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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.

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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...
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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...
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Oil and Gas Reclamation - About

What is reclamation? Reclamation means to assist in the repair or recovery of highly disturbed or degraded ecosystems to benefit native plants and animals by setting sites on a trajectory towards functioning habitats and ecological communities that are similar to surrounding, naturally occurring environments. During this process, the impacts of oil and gas development are minimized.
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Oil and Gas Reclamation - About

What is reclamation? Reclamation means to assist in the repair or recovery of highly disturbed or degraded ecosystems to benefit native plants and animals by setting sites on a trajectory towards functioning habitats and ecological communities that are similar to surrounding, naturally occurring environments. During this process, the impacts of oil and gas development are minimized.
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Southwest Energy Exploration, Development, and Reclamation (SWEDR)

Approximately 35% of the US and approximately 82% of DOI lands are “drylands” found throughout the western US. These lands contain oil, gas, oil shale, shale oil, and tar sand deposits and the exploration for and extraction of these resources has resulted in hundreds of thousands of operating and abandoned wells across the West. These arid and semi-arid lands have unique soil and plant communities...
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Southwest Energy Exploration, Development, and Reclamation (SWEDR)

Approximately 35% of the US and approximately 82% of DOI lands are “drylands” found throughout the western US. These lands contain oil, gas, oil shale, shale oil, and tar sand deposits and the exploration for and extraction of these resources has resulted in hundreds of thousands of operating and abandoned wells across the West. These arid and semi-arid lands have unique soil and plant communities...
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New Tools for Modern Land Management Decisions

In an era of rapid land use changes and shifting climates, it is imperative that land managers and policymakers have actionable and current information available for decision processes. In this work, we seek to meet these needs through new data products and decision support tools built on digital soil mapping, new vegetation cover maps, agency inventory and monitoring data sets, and cutting-edge...
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New Tools for Modern Land Management Decisions

In an era of rapid land use changes and shifting climates, it is imperative that land managers and policymakers have actionable and current information available for decision processes. In this work, we seek to meet these needs through new data products and decision support tools built on digital soil mapping, new vegetation cover maps, agency inventory and monitoring data sets, and cutting-edge...
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Bat foraging ecology along the Colorado River in Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon National Park is a hotspot for bat diversity. Twenty-two bat species have been documented in the Park, more than any other national park unit.
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Bat foraging ecology along the Colorado River in Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon National Park is a hotspot for bat diversity. Twenty-two bat species have been documented in the Park, more than any other national park unit.
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The iconic giant saguaro cactus in the Sonoran Desert

The saguaro cactus ( Carnegiea gigantea ) is a keystone species that grows only in the Sonoran Desert of northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. The USGS’ Southwest Biological Science Center is working to better understand the species’ biological features, its role as a keystone species that supports greater than 100 other plant and animal species, and its responses to climate change...
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The iconic giant saguaro cactus in the Sonoran Desert

The saguaro cactus ( Carnegiea gigantea ) is a keystone species that grows only in the Sonoran Desert of northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. The USGS’ Southwest Biological Science Center is working to better understand the species’ biological features, its role as a keystone species that supports greater than 100 other plant and animal species, and its responses to climate change...
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'Eastern' Joshua trees and their sole pollinators, 'eastern' Yucca moths

Did you know that moths can be pollinators? Even more amazing is that Joshua trees, the scraggly icons of the Mojave Desert, require a single moth species to ensure fertile seed production. The association between the Joshua tree and its pollinating moth is a rare example of an obligate mutualism, which means that the species are entirely dependent upon each other. Joshua trees depend on the moth...
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'Eastern' Joshua trees and their sole pollinators, 'eastern' Yucca moths

Did you know that moths can be pollinators? Even more amazing is that Joshua trees, the scraggly icons of the Mojave Desert, require a single moth species to ensure fertile seed production. The association between the Joshua tree and its pollinating moth is a rare example of an obligate mutualism, which means that the species are entirely dependent upon each other. Joshua trees depend on the moth...
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Regional Assessment of Drought Impacts on Soils (RADIS)

Soils are the foundation of terrestrial ecosystems. They provide critical services including supplying a substrate and the nutrients necessary for plant growth, retaining moisture from precipitation, filtering contaminants from percolating waters, and acting as a sink of carbon. Healthy soils are key to sustaining both human and ecosystem health. However, global- and regional-scale disturbances...
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Regional Assessment of Drought Impacts on Soils (RADIS)

Soils are the foundation of terrestrial ecosystems. They provide critical services including supplying a substrate and the nutrients necessary for plant growth, retaining moisture from precipitation, filtering contaminants from percolating waters, and acting as a sink of carbon. Healthy soils are key to sustaining both human and ecosystem health. However, global- and regional-scale disturbances...
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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 land...
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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 land...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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Climate Adaptation Strategies for Arid Grasslands

Helping National Parks in the 4-Corners region manage grasslands in a changing climate.
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