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

6" tall hardware cloth connectivity modifier (ConMod) used to provide a safe space for native plant seedling establishment
April 18, 2017

Mike Duniway and Becky Mann were interviewed by KZMU, a community radio station located in Moab, UT. They discussed a strategy that uses 6" tall structures to provide safe places for native plant seed germination and seedling survival, and should benefit restoration efforts in water-limited systems.

Photo of remains of a southwestern pond turtle as found in the dry lake bed of Elizabeth Lake, Los Angeles California.
April 10, 2017

Almost all of the turtles living in a southern California lake died following a large fire and years of drought, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey report published in the journal Knowledge and Management of Aquatic Ecosystems.

Photo of biocrusts providing soil stability in the desert
March 16, 2017

The Arizona Daily Sun published an article about a recently published paper that investigated the consequences of altered temperature and moisture regimes on biological soil crusts and the resultant effects on soil surface albedo

Publications

A window of opportunity for climate-change adaptation: Easing tree mortality by reducing forest basal area
Year Published: 2017

A window of opportunity for climate-change adaptation: Easing tree mortality by reducing forest basal area

Increasing aridity as a result of climate change is expected to exacerbate tree mortality. Reducing forest basal area – the cross-sectional area of tree stems within a given ground area – can decrease tree competition, which may reduce drought-induced tree mortality. However, neither the magnitude of expected mortality increases, nor the potential effectiveness of basal area reduction, has been...

The effects of drought and fire in the extirpation of an abundant semi-aquatic turtle from a lacustrine environment in the southwestern USA
Year Published: 2017

The effects of drought and fire in the extirpation of an abundant semi-aquatic turtle from a lacustrine environment in the southwestern USA

We documented a significant mortality event affecting a southwestern pond turtle (Actinemys pallida) population living in a lake in southern California, USA. The area around the lake was impacted by a large wildland fire in 2013 that occurred during a protracted drought. As the mortality event was still unfolding, we collected data in 2014 on water quality, demographic structure, and short-term...

Benefits of the destinations, not costs of the journeys, shape partial migration patterns
Year Published: 2017

Benefits of the destinations, not costs of the journeys, shape partial migration patterns

1. The reasons that lead some animals to seasonally migrate, and others to remain in the same area year-round, are poorly understood. Associations between traits, such as body size, and migration provide clues. For example, larger species and individuals are more likely to migrate.2. One explanation for this size bias in migration is that larger animals are capable of moving faster (movement...