Conservation Science
Northeast Region


Conservation Science News and Updates

May 2016

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

Connecting the Connecticut
It started two years ago as an experiment in combining big data with a big conservation vision for the 11,250 square-mile Connecticut River watershed. Today the experiment has evolved into Connect the Connecticut, a collaborative effort among the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) and more than 30 partner agencies and organizations to conserve a network of lands and waters that sustain wildlife and people for generations to come. Learn more

Chesapeake Bay partners develop decision-support tool for black duck conservation
With support from the Chesapeake Bay Program and FWS, partners have developed a black duck decision-support tool that looks at current landscape conditions and expected change from urban growth and sea-level rise to highlight quality habitat for black duck within the Chesapeake Bay. Ducks Unlimited, FWS Ecological Services and Migratory Birds Programs, the Atlantic Coast and Black Duck Joint Ventures, the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, the Lower Shore Land Trust and the Virginia Outdoors Foundation are using the tool to collaborate on efforts to protect priority black duck habitat within Maryland and Virginia. Funds from NFWF will support costs associated with perpetual protection of 300 acres. For more information, contact Christina Ryder at (410) 573-4567.

Appalachian LCC, USFS research assesses ecosystem services benefits and risks
The Appalachian Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) and the U.S. Forest Service have released products from the first phase of an ongoing study assessing benefits of and risks to the region's "ecosystem services"—natural assets valued by people such as clean drinking water, outdoor recreation, forest products, and biological conservation. A wealth of data, maps, and other knowledge on ecosystem services and risks to their sustainability are now available on the “Ecosystem Benefits and Risks” website within the Appalachian LCC Web Portal. The new website provides regional resources and tools for planners, managers, and the interested public across the Appalachians. Learn more

A bridge to a more resilient future for Muddy Creek
The Muddy Creek Tidal Restoration Project in Chatham and Harwich, Mass., is the culmination of more than a decade of study undertaken by the towns, the Service, Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration, Pleasant Bay Alliance, Cape Cod Conservation District and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation. The $6.5 million project, completed this month, was supported by $3.3 million from the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 and a $1 million National Coastal Wetland Conservation Grant. The project restored tidal exchange to 55 acres of impaired tidal wetlands by replacing two undersized 3-­foot­-by­-4-foot culverts with a 94­-foot­-wide single­-span bridge. A 22-­foot-­wide tidal channel under the new bridge will restore a diversity of estuarine wetland types, improve water quality, restore shellfish beds and improve passage of fish and wildlife to Muddy Creek, while concurrently improving ecological resiliency and reducing community risk in the face of future coastal storms. FWS will work with project partners to monitor tide elevations and salinities, overall water quality, saltmarsh vegetation and fish and shellfish populations. Learn more

Partners developing a conservation design for the Patuxent River watershed
The FWS Chesapeake Coordination Office is supporting and guiding a landscape conservation design effort focusing on the Patuxent River watershed in the Chesapeake Bay region. The design will build from the experience of the Connect the Connecticut landscape conservation design for the Connecticut River watershed ( to establish a network of ecologically important and resilient habitats targeted for conservation. The Patuxent design effort is led by Dan Murphy, Chief of the Division of Habitat Conservation for the FWS Chesapeake Bay Field Office and is supported by partners from 20 public and private conservation organizations. Partners already have agreed on shared goals and objectives, representative species (such as Louisiana waterthrush, wood duck and river herring) and local and regional data sources to be employed in the design. For more information, contact Dan Murphy at (410) 573-4521.

FWS Migratory Bird, Refuge staff help inform harvest policy for Atlantic herring
FWS NW Marine Bird Catalog Database Manager Kaycee Coleman and Maine Coastal Islands NWR project leader Beth Goettel participated in a workshop held in Portland, Maine May 16-17 to establish a long-term harvest policy for Atlantic herring. The Migratory Bird and Refuges programs are helping to ensure seabirds are represented in this process, as herring are a critical forage resources for many species of seabirds and breeding colony crashes have been linked to declines in forage fish species. The workshop also provided an opportunity to network with managers, scientists, and others that are thinking about how to manage forage fish species in an ecosystem context. The workshop was hosted by the New England Fisheries Management Council.

What's in a wetland?
Wetlands are extraordinary, diverse places that provide critical habitat for countless birds, mammals, fish, plants, and invertebrates.  From nesting habitat for wood ducks to spawning grounds for northern pike, wetlands are vitally important to many fish and wildlife species.  In addition to wildlife habitat, wetlands provide numerous benefits such as flood protection, removing sediment and pollutants from lakes and rivers and providing recreation opportunities.  Learn more    

Science Delivery: Applying LCC science information and tools in the Keystone State
Pennsylvania is a landscape filled with abundant forests and wildlife, thousands of miles of rivers and streams, and home to a productive energy industry that includes the emergence of natural gas and alternative energy sources. To help address those and other issues, Appalachian LCC staff met with a variety of resource managers and on-the-ground scientists in late April for a hands-on workshop on LCC science and tools designed to inform resource management decisions and actions in the Keystone State. Learn more

FWS West Virginia Field Office hosts crayfish workshop
More than 30 people from agencies and consulting groups attended a Big Sandy/Guyandotte River Crayfish Workshop hosted the week of May 23 by the FWS West Virginia Field Office and West Virginia DNR. The workshop included lab and field components and covered biology, threats, ID, survey protocols, and data reporting requirements. Species expert, Dr. Zach Loughman assisted in conducting the workshop.

