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USGS News: Biology
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News about ecosystems, plants, animals, and wildlife health from the USGS.
News about ecosystems, plants, animals, and wildlife health from the USGS.

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Emerging Disease Further Jeopardizes North American Frogs: This tadpole shows signs of severe Perkinsea infection, which causes organ failure.  ​​​​​​​(Credit: William Barichivich, USGS) Frogs and salamanders are currently among the most threatened groups of animals on the planet. The two most common frog diseases, chytridiomycosis and ranavirus infection, are linked to frog population declines worldwide. The new study suggests that that SPI is the third most common infectious disease of frogs. Scientists with the USGS studied 247 frog die-offs in 43 states from 1999 through 2015. The researchers found that SPI caused 21 of the mass mortalities in 10 states spanning from Alaska to Florida, all involving tadpoles. Up to 95 percent of the tadpole populations died during the SPI mortality events. “Amphibians such as frogs are valuable because they serve as pest control by eating insects like mosquitos, and they are food for larger predators,” said Marcos Isidoro Ayza, a USGS scientist, University of Wisconsin-Madison post-doctoral fellow and the lead author of the study. “They’re also exceptional indicators of ecosystem health. Like the proverbial canary in a coal mine, amphibians let us know when something in our environment is going awry.” This photomicrograph shows a liver of a frog with a severe Perkinsea infection.​​​​​​​ (USGS. Public domain.) The SPI die-offs occurred in tadpoles of 11 frog species, including the critically endangered dusky gopher frog in its only remaining breeding locations in Mississippi. Most of the SPI events occurred in states bordering the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. However, SPI was also detected in Alaska, Oregon and Minnesota.  “Habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and disease are among the factors that contribute to amphibian declines,” said Jonathan Sleeman, director of the USGS National Wildlife Health Center. “This study indicates that SPI is an additional disease that can further threaten vulnerable frog populations.” SPI is caused by a tiny one-celled parasitic organism called a protist. The SPI-causing protist, called Perkinsea, is highly resistant to disinfection agents such as common bleach. As a result, it is difficult to prevent the spread of Perkinsea, and SPI is able to reoccur at known locations. “SPI in frogs may be under-diagnosed because it is not a disease for which they are typically screened,” Isidoro Ayza said. “Incorporating routine screening of critical habitats for infected frogs is crucial to help understand the distribution of this destructive disease.” The disease kills tadpoles by causing multi-organ failure, and there is no cure or treatment for SPI at this time. SPI is not known to affect humans or pets. This study was led by the USGS National Wildlife Health Center in collaboration with the USGS Amphibian Research and Monitoring Initiative. For more information about USGS wildlife disease research, please visit the USGS National Wildlife Health Center website. #biology #usgs

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Increases in Wildfire-Caused Erosion Could Impact Water Supply and Quality in the West: As a number of previous peer-reviewed studies have shown, the area burned annually by wildfires has increased in recent decades and is expected to continue to increase this century. Many growing cities and towns rely on water from rivers and reservoirs that originates in watersheds where wildfire and sedimentation are projected to increase. Increased sedimentation could negatively impact water supply and quality for some communities. USGS scientists analyzed a collection of climate, fire and erosion models for 471 large watersheds throughout the western U.S. They found that by 2050, the amount of sediment in more than one-third of watersheds could at least double. In nearly nine-tenths of the watersheds, sedimentation is projected to increase by more than 10 percent. “This is the first forward-looking study of the relationship between climate change, future wildfires and soil erosion, and their effects on ecosystems and watersheds throughout the West,” said Joel Sankey, USGS scientist and lead author of the study. “Findings could be used by communities to identify whether their water resources are especially at risk, and whether they have a suitable watershed management and protection plan in place.” Increased sedimentation may impact water supply by reducing reservoir storage, increasing the need and cost for reservoir maintenance, or increasing costs to treat and deliver water. Water quality may be negatively impacted by increased sediment or increased nutrients and pollutants adsorbed, or attached, to sediment. Potential impacts to aquatic ecosystems range from negative effects on fish habitat to alterations of how a stream moves and flows. “At least 65 percent of the water supply in the West originates in watersheds with fire-prone vegetation,” said Sankey. “So, understanding how changing fire frequency, extent and location will affect watersheds, reservoirs and communities is of great societal importance.” Wildfires can burn away ground cover and vegetation across the landscape, leaving soils exposed and easily erodible by precipitation. In other cases, fires can cause soil surfaces to harden. Instead of the rain soaking into the soil, rainwater and melted snow can rush across these hardened surfaces, gaining enough power to erode loose sediments. This study was done in cooperation with Northern Arizona University, Michigan Tech Research Institute, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Boise State University and the Department of the Interior’s Northwest Climate Science Center. Ash and sedimentation saturating a stream in Las Conchas, New Mexico. (Photo credit: USDA Forest Service.) Potential sediment erosion from a burned slope over the Los Padres reservoir, California. (Photo credit: USDA Forest Service.) Recent wildfire on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. (Credit: Ed Schenk, NPS. Public domain.) #biology #usgs

