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USGS at The Wildlife Society: From sea-ice change to contaminants to predators and prey

a strongly punctuated shift. Jim Estes will discuss the mechanisms underlying these transitions, the influence on other species and ecosystem processes, the unexpected recent collapse of the sea otter-kelp forest ecosystem in southwest Alaska, and insights and conclusions that have emerged from almost 40 years of work on the interaction dynamics between sea otters and kelp forests and the potential relevance of these insights to other large predator-prey ecosystems. Jim Estes, Session 33, Tuesday, Sep 26, 2006, 9:20 a.m. - 9:40 a.m.

Mercury in giant garter snakes:

Habitat destruction is the main factor in the decline of giant garter snake populations, but the effects of contaminants are unknown for this threatened endemic of wetlands of the Central Valley of California. To contribute to the recovery of these snakes, the USGS has been studying the life history and habitat use of giant garter snakes since 1995. From specimens of dead giant garter snakes encountered in the field, researchers have conducted analyses for mercury and a variety of other elements to determine if mercury or other trace element contamination may be affecting giant garter snake populations. Although contaminants in snakes have been poorly studied, and it is difficult to know threshold values of toxins, mercury concentrations in these samples indicate that the effects of mercury on giant garter snakes should be studied further. Glenn Wylie, Session 48, Wednesday, Sep 27, 2006, 8:00 a.m. -12:00 p.m.

Are contaminants from winter areas affecting surf scoter reproduction?

During 2005, a USGS-led team tracked a surf scoter from its coastal wintering area in the San Francisco Bay to pinpoint its nest 2000 miles away in the vast northern boreal forest of interior Canada. By tracking these migratory birds to their nests, scientists are learning about effects of contaminants accumulated by the ducks from southern wintering regions on their reproduc
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Contact: Catherine Puckett
cpuckett@usgs.gov
352-264-3532
United States Geological Survey
25-Sep-2006


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