Miguel Villarreal, PhD


Miguel Villarreal is a Research Geographer with the Western Geographic Science Center in Menlo Park, CA. Miguel received his Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of Arizona and B.A. from the University of California, Davis.


Research and Professional Experience

2011-Present: Research Geographer, U.S. Geological Survey

2011-2013: Mendenhall Fellow, U.S. Geological Survey

2009-2011: Postdoctoral Research Associate, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona

2006-2009: Research Associate, Arizona Remote Sensing Center, University of Arizona

2001- 2005: Research Associate, Geography and Regional Development, University of Arizona



Villarreal, M.L., S.L. Haire, J.M. Iniguez, C. Cortés Montaño, and T.B. Poitras. 2019.  Distant Neighbors: Recent wildfire patterns of the Madrean Sky Islands of Southwestern United States and Northwestern México. Fire Ecology 15(2). [Open access - Link]

Norman, L.M., Villarreal, M.L., Niraula, R., Haberstich, M., Wilson, N.R. Modelling Development of Riparian Ranchlands Using Ecosystem Services at the Aravaipa Watershed, SE Arizona. Land 8(4), 64. [Open access - Link]

Waller, E.K., Villarreal, M.L., Poitras, T.B., Nauman, T.W., Duniway, M.C. 2018. Landsat time series analysis of fractional plant cover changes on abandoned energy development sites. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 73, 407-419. [Link]

Poitras, T.B., Villarreal, M.L., Waller, E.K.,  Nauman,  T.N, Miller, M.E. and M.C. Duniway. 2018. Identifying optimal remotely-sensed variables for ecosystem monitoring in Colorado Plateau drylands. Journal of Arid Environments 153, 76-87. [Link]

Petrakis, R.E., Villarreal, M.L., Wu, Z., Hetzler, R., Middleton, B.R., Norman, L.M., 2018. Evaluating and monitoring forest fuel treatments using remote sensing applications in Arizona, U.S.A. Forest Ecology and Management 413, 48–61. [Link]

Villarreal, M.L., Labiosa, W.B, and Aiello, D., 2017, Evaluating land-use change scenarios for the Puget Sound Basin, Washington, within the ecosystem recovery target model-based framework: U.S. Geological Survey OpenFile Report 2017–1057, 14 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20171057.

Petrakis, R.E., van Leeuwen, W.J.D., Villarreal, M.L., Tashjian, P., Dello Russo, R., Scott, C.A., 2017. Historical Analysis of Riparian Vegetation Change in Response to Shifting Management Objectives on the Middle Rio Grande. Land 6, 29. [Link]

Nauman, T.W., Duniway, M.C., Villarreal, M.L., Poitras, T.B., 2017. Disturbance automated reference toolset (DART): Assessing patterns in ecological recovery from energy development on the Colorado Plateau. Science of The Total Environment 584–585, 476–488.  [Link]

Bunting, E.L., Munson, S.M., Villarreal, M.L. 2017. Climate lags and legacy effects on dryland plant communities in the southwestern U.S.. Ecological Indicators 74:216-229. [Link]

Munson, S.M., Sankey, T.T., Xian, G., Villarreal, M.L. and Homer, C.G. 2016. Decadal shifts in grasses and woody plants are driven by prolonged drying and modified by topo-edaphic properties. Ecological Applications.  [Link]

Villarreal, M.L., Norman, L.M., Buckley, S. Wallace, C.S. and Coe, M. 2016. Multi-index time series monitoring of drought and fire effects on desert grasslands.  Remote Sensing of Environment, 183:186-197. [Open Access: Link]

Wilson, N.R., Norman, L.M. Villarreal, M.L., Gass, L., Tiller, R., Salywon, A. 2016. Comparison of remote sensing indices for monitoring of desert cienegas. Arid Land Research and Management. [Open Access:Link].

Soulard, C.E., Albano, C., Villarreal, M.L., Walker, J. 2016. Continuous 1985–2012 Landsat monitoring to assess fire effects on meadows in Yosemite National Park, California. Remote Sensing, 8(5): 371 [Open Access:Link]

Villarreal, M.L., Webb, R.H., Norman, L.M., Psillas, J.L., Rosenberg, A.S., Carmichael, S., Petrakis, R.E. and Sparks, P.E. 2014. Modelling landscape-scale erosion potential related to vehicle disturbances along the USA-Mexico border. Land Degradation and Development, 27(4): 1106–1121. [Link]

