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

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.

Date published: September 6, 2017

Wildfire and Invasive Species Drives Increasing Size and Cost of Public Land Restoration Efforts

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.

Publications

Year Published: 2018

Hydrological regime and climate interactively shape riparian vegetation composition along the Colorado River, Grand Canyon

Question: How closely do riparian plant communities track hydrological and climatic variation in space, and how do interactions among hydrological and climatic filters influence success of different management strategies? Location: Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA Methods: Multi-year vegetation surveys were conducted across a three hydrological zones –...

Butterfield, Bradley J.; Palmquist, Emily C.; Ralston, Barbara
Butterfield, B.J., Palmquist, E., and Ralston, B., 2018, Hydrological regime and climate interactively shape riparian vegetation composition along the Colorado River, Grand Canyon: Applied Vegetation Science, online, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/avsc.12390.

Year Published: 2018

Dryland photoautotrophic soil surface communities endangered by global change

Photoautotrophic surface communities forming biological soil crusts (biocrusts) are crucial for soil stability as well as water, nutrient and trace gas cycling at regional and global scales. Quantitative information on their global coverage and the environmental factors driving their distribution patterns, however, are not readily available. We...

Rodriguez-Caballero, Emilio; Belnap, Jayne; Büdel, Burkhard; Crutzen, Paul J.; Andreae, Meinrat O.; Pöschl, Ulrich; Weber, Bettina
Rodriguez-Caballero, E., Belnap, J., Büdel, B., Crutzen, P.J., Andreae, M.O., Pöschl, U., and Weber, B., 2018. Dryland photoautotrophic soil surface communities endangered by global change: Nature Geoscience, v. 11, p.185–189, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41561-018-0072-1. doi:10.1038/s41561-018-0072-1

Year Published: 2018

Warm water temperatures and shifts in seasonality increase trout recruitment but only moderately decrease adult size in western North American tailwaters

Dams throughout western North America have altered thermal regimes in rivers, creating cold, clear “tailwaters” in which trout populations thrive. Ongoing drought in the region has led to highly publicized reductions in reservoir storage and raised concerns about potential reductions in downstream flows. Large changes in riverine thermal regimes...

Dibble, Kimberly L.; Yackulic, Charles B.; Kennedy, Theodore A.
Dibble, K.L., Yackulic, C.B., and Kennedy, T.A., 2018, Warm water temperatures and shifts in seasonality increase trout recruitment but only moderately decrease adult size in western North American tailwaters: Environmental Biology of Fishes, early view available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10641-018-0774-7.