Southwest Biological Science Center

Land Use and Energy Development

Filter Total Items: 24
Date published: December 30, 2016
Status: Active

Biofuels in the Southwest

Concerns about energy security and rising greenhouse gas emissions have stimulated an unprecedented increase in the push for alternative energy use, including the use of plant biomass as a source of renewable energy (bioenergy). However, meeting alternative energy goals, while also meeting food demands and mitigating potential detrimental effects of industrialized agriculture, has emerged as a...

Date published: December 29, 2016

A Field Guide to Biological Soil Crusts of Western U.S. Drylands

Biological soil crusts (biocrusts) are commonly found on the soil surface in arid and semi-arid ecosystems (collectively called drylands). Biocrusts can consist of mosses, cyanobacteria, lichens, algae, and microfungi, and they strongly interact with the soil. These organisms or consortium of disparate organisms, depending on the specific biocrust, are important to the functioning of...

Contacts: Jayne Belnap, Matthew Bowker
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 15, 2016
Status: Active

Economics of Outdoor Recreation

Economic research at Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center is used to determine economic benefits of outdoor recreation in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area below Glen Canyon Dam and in Grand Canyon National Park, as affected by operation of Glen Canyon Dam. This research identifies recreationists’ preferences for attributes associated with their trips, spending that occurs regionally...

Contacts: Lucas Bair
Date published: December 14, 2016
Status: Active

Endangered Cacti in Arizona

Arizona is the home to at least 10 cacti that are listed as endangered, threatened, or under conservation agreement. Land use and management activities that occur on federal, and to some extent state, lands on which the cacti occur require consultation among the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the agency managing the land on which the cacti is growing, and the party proposing an...

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 ...

Date published: December 8, 2016

The Dry Valleys of Antarctica: Mapping the Effects of Human Trampling on Soils

Increasing numbers of people would like to visit the Dry Valleys of Antarctica.  However, many nations have signed a treaty to protect the natural resources there as much as possible. Likely impacts include the aesthetic impact of long-lasting trails and increased wind erosion that deposits sediment on glaciers and sea ice. This project will identify areas able to withstand human trampling...

Contacts: Jayne Belnap
Date published: December 8, 2016
Status: Active

Wildlife use of Highway Underpasses in Southern California

As a result of growing human populations, many areas have become urbanized and highly developed, leaving natural native habitats fragmented across the landscape.  In southern California many of the remaining patches on native habitat are bisected by major, multi-lane highway systems.  Threats to the long-term sustainability of native wildlife populations include genetic isolation, where...

Date published: December 7, 2016
Status: Active

Desert Tortoise Ecology and Renewable Energy Development

The desert Southwest is experiencing rapid development of utility-scale solar and wind energy facilities. Although clean renewable energy has environmental benefits, it can also have negative impacts on wildlife and their habitats. Understanding those impacts and effectively mitigating them is a major goal of industry and resource managers. One species of particular concern is Agassiz’s desert...

Date published: December 6, 2016
Status: Active

Big Sagebrush Ecosystem Response to Climate & Disturbance

Big sagebrush ecosystems are a major component of landscapes in the western U.S. and provide vital habitat to a wide array of wildlife species.  However, big sagebrush ecosystems have been dramatically impacted by disturbances in the past several decades. This collaborative research between USGS and the University of Wyoming focuses on understanding how climatic and soil conditions influence...

Contacts: John B Bradford
Date published: December 5, 2016
Status: Active

Desert Tortoise Ecology in Joshua Tree National Park

Agassiz’s desert tortoises (Gopherus agassizii) approach the southern edge of their mostly Mojave Desert range near Joshua Tree National Park. Modern desert tortoise research started in the Park in 1978 when the first tortoise population census was conducted on a one square mile area in the Pinto Basin known as the “Barrow Plot.” U.S. Geological Survey research began at the plot in 1997 and...