Southwest Biological Science Center

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The Southwest Biological Science Center (SBSC) conducts quality, objective research on the lands and aquatic systems of the Southwest. This research can assist those who manage, conserve, and rehabilitate the arid regions of the nation. Click on SCIENCE in the sidebar to the left to explore SBSC science in more detail.

Terrestrial Dryland Ecology Branch

Terrestrial Dryland Ecology Branch

The Terrestrial Dryland Ecology (TDE) Branch of the SBSC studies the biology, ecology,and processes of semi-arid and arid lands (known as drylands). TDE researchers study plant-soil-water relationships and the wildlife found in drylands.

TDE Science

River Ecosystem Science Branch

River Ecosystem Science Branch

The River Ecosystem Science (RES) Branch of the SBSC, which includes the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center (GCMRC), studies the biology, ecology, and processes of the rivers in the Southwest.

RES (GCMRC) Science

News

An extremely rare Mojave River western pond turtle was recently observed in the Mojave Desert.
May 23, 2017

An extremely rare Mojave River western pond turtle was recently observed by U.S. Geological Survey scientists and staff from The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in the Mojave Desert. Turtles of this population have rarely been seen since the late 1990s.

An adult bobcat approached a sleeping desert tortoise at a camera-monitored burrow at wind energy facility
May 16, 2017

Research on desert tortoises has received some press recently. SBSC scientists and their collaborators have been studying the influence of a wind turbine facility on potential predators of the tortoises and on the effects of drought on tortoises near Joshua Tree National Park. Their work was recently covered by Popular Science and the LA Times.

A radio-tracked adult desert tortoise basks in the sun among the wind turbines at a wind energy facility
May 3, 2017

How a wind energy facility is designed can influence the behavior of animal predators and their prey, according to a recent study published in The Journal of Wildlife Management by researchers at the University of California, Davis, and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Publications

Year Published: 2017

Hierarchical, quantitative biogeographic provinces for all North American turtles and their contribution to the biogeography of turtles and the continent

Our study represents the first attempt to describe biogeographic provinces for North American (México, United States, and Canada) turtles. We analyzed three nested data sets separately: (1) all turtles, (2) freshwater turtles, and (3) aquatic turtles. We georeferenced North American turtle distributions, then we created presence–absence matrices...

Ennen, Joshua R.; Matamoros, Wilfredo A.; Agha, Mickey; Lovich, Jeffrey E.; Sweat, Sarah C.; Hoagstrom, Christopher W.
Ennen, J.R., Matamoros, W.A., Agha, M., Lovich, J.E., Sweat, S.C., and Hoagstrom, C.W., 2017, Hierarchical, Quantitative Biogeographic Provinces for All North American Turtles and Their Contribution to the Biogeography of Turtles and the Continent: Herpetological Monographs v. 31, no. 1, p. 114-140, https://doi.org/10.1655/HERPMONOGRAPHS-D-16-00013.

Year Published: 2017

Greenup and evapotranspiration following the Minute 319 pulse flow to Mexico: An analysis using Landsat 8 Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data

In the southwestern U.S., many riparian ecosystems have been altered by dams, water diversions, and other anthropogenic activities. This is particularly true of the Colorado River, where numerous dams and agricultural diversions have affected this water course, especially south of the U.S.–Mexico border. In the spring of 2014, 130 million cubic...

Jarchow, Christopher J.; Nagler, Pamela L.; Glenn, Edward P.
Christopher J. Jarchow, Pamela L. Nagler, Edward P. Glenn, Greenup and evapotranspiration following the Minute 319 pulse flow to Mexico: An analysis using Landsat 8 Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) data, Ecological Engineering, 2016, ISSN 0925-8574, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoleng.2016.08.007.

Year Published: 2017

Competition amplifies drought stress in forests across broad climatic and compositional gradients

Forests around the world are experiencing increasingly severe droughts and elevated competitive intensity due to increased tree density. However, the influence of interactions between drought and competition on forest growth remains poorly understood. Using a unique dataset of stand-scale dendrochronology sampled from 6405 trees, we quantified how...

Gleason, Kelly; Bradford, John B.; Bottero, Alessandra; D'Amato, Tony; Fraver, Shawn; Palik, Brian J.; Battaglia, Michael; Iverson, Louis R.; Kenefic, Laura; Kern, Christel C.
Gleason, K.E., Bradford, J.B., Bottero, A., D’Amato, A.W., Fraver, S., Palik, B.J., Battaglia, M.A., Iverson, L., Kenefic, L., and Kern, C.C., 2017, Competition amplifies drought stress in forests across broad climatic and compositional gradients: Ecosphere, v. 8, no. 7, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ecs2.1849.