone interface depths and velocities beneath each array. We focus on the 410-km discontinuity (410) because it is a prominent seismic interface that is clearly linked to a single mineral phase transition between olivine and wadsleyite. The depths and velocity contrasts of the 410 are mapped to temperatures and compositions using mineral physics constraints. The depth of the 410 ranges from ∼405–440 km, which is consistent with a ∼360 K temperature range in a dry mantle and a ∼260 K temperature range in a wet mantle (2 wt. % water). The Vs contrast across the 410 ranges from ∼2.5–8 %, which is consistent with ∼20–70 vol. % olivine composition in a dry mantle and ∼25–80 vol. % in a wet mantle. The bulk composition of the upper mantle near the 410-km discontinuity is typically considered to be well-mixed because there is no thermodynamic impediment to convection at the olivine to wadsleyite phase transition. However, the wide range of inferred olivine content from our study suggests that there are large lateral variations in the bulk composition of the upper mantle near the 410-km discontinuity.

Multi-decadal vegetation transformations of a New Mexico ponderosa pine landscape after severe fires and aerial seeding

Released July 21, 2024 06:37 EST

2024, Ecological Applications

Andreas Paul Wion, Jens T. Stevens, Kay Beeley, Rebecca Oertel, Ellis Margolis, Craig D. Allen

Wildfires and climate change are having transformative effects on vegetation composition and structure, and post-fire management may have long-lasting impacts on ecosystem reorganization. Post-fire aerial seeding treatments are commonly used to reduce runoff and soil erosion, but little is known about how seeding treatments affect native vegetation recovery over long periods of time, particularly in type-converted forests which have been dramatically transformed by the effects of repeated, high-severity fire. In this study, we analyze and report on a rare long-term (23-year) dataset that documents vegetation dynamics following a 1996 post-fire aerial seed treatment and subsequent 2011 high-severity reburn in a dry conifer forest of northern New Mexico in the southwestern United States. Repeated surveys between 1997 – 2019 of 49 permanent transects were used to test for differences in vegetation cover, richness, and diversity between seeded and unseeded areas, and to characterize the development of seeded and unseeded vegetation communities through time and across gradients of burn severity, elevation, and soil-available water capacity. Post-fire seeding led to a clear and sustained divergence in herbaceous community composition. Seeded plots had much higher cover of non-native graminoids, primarily Bromus inermis, a likely contaminant in the seed mix. High-severity reburning in all plots in 2011 reduced native graminoid cover by half at seeded plots compared to both pre-fire levels and to plots that were unseeded following the initial 1996 fire. In addition, increased fire severity was associated with increased non-native graminoid cover and reduced native graminoid cover, native species richness, and species diversity. This study documents a fire-driven ecosystem transformation from a former conifer forest into a shrub-grass system, reinforced by aerial seeding of grasses and high-severity reburning. This unique long-term dataset illustrates that post-fire seeding carries significant risk of unwanted non-native species invasions that persist through subsequent fires – indicating that alternative post-fire management actions merit consideration to better support native ecosystem resilience in the face of emergent climate change and increasing disturbance. Lastly, this study highlights the importance of long-term monitoring of post-fire vegetation dynamics, as short-term assessments will miss key elements of the full complexity of ecosystem responses to fire and post-fire management actions.

Post-fire sediment yield from a central California watershed: Field measurements and validation of the WEPP model

Released July 20, 2024 06:43 EST

2024, Earth and Space Science (11)

Amy E. East, Joshua B. Logan, Helen Willemien Dow, Douglas P. Smith, Pat Iampietro, Jonathan Warrick, Thomas Lorenson, Leticia Hallas, Benjamin Kozlowicz

In a warming climate, an intensifying fire regime and higher likelihood of extreme rain are expected to increase watershed sediment yield in many regions. Understanding regional variability in landscape response to fire and post-fire rainfall is essential for managing water resources and infrastructure. We measured sediment yield resulting from sequential wildfire and extreme rain and flooding in the upper Carmel River watershed (116 km2), on the central California coast, USA, using changes in sediment volume mapped in a reservoir. We determined that the sediment yield after fire and post-fire flooding was 854–1,100 t/km2/yr, a factor of 3.5–4.6 greater than the long-term yield from this watershed and more than an order of magnitude greater than during severe drought conditions. In this first large-scale field validation test of the WEPPcloud/wepppy framework for the Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) model on a burned landscape, WEPP predicted 81%–106% of the measured sediment yield. These findings will facilitate assessing and predicting future fire effects in steep watersheds with a Mediterranean climate and indicate that the increasingly widespread use of WEPP is appropriate for evaluating post-fire hillslope erosion even across 100-km2 scales under conditions without debris flows.

The influence of vesicularity on grain morphology in basaltic pyroclasts from Mauna Loa and Kīlauea volcanoes

Released July 20, 2024 06:41 EST

2024, Journal of Applied Volcanology (13)

Kira van Helden, Johanne Schmith, Drew T. Downs

Vesicularity of individual pyroclasts from airfall tephra deposits is an important parameter that is commonly measured at basaltic volcanoes. Conventional methods used to determine pyroclast vesicularity on a large number of clasts has the potential to be time consuming, particularly when rapid analysis is required. Here we propose dynamic image analysis on two-dimensional (2D) projection shapes of crushed pyroclasts from tephra deposits as a new method to estimate vesicularity. This method relies on the influence of vesicles and uses grain morphology as a proxy for vesicle size and abundance. Pyroclasts from a variety of basaltic tephra deposits from the volcanoes of Mauna Loa and Kīlauea were analyzed. Vesicularities between 52–98% were measured via nitrogen-gas pycnometry. The same pyroclasts were then crushed and sieved, and their grain shapes measured using dynamic image analysis on a CAMSIZER®. This yields values for the mean sphericity, elongation, compactness, and Krumbein roundness of the grains. Our data show that grains become increasingly irregular with increasing vesicularity, with the degree of correlation between shape parameters and vesicularity depending on the size of measured grains. Shape irregularities in small grains (60–250 µm) are mostly area-based, with elongation being the best vesicularity indicator, whereas shape irregularities in large grains (250–700 µm) are mostly perimeter-based, with Krumbein roundness as the best vesicularity indicator. Using mean shape parameter values with all grain sizes included, grain elongation is the most well-correlated shape parameter with vesicularity, with the best fitted model explaining 76% of variation in the observations. Microscope images of thin sections of intact pyroclasts, as well as from crushed pyroclasts, were analyzed using CSDCorrections 1.6 software in ImageJ to find local vesicularity, vesicle size, grain size, grain elongation, and vesicle spatial distribution by stereological conversion. Observed correlation between grain shape and vesicularity can be explained by the local effect of vesicles on the shape of the solid structure in between those vesicles. Grain shape depends not only on vesicularity, but also on vesicle to grain size ratio and the spatial distribution of vesicles. The influence of vesicles on grain shape is best captured by grains with the size of the solid structure in between vesicles, which generally increases with decreasing vesicularity. Dynamic image analysis is a useful tool to quickly gauge vesicularity, which could be used in near-real-time during an eruption response. However, this method is best suited for highly vesicular (> 80%) basaltic pyroclasts from tephra deposits with few microlites and phenocrysts. Further research on crushing techniques, optimum grain size for shape measurements, and Krumbein roundness measurements for the grain size range of 250–700 µm might enable application of this method to lower vesicularity pyroclasts.

Integrating depth measurements from gaging stations with image archives for spectrally based remote sensing of river bathymetry

Released July 20, 2024 06:36 EST

2024, Water Resources Research (60)

Carl J. Legleiter, Brandon Overstreet, Paul J. Kinzel

Remote sensing can be an effective tool for mapping river bathymetry, but the need for direct measurements to calibrate image-derived depth estimates impedes broader application of this approach. One way to circumvent the need for field campaigns dedicated to calibration is to capitalize upon existing data. In this study, we introduce a framework for Bathymetric Mapping using Gage Records and Image Databases (BaMGRID). This workflow involves retrieving depth measurements made during gaging station site visits, downloading archived multispectral images, and then combining these two data sets to establish a relationship between depth and reflectance. We developed a processing chain that involves using application programming interfaces to obtain both depth measurements made during site visits and images centered on the gage and then linking depth to reflectance via an optimal band ratio analysis (OBRA) algorithm modified for small sample sizes. Applying this workflow to selected gages within two river basins indicated that depth retrieval from multispectral satellite images could be highly accurate, but with variable results from one image to the next at a given site. High resolution aerial photography was less conducive to bathymetric mapping in one of the basin considered. Of the four predictors of depth retrieval performance we evaluated (mean and standard deviation of depth, width, and an index of water clarity), only width was consistently significantly correlated with OBRA R2 (p < 0.026). Currently, BaMGRID is best-suited for site-by-site analysis to support practical applications at the reach scale; continuous, basin-wide mapping of river bathymetry will require additional research.

A predictive analysis of water use for Providence, Rhode Island

Released July 19, 2024 14:18 EST

2024, Scientific Investigations Report 2024-5052

Catherine A. Chamberlin

To explain the drivers of historical water use in the public water systems (PWSs) that serve populations in Providence, Rhode Island, and surrounding areas, and to forecast future water use, a machine-learning model (cubist regression) was developed by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with Providence Water to model daily per capita rates of domestic, commercial, and industrial water use. The PWSs in this area form a connected network that sources water from the Scituate Reservoir in Rhode Island. The cubist regression model was trained and tested on daily per capita rates for three categories of water use (domestic, commercial, and industrial) that were developed from quarterly water sales data and U.S. Census Bureau population estimates within each PWS service area from January 2005 through December 2021. The model was then used to make forecasts of future water use under varying scenarios of climate change, population growth, and economic growth for the years 2030 and 2040.

The resulting daily per capita rates, which were modeled from the historical data, had an r2 value of 0.94 and root mean square error of 6.7 gallons per capita daily. Results of the model were used to estimate total water use (the product of daily per capita rates and population) for all public water systems over the historical study period. Daily per capita rates in the study area decreased from 2005 to 2021, while population increased during that same period. “Category of water use” was the variable with the greatest explanatory power for modeling daily per capita rates. Overall, both daily per capita rates and total water use were projected to decrease in 2030 and 2040, in comparison to historical values from 2005 to 2021. Daily per capita rates and total water use were forecasted to decrease as economic growth rates increase. Daily per capita rates were expected to decrease as population growth rates increase; however, total water use was less sensitive to population growth rates than daily per capita rates. Effects of climate change were minimal over the 2030 and 2040 forecasting horizon for the scenarios tested.

Connecting conservation practices to local stream health in the Chesapeake Bay watershed

Released July 19, 2024 09:00 EST

2024, Fact Sheet 2024-3030

Gregory Noe, Paul L. Angermeier, Larry B. Barber, Joe Buckwalter, Matthew Joseph Cashman, Olivia Devereux, Thomas Rossiter Doody, Sally Entrekin, Rosemary Margaret Fanelli, Nathaniel Hitt, Molly Elizabeth Huber, Jeramy Roland Jasmann, Kelly O. Maloney, Tristan Gregory Mohs, Sergio Sabat-Bonilla, Kelly Smalling, Tyler Wagner, John C. Wolf, Kenneth E. Hyer

The Chesapeake Bay Partnership is implementing conservation practices (CPs) throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed to reduce nutrient and sediment delivery to the Bay. This study intends to provide an integrated and detailed understanding of how local streams respond to these CP-driven management efforts.

Key issue: To what extent do CPs positively affect the health of local streams in the nontidal watershed (cobenefits)?

Critical unknown: How do CPs change water quality and the stressors that affect stream aquatic life? Which CPs improve stream health more effectively?

Critical knowledge to be delivered to stakeholders includes—

  • the effects of CPs on local water-quality conditions,
  • the degree to which these same CPs also provide local stream-ecosystem benefits, and
  • a deeper understanding of local stream-ecosystems, including stressors and CPs, to guide the selection of management efforts that enhance both water quality and overall stream-ecosystem health.

Biodiversity promotes urban ecosystem functioning

Released July 18, 2024 07:00 EST

2024, Ecography

Sarah R. Weiskopf, Susannah B. Lerman, Forest Isbell, Toni Lyn Morelli

The proportion of people living in urban areas is growing globally. Understanding how to manage urban biodiversity, ecosystem functions, and ecosystem services is becoming more important. Biodiversity can increase ecosystem functioning in non-urban systems. However, few studies have reviewed the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in urban areas, which differ in species compositions, abiotic environments, food webs, and turnover rates. We reviewed evidence of biodiversity–ecosystem functioning relationships in urban environments and assessed factors that influence the relationship direction. Based on 70 studies, relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning were more positive than negative in urban areas, especially for pollination and nutrient cycling and retention. Surprisingly, positive and negative relationships between biodiversity and biomass production and storage were equally not statistically different, perhaps due to extensive plant management in urban areas. The number of studies and geographic coverage of our review was still insufficient to provide a general predictive framework for when biodiversity positively impacts ecosystem functioning. We identify gaps and opportunities to improve urban biodiversity–ecosystem functioning research and discuss how our findings can improve urban green space management.

Guidelines for the use of automatic samplers in collecting surface-water quality and sediment data

Released July 18, 2024 06:50 EST

2024, Techniques and Methods 1-D12

Timothy P. Wilson, Cherie V. Miller, Evan A. Lechner

The importance of fluvial systems in the transport of sediment, dissolved and suspended contaminants, nutrients, and bacteria through the environment is well established. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identifies sediment as the single most widespread water contaminant affecting the beneficial uses of the Nation’s rivers and streams. The evaluation of water-quality as it relates to agriculture, urbanization, highway and residential construction, mining, industrial and human wastes, and other activities requires an extensive data and sample-collection effort. This is especially the case when studying urbanized river basins, where during hydrologic events, concentration of suspended sediment and contaminants can vary rapidly and over large ranges. Where synoptic studies of watersheds are called for, sampling may be needed at many sites throughout the basin; a complicated and difficult task in some settings. Automatic pumping samplers (autosamplers) are one method for conducting intensive time-varying sampling throughout watersheds.

This report presents guidelines for the use of autosamplers for collecting surface-water samples by the U.S. Geological Survey. An autosampler is an automatic, pump-based sampler that collects a prescribed volume of water from streams, lakes, reservoirs, storm drains, or other bodies of water after receiving a command from an internal or external control unit. It deposits this sample into a specified container for later analysis of physical, chemical, or biological constituents. This report provides a general background on types of autosamplers and how they work; guidance for designing, selecting, installing, servicing, and calibrating autosamplers; guidance on standardized operating procedures, and guidance on quality-assurance and quality-control efforts when using an autosampler.

Smallmouth buffalo (Ictiobus bubalus Rafinesque) population trends and demographics in the Upper Mississippi River System

Released July 18, 2024 06:45 EST

2024, Environmental Biology of Fishes

Kristopher A. Maxson, Levi E. Solomon, Taylor A. Bookout, Steven A. DeLain, Andrew Bartels, Melvin C. Bowler, Eric J. Gittinger, Eric N. Ratcliff, John L. West, Seth A. Love, Jason A. DeBoer, Andrya L. Whitten-Harris, Michael J. Spear, Brian Ickes, Andrew F. Casper, James T. Lamer

Smallmouth buffalo (Ictiobus bubalus Rafinesque) are a large-bodied fish highly valued and commercially exploited across most of their range. Despite this, relatively little is known of their population demographics compared to other exploited species. To fill these knowledge gaps, we analyzed two independent long-term datasets (30 and 57 years, respectively) and population demographic data (age structure, growth, mortality, age at maturity, and recruitment) from multiple pools of the Upper Mississippi River System (UMRS) and Illinois River (Illinois, USA). Long-term data (30-year dataset) generally show downward trends or significant declines in catch per unit effort in the UMRS, while the 57-year dataset shows a stable trend or a significant increase in the Illinois River. The oldest smallmouth buffalo were estimated to be 39 years old, with nearly every pool sampled having individuals estimated to exceed 30 years of age. Except for Pool 13 of the UMRS, 90% of smallmouth buffalo were estimated to mature between 411 and 470 mm in length or between 8.7 and 11.2 years old. Recruitment was variable: strong year classes were generally preceded by multiple years of weak year classes. Our results indicate that the smallmouth buffalo population may be stable in portions of the UMRS and Illinois River systems, but significant declines in the northern extent of the UMRS may warrant conservation concern. Recent research into ages of buffalofishes shows that consideration should be given to the idea that the UMRS population could be age truncated. Results also emphasize the importance of long-term data and the ability to show changes in exploited populations over time.

Report of the River Master of the Delaware River for the period December 1, 2015 - November 30, 2016

Released July 16, 2024 09:09 EST

2024, Open-File Report 2024-1012

Kendra L. Russell, William J. Andrews, Vincent J. DiFrenna, J. Michael Norris, Robert R. Mason, Jr.

Executive Summary

A Decree of the Supreme Court of the United States, entered June 7, 1954 (New Jersey v. New York, 347 U.S. 995), established the position of Delaware River Master within the U.S. Geological Survey. In addition, the Decree authorizes the diversion of water from the Delaware River Basin and requires compensating releases from reservoirs owned by New York City to be made under the supervision and direction of the River Master. The Decree stipulates that the River Master provide reports to the Court not less frequently than annually. This report is the 63rd annual report of the River Master of the Delaware River. The report covers the 2016 River Master report year, which is the period from December 1, 2015, to November 30, 2016.

