Southwest Biological Science Center

Terrestrial Ecosystems and Restoration

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.

Filter Total Items: 48
Date published: June 2, 2021
Status: Active

Drought & Grazing Experiment: Understanding Impacts and Identifying Mitigation Strategies

Drylands (sometimes called ‘deserts’ or ‘arid and semi-arid' ecosystems) are defined by water scarcity.  Understanding how land-use activities may effect dryland ecosystems and dryland ecological processes is a high priority for land conservation and management. Grazing by domestic livestock (typically cattle but also sheep and goats) is the most widespread land-use in drylands globally and a...

Contacts: Mike Duniway, Ph.D., Edmund E Grote, Tara Bishop, PhD, Akasha M. Faist, PhD, Scott Ferrenberg Ph.D., David Hoover
Date published: June 23, 2020
Status: Active

Genomic Research Supporting Western Conservation

In the western United States (U.S.), there are many regionally restricted, rare species resulting from complex demographic and ecological processes through time. In addition to the inherent risks associated with being rare (i.e., having few individuals spread over a limited area that could be disproportionately affected by chance events), anthropogenic disturbances are increasing in magnitude...

Date published: May 28, 2020
Status: Active

Genetics for Western Restoration and Conservation (GWRC)

Research using genetic principles, methods, and data provides critical information for restoration and conservation science. Genetic research may rely only upon genomic sequencing techniques, which generate abundant, genome-wide DNA sequences that can provide a glimpse into a species’ evolutionary history and adaptations. Genetic research may also look at an organism’s physical traits to...

Date published: February 13, 2020
Status: Active

Well Pad Reclamation and Research

Reclamation on lands impacted by energy development is complicated and extremely challenging in arid environments due to unstable soils, exotic species, and low and variable precipitation. The reclamation tactics employed by energy operators vary widely and outcomes can differ across plant communities and soil types. In order to address the knowledge gaps regarding how to successfully and...

Date published: September 27, 2019
Status: Active

Informing Seed Transfer Guidelines and Native Plant Materials Development: Research Supporting Restoration Across the Colorado Plateau and Beyond

As restoration needs for natural landscapes grow due to higher frequency and/or intensity disturbances, pressure from invasive species, and impacts resulting from changing climates, considerable time and resources are being invested to guide the development and deployment of native plant materials (NPMs). Across lower elevations of the Colorado Plateau, a region composed primarily of public...

Date published: June 22, 2019
Status: Active

Managing for Grassland Health at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge

Southern Arizona’s semi-desert grasslands provides habitat for flora and fauna, regulates rainfall infiltration and overland flow, mitigates surface erosion and dust production, and sequesters carbon. Sustainable management is important to maintain these ecological services and is of concern for the managers, ranchers, and other people associated with the grassland. The Buenos Aires National...

Date published: April 29, 2019
Status: Active

GCMRC Data and Tools

The Grand Canyon Monitoring and  Research Center offers a collection of data resources and online tools -- including web maps, applications, and other content -- that convey scientific information related to on-going monitoring of the Colorado River.  Some applications are a culmination of long-term monitoring work, while others are developed around more a specific set of information usually...

Date published: October 17, 2018
Status: Active

Digital Soil Mapping: New Tools for Modern Land Management Decisions

The field of digital soil mapping has bridged the classic theories of soil science into the modern computing age to produce high resolution predictive soil maps. This body of work utilizes classic soil factorial theory (soil = f[climate, organisms, relief (topography), parent material, time] + ɛ, or ‘clorpt’). The clorpt framework has been approximated using various environmental spatial data...

Date published: September 30, 2018
Status: Active

Wind Erosion and Dust Emissions on the Colorado Plateau

Wind erosion of soils and dust emissions are a significant resource management challenge on the Colorado Plateau. Loss of topsoil and associated aeolian sediment (wind-driven sediment) movement can lead to reduced soil fertility as well as abrasion and burial of vegetation. Dust in the atmosphere poses a threat to human health, visual resources, and regional water supplies (due to interactions...

Date published: September 16, 2018
Status: Active

Long-Term Vegetation Change on the Colorado Plateau

The Colorado Plateau, centered around the four corners area of the Southwest, and includes much of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico, is a large and important component of U.S. drylands. This important home to mountains, desert basins, dramatic canyons, and arid woodlands and grasslands is also one of North America’s most rapidly warming hot spots, with rates of warming of up to 2-3° C...

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...

Date published: August 5, 2017
Status: Active

RestoreNet: Distributed Field Trial Network for Dryland Restoration

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) researchers and land managers are co-producing a network of restoration field trial sites on DOI and surrounding lands in the southwestern U.S. The network systematically tests restoration treatments across a broad range of landscape, soil, and climate conditions. Each site in the network is used to test suitable seed mixes and treatments that promote plant...

Contacts: Seth Munson, Molly McCormick, Katie Laushman, Rebecca Mann, Mike Duniway, Ph.D., Brad Butterfield, Elise Gornish, Loralee Larios, Akasha Faist, Helen Rowe, Christopher Lortie, Caroline A. Havrilla