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 rivers in the western United States, with an emphasis on the Southwest.

GCMRC & RES Science


Date published: March 10, 2020

Small-Scale Water Deficits After Wildfires Create Long-Lasting Ecological Impacts

Moisture deficit affects ecological processes and land management interventions, such as restoration of native vegetation. 

Date published: July 25, 2019

USGS Press Release: Plant age drives mortality, reproductive success and population dynamics

A USGS press release was published today highlighting a paper describing possible limitations of big sagebrush restoration in the American West after wildfires.   

Date published: June 27, 2019

Why Sagebrush Re-establishment After Fire is so Difficult

Big sagebrush ecosystems are particularly sensitive to wildfires and life history information on big sagebrush is scarce and vital for restoration success.


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Year Published: 2020

The right trait in the right place at the right time: Matching traits to environment improves restoration outcomes

(Munson) The challenges of restoration in dryland ecosystems are growing due to a rise in anthropogenic disturbance and increasing aridity. Plant functional traits are often used to predict plant performance and can offer a window into the potential outcomes of restoration efforts across environmental gradients. We tracked 15 years of seeding...

Balazs, Kathleen R.; Kramer, Andrea T.; Munson, Seth M.; Talkington, Nora; Still, Shannon; Butterfield, Bradley J.

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Year Published: 2020

A need for speed in Bayesian population models: A practical guide to marginalizing and recovering discrete latent states

Bayesian population models can be exceedingly slow due, in part, to the choice to simulate discrete latent states. Here, we discuss an alternative approach to discrete latent states, marginalization, that forms the basis of maximum likelihood population models and is much faster. Our manuscript has two goals: 1) to introduce readers unfamiliar...

Yackulic, Charles B.; Dodrill, Michael J.; Dzul, Maria C.; Sanderlin, Jamie S.; Reid, Janice A.

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Year Published: 2020

The historical context of contemporary climatic adaptation: A case study in the climatically dynamic and environmentally complex southwestern United States

The process of adaptation can be highly dependent upon historical and contemporary factors, especially in environmentally and topographically complex regions affected by Pleistocene glaciations. Here, we investigate Hilaria jamesii (Poaceae), a dryland C4 graminoid, to test how patterns of adaptive genetic variation are linked to...

Massatti, Robert; Knowles, L. Lacey