During the report year, precipitation in the upper Delaware River Basin was 38.6 inches or 87 percent of the long-term average. Combined storage remained high (above 80 percent of combined capacity) for much of the year and did not decline below 80 percent of combined capacity until August 2016. The lowest combined storage was 106.406 billion gallons or 39 percent of combined capacity on November 28, 2016. Delaware River Basin Commission Resolution 2016–07 necessitated a basinwide drought watch on November 23, 2016. The drought watch continued through the remainder of the 2016 report year. Delaware River Master operations during the year were conducted as stipulated by the Decree and the Flexible Flow Management Program. New York City and New Jersey fully complied with the terms of the Decree and, during drought watch conditions, with the Delaware River Basin Commission Resolution 2016–07 terms. Diversions from the Delaware River Basin by New York City and New Jersey fully complied with the Decree. The reservoir releases were made as directed by the River Master at rates designed to meet the flow objective for the Delaware River at Montague, New Jersey, on 126 days during the report year. Interim Excess Release Quantity and conservation releases, designed to relieve thermal stress and protect the fishery and aquatic habitat in the tailwaters of the reservoirs, were also made during the report year.

Water quality in the Delaware River estuary between the streamgages at Trenton, New Jersey, and Reedy Island Jetty, Delaware, was monitored at several locations. Data on water temperature, specific conductance, dissolved oxygen, and pH were collected continuously by electronic instruments at four sites.

The 3D Elevation Program—Supporting Mississippi's economy

Released July 15, 2024 12:34 EST

2024, Fact Sheet 2024-3027

George Heleine


Mississippi has a dispersed population of nearly three million residents in an area of approximately 48,400 square miles and has a favorable climate for agriculture, with abundant precipitation and minimal extreme temperatures. The topography consists mostly of low hills and lowland plains, with the highest elevation about 800 feet above sea level. An exception is the nearly flat Mississippi Alluvial Plain, or “Delta,” in the northwestern part of the State. Agriculture and forestry are Mississippi’s major industries. With 65 percent of its area forested, the State is one of the country’s top producers of lumber and wood-related products. In addition to agriculture and forest resources management, other important economic activities are infrastructure and construction management, flood risk management, and water supply and quality assessment. High-quality elevation data can help to support these activities. Critical applications that meet the State’s management needs depend on light detection and ranging (lidar) data that provide a highly detailed three-dimensional (3D) model of the Earth’s surface and aboveground features.

Probabilistic assessment of postfire debris-flow inundation in response to forecast rainfall

Released July 15, 2024 06:38 EST

2024, Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (24) 2359-2374

A. B. Prescott, L. A. McGuire, K.-S. Jun, Katherine R. Barnhart, N. S. Oakley

Communities downstream of burned steep lands face increases in debris-flow hazards due to fire effects on soil and vegetation. Rapid postfire hazard assessments have traditionally focused on quantifying spatial variations in debris-flow likelihood and volume in response to design rainstorms. However, a methodology that provides estimates of debris-flow inundation downstream of burned areas based on forecast rainfall would provide decision-makers with information that directly addresses the potential for downstream impacts. We introduce a framework that integrates a 24 h lead-time ensemble precipitation forecast with debris-flow likelihood, volume, and runout models to produce probabilistic maps of debris-flow inundation. We applied this framework to simulate debris-flow inundation associated with the 9 January 2018 debris-flow event in Montecito, California, USA. When the observed debris-flow volumes were used to drive the probabilistic forecast model, analysis of the simulated inundation probabilities demonstrates that the model is both reliable and sharp. In the fully predictive model, however, in which debris-flow likelihood and volume were computed from the atmospheric model ensemble's predictions of peak 15 min rainfall intensity, I15, the model generally under-forecasted the inundation area. The observed peak I15 lies in the upper tail of the atmospheric model ensemble spread; thus a large fraction of ensemble members forecast lower I15 than observed. Using these I15 values as input to the inundation model resulted in lower-than-observed flow volumes which translated into under-forecasting of the inundation area. Even so, approximately 94 % of the observed inundated area was forecast to have an inundation probability greater than 1 %, demonstrating that the observed extent of inundation was generally captured within the range of outcomes predicted by the model. Sensitivity analyses indicate that debris-flow volume and two parameters associated with debris-flow mobility exert significant influence on inundation predictions, but reducing uncertainty in postfire debris-flow volume predictions will have the largest impact on reducing inundation outcome uncertainty. This study represents a first step toward a near-real-time hazard assessment product that includes probabilistic estimates of debris-flow inundation and provides guidance for future improvements to this and similar model frameworks by identifying key sources of uncertainty.

Remote sensing of volcano deformation and surface change

Released July 14, 2024 07:06 EST

2024, Book chapter, Remote Sensing for Characterization of Geohazards and Natural Resources

M. Poland

Volcanic unrest and eruptions are associated with surface deformation and landscape change that can be detected, characterized, and tracked via remote sensing measurements. Subsurface processes, including magma accumulation, withdrawal, and transport, can cause displacements at the surface that are best tracked at subaerial volcanoes with interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) and Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) measurements, although non-volcanic activity, like hydrothermal and tectonic sources, can complicate interpretations. Surface change is often associated with the emplacement of volcanic deposits, which modify the landscape and can experience post-emplacement deformation or morphological changes over time. Measurement of surface topography at volcanoes via remote means is a particularly important capability, given the control that topography exerts on many volcanic hazards and the potential for topographic change measurements to provide information about eruption rates. A much broader set of tools is available to investigate surface change at volcanoes, including not only InSAR and GNSS, but also synthetic aperture radar amplitude data, visible imagery, and lidar, acquired from airborne, ground-based, and satellite platforms. These data can also be used to identify instability of volcanic flanks and even have potential for use in detecting airborne ash plumes. Although hidden from traditional airborne and space-based remote sensing, deformation and surface change associated with submarine volcanism can be investigated with pressure sensors and bathymetric measurements—the below-water remote sensing analogs of GNSS and InSAR, respectively.

Palaeontological signatures of the Anthropocene are distinct from those of previous epochs

Released July 13, 2024 06:54 EST

2024, Earth Science Reviews (255)

Mark A. Williams, Jan Zalasiewicz, Anthony D. Barnosky, Reinhold Leinfelder, Martin J. Head, Colin N. Waters, Francine M.G. McCarthy, Alejandro Cearreta, David C. Aldridge, Mary McGann, Bruce Hamilton, Colin P. Summerhayes, Jaia Syvitski, Jens Zinke, Andrew B. Cundy, Barbara Fialkiewicz-Koziel, J.R. McNeill, Michinobu Kuwae, Neil L. Rose, Simon D. Turner, Yoshiki Saito, Michael Wagreich, M. Allison Stegner, Moriaki Yasuhara, Yongming Han, Amy Wrisdale, Rachael Holmes, Juan Carlos Berrio

The “Great Acceleration” beginning in the mid-20th century provides the causal mechanism of the Anthropocene, which has been proposed as a new epoch of geological time beginning in 1952 CE. Here we identify key parameters and their diagnostic palaeontological signals of the Anthropocene, including the rapid breakdown of discrete biogeographical ranges for marine and terrestrial species, rapid changes to ecologies resulting from climate change and ecological degradation, the spread of exotic foodstuffs beyond their ecological range, and the accumulation of reconfigured forest materials such as medium density fibreboard (MDF) all being symptoms of the Great Acceleration. We show: 1) how Anthropocene successions in North America, South America, Africa, Oceania, Europe, and Asia can be correlated using palaeontological signatures of highly invasive species and changes to ecologies that demonstrate the growing interconnectivity of human systems; 2) how the unique depositional settings of landfills may concentrate the remains of organisms far beyond their geographical range of environmental tolerance; and 3) how a range of settings may preserve a long-lived, unique palaeontological record within post-mid-20th century deposits. Collectively these changes provide a global palaeontological signature that is distinct from all past records of deep-time biotic change, including those of the Holocene.

    Groundwater flow model for the Des Moines River alluvial aquifer near Des Moines, Iowa

    Released July 12, 2024 12:20 EST

    2024, Scientific Investigations Report 2024-5059

    Emilia L. Bristow, Kyle W. Davis

    Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) is a regional municipal water utility that provides residential and commercial water resources to about 600,000 customers in Des Moines, Iowa, and surrounding municipalities in central Iowa. DMWW has identified a need for increased water supply and is exploring the potential for expanding groundwater production capabilities in the Des Moines River alluvial aquifer, where it operates two radial collector wells (RCWs). The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with DMWW, completed a study of the Des Moines River alluvial aquifer and interactions of the RCWs with the aquifer; no previously published model has included the existing well locations, which is the focus of this model. A conceptual and numerical groundwater flow model have been developed to characterize the Des Moines River alluvial aquifer under existing conditions, to simulate water levels observed in the RCWs, and to provide publicly accessible hydrologic data and research that advance understanding of the regional hydrologic system and can potentially be used in the future to evaluate groundwater production scenarios. Model performance was assessed by comparing observed and simulated groundwater levels that included water level elevations, water level changes, water level inequality observations, surface water streamflow, and change in surface water volume from upstream to downstream. Water table elevation in the aquifer layers is on average slightly overestimated with average absolute value error less than 1.5 meters at both RCWs and less than 2.5 meters for all observation wells in the alluvial aquifer layers. The model also accurately simulated water tables greater than the RCW design minimum (a water level threshold at which RCW pumping is reduced) in all timesteps for which water level observation data existed. Water table elevation error was higher in other model layers that were not the focus of the study, and the model did not accurately match streamflow targets.

    Comparative toxicity of emulsifiable concentrate and suspension concentrate formulations of 2′,5-dichloro-4′-nitrosalicylanilide ethanolamine salt

    Released July 11, 2024 14:55 EST

    2024, Open-File Report 2024-1037

    James A. Luoma, Justin R. Schueller, Nicholas A. Schloesser, Courtney A Kirkeeng, Samantha L. Wolfe

    The 2-aminoethanol salt of niclosamide (2′,5-dichloro-4′-nitrosalicylanilide) is a pesticide known as Bayluscide that is used in conjunction with TFM (4-nitro-3-[trifluoromethyl]phenol), also known as 3-trifluoromethyl-4-nitrophenol) to treat tributaries to the Great Lakes infested with invasive parasitic Petromyzon marinus (sea lamprey). Adding 0.5 to 2 percent Bayluscide with TFM can substantially reduce the amount of TFM required to achieve effective control. Currently, an emulsifiable concentrate (EC) formulation of Bayluscide is used in combination with TFM during some stream treatments completed by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission’s binational sea lamprey control program. The Bayluscide EC formulation is highly effective; however, it degrades application tubing, adheres to application equipment, and raises concerns for worker safety because of the solvent in the formulation, N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone.

    We collaborated with a pesticide formulation company to develop a Bayluscide 20-percent suspension concentrate (SC) formulation as a potential replacement for the Bayluscide 20-percent EC formulation. The 20-percent SC formulation was specifically developed using inert ingredients approved for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Health Canada Pest Management Regulatory Agency. Although approved for use, the inclusion of a small quantity of an antimicrobial in the formulation warranted evaluating the toxicological profile to sea lamprey and select nontarget fish species. We evaluated and compared the toxicity of the 20-percent SC formulation to the 20-percent EC formulation using continuous-flow diluter systems and larval sea lamprey and select cold-, cool-, and warm-water fish as test animals. Our results demonstrate comparable toxicological profiles between the two formulations with the 20-percent SC formulation being slightly less toxic to the nontarget species evaluated.

    Sero-epidemiology of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza viruses among wild birds in subarctic intercontinental transition zones

    Released July 11, 2024 08:20 EST

    2024, Preprint

    Jonathon D. Gass Jr., Robert J. Dusek, Nichola J. Hill, Laura Borkenhagen, Jeffrey S. Hall, Gunnar Thor Hallgrimsson, Mary Anne Bishop, Andrew M. Ramey, Timothy J. Spivey, Solvi Runar Vignisson, Sunna Bjork Ragnarsdottir, Halldór Pálmar Halldórsson, Jón Einar Jónsson, Alexa D. Simulynas, Felicia B. Nutter, Wendy B. Puryear, Jonathan A. Runstadler

    Background: The geographic expansion and evolution of A/Goose/Guangdong/1/1996(H5N1) (Gs/GD) lineage H5Nx highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses since 1996 have raised awareness of enzootic circulation among migratory birds and the potential for intercontinental transport and spread. Recent Pacific- and Atlantic-route introductions of HPAI to North America were facilitated by avian migration through subarctic zones, specifically Alaska and Iceland. This study aimed to identify recent historical patterns of exposure to HPAI viruses among birds within and migrating through both regions and evaluate how geographic, demographic, and taxonomic differences contribute to exposure risk at two intercontinental staging locations.

    Methods: During 2010-2019, blood samples were obtained from captured wild migratory seabirds and waterfowl in Alaska and Iceland. All live birds were released following completion of sampling. Sampling date, species, sampling location, and age class was documented for each bird, and sex was documented when possible. Lentiviral pseudoviruses that express the influenza hemagglutinin surface glycoprotein for H5Nx HPAI and H5 low-pathogenicity avian influenza (LPAI) were constructed for use in serological assays to screen for and quantify titers of antibodies against the latter viruses. Data were analyzed to compare (a) categorical baseline ecological traits between Iceland and Alaska, and (b) ecological traits between birds identified to be seropositive and suggestive/seronegative/fully cross-reactive birds to H5Nx HPAI in Iceland and Alaska. Factors associated with seroreactivity to H5Nx HPAI and H5 LPAI were assessed.

    Results:The seroprevalence of HPAI among birds in both locations was 7.3% (112/1526). Findings reveal variability in seroprevalence by year, higher rates of exposure to H5 LPAI than H5Nx HPAI overall, and significantly more seropositive and suggestive exposure of birds to H5Nx HPAI in Alaska as compared to Iceland. Geographic, demographic, and taxonomic differences contribute to exposure risk between Alaska and Iceland. Most tested birds were immuno-naïve to HPAI in both locations, which indicates many migratory birds in the subarctic are susceptible to HPAI infection, demonstrating substantial risk for intercontinental transmission between Asia, Europe, and North America.

    Conclusions: Our findings provide further justification for increased viral and serosurveillance in Alaska and Iceland to monitor subarctic movements of migratory birds and intercontinental transmission dynamics of currently circulating and new strains of HPAI globally.

    Assessment of undiscovered conventional oil and gas resources of the Black Sea area, 2023

    Released July 10, 2024 11:45 EST

    2024, Fact Sheet 2024-3018

    Christopher J. Schenk, Tracey J. Mercier, Cheryl A. Woodall, Phuong A. Le, Andrea D. Cicero, Ronald M. Drake II, Geoffrey S. Ellis, Thomas M. Finn, Michael H. Gardner, Sarah E. Gelman, Jane S. Hearon, Benjamin G. Johnson, Jenny H. Lagesse, Heidi M. Leathers-Miller, Kristen R. Marra, Kira K. Timm, Scott S. Young

    Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated undiscovered, technically recoverable mean resources of 2.3 billion barrels of oil and 105.5 trillion cubic feet of gas in the Black Sea area.

    Drought as an emergent driver of ecological transformation in the twenty-first century

    Released July 10, 2024 10:28 EST

    2024, BioScience

    Wynne Emily Moss, Shelley Crausbay, Imtiaz Rangwala, Jay Wason, Clay Trauernicht, Camille S. Stevens-Rumann, Anna Sala, Caitlin M. Rottler, Gregory T. Pederson, Brian W. Miller, Dawn Magness, Jeremy Littell, Lee Frelich, Abby G. Frazier, Kimberly R. Davis, Jonathan Coop, Jennifer M. Cartwright, Robert K Booth

    Under climate change, ecosystems are experiencing novel drought regimes, often in combination with stressors that reduce resilience and amplify drought’s impacts. Consequently, drought appears increasingly likely to push systems beyond important physiological and ecological thresholds, resulting in substantial changes in ecosystem characteristics persisting long after drought ends (i.e., ecological transformation). In the present article, we clarify how drought can lead to transformation across a wide variety of ecosystems including forests, woodlands, and grasslands. Specifically, we describe how climate change alters drought regimes and how this translates to impacts on plant population growth, either directly or through drought's interactions with factors such as land management, biotic interactions, and other disturbances. We emphasize how interactions among mechanisms can inhibit postdrought recovery and can shift trajectories toward alternate states. Providing a holistic picture of how drought initiates long-term change supports the development of risk assessments, predictive models, and management strategies, enhancing preparedness for a complex and growing challenge.

    Vegetation-generated turbulence does not impact the erosion of natural cohesive sediment

    Released July 10, 2024 09:59 EST

    2024, Geophysical Research Letters (51)

    Autumn R. Deitrick, David K. Ralston, Christopher R. Esposito, Melissa Millman Baustian, Maricel Beltrán Burgos, Andrew J. Courtois, Heidi M. Nepf

    Previous studies have demonstrated that vegetation-generated turbulence can enhance erosion rate and reduce the velocity threshold for erosion of non-cohesive sediment. This study considered whether vegetation-generated turbulence had a similar influence on natural cohesive sediment. Cores were collected from a black mangrove forest with aboveground biomass and exposed to stepwise increases in velocity. Erosion was recorded through suspended sediment concentration. For the same velocity, cores with pneumatophores had elevated turbulent kinetic energy compared to bare cores without pneumatophores. However, the vegetation-generated turbulence did not increase bed stress or the rate of resuspension, relative to bare cores. It was hypothesized that the short time-scale fluctuations associated with vegetation-generated turbulence were not of sufficient duration to break cohesion between grains, explaining why elevated levels of turbulence associated with the pneumatophores had no impact on the erosion threshold or rate.