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Wildfire and Invasive Species Drives Increasing Size and Cost of Public Land Restoration Efforts: The study, recently published in Restoration Ecology, reveals an extensive legacy of land management decisions and provides new insight on strategies to increase future treatment efficacy in an extremely water-limited region. The study’s findings are based on the analysis of data collected for approximately 4,000 land treatments conducted on BLM lands across the Southwest between 1940 and 2010. The study was undertaken by researchers from Northern Arizona University and the U.S. Geological Survey using the Land Treatment Digital Library database. “Examining long-term trends for BLM land treatments offers a good indication of what is happening in the Southwest broadly because the agency manages approximately a quarter of the land area in the region,” said Stella Copeland, lead author and NAU Merriam-Powell Center post-doctoral scholar. “Our findings show that increased use and availability of large datasets can provide important insights about which treatments are most effective and how to contain costs.” The study found land treatments have changed substantially from 1940 to 2010. Early treatments tended to be small in size and made greater use of the non-native seed than current seeding treatments. The use of non-native seed addressed various goals, including providing forage for livestock and rapid soil stabilization following a disturbance. Present-day goals focus more on restoring native plant communities, controlling invasive species, and improving wildlife habitat lost to wildfire and invasive species. The recent focus on wildfire rehabilitation and controlling invasive species generally involves more acreage compared to the projects of the past, which may partially explain the increases in treatment size and costs found by the study. “Given projected increases in wildfire frequency and expansions of nonnative species in the region, the trends underscored by our study are likely to continue,” said Seth Munson, a USGS research ecologist and co-author of the study. “One bright spot is that there is increased interest in developing tools, monitoring strategies and effective responses to these stressors on the landscape. Retrospective analyses like the one in this paper can provide useful directions forward for land management decision-making.”   Bureau of Land Management truck sprays herbicide in southwestern Idaho as part of a restoration effort. (Credit: David Pilliod, USGS. Public domain.) USGS ecologists Molly McCormick (left) and Katie Laushman (right) conducting a seeding experiment that is a part of RAMPS, a new USGS-led initiative to improve restoration outcomes in the Southwest. Seedings such as these are common land treatments on BLM lands.  (Credit: Seth Munson, USGS. Public domain.) Prescribed burn to remove cheatgrass in Izzenhood, Nevada. (Credit: Bureau of Land Management. Public domain.) #biology #usgs

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Public Invitation: USGS La Crosse Science Center Opens Doors for Interactive Experience: Attendees will have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center scientists and learn about research conducted at the La Crosse, Wisconsin, facility. Fish and wildlife-oriented activities will be available for children, and refreshments, including popcorn and lemonade, will be provided. The event is an opportunity to learn about science careers and see how learning in STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, builds the knowledge and problem solving skills needed to find creative solutions for society’s challenges. The USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center has been a member of the La Crosse community since its founding in 1959, and periodically hosts public open house events. “Our science center enjoys the opportunity to show members of the community what we do, how we partner with other federal and state agencies and how to use USGS information as a resource,” said Randy Hines, a USGS biologist at the center. WHAT:          The La Crosse community is invited to an engaging and educational family event at the USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center, a renowned fish, wildlife and Upper Mississippi River ecology science facility. The event is free and open to the public. WHO:            USGS scientists will answer questions, showcase cutting-edge technology and discuss their latest research on wildlife, biology and ecology, focusing especially on Wisconsin and the surrounding Midwest region. WHEN:           Saturday, September 9, 2017, from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. WHERE:         2630 Fanta Reed Road, La Crosse, Wisconsin (map)                       Take the French Island exit (exit 2) off of I-90 and head one mile north, just northwest of La Crosse. DETAILS:  For questions related to the event, please contact Randy Hines at 608-781-6398 or rkhines@usgs.gov. (Public domain.) #biology #usgs