Other News

State of the Birds Report: More than one-third of North American birds in need of urgent conservation action
The 2016 State of North America’s Birds report identifies 432 species—ranging from from Laysan Albatross to Red-headed Woodpecker, Bobolink to Allen’s Hummingbird—listed in the report’s Watch List, owing to troubling signs such as population loss, range reduction, and threats to habitat. The report is based on the first-ever conservation vulnerability assessment for all 1,154 native bird species that occur in Canada, the continental United States, and Mexico. It was released May 18 by the North American Bird Conservation Initiative at a meeting of the Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation and Management in Ottawa, Canada. Learn more

The amphibian crisis is worse than you think (Nature World News)
Scientists are working continuously to come up with an emergency response to reverse the decline of amphibians across the United States. However, new research has confirmed there is no simple solution to stop or overturn amphibian declines. Writing in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey said there is no "smoking gun" to shut down the direct cause of their crumbling population all at once, as the new study revealed that reasons for amphibians' population decline varies across regions. Learn more

Climate change and the case of the shrinking Red Knots (New York Times)
Each spring, flocks of Red Knots fly up to 9,300 miles from the tropics to the Arctic. As the snow melts, they mate and produce a new generation of chicks. The chicks gorge themselves on insects, and then all the red knots head back south. A study published in the journal Science presents evidence that indicates climate change is putting pressure on the birds along their entire journey, possibly helping to drive down their population and making them yet another of many species around the world being affected by climate change. Learn more

Researchers say East Coast’s saltmarsh sparrow is disappearing (Associated Press)
The Associated Press reports he saltmarsh sparrow is disappearing from its home on the East Coast and could be headed for extinction in as little as 50 years, say scientists whose work could help protect the little birds.” University of Maine professor Brian Olsen, “one of the researchers studying the sparrow, said their population has dropped about 9 percent annually since 1998.” The FWS has “asked Olsen and the other researchers studying the sparrow to put together information about the bird so it can make a determination about whether it should be considered for protection.” Learn more

Unraveling spiral: The most compelling global warming visualization ever made (Washington Post)
Over the years, scientists have attempted to visually communicate the Earth’s warming in many ways.  They’ve developed an array of maps, charts, and animations that present an unmistakable picture of a warming world. But perhaps no visual is as striking and effective as the infographic posted on Twitter recently by climate scientist Ed Hawkins. Learn more

Upcoming Workshops, Meetings, Presentations and Webinars

June 2, 1 p.m. (EST) -- Webinar: Assessing Vulnerability of Fish and Invertebrates to Climate Change
This webinar provides an introduction to the NOAA Fisheries Fish Species Climate Vulnerability Assessment Methodology, which uses information on species life history characteristics, species distributions, and projected future climate and ocean conditions to estimate the relative vulnerability of fish species to changes in abundance or productivity methodology. Learn more

June 7-8 -- Learning from the Land National Workshop
College of Menominee Nation Sustainable Development Institute is offering this workshop for sharing indigenous ways of teaching and learning for sustainability science.  Keshena, WI. Learn more

Thursday, June 9, 2 p.m. EST -- Webinar: Evaluating Urban Forest and Marsh Condition in New York City. Clara Pregitzer, Natural Areas Conservancy & Yale University Christopher Haight, NYC Dept. of Parks & Rec. Learn more

June 11-15 -- Stream Simulation Design Workshop, Lewiston, Maine
A five-day training on the USDA Forest Service’s stream simulation method, an ecosystem-based approach for designing and constructing a channel through the road-stream crossing structure that reestablishes physical and ecological continuity along the stream corridor. Registration deadline is May 1st. Learn more

Thursday, June 16, 1 p.m. EST -- Webinar: Navigating the Data Basin Platform: A Guided Tour. Tosha Commendant, CBI. Learn more

June 20-21 -- Fish Passage Conference, Amherst, Mass.
This international conference on river connectivity best practices and innovations brings together researchers, educators, practitioners, funders, and regulators for a forum on advancements in technical fishways, stream restoration, dam removal, road ecology, and more, as well as social issues surrounding connectivity projects, such as funding, safety, and climate change. Learn more

Upcoming Chesapeake Watershed Science meetings/workshops/webinars:

  • Chesapeake Modeling Symposium 2016 – June 1-2, 2016, Williamsburg, VA
  • Beyond Nutrients: Case Studies and Tools for Addressing TMDLs- Conference on June 8, 2016. Linthicum Heights, MD. Call for speakers now open.
  • Citizen Science Association (CitSci2017) – February, Raleigh, NC

Submission deadline for the June edition: June 15, 2016

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: May 27, 2016