    Decoding paleomire conditions of Paleogene superhigh-organic-sulfur coals

    Released July 10, 2024 08:38 EST

    2024, International Journal of Coal Geology (290)

    Tushar Adsul, Molly D. O'Beirne, David Fike, Santanu Ghosh, Josef P. Werne, William P. Gilhooly III, Paul C. Hackley, Javin J. Hatcherian, Bright Philip, Bodhisastwa Hazra, Sudip Bhattachryya, Ritam Konar, Atul Kumar Varma

    Superhigh-organic‑sulfur (SHOS) coals (coals with organic sulfur content >4 wt%) are unique coal deposits found at a few notable locations in the world. Specific peat accumulation and preservation conditions must be met to form SHOS coals. Organic sulfur is a major constituent of such coals, and it may have various sources depending on the prevailing paleomire conditions. Understanding such paleomire conditions sheds light on the formation mechanisms of SHOS coals. This investigation decodes the paleomire conditions of the Paleogene SHOS coals from Meghalaya, India, using sulfur isotopic compositions (δ34S) of organic sulfur (δ34SOS) and pyritic sulfur (δ34SPy) along with organic petrography, pyrite morphology and trace element ratios. Thirty coal samples were collected from the Jaintia Hills in the east, Khasi Hills in the middle, and Garo Hills in the west of Meghalaya. The organic sulfur content in the Garo, Khasi, and Jaintia coals varies from 1.0 to 3.3 wt%, 1.4 to 13.8 wt%, and 1.0 to 7.2 wt%, respectively. Further, after separation from pyritic sulfur and sulfate sulfur phases, the organic sulfur content ranges from 54.4 to 69.2%, 63.8 to 79.9%, and 59.3 to 73.8%, in the Garo, Khasi, and Jaintia Hills, respectively, suggesting the SHOS nature of these coal samples. The δ34SPy varies from −29.3 ‰ to +5.7 ‰, −21.3 ‰ to +27.3 ‰, and  −12.1 ‰ to −4.3 ‰, in the Jaintia, Khasi, and Garo Hills, respectively, while the δ34SOS fluctuates from −4.6 ‰ to +3.7 ‰, −9.3 ‰ to +7.8 ‰, and − 9.0 ‰ to −5.0 ‰, respectively. The δ34S values of pyrite and organic sulfur (OS) in Jaintia coals are 34S depleted compared to seawater sulfate (+22 ‰), leading to fractionations in the range of −51.3 ‰ to −16.3 ‰ (mean − 31.6 ‰) and − 26.6 ‰ to −18.3 ‰ (mean − 23.1 ‰) for pyritic and organic sulfur (OS), respectively. Pyrite in Khasi coals show a relatively heavier δ34S composition averaging at −20.5 ‰, whereas organic sulfur (OS) isotope compositions range from −31.3 ‰ to −14.2 ‰ with a mean of −22.6 ‰. Pyrite and OS in the Garo coals are depleted compared to seawater sulfate. Isotope variations in the Jaintia, Khasi, and Garo coals indicate microbial sulfate reduction (MSR) of seawater sulfate. Large isotopic fractionations between Eocene seawater sulfate and pyritic sulfur (Δ34SSO4Eocene – pyrite = up to −51.3 ‰; mean − 31.6 ‰) in Jaintia coals indicate their possible formation in the water column/near the sediment-seawater interface (open system) and also hint toward dissimilatory sulfate reduction pathways that prevailed under anoxic redox conditions. However, mean values of Δ34SSO4Eocene – pyrite (−20.5 ‰) in the Khasi coals imply pyrite formation deeper in the sediments (more closed system) under dysoxic conditions. The dominance of OS over pyritic sulfur, framboidal pyrite, and its microcrystal size distributions in Jaintia coals may suggest syngenetic pyrite formation in open water reducing/anoxic conditions under paralic environments. Elevated Sr/Ba and U/Th values in these coals further confirm the anoxic conditions. Nevertheless, the presence of euhedral pyrite with the alleviated pyrite framboids in the Khasi coals and their complete absence in the Garo coals may suggest dysoxic-suboxic and suboxic-oxic depositional conditions, respectively. The isotopic signatures of the Garo coals suggest sulfur contribution from the parent paleobiota and MSR under a freshwater-oxic environment. Insignificant fractionations between δ34SPy and δ34SOS indicate limited iron and sulfate availability for additional sulfur cycling and disproportionation reactions, typical of oxic conditions. The absence of framboidal pyrite, elevated sulfate concentration, and mean Sr/Ba and U/Th values of 0.5 and 0.3, respectively, further suggest the freshwater peat deposition in the Garo Hills under limnotelmatic to telmatic freshwater conditions. Moreover, high inertinite content (Immf = 9.77–33.16 vol%), possibly induced by atmospheric peat exposure, supports the interpretation of suboxic-oxic paleomire conditions in Garo Hills. Gradually decreasing mineral matter content from Jaintia (mean 13.6 vol%) to Garo coals (mean 7.4 vol%) additionally projects a transition from mesotrophic brackish to freshwater limnotelmatic environment, complementing the shift in the paleomire condition from eastern (Jaintia) to western (Garo) Meghalayan Hills.

    Insufficient and biased representation of species geographic responses to climate change

    Released July 10, 2024 06:53 EST

    2024, Global Change Biology (30)

    Evan Parker, Sarah R. Weiskopf, Ruth Y Oliver, Madeleine A. Rubenstein, Walter Jetz

    The geographic redistributions of species due to a rapidly changing climate are poised to perturb ecological communities and significantly impact ecosystems and human livelihoods. Effectively managing these biological impacts requires a thorough understanding of the patterns and processes of species geographic range shifts. While substantial recent redistributions have been identified and recognized to vary by taxon, region, and range geometry, there are large gaps and biases in the available evidence. Here, we use the largest compilation of geographic range change observations to date, comprised of 33,016 potential redistributions across 12,009 species, to formally assess within- and cross-species coverage and biases and to motivate future data collection. We find that species coverage varies strongly by taxon and underrepresents species at high and low latitudes. Within species, assessments of potential redistributions came from parts of their geographic range that were highly uneven and non-representative. For most species and taxa, studies were strongly biased toward the colder parts of species' distributions and thus significantly underrepresented populations that might get pushed beyond their maximum temperature limits. Coverage of potential leading and trailing geographic range edges under a changing climate was similarly uneven. Only 8% of studied species were assessed at both high and low latitude and elevation range edges, with most only covered at one edge. This suggests that substantial within-species biases exacerbate the considerable geographic and taxonomic among-species unevenness in evidence. Our results open the door for a more quantitative accounting for existing knowledge biases in climate change ecology and a more informed management and conservation. Our findings offer guidance for future data collection that better addresses information gaps and provides a more effective foundation for managing the biological impacts of climate change.

    Seasonality of retreat rate of a wave-exposed marsh edge

    Released July 10, 2024 06:53 EST

    2024, JGR Earth Surface (129)

    Lukas T. WinklerPrins, Jessica R. Lacy, Mark T. Stacey, Joshua B. Logan, Andrew W. Stevens

    Wave-driven erosion of marsh boundaries is a major cause of marsh loss, but little research has captured the effect of seasonal differences on marsh-edge retreat rates to illuminate temporal patterns of when the majority of this erosion is occurring. Using five surface models captured over a study year of a marsh with a steep escarped boundary in South San Francisco Bay, we find a pronounced seasonal signal, where rapid marsh retreat in the spring and summer is driven by a strong sea breeze but little change is found in the marsh-edge position in the fall and winter. We found accretion in the mudflat transition region close to the marsh boundary in the calmer seasons however, suggesting intertwined morphodynamics of mudflats and the eroding marsh-scarp. We observed large spatial heterogeneity in retreat rates within seasons, but less on longer (annual and decadal) timescales. The relationship between marsh-edge retreat rates and properties of the wave field nearby is explored and contextualized against extant relationships, but our results speak to the difficulty in addressing spatial erosion/accretion variability on short (seasonal) timescales with simple models.

    On connecting hydro-social parameters to vegetation greenness differences in an evolving groundwater-dependent ecosystem

    Released July 10, 2024 06:47 EST

    2024, Remote Sensing (16)

    Matthew R. Lurtz, Ryan R. Morrison, Pamela L. Nagler

    Understanding groundwater-dependent ecosystems (i.e., areas with a relatively shallow water table that plays a major role in supporting vegetation health) is key to sustaining water resources in the western United States. Groundwater-dependent ecosystems (GDEs) in Colorado have non-pristine temporal and spatial patterns, compared to agro-ecosystems, which make it difficult to quantify how these ecosystems are impacted by changes in water availability. The goal of this study is to examine how key hydrosocial parameters perturb GDE water use in time and in space. The temporal approach tests for the additive impacts of precipitation, surface water discharge, surface water mass balance as a surrogate for surface–groundwater exchange, and groundwater depth on the monthly Landsat normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI). The spatial approach tests for the additive impacts of river confluences, canal augmentation, development, perennial tributary confluences, and farmland modification on temporally integrated NDVI. Model results show a temporal trend (monthly, 1984–2019) is identifiable along segments of the Arkansas River at resolutions finer than 10 km. The temporal impacts of river discharge correlate with riparian water use sooner in time compared to precipitation, but this result is spatially variable and dependent on the covariates tested. Spatially, areal segments of the Arkansas River that have confluences with perennial streams have increased cumulative vegetation density. Quantifying temporal and spatial dependencies between the sources and effects of GDEs could aid in preventing the loss of a vulnerable ecosystem to increased water demand, changing climate, and evolving irrigation methodologies.

    Review of the life history and conservation of federally endangered plant species of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas, U.S.A.

    Released July 09, 2024 08:44 EST

    2024, Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas (18) 233-266

    Beth Middleton, Elizabeth A. Gonzalez, Emily J. Lain, Benito Trevino, Christopher A. Gabler, Jerald T. Garrett, Brenda Molano-Flores, Janice Coons, Laura M. de la Garza, Teresa P. Feria-Arroyo

    This review aims to summarize information critical to the conservation of the federally listed endangered species of South Texas, which occur along the border of Texas and Mexico. This paper describes the characteristics, habitat, population status, distribution, life history, threats, and restoration of endangered plant species of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas, which includes Cameron, Willacy, Hildago, and Starr County. Seven federally listed species are considered including Ambrosia cheiranthifolia, Asclepias prostrata, Astrophytum asterias, Ayenia limitaris, Manihot walkerae, Lesquerella thamnophila (syn. Physaria thamnophila), and Thymophylla tephroleuca. An eighth species, Physostegia correllii is under consideration for federal listing by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This paper assembles information on the background, biological status, major threats, and conservation to aid managers and the scientific community in restoring and managing these species.

    Pesticide concentrations of surface water and suspended sediment in Yolo By-Pass and Cache Slough Complex, California, 2019–2021

    Released July 09, 2024 07:40 EST

    2024, Data Report 1195

    Matthew Uychutin, James L. Orlando, Michelle L. Hladik, Corey J. Sanders, Michael S. Gross, Matthew D. De Parsia, Elisabeth M. LaBarbera, Laura Twardochleb, Brittany E. Davis

    Managed flow pulses in the north Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are an adaptive management tool used in efforts to enhance food availability in delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus) habitat as part of the North Delta Food Subsidies Action. The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) monitors non-managed seasonal and local flow pulses and managed flow pulses from agricultural drainage or main stem Sacramento River water redirected through Yolo By-Pass. Augmented flow pulses are hypothesized to improve net positive flow during summer and fall in Yolo By-Pass and enhance plankton availability in delta smelt habitat in Cache Slough complex. However, flow pulses may also result in unintended negative effects of increased pesticides that are transported through Yolo By-Pass. Here, we evaluate pesticides in surface water and suspended sediment correlated with flow pulses in Yolo By-Pass during the 2019–21 calendar years.

    Surface-water and suspended-sediment samples were collected by DWR personnel. Water samples were analyzed at the U.S. Geological Survey Organic Chemistry Research Laboratory in Sacramento, California, for a suite of as many as 178 current-use pesticides and pesticide degradates using gas chromatography with mass spectrometry (GC/MS), gas chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry, and liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry. Suspended sediments filtered from water samples were analyzed for a suite of as many as 173 current-use pesticides and pesticide degradates.

    There were 52 different current-use pesticides and pesticide degradates detected in water samples collected throughout the study. Concentrations ranged from below method detection limits to 4,070 nanograms per liter. Five different compounds in water samples were detected with concentrations above U.S. Environmental Protection Agency aquatic life benchmarks. In suspended-sediment samples collected throughout the study, eight different current-use pesticides and pesticide degradates were detected.
    Total pesticide concentrations were highest at surface-water sites in the northern end of Yolo By-Pass and decreased farther downstream during the same sampling events. Total pesticide concentrations generally were higher for most surface-water sites immediately before or during the managed flow pulse in 2019 versus after the flow pulse. Finally, mean total pesticide concentrations for each surface-water site generally were higher during all of 2019 than 2021, regardless of sampling period.

    Assessment of nutrient load estimation approaches for small urban streams in Durham, North Carolina

    Released July 08, 2024 16:42 EST

    2024, Scientific Investigations Report 2024-5053

    Stephen L. Harden, Celeste A. Journey, Alexandra B. Etheridge

    This cooperative study between the City of Durham Public Works Department, Stormwater Division and U.S. Geological Survey evaluated whether alternate monitoring strategies that incorporated samples collected across an increased range of streamflows would improve nutrient load estimates for Ellerbe and Sandy Creeks, two small, highly urbanized streams in the City of Durham, North Carolina. Water-quality and streamflow data collected between January 2009 and December 2020 were used to develop instream nutrient-load models using the U.S. Geological Survey R-LOADEST program. This study compared model results from two sampling scenarios: routine monthly (fixed frequency) sampling combined with targeted high-streamflow sampling (scenario A), and fixed frequency sampling only (scenario B).

    Calibration diagnostic results were used to select the final, or most optimal, models. Most final models included seasonality terms to compensate for intra-annual variability in the data. Storm-runoff samples provided better definition at higher streamflows and improved the overall concentration versus flow relations for all constituents, except nitrate + nitrite. Uncertainties in the nutrient load estimates were lower and less variable for the scenario A tests compared to the scenario B tests.

    Five time steps representing 12-, 9-, 7-, 6-, and 5-year subsets of the overall dataset were used to examine the effect of prediction period length on the computed loads and uncertainties. In focusing on the scenario A results, nutrient loads tended to be higher for the shorter time steps. These shorter time steps also produced higher errors, or uncertainty, in the load estimates compared to longer time steps. Evaluations of annual nutrient loads during 2016–20 indicated that the most consistent load estimates and tightest confidence intervals were obtained for longer 12- and 9-year time steps. Estimated loads were more variable and uncertain when based on the shorter 6- and 5-year time steps. The degree of uncertainty (standard error of prediction) in the nutrient load estimation results was influenced by sampling approach, calibration time step, and hydrologic characteristics during the model period of interest.

    Characterization of the water resources of the Pamunkey River watershed in Virginia—A review of water science, management, and traditional ecological knowledge

    Released July 08, 2024 14:25 EST

    2024, Scientific Investigations Report 2024-5024

    Brendan M. Foster, Ronaldo Lopez, Edward R. Crawford, Warren Cook, Joyce Krigsvold, John Henry Langston, Terry Langston, Grover Miles, Kirk Moore, Greg C. Garman, Karen C. Rice, John D. Jastram

    In central Virginia, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe and Reservation are facing increasingly complex water resource issues related to quantity and quality. Documentation of surface-water, groundwater, water quality, land subsidence, sea-level rise, and river ecology issues in the Pamunkey River watershed and incorporation of traditional ecological knowledge into these research topics may improve understanding of the water resources broadly. This report summarizes the relevant traditional ecological knowledge and scientific literature to elucidate gaps in the total combined knowledge of a suite of water science topics concerning the Pamunkey River watershed. This suite of water science topics includes some of the issues that the Pamunkey Indian Tribe and Reservation are facing within the watershed: fragmentation of streams and management of streamflow, flooding, degrading water quality, groundwater extraction, relative sea-level rise, rapid changes in ecosystems, loss of ecological and biological diversity, and climate change. Gaps in total combined knowledge are pervasive throughout each of these water resource topics. Identifying these knowledge gaps can help inform future research and management strategies.

