Ecosystems

Status and Trends

The living resources of the United States, and the habitats on which they depend, are undergoing constant change due to human and natural influences. To protect and conserve the living resources—plants, animals, habitats, ecosystems—entrusted to their care, land and resource managers must understand the condition, or status (e.g., abundance, distribution, productivity, health), of those resources as well as their trends (i.e., how these variables change over time).

Credible information about the status and trends of natural resources is required at a variety of spatial and temporal scales to detect changes that may signal degradation or improvement of natural systems, or to identify new or emerging conditions that signal the need for management action or further investigative research.

Status and trends information is required to

  • evaluate the effectiveness of specific management actions,
  • to validate research results and models, and
  • to promote a broad understanding and appreciation of the natural resources that support our society.

An understanding of the status and trends of natural resources is also critical to adaptive resource management, a sequential decision-making process for continually improving management policies and practices by learning from the outcomes of previous decisions and management actions.

Program Goals

  • Describe and track the abundance, distribution, productivity, and health of the Nation’s plants, animals, and ecosystems.
  • Develop and evaluate inventory and monitoring methods, designs, tools, models, and technologies to measure and track biological status and trends.
  • Collaborate with partners to collect, manage, and share data and information to determine and understand biological status and trends.
  • Describe and deliver information and synthesis products to meet the needs of stakeholders including natural resource managers, policy- and decision-makers, researchers, and the public.

What We Do

We study the changing condition of genomes, organisms, biological communities; linkages between populations; predictive modeling; and patterns of resources over time using historic and current data and analyses.

We support advances in methods for accurate and unbiased estimates of population status and change through cutting-edge sampling design and statistical methods.

Our research is designed to better understand effectiveness of management practices to improve conditions for key species, and to track and understand the trends of species affected by changes in land use and other environmental drivers. These data are useful for resource managers who need to know how and where to focus their efforts and resources.

National Contact

Jake Weltzin

jweltzin@usgs.gov

520-626-3821

Sources:

Carousel Photos: Juvenile Mariana Fruit Bat. Photo courtesy of Anne Brooke, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
A lone coyote (Canis latrans) standing in sagebrush on a ridge somewhere in Wyoming. Photo courtesy of John Mosesso, USGS.
Young barn swallows. Photo courtesy of David Ellis, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Handies Peak Wilderness Study Area. Photo courtesy of Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management California. A monarch butterfly, a honey bee and an alfalfa leafcutter bee gather nectar from a showy milkweed. Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS.