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


Dryland agriculture in the Northwestern Great Plains ecoregion.
October 17, 2017

Future high temperature extremes and soil moisture conditions may cause some regions to become more suitable for rainfed, or non-irrigated, agriculture, while causing other areas to lose suitable farmland, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study.  

A wildfire in a forest
September 7, 2017

A growing number of wildfire-burned areas throughout the western United States are expected to increase soil erosion rates within watersheds, causing more sediment to be present in downstream rivers and reservoirs, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Image: Burning Sagebrush
September 6, 2017

An examination of long-term data for lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management finds that land treatments in the southwestern United States are increasingly large, expensive and related to fire and invasive species control.


Year Published: 2018

Variability in eddy sandbar dynamics during two decades of controlled flooding of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon

Sandbars are iconic features of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, Arizona, U.S.A. Following completion of Glen Canyon Dam in 1963, sediment deficit conditions caused erosion of eddy sandbars throughout much of the 360 km study reach downstream from the dam. Controlled floods in 1996, 2004, and 2008 demonstrated that sand on the channel...

Mueller, Erich R.; Grams, Paul E.; Hazel, Joseph E.; Schmidt, John C.
Mueller, E.R., Grams, P.E., Hazel Jr., J.E., and Schmidt, J.C., 2017, in press, Variability in eddy sandbar dynamics during two decades of controlled flooding of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon: Sedimentary Geology, v. (online),

Year Published: 2018

Landscape-scale processes influence riparian plant composition along a regulated river

Hierarchical frameworks are useful constructs when exploring landscape- and local-scale factors affecting patterns of vegetation in riparian areas. In drylands, which have steep environmental gradients and high habitat heterogeneity, landscape-scale variables, such as climate, can change rapidly along a river's course, affecting the relative...

Palmquist, Emily C.; Ralston, Barbara; Merritt, David M.; Shafroth, Patrick B.
Palmquist, E.C., Ralston, B.E., Merritt, D.M., and Shafroth, P.B., 2017, in press, Landscape-scale processes influence riparian plant composition along a regulated river: Journal of Arid Environments, v. (online),

Year Published: 2017

Case studies of capacity building for biodiversity monitoring: Chapter 13

Monitoring the status and trends of species is critical to their conservation and management. However, the current state of biodiversity monitoring is insufficient to detect such for most species and habitats, other than in a few localised areas. One of the biggest obstacles to adequate monitoring is the lack of local capacity to carry out such...

Walters, Michele; Scholes, Robert J.; Schmeller, Dirk S.; Arvanitidis, Christos; Böhm, Monika; Brummitt, Neil; Chatzinikolaou, Eva; Costello, Mark J.; Ding, Hui; Gill, Michael J.; Haase, Peter; Juillard, Romain; García-Moreno, Jaime; Pettorelli, Nathalie; Peng, Cui; Riginos, Corinna; Schmiedel, Ute; Simaika, John P.; Waterman, Carly; Wu, Jun; Xu, Haigen; Belnap, Jayne
Schmeller, D.S., Arvanitidis, C., Böhm, M., Brummitt, N., Chatzinikolaou, E., Costello, M.J., Ding, H., Gill, M.J., Haase, P., Julliard, R., García-Moreno, J., Pettorelli, N., Peng, C., Riginos, C., Schmiedel, U., Simaika, J.P., Waterman, C., Wu, J., Xu, H., and Belnap, J., 2017, Case studies of capacity building for biodiversity monitoring in Walters, M., and Scholes, R.J., The GEO Handbook on Biodiversity Observation Networks: Cham, Switzerland, Springer International Publishing, Springer Nature, p. 309-326,