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ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Pacific walrus population roughly halved between 1981 and 1999, the last year for which demographic data are available. A recent study by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey quantifies this historic population decline. The 18 year decline identified by the study was not steady across that period. The decline was most severe in the mid-1980s, and then moderated in the 1990s.
If the moderating trend has continued up to the present time then the population might be stabilized. That, however, cannot be determined until more recent data are collected and analyzed. USGS is working to obtain the data needed to close the gap from collection of the last demographic data to the present day. This information will be vital because the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is expected to determine whether the Pacific walrus should be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2017. Population dynamics, such as those investigated in this USGS study, will be a critical factor in the decision.
“We integrated data from many sources,” said lead author of the study research statistician Rebecca Taylor, with the USGS Alaska Science Center in Anchorage. “These included annual harvest records, 6 age structure surveys and 5 population size surveys conducted at various times over the 32 year study. The age structure data—collected between 1981 and 1999—were particularly informative, and enabled us to quantify the population decline and the birth and death rates that caused it.”
Scientists think past walrus population dynamics were affected mainly by harvest. Previous work suggests the population probably increased rapidly in the 1960s due to reduced hunting and reached or exceeded the size that could be supported by food resources in the late 1970s to early 1980s. The decline quantified by the USGS analysis was probably initiated by this overabundance of walruses and exacerbated by a return to the relatively high harvests of the 1980s.
“The decline probably was prompted by these historical reasons, but we can’t rule out other possible contributing factors,” said Taylor. “The environment isn’t static, and food may have become less available to walruses over time, possibly because of sea ice loss.” Sea ice is important to walruses because they rest on it between dives to the ocean floor to eat clams and other invertebrates.
Taylor’s analytical approach allows the incorporation of new data to understand more recent population dynamics. In 2013 and 2014, the USGS, USFWS and the Alaska Department of Fish & Game jointly surveyed walruses in Bering Strait and the Chukchi Sea to estimate current age structures and test a new method of estimating population size using a genetic mark-and-recapture approach. Another survey is planned for 2015.
In 2011, due to the combined threats of harvest and sea ice loss, the USFWS determined that listing of the population as threatened under the Endangered Species Act was warranted but was precluded by higher priorities. The agency is under a court order to make a listing decision in 2017.
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The FEMA Public Assistance program provides funding for emergency actions undertaken by communities as well as aid to repair or replace damaged public infrastructure.Language English
DENVER – When Colorado’s historic rains fell last September, help came quickly.
Resources went to areas that needed it most thanks, in part, to the innovative work of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Region VIII Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) unit in Denver.Language English
One Year After Historic Colorado Flooding: Disaster Unified Review Team Expedites Environmental Recovery
DENVER – One year after devastating historic flooding, a team of specialized recovery partners is working together in a unified approach to environmental and historic preservation. The top objective of the team is to help expedite long-term recovery in the Centennial State – and in ways that will also benefit recovery after future disasters.Language English
In the aftermath of the 2013 Colorado floods, FEMA and other agencies brought in personnel from all over the country to assist. At the other end of the spectrum were 54 local residents that FEMA hired to support response and recovery efforts. Following a disaster declaration, FEMA frequently hires local residents to work in various positions, augmenting existing staff. By hiring locals, the agency gets a unique perspective and critical local knowledge.Language English
DENTON, Texas — Fire departments in Arkansas and Louisiana and been awarded more than $2.49 million in preparedness grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
In Arkansas, the grants total more than $1.3 million and cover a variety of items including:Language English
DENTON, Texas — Emergency management agencies in Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas have been awarded more than $2.5 million in preparedness grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
In Oklahoma, the grants total more than $1million and cover a variety of items such as:
• Firefighting equipment for the Blanchard Fire Department, the city of Ponca City, the Frederick Fire Department, the Hanna Rural Fire Association, the Marble City Volunteer Fire Association and the Grady County Fire Department;Language English
LEETOWN, W.Va. -- New USGS-led research suggests that fish exposed to estrogenic endocrine-disrupting chemicals may have increased susceptibility to infectious disease.
Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals can affect the reproductive system and cause the development of characteristics of the opposite sex, such as eggs in the testes of male fish. Wild- caught fish affected by endocrine-disrupting chemicals have been found in locations across the county. Estrogenic endocrine-disrupting chemicals are derived from a variety of sources from natural estrogens to synthetic pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals that enter the waterways.
In this study, researchers discovered that cellular receptors for estrogen were present in cells of the channel catfish immune system, which alters the immune system response. These cellular receptors are similar to “on-off switches” that require a lock and key for activation. The study looked at channel catfish because of their well-researched leukocyte cell lines. Leukocytes are immune system cells involved in defending the body against infectious disease and foreign invaders.
Estrogens have been shown to modify immune system responses in mammals and a diverse group of ray-finned fishes that include tunas, halibut, herring and catfish. Most fish species are members of this group, called teleosts. Prior to this research few studies looked at how estrogen receptors in fish leukocytes function.
