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Scientists at the USGS Western Ecological Research Center study the many ecosystems of the Pacific Southwest. Follow our expeditions and projects through this outreach page, and learn more about your local landscape with our library of Outreach Factsheets and photos. Thanks for joining us!

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WERC Biweekly Update: Mar. 16-31, 2012

WERC research roundups are now in a biweekly format, complete with PDF version. Check back every two weeks for a run down of new research and events from the USGS Western Ecological Research Center. To add your name to the email distribution list for the PDF newsletter, please contact

Download the current issue (1.05)


Forests Feeling the Heat from Climate Change
USGS recognized World Forestry Day on March 21, 2012, with a blogpost highlighting the research of WERC scientists Phil van MantgemNate Stephenson and the USGS Western Mountain Initiative. Stephenson and van Mantgem’s research have described the mortality of old-growth forests in the Western U.S., as well as establish forest monitoring projects to study climate change effects in western U.S. national parks, including Sequoia, Redwood, Lassen Volcanic, and Crater Lake National Park. 


Ortego, BK Sandercock, F Sanders, JY Takekawa, N Warnock, RC Ydenberg, DB Lank. 2012. Range-wide patterns of migratory connectivity in the western sandpiper Calidris mauri. Journal of Avian Biology. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-048X.2012.05573.x

Tinker, MT, PR Guimarães Jr, M Novak, FMD Marquitti, JL Bodkin, M Staedler, G Bentall, JA Estes. 2012. Structure and mechanism of diet specialisation: testing models of individual variation in resource use with sea otters. Ecology Letters. doi: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2012.01760.x

Welch, AJ, RC Fleischer, HF James, AE Wiley, PH Ostrom, J Adams, F Duvall, N Holmes, D Hu, J Penniman, KA Swindle. 2012. Population divergence and gene flow in an endangered and highly mobile seabird. Heredity. doi: 10.1038/hdy.2012.7


Fleskes, JP. Ch. 25: Wetlands of the Central Valley and Klamath Basin. in Batzer, DP, AH Baldwin (editors). Wetland Habitats of North America. University of California Press. 2012. ISBN: 9780520271647


Larson, S, R Jameson, M Etnier, T Jones, R Hall. 2012. Genetic diversity and population parameters of sea otters, Enhydra lutris, before fur trade extirpation from
PLoS ONE 7(3): e32205. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032205


Another Vertebrate Species Reported Extinct from the Hawaiian Islands
A species of lizard has been determined extinct from the Hawaiian Islands: the copper striped blue-tailed skink (Emoia impar). But the extinction likely happened decades ago, says Robert Fisher, who explains the term “cryptic extinction” and discusses how the skink’s example might guide ecologists on improved monitoring of island species.


March 22, 2012 (Menlo Park, CA)
Tom Suchanek gave this month’s USGS Menlo Park Public Lecture and Webcast, discussing the impacts of climate change on California. The webcast is archived here:

March 29, 2012 (Arcata, CA) Mary Ann Madej presented the lecture “Indicators of Climate Change in North Coastal California” at Humboldt State University.

April 3-5, 2012 (Menlo Park, CA) WERC scientists Kathryn McEachern and Mary Ann Madej will be panelists discussing resource management needs at the first-ever Pacific Coastal Fog Workshop, hosted by the USGS Western Geographic Science Center.

April 20-23, 2012 (Zzyzx, CA) WERC scientist Kristin Berry will present at the 26th annual Desert Symposium, on the populations of the desert tortoises Gopherus agassizii and G. morafkai.


While Few Noticed, Hawaiian Lizard Went Extinct (Mother Jones)
reports on Robert Fisher’s recent Oryx paper describing the cryptic extinction of the skink Emoia impar from the Hawaiian Islands. The news was also covered by Associated Press and local Hawaii media outlets.


Keith Miles, Liz BowenAnne Meckstroth and Ben Young Landis held an outreach program in Sacramento on March 15. Miles and colleagues spoke to a class of 6th graders at Bret Harte Elementary School educating students about sea otters as indicators of coastal health, and raising awareness of scientific pursuits as career options regardless of gender and ethnicity. The curriculum was created by the USGS Alaska Science Center as part of a USGS Diversity Council project and the DOI Pacific Nearshore Project.

On April 7, Kristin Berry will lead a workshop at the Desert Tortoise Natural Area (California City, CA), on how to identify perennial plant species in a dry year, when the plants are not flowering and leaves are limited. This is a joint USGS and Desert Tortoise Preserve Committee (DTPC) workshop, and the training audience will include DTPC employees, volunteers and the general public.

This Biweekly Update is produced as a service to USGS/WERC staff, colleagues, partners and the interested public. To add your email address to the mailing list or to report errors/suggestions, please contact Download the current issue (1.05)

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