    Perfluorooctane sulfonamide induced autotoxic effects on the zebrafish immune system

    Released July 08, 2024 06:58 EST

    2024, Environmental Science and Technology

    Honghong Chen, Yao Zou, Xingyuan Kang, Ge Yang, Xinghe Yang, Yingying Yao, Jason Tyler Magnuson, Xinde Cao, Wenhui Qiu, Elvis Zu Genbo, Chunmiao Zheng

    Perfluorooctane sulfonamide (PFOSA) is an immediate perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) precursor (PreFOS). Previous studies have shown PFOSA to induce stronger toxic responses compared to other perfluorinated compounds (PFCs). However, the specific nature of PFOSA-induced toxicity, whether autonomous or mediated by its metabolite PFOS, has not been fully elucidated. This study systematically investigates the immunomodulatory effects of PFOSA and PFOS in zebrafish (Danio rerio). Exposure to PFOSA compromised the zebrafish’s ability to defend against pathogenic infections, as evidenced by increased bacterial adhesion to their skin and reduced levels of the biocidal protein lysozyme (LYSO). Moreover, PFOSA exposure was associated with disruptions in inflammatory markers and immune indicators, along with a decrease in immune cell counts. The findings from this study suggest that the immunotoxicity effects of PFOSA are primarily due to its own toxicity rather than its metabolite PFOS. This conclusion was supported by dose-dependent responses, the severity of observed effects, and multivariate analysis. In addition, our experiments using NF-κB-morpholino knock-down techniques further confirmed the role of the Nuclear factor-κappa B pathway in mediating PFOSA-induced immunotoxicity. In conclusion, this study reveals that PFOSA impairs the immune system in zebrafish through an autotoxic mechanism, providing valuable insights for assessing the ecological risks of PFOSA.

    Utica/point pleasant brine isotopic compositions (δ7Li, δ11B, δ138Ba) elucidate mechanisms of lithium enrichment in the Appalachian Basin

    Released July 07, 2024 06:55 EST

    2024, Science of the Total Environment

    Bonnie McDevitt, Travis L. Tasker, Rachel Coyte, Madalyn S. Blondes, Brian W. Stewart, Rosemary C Capo, J. Alexandra Hakala, Avner Vengosh, William D Burgos, Nathaniel R. Warner

    Global Li production will require a ~500 % increase to meet 2050 projected energy storage demands. One potential source is oil and gas wastewater (i.e., produced water or brine), which naturally has high total dissolved solids (TDS) concentrations, that can also be enriched in Li (>100 mg/L). Understanding the sources and mechanisms responsible for high naturally-occurring Li concentrations can aid in efficient targeting of these brines. The isotopic composition (δ7Li, δ11B, δ138Ba) of produced water and core samples from the Utica Shale and Point Pleasant Formation (UPP) in the Appalachian Basin, USA indicates that depth-dependent thermal maturity and water-rock interaction, including diagenetic clay mineral transformations, likely control Li concentrations. A survey of Li content in produced waters throughout the USA indicates that Appalachian Basin brines from the Marcellus Shale to the UPP have the potential for economic resource recovery.

    Climate change vulnerability of Arctic char across Scandinavia

    Released July 07, 2024 06:50 EST

    2024, Global Change Biology (30)

    Clint C. Muhlfeld, Timothy Cline, Anders Finstad, Dag O. Hessen, Sam Perrin, Jens Thaulow, Diane Whited, Leif Asbjorn Vollestad

    Climate change is anticipated to cause species to shift their ranges upward and poleward, yet space for tracking suitable habitat conditions may be limited for range-restricted species at the highest elevations and latitudes of the globe. Consequently, range-restricted species inhabiting Arctic freshwater ecosystems, where global warming is most pronounced, face the challenge of coping with changing abiotic and biotic conditions or risk extinction. Here, we use an extensive fish community and environmental dataset for 1762 lakes sampled across Scandinavia (mid-1990s) to evaluate the climate vulnerability of Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus), the world's most cold-adapted and northernly distributed freshwater fish. Machine learning models show that abiotic and biotic factors strongly predict the occurrence of Arctic char across the region with an overall accuracy of 89 percent. Arctic char is less likely to occur in lakes with warm summer temperatures, high dissolved organic carbon levels (i.e., browning), and presence of northern pike (Esox lucius). Importantly, climate warming impacts are moderated by habitat (i.e., lake area) and amplified by the presence of competitors and/or predators (i.e., northern pike). Climate warming projections under the RCP8.5 emission scenario indicate that 81% of extant populations are at high risk of extirpation by 2080. Highly vulnerable populations occur across their range, particularly near the southern range limit and at lower elevations, with potential refugia found in some mountainous and coastal regions. Our findings highlight that range shifts may give way to range contractions for this cold-water specialist, indicating the need for pro-active conservation and mitigation efforts to avoid the loss of Arctic freshwater biodiversity.

    Think regionally, act locally: Perspectives on co-design of spatial conservation prioritization tools and why end-user engagement altered our approach

    Released July 07, 2024 06:49 EST

    2024, Conservation Science and Practice (6)

    Nicholas J. Van Lanen, Jessica E. Shyvers, Bryan C. Tarbox, Adrian P. Monroe, Patrick J. Anderson, Daniel Jones, Katharine G. Dahm, Cameron L. Aldridge

    Coproduction represents an inclusive approach for developing decision-support resources because it seeks to integrate scientific knowledge and end-user needs. Unfortunately, spatial decision support systems (SDSS) coproduction has sometimes resulted in limited utility for end-users, partially due to scarce SDSS coproduction guidance. To initiate coproduction, we held a series of workshops to co-design a spatial conservation prioritization tool for sagebrush ecosystems in the western United States. We share four themes derived from participant feedback and our reflections to guide future SDSS codesign efforts. We found end-user confidence in data inputs and transparency regarding SDSS assumptions generated trust. Workshop participants noted our virtual format, with smaller break-out groups, effectively facilitated discussions. Ultimately, end-users appreciated the conservation context provided by regional-scale SDSS but preferred local-scale prioritization efforts for site-level planning. Therefore, we are shifting ongoing co-design efforts to consider local-scale tool development, which can scale up to larger geographic extents.

    External quality-assurance project report for the National Atmospheric Deposition Program National Trends Network and Mercury Deposition Network, 2021–22

    Released July 05, 2024 09:20 EST

    2024, Scientific Investigations Report 2024-5054

    Noel A. Deyette, Gregory A. Wetherbee, RoseAnn Martin

    The U.S. Geological Survey Precipitation Chemistry Quality Assurance project (PCQA) operated five distinct programs to provide external quality-assurance monitoring for the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP) National Trends Network (NTN) and Mercury Deposition Network (MDN) during 2021–22. The NTN programs included (1) a field audit program to evaluate sample contamination and stability, (2) an interlaboratory-comparison program to evaluate analytical laboratory performance, and (3) a colocated sampler program to estimate overall variability of NTN wet-deposition measurements, and the MDN programs included the (4) system blank program to evaluate sample contamination and stability and (5) an interlaboratory-comparison program. The results indicated increased levels of sample contamination compared to previous years for NTN samples and decreased contamination in MDN samples. Strong analytical laboratory performance with low overall variability and bias in concentration data was indicated for the NTN Central Analytical Laboratory. Slight perturbations in contamination levels in NTN samples and in analytical performance for MDN are considered inconsequential. The colocated sampler program results indicated overall variability in NTN data to range from 0 to 30.3 percent for cations, 1.6 to 11.4 percent for ammonium, 0.8 to 20.2 percent for anions, 10.3 to 17.2 percent for hydrogen-ion concentration, and 1.5 to 12.2 percent for specific conductance. The PCQA results indicate that NADP data continue to be of sufficient quality for applications in independent research and NADP data products, including spatial interpolations and time trends for chemical constituents in wet deposition. Small shifts in data quality indicated by the 2021–22 PCQA results are included to be used for interpretation of the NADP data products.

    Four decades of data indicate that planted mangroves stored up to 75% of the carbon stocks found in intact mature stands

    Released July 05, 2024 08:18 EST

    2024, Science Advances (10)

    Carine F. Bourgeois, Richard A. MacKenzie, Sahadev Sharma, Rupesh K. Bhomia, Nels G. Johnson, Andre S. Rovai, Thomas A. Worthington, Ken Krauss, Kangkuso Analuddin, Jacob J. Bukoski, Jose Alan Castillo, Angie Elwin, Leah Glass, Tim C. Jennerjahn, Mwita M. Mangora, Cyril Marchand, Michael Osland, Ismaël A. Ratefinjanahary, Raghab Ray, Severino G. Salmo, Sigit D. Sasmito, Rempei Suwa, Pham Hong Tinh, Carl C. Trettin

    Mangroves’ ability to store carbon (C) has long been recognized, but little is known about whether planted mangroves can store C as efficiently as naturally established (i.e., intact) stands and in which time frame. Through Bayesian logistic models compiled from 40 years of data and built from 684 planted mangrove stands worldwide, we found that biomass C stock culminated at 71 to 73% to that of intact stands ~20 years after planting. Furthermore, prioritizing mixed-species planting including Rhizophora spp. would maximize C accumulation within the biomass compared to monospecific planting. Despite a 25% increase in the first 5 years following planting, no notable change was observed in the soil C stocks thereafter, which remains at a constant value of 75% to that of intact soil C stock, suggesting that planting effectively prevents further C losses due to land use change. These results have strong implications for mangrove restoration planning and serve as a baseline for future C buildup assessments.

    Effects of harmful algal blooms on amphibians and reptiles are under-reported and under-represented

    Released July 05, 2024 07:20 EST

    2024, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry

    Brian J. Halstead, Kelly Smalling, Blake R. Hossack

    Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are a persistent and increasing problem globally, yet we still have limited knowledge about how they affect wildlife. Although semi-aquatic and aquatic amphibians and reptiles have experienced large declines and occupy environments where HABs are increasingly problematic, their vulnerability to HABs remains unclear. To inform monitoring, management, and future research, we conducted a literature review, synthesized the studies, and report on the mortality events describing effects of cyanotoxins from HABs on freshwater herpetofauna. Our review identified 37 unique studies and 71 endpoints (no-observed-effect and lowest-observed-effect concentrations) involving 11 amphibian and 3 reptile species worldwide. Responses varied widely among studies, species, and exposure concentrations used in experiments. Concentrations causing lethal and sublethal effects in laboratory experiments were generally 1 to 100 µg/L, which contains the mean value of reported HAB events but is 70 times less than the maximum cyanotoxin concentrations reported in the environment. However, one species of amphibian was tolerant to concentrations of 10,000 µg/L, demonstrating potentially immense differences in sensitivities. Most studies focused on microcystin-LR (MC-LR), which can increase systemic inflammation and harm the digestive system, reproductive organs, liver, kidneys, and development. The few studies on other cyanotoxins illustrated that effects resembled those of MC-LR at similar concentrations, but more research is needed to describe effects of other cyanotoxins and mixtures of cyanotoxins that commonly occur in the environment. All experimental studies were on larval and adult amphibians; there were no such studies on reptiles. Experimental work with reptiles and adult amphibians is needed to clarify thresholds of tolerance. Only nine mortality events were reported, mostly for reptiles. Given that amphibians likely decay faster than reptiles, which have tissues that resist decomposition, mass amphibian mortality events from HABs have likely been under-reported. We propose that future efforts should be focused on seven major areas, to enhance our understanding of effects and monitoring of HABs on herpetofauna that fill important roles in freshwater and terrestrial environments. Environ Toxicol Chem 2024;00:1–14. Published 2024. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of SETAC.

    Histological analysis of deepwater sculpin ovaries supports single spawning reproductive strategy

    Released July 05, 2024 06:57 EST

    2024, Journal of Great Lakes Research

    Jarrod R. Ludwig, Brian C. Weidel, Brian O'Malley, Michael Connerton, Jacques Rinchard

    Deepwater sculpin (Myoxocephalus thompsonii) were considered extirpated from Lake Ontario prior to the 1990s but have since resurged and are now an abundant offshore demersal species. As deepwater sculpin reproduction is poorly described, an investigation of their gonadal development and fecundity was conducted to better understand their reproductive biology. To evaluate spawning period duration and if females spawn multiple times during their spawning period, we compared deepwater sculpin gonadosomatic index (GSI), gonadal development, and fecundity using individuals collected in fall and spring from 2018 to 2021. Our analysis revealed female GSI was greater in fall (8.1 ± 6.2 %) than spring (4.4 ± 4.3 %). Absolute fecundity averaged 763 ± 246 oocytes and relative fecundity averaged 19 ± 6 oocytes per gram of fish. Histological analysis revealed the presence of only one batch of developing oocytes in the ovary (n = 60), indicating group-synchronous ovarian organization. Our findings suggest deepwater sculpin spawn once annually but have a protracted spawning season indicated by prolonged elevated GSI values. Therefore, protracted spawning in deepwater sculpin likely results in an extended period of larval emergence rather than the majority occurring in late spring as previously suggested. A longer timeframe for deepwater sculpin larval emergence may increase reproductive success and contribute to their population’s recovery.

    Low-level dietary clothianidin exposure preferentially causes prepupal mortality of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus)

    Released July 05, 2024 06:47 EST

    2024, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry

    Timothy Bargar

    Data from prior research indicate the prepupal stage of the monarch butterfly life cycle is more sensitive to clothianidin exposure than the larval stage. A set of experiments was conducted to determine if the dietary clothianidin exposures that cause prepupal mortality are environmentally relevant. Monarch larvae were raised from egg to pupae on clothianidin-contaminated swamp milkweed plants (Asclepias incarnata). Larval growth as well as larval and prepupal survival were monitored throughout the experiments, in which the exposures ranged from 1.4 to 2793.1 ng/g leaf. Exposures of 5.4 to 46.9 ng/g leaf resulted primarily in prepupal mortality, whereas higher exposures of 1042.4 to 2793.1 ng/g leaf resulted exclusively in larval mortality, indicating the prepupal stage is more sensitive to clothianidin exposure than the larval stage. A median lethal concentration and a 10% lethal concentration of 37 and 6 ng/g leaf, respectively, were estimated for prepupal mortality. Both effect concentrations are within the range of clothianidin concentrations reported in leaves collected from wild milkweed plants, indicating prepupal mortality is an environmentally relevant effect. Environ Toxicol Chem 2024;00:1–6. © 2024 The Authors. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of SETAC.

    Rangewide occupancy of a flagship species, the Coastal California Gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica) in southern California: Habitat associations and recovery from wildfire

    Released July 05, 2024 06:41 EST

    2024, PLoS ONE (19)

    Barbara E. Kus, Kristine L. Preston, Alexandra Houston

    The Coastal California Gnatcatcher (Polioptila californica californica), a federally threatened species, is a flagship species for regional conservation planning in southern California (USA). An inhabitant of coastal sage scrub vegetation, the gnatcatcher has declined in response to habitat loss and fragmentation, exacerbated by catastrophic wildfires. We documented the status of gnatcatchers throughout their California range and examined post-fire recovery of gnatcatchers and their habitat. We used GIS to develop a habitat suitability model for Coastal California Gnatcatchers using climate and topography covariates and selected over 700 sampling points in a spatially balanced manner. Bird and vegetation data were collected at each point between March and May in 2015 and 2016. Presence/absence of gnatcatchers was determined during three visits to points, using area searches within 150 x 150 m plots. We used an occupancy framework to generate Percent Area Occupied (PAO) by gnatcatchers, and analyzed PAO as a function of time since fire. At the regional scale in 2016, 23% of the points surveyed were occupied by gnatcatchers, reflecting the effect of massive wildfires in the last 15 years. Similarly, PAO in the post-fire subset of points was 24%, with the highest occupancy in unburned (last fire <2002) habitat. Positive predictors of occupancy included percent cover of California sagebrush (Artemisia californica), California buckwheat (Eriogonom fasciculatum), and sunflowers (Encelia spp., Bahiopsis laciniata), while negative predictors included laurel sumac (Malosma laurina) and total herbaceous cover; in particular, non-native grasses. Our findings indicate that recovery from wildfire may take decades, and provide information to speed up recovery through habitat restoration.

    Effect of water delivery and irrigation for riparian restoration in the Colorado River Delta, Mexico

    Released July 04, 2024 10:15 EST

    2024, Restoration Ecology

    Pamela L. Nagler, Ibrahima Sall, Martha Gomez-Sapiens, Karl W. Flessa, Armando Barreto-Muñoz, Kamel Didan

    Along Mexico's arid Colorado River Delta, the riparian corridor lacks water due to a reduction in frequent flows, climate change, human infrastructure, and altered riparian landcover from disturbances to invasive species, fire, and high soil and water salinities, which have led to declines in riparian plant health in recent decades. Restoration efforts focusing on small plots have successfully revitalized habitat, which is the motivation for this research. Accurate estimations of water use by riparian vegetation are crucial in arid environments, where measuring actual evapotranspiration (ETa) poses a significant challenge in these narrow corridors. This study utilizes field-validated remote sensing techniques to quantify ETa at restoration sites. Our methods are twofold; we use the Landsat-8 two-band Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI2) to monitor changes in vegetation greenness—a proxy of plant health—and we integrate EVI2 with potential evapotranspiration (ET) to calculate ETa. Our findings reveal a notable increase in vegetation greenness within the restoration sites over 9 years, with an average increase of 41.3%. Conversely, greenness in adjacent, unrestored control areas declined by 27.3%. The study also indicates a 22.1% increase in ETa in the restored areas, compared to a 30.8% reduction in the unrestored regions. Restored sites in reach 4 experienced ETa increases ranging from 9.2 to 12.2%, whereas their unrestored counterparts show a decline of 21.4%. Valuable estimates are provided of riparian greenness and water use that may assist natural resource managers who are tasked with allocating water and managing habitats within similar riparian corridors.