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Public Invitation: Jamestown Science Center Opens Doors for Interactive Experience: Attendees will have the opportunity to meet face-to-face with USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center scientists and learn about research conducted at the Jamestown, North Dakota, facility. Wildlife-oriented activities will be available for children, and refreshments, including cookies and lemonade, will be provided. The USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center has been a member of the Jamestown community since its founding in 1965, and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015 with an informational open house. “Our science center enjoys the opportunity to show members of the community what we do, and we hope to make this a regular event,” said Dave Mushet, a USGS biologist at the center.   WHAT:   The Jamestown community is invited to an engaging and educational family event at the USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, a renowned wildlife and ecology science facility. The event is free and open to the public. WHO:       USGS scientists will answer questions and discuss their latest research on wildlife, biology and ecology, focusing especially on North Dakota and surrounding regions. WHEN:     Saturday, September 16, 2017, from 2-5 p.m. WHERE:   8711 37th St. Southeast, Jamestown, North Dakota (map). Take the Bloom exit (exit 262) off of I-94 and head one mile south, just east of Jamestown. DETAILS:  For questions related to the event, please contact Dave Mushet at 701-253-5558 or dmushet@usgs.gov. #biology #usgs

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Invasive Pest May Not Be Only Cause of Recent Louisiana Marsh Die-off: Changes in vegetation density in Louisiana's Mississippi River delta, May 2015-May 2016. Red and purple areas have 20% or more reduction in vegetation. USGS, public domain. Non-native insects from Asia have been the main suspects in a recent, rapid die-off of an important marsh grass that helps stabilize Louisiana’s erosion-prone coastal wetlands. But a new USGS report, based on satellite imagery and a special technique for assessing marsh vegetation, shows much of the affected marsh began declining in 2015, more than a year before the latest die-off and insect infestation were discovered. The vegetation partially recovered in 2016; then a second decline began last fall. The report does not specify the cause of the declines, but its results suggest the insect infestation may not be the only factor involved in the ongoing die-off of the grass Phragmites australis in the Mississippi River’s “bird foot delta,” the ecologically and economically important region where the river meets the Gulf of Mexico, and where fragile wetlands nourish large populations of ducks, wading birds, fish and shellfish. The stakes are high, said phragmites expert Rebecca Howard, a research ecologist at the USGS’ Wetland and Aquatic Research Center in Lafayette, Louisiana. The state has lost about one-quarter of its wetlands—an area the size of Delaware—since the 1930s. Land managers and government agencies are working hard to protect and restore the remaining coastal wetlands, which provide flood protection to important shipping ports and inland communities, and act as nursery areas for a wide variety of wildlife. “If phragmites stands fail to recover from the dieback, tens of thousands of acres of loosely-consolidated soils in the delta would become vulnerable to loss during coastal storms,” Howard said. “This could undermine the current Mississippi River shipping channels, pose a threat to navigation, and affect two wildlife refuges that support significant populations of wintering waterfowl.” Commonly known in Louisiana as roseau cane, phragmites is considered the backbone of many of the delta’s state’s coastal marshes. It has become the dominant plant in many places, and its dense, strong roots catch and hold sediment, retaining wetland soils and helping to build new land. So land managers reacted with alarm in spring 2017, when wide expanses of phragmites appeared dead or dying. About that same time, researchers found dense infestations of Nipponaclerda biwakoensis, a scale insect native to Asia, in affected phragmites stands. The insects, also known as mealy bugs, suck the grasses’ sap, weakening or killing them.Scientists from Louisiana State University, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies are working quickly to determine the extent of the phragmites die-off. According to preliminary estimates about 100,000 acres have been affected, including parts of Delta National Wildlife Refuge, managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Louisiana’s Pass-a-Loutre Wildlife Management Area. USGS scientists Elijah W. Ramsey III and Amina Rangoonwala, both experts in using remote sensing to track changes in marsh vegetation, went to work to pin down the timing of changes in hard-hit areas. Using satellite images of the Mississippi River delta and surrounding areas taken between 2014 and 2017, they applied a vegetation index that can identify changes in the amount of living marsh vegetation. Ramsey and Rangoonwala interpreted