Southwest Biological Science Center


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


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.


Year Published: 2017

Southwest Exotic Mapping Program (SWEMP) Database, 2007

The Southwest Exotic Plant Mapping Program (SWEMP) is a collaborative effort between the United States Geological Survey and federal, tribal, state, county and non-governmental organization (NGO) partners in the southwest. This project is an ongoing effort to compile and distribute regional data on the occurrence of non-native invasive plants in...

Thomas, Kathryn A.; Guertin, Patricia
Thomas, K.A., Guertin, P., 2017, Southwest Exotic Mapping Program (SWEMP) Database, 2007: U.S. Geological Survey data release,

Year Published: 2017

Reclamation after oil and gas development does not speed up succession or plant community recovery in big sagebrush ecosystems in Wyoming

Article for intended outlet: Restoration Ecology. Abstract: Reclamation is an application of treatment(s) following a disturbance to promote succession and accelerate the return of target conditions. Previous studies have framed reclamation in the context of succession by studying its effectiveness in re-establishing late-successional plant...

Rottler, Caitlin M.; Burke, Ingrid C.; Palmquist, Kyle A.; Bradford, John B.; Lauenroth, William K.
Rottler, C.M., Burke, I.C., Palmquist, K.A., Bradford, J.B., and Lauenroth, W.K., 2017, Current reclamation practices after oil and gas development do not speed up succession or plant community recovery in big sagebrush ecosystems in Wyoming: Restoration Ecology, v. (online),

Year Published: 2017

Ecohydrological role of biological soil crusts across a gradient in levels of development

Though biological soil crusts (biocrusts) form abundant covers in arid and semiarid regions, their competing effects on soil hydrologic conditions are rarely accounted for in models. This study presents the modification of a soil water balance model to account for the presence of biocrusts at different levels of development (LOD) and their impact...

Whitney, Kristen M.; Vivoni, Enrique R.; Duniway, Michael C.; Bradford, John B.; Reed, Sasha C.; Belnap, Jayne
Whitney, K. M., Vivoni, E. R., Duniway, M. C., Bradford, J. B., Reed, S. C., and Belnap, J. (2017) Ecohydrological Role of Biological Soil Crusts Across a Gradient in Levels of Development. Ecohydrol., doi: 10.1002/eco.1875.