    Isotopic evaluation of the National Water Model reveals missing agricultural irrigation contributions to streamflow across the western United States

    Released July 04, 2024 06:59 EST

    2024, Hydrology and Earth Systems Science (28) 2895-2918

    Annie L. Putman, Patrick Cullen Longley, Morgan C. McDonnell, James E. Reddy, Michelle Patricia Katoski, Olivia L. Miller, J. Renee Brooks

    The National Water Model (NWM) provides critical analyses and projections of streamflow that support water management decisions. However, the NWM performs poorly in lower-elevation rivers of the western United States (US). The accuracy of the NWM depends on the fidelity of the model inputs and the representation and calibration of model processes and water sources. To evaluate the NWM performance in the western US, we compared observations of river water isotope ratios (18O 16O and 2H 1H expressed in δ notation) to NWM-flux-estimated (model) river reach isotope ratios. The modeled estimates were calculated from long-term (2000–2019) mean summer (June, July, and August) NWM hydrologic fluxes and gridded isotope ratios using a mass balance approach. The observational dataset comprised 4503 in-stream water isotope observations in 877 reaches across 5 basins. A simple regression between observed and modeled isotope ratios explained 57.9 % (δ18O) and 67.1 % (δ2H) of variance, although observations were 0.5 ‰ (δ18O) and 4.8 ‰ (δ2H) higher, on average, than mass balance estimates. The unexplained variance suggest that the NWM does not include all relevant water fluxes to rivers. To infer possible missing water fluxes, we evaluated patterns in observation–model differences using δ18Odiff (δ18Oobsδ18Omod) and ddiff (). We detected evidence of evaporation in observations but not model estimates (negative ddiff and positive δ18Odiff) at lower-elevation, higher-stream-order, arid sites. The catchment actual-evaporation-to-precipitation ratio, the fraction of streamflow estimated to be derived from agricultural irrigation, and whether a site was reservoir-affected were all significant predictors of ddiff in a linear mixed-effects model, with up to 15.2 % of variance explained by fixed effects. This finding is supported by seasonal patterns, groundwater levels, and isotope ratios, and it suggests the importance of including irrigation return flows to rivers, especially in lower-elevation, higher-stream-order, arid rivers of the western US.

    Coastal Science Navigator companion guide—Discover the U.S. Geological Survey coastal science products you need

    Released July 03, 2024 15:10 EST

    2024, Circular 1523

    Mira Anderberg, Sara Ernst

    The Coastal Science Navigator is an online gateway to a wide variety of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) coastal change hazards-related information, data, and tools relevant to stakeholders’ scientific and decision-making needs. The products within the Coastal Science Navigator provide data related to past, present, and future threats to our coastlines. The filter search allows users to see all available products and identify relevant options by time scale, geographic scope, coastal hazard theme, and other filters. The guided search suggests products based on users’ answers to a short series of questions. A comprehensive summary is available for each product.

    The idea for the Coastal Science Navigator arose in 2020 in response to stakeholder feedback identifying the need for a central source for USGS coastal science information. It was published in July 2023 and initially included 55 products. Regular updates are planned to integrate other existing and new products.

    This guide introduces some of the many coastal change hazards-related products available through the USGS. In it, we showcase the products included in the Coastal Science Navigator’s initial publication in July 2023. While it is not representative of all the information, tools, and data available, we hope it serves as a compelling snapshot of what the USGS has to offer and encourages you to explore the Coastal Science Navigator to discover more of the products you need.

    To navigate this guide, the products have been organized by the time scale they are best suited for—past, present, or future—although many products cover multiple time scales. An additional section features software, one of the many product types available as filters within the Coastal Science Navigator. Other products include downloadable data, websites, and geonarratives (web pages that combine text, images, and interactive maps into narratives you can scroll through). Featured geographic scopes are also highlighted within this guide, detailing some of the many regions in which the USGS conducts research and illustrating another way to filter products within the Coastal Science Navigator.

    Nitrogen load estimates from six nonpoint sources on Long Island, New York, from 1900 to 2019

    Released July 03, 2024 12:20 EST

    2024, Scientific Investigations Report 2024-5047

    Jack Monti, Jr., Donald A. Walter, Kalle L. Jahn

    Estimates of nitrogen loading from nonpoint sources on Long Island, New York, at or just below the land surface, are essential for assessing the current and future effects of nitrogen on the island’s drinking water and fresh and marine surface receiving waters. Annual estimates of nitrogen loading for the 120 years from 1900 to 2019 for major nonpoint nitrogen sources—septic systems, residential fertilizer, agricultural fertilizer, livestock waste, pet waste, and atmospheric deposition—were made by using a geographic information system to analyze, visualize, and process data sources, and format output data. This analysis provided spatial and temporal estimates of nitrogen loading derived from each nonpoint source at a 500- by 500-foot gridded resolution and represents the total mass of nitrogen applied on, or just below, the land surface annually from 1900 to 2019. These mass estimates are considered unattenuated as they do not reflect the various mechanisms of nitrogen loss, such as plant uptake, overland runoff, and chemical transformations in the soil and unsaturated zones that likely reduce the amount of nitrogen that reaches the water table.

    Island-wide and countywide summaries of the estimated nitrogen loading were analyzed to describe the long-term average nitrogen totals and the contributions from the six nonpoint sources. The island-wide average annual nitrogen load from 1900 to 2019 was 14.92 million kilograms (Mkg) nitrogen, which represents the aggregate of individual contributions from septic systems (4.15 Mkg), residential fertilizer (3.28 Mkg), agricultural fertilizer (3.19 Mkg), livestock waste (1.22 Mkg), pet waste (0.98 Mkg), and atmospheric deposition (2.10 Mkg). The island-wide average annual nitrogen load, normalized by area, was 4,100 kilograms nitrogen per square kilometer (kg N/km2), which represents the aggregate of individual contributions from septic systems (1,100 kg N/km2), residential fertilizer (910 kg N/km2), agricultural fertilizer (880 kg N/km2), livestock waste (340 kg N/km2), pet waste (270 kg N/km2), and atmospheric deposition (580 kg N/km2).

    Analysis of water use associated with hydraulic fracturing and determination of baseline water quality in watersheds within the shale play of eastern Ohio, 2021–23

    Released July 03, 2024 11:30 EST

    2024, Scientific Investigations Report 2024-5045

    S. Alex Covert, G.F. Koltun

    The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, performed a two-part study to (1) assess water use and temporal trends and changes in streamflow, and to (2) characterize 2021–23 baseline water quality, as they relate to oil and gas extraction activities in selected eastern Ohio watersheds. Between calendar years 2010 and 2019, hydraulic fracturing water withdrawals totaling about 27,168 million gallons were reported at 643 locations in Ohio. In 2021, wells developed with hydraulic fracturing were the source of most of the oil and gas produced in Ohio.

    Daily streamflow time-series data from seven study gages and two reference gages were used to assess temporal trends and changes in streamflow. The study gages were in basins with reported water withdrawals for hydraulic fracturing. The reference gages, which have long periods of record and were subject to minimal streamflow regulation, were in nearby basins with no hydraulic fracturing water withdrawals.

    Trend slopes for the period of record annual minimum and median daily streamflows and for annual daily streamflow nonexceedance probabilities less than 0.9 were all uniformly positive at the study and reference gages. This trend indicates a consistently increasing pattern over the periods of record, except for high flows. In addition, analyses of annual streamflow statistics showed no general indication that low flows or extreme low flows at the reference or study gages have lowered, become more frequent, or lengthened in duration since 2010, when records for hydraulic fracturing water withdrawals began in Ohio. In fact, in almost all cases, the opposite was indicated.

    Nonexceedance percentiles of daily streamflows were compared between the full and pre-2012 periods of record for reference and study gages. The streamflows associated with nonexceedance percentiles in the lower quartile of daily streamflows determined for the full period of record were larger than or equal to those determined for the pre-2012 period of record for all study and reference gages. This indicates that low flows did not decrease during the post-2011 period of record when water was withdrawn for hydraulic fracturing.

    Water-quality data were collected eight times at each of eight sampling sites (six of which were colocated with the study gages). Sampling was done during a variety of flow conditions to assess baseline water quality. In 2021, the 8 sampling sites had drainage basins that were wholly or partially within 7 of the 10 most active counties in Ohio for oil and gas development. As part of the record of baseline conditions, water-quality data were used to assess (1) water types based on major-ion chemistry; (2) sources of salinity to streams; (3) exceedances of aquatic life use criteria; and (4) the correlations between water chemistry and drainage-basin characteristics, such as density of oil and gas wells, density of wastewater treatment plants, or the percentage of different types of land cover (agriculture, developed, forest).

    Seven of the water-quality sampling sites were designated as coal-mine impacted based on criteria developed for assessing mine-drainage impacts in Ohio. Mine drainage from historical coal mining in the region likely affected the quality of these streams and complicated the use of some constituents typically used as indicators of oil and gas influence. Based on major-ion chemistry, three main types of water were in the study area―sulfate (three sites), calcium-bicarbonate (one site), and mixed bicarbonate-chloride (four sites) type waters. One site had samples with a higher proportion of sodium and chloride ions than other stream samples, indicating potential contamination with oil-field brine or road salt. Binary mixing curves revealed that 11 samples from 4 of the sampling sites likely contained a component of brine. The results of the baseline assessment of surface-water quality in the study area showed no exceedances of Ohio Environmental Protection Agency aquatic life use criteria. Spearman’s rank correlation coefficients indicated no significant positive correlations with the density of vertical or horizontal oil and gas wells.

    Connecting tributary mercury loads to nearshore and offshore sediments in Lake Superior

    Released July 03, 2024 10:41 EST

    2024, Journal of Great Lakes Research

    Sarah E. Janssen, Michael T. Tate, Eric D. Dantoin, Christopher T. Filstrup, Euan D Reavie, Robert M Stewart, Chris Robinson, Craig J Allan, Dale M. Robertson, David P. Krabbenhoft

    Lake Superior has a vast and largely undeveloped watershed in comparison to the other Great Lakes, which makes it challenging to study mercury (Hg) sources and cycling. To examine Hg inputs to Lake Superior, we conducted an expansive binational assessment in 40 watersheds from a diverse range of landcover types. We further paired tributary Hg data to sediment source portfolios in the nearshore and offshore zones of Lake Superior through partnership with the Great Lakes Sediment Surveillance Program. We observed that total Hg loads were highest in the spring driven by the combination of elevated Hg concentrations and increased water discharge from snowmelt. In addition, total Hg concentrations in tributaries from remote, heavily forested regions, such as Pukaskwa National Park and the Minnesota Northshore, were higher than the Southshore and Thunder Bay regions. Methylmercury concentrations and loads were more spatially dependent, often corresponding to regions with more wetlands (e.g., Michigan Upper Peninsula). We estimated that the total Hg tributary load to Lake Superior in 2021 was 126 kg per year. To further examine the fate of watershed Hg sources, we examined sediments from 28 sites in Lake Superior using Hg stable isotopes. At open water sites, precipitation was the primary Hg source to sediments, but within nearshore sites Hg originated predominantly from watershed runoff. This work further defines the sources and fate of Hg within Lake Superior and highlights how Hg delivery is intrinsically tied to varying hydrologic regimes.

    Invertebrate trophic structure on marine ferromanganese and phosphorite hardgrounds

    Released July 03, 2024 06:58 EST

    2024, Limnology and Oceanography

    Olivia S. Pereira, Devin Vlach, Angelica Bradley, Jennifer Gonzalez, Kira Mizell, Lisa A. Levin

    The Southern California Borderland hosts a variety of geologic and oceanographic features that allow for diverse habitats to occur in a restricted region with a strong oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) and hard substrates. These include ferromanganese (FeMn) crusts and phosphorites targeted for deep-seabed mining in other regions. Baseline studies regarding hardground macro- (> 0.3 mm) and megafaunal (> 2 cm) invertebrates are lacking, although they contribute to understanding nutrient cycling and resilience of deep-sea communities to ocean deoxygenation, fishing, or mineral extraction. With the goal of understanding how substrate type, depth, and dissolved oxygen concentration influence invertebrate trophic structure, we surveyed δ13C and δ15N values of invertebrates on hard substrates on the Southern California Borderland margin along a depth gradient (120–2400 m) through the OMZ at inshore (< 100 km from shore) and offshore (100–250 km from shore) sites, using generalized additive models and community-level metrics. Macrofaunal isotopic values correlate with substrate type, exhibiting higher trophic diversity on FeMn crusts and specialized communities on phosphorites. Megafaunal isotopic values correlate with proximity to shore; animals offshore seem to depend more on phytoplanktonic production than animals inshore. In general, δ15N increased with decreasing dissolved oxygen and increasing depth, possibly due to remineralization processes within the OMZ and with depth. We discuss how feeding modes and community composition might influence the observed patterns. This study elucidates the importance of the environmental context in shaping invertebrate trophic structure on continental margins and provides baseline knowledge that may be useful in regions where these minerals are targeted for extraction.

    Geospatial PDF map of the compilation of GIS data for the mineral industries and related infrastructure of Africa

    Released July 02, 2024 10:45 EST

    2024, Open-File Report 2024-1041

    Elizabeth R. Neustaedter, Ryan F. Kemna, Abraham J. Padilla, Donya Otarod


    In 2021, the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) National Minerals Information Center (NMIC) completed the project titled "Compilation of geospatial data for the mineral industries and related infrastructure of Africa." This project aimed to leverage the expertise and capabilities of the NMIC to collect, synthesize, and interpret geospatial data to inform on the extractive resources of the African region and expand the NMIC's understanding on the impact of mineral industry of African nations in the global economy. The African region, which comprises the independent nations that make up the African continent and its associated islands and dependencies, consists of a total of 58 mineral producing countries. The primary objective of this effort was to create a fully attributed Geographic Information System (GIS) portraying existing mining infrastructure, resources, and development capacity across Africa along with the related infrastructure capable of supporting current (for the reference year 2018) and future extractive industry operations in the region. The compiled GIS geodatabase with supporting documentation including comprehensive metadata was published as a USGS data release titled "Compilation of Geospatial Data (GIS) for the Mineral Industries and Related Infrastructure of Africa."

    This georeferenced portable document format (GeoPDF) map sheet presents a new geographic information product containing a partial representation of the GIS data. This GeoPDF map provides a visual comparison of the distribution of mineral industry and related infrastructure GIS data, which contributes to a deeper understanding of the intersections and complexities of the extractive industries within Africa.

    Water-quality trends in the Kansas River, Kansas, since enactment of the Clean Water Act, 1972–2020

    Released July 02, 2024 07:51 EST

    2024, Scientific Investigations Report 2024-5050

    Thomas J. Williams, Brian J. Klager, Tom C. Stiles

    The Clean Water Act was passed by Congress in 1972 to regulate pollution within the waters of the United States. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), the Kansas Water Office, the Nature Conservancy, the City of Lawrence, the City of Manhattan, the City of Olathe, the City of Topeka, WaterOne, and Evergy, compiled and analyzed historical streamflow and water-quality data collected by USGS and KDHE to characterize trends in water-quality constituents of interest because of their relation to water supply, drinking-water treatment, and sediment and nutrient transport, among others (total dissolved solids, chloride, ammonia, dissolved inorganic nitrogen [ammonia and nitrate plus nitrite], total nitrogen, orthophosphate, total phosphorus, total suspended solids, and fecal coliform bacteria) during mean- and low-flow conditions in the Kansas River since the passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972 through 2020. Trends in water-quality concentrations, or densities, and loads were analyzed using the Exploration and Graphics for RivER Trends R package and Weighted Regressions on Time, Discharge, and Season (WRTDS) model at upstream (Kansas River at Wamego, Kansas; USGS station 06887500) and downstream (Kansas River at De Soto, Kansas; USGS station 06892350) locations along the Kansas River using streamflow and water-quality data collected by the USGS and KDHE during 1972 through 2020. The Exploration and Graphics for RivER Trends Confidence Intervals R package and WRTDS bootstrap test estimated direction, uncertainty, and likelihood of trends in concentration and loads for each water-quality constituent of interest.

    Downward trends in concentration and load were observed for 5 of the 9 water-quality constituents at both sites during mean-flow conditions during the study period. During low-flow conditions, 7 of the 9 constituents exhibited downward trends, possibly reflecting reductions in point-source contributions to the Kansas River. Downward trends in ammonia, dissolved inorganic nitrogen, and total nitrogen during mean- and low-flow conditions were observed at both Kansas River sites, which were similar to patterns observed nationally. Upward trends were generally observed for orthophosphate and total phosphorus, which were similar to patterns observed at sites in the Mississippi River Basin. Downward trends, or no trend, were observed for chloride. Upward and downward trends were observed for total dissolved solids. Downward trends in total suspended solids and fecal coliform bacteria were observed at both sites, which were also similar to patterns observed nationally. The long-term trend analyses in this report are an essential step to understanding how water-quality conditions have changed in the Kansas River since the passage of the Clean Water Act.

