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Weekly Highlights for 7-14-2017


Sagebrush Management Webinar Planned for July 17

USGS ecologist Matthew Germino will give a talk titled “Sagebrush Ecosystems in a Changing Climate: Key Opportunities for Adaptive Management” on July 17 as a part of the Climate Change Science and Management Webinar Series. The series highlights projects sponsored by the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center and Climate Science Centers.

Contact: Matthew Germino, FRESC, 208-426-3353, Profile

Plenary Talk About Modulating Mercury Exposure

On July 21, USGS ecologist Collin Eagles-Smith, along with collaborators, will give a plenary talk at the International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant in Providence, Rhode Island. The topic of the presentation is how global change drivers influence mercury bioaccumulation through food webs, exposure in humans, and other adverse effects.

Contact: Collin Eagles-Smith, FRESC, 541-750-0949, Profile


New Study: Evaluating Effectiveness of Wetland Management for Great Basin Columbia Spotted Frog During Drought

The southwestern United States experienced a drought that began in 2012 and peaked in 2014. These dry conditions could have impacts on many wildlife species, including the Great Basin Distinct Population Segment of the Columbia spotted frog. This declining population has been monitored by local and federal managers since 2003. In a new study, the USGS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will study how Columbia spotted frog populations respond to drought, including annual patterns of survival, recruitment, and population growth rates. This research will leverage 13 years of existing mark-recapture data from populations in the Toiyabe Mountains, Nevada to provide the first assessment of the effectiveness of management actions to protect habitat and recover this species of conservation concern. Findings will help guide future habitat management actions and recovery efforts for Columbia spotted frogs in the Great Basin where drought and predicted climate change are major threats.

Contact: David Pilliod, FRESC, 208-426-5202, Profile

Defining Ecological Drought for the 21st Century

Droughts of the 21st century are increasingly exacerbated by human demands for water. In a paper written by researchers from 17 agencies and institutions, authors argue that drought is often viewed through a human-centric lens; agricultural, hydrological, and socioeconomic descriptions of drought impacts do not fully address the ecological dimensions of drought. They contend that defining ecological drought in terms that integrate both human and ecological dimensions will highlight how drought’s impacts are transferred to human communities via ecosystem services. Authors present a framework that clarifies human and natural vulnerabilities to ecological drought that highlights opportunities for mitigation of or adaptation to ecological drought. Their framework will help identify strategies for reducing ecological drought risks, and can help guide researchers and decision-makers in using an ecosystem services-based approach when considering trade-offs between human and ecosystem water needs.

Crausbay, S., Ramirez, A., Carter, S., Cross, M., Hall, K., Bathke, D., Betancourt, J., Colt, S., Cravens, A., Dalton, M., Dunham, J.B., Hay, L., Hayes, M., McEvoy, J., McNutt, C., Moritz, M., Nislow, K., Raheem, N., Sanford, T., 2017, Defining ecological drought for the 21st century: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, p. online,[Details]

Contact: Jason Dunham, FRESC, 541-750-0990, Profile

Landscape Context of Dam Removal and River Response

Dam removal is one strategy for addressing aging, obsolete infrastructure, and more than 1,100 dams have been removed in the United States since the 1970s. Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of more than 50,000 existing dams, including 874 removed dams, to analyze how landscape context affects biophysical responses to dam removal. The highest concentration of removed dams was in the Northeast and Upper Midwest. Most dams have been removed from 3rd and 4th order streams in low-elevation (< 500 m), low-slope (< 5%), and smaller (10–1000 km2) watersheds. Landscape context may inform possible biophysical responses to removal, but a broader geographic range of removals would be helpful to improve understanding of dam removal responses in multiple landscape settings. To address the inconsistencies across dam-removal studies, authors provide suggestions for prioritizing and standardizing data collection associated with dam removal activities.

Foley, M.M., Magilligan, F., Torgersen, C.E., Major, J., Anderson, C.W., Connolly, P.J., Wieferich, D., Shafroth, P.B., Evans, J.E., Infante, D., Craig, L., 2017, Landscape context and the biophysical response of rivers to dam removal in the United States: PLOS ONE, p. e0180107,[Details]

Contact: Christian Torgersen, FRESC, 206-616-1874, Profile

Concerns With Methods Used for Detecting Bsal from Archived DNA of Amphibians

The fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans (Bsal) is implicated in salamander die-offs in Europe and was found to be lethal to multiple U.S. salamander species in a laboratory experiment. In 2015, researchers analyzed archived DNA extracted from amphibians in 2012 for the presence of Bsal: 385 samples from salamanders and 797 samples from frogs. Two samples – an adult rough-skinned newt and an American bullfrog larva – had PCR-positive results using one method of detection, but they could not confirm the finding using additional analyses. In the paper, they detail their methods and results of analyses and discuss implications for future studies and monitoring projects. Their intent was to document important lessons-learned for other Bsal investigations due to the high-priority of researching this emerging infectious disease in North America and elsewhere.

Iwanowicz, D.D., Schill, W.B., Olson, D.H., Adams, M.J., Densmore, C., Cornman, R.S., Adams, C., Figiel, Jr., C., Anderson, C.W., Blaustein, A.R., Chestnut, T., 2017, Potential concerns with analytical methods used for the detection of Batrachochytrium salamandrivorans from archived DNA of amphibian swab samples, Oregon, USA: Herpetological Review, v. 48, no. 2, p. 352-355. [Details]

Contact: Michael Adams, FRESC, 541-750-0980, Profile

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