Norman, L.M., Villarreal, M.L., Pulliam, R.H., Minckley, R., Gass, L., Tolle, C. and Coe, M.A. 2014. Remote sensing analysis of riparian vegetation response to desert marsh restoration in the Mexican Highlands. Ecological Engineering, 70, 241–254. [Link]

Villarreal, M.L., van Riper III, C., Petrakis, R.E. 2014. Conflation and aggregation of spatial data improve predictive models for species with limited habitats: A case of the threatened yellow-billed cuckoo in Arizona, USA. Applied Geography 47, 57–69. [Link]

Villarreal, M.L., Norman, L.M., Webb, R.H., and Turner, R.M., 2013. Historical and contemporary geographic data reveal complex spatial and temporal responses of vegetation to climate and land stewardship. Land, 2 (2): 194–224. [Open Access: Link]

Villarreal, M.L., Norman, L.M., Boykin, K.G., and Wallace, C.S.A. 2013. Biodiversity losses and conservation trade-offs: Assessing future urban growth scenarios for a North American trade corridor. International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management, 9 (2): 90-103. [Open Access: Link]

Wallace, C.S.A., Villarreal, M.L., and van Riper III, C. 2013. Influence of monsoon-related riparian phenology on yellow-billed cuckoo habitat selection in Arizona. Journal of Biogeography, 40: 2094-2107 [Link].

Norman, L.M., Villarreal, M.L., Niraula, R., Meixner, T, Frisvold, G. and Labiosa, W. 2013. Framing scenarios of binational water policy with a tool to visualize, quantify, and valuate changes in ecosystem services. Water, 5(3):852-874. [Open Access: Link]

Studd, S.E., Drake, S., Villarreal, M.L., Fallon E. and Crumbacher, L. 2013. Vegetation inventory, mapping, and classification report, Fort Bowie National Historic Site. Natural Resource Report NPS/SODN/NRR—2013/673. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado. [Link]

Villarreal, M.L., Gass, L., Norman, L.M., Sankey, J.B., Wallace, C.S.A. McMacken, D, Childs, J.L., and Petrakis, R. 2013. Examining wildlife responses to phenology and wildfire using a landscape-scale camera trap network. Pages 503-505 in Gottfried, G.J., Folliott, P.F., Gebow, B.S., Eskew, L.G. and Collins, L.C. (eds). Merging science and management in a rapidly changing world: Biodiversity and management of the Madrean Archipelago III. RMRS-P-67. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 593 p. [Open access: Link]

Wallace, C.S.A., Villarreal, M.L., and Van Riper III, C. 2013. Mapping Landscape Phenology Preference of Yellow-billed Cuckoo with AVHRR data. Pages 506-508 in Gottfried, G.J., Folliott, P.F., Gebow, B.S., Eskew, L.G. and Collins, L.C. (eds). Merging science and management in a rapidly changing world: Biodiversity and management of the Madrean Archipelago III. RMRS-P-67. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 593 p. [Open access:Link]

Villarreal, M.L., van Riper III, C., van Riper, C.J., Johnson M.J., and Selleck, S.S. 2012. Synthesis: Informing collaborative conservation and management of Colorado Plateau resources. Pages 317-327 in van Riper III, C., Villarreal, M.L., van Riper, C.J., and Johnson, M.J. (Eds.). The Colorado Plateau V: Research, environmental planning, and management for collaborative conservation. The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ.

van Riper III, C., Villarreal, M.L., van Riper, C.J., and Johnson, M.J. (Eds). 2012. The Colorado Plateau V: Research, environmental planning, and management for collaborative conservation. The University of Arizona Press, Tucson, AZ. [Link]

Villarreal, M.L., van Leeuwen, W.J.D., and Leon-Romo, J.R. 2012. Mapping and monitoring riparian vegetation distribution, structure and composition with regression tree models and post-classification change metrics. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 33:13, 4266-4290. [Link]

Villarreal, M.L., Drake, S., Marsh, S.E., and McCoy, A.L. 2012. The influence of wastewater subsidy, flood disturbance and neighbouring land use on current and historical patterns of riparian vegetation in a semi-arid watershed. River Research and Applications 28: 1230-1245. [Link]

Norman, L.M., Villarreal, M.L., Lara-Valencia, F., Wilson, S., Yuan, Y., Nie, W., Amaya, G., and Sleeter, R. 2012. Mapping Socio-Environmentally Vulnerable Populations Access and Exposure to Ecosystem Services at the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands. Applied Geography 34:413-424. [Link]

