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 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.


Year Published: 2018

Population history provides foundational knowledge for utilizing and developing native plant restoration materials

A species’ population structure and history are critical pieces of information that can help guide the use of available native plant materials in restoration treatments and decide what new native plant materials should be developed to meet future restoration needs. In the western United States, Pseudoroegneria spicata (bluebunch...

Massatti, Robert; Prendeville, Holly R.; Larson, Steve; Richardson, Bryce A.; Waldron, Blair; Kilkenny, Francis F.
Massatti, R., Prendeville, H.R., Larson, S., Richardson, B.A., Waldron, B., and Kilkenny, F.F., 2018, Population history provides foundational knowledge for utilizing and developing native plant restoration materials: Evolutionary Applications,

Year Published: 2018

Where have all the turtles gone, and why does it matter?

Of the 356 species of turtles worldwide, approximately 61% are threatened or already extinct. Turtles are among the most threatened of the major groups of vertebrates, in general, more so than birds, mammals, fishes or even the much besieged amphibians. Reasons for the dire situation of turtles worldwide include the familiar list of impacts to...

Lovich, Jeffrey E.; Ennen, Joshua R.; Agha, Mickey; Gibbons, J. Whitfield
Lovich, J.E., Ennen, J.R., Agha, M., and Gibbons, J.W., 2018, Where have all the turtles gone and why does it matter?: BioScience, online,

Year Published: 2018

Approaches for improving field soil identification

Use of soil survey information by non-soil-scientists is often limited by their inability to select the correct soil map unit component (COMP). Here, we developed two approaches that can be deployed to smartphones for non-soil-scientists to identify COMP from the location alone or location together with easily observed field data (i.e., slope,...

Fan, Zhaosheng; Wills, Skye A.; Herrick, Jeffrey E.; Nauman, Travis; Brungard, Colby W.; Beaudette, Dylan E.; Levi, Matthew R.; O’Geen, Anthony T.
Fan, Z., Wills, S.A., Herrick, J.E., Nauman, T.W., Brungard, C.W., Beaudette, D.E., Levi, M.R., and O'Geen, A.T., 2018, Approaches for Improving Field Soil Identification: Soil Science Society of America Journal, v. 82, no. 4, p. 871-877,