declines in the amount of living vegetation  as an indicator of declining health. To make sure any changes taking place in other plant species did not skew their results, they focused on a part of Delta National Wildlife Refuge that was mapped in 2011 and was dominated by phragmites at the time. Phragmites showing signs of stress at Pass-A-Loutre Wildlife Management Area, Louisiana, in April 2017. Rebecca Howard, USGS, public domain. The phragmites appeared healthy from 2014 until summer 2015, when the images captured the start of a sharp, widespread decline that continued until spring 2016. During the 2016 growing season, the phragmites-dominated marsh either partially grew back, or remained stable, the researchers found. A new round of phragmites decline began in fall 2016 and continued through the end of the study period, in April 2017, but it was not as severe as the 2015-2016 dieback, Rangoonwala said. “One big question is, what came first? The insect infestation or the dieback?” said Rangoonwala. “The insect infestation could have caused both the first die-off and the current one. Or the grasses may have been weakened from some unknown stress factor, and the insects may have come in later and taken advantage of that vulnerability." Howard noted that environmental factors such as increased salinity and high water can stress phragmites and affect its growth. The USGS researchers plan to analyze images as far back as 2009, looking for trends in the phragmites health, and to step up the frequency of future mapping so they can provide an early warning of phragmites declines. The report co-authored by Ramsey and Rangoonwala, “Mapping the change of Phragmites australis live biomass in the lower Mississippi River Delta marshes: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2017-1098,” was published July 28 and is available at https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/ofr20171098 . #biology #usgs

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Changing Tides: Lake Michigan Could Best Support Lake Trout and Steelhead: Managers have reduced Lake Michigan stocking levels of Chinook salmon at least three times over the past decades in response to declining prey fish and the natural reproduction of Chinook salmon.  (Credit: Michael Humling, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Public domain.) Reduced stocking of Chinook salmon, however, would still support a substantial population of this highly desirable recreational salmon species, which is a large contributor to the Great Lakes multi-billion-dollar recreational fishery. “Findings from our study can help managers determine the most viable ways to enhance valuable recreational fisheries in Lake Michigan, especially when the open waters of the lake are declining in productivity,” said Yu-Chun Kao, an MSU post-doctoral scientist and the lead author of the report. Managers have reduced Lake Michigan stocking levels of Chinook salmon at least three times over the past decades in response to declining prey fish and the natural reproduction of Chinook salmon. For the new study, scientists investigated the lake’s current and future abilities to support different fish stocking efforts. They found that recent decreases in critical lake nutrients, partly due to increases in invasive species such as quagga mussels, reduce the amount of Chinook salmon that the lake can support.  “Our model showed that stocking Chinook salmon can still help maintain their populations in Lake Michigan,” said Mark Rogers, a USGS Tennessee Cooperative Fishery Research Unit scientist and co-author on the study. “When stocking was completely eliminated in the model, the long-term amount of salmon was predicted to decrease considerably. The key is to determine how much stocking is most effective. It’s a balancing act.” The study also found that lake trout and steelhead may fare better because these two species can switch from eating alewife, which are in decline, to bottom-dwelling round goby, another newly established invasive prey fish that feeds on quagga mussels. The scientists modeled Lake Michigan’s food web dynamics under 288 scenarios that accounted for various levels of stocking and nutrients, as well as the effects of invasive mussels. These scenarios were developed based on responses to a survey from fishery managers, water-quality managers and researchers. “Interestingly, reducing stocking by 50 percent in the model resulted in long-term Chinook population numbers that were similar to the numbers when stocking was not reduced,” said David “Bo” Bunnell, a USGS co-author on the study. Lake Michigan’s open-water food web has changed significantly since the 1970s, becoming less productive as a result of decreased nutrients such as phosphorus, a process called oligotrophication. Nutrients help sustain phytoplankton and zooplankton, the tiny aquatic plants and animals at the base of the food web that support other aquatic life, including prey fishes. In Lake Michigan, oligotrophication occurred partly as a result of invasive mussels, which filter phytoplankton from the water column. Declines in prey fishes such as alewife were likely due, in part, to decreases in plankton. Because the Chinook salmon diet consists of over 90 percent alewife, the new study predicts a smaller Chinook salmon population if nutrients remain low and invasive mussels remain abundant. For more information about USGS ecosystems research in the Great Lakes, please visit the USGS Great Lakes Science Center website. #biology #usgs

