The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a long tradition of scientific excellence and always uses the best-available science to inform its work to conserve fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitat for the benefit of the American public.
Created in 1903 by President Theodore Roosevelt, today's National Wildlife Refuge System protects habitats and wildlife across the country, from the Alaskan tundra to subtropical wetlands. Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Refuge System's 560-plus refuges cover more than 150 million acres and protect nearly 1,400 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.
While national wildlife refuges were created to protect wildlife, they are for people too. Refuges are ideal places for people of all ages to explore and connect with the natural world. We invite you to learn more about and visit the national wildlife refuges and wetland management districts in Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.
The Mountain-Prairie Region's Office of Ecological Services (ES) works to restore and protect healthy populations of fish, wildlife, and plants and the environments upon which they depend. Using the best available science, ES personnel work with Federal, State, Tribal, local, and non-profit stakeholders, as well as private land owners, to avoid, minimize, and mitigate threats to our Nation's natural resources.
Providing leadership in the conservation of migratory bird habitat through partnerships, grants, and outreach for present and future generations. The Migratory Bird Program is responsible for maintaining healthy migratory bird populations for the benefit of the American people.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Fish and Aquatic Conservation Program in the Mountain-Prairie Region helps conserve, protect, and enhance aquatic resources and provides economically valuable recreational fishing to anglers across the country. The program comprises 12 National Fish Hatcheries.
Law enforcement is essential to virtually every aspect of wildlife conservation. The Office of Law Enforcement contributes to Service efforts to manage ecosystems, save endangered species, conserve migratory birds, preserve wildlife habitat, restore fisheries, combat invasive species, and promote international wildlife conservation.
External Affairs staff in the Mountain-Prairie Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides support to the regional office and field stations to communicate and facilitate information about the Service's programs to the public, media, Congress, Tribes, partners, and other stakeholders in the 8-state region.
Here in the Mountain-Prairie Region, we leverage the power of our landscape conservation cooperatives to apply strategic habitat conservation, in concert with our partners, through a transparent, peer-reviewed process that ensures the conservation we deliver represents the most-needed and most impactful investment of taxpayer dollars.
In order to meet 21st Century conservation challenges such as climate change, our business model strives to accomplish the right actions, in the right places, at the right times - all based on sound science. This landscape conservation framework has resulted in greater efficiencies amongst the conservation community and strengthened partnerships between the Service and other scientific and resource management organizations. It has also led to groundbreaking conservation successes, such as the preservation of millions of acres of intact habitats in areas including the Flint Hills of Kansas, the wetland complexes of the Dakotas, and the Rocky Mountain Front and Blackfoot River valley in Montana, while preserving the rich cultural and agricultural heritage of these landscapes.
2019 Research Projects
Are white-tailed ptarmigan adapting to changing climatic conditions?
The white-tailed ptarmigan (Lagopus leucura) is a year-round resident in alpine habitats across the western United States. Its geographic range extends from northeastern New Mexico to Washington, across the Rocky Mountains in British Columbia and Alberta, to Alaska. As a warming climate may threaten this high-elevation species, understanding whether any adaptive genetic variation found in ptarmigan is linked to climatic conditions, is a key knowledge gap.
To fill this gap, US Geological Survey researchers are examining the genomic data of this species across its geographic range. They are looking for correlations between environmental data and adaptive genetic variation. Additionally, they will map the genes of interest on to chicken and sage-grouse genomes to determine if gene function is under natural selection in ptarmigan. Results from the study will help inform the U.S. Fish Wildlife Service in developing a species status assessment.
PI: Sara Oyler-McCance and Cameron Aldridge, US Geological Survey
USFWS funding: $10,000
How do weather variables and ectoparasite loads affect sagebrush songbird demography?
Weather conditions can influence nesting sagebrush songbirds via reduce food availability which may affect offspring growth and survival, or more directly by physiological stress. Resource managers, however, do not yet have the requisite information with which to assess how weather patterns such as high temperatures and moisture deficits will influence sagebrush songbird populations.
The Wyoming Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit is initiating a project that will provide the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with the necessary information for local and landscape habitat prioritization efforts. Repurposing existing data representing thousands of sagebrush songbird nests from a long-term study site, researchers will determine how temperature, precipitation, and ectoparasite loads (blowfly larvae) affect nests during the incubation and nestling periods and fledging rates.
PI: Anna Chalfoun, Wyoming Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit
USFWS funding: $49,000
How does conifer removal in mountain sagebrush landscapes effect songbirds?
Similar to sage grouse, songbirds that depend on sagebrush have shown reduced abundances when sagebrush is invaded by conifers. Extensive conifer removal treatments to improve sage grouse habitat may also benefit songbirds. Understanding how conifer removal affects sagebrush songbird abundance and reproductive output will help inform U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service management practices designed to enhance populations.
A study underway by the Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit is examining how the extent and distance to which woody vegetation may impact songbird nest success in mountain sagebrush landscapes. Conifer removal near woody vegetation such as pure conifer stands and riparian stringers could create ecological traps that are population sinks. That is, songbird abundance may increase, but nest success may be lower due to nest predation. Low nest success would have negative implications for the broader sagebrush songbird population. In contrast, removal of conifers at some distance from woody habitats, may provide greater benefits to the songbird population.
PI: Thomas E Martin, Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit
USFWS funding: $49,000
Supporting state and federal wildlife agencies in enhancing big game migration corridors and winter ranges
Although state and federal wildlife managers generally understand the movement patterns of big game herds in much of the West, the specific routes followed have been not been delineated precisely enough to support conservation efforts for most herds. To fill these kind of knowledge gaps, the University of Wyoming, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are working to effectively target the enhancement of big game migration corridors and winter ranges envisioned in Secretarial Order 3362.
Building upon this current collaborative work, this project provides additional support to wildlife agencies. Support efforts include:
Determining which herds across the West have sufficient data to precisely define movement corridors and winter ranges and facilitate that analysis.
Assisting biologists with the use of Migration Mapper software to develop Brownian Bridge movement models.
Evaluating the state of knowledge within state wildlife agencies about migratory big game herd movement corridors and winter ranges.
PI: Matthew Kauffmann, Wyoming Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit