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 & GCMRC

River Ecosystem Science Branch & GCMRC

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: February 12, 2019

Vegetation Recovery on Abandoned Oil and Gas Well Sites is Variable on Colorado Plateau

Recovery of vegetation on plugged and abandoned oil and gas well sites on the Colorado Plateau is influenced by time, moisture, nonnative plants and the type of plant community that was originally in place before well sites were constructed, according to a recently published study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

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: September 28, 2018

Large-scale Review of Amphibian Species and Community Response to Climate Change

Amphibian species and community richness has been declining in North America and climate change may play a role in these declines. Global climate change has led to a range shift of many wildlife species and thus understanding how these changes in species distribution can be used to predict amphibian community responses that may improve conservation efforts.


Year Published: 2019

Hydrologic function of rapidly induced biocrusts

In dryland ecosystems, land degradation and erosion pose severe threats to ecosystem productivity and human wellbeing. Bio‚Äźinoculation of degraded soils with native biological soil crusts ('biocrusts') is a promising yet relatively untested means to improve soil stability and hydrologic function (i.e. increase infiltration and reduce runoff). In a...

Fick, Stephen E.; Barger, Nichole N.; Duniway, Michael C.

Year Published: 2019

Relative prediction intervals reveal larger uncertainty in 3D approaches to predictive digital soil mapping of soil properties with legacy data

Fine scale maps of soil properties enable efficient land management and inform earth system models. Recent efforts to create soil property maps from field observations tend to use similar tree-based machine learning interpolation approaches, but often deal with depth of predictions, validation, and uncertainty differently. One of the main...

Nauman, Travis; Duniway, Michael C.

Year Published: 2019

Invasive buffelgrass detection using high-resolution satellite and UAV imagery on Google Earth Engine

 Methods to detect and monitor the spread of invasive grasses are critical to avoid ecosystem transformations and large economic costs. The rapid spread of non-native buffelgrass (Pennisetum ciliare) has intensified fire risk and is replacing fire intolerant native vegetation in the Sonoran Desert of the southwestern U.S. Coarse-resolution...

Elkind, Kaitlyn; Sankey, Temuulen T.; Munson, Seth M.; Aslan, Clare E.