Southwest Biological Science Center

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Photo of USGS scientist Sasha Reed studying outdoor biocrust testing sites
September 26, 2016

USGS scientist Sasha Reed studys outdoor biocrust testing sites

USGS scientist Sasha Reed studies sites where different climate conditions are being mimicked to determine effect on biocrusts.

Arid and semiarid ecosystems are expected to experience significant changes in temperature and precipitation patterns, which may affect soil organisms in ways that cause surfaces to become lighter in color and thus reflect more sunlight,

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Photo of biocrust outdoor testing plots.
September 26, 2016

Biocrust outdoor testing plots.

USGS scientists created outdoor testing plots where large squares of biocrusts were exposed to different warming and precipitation factors over time. Researchers not only looked at how the biocrusts responded, but also measured the amount of energy that the different biocrust communities reflected back into the atmosphere relative to how much energy came in from the sun.

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Sonoran desert spring wildflower display.
March 31, 2016

Sonoran Desert Wildflowers and Invasive Species

Ecosystems are changing at a rapid pace. It can be difficult to determine if a landscape is in need of restoration. In this photo of the spring wildflower bloom in the Sonoran desert, an invasive annual grass, Bromus rubens (red brome), is pervasive. Land managers have to make decisions about when, where, and how to intervene in a system. Does this grass pose a threat to

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La Sal Mountain Range
January 13, 2016

La Sal Mountain Range

Snow-capped peaks of the La Sal Mountain Range as seen from the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park. This is one area in the Southwest where biocrust plays an important role. 

Aerial view showing greenup of restoration plots in the lower Colorado River Delta following the 2014 Minute 319 pulse flow.
October 31, 2015

Aerial view of lower Colorado River

Aerial view showing the intense greenup of restoration plots in the lower Colorado River Delta following the 2014 Minute 319 pulse flow.

Photo of remains of a southwestern pond turtle as found in the dry lake bed of Elizabeth Lake, Los Angeles California.
September 16, 2015

Remains of a southwestern pond turtle in Elizabeth Lake, California

Salt-encrusted remains of a southwestern pond turtle (Actinemys pallida) as found in the dry lake bed of Elizabeth Lake, Los Angeles County, California. Note the heavy coating of evaporites on the carcass. Most living turtles collected in 2014 had similar but varying degrees of coatings on the head, limbs and shell.

Almost all of the turtles living in a southern

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Photograph of Elizabeth Lake in the fourth year of drought and two years after the Powerhouse Fire.
September 16, 2015

Photograph of Elizabeth Lake in the fourth year of drought

Photograph of Elizabeth Lake in the fourth year of drought and two years after the Powerhouse Fire. Note salt encrustation of surface and small accumulations of water remaining in the foreground and background.

Almost all of the turtles living in a southern California lake died following a large fire and years of drought, according to a new USGS report.

Photo of USGS soil scientist Travis Nauman records vegetation data on decommissioned well pad.
August 31, 2015

USGS scientist records vegetation data on decommissioned well pad

USGS soil scientist Travis Nauman records vegetation data on decommissioned well pad.

Photo of USGS soil scientist Travis Nauman records vegetation data on decommissioned well pad.
August 31, 2015

USGS scientist records vegetation data on decommissioned well pad

USGS soil scientist Travis Nauman records vegetation data on decommissioned well pad.

Photo of USGS scientist Jessica Mikenas collects surface soil pH data on decommissioned well pad.
August 31, 2015

USGS scientist collects data on decommissioned well pad

USGS scientist Jessica Mikenas collects surface soil pH data on decommissioned well pad.

Photo of USGS soil scientist Travis Nauman examines biological soil crust communities near an abandoned well pad during field wo
August 31, 2015

Examining biological soil crust near an abandoned well pad

USGS soil scientist Travis Nauman examines biological soil crust communities near an abandoned well pad during field work.

Photo of an active oil and gas pad on Bureau of Land Management lands near Canyonlands National Park, Utah.
November 30, 2014

Active oil and gas pad near Canyonlands National Park

Active oil and gas pad on Bureau of Land Management lands near Canyonlands National Park, Utah.