Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Southwest Biological Science Center

Welcome to the Southwest Biological Science Center (SBSC). We conduct quality, objective research on the lands and aquatic systems of the Southwest. This research can assist those who manage, conserve, and rehabilitate arid regions of the nation. Click the links below for our work on the Colorado Plateau, Colorado River in Grand Canyon, and terrestrial drylands in Arizona, California, and Utah.

News

link

Incorporating Genetic Diversity into Restoration and Conservation Decision-making

link

JOB ALERT! Chief, SBSC's Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center

link

Twenty-four Years of Data Show Desert Soils Struggle for Survival

Publications

What is a biocrust? A refined, contemporary definition for a broadening research community

Studies of biological soil crusts (biocrusts) have proliferated over the last few decades. The biocrust literature has broadened, with more studies assessing and describing the function of a variety of biocrust communities in a broad range of biomes and habitats and across a large spectrum of disciplines, and also by the incorporation of biocrusts into global perspectives and biogeochemical models

Primary production responses to extreme changes in North American Monsoon precipitation vary by elevation and plant functional composition through time

Primary production in dryland ecosystems is limited by water availability and projected to be strongly affected by future shifts in seasonal precipitation. Warm-season precipitation derived from the North American Monsoon contributes 40% of annual precipitation to dryland ecosystems in the southwestern U.S. and is projected to become more variable. However, there is large uncertainty on whether th

Management and environmental factors associated with simulated restoration seeding barriers in sagebrush steppe

Adverse weather conditions, particularly freezing or drought, are often associated with poor seedling establishment following restoration seeding in drylands like the Great Basin sagebrush steppe (USA). Management decisions such as planting date or seed source could improve restoration outcomes by reducing seedling exposure to weather barriers. We simulated the effects of management and environmen

Science

Lake Powell Research

Lake Powell is a large arid reservoir that represents about 70% of the water storage capacity for the Upper Colorado River Basin. It is the second largest reservoir in the United States by capacity (second only to Lake Mead). Lake Powell is an oligotrophic reservoir, which means that nutrient concentrations and algal production are generally low. This often results in very clear-water conditions...
link

Lake Powell Research

Lake Powell is a large arid reservoir that represents about 70% of the water storage capacity for the Upper Colorado River Basin. It is the second largest reservoir in the United States by capacity (second only to Lake Mead). Lake Powell is an oligotrophic reservoir, which means that nutrient concentrations and algal production are generally low. This often results in very clear-water conditions...
Learn More

The Gemini Solar Project

The United States is developing renewable energy resources, especially solar, at a rapid rate. Although renewable energy development is widely perceived by the public as “green technology,” construction, operation, maintenance, and eventual decommissioning of facilities all have known and potential negative impacts to natural resources, including plant communities and wildlife. This is especially...
link

The Gemini Solar Project

The United States is developing renewable energy resources, especially solar, at a rapid rate. Although renewable energy development is widely perceived by the public as “green technology,” construction, operation, maintenance, and eventual decommissioning of facilities all have known and potential negative impacts to natural resources, including plant communities and wildlife. This is especially...
Learn More

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 large...
link

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 large...
Learn More