    Accelerating glacier volume loss on Juneau Icefield driven by hypsometry and melt-accelerating feedbacks

    Released July 02, 2024 06:46 EST

    2024, Nature Communications (15)

    Bethan Davies, Robert McNabb, Jacob Bendle, Jonathan Carrivick, Jeremy Ely, Tom Holt, Bradley Markle, Christopher J. McNeil, Lindsey Nicholson, Mauri Pelto

    Globally, glaciers and icefields contribute significantly to sea level rise. Here we show that ice loss from Juneau Icefield, a plateau icefield in Alaska, accelerated after 2005 AD. Rates of area shrinkage were 5 times faster from 2015–2019 than from 1979–1990. Glacier volume loss remained fairly consistent (0.65–1.01 km3 a−1) from 1770–1979 AD, rising to 3.08–3.72 km3 a−1 from 1979–2010, and then doubling after 2010 AD, reaching 5.91 ± 0.80 km3 a−1 (2010–2020). Thinning has become pervasive across the icefield plateau since 2005, accompanied by glacier recession and fragmentation. Rising equilibrium line altitudes and increasing ablation across the plateau has driven a series of hypsometrically controlled melt-accelerating feedbacks and resulted in the observed acceleration in mass loss. As glacier thinning on the plateau continues, a mass balance-elevation feedback is likely to inhibit future glacier regrowth, potentially pushing glaciers beyond a dynamic tipping point.

    Multidisciplinary characterisation of the biodiversity, geomorphology, oceanography and glacial history of Bowditch Seamount in the Sargasso Sea

    Released July 02, 2024 06:37 EST

    2024, Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers (210)

    Lea-Anne Henry, Igor Yashayaev, Claude Hillaire-Marcel, F. Javier Murillo, Ellen Kenchington, Struan Smith, Jenny Maccali, Jill Bourque, Louis L. Whitcomb, J. Murray Roberts

    The first multidisciplinary characterisation of Bowditch Seamount in the Sargasso Sea was conducted to provide new baseline knowledge of the biodiversity, geomorphology, oceanography and glacial history of this seamount. A dropframe camera transect 1483–1562 m deep on the seamount documented 77 megafaunal taxa including Vulnerable Marine Ecosystem indicator taxa such as sponges, cold-water corals, and stalked crinoids. Seabed terrain analysis of multibeam echosounder data showed species varied significantly along this transect in response to local geomorphological variability (R2adj = 31%, p < 0.0001), with changes in seafloor relief and substrata driving species composition over the seamount. 14C-calibrated and 230Th-ages of fossil corals (Desmophyllum dianthus) collected by Van Veen grabs 1517 m deep showed corals thrived on the seamount ∼24 ka BP and ∼17 ka BP. Abrupt excursions between higher and lower radiogenic εNd-composition values of the skeletons suggested that D. dianthus persisted on the seamount over times of southern source water input and detrital sediments from the melting Laurentide Ice Sheet, respectively. In agreement with other studies from the western North Atlantic, living D. dianthus were absent in the contemporary setting at these depths, and suggest a significant re-organisation of the seamount community since the deglacial when ice-rafted debris of carbonates likely resulted in a lower aragonite compensation depth allowing D. dianthus to proliferate at deeper depths. New conductivity-depth-temperature profiling revealed the seamount at these depths is now bathed by highly oxygenated Labrador Sea Water (LSW) formed at high latitudes. Co-analysis of a newly constructed 70-year long time series of temperature and salinity for the Labrador Sea and Bermuda regions revealed a 10-year transit time from high latitudes to Bowditch Seamount. This multidisciplinary approach shows how geomorphology drives local biodiversity patterns, but also how upstream climatic forcing in subpolar regions may influence Bermuda's subtropical seamount ecosystem.

    Pacific Lamprey responses to stressors: Dewatering and electrofishing

    Released July 01, 2024 10:12 EST

    2024, Report

    Theresa L. Liedtke, Lisa K. Weiland, Joe Skalicky, Julie Harris, Monica R. Blanchard, Ann B. Grote, Ann E. Gray, Brian K. Ekstrom

    The Pacific Lamprey Conservation Initiative (PLCI) is a collaboration of Tribes, Federal, and State agencies working together to protect and restore Pacific Lamprey (Entosphenus tridentatus) and other native lampreys (i.e., Lampetra spp.) in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hosts and facilitates the PLCI, and the Columbia River Tribes play a large role in setting conservation goals and defining research needs. The PLCI annually solicits proposals for research and restoration activities, which are reviewed and ranked in collaboration with the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), who annually provides funding to support PLCI priority proposals. This report summarizes two research projects selected through PLCI, and funded under one BPA contract, in support of Pacific Lamprey conservation. The two projects were not topically related apart from a common theme of potential stressors to lampreys and are being reported together because they were combined under one BPA agreement for contracting.

    Reduction of large vessel traffic improves water quality and alters fish habitat-use throughout a large river

    Released July 01, 2024 06:57 EST

    2024, Science of the Total Environment (946)

    Michael J. Spear, Brandon S. Harris, Taylor A. Bookout, Brian Ickes, Kathi Jo Jankowski, Levi E. Solomon, Kristopher A. Maxson, Andrya L. Whitten Harris, Andrew T. Mathis, Sam J. Schaick, Jesse A. Williams, Jason A. DeBoer, Allison W. Lenaerts, Eric C. Hine, John H. Chick, James T. Lamer

    Rivers are increasingly used as superhighways for the continental-scale transportation of freight goods, but the ecological impact of large vessel traffic on river ecosystems is difficult to study. Recently, the temporary maintenance closure of lock and dam systems on the Illinois Waterway (USA) brought commercial vessel traffic to a halt along the river's length, offering a rare opportunity to study the response of the ecosystem before, during, and after an extended pause of this persistent anthropogenic disturbance. We observed improvements in main- and side-channel water quality and a redistribution of fish habitat-use during a months-long, near-complete reduction of large vessel traffic. Over 3600 water quality and 1300 fish community samples indicate that large vessel traffic reduction coincided with a 33 % reduction in turbidity as well as increased use of sampling strata near vessel navigation corridors by sound-sensitive and rheophilic fishes. Gizzard shad (Dorosoma cepedianum), the most abundant species in the system, also expanded their use of these ‘impact’ areas. Though inland waterway transport is an economically- and climate-friendly alternative to trucking and rail for the shipment of freight, our data suggest that intense vessel traffic may have profound physical and biological impacts across a large river. Monitoring and mitigation of ecological impacts of the ongoing expansion of inland waterway transport around the world will be critical to balancing large rivers as both useful navigation corridors and functional ecosystems.

    Side-scan sonar as a tool for measuring fish populations: Current state of the science and future directions

    Released July 01, 2024 06:53 EST

    2024, Fisheries

    Josey Lee Ridgway, John A. Madsen, Jesse Robert Fischer, Robin Calfee, Matthew Ross Acre, David C. Kazyak

    Side-scan sonar (SSS) is a powerful tool that can be used to address many key questions in fisheries science. In principle, SSS uses dual transducers to transmit a narrow-beam, wide-angle acoustic signal as the survey vessel transits an area. The intensity of reflected sound is recorded to generate an image mosaic comprised of benthic substrates and targets in the water column, including organisms such as fish. Although SSS has been around for decades, recent advancements have opened new opportunities to leverage this technology to directly measure fish populations. In this paper, we review the current state of the science and identify opportunities to further refine SSS for fisheries applications.

    CoastSeg: An accessible and extendable hub for satellite-derived-shoreline (SDS) detection and mapping

    Released July 01, 2024 06:36 EST

    2024, Journal of Open Source Software (9)

    Sharon Fitzpatrick, Daniel Buscombe, Jonathan Warrick, Mark Alan Lundine, Kilian Vos

    CoastSeg is an interactive browser-based program that aims to broaden the adoption of satellite-derived shoreline (SDS) detection and coastal landcover mapping workflows among coastal scientists and coastal resource management practitioners. SDS is a sub-field of coastal sciences that aims to detect and post-process a time-series of shoreline locations from publicly available satellite imagery. CoastSeg is a python package installed via pip into a conda environment that serves as an API for building custom SDS workflows. CoastSeg also provides full SDS workflow implementations via jupyter notebooks and python scripts that call functions and classes in the core CoastSeg API for specific workflows. Two fully functioning SDS workflows are already provided, and more could be added by collaborators in the SDS software community. All API codes, notebooks, scripts, and documentation are hosted on the CoastSeg GitHub repository.

    Use of Doppler velocity radars to monitor and predict debris and flood wave velocities and travel times in post-wildfire basins

    Released June 29, 2024 09:21 EST

    2024, Journal of Hydrology X (24)

    John Fulton, Nicholas Graff Hall, Laura A. Hempel, J.J. Gourley, Mark F. Henneberg, Michael S. Kohn, William H. Farmer, William H. Asquith, Daniel Wasielewski, Andrew S. Stecklein, Amanullah Mommandi, Aziz Khan

    The magnitude and timing of extreme events such as debris and floodflows (collectively referred to as floodflows) in post-wildfire basins are difficult to measure and are even more difficult to predict. To address this challenge, a sensor ensemble consisting of noncontact, ground-based (near-field), Doppler velocity (velocity) and pulsed (stage or gage height) radars, rain gages, and a redundant radio communication network was leveraged to monitor flood wave velocities, to validate travel times, and to compliment observations from NEXRAD weather radar. The sensor ensemble (DEbris and Floodflow Early warNing System, DEFENS) was deployed in Waldo Canyon, Pike National Forest, Colorado, USA, which was burned entirely (100 percent burned) by the Waldo Canyon fire during the summer of 2012 (MTBS, 2020).

    Surface velocity, stage, and precipitation time series collected during the DEFENS deployment on 10 August 2015 were used to monitor and predict flood wave velocities and travel times as a function of stream discharge (discharge; streamflow). The 10 August 2015 event exhibited spatial and temporal variations in rainfall intensity and duration that resulted in a discharge equal to 5.01 cubic meters per second (m3/s). Discharge was estimated post-event using a slope-conveyance indirect discharge method and was verified using velocity radars and the probability concept algorithm. Mean flood wave velocities – represented by the kinematic celerity (𝑐𝑘 = 2.619 𝑚𝑒𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑠 𝑝𝑒𝑟 𝑠𝑒𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑑, m/s ± 0.556 𝑝𝑒𝑟𝑐𝑒𝑛𝑡) and dynamic celerity (𝑐𝑑 = 3.533 m/s ± 0.181 𝑝𝑒𝑟𝑐𝑒𝑛𝑡) and their uncertainties were computed. L-moments were computed to establish probability density functions (PDFs) and associated statistics for each of the at-a-section hydraulic parameters to serve as a workflow for implementing alert networks in hydrologically similar basins that lack data.

    Measured flood wave velocities and travel times agreed well with predicted values. Absolute percent differences between predicted and measured flood wave velocities ranged from 1.6 percent to 49 percent and varied with water slope, hydraulic radius, and depth. The kinematic celerity was a better predictor for steep slopes and wide flood plains associated with the Upper Waldo and Middle Waldo radar streamgages; whereas, the dynamic celerity was a better surrogate for shallow slopes and incised channels such as the Lower Waldo radar streamgage.

    The method demonstrates the potential extensibility of a post-wildfire warning system by (1) leveraging multiple systems (i.e., weather radar, near-field velocity and stage radars, and rain gages) for accurate and timely warnings of debris and floodflows, (2) establishing an order of operations to site, install, and operate near-field radars and conventional rain gages to record floodflows, forecast travel times, and document geomorphic change in this basin and hydrologically similar basins that lack data, and (3) communicating data operationally with the Colorado Department of Transportation engineering staff, National Weather Service forecasters, and emergency managers.

    Characterising, quantifying, and accessing eruption source parameters of explosive volcanic eruptions for operational simulation of tephra dispersion: A current view and future perspectives

    Released June 29, 2024 07:01 EST

    2024, Bulletin of Volcanology (86)

    Samantha Engwell, Larry G. Mastin, Contanza Bonadonna, Sara Barsotti, Natalia Irma Deligne, Bergrun A. Oladottir

    Eruption source parameters (ESPs) are crucial for characterising volcanic eruptions and are essential inputs to numerical models used for hazard assessment. Key ESPs of explosive volcanic eruptions include plume height, mass eruption rate, eruption duration, and grain-size distribution. Some of these ESPs can be directly observed during an eruption, but others are difficult to measure in real-time, or indeed, accurately and precisely quantify afterwards. Estimates of ESPs for eruptions that cannot be observed, for example, due to the remote location of a volcano or poor weather conditions, are often defined using expert judgement and data from past eruptions, both from the volcano of interest and analogue volcanoes farther afield. Analysis of such information is time intensive and difficult, particularly during eruption response. These difficulties have resulted in the production of datasets to aid quick identification of ESPs prior to or during an eruption for use in operational response settings such as those at volcano observatories and Volcanic Ash Advisory Centres. These resources include the Mastin et al. (2009a) ESP dataset and the Catalogue of Icelandic Volcanoes and European Catalogue of Volcanoes aviation tables. Here, we review and compare these resources, which take different approaches to assigning ESPs. We identify future areas for development of these resources, highlighting the need for frequent updates as more knowledge of volcanic activity is gained and as modelling capabilities and requirements change.

    Reach-scale mapping of surface flow velocities from thermal images acquired by an uncrewed aircraft system along the Sacramento River, California, USA

    Released June 29, 2024 06:53 EST

    2024, Water (16)

    Paul J. Kinzel, Carl J. Legleiter, Christopher L. Gazoorian

    An innovative payload containing a sensitive mid-wave infrared camera was flown on an uncrewed aircraft system (UAS) to acquire thermal imagery along a reach of the Sacramento River, California, USA. The imagery was used as input for an ensemble particle image velocimetry (PIV) algorithm to produce near-continuous maps of surface flow velocity along a reach approximately 1 km in length. To assess the accuracy of PIV velocity estimates, in situ measurements of flow velocity were obtained with an acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP). ADCP measurements were collected along pre-planned cross-section lines within the area covered by the imagery. The PIV velocities showed good agreement with the depth-averaged velocity measured by the ADCP, with 

    The National Ocean Biodiversity Strategy

    Released June 28, 2024 07:02 EST

    2024, Report

    Gabrielle Canonico, J. Emmett Duffy, Masha Edmonson, Katie Fillingham, Abigail Benson, Kelsey Bisson, Amanda Demopoulos, Beth Hinchey, Katsumi Matsumoto, Chris Meyer, James Price, Elaine Shen, Woody Turner, Mike Weise, Andrea Vander Woude, Lauren Wenzel

    President Biden has been clear that the ocean is central to life on Earth. As he has proclaimed, “the ocean powers millions of jobs; feeds and sustains us; and is a rejuvenating source of inspiration, exploration, and recreation.” The Biden-Harris Administration has worked hard to fulfill the President’s goal to protect and conserve at least 30% of U.S. waters by 2030. The ocean faces increased threats from warming, overfishing, increased acidity, and loss of biodiversity. It is now more important than ever to sustain the many benefits that the ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes provide, including food, a favorable climate, recreation, physical and mental health, and for many, a sense of cultural identity. Ocean life represents an irreplaceable heritage, the foundation of a habitable planet, and a vast trove of resources. Keeping our ocean healthy requires reliable information on the changing status of these living organisms, the drivers of biodiversity change, and options for effectively addressing those drivers. Over 2 million species are estimated to live in the ocean, yet only about 240,000 species have been described by scientists. Most of the ocean’s benefits result from those diverse species interacting with one another and the environment they create. To protect and conserve the ocean, we as a nation need to make better use of existing knowledge and prioritize acquiring new biodiversity knowledge to enable better policy and management decisions. The ability to monitor ocean species and habitats has expanded dramatically over the past decade, with innovations in technology, genomics, taxonomy, big data management and sharing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Yet large fractions of the U.S. ocean remain almost unknown. The National Ocean Biodiversity Strategy (strategy) reflects the urgent need to leverage these advances. The goals of this strategy must be guided by the nation’s diverse voices and ways of knowing, in order to maximize effective and equitable stewardship of the ocean’s diverse life and its benefits to people. The strategy is intended as a guiding document for government to advance three overarching goals:

    ● Goal 1: Drive delivery of ocean biodiversity knowledge at the national scale. Objectives include developing an Implementation Plan for achieving the strategy’s three goals; establishing a coordination mechanism to manage the implementation; and documenting gaps in biodiversity knowledge and the benefits of ocean biodiversity to people and economies.

    ● Goal 2: Strengthen tools and institutions to deliver ocean biodiversity knowledge. Objectives include establishing a robust information pipeline to support indicators and dynamic maps of ocean biodiversity, from the coasts to the deep sea. This pipeline should include expanded observing systems and comprehensive data management; science and technology solutions to accelerate the availability of biodiversity information; and plans to leverage previous investments to rebuild and expand the nation’s human capital and infrastructure to sustain foundational taxonomy and biodiversity science.

    ● Goal 3: Protect, conserve, restore, and sustainably use ocean biodiversity. Objectives include expanding the collection, delivery, and use of biodiversity knowledge to inform actions that advance ocean protection, conservation, restoration, and sustainable development. Government should lead in establishing and incentivizing diverse partnerships across scales and sectors to implement those actions and should educate and involve the public to discover and value the nation’s diverse ocean life. Achieving these goals will require commitments across society: new federal and private investments, coordination across sectors to address climate and equity challenges, and engagement of Indigenous Knowledge holders and frontline communities as full partners throughout planning and implementation. The Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology (SOST) IWG-Biodiversity will begin developing an Implementation Plan to describe and direct specific actions to implement the strategy. Successful implementation of the strategy will harmonize and expand collection and delivery of timely knowledge on ocean life to all of society. The strategy will also enable evidence-based management and protection of the ocean. Advancing the strategy will build human and institutional capital and partnerships that support both existing mandates and new needs to rebuild and sustain biodiversity, achieve healthy ocean ecosystems, and manage living resources. Implementing the strategy will deliver knowledge for monitoring, modeling, forecasting, and assessments that support food security, public health, and cultural values, and that more effectively protect, conserve, and restore nature.

