NOROCK Science Emphases

In 2007, the USGS developed a new science strategy outlining major natural-science issues facing the Nation and focusing on areas where natural science can make a substantial contribution to the well-being of the Nation and the world. These areas include global climate change, water resources, natural hazards, energy and minerals, ecosystems, and data integration. Science accomplishments of the Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center are based on government goals specific to protection and conservation of natural resources and fall under these new programming areas.

Climate and Land Use Change

Changing land use is placing increasing pressure on wildlife resources and requires more complicated analyses to identify potential consequences and trade-offs of management alternatives. Couple that with global climate change, and resource managers face unprecedented challenges in the management of natural resources. We work with managers in the northern Rockies and elsewhere to evaluate these changes and predict their impacts on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

Terrestrial Ecosystems

The Northern Rockies are blessed with an abundance of plant and animal species that have remained relatively intact since the Lewis and Clark expedition in the early 19th century. Expanding energy development, increasing human population pressures, and the continued demand on global water resources make the management of wildlife more complicated than ever. We work collaboratively with partners to study key life history and habitat needs of these species.

Aquatic Ecosystems and Water

Native fish and amphibian populations have declined drastically throughout North America over the past century as a consequence of habitat degradation and nonnative species introductions. Although management actions have improved the probability of persistence of the these taxa in some areas, recent invasions of nonnative species (e.g., lake trout, rainbow trout, New Zealand mud snails, American bullfrogs, Northern pike and Asian carps) present challenges to the persistence of native species.