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Media Advisory: Wildlife Partners Unite to Protect Iconic Species from Deadly Plague: Prairie dogs in the wild are less likely to succumb to sylvatic plague after they ingest peanut-butter-flavored bait that contains a vaccine against the disease, according to recent field trials conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others. The development of a safe, effective and economical sylvatic plague vaccine, or SPV, to protect prairie dogs in identified management areas is part of a multi-partner collaboration to increase populations of endangered black-footed ferrets and conserve the prairie dogs that ferrets rely on for survival. SPV may also aid in the recovery of the Utah prairie dog or help prevent the Gunnison’s prairie dog from becoming at risk. This vaccine is only the second product of its kind to be used at the landscape level to protect wildlife. It will soon be used on thousands of acres in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming and potentially other western states. WHAT:           Reporters are invited to attend a highly visual event showcasing the development and manufacture of SPV-laden bait for prairie dogs, and tour the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center, where captive black-footed ferrets are raised for eventual release in the wild. The event will include interactive booths and presentations from key scientists and other experts. More information is available on the media resources website. WHO:       Scientists and representatives involved in the development, manufacture, registration and distribution of the SPV bait and in the black-footed ferret recovery effort will be available for interviews, including representatives from: The USGS National Wildlife Health Center; The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Colorado Parks and Wildlife; and The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. WHERE:   The National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center                19180 North East Frontage Road, Carr, Colorado (please see included map)                Most online maps to the location are inaccurate. For specific directions, contact Kimberly Fraser at 970-556-4334.                Please plan at least an hour and a half to travel from downtown Denver. WHEN:     10 a.m. to noon on August 15, 2017 RSVP:      Please RSVP by Monday, August 14, with Marisa Lubeck at 303-526-6694 or mlubeck@usgs.gov. Challenges associated with disease management in free-ranging wildlife populations include the development of effective products, field delivery of products and attention to regulatory needs. This event highlights a unique multi-partner approach to address these challenges. Sylvatic plague is a deadly disease that affects wildlife and occasionally infects people and pets. For more information about sylvatic plague and the coordinated effort to conserve black-footed ferrets, please visit the USGS National Wildlife Health Center sylvatic plague website. More information about black-footed ferrets is available on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website. Map to the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center #biology #usgs

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Deadly Fungus Affecting Hibernating Bats Could Spread During Summer: This hibernating little brown bat shows signs of white-nose syndrome. (Credit: Alan Hicks, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Public domain.) USGS scientists tested samples collected from bats, the environment and equipment at eight bat hibernation sites in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia. They found that bats occupying such sites in summer can harbor the Pd fungus on their skin, and that Pd is more readily detectable in their guano, or feces. The scientists also detected Pd on clothing and equipment taken inside and near caves and mines used by bats. These detections demonstrate that gear exposed to fungal-infected environments is a potential mechanism for Pd spread, even during summertime when the prevalence of WNS is low. WNS is not known to affect humans, pets, livestock or other wildlife. “Our findings provide insights into additional means by which Pd may be dispersed and further contribute to the spread of this devastating disease that threatens agriculturally and environmentally valuable bat populations,” said Anne Ballmann, a USGS scientist and the lead author of the report. “This information will further help inform managers working to control the westward movement of WNS in North America.” Between July 18 and August 22, 2012, Ballmann and her colleagues collected swabs from bat wings, cave walls and equipment used in and near the study sites. They also collected guano from individual bats and floor sediment in underground summer roost sites. Findings include: Pd was detected on 40 bats and in environmental samples from seven of the eight study sites; Guano accounted for 93 percent of the bat-associated Pd detections; Equipment, including trapping equipment and a backpack, from three WNS-impacted sites in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio tested positive for Pd DNA; and Fungal DNA from Pd was more readily detected in sediment samples than on swab samples from cave walls. No bats showed visible signs of WNS during the course of this study, even though the disease-causing fungus was found. Although exposure to Pd does not result in WNS during summertime, the study showed that the fungus that causes the disease can be