Conservation Science
Northeast Region


Conservation Science News and Updates

November 2014

Conservation Science News and Updates is jointly compiled and distributed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region Science Applications and External Affairs, in coordination with other FWS programs. This periodic newsletter is part of our agency's ongoing commitment to integrating and applying the best available science tools, information and practices toward common species and habitat goals at landscape scales. Please email submissions to

Science to weather the storm
How will severe storms and sea level rise predicted with a changing climate impact streams, beaches and tidal marshes in the Northeast? The North Atlantic LCC is helping partner organizations understand and prepare for future threats to vulnerable systems through three projects supported by federal funding for Hurricane Sandy recovery. Learn more

Restoring streams in Maryland with a low cost and low impact solution
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is helping to lead a collaborative effort to protect and restore wildlife and natural resources the South River Greenway -- one of the last remaining intact forest tracts and stream valley wetlands in Anne Arundel County, MD., located between Baltimore and Washington D.C. Learn more

Partners connect to conserve the Connecticut
Armed with maps and models that analyze current and future needs of regional species and ecosystems, federal, state and NGO partners are working together to create a conservation blueprint for the Connecticut River watershed. This pilot landscape conservation design effort uses a strategic habitat conservation approach to set population objectives for 14 identified surrogate species representing the habitat needs of many other species within the watershed. Click here for an update on progress and key next steps.

A brook trout's best friend: the riparian restoration decision support tool
The Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative's riparian restoration decision support tool allows managers and decision-makers to identify and prioritize areas along the banks of rivers, streams, and lakes for restoration to make these ecosystems more resilient to disturbance and future changes in climate. The tool can be accessed via the Appalachian LCC website.

Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge provides habitat for rare Connecticut bee species
Stewart B. McKinney NWR has partnered with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) on a long-term monitoring study that will establish a baseline population of bee species in the state. The refuge is just one of many sites throughout Connecticut that collects bee species from April to October each year. Learn more

Refuges' Division of Natural Resources project updates
Refuges' Division of Natural Resources provides technical support, expertise and advice to staff and collaborates with partners to accomplish the Service mission. Our goal is to use sound science that informs effective and efficient management decisions and identifies our most important resource and conservation contributions at local, regional and landscape scales. Highlighted projects and activities include:

  • Inventory and Monitoring Plan (IMP) Workshops
  • Hurricane Sandy Resiliency Project Coordination
  • Surface Elevation Monitoring in Marshes
  • Regional Water Quality Monitoring Protocol
  • Developing Ecological Site Descriptions (ESDs)
  • Baseline Forest Assessment Core Team

Learn more

Predicting shorebirds' vulnerability to climate change
Scientists and conservationists have long been concerned about how climate change may exacerbate population declines already occurring for many species of shorebirds. A team of shorebird and climate-change experts collaborated recently to find answers to this question. They developed a predictive model that considered the added risks to climate change inherent in shorebirds' life history, and have published their findings in the online paper, "Predicting Vulnerabilities of North American Shorebirds to Climate Change." Learn more

Evaluating the drivers of bird-window collisions in North America
Birds face many threats related to humans, including predation by pet cats, and collisions with buildings, towers and automobiles.  Experts estimate that the greatest source of mortality in human-dominated landscapes is bird-window collisions (BWCs). Learn More

Saltmarsh Habitat and Avian Research Program: declines noted in northeast birds
The Saltmarsh Habitat and Avian Research Program (SHARP) is a collaborative effort of a group of academic, government, and non-profit ecologists to gather information to aid the conservation of tidal marshes given the predicted impacts of climate change on this ecosystem. Learn more

Tern tagging goes high tech
Supported by funding from the National Science Foundation, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and other groups, UMass Amherst graduate student Pam Loring has tagged 121 common terns -- 70 on Monomoy Island and 51 at Great Gull Island in Long Island Sound -- with nano-tags to track their flight patterns. The tags allow her to record information transmitted from the birds all on a single frequency. Learn more

Determining overwinter survival and behavior of little brown bats and northern long-eared bats
Since 2006 millions of bats have died from a fungal disease called white-nose syndrome. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service leads the nation's response to this deadly disease, awarding almost $20 million in grants to states, federal agencies and researchers. One of the funded projects is a study to determine overwinter survival and behavior of little brown bats and northern long-eared bats at Aeolus Cave in Vermont. Learn more

Regional science highlighted in climate adaptation strategy progress report
In partnership with state agencies and federal partners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently released a progress report describing nationwide efforts to reduce impacts of climate change on fish, wildlife, and plants. Titled "Taking Action," the report includes several projects in the northeast and the Chesapeake Bay among 50 nationwide examples that illustrate a long-term vision for adaptive management in the face of climate change. Learn more

Service joins Shedd Aquarium to study migration patterns of Lake Erie sturgeon
Shedd Aquarium and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Northeast Fishery Center and Lower Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, with assistance from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation are studying the movements, habitats and health of lake sturgeon in the Niagara River, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. The research team is gathering data using pop-off satellite (PSAT) tags, which will log real-time information on the routes the fish travel, and the types of habitats they frequent to better inform conservation efforts. Learn more

From the Field: Conserving Chesapeake Bay habitat for American Black Ducks
The American Black Duck is native to the Chesapeake Bay watershed, but their population has decreased dramatically during the past century. In this video, Mike Slattery, Chesapeake Coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, explains how the Chesapeake Bay Program is working with partners to conserve black duck habitat, and shows us what scientists in the field are doing to help. Learn more

Restoring fish and aquatic organism passage -- by design
The Gulf of Maine Coastal Program organized and hosted a five-day Advanced Stream Simulation Design Course in mid October. The workshop taught participants how to design road‐stream crossing structures that provide unimpeded fish and other aquatic organism passage, restore natural channel processes through the structure, and maximize the long‐term stability of the structure. The course was led by national experts including Bob Gubernick (USFS) and Dale Higgins (USFS). Gulf of Maine Coastal Program staff identified and surveyed field instruction sites, developed the curriculum and obtained outside funding to support the workshop. Service staff attended from Ecological Services and Fisheries and included regional fish passage engineers. Other participants included private consulting engineers, staff from Maine Department of Transportation, NGOs and representatives of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The Gulf of Maine Coastal Program’s investment in training is helping to build capacity to increase the pace, scale and scope of restoration of critical aquatic habitats in the Northeast. For more information, contact Gulf of Maine Coastal Program Project Leader Jed Wright at


Wednesday, November 19, noon to 1 p.m. ET
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region presents,
"Learning from loons: Lead, health and the environment"
Mark A. Pokras, BS, DVM, Wildlife Clinic & Center for Conservation Medicine
Tufts University, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

Learn more

Wednesday, November 19, 3:30 p.m. ET
Northeast Climate Science Center presents,
"Making decisions in complex landscapes: Headwater stream management across multiple agencies using structured decision making"
Rachel Katz, Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Environmental Conservation UMass Amherst

To join, visit:
Or join us LIVE in 134 Morrill Science Center Conference Room, UMass Amherst

For more information on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region conservation science programs and the people who put them into action, visit


Last updated: November 14, 2014