    Coyote use of prairie dog colonies is most frequent in areas used by American badgers

    Released June 28, 2024 06:52 EST

    2024, Journal of Mammalogy

    Rebecca Windell, Larissa L. Bailey, Travis Livieri, David A. Eads, Dean E. Biggins, Stewart Breck

    The consequences of intraguild predation on vulnerable subordinate species are an important consideration in the recovery of endangered species. In prairie ecosystems, coyotes (Canis latrans) are the primary predator of endangered black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes; hereafter, ferrets) and presumably compete for prairie dog (Cynomys spp.) prey. Coyote predation of ferrets is thought to occur at night when ferrets are active aboveground; however, the apparent source of competition, diurnal prairie dogs, are belowground and inaccessible to coyotes at this time, presenting a perplexing temporal mismatch between actual and expected times that coyotes and ferrets come into conflict. Our study used remote wildlife cameras, occupancy models, and overlap of circadian activity patterns to investigate how landscape features, prairie dog colony attributes, and attraction to sympatric species, i.e., American badgers (Taxidea taxus; hereafter, badgers) and lagomorphs (cottontail rabbits and jackrabbits) influence Coyote use of prairie dog colonies and potential Coyote–ferret interactions. We first evaluated Coyote use (i.e., occupancy) between prairie dog colonies and surrounding available grasslands, finding that coyotes whose home ranges include prairie dog colonies used colonies nearly twice as much as surrounding grasslands. Next, we investigated biotic and abiotic factors that may influence Coyote use and frequency of use (i.e., detection probability) on prairie dog colonies. We found high Coyote use across all areas on prairie dog colonies; however, their frequency of use increased in areas that were also used by badgers. High overlap between Coyote and badger activity patterns (81%) further supports the spatial use patterns revealed by our occupancy analysis, and badgers and coyotes are known to form hunting associations. Interspecific competition and overlapping patterns of resource use between badgers and ferrets have been documented in previous studies; our study supports these findings and suggests that Coyote attraction to badger activity may influence Coyote–ferret interactions.

    Total phosphorus and suspended-sediment concentrations and loads from two main tributaries to Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon, 2014–20

    Released June 27, 2024 09:16 EST

    2024, Open-File Report 2024-1034

    Liam N. Schenk, Caelan Simeone

    Total phosphorus (TP) and suspended-sediment concentrations (SSC) and loads were computed at two U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) streamgages in the upper Klamath River Basin on the Sprague (USGS site ID 11501000) and Williamson (USGS site ID 11502500) Rivers using high temporal resolution turbidity and streamflow data to develop surrogate regression models. Regression models were updated and validated for TP at the Williamson River site, and additional data improved a prior published TP model, increasing the coefficient of determination (R2) from 0.73 to 0.88. A new TP regression model was developed for the Sprague River site using 2 years of data and showed promising results with an R2 of 0.93. Suspended-sediment concentration (SSC) surrogate models were also updated at these sites using a longer period of record than the TP models and improved characterization of sediment transport conditions at these monitoring sites.

    Computations of TP loads were compared to the annual loading capacity dictated by the total maximum daily load (TMDL) for Upper Klamath Lake and showed that the combined TP load of the Williamson and Sprague Rivers approaches the annual loading capacity in water years with high annual streamflow. TP loads were also compared to loads computed by the Klamath Tribes using a long-term dataset and a regression and interpolation algorithm (RIA). The comparison showed that the two methods report similar annual loads, with the surrogate regression method generally reporting lower loads than the RIA, and the RIA annual loads falling within the range of uncertainty of the surrogate regression model results. Determining the effect of habitat and stream restoration on basin-scale TP and suspended-sediment loading is challenging using the surrogate regression method at these sites given the short period of record that TP and suspended-sediment load (SSL) data are available. However, long-term analysis by the Klamath Tribes in their larger monitoring network could provide insight into the impact of restoration at smaller spatial scales compared to the basin-wide assessment produced in this study.

    Geographic principles applied to population dynamics: A spatially interpolated integrated population model

    Released June 27, 2024 07:24 EST

    2024, Methods in Ecology and Evolution

    Brian G. Prochazka, Peter S. Coates, Shawn T. O'Neil, Shawn P. Espinosa, Cameron L. Aldridge

    1. A major impediment to wildlife conservation and management, from a quantitative perspective, is dealing with high degrees of uncertainty associated with population estimates. Integrated population models (IPMs) can help alleviate that challenge, but they are often limited to narrow spatial or temporal windows owing to the financial and logistical burdens of acquiring requisite datasets. To expand the spatiotemporal scope of practical IPM implementation, we developed a novel method that expresses demographic relatedness among sampled and unsampled locations using geographic principles of spatial autocorrelation.
    2. We interpolated demographic parameters at unsampled locations using parameter estimates from data-informed locations. Errors attributable to the interpolative process were corrected using a joint likelihood and locally recorded count data (‘cheaper’ and broadly distributed). We evaluated the spatially interpolated IPM (SIIPM) for precision and accuracy under variable levels of spatial autocorrelation using simulated data and a Leave-One-Out Cross-Validation (LOOCV) technique. Conventional IPMs and state-space models (SSM) were fit to the same simulated datasets to provide a comparative assessment of the novel method. In a final, empirical demonstration we fit the SIIPM to data collected from Greater Sage-Grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus; sage-grouse) populations located in Nevada, U.S.A. during 2013–2021.
    3. SIIPMs outperformed conventional IPMs when fit to data possessing moderate-to-high levels of spatial autocorrelation. Under moderate levels of autocorrelation, the average improvement in parameter estimation was 13.6% for survival, 65.3% for recruitment and 23.7% for rate of population change (𝜆). When spatial autocorrelation was low, the SIIPM still outperformed contemporary approaches in areas that were geographically close (<67 km) to sampling locations. Under low autocorrelation-near distance scenarios, we observed SIIPM parameters that were 30.8% (recruitment), 32.5% (𝜆; IPM comparison) and 54.0% (𝜆; SSM comparison) more precise than contemporary models.
    4. Spatial autocorrelation is often assumed but rarely tested when comparing population dynamics across regions of large geographic extent. We demonstrated that SIIPMs can improve precision of species' vital rate estimation when extrapolating model inference beyond populations for which long-term monitoring data exists. Specific to sage-grouse, these results support previous conclusions of broad-scale spatial autocorrelation in population dynamics and a reproductive-survival trade-off previously documented at smaller scales.

    Metal release from manganese nodules in anoxic seawater and implications for deep-sea mining dewatering operations

    Released June 27, 2024 07:08 EST

    2024, ACS ES&T Water (4) 2957-2967

    Yang Xiang, Janelle M. Steffen, Phoebe J. Lam, Amy Gartman, Kira Mizell, Jessica N. Fitzsimmons

    The potential mining of deep-sea polymetallic nodules has been gaining increasing attention due to their enrichment in metals essential for a low-carbon future. To date, there have been few scientific studies concerning the geochemical consequences of dewatered mining waste discharge into the pelagic water column, which can inform best practices in future mining operations. Here, we report the results of laboratory incubation experiments that simulate mining discharge into anoxic waters such as those that overlie potential mining sites in the North Pacific Ocean. We find that manganese nodules are reductively dissolved, with an apparent activation energy of 42.8 kJ mol–1, leading to the release of associated metals in the order manganese > nickel > copper > cobalt > cadmium > lead. The composition of trace metals released during the incubation allows us to estimate a likely trace metal budget from the simulated dewatering waste plume. These estimates suggest that released cobalt and copper are the most enriched trace metals within the plume, up to ∼15 times more elevated than the background seawater. High copper concentrations can be toxic to marine organisms. Future work on metal toxicity to mesopelagic communities could help us better understand the ecological effects of these fluxes of trace metals.

    Detection of periodic peaks in Karenia brevis concentration consistent with the time-delay logistic equation

    Released June 27, 2024 07:07 EST

    2024, Science of the Total Environment (946)

    Bruce E. Kurtz, James E. Landmeyer, James K. Culter

    The logistic equation models single-species population growth with a sigmoid curve that begins as exponential and ends with an asymptotic approach to a final population determined by natural system carrying capacity. But the population of a natural system often does not stabilize as it approaches carrying capacity. Instead, it exhibits periodic change, sometimes with very large amplitudes. The time-delay modification of the logistic equation accounts for this behavior by connecting the present rate of population growth to conditions at an earlier time. The periodic change in population with time can progress from a monotonic approach to the carrying capacity; to oscillation around the carrying capacity; to limit-cycle periodic change; and, finally, to chaotic change.

    Boulders modulate hillslope-channel coupling in the northern Alaska Range

    Released June 27, 2024 07:02 EST

    2024, Geology

    Adrian Bender, Richard O. Lease

    Active orogens balance tectonic rock uplift with erosion, commonly via river incision coupled to landslide denudation of “threshold” hillslopes, but sediment’s role in this feedback is unclear. We report fluvial geometry, and sediment size, prevalence, and mobility across two ≤600-m-tall gneissic northern Alaska Range anticlines that sustain steep landslide-clad hillslopes but differ 10× in late Pleistocene−recent rock uplift rate. Enigmatically, the river steepens and narrows prominently across the fold experiencing slow surface uplift (∼0.5 mm/yr) but remains low-gradient and wide downstream across the anticline undergoing rapid differential rock uplift (∼5 mm/yr). Frequent bedload mobilization across both folds implies fluvial equilibration to sediment transport despite discrepant channel forms and similarly prevalent hillslope-derived boulders. Boulder prevalence correlates significantly with channel slope and width on the slowly uplifting anticline, but weakly on the rapidly uplifting anticline. Strong correlations across the tectonically quiescent anticline may reflect local incision-suppressing boulder aggradation that forces the channel to steepen and narrow, consistent with field observations. Conversely, weak correlations across the rapidly uplifting anticline imply that boulders may modulate expected tectonic channel adjustment by preferentially aggrading to subdue slope, and deflecting frequently mobile bedload to drive lateral erosion that maintains channel width, steepens adjacent hillslopes, and perpetuates hillslope-channel coupling. Hence, hillslope-derived boulders may occupy important roles in regulating feedbacks between river incision and landslide erosion that differ fundamentally at high and low tectonic rates.

    Quantitative microbial risk assessment with microbial source tracking for mixed fecal sources contaminating recreational river waters, Iowa, USA

    Released June 27, 2024 06:53 EST

    2024, Environmental Science & Technology Water (4) 2789-2802

    Tucker R. Burch, Joel P. Stokdyk, Aaron Firnstahl, Sarah Opelt, Rachel Cook, Joe Heffron, Amanda Brown, Claire E. Hruby, Mark A. Borchardt

    Fecal contamination of surface water can cause acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI) among recreators. AGI risk varies among human, livestock, and wildlife fecal sources, but the prevalence of individual sources is unknown for most recreational sites. We estimated AGI risk for six sites near Des Moines, Iowa, using quantitative microbial risk assessment combined with microbial source-tracking (MST). Water samples (n = 147) collected over two years were tested for 36 qPCR assays quantifying waterborne pathogens and MST markers specific to avian, bovine, human, and porcine fecal sources. Average swimming risk across all sites was 5 (95% CI: 0.0030–142) to 67 (16–215) AGI cases per 1,000 recreators. Individual fecal sources were rarely associated with swimming exposures where risk was >36 AGI cases per 1,000 recreators; most high-risk exposures were associated with simultaneous occurrence of multiple fecal sources. Iowa’s beach action value for Escherichia coli (235 MPN/100 mL) identified >90% of high-risk exposures at five of six sites, so was generally protective of public health in this setting. For sites influenced by mixed fecal sources, results illustrate that identifying a single dominant source of risk is less important than recognizing the number of unique fecal sources that impact AGI risk.

    Satellite telemetry reveals high-use internesting areas and international foraging extent for loggerhead turtles tagged in southeast Florida, USA

    Released June 27, 2024 06:34 EST

    2024, Endangered Species Research (54) 245-259

    Glenn D. Goodwin, Kristen Hart, Abby C. Evans, Derek A. Burkholder

    Developing conservation strategies for highly migratory marine species relies on understanding their spatial distributions. Nesting populations of female loggerhead (Caretta caretta) turtles typically travel from widely dispersed foraging areas and make use of common internesting areas between nesting events. Protection of these areas is essential to the conservation of this species. In this study, we used satellite tracking and behavioral switching state-space movement modeling to examine the internesting use-areas, migration patterns, and foraging area distribution of a previously uninvestigated nesting loggerhead population in southeast Florida. While these turtles spent much of their internesting period close to their nesting site, only 17.4% of the identified internesting area is within the boundaries currently designated under the US Endangered Species Act as critical loggerhead ‘nearshore reproductive habitat’. Additionally, 72% of turtles in this study (17 of 21) that were tracked to foraging grounds have foraging home ranges outside of the USA, with 62% of turtles (n = 13) in The Bahamas. Considering the proximity of their internesting areas to a large human population center and their largely international foraging distribution, this population could benefit from expanding federally designated critical habitat, along with developing collaborative conservation strategies between the USA and The Bahamas.

    Two-dimensional hydraulic model for the Chain of Lakes on the Fox River near McHenry, Illinois

    Released June 25, 2024 15:43 EST

    2024, Scientific Investigations Report 2024-5056

    Charles V. Cigrand, Michael R. Ament

    Forecasts of flows entering and leaving the Chain of Lakes on the Fox River in northeastern Illinois are critical information to water-resource managers operating the Stratton Dam at McHenry, Illinois. These managers determine the optimal operation of the Stratton Dam at McHenry, Ill., to manage Chain of Lakes pool levels and to help mitigate flooding in the Chain of Lakes system. In 2020, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources–Office of Water Resources (IDNR–OWR) began a cooperative study to develop a system to enable engineers and planners to simulate and communicate water-surface elevations and flows and to proactively prepare for runoff events forecasted for the Chain of Lakes. The hydraulic model described in this report may be helpful to the IDNR–OWR for optimizing the operation of the Stratton Dam and includes the implementation of three newly installed torque-tube crest gates that became operational in 2020.

    The hydraulic model for the Chain of Lakes was developed using the Hydrologic Engineering Center–River Analysis System program (version 6.5). The hydraulic model was used to simulate water-surface elevations and flows through the 18.5-mile Chain of Lakes system to 1.7 miles downstream from the Stratton Dam. Five USGS streamgages within the study area were used as reference points for model calibration and initial water-surface elevations for beginning a simulation. The hydraulic model was calibrated to three runoff events that incorporated the design specifications and observed gate operations of the Stratton Dam; furthermore, the hydraulic model simulated a validation event and a substantial flooding event during July 2017. The July 2017 event predated the torque-tube crest gate installation but nevertheless tested the performance of the model for such a substantial event. The model simulation results were a good fit to observed records at USGS streamgages with simulated peak water-surface elevations within −0.36–0.15 foot of observed events. The hydraulic model was then implemented into a forecast workflow that streamlines implementation of model inputs and documents the model outputs tailored to IDNR–OWS Stratton Dam operations and interpretations of simulated water-surface elevations and flows.

    Population and spatial dynamics of desert bighorn sheep in Grand Canyon during an outbreak of respiratory pneumonia

    Released June 25, 2024 09:59 EST

    2024, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution (12)

    Clinton W. Epps, P. Brandon Holton, Ryan J. Monello, Rachel S. Crowhurst, Sarah Mccrimmon Gaulke, William Michael Janousek, Tyler G. Creech, Tabitha Graves

    Introduction: Terrestrial species in riverine ecosystems face unique constraints leading to diverging patterns of population structure, connectivity, and disease dynamics. Desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) in Grand Canyon National Park, a large native population in the southwestern USA, offer a unique opportunity to evaluate population patterns and processes in a remote riverine system with ongoing anthropogenic impacts. We integrated non-invasive, invasive, and citizen-science methods to address questions on abundance, distribution, disease status, genetic structure, and habitat fragmentation.

    Methods: We compiled bighorn sightings collected during river trips by park staff, commercial guides, and private citizens from 2000–2018 and captured bighorn in 2010–2016 to deploy GPS collars and test for disease. From 2011–2015, we non-invasively collected fecal samples and genotyped them at 9–16 microsatellite loci for individual identification and genetic structure. We used assignment tests to evaluate genetic structure and identify subpopulations, then estimated gene flow and recent migration to evaluate fragmentation. We used spatial capture-recapture to estimate annual population size, distribution, and trends after accounting for spatial variation in detection with a resource selection function model.

    Results and discussion: From 2010–2018, 3,176 sightings of bighorn were reported, with sightings of 56–145 bighorn annually on formal surveys. From 2012–2016, bighorn exhibiting signs of respiratory disease were observed along the river throughout the park. Of 25 captured individuals, 56% were infected by Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae, a key respiratory pathogen, and 81% were recently exposed. Pellet sampling for population estimation from 2011–2015 yielded 1,250 genotypes and 453 individuals. We detected 6 genetic clusters that exhibited mild to moderate genetic structure (FST 0.022–0.126). The river, distance, and likely topography restricted recent gene flow, but we detected cross-river movements in one section via genetic recaptures, no subpopulation appeared completely isolated, and genetic diversity was among the highest reported. Recolonization of one large stretch of currently empty habitat appears limited by the constrained topology of this system. Annual population estimates ranged 536–552 (95% CrI range 451–647), lamb:ewe ratios varied, and no significant population decline was detected. We provide a multi-method sampling framework useful for sampling other wildlife in remote riverine systems.

