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: 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.

Date published: June 21, 2019

SBSC Research on Barred and Spotted Owls Covered by Ecological Society of America

The Ecological Society of America put out a press release on a paper that investigated the relative importance of barred owl competition and habitat on northern spotted owls in an effort to assist managers. The lead author of the paper is Charles Yackulic of the USGS Southwest Biological Science Center.


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Year Published: 2019

Managing sand along the Colorado River to protect cultural sites downstream of Glen Canyon Dam

The construction of Glen Canyon Dam in northern Arizona has greatly reduced the supply of sand to the Colorado River corridor through Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Grand Canyon National Park, hereafter referred to as Glen Canyon and Grand Canyon, respectively. This deficit has strongly affected the natural sediment cycle in this iconic...

Cook, Terri; East, Amy; Fairley, Helen; Sankey, Joel B.
Cook, T., East, A., Fairley, H., and Sankey, J.B., 2019, Managing sand along the Colorado River to protect cultural sites downstream of Glen Canyon Dam: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2019–3054, 6 p.,

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Year Published: 2019

Climate-driven shifts in soil temperature and moisture regimes suggest opportunities to enhance assessments of dryland resilience and resistance

Assessing landscape patterns in climate vulnerability, as well as resilience and resistance to drought, disturbance, and invasive species, requires appropriate metrics of relevant environmental conditions. In dryland systems of western North America, soil temperature and moisture regimes have been widely utilized as an indicator of resilience to...

Bradford, John; Schlaepfer, Daniel R.; Lauenroth, William K.; Palmquist, Kyle A.; Chambers, Jeanne C.; Maestas, Jeremy D.; Campbell, Steven B.

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Year Published: 2019

A framework for quantifying resilience to forest disturbance

(Bradford) The concept of ecological resilience is an invaluable tool to assess the risk of state transitions and predict the impact of management on an ecosystem’s response to future disturbances. However, resilience is difficult to quantify and the factors contributing to resilience are often unknown in systems subject to multiple disturbances....

Bryant, Timothy; Waring, Kristen; Sánchez, Meador; Bradford, John B.