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: 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.

Date published: April 25, 2019

GCMRC Updates

The Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center currently has 11 active science projects as a part of its Triennial Work Plan (FY2018-2020) for work conducted as the science provider to the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program.  New developments, recent publications and other current activities will be listed here.  Check here to find out the latest information from the Center.


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Year Published: 2019

Safety in numbers: Cost-effective endangered species management for viable populations

We develop a bioeconomic model to identify the cost-effective control of an invasive species (rain-bow trout) to achieve a population viability goal for an endangered species (humpback chub) in the Grand Canyon of the U.S. southwest. The population viability optimization problem is no-toriously difficult to solve due to a probabilistic restriction...

Donovan, Pierce; Bair, Lucas S.; Yackulic, Charles B.; Springborn, Michael R.

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Year Published: 2019

Digital mapping of ecological land units using a nationally scalable modeling framework

Ecological site descriptions (ESDs) and associated state-and-transition models (STMs) provide a nationally consistent classification and information system for defining ecological land units for management applications in the United States. Current spatial representations of ESDs, however, occur via soil mapping and are therefore confined to the...

Maynard, Jonathan J.; Nauman, Travis W.; Salley, Shawn W.; Bestelmeyer, Brandon T.; Duniway, Michael C.; Talbot, Curtis J.; Brown, Joel R.

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Year Published: 2019

Rapid broad-scale ecosystem changes and their consequences for biodiversity

Biodiversity contributes to and depends on ecosystem structure and associated function. Ecosystem structure, such as the amount and type of tree cover, influences fundamental abiotic variables such as near-ground incoming solar radiation (e.g., Royer et al. 2011), which in turn affects species and associated biodiversity (e.g., Trotter et al. 2008...

Breshears, David D.; Field, Jason P.; Law, Darin J.; Villegas, Juan C.; Allen, Craig D.; Cobb, Neil S.; Bradford, John B.
Breshears, D.D., Field, J.P., Law, D.J., Villegas, J.C., Allen, C.D., Cobb, N.S., and Bradford, J.B., 2019, Rapid broad-scale ecosystem changes and their consequences for biodiversity, in Lovejoy, T.E., and Lee, H., eds., Biodiversity and climate change--Transforming the biosphere: New Haven, Yale University Press, p. 80-90.