    Representation of surface-water flows using Gradient-Related Discharge in an Everglades Network

    Released June 25, 2024 09:45 EST

    2024, Scientific Investigations Report 2024-5041

    E. Swain, T. Adams

    The Everglades Depth Estimation Network interpolates water-level gage data to produce daily water-level elevations for the Everglades in south Florida. These elevations were used to estimate flow vectors (gradients and directions) and volumetric flow rates using the Gradient-Related Discharge in an Everglades Network (GARDEN) application developed by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Flow rates in both the east-west and north-south directions were computed on a 400-meter square grid using modified parameters in the Manning’s equation. The frictional resistance parameter in the Manning’s equation was calibrated to measured flow rates at coastal creeks fed by Everglades Depth Estimation Network boundary flows. Levees and other features that act as barriers to flow were defined as “no-flow” grid cells where vectors were set to zero.

    The flow volume magnitudes were calibrated with 2020 daily values of coastal river flows, and verification was performed using 2021 data. Within a given day, the measured coastal river flows fluctuate more than the GARDEN boundary flows because of tidal and wind forcings. Because the GARDEN boundary flows were the upstream water source for the coastal rivers, calibration focused on matching average daily flow volumes rather than daily fluctuations. The Pearson’s correlation coefficient is 0.766 for the 2020 calibration period and 0.566 for the 2021 verification period.

    Applying GARDEN to periods with hydraulic-control-structure releases allows the propagation of structure flows to be seen in the daily flow-vector maps along with the multiday response of flows farther downgradient. Flow vectors may be overestimated near control structures because of difficulties in resolving the water gradient downstream from the structure. Flow vectors farther from the structure are more accurate than those near the structure.

    Bibliography of water-quality studies in Gateway National Recreation Area, New York and New Jersey

    Released June 25, 2024 08:30 EST

    2024, Open-File Report 2024-1035

    Philip Savoy, Maria Marionkova, Christopher Schubert

    The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) provided technical assistance to the National Park Service (NPS) as part of the USGS-NPS Water-Quality Partnership, by gathering references related to water-quality research conducted in the three units of Gateway National Recreation Area (GATE): Jamaica Bay and Staten Island in New York, and Sandy Hook in New Jersey. As part of this effort, a literature search was performed to compile previous water-quality research conducted within the boundaries of GATE. The resulting bibliography is meant to assist GATE resource managers in understanding the extent of available data and developing plans to close data gaps.

    Understanding sea otter population change in southeast Alaska

    Released June 25, 2024 07:14 EST

    2024, Fact Sheet 2024-3007

    Joseph Michael Eisaguirre, Toshio D. Matsuoka, George G. Esslinger, Benjamin P Weitzman, Paul A. Schuette, Jamie N. Womble


    The Southeast Alaska (SE) stock of northern sea otters (Enhydra lutris kenyoni) ranges from Cape Yakataga on the north to the Dixon Entrance on the south. During the maritime fur trade, sea otters were commercially harvested to near extinction in SE for their pelts and were presumed unlikely to naturally repopulate the region.

    Unified 200 kyr paleohydrologic history of the Southern Great Basin: Death Valley, Searles Valley, Owens Valley and the Devils Hole cave

    Released June 25, 2024 07:10 EST

    2024, Quaternary Science Reviews (336)

    Tim Lowenstein, Kristian Olson, Brian W. Stewart, David McGee, Justin Stroup, Adam M. Hudson, Kathleen Wendt, Mark Peaple, Sarah Feakins, Ronald Spencer, Tripti Bhattacharya, Steven P. Lundblad, Ronald Litwin

    We present a hydroclimate synthesis of the southern Great Basin over the last two glacial-interglacial cycles focused on paleolakes in Death Valley (core DV93-1), Searles Valley (core SLAPP-SRLS17), Owens Valley (core OL92), and the Devils Hole cave. There is close agreement between the occurrence of lakes in Death Valley and the height of the water table in the Devils Hole (50 km east of Death Valley) during the last 200 kyr. Death Valley and Devils Hole have adjacent, partly overlapping, drainage areas and most likely did over the last 200 kyr. When the water table in the Devils Hole was above the threshold level of ∼5 m higher than the modern, permanent lakes existed in Death Valley. At water table elevations less than 5 m above the modern, ephemeral lakes, saline pans, and mudflats occurred in Death Valley. The close temporal agreement between inferred paleoenvironments from the sediments in the Death Valley core and the paleowater table elevation in Devils Hole suggests a common forcing and provides insight into climate variability in the southwestern United States over the last 200 kyr. Owens Valley and Searles Valley, which derived inflow waters from the Sierra Nevada via the Owens River, contain paleohydrologic records which match those from Death Valley and the Devils Hole in terms of timing and direction of water availability over the last 200 kyr, indicating a similar paleohydrologic history for the entire southern Great Basin region. Near the end of Marine Oxygen Isotope Stage 6 (MIS 6), 140 ka - 130 ka, Lake Manly in Death Valley became shallow and hypersaline, and ultimately dried up at 127.1 ka ±4.3 ka. The transition from glacial to interglacial vegetation, which involved the loss of Juniperus pollen and an increase in Quercus (oak) pollen, occurred in Death Valley core DV93-1 at 131.3 ka ±4.0 ka. Following the glacial to interglacial pollen shift, a large alkaline lake formed in Death Valley. Similar conditions (freshwater, high productivity, and a mixed, deeply oxygenated water column indicated by biomarkers) existed in Searles Lake between 135.3 +2.7/-2.9 ka and 130.1+2.7/-2.6 ka, also following the juniper-oak pollen transition. Sr isotopes in calcite and sulfate minerals (gypsum, glauberite, thenardite), and the rare occurrence of the sodium carbonate mineral northupite with a low 87Sr/86Sr ratio in core DV93-1, together with organic geochemical proxies from Searles core SLAPP-SRLS17, all suggest that at this time, late MIS 6 Lake Manly in Death Valley received alkaline water via spillover from Searles Valley into Death Valley through Panamint Valley. The hydrologic connection between Searles Valley, Panamint Valley, and Death Valley at Termination II (130 ka) is documented here for this system of pluvial lakes for the first time. The Devils Hole water table decreased to +6.5 m at 140.8 ka ±3.2 ka, rose briefly to +8 m at 137.6 ka ±0.5 ka, and then dropped 8 m by 120.36 ka ±0.45 ka, when it reached an elevation similar to the modern. The pluvial lakes in Death Valley and Searles Valley may have coincided with the rise of the Devils Hole water table at ∼137.6 ka ±0.5 ka years ago, although the age models for core DV93-1 and core SLAPP-SLRS17 during the end of MIS 6 carry large uncertainties.

    In situ lung dust analysis by automated Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy with Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy: A method for assessing inorganic particles in tissue from coal miners

    Released June 25, 2024 07:01 EST

    2024, Archives of Pathology (148) e154-e169

    Emily A. Sarver, C. Keles, Heather A. Lowers, L. Zell-Baran, Leonard H. T. Go, J. Hua, C. Cool, Cecile Rose, F.H. Green, K. S. Almberg, R. A. Cohen


    Overexposure to respirable coal mine dust can cause severe lung disease including progressive massive fibrosis (PMF). Field emission scanning electron microscopy with energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (FESEM-EDS) has been used for in situ lung dust particle analysis for evaluation of disease etiology. Automating such work can reduce time, costs, and user bias.


    To develop and test an automated FESEM-EDS method for in situ analysis of inorganic particles in coal miner lung tissue.


    We programmed an automated FESEM-EDS procedure to collect particle size and elemental data, using lung tissue from 10 underground coal miners with PMF and 4 control cases. A statistical clustering approach was used to establish classification criteria based on particle chemistry. Data were correlated to PMF/non-PMF areas of the tissue, using corresponding brightfield microscopy images. Results for each miner case were compared with a separate corresponding analysis of particles recovered following tissue digestion.


    In situ analysis of miner tissues showed higher particle number densities than controls and densities were generally higher in PMF than non-PMF areas. Particle counts were typically dominated by aluminum silicates with varying percentages of silica. Compared to digestion results for the miner tissues, in situ results indicated lower density of particles (number per tissue volume), larger size, and a lower ratio of silica to total silicates—probably due to frequent particle clustering in situ.


    Automated FESEM-EDS analysis of lung dust is feasible in situ and could be applied to a larger set of mineral dust–exposed lung tissues to investigate specific histologic features of PMF and other dust-related occupational diseases.

    Application of normalized radar backscatter and hyperspectral data to augment rangeland vegetation fractional classification

    Released June 25, 2024 06:36 EST

    2024, Remote Sensing (16)

    Matthew B. Rigge, Brett Bunde, Kory Postma, Simon Oliver, Norman Mueller

    Rangeland ecosystems in the western United States are vulnerable to climate change, fire, and anthropogenic disturbances, yet classification of rangeland areas remains difficult due to frequently sparse vegetation canopies that increase the influence of soils and senesced vegetation, the overall abundance of senesced vegetation, heterogeneity of life forms, and limited ground-based data. The Rangeland Condition Monitoring Assessment and Projection (RCMAP) project provides fractional vegetation cover maps across western North America using Landsat imagery and artificial intelligence from 1985 to 2023 at yearly time-steps. The objectives of this case study are to apply hyperspectral data from several new data streams, including Sentinel Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation (EMIT), to the RCMAP model. We run a series of five tests (Landsat-base model, base + SAR, base + EMIT, base + SAR + EMIT, and base + Landsat NEXT [LNEXT] synthesized from EMIT) over a difficult-to-classify region centered in southwest Montana, USA. Our testing results indicate a clear accuracy benefit of adding SAR and EMIT data to the RCMAP model, with a 7.5% and 29% relative increase in independent accuracy (R2), respectively. The ability of SAR data to observe vegetation height allows for more accurate classification of vegetation types, whereas EMIT’s continuous characterization of the spectral response boosts discriminatory power relative to multispectral data. Our spectral profile analysis reveals the enhanced classification power with EMIT is related to both the improved spectral resolution and representation of the entire domain as compared to legacy Landsat. One key finding is that legacy Landsat bands largely miss portions of the electromagnetic spectrum where separation among important rangeland targets exists, namely in the 900–1250 nm and 1500–1780 nm range. Synthesized LNEXT data include these gaps, but the reduced spectral resolution compared to EMIT results in an intermediate 18% increase in accuracy relative to the base run. Here, we show the promise of enhanced classification accuracy using EMIT data, and to a smaller extent, SAR.

    Mammalian lures monitored with time-lapse cameras increase detection of pythons and other snakes

    Released June 24, 2024 09:31 EST

    2024, PeerJ (12)

    Marina E. McCampbell, McKayla M. Spencer, Kristen Hart, Gabrielle Link, Andrew J. Watson, Robert A. McCleery


    Enhancing detection of cryptic snakes is critical for the development of conservation and management strategies; yet, finding methods that provide adequate detection remains challenging. Issues with detecting snakes can be particularly problematic for some species, like the invasive Burmese python (Python bivittatus) in the Florida Everglades.


    Using multiple survey methods, we predicted that our ability to detect pythons, larger snakes and all other snakes would be enhanced with the use of live mammalian lures (domesticated rabbits; Oryctolagus cuniculus). Specifically, we used visual surveys, python detection dogs, and time-lapse game cameras to determine if domesticated rabbits were an effective lure.


    Time-lapse game cameras detected almost 40 times more snakes (n = 375, treatment = 245, control = 130) than visual surveys (n = 10). We recorded 21 independent detections of pythons at treatment pens (with lures) and one detection at a control pen (without lures). In addition, we found larger snakes, and all other snakes were 165% and 74% more likely to be detected at treatment pens compared to control pens, respectively. Time-lapse cameras detected almost 40 times more snakes than visual surveys; we did not detect any pythons with python detection dogs.


    Our study presents compelling evidence that the detection of snakes is improved by coupling live mammalian lures with time-lapse game cameras. Although the identification of smaller snake species was limited, this was due to pixel resolution, which could be improved by changing the camera focal length. For larger snakes with individually distinctive patterns, this method could potentially be used to identify unique individuals and thus allow researchers to estimate population dynamics.

    Computationally efficient emulation of spheroidal elastic deformation sources using machine learning models: a Gaussian-process-based approach

    Released June 24, 2024 08:27 EST

    2024, Journal of Geophysical Research: Machine Learning and Computation (1)

    Kyle R. Anderson, Mengyang Gu

    Elastic continuum mechanical models are widely used to compute deformations due to pressure changes in buried cavities, such as magma reservoirs. In general, analytical models are fast but can be inaccurate as they do not correctly satisfy boundary conditions for many geometries, while numerical models are slow and may require specialized expertise and software. To overcome these limitations, we trained supervised machine learning emulators (model surrogates) based on parallel partial Gaussian processes which predict the output of a finite element numerical model with high fidelity but >1,000× greater computational efficiency. The emulators are based on generalized nondimensional forms of governing equations for finite non‐dipping spheroidal cavities in elastic halfspaces. Either cavity volume change or uniform pressure change boundary conditions can be specified, and the models predict both surface displacements and cavity (pore) compressibility. Because of their computational efficiency, using the emulators as numerical model surrogates can greatly accelerate data inversion algorithms such as those employing Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo sampling. The emulators also permit a comprehensive evaluation of how displacements and cavity compressibility vary with geometry and material properties, revealing the limitations of analytical models. Our open‐source emulator code can be utilized without finite element software, is suitable for a wide range of cavity geometries and depths, includes an estimate of uncertainties associated with emulation, and can be used to train new emulators for different source geometries.

    Siting considerations for satellite observation of river discharge

    Released June 24, 2024 06:50 EST

    2024, Water Resources Research (60)

    Jack R. Eggleston, Chris A. Mason, David M. Bjerklie, Michael T. Durand, Robert W. Dudley, Merritt Elizabeth Harlan

    With growing global capability for satellite measurement of river discharge (flow) comes a need to understand and reduce error in satellite-based discharge measurements. Satellite-based discharge estimates are based on measurements of water surface width, elevation, slope, and potentially velocity. Site selection is important for reducing error and uncertainty in both conventional and satellite-based discharge measurements because geomorphic river characteristics have strong control over the relationships between discharge and width, water surface elevation (or depth), slope, and velocity. A large ground-truth data set of 8,445 conventional hydraulic measurements, collected by acoustic Doppler current profilers at 503 stations in the United States, was developed and quality assured to examine correlation between river discharge and water surface width, depth, velocity, and cross-sectional area. A separate database of river surface slope and discharge time-series was developed from paired continuous monitoring stations to examine slope-discharge correlations. Results show that discharge correlates most strongly with velocity, cross-sectional area, depth, width, and slope, in that order. Uncertainty of satellite discharge estimates is affected by observed hydraulic variable and reach-specific variability in observed variable(s) characteristics including range of variability, georegistration accuracy, and stability over time of relationships between discharge and observed hydraulic variable.

    A reproducible manuscript workflow with a Quarto template

    Released June 24, 2024 06:24 EST

    2024, Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management

    Richard A. Erickson, Althea A. Archer, Michael N. Fienen

    Scientists and resource managers increasingly use Markdown-based tools to create reproducible reports and manuscripts. These workflows allow people to use standardized methods that are more reproducible, efficient, and transparent than other standard office tools. We present a Quarto template and demonstrate how this template may be used for a journal, the Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management, in our article. This template may also be readily adapted to other journals that use Microsoft Word-based workflows and for other product types such as annual reports. We also provide a high-level overview of Quarto and other Markdown-based workflows as part of the document. Lastly, we provide examples of some features of the Quarto publishing system that may be helpful for authors when customizing Quarto templates for specific journal formatting requirements and other product types.

    Assessing the vertical accuracy of digital elevation models by quality level and land cover

    Released June 24, 2024 06:15 EST

    2024, Remote Sensing Letters (15) 667-677

    Minoo Han, Nicholas Enwright, Dean B. Gesch, Jason M. Stoker, Jeffrey J. Danielson, Christopher J. Amante

    The vertical accuracy of elevation data in coastal environments is critical because small variations in elevation can affect an area’s exposure to waves, tides, and storm-related flooding. Elevation data contractors typically quantify the vertical accuracy of lidar-derived digital elevation models (DEMs) on a per-project basis to gauge whether the datasets meet quality and accuracy standards. Here, we collated over 5200 contractor elevation checkpoints along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts of the United States that were collected for project-level analyses produced for assessing DEMs acquired for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Three-Dimensional Elevation Program. We used land cover data to quantify non-vegetated vertical accuracy and vegetated vertical accuracy statistics (overall and by point spacing bins) and assessed elevation error by land cover class. We found the non-vegetated vertical accuracy had an overall root mean square error of 6.9 cm and vegetated areas had a 95th percentile vertical error of 22.3 cm. Point spacing was generally positively correlated to elevation accuracy, but sample size limited the ability to interpret results from accuracy by land cover, particularly in wetlands. Based on the specific questions a researcher may be asking, use of literature or fieldwork could assist with enhancing error statistics in underrepresented classes.