Jump to main content.


The Western Ecology Division (WED) is one of four ecological effects divisions of the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory. The four divisions are distributed bio-geographically. WED's mission is 1) to provide EPA with national scientific leadership for terrestrial and regional-scale ecology, and 2) to develop the scientific basis for assessing the condition of aquatic resources and their response to natural and anthropogenic stresses

The Division addresses scientific issues of major importance in formulating public policies, programs, and regulations to protect and manage ecological resources. WED scientists conduct research in a range of scientific disciplines, usually working in multi-disciplinary teams. In addition to their work at the Division's facilities and field sites, they collaborate with leading scientists at research institutions throughout the world. The research addresses the ecological processes that determine the response of biological resources to environmental change and to land and resource use. Priority is given to those ecological systems at greatest risk, with emphasis on the scientific uncertainties that most seriously impede ecological risk assessment.

WED's research approach comprises two aspects: 1) developing an understanding of the structure and function of ecological systems, and 2) conducting analyses of ecological phenomena at the ecosystem, landscape, and regional scales. Key scientific disciplines include: terrestrial and aquatic (freshwater and marine) ecology, landscape ecology, wildlife biology, plant physiology, biotechnology, toxicology, biogeochemistry,  oceanography, geography, multivariate, geospatial statistics, and ecological risk assessment.

The Division seeks to advance scientific understanding through 1) experiments conducted in the laboratory and in specialized exposure chambers, 2) field studies, 3) modeling, and 4) analysis of large-scale environmental and ecological data sets. Scientists at WED provide technical support to EPA’s national Offices, Regions, States and Tribes in order to extend the results of our research to our clients. Technical support can vary from presenting the results of our research at workshops to conducting data analyses and ecological condition assessment with our client partners. Our ultimate objective is to be certain that the best available research information and analytical tools are available to the Agency and scientific community.

ORD Home | NHEERL Home

Local Navigation

Jump to main content.