Southwest Biological Science Center

Terrestrial Ecosystems and Restoration

Filter Total Items: 38
Collared mountain lion between large rocks
Date Published: December 21, 2017
Status: Active

Mountain Lions of the Intermountain West

The presence of top predators is considered an indication of ecosystem health and can play a vital role in ecosystem functioning by promoting biodiversity, and can contribute to regulating prey species abundance, and herbivory.  In the intermountain west, the largest mammalian predator and obligate carnivore is the mountain lion, Puma concolor.  This elusive and wide-ranging predator...

Cattle behind a fence in a dry environment containing few plants and a lot of exposed soil.
Date Published: August 5, 2017

Distributed Field Trial Network for Dryland Restoration

Recovery from disturbance represents a substantial challenge to agencies that manage large tracts of land in the Southwest. Despite the demand for restoration and rehabilitation, little information is available to help managers effectively reestablish native perennial vegetation and stabilize soils, especially given changing climate and disturbance regimes.

Forestry and agriculture have...

Contacts: Molly McCormick, Seth Munson, Brad Butterfield
Delicate Arch, a sandstone arch, at Arches National Park
Date Published: April 24, 2017

Colorado Plateau Futures: Understanding Agents of Change on the Colorado Plateau to Facilitate Collaborative Adaptation

The objective of this interdisciplinary research effort is to 1) characterize agents of change important to land management decision makers on the Colorado Plateau; 2) identify and analyze relationships between agents of change and key landscape attributes and processes; 3) collectively assess the influence of agents of change and attributes and processes on the services provided by the...

Drill rig in the distance off a dirt road in a semi-aid system.
Date Published: February 28, 2017

Southwest Energy Development and Drought (SWEDD)

Deserts of the southwestern US are replete with oil and gas deposits as well as sites for solar, wind, and geothermal energy production. In the past, many of these resources have been too expensive to develop, but increased demand and new technologies have led to an increase in exploration and development. However, desert ecosystems generally have low resilience to disturbance. More frequent,...

Arizona map depicting the number of bat species found across Arizona.
Date Published: February 14, 2017

Informing Renewable Energy Development Siting Decisions with Vertebrate Biodiversity Measures

Renewable energy development is expanding in southwestern deserts, including in Arizona. Energy developers look to resource management agencies to provide siting guidance on public lands where there might be conflicts with wildlife. Often, agency guidance considers species of conservation concern and economic importance, but information on comprehensive vertebrate biodiversity has been hard to...

Conceptual model about specialist, introduced insects
Date Published: February 13, 2017

Predicting the Next High-Impact Insect Invasion

Although most introduced insects are relatively benign, some become high-impact pests causing widespread ecological and economic damage. Introduced insects that are specialists and feed on a single genus of plants can be high-impact as they can potentially eliminate an entire native plant genus over large areas. Luckily, most introduced insects with this feeding behavior do not become high-...

USGS researcher struggling to set up a line transect (tape measure) in a dense thicket of tamarisk.
Date Published: December 30, 2016

Southwestern Riparian Zones, Tamarisk Plants, and the Tamarisk Beetle

Introductions of bio-control beetles (genus Diorhabda) are causing defoliation and dieback of exotic Tamarix spp. in riparian zones across the western U.S., yet the factors that determine the plant communities that follow Tamarix decline are poorly understood. In particular, Tamarix-dominated soils are often higher in nutrients, organic matter, and salts than nearby soils, and these soil...

Agave plants in a field
Date Published: December 30, 2016

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...

Contacts: Sasha C Reed
Healthy dryland vegetation and biocrusts in Utah. Biocrusts are the darker colored patches between the bunches of grasses.
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
Northern leopard frog floating in the water in Glen Canyon.
Date Published: December 22, 2016

SBSC Scientist Directory

Click on "Science" to go to the SBSC scientist directory. When you click on a scientist's name (you may need to scroll down to see all the names), you will be taken to that scientist's professional page and contact information. 

Colorado River at Basalt Rapids. Foreground shows eddy sandbar and sand dune sediment deposits.
Date Published: December 22, 2016

Connectivity of Sand Resources Along the Colorado River in Grand Canyon

We study the links among different geomorphic processes that affect river valley landscapes in the Colorado River downstream from Glen Canyon Dam, Arizona. Dam-released flows affect the deposition and retention of sandbars that serve as sources for other sand resources, such as windblown sand dunes, throughout the Colorado River ecosystem. The degree to which the landscapes are differentially...

Image taken from above depicting the confluence of the Colorado River and the Little Colorado River.
Date Published: December 20, 2016

Riparian Remote Sensing in the Colorado River and Grand Canyon Region

Riparian vegetation has increased dramatically along the Colorado River downstream of Glen Canyon Dam since the closure of the dam in 1963. The spatial patterns and temporal rates of vegetation increase occur due to changes in river hydrology, dam operations, and climate. The increase in vegetation, particularly onto otherwise bare sandbars, has impacted recreational, geomorphological,...