transported by bats and people visiting contaminated sites in summer. First detected in New York State in the winter of 2006-2007, WNS has spread to 31 states and five Canadian provinces. The disease is named for the white fungus that infects the muzzle, ears and wings of hibernating bats. Scientists at the USGS National Wildlife Health Center discovered, characterized and named the fungus that causes WNS, and pioneered laboratory techniques for studying effects of the fungus on hibernating bats. Decontamination guidance for cave visitors to help reduce the risk of human-assisted movement of Pd can be found online. The USGS is part of an international coordinated response to WNS, which is led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. For more information about USGS wildlife disease research, please visit the USGS National Wildlife Health Center website. #biology #usgs

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Mapping Public Lands in the United States: The growing database contains more than three billion public land and marine acres managed by nearly 15,100 agencies and nongovernmental organizations,  covering 200,000 separate parks and protected areas. PAD-US is a product of Core Science Analytics, Synthesis, and Library (CSAS&L) in the USGS Core Science Systems Mission Area. Bryce Canyon National Park - one of 200,000 units in PAD-US. (Credit: Bryce Canyon National Park by neufal54. - Public domain.)  Explore the PAD-US Map Viewer. PAD-US map viewer – national view: The PAD-US Map Viewer displays a variety of map layers from Manager Name to Public Access. (Public domain.) Zoom in for even more detail. PAD-US Map Viewer showing land managers in the Denver, Colorado area. (Public domain.) What can you do with PAD-US? Explore the different types of public lands in the United States.  National, state, regional, and local organizations all manage protected lands. From the PAD-US map you can identify protected areas managed by various federal agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, and the National Park Service. Or you can view information for recreational areas such as State Parks. Download this printable, highly detailed map of all public lands of the U.S. from the National Gap Analysis Program Protected Areas Data Portal. (Public domain.) PAD-US also includes information about state parks and recreation areas like this information for Elephant Butte Lake State Park in New Mexico. (Public domain.) If you need to prepare a map with public lands or conduct analysis involving public land boundaries and designations you can access PAD-US data by download or through web services. You can also download printable maps. How do others use PAD-US? PAD-US is used by a wide range of organizations and agencies: The National Wildfire Coordinating Group uses it to identify stakeholders during fire response and planning efforts. "PAD-US is a powerful tool and now has much MORE information available. Being able to use one data source that handles surface management jurisdiction and designations, and is transparent back to the original data sources, is tremendously important for the wildland fire community.” (quote from Andrew Bailey  - National Wildfire Coordinating Group) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is using PAD-US data in a project to estimate the contribution of different protected area land ownerships to birds of conservation concern. Recreation.gov will soon use PAD-US park boundaries in its next-generation park and event reservations system. Biodiversity protection categories in PAD-US are used to support assessments of biodiversity. PAD-US Map Viewer displaying biodiversity protection categories.(Public domain.) Working together to build PAD-US. To get all these data into PAD-US, the USGS works with federal agencies and with state data stewards (governments, universities, and nonprofits) to aggregate data for all protected areas. In particular, the USGS coordinates the Federal Lands Working Group which has adopted first-ever protocols for integrating authoritative federal land data from agencies into the national database. USGS has also supported state organizations with small grants to complete their inventories and increase the efficiency of PAD-US updates. PAD-US is created through coordination with states for data at local, regional and state levels, through cooperation among federal land managing agencies, and through contributions from nonprofit organizations.  PAD-US publication data is also provided to international organizations. (Public domain.) Looking ahead. Work by the Trust for Public Land is helping to fill in missing data for many urban area parks, data that will be shared with PAD-US by the end of 2018.  The next update to PAD-US will be published in late 2017.  This update builds on major improvements made in the 2016 release by providing an easier to use data structure that better manages overlapping designations (for example, Wilderness), along with extensive new data additions. You can learn much more about PAD-US by downloading a new report that outlines how PAD-US works and defines the road map for its completion. GreenInfo Network is a private partner that helps USGS achieve the PAD-US mission and was instrumental in preparing this report. Download an 8 page summary or the full 50 page detailed report at www.Protectedlands.net/vision. (Credit: Protected Areas Database of the United States, USGS-Core Science Analytics, Synthesis, and Library.)    #biology #usgs
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