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USGS releases assessment of nation's biological resources

The common theme of a report detailing the first large-scale assessment of the health and status and trends of the nation's biological resources is that across the United States land use, water use and invasive species are the three factors most responsible for reported and often dramatic declines in the country's plants, animals and ecosystems, said Dr. Charles G. "Chip" Groat, director of the U.S. Geological Survey, in a keynote speech today announcing the release of the government report.

The two-volume report, Status and Trends of the Nation's Biological Resources, was presented today at the S. Dillon Ripley Center in the Smithsonian Institution in an event sponsored by the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Smithsonian Institute for Conservation Biology, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The report was produced by the U.S. Geological Survey with contributions from nearly 200 experts from federal government, academic and nongovernmental communities, including a section on marine resources written by the National Marine Fisheries Service. It synthesizes current information on status and trends of biological resources with a historical perspective of ecosystems across the country to assess how the nation's resources are changing. The report also covers the major factors that affect biological resources nationwide.

The report, said Groat, documents that the major land-use changes negatively affecting the health of biological resources are urbanization, conversion of lands to agriculture, draining of wetlands and the fragmentation of forests. "For example," he said, "in seven states once covered with native grasslands, less than 1 percent of the native tall-grass prairie habitat remains. Losses are due to agriculture, grazing, urbanization and mineral extraction. The result is that native grassland bird species have shown more consistent, widespread and steeper declines than any other grou
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Contact: Catherine Haecker
catherine_haecker@usgs.gov
703-648-4090
United States Geological Survey
17-Sep-1999


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