Cooperative Research Units
Education, Research And Technical Assistance For Managing Our Natural Resources
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Identification, characterization, and threat assessment of groundwater dependent ecosystems in the northeastern United States with an integrated GIS- and field survey-based approach


August 2018 - September 2020


Groundwater is an important source of freshwater for human populations worldwide, and management of this resource typically is focused on ensuring quality and quantity for human use. Many aquatic systems receive groundwater as a portion of base water flow, and in some systems (e.g., springs, seepages, subterranean streams, fens, vernal pools) the connection with groundwater is significant and important to the system’s integrity and persistence. Groundwater management decisions for human use often do not consider ecological effects of those actions on groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs), which rely on groundwater to maintain ecological function. This disconnect between management and ecological needs potentially results in damage to these resources that have repercussions for both GDEs and human populations that rely on them. This is a collaboration of the US Geological Survey Maine Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the University of Maine, and Tennessee State University. Our research is proposed in stages, initially applying spatial analysis tools to identify areas likely to contain GDEs, followed by field-based assessment of selected areas predicted to contain high quality GDEs or GDE clusters, to better understand their landscape context and watershed-level threats, characterize hydrologic conditions, and describe the species they support. Products will include an assessment of threats to areas predicted to contain GDEs, a user guide for deploying continuous hydrological monitoring equipment, and resources for evaluating GDE presence in areas predicted to contain these systems.


Current Staff

Federal Staff: 101

Masters Students: 239

Phd Students: 154

Post Docs: 55

University Staff: 241

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 695

Scientific Publications: 1962

Presentations: 4417



Funding Agencies

  • USGS-SSP Program


Cooperative Research Units Program Headquarters Cooperators

  1. U.S. Geological Survey