USGS Science at Ecological Society of America

Hurricane impacts, invasive species, wildlife disease, and the effect of fire on ecosystems are among the topics that scientists of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will discuss as they meet with other leading ecological scientists, educators, and policy-makers from around the globe at the 91st Ecological Society of America meeting in Memphis, Tenn. Aug. 6-11. The meeting theme is "Icons and Upstarts in Ecology." All talks unless otherwise indicated, are at the Cook County Convention Center in Downtown Memphis.

Monday, Aug. 7
Hurricane impacts on coastal forests in Louisiana, 9:55 a.m.
Stephen Faulkner, USGS National Wetlands Research Center, Lafayette, La.
Parent session: Symposium 2 - Ecological effects of Gulf Coast hurricanes: short-term impacts and long-term consequences, 8:00-11:30 a.m.
Steamboat, Mezzanine Level

Hurricanes have short- and long-term effects on coastal forest structure, ecosystem processes, and services. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were particularly destructive to forests of the northern Gulf Coast, damaging or destroying timber on nearly 450,000 hectares in Louisiana. Pearl River floodplain forests suffered 50% mortality in plots not dominated by baldcypress-tupelo gum, while mortality was only 14% in baldcypress-tupelo gum plots. These results are similar to those measured in forests following Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and caused a shift in migratory bird use from Pearl River bottomlands to adjacent upland forests. Hurricane Rita significantly damaged the chenier forests of southwest Louisiana. The author will discuss long-term impacts of these changes on migratory bird habitat, food resources, species composition, and ecosystem processes.

GLORIA in North America, an alpine ecology monitoring network, 5:00-6:30 p.m.
Karen Holzer, USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center Field Station, West Glacier, Mont.
Parent session: Poster Session 7 - Climate and global change, 5:00-6:30 p.m.
Exhibit Hall, Ballroom Level

The Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments (GLORIA) is an international research network established to assess climate change impacts on vegetation in alpine environments worldwide. A standard protocol with specific site requirements and techniques allows comparison of the 38 sites worldwide, four in North America. The authors have established intensive vegetation plots that will be monitored every five years. Species composition and percent cover were recorded, temperature loggers buried to assess long term change, and intense photo documentation procedures followed. Comparisons to other sites globally will provide a unique inventory of mountain summit biodiversity and will show the response to global climatic changes.

Tuesday, Aug. 8
The influence of habitat and land use on the distribution and abundance of exotic plants in three Great Lakes national parks, 10:30 a.m.
Noel Pavlovic, USGS Great Lakes Science Center Field Station, Porter, Ind.
Parent session: COS 17 - Invasive species I: environmental and habitat factors, 8:00-11:30 am
Ballroom A, Ballroom Level

Understanding patterns of exotic species distribution across a landscape is the first step to successful management. The authors sampled exotic and native plants at three National Lakeshores and note a contrast in exotic frequency is likely the result of differing land use history. The authors will discuss other factors that affect the distribution of exotic plants. These data and results will aid in the development of Great Lakes exotic early detection programs.

Spatial and seasonal habitat use by manatees in the Everglades National Park region of Florida, 5:00-6:30 p.m..
Daniel Slone, USGS Florida Integrated Science Center, Gainesville, Fla.
Parent session: Poster Session 8 - Aquatic ecology, 5:00-6:30 p.m.
Exhibit Hall, Ballroom Level

Everglades National Park provides habitat for a substantial population of Florida manatees. Using aerial surveys, remote telemetry data, and carcass recovery data, the authors describe how manatees make use of the waters of the Everglades to assist park managers in ecosystem management, park operations and management, and park visitor use. The authors will identify special areas of concern where manatees may be more vulnerable to boat strikes.

Wednesday, Aug. 9
Applying indicators of condition to evaluate the state of the Colorado Front Range region environment, 4:40 p.m.
Jill Baron, USGS Fort Collins Science Center, Fort Collins, Colo.
Parent session: COS 64 - Carbon and nitrogen dynamics, 1:30-5:00 pm
Ballroom E, Ballroom Level

Working with diverse decisionmakers, the authors selected up to ten indicators of environmental condition in the Colorado Front Range for each of five regional sectors: urban, agricultural, grassland, mountains/forests, and freshwaters. The indicators range from physical dimensions, air and water quality, ecosystem resources, to quality-of-life indicators such as time in traffic, neighboring land uses, property values, and poverty rates. The author will discuss preliminary results for one indicator, carbon stocks, that suggest major pools for carbon stocks have shifted during the past 100 years.

