ment agencies such as the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Reclamation, or a local agency (see Boxes 2-1 and 2-2), or as part of multiagency regional efforts such as the Everglades (NRC, 2007, and next section) and Chesapeake Bay restoration (

There are various examples of success in these collaborative efforts. Those described in Boxes 2-1 and 2-2 were feasible because of multidisciplinary cooperation. There are also a number of river science collaborations (NRC, 2007), including:

  • Developing successful strategies to sustain or rehabilitate the ri-parian ecosystem of the central Platte River through an understanding of the linkages among hydrology, river morphology, biological communities, and ecosystem processes; and

  • The Long Term Resource Monitoring Program along the Upper Mississippi River System, which incorporates data on fisheries, macroinvertebrates, vegetation, water quality, land cover, bathymetry, sedimentation, water levels and discharge, and wildlife.

The regional offices, which coordinate most USGS activities in their respective regions, are working to better knit the disciplines together and have had some success. For example, at a state level, the Alaska Science Center and Florida Integrated Science Center are experiments in the integration of biological, geological, geographic, and water science. Such efforts should continue, to the extent they are cost-effective and realistic to manage.

However, there are institutional obstacles within the USGS that impede collaboration among the Disciplines. One fundamental factor is the lack of co-location of their scientists (NRC, 2001b; NRC 2007). Most Geology Discipline scientists are in Reston, Virginia; Denver, Colorado; and Menlo Park, California; while many Geography Discipline scientists are at the Earth Resources Observation Systems (EROS) Data Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota or the Mid-Continent Geographic Science Center in Rolla, Missouri. WRD scientists are located at these regional centers but also in 48 water Science Centers throughout the country. And most of the Biological Resources Discipline scientists are located at 18 science and technology centers and, to a lesser extent, in cooperative research units at 40 universities around the country. This physical separation does not encourage frequent, informal discussions that often lead to interdisciplinary projects.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement