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Weekly Highlights

MEMORANDUM

From: Gabrielle Boudreaux Bodin
Subject: Weekly Highlights, USGS National Wetlands Research Center, March 21, 2013  

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Departmental/Bureau News - Current

  • USGS Offers New Approach to Cleaning Signals in Ecological Analyses: Donald Schoolmaster of Fiver Rivers Services LLC at the USGS National Wetlands Research Center, NWRC scientist Jim Grace, and other USGS and National Park Service collaborators have published a new paper in Ecological Indicators entitled, “A causal examination of the effects of confounding factors on multimetric indices.” This paper describes and demonstrates a new approach to adjusting for the environmental gradients that typically confound our ability to detect human disturbance from bioindicators. Failing to adjust for these environmental factors can result in biased multimetric indices. The study found that the “whole-set” adjustment strongly outperformed the more commonly used “reference-set” approach. (Jim Grace, Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8632)

  • Hydrology and Vegetation Data Improve Landscape Change Simulation Models: USGS ecologists Gregg Snedden and Greg Steyer recently published a paper in Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science entitled “Predictive occurrence models for coastal wetland plant communities: delineating hydrologic response surfaces with multinomial logistic regression.” This study uses hydrology and vegetation data from 173 sites to construct a model that predicts the probability of occurrence for nine coastal wetland plant communities based on salinity and flooding data. Including these occurrence probabilities into existing landscape change models could increase their accuracy and enhance their ability to predict landscape changes in response to continued hydrologic alterations such as river diversions, levee construction and sea-level rise occurring in coastal wetlands throughout the world. (Gregg Snedden; Baton Rouge, La; 225-578-7583)

  • Seminar on Transitioning from Statistical Models to SEM: USGS NWRC Research Ecologist Jim Grace presented a seminar at NWRC on March 20 entitled “Transitioning from descriptive statistical models to structural equation models.” Ecologists spend a great deal of time and effort learning modern statistical methods and tools to analyze data. However, traditional training in statistics rarely goes beyond the basic tasks of description and estimation to consider how one evaluates the causal networks that regulate systems. As a result, an intellectual separation exists between the enterprises of statistical description and causal modeling. Grace believes one factor contributing to this is the use of separate toolboxes by statisticians and those using structural equation models to investigate causal hypotheses. In his talk, he illustrated how to develop and evaluate structural equation models for the study of complex cause-effect hypotheses using traditional statistical modeling methods. Data from studies of wetland ecosystems and wildlife populations were used in these analyses. (Jim Grace; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8632)

  • High School Seniors Learn About USGS Careers: High school seniors from Ascension Episcopal School in Youngsville, Louisiana, visited the USGS National Wetlands Research Center on March 20. The students learned about careers at USGS from scientists Jason Dugas and Hardin Waddle and from Information Specialist Gabrielle Bodin. The USGS provides a number of career and student opportunities for students interested in science. (Gabrielle Bodin; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8655)

  • Climate Community of Practice Webinar: USGS NWRC Director Phil Turnipseed and Information Specialist Gabrielle Bodin will participate in a Webinar March 27 hosted by the Climate Community of Practice in the Gulf of Mexico. NOAA’s Gulf of Mexico Regional Collaboration Team and the four Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant Programs worked together to form the Climate Community of Practice. The community brings together extension, outreach, and education professionals with community officials to learn how coastal communities can adapt to sea-level rise, precipitation changes and other climate-related issues. Virginia Burkett, USGS Chief Scientist for Global Change, and Lynne Carter, Program Manager for LSU/NOAA Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program, will provide a briefing on the National Climate Assessment report. They will focus on key messages the group can use in outreach and adaptation work. (Phil Turnipseed; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8501)

  • GOMA Federal Work Group Webinar: USGS NWRC Director Phil Turnipseed, Branch Chief Scott Wilson, and Ecologist Kathryn Spear will participate in a Gulf of Mexico Alliance Federal Work Group Webinar on March 28. Participants will view a presentation on the Gulf of Mexico results from the Coastal Wetlands Status and Trends report and will then provide input on priorities, stressors, gaps, and needs of coastal wetlands. The input will be used to help guide the next steps of the Coastal Wetlands Work Group. The Alliance is a partnership of the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, with the goal of significantly increasing regional collaboration to enhance the ecological and economic health of the Gulf of Mexico. GOMA has identified priority issues that are regionally significant and can be effectively addressed through increased collaboration at local, State, and Federal levels. (Phil Turnipseed; Lafayette, La.; 337-266-8501)

  • Gulf of Mexico Data Atlas Development: USGS NWRC Director Phil Turnipseed, Branch Chief Scott Wilson, and Ecologist Kathryn Spear will participate in the next Gulf of Mexico Data Atlas Prototype Executive Steering Committee teleconference on March 28. The Gulf of Mexico Data Atlas is truly a collaborative effort. In January 2011, a workshop was held at Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve to assess user needs and requirements related to the development of a pilot digital data atlas for the Gulf of Mexico. A steering committee was established to provide guidance on the first maps to be released. The Gulf of Mexico Data Atlas has data from Federal, State, non-governmental agencies, and academia. (Phil Turnipseed; Lafayette, La; 337-266-8655)

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