Bovine tuberculosis in the African buffalo of the Kruger National Park, South Africa, 2:50 p.m.
Paul Cross, USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center, Bozeman, Mont.
Parent session: COS 69 - Disease ecology IV: transmission and land use, 1:30-5:00 p.m.
L-4, Lobby Level

An epidemic of bovine tuberculosis is slowly unfolding in the Kruger National Park of South Africa. The disease has been moving north and increasing in prevalence in the African buffalo population since the early 1960s. It also infects many other hoofed animals and predators such as lions, and the potential ecosystem effects of the disease remain unclear. The authors will describe findings from six years of monitoring the survival, reproduction, and movement of over 160 radio-collared buffalo in two regions of the park. This study provides insights on the spread and effects of an epidemic that is troubling to the resiliency of the buffalo and lion populations, park revenue, and conservation efforts.

Thursday, Aug. 10
The National Fire and Fire Surrogate Study: effects of alternative fuel reduction methods on overstory and understory vegetation, 9:50 a.m.
Dylan Schwilk, USGS Western Ecological Research Center, Sequoia and Kings Canyon Field Station, Three Rivers, Calif.
Parent session: COS 86 - Fire ecology: behavior, effects, and management, 8:00-11:30 a.m.
L-12, Lobby Level

Long-term fire suppression in seasonally dry forests has led to concern that these areas have a high risk of severe wildfire, prompting forest managers to attempt reduction of fuels. Very little comparative information exists on the ecological consequences of the alternative methods of fuel reduction, principally prescribed fire, mechanical treatments, or a combination of both. The authors have investigated restorative management options in 10 forest sites that have been subject to nearly a century of fire suppression and will discuss the consequences of four management treatments.

Development of restoration guidelines for floodplain forests of the Mississippi River valle, 1:30 p.m. Sammy King, USGS Louisiana Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Baton Rouge, La.
Parent session: OOS 13 - Bottomland hardwood forest restoration and management for wildlife, 1:30-5 p.m.
Ballroom C, Ballroom Level

The Mississippi River Alluvial Valley includes the floodplain of the Mississippi River from Cairo, Ill., to the Gulf of Mexico. Immediately prior to European settlement it supported about 10 million hectares of bottomland hardwood forest. By the 1980s, flood control measures and farming had reduced these forests to only 2.8 million hectares, prompting small-scale reforestation. These trial-and-error initiatives have developed into one of the largest reforestation programs in the world. The author will examine restoration/reforestation techniques and strategies and their benefit to wildlife populations.

Winter soil warming in arid lands: effects on biological soil crusts and ecosystem processes, 3:40 p.m.
David Housman, USGS Southwest Biological Science Center, Canyonlands Research Station, Moab, Utah
Parent session: COS 102 - Arid ecosystem ecology 1:30-5:00 p.m.
L-14, Lobby Level

Biological soil crusts are significant sources of fixed carbon and nitrogen in arid land ecosystems. The authors began a study in southeast Utah to examine how increased infrared heating would affect carbon and nitrogen availability from areas covered with lichen and moss soil crusts during day- and night-time hours. This presentation will include early findings on the effect of future climate warming on carbon and nitrogen availability in these ecosystems.

Friday, Aug. 11
A comparison of the recent invasion histories of North American and African Great Lake systems: has anything been learned?, 9:20 a.m.
Jacoby Carter, USGS National Wetlands Research Center, Lafayette, La.
Parent session: COS 104 - Invasive species VII: prevention, control, and models, 8:00-11:30 a.m.
Ballroom E, Ballroom Level

The author will compare the Great Lake systems in North America and East Africa with respect to invasive species -- routes of invasions and introductions, which species were successful and some that were not, and efforts to control invasive species. Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), nutria (Myocastor coypus), freshwater crawfish (infraorder Astacidea), and top level fish predators will be discussed.

No sign of saturation of plant and bird communities in the United States, 9:40 a.m.
Thomas Stohlgren, USGS Fort Collins Science Center, Fort Collins, Colo.
Parent session: Symposium 23 - Species invasion and species saturation: reconciling patterns of change in biodiversity, 8:00-11:30 am
Ballroom B, Ballroom Level

Species invasions are fundamentally altering ecosystems around the world and changing our views on species saturation. Natural ecosystems seem increasingly to accommodate non-native species despite the abundance of native species. The authors examined county- and regional- scale information on native and non-native species richness to determine what makes some areas so susceptible to invasion.

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Note to Reporters: Aug. 6-11, you can contact the ESA News Room in Memphis on 901 576-1261.


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