Norman, L.M., Feller, M., and Villarreal, M.L. 2012. Developing spatially explicit footprints of plausible land-use scenarios in the Santa Cruz Watershed, Arizona and Sonora. Landscape and Urban Planning, 107(3): 225-235. [Open Access: Link]

Villarreal, M.L., Norman, L.M., and Labiosa, W.B. 2012. Assessing the vulnerability of human and biological communities to changing ecosystem services using a GIS-based multi-criteria decision support tool. pp. 427-434 in R. Seppelt, A.A. Voinov, S. Lange, D. Bankamp (Eds.) (2012): International Environmental Modelling and Software Society (iEMSs) 2012 International Congress on Environmental Modelling and Software. Managing Resources of a Limited Planet: Pathways and Visions under Uncertainty, Sixth Biennial Meeting, Leipzig, Germany. ISBN: 978-88-9035-742-8 [Open Access: Link]

Villarreal, M.L., van Riper, C., Lovich, R.E., Palmer, R. L., Nauman, T., Studd, S., Drake, S., Malusa, J. Rosenberg, A., and Pearce, R. L. 2011. An Inventory and Monitoring Plan for a Sonoran Desert Ecosystem: Barry M. Goldwater Range – West. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011-1232, 103 p. [Open Access: Link]

Quijada-Mascarenas, A., van Riper III, C., James, D., Lopez-Hoffman, L., Sharp, C., Gimblett, R., Scott, M.L., Norman, L.M., Medellin, R. Callegary, J.B., List, R. Wallace, C., Holm, P. Glenn, E., Leenhouts, J. Esque, T., Culver, M., Webb, R., Steidl, J., Villarreal, M.L., Nagler, P., Lackner, W., Sturm, M. Castillo-Gamez, R., and Ceballos, G. 2012. Desarrollo de un programa de monitoreo a nivel ecosistema en el muro fronterizo México-Estados Unidos. En Cordova, A. y C. de la Parra (coordinadores) El muro fronterizo entre México y Estados Unidos. Espacios, instrumentos y actores para un diálogo constructivo. El Colegio de la Frontera Norte. Tijuana, México. pp 165-185. 

Villarreal, M.L., Norman, L.M., Webb, R.H., Boyer D.E., and Turner, R.M. 2011. Unravelling long-term vegetation change patterns in a binational watershed using multitemporal land cover data and historical repeat photography. Proceedings of MULTITEMP2011, 6th International Workshop on the Analysis of Multitemporal Remote Sensing Images. Bruzzone, L. and F. Bovolo (Eds.). IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society, IEEE Xplore, p. 101-104. [Link]

Villarreal, M. L., van Leeuwen, W.J.D., Romo, J.R., and Hubbard, J. A. 2011. Assessing landscape dynamics using multitemporal remotely sensed imagery in the Sonoran Desert Network. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/SODN/NRTR—2011/513. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado. [Open Access: Link]

Villarreal, M.L., Norman, L. M., Wallace, C. S. A., and van Riper III, C. 2011. A Multi-temporal (1979-2009) Land Use/Land Cover Data Set of the Bi-National Upper Santa Cruz Watershed. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011-1131, 26 p. and database [Open Access: Link]

Wallace, C.S.A., Villarreal, M.L., and Norman, L.M. 2011. Development of a high-resolution binational vegetation map of the Santa Cruz River riparian corridor and surrounding watershed, southern Arizona and northern Sonora, Mexico: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011-1143, 22 p. [Open Access: Link]

Norman, L.M., Villarreal, M.L., Wallace, C.S.A., Gil Anaya, C.Z., Diaz Arcos, I., and Gray, F. 2010. A high-resolution land-use map; Nogales, Sonora, Mexico: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2010-1156, 21 p. [Open Access: Link]

Drake, S., Buckley, S., Villarreal, M.L., Studd, S., and Hubbard, A.J. 2009. Vegetation classification, distribution and mapping report: Tumacácori National Historical Park. Natural Resource Report NPS/SODN/NRR-2009/148. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado. [Open Access: Link]

Buckley, S., Hubbard, J. A., Studd, S., Drake, S., Villarreal, M.L., and Greene, J. 2009. Vegetation classification, distribution, and mapping report: Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. Natural Resource Report NPS/SODN/NRR—2009/158. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado. [Open Access: Link]

Villarreal, M.L. and Yool, S.R. 2008. Analysis of fire-related vegetation patterns in the Huachuca Mountains, AZ and Sierra los Ajos, Sonora, Mexico.  Fire Ecology 4(1): 15-33. [Open Access: Link]