Southwest Biological Science Center

Climate Change and Drought

Filter Total Items: 28
Date published: December 16, 2016

Restoration and Ecosystem Recovery Dynamics in Arid and Semiarid Landscapes

Dryland regions have been degraded by invasive species, wildfire, overgrazing, agricultural conversion, energy development, recreational activity, and urban growth. These disturbances and others are accelerated by one of the fastest growing human populations in the country and a pressing background of decreasing water availability due to drought and elevated temperatures that are projected to...

Contacts: Seth Munson
Date published: December 16, 2016

Colorado Plateau Native Plant Program Field Trial Study

In the southwest US, monsoon precipitation increases sharply along a northwest to southeast gradient. Pleuraphis jamesii or galleta grass, is an important C4 grass species that spans across this large range in precipitation pattern. In this study we are assessing the ability of galleta grass to adapt to changes in the seasonality of rainfall (termed “plasticity”). In the fall of 2014, we...

Contacts: Mike Duniway, Ph.D., Dave Hoover
Date published: December 15, 2016
Status: Active

Dryland Forest Sustainability

Forests in the semiarid southwestern U.S. are expected to be highly vulnerable to increasing aridity anticipated with climate change.  In particular, low elevation forests and the processes of tree regeneration and mortality are likely to be highly susceptible to climate change.  This work seeks to characterize how, where and when forest ecosystems will change and identify management...

Contacts: John Bradford
Date published: December 15, 2016
Status: Active

Ecohydrology and Climate Change in Drylands

Drylands cover 40% of the global terrestrial surface and provide important ecosystem services. However, climate forecasts in most dryland regions, especially the southwest U.S., call for increasing aridity. Specifically, changing climate will alter soil water availability, which exerts dominant control over ecosystem structure and function in water-limited, dryland ecosystems.  This research...

Contacts: John Bradford
Date published: December 15, 2016
Status: Active

New Approaches for Restoring Colorado Plateau Grasslands

Historic over-grazing of arid grasslands in the Intermountain West has led to widespread soil erosion, loss of plant diversity, and invasion by exotic species.  Degraded grassland conditions can be very persistent, even after livestock use has ceased. For example, in national parks on the Colorado Plateau, livestock have been excluded for decades, but soil and native plants have not recovered...

Contacts: Mike Duniway, Ph.D., Rebecca Mann, Terry Fisk, Liz Ballenger
Date published: December 14, 2016

Plant Responses to Drought and Climate Change in the Southwestern United States

Land managers face tremendous challenges in the future as drought and climate change alter the abundance, distribution, and interactions of plant species. These challenges will be especially daunting in the southwestern US, which is already experiencing elevated temperatures and prolonged droughts, resulting in reduced soil moisture in an already water-limited environment.  These changes will...

Contacts: Seth Munson
Date published: December 14, 2016

Aeolian Dust in Dryland Landscapes of the Western United States

Dust emission caused by wind erosion has received considerable attention because of its far-reaching effects on ecosystems, including the loss of nutrients and water-holding capacity from source areas, changes to climate and global energy balance in areas where dust is entrained in the atmosphere, fertilization of terrestrial and marine ecosystems, in addition to decreases in snow albedo,...

Contacts: Seth Munson
Date published: December 13, 2016

Measuring Water Requirements Of Riparian Regions in the Southwestern U.S. Compared with Drylands in Australia

Floodplain red gum forests are sites of high biodiversity in arid regions of south Australia. They depend on periodic floods from rivers, but dams and diversions have reduced flood frequencies, leading to deterioration of the trees. We determined the water requirements of red gum trees so environmental flows can be used to restore and maintain the forests. We used measurements of transpiration...

Contacts: Pamela Nagler
Date published: December 13, 2016

Using Imagery to Monitor Riparian and Upland Vegetation Along the San Pedro River, Arizona

The Upper San Pedro River is one of the few remaining undammed rivers that maintain a vibrant riparian ecosystem in the southwest. However, its riparian forest is threatened by diminishing groundwater and surface water inputs, due to either changes in watershed characteristics such as changes in riparian and upland vegetation, or human activities such as regional groundwater pumping. We used...

Contacts: Pamela Nagler
Date published: December 9, 2016

How Increasing Temperatures Affect Tropical Forests

Tropical forests take in and store more carbon than any other biome in the world, but increasing temperatures may pose a threat to this invaluable service. This research aims to explore how temperature affects key tropical forest functions, such as plant photosynthesis and soil respiration. To do this, the Tropical Responses to Altered Climate Experiment (TRACE) project will use infrared...

Date published: December 9, 2016
Status: Active

RAMPS: Restoration Assessment & Monitoring Program for the Southwest

The Restoration Assessment and Monitoring Program for the Southwest (RAMPS) seeks to assist U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and other land management agencies in developing successful techniques for improving land condition in dryland ecosystems of the southwestern United States. Invasion by non-native species, wildfire, drought, and other disturbances are growing...

Date published: December 8, 2016
Status: Active

Turtle Ecology

Turtles are among the most recognizable and iconic of animals. Any animal with a shell and a backbone is a turtle whether they are called turtles, tortoises, or terrapins. In fact, terrapin is an Algonquian Native American name for turtle. Worldwide there are 356 turtle species on all continents except for Antarctica. The United States has more species than any other country with about 62 ...