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

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


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.

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.  


Year Published: 2018

Agassiz’s desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) activity areas are little changed after wind turbine-induced fires in California

Wind turbine-induced fires at a wind energy facility in California, USA, provided an opportunity to study the before and after effects of fire on a population of protected Agassiz’s desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) in the Sonoran Desert, a species and ecosystem poorly adapted to fire. We compared annual activity areas (AAs) of tortoises in...

Lovich, Jeffrey E.; Agha, Mickey; Ennen, Joshua R.; Arundel, Terence R.; Austin, Meaghan

Year Published: 2018

Using research networks to create the comprehensive datasets needed to assess nutrient availability as a key determinant of terrestrial carbon cycling

A wide range of research shows that nutrient availability strongly influences terrestrial carbon (C) cycling and shapes ecosystem responses to environmental changes and hence terrestrial feedbacks to climate. Nonetheless, our understanding of nutrient controls remains far from complete and poorly quantified, at least partly due to a lack of...

Vicca, Sara; Stocker, Benjamin; Reed, Sasha C.; Wieder, William R.; Bahn, Michael; Fay, Philip A.; Janssens, Ivan; Lambers, Hans; Penuelas, Josep; Piao, Shilong; Rebel, Karin; Sardans, Jordi; Sigurdsson, Bjarni D.; Van Sundert, Kevin; Wang, Ying-Ping; Zaehle, Sonke; Ciais, Philippe

Year Published: 2018

Chronic physical disturbance substantially alters the response of biological soil crusts to a wetting pulse, as characterized by metatranscriptomic sequencing

Biological soil crusts (biocrusts) are microbial communities that are a feature of arid surface soils worldwide. In drylands where precipitation is pulsed and ephemeral, the ability of biocrust microbiota to rapidly initiate metabolic activity is critical to their survival. Community gene expression was compared after a short duration (1 hour)...

Steven, Blaire; Belnap, Jayne; Kuske, Cheryl R.