The study also marks the first time the dynamics of estrogen receptor gene behavior has been evaluated in activated immune cells. Immune cells are either activated or not, much like a dimmable light, there are degrees of activation. The researchers found that all cells of the immune system are not likely to be equally affected.
“We found that B-cells that produce antibodies, T-cells that regulate and coordinate immune responses and destroy virus-infected cells, and macrophages that gobble up invaders, have different arrays of estrogen receptors,” said lead author, USGS research biologist Luke Iwanowicz. “It is likely that these cells are instructed by estrogens differently.”
Iwanowicz noted that this work moves researchers one step closer to better understanding the consequences of exposure to estrogenic substances on the immune function in fish. “This new research not only means that endocrine disruptors may make fish more prone to disease, but it also provides the context and baseline data to enhance our ability to conduct similar work in wild-caught fishes and investigate relationships between disease in the aquatic environments and endocrine disruptors.”
Based on these findings, future research would explore age-related differences as well as seasonal differences in fish and estrogenic endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure.
The journal article, “Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) leukocytes express estrogen receptor isoforms ERα and ERβ2 and are functionally modulated by estrogens,” by L.R. Iwanowicz, J.L. Stafford, R. Patino, E. Bengten, N.W. Millerand V.S. Blazer, is available online in Fish & Shellfish Immunology.
New York, NY, August 7, 2014 – Thirty-six self-contained breathing apparatuses (SCBAs) will replace outmoded equipment used by three regional fire companies in Upper Deerfield Township, in New Jersey’s northern Cumberland County, it was announced here today by Ms. Dale McShine, Director of Grants for Region II of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The life-saving equipment will be provided through a grant from the Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG), a FEMA program. The federal grant’s value was $243,948; the local share was $12,197.Language English
FEMA and Urban Assembly School for Emergency Management Improve Community Disaster Resiliency through America’s PrepareAthon!
New York, NY – New York and New Jersey have seen their share of weather disasters in recent years. Based on recent experience and on current assessments of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the region is likely to endure continuing shifts in weather patterns, prompting a need for emergency management expertise, as well as community preparedness for severe weather.Language English
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Friday, March 28, 2014, released Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for Ocean County that reflect the latest refinements to the ongoing analysis of flood hazards. This release is the next step in the coastal Flood Insurance Study update. The Preliminary FIRMs replace the Preliminary Work Maps for Ocean County that were released in June of 2013 as an interim product.Language English
Replaces 39-Year Old Vehicle Used to Train NYS Firefighters
New York, NY -- The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services’ Office of Fire Prevention and Control (OFPC) has received a federal grant to purchase a new, well outfitted fire truck that will be used in the training of New York State’s firefighters that attend training at the New York State Academy of Fire Science, FEMA’s Ms. Dale McShine announced here today.Language English
Attend Open House and Learn about Flood Risks in Your Community
ATLANTA – People who live in Palm Beach County and its municipalities are invited to look at newly revised preliminary digital flood insurance rate maps for the county at four public open houses during the week of September 8th, 2014. Flood maps show the extent to which areas are at risk for flooding, and are used to help determine flood insurance and building requirements.Language English
ATLANTA – September is National Preparedness Month, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) encourages everyone to make disaster preparedness a priority.
“National Preparedness Month reminds us that we all need to be ready for disasters and emergencies,” said FEMA Region IV Acting Regional Administrator Andrew Velasquez III. “September is also the height of hurricane season, so preparing now is even more critical for families and businesses in the Southeast.”Language English
DENVER – It’s been one full year since historic flooding forced many Colorado residents from their homes. As the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) continues partnering with the State of Colorado on recovery, here is an overview of temporary housing assistance that is still in progress while survivors get back on their feet.Language English
CHICAGO – Smartphones offer a world of knowledge and information at your fingertips. Keeping your phone at hand is second nature, so why not take the time to turn it into a life-saving device in times of emergencies?
Disaster preparedness begins with knowing your risks, making a communications plan and having an emergency supply kit with essentials such as water, food, flashlights and medications. Go beyond the basics to enhance your readiness with the following digital tools and tips:Language English
Individual Assistance ProgramsLanguage English
NEW YORK – With the obligation of more than $982 million to New York University’s Langone Medical Center along with many other projects, disaster assistance funding from FEMA’s Public Assistance program to help rebuild New York after Hurricane Sandy now exceeds $3.8 billion.Language English
1 Joint Field Office established to coordinate recovery efforts (located in Centennial)
11 Number of counties designated for FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program.
15 Applicants FEMA has provided funding for stream clearance
18 Number of counties designated for FEMA’s Public Assistance Program.
20 Total households that are licensed into Manufactured Housing Units
21 Communities that hosted federal/state Disaster Recovery CentersLanguage English