USGS Documents the Status of and Changes to the Health of Fish, Wildlife, and their Critical Habitats
- USGS partners with NOAA to understand potential benefits of oyster aquaculture ...learn more
- Pharmaceuticals and the water-fish-osprey food web ...read more
- Science Summary—Skin Lesions and Mortality of Fishes in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
- Ospreys used as sentinel for pollution ...read more (8/2013)
- Patuxent Wildlife Refuge scientists study how wind farms affect sea ducks ...read more
- Science Summary—Indicators of Reproductive Endocrine Disruption in Fish in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
- Declines in sea duck populations could be from changes in diversity and abundance of shellfish and other benthic foods. (USGS Circular 1316)
- Sea-level rise and land subsidence will continue to cause losses and landward migration of tidal wetlands during the coming century. (USGS Circular 1316)
- Summary of findings and implications for habitats and fish and bird populations. (USGS Circular 1316)
- To see other science summaries about fish, wildlife and habitats visit the Features Archive page.
USGS Role in Documenting the Status of and Changes to the Health of Fish, Wildlife, and their Critical Habitats
The health of fish, wildlife, and their supporting habitats in the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed has been degraded due to multiple causes, including poor water quality, disease, invasive species, and overharvesting. The President’s Executive Order strategy for protecting and restoring the Chesapeake Bay watershed outlines specific actions that support the goals to sustain fish and wildlife and recover habitat. Two Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) Goal Teams—Managing Fisheries and Restoring Habitats—are working to conduct activities to attain these goals.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and other partners to enhance science related to factors affecting freshwater fish, including brook trout, and to improve science to manage waterfowl populations and their habitats. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is leading efforts to improve science for fisheries management in the Bay and tidal waters, including blue crabs and oysters. The science is being used by the CBP Goal Teams and partners to adjust improve management policies and practices to restore these key fish and wildlife species and their habitat.
Planned USGS activities include:
- Identifying factors affecting the health of fish and wildlife, including the impact of toxic contaminants.
- Understanding the habitat conditions needed to support brook trout and other key watershed species.
- Defining habitat conditions needed to restore waterfowl populations.
USGS activities addressing the health of fish and wildlife are focused primarily in the Bay watershed. The USGS is assessing the condition of key indicator species and the multiple factors, including disease, bacteria, viruses, and toxic contaminants, that impact their health.
The USGS is working with the FWS, U.S. Forest Service, and partners in the Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture (EBTJV) to improve information on stream conditions to restore brook trout. Science activities will help identify areas for habitat restoration and assess the viability of brook trout populations so that the most beneficial practices can be implemented. The USGS is also assessing stream conditions and monitoring the return of key fish species as agencies implement fish passage projects in the watershed. Finally, the USGS is beginning studies on the potential impact of shale-gas drilling on stream conditions.
USGS waterfowl science is focused on the habitat needed to increase black duck and other waterfowl populations. The USGS and partners are developing regional and local models for black ducks that will better define energetic carrying capacity, including using results from testing food preferences on a captive colony of black ducks. The USGS is also addressing changes in wetland, island, and nearshore habitats to provide implications for restoration and protection. Results of this research and modeling will inform decisions by habitat managers, such as those at the FWS National Wildlife Refuges and in the Black Duck Joint Venture, on how much wetland acreage and what type of forage is needed to support black ducks and other key species in the Chesapeake Bay.