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

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.

Small screens installed perpendicular to the soil surface and native plant seeds being raked into soil
December 28, 2016

A video put out by CBS discusses some of the ecological issues of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in UT such as nonnative annual grasses, disturbance caused by cattle grazing, and the difficulty of getting native, perennial grasses established. The video focuses on the research of SBSC’s Rebecca Mann and Mike Duniway, who are studying the use connectivity modifiers (ConMods) in restoration.

Publications

Long-term fish monitoring in large rivers: Utility of “benchmarking” across basins
Year Published: 2017

Long-term fish monitoring in large rivers: Utility of “benchmarking” across basins

In business, benchmarking is a widely used practice of comparing your own business processes to those of other comparable companies and incorporating identified best practices to improve performance. Biologists and resource managers designing and conducting monitoring programs for fish in large river systems tend to focus on single river basins or segments of large rivers, missing opportunities...

Aridity increases below-ground niche breadth in grass communities
Year Published: 2017

Aridity increases below-ground niche breadth in grass communities

Aridity is an important environmental filter in the assembly of plant communities worldwide. The extent to which root traits mediate responses to aridity, and how they are coordinated with leaf traits, remains unclear. Here, we measured variation in root tissue density (RTD), specific root length (SRL), specific leaf area (SLA), and seed size within and among thirty perennial grass communities...

Differential responses of dinitrogen fixation, diazotrophic cyanobacteria and ammonia oxidation reveal a potential warming-induced imbalance of the N-cycle in biological soil crusts
Year Published: 2017

Differential responses of dinitrogen fixation, diazotrophic cyanobacteria and ammonia oxidation reveal a potential warming-induced imbalance of the N-cycle in biological soil crusts

N2 fixation and ammonia oxidation (AO) are the two most important processes in the nitrogen (N) cycle of biological soil crusts (BSCs). We studied the short-term response of acetylene reduction assay (ARA) rates, an indicator of potential N2 fixation, and AO rates to temperature (T, -5°C to 35°C) in BSC of different successional stages along the BSC ecological succession and geographic origin (...