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


Date published: October 18, 2018

Where Have All the Turtles Gone, and Why Should We Care?

A recently published paper on the global status of turtles and their ecological roles generated quite a bit of media interest.

Date published: October 17, 2017

Future Temperature and Soil Moisture May Alter Location of Agricultural Regions

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.  

Date published: September 7, 2017

Increases in Wildfire-Caused Erosion Could Impact Water Supply and Quality in the West

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.


Year Published: 2018

Distribution, habitat, and population size of Island Night Lizards on San Nicolas Island, California

The Island Night Lizard (Xantusia riversiana) was removed from the federal list of threatened species in May 2014. This strongly differentiated species is endemic to 3 of the southern California Channel Islands—San Clemente, San Nicolas, and Santa Barbara. Suitable habitat for Island Night Lizards is extensive on San Clemente Island, and the...

Drost, Charles A.; Fellers, Gary M.; Murphey, Thomas R.; Kleeman, Patrick M.; Halstead, Brian J.; O'Donnell, Ryan P.
Drost, C.A., Fellers, G.M., Kleeman, P.M., Halstead, B.J., and O’Donnell, R.P., 2018, Distribution, habitat, and population size of island night lizards on San Nicolas Island, California: Western North American Naturalist, v. 78, no. 3, article 7, p. 358-369,

Year Published: 2018

Comparison of estimators for monitoring long-term population trends in deer mice, Peromyscus maniculatus, on the California Channel Islands

Capture-recapture methods are commonly used to estimate abundance and density of wild animal populations. Although a variety of sophisticated analytical techniques are available to evaluate capture-recapture data, vertebrate monitoring programs often lack the resources (e.g., time, personnel, and/or analytical expertise) to apply these methods. As...

Schwemm, Catherin A.; Drost, Charles A.; Orrock, John L.; Coonan, Timothy J.; Stanley, Thomas R.
Schwemm, C.A., Drost, C.A., Orrock, J.L., Coonan, T.J., and Stanley, T.R., 2018, Comparison of estimators for monitoring long-term population trends in Deer Mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) on the California Channel Islands: Western North American Naturalist, v. 78, no 3,

Year Published: 2018

Quantifying climate sensitivity and climate-driven change in North American amphibian communities

Changing climate will impact species’ ranges only when environmental variability directly impacts the demography of local populations. However, measurement of demographic responses to climate change has largely been limited to single species and locations. Here we show that amphibian communities are responsive to climatic variability, using >...

Miller, David A.W.; Campbell Grant, Evan H.; Muths, Erin L.; Amburgey, Staci M.; Adams, Michael J.; Joseph, Maxwell B.; Waddle, J. Hardin; Johnson, Pieter T.J.; Ryan, Maureen E.; Schmidt, Benedikt R.; Calhoun, Daniel L.; Davis, Courtney L.; Fisher, Robert N.; Green, David M.; Hossack, Blake R.; Rittenhouse, Tracy A.G.; Walls, Susan C.; Bailey, Larissa L.; Cruickshank, Sam S.; Fellers, Gary M.; Gorman, Thomas A.; Haas, Carola A.; Hughson, Ward; Pilliod, David S.; Price, Steven J.; Ray, Andrew M.; Sadinski, Walter; Saenz, Daniel; Barichivich, William J.; Brand, Adrianne B,; Brehme, Cheryl S.; Dagit, Rosi; Delaney, Katy S.; Glorioso, Brad M.; Kats, Lee B.; Kleeman, Patrick M.; Pearl, Christopher; Rochester, Carlton J.; Riley, Seth P. D.; Roth, Mark F.; Sigafus, Brent
Miller, D. A. W., Grant, E. H. C., Muths, E., Amburgey, S. M., Adams, M. J., Joseph, M. B., Waddle, J. H., Johnson, P. J. T., Ryan, M. E., Schmid, B. R., Calhoun, D. L., Davis, C. L., Fisher, R. N., Green, D. M., Hossack, B. R., Rittenhouse, T. A. G., Walls, S. C., Bailey, L. L., Cruickshank, S. S., Fellers, G. M., Gorman, T. A., Haas, C. A., Hughson, W., Pilliod, D. S., Price, S. J., Ray, A. M., Sadinski, W., Saenz, D., Barichivich, W. J., Brand, A. B., Brehme, C. S., Dagit, R., Delaney, K. S., Glorioso, B. M., Kats, L. B., Kleeman, P. M., Pearl, C. A., Rochester, C. J., Riley, S. P. D., Roth, M., and Sigafus, B. H., 2018, Quantifying climate sensitivity and climate-driven change in North American amphibian communities: Nature Communications, v. 9, no. Article number: 3926, p. 1-15.