Aquatic Health

The USGS Fisheries Program investigates a range of anthropogenic and natural environmental stressors that affect populations and health of aquatic species of management interest. Stressors include energy development from conventional and unconventional oil and gas, hydropower, hydrokinetics, dams and other barriers to fish migration, and water removal for domestic, industrial, and agricultural use. USGS research focuses on fish physiology and behavioral characteristics, vulnerability assessments, and development of indicator tools that can be used to inform decisions with the goal of sustaining and enhancing fisheries resources in concert with human uses.

Unconventional Oil and Gas (UOG) Effects on Ecosystems

Brine Contamination to Plains and Potholes Environments from Energy Development in the Williston Basin

In the Williston Basin, the USGS-led Science Team about Energy and Plains and Pothole Environments (STEPPE)is identifying areas most likely at risk to contamination, assessing the spatial relations between development and aquatic resources and potential impacts, and refining methods for detecting contamination.

Related Publication: Brine Contamination to Aquatic Resources from Oil and Gas Development in the Williston Basin, United States

New Tool Rates Stream Vulnerability to Unconventional Oil and Gas Development

The newly developed vulnerability index shows that streams with the highest sensitivity and exposure to stressors may be most vulnerable to unconventional oil and gas development.

Related Publication: Stream Vulnerability to Widespread and Emergent Stressors: A Focus on Unconventional Oil and Gas

Climate Change

In Hot Water: Climate Change Reaches Underwater & Impacts Freshwater Fisheries

Climate change affects how fish reproduce, grow and where they can live, and it impacts warmwater and coldwater fish differently.

Fisheries Climate Change Projects

Our current research effort is to improve our understanding of the biocomplexity, resilience, and function of aquatic ecosystems to better inform future predictions of fish and aquatic ecosystems as they respond to a changing environment.

Related Product: Physiological and ecological effects of increasing temperature on fish production in lakes of Arctic Alaska

New Model Improves Predictions for How Climate Change Will Affect Fish Habitat

A new approach by U.S. Geological Survey scientists to modeling water temperatures resulted in more realistic predictions of how climate change will affect fish habitat by taking into account effects of cold groundwater sources.

Related Publication: Accounting for groundwater in stream fish thermal habitat responses to climate change

Population Genetics: Environmental DNA

Endangered Salmon Population Monitored with eDNA for First Time

Endangered Chinook salmon can be detected accurately from DNA they release into the environment.

Related Publication: Moving environmental DNA methods from concept to practice for monitoring aquatic macroorganisms

Relationship between fish presence and abundance in Arizona standing waters measured through standard techniques and environmental DNA

Our current research effort is to improve our understanding of the biocomplexity, resilience, and function of aquatic ecosystems to better inform future predictions of fish and aquatic ecosystems as they respond to a changing environment.

Western Aquatic Ecosystem Studies: Biology, Genetics and Ecology

interactions between species and their biotic and abiotic environments is critical to the health and dynamics of food webs and community structure.

Related Publications: A legacy of divergent fishery management regimes and the resilience of rainbow and cutthroat trout populations in Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park, Washington

Hybridization between Yellowstone cutthroat trout and rainbow trout alters the expression of muscle growth-related genes and their relationships with growth patterns


Fish Diseases

USGS fish disease research is focused on developing advanced tools for rapid disease detection and control.

Western Fish Health and Disease

The fish disease research program is focused on understanding the factors that control the distribution and severity of infectious diseases affecting both wild and hatchery fish.

Related Publication: Experimental infection of six North American fish species with the North Carolina strain of spring Viremia of Carp Virus

Science Confirms Successful Strategy to Protect Threatened Steelhead from Virus

After experiencing severe losses to IHNV in the steelhead trout program at Dworshak National Fish Hatchery in Idaho for years, managers and fish health specialists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worked with researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey to identify the source of the problem and developed a strategy to control it.

Related Publication: Successful mitigation of viral disease based on a delayed exposure rearing strategy at a large-scale steelhead trout conservation hatchery


Top Photo: Coho slamon and trout in the Salmon River. Photo courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management.