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

View from Canyonlands Research Center
March 15, 2017

Arid and semiarid ecosystems are expected to experience significant changes in temperature and precipitation patterns, which may affect soil organisms in ways that cause surfaces to become lighter in color and thus reflect more sunlight, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study.

Oil well pad in a dryland ecosystem dominated by shrubs. 
February 14, 2017

Several news sources have reported on a recently published paper by Travis Nauman and Mike Duniway titled, “Disturbance automated reference toolset (DART): assessing patterns in ecological recovery from energy development on the Colorado Plateau”.  

Photo of an active oil and gas pad on Bureau of Land Management lands near Canyonlands National Park, Utah.
February 7, 2017

A new scientific approach can now provide regional assessments of land recovery following oil and gas drilling activities, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.

Publications

Channel mapping river miles 29–62 of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, May 2009
Year Published: 2017

Channel mapping river miles 29–62 of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, May 2009

Bathymetric, topographic, and grain-size data were collected in May 2009 along a 33-mi reach of the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. The study reach is located from river miles 29 to 62 at the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers. Channel bathymetry was mapped using multibeam and singlebeam echosounders, subaerial topography was mapped using ground-based...

Changes in community-level riparian plant traits over inundation gradients, Colorado River, Grand Canyon
Year Published: 2017

Changes in community-level riparian plant traits over inundation gradients, Colorado River, Grand Canyon

Comparisons of community-level functional traits across environmental gradients have potential for identifying links among plant characteristics, adaptations to stress and disturbance, and community assembly. We investigated community-level variation in specific leaf area (SLA), plant mature height, seed mass, stem specific gravity (SSG), relative cover of C4 species, and total plant cover over...

Importance of the 2014 Colorado River Delta pulse flow for migratory songbirds: Insights from foraging behavior
Year Published: 2017

Importance of the 2014 Colorado River Delta pulse flow for migratory songbirds: Insights from foraging behavior

The Lower Colorado River provides critical riparian areas in an otherwise arid region and is an important stopover site for migrating landbirds. In order to reverse ongoing habitat degradation due to drought and human-altered hydrology, a pulse flow was released from Morelos Dam in spring of 2014, which brought surface flow to dry stretches of the Colorado River in Mexico.