Southwest Biological Science Center

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The Southwest Biological Science Center (SBSC) conducts quality, objective research on the lands and aquatic systems of the Southwest. This research can assist those who manage, conserve, and rehabilitate the arid regions of the nation. Click on SCIENCE in the sidebar to the left to explore SBSC science in more detail.

Terrestrial Dryland Ecology Branch

Terrestrial Dryland Ecology Branch

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.

TDE Science

River Ecosystem Science Branch

River Ecosystem Science Branch

The River Ecosystem Science (RES) Branch of the SBSC, which includes the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center (GCMRC), studies the biology, ecology, and processes of the rivers in the Southwest.

RES (GCMRC) Science

News

Dryland agriculture in the Northwestern Great Plains ecoregion.
October 17, 2017

Future high temperature extremes and soil moisture conditions may cause some regions to become more suitable for rainfed, or non-irrigated, agriculture, while causing other areas to lose suitable farmland, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study.  

A wildfire in a forest
September 7, 2017

A growing number of wildfire-burned areas throughout the western United States are expected to increase soil erosion rates within watersheds, causing more sediment to be present in downstream rivers and reservoirs, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.

Image: Burning Sagebrush
September 6, 2017

An examination of long-term data for lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management finds that land treatments in the southwestern United States are increasingly large, expensive and related to fire and invasive species control.

Publications

Year Published: 2018

Dryland photoautotrophic soil surface communities endangered by global change

Photoautotrophic surface communities forming biological soil crusts (biocrusts) are crucial for soil stability as well as water, nutrient and trace gas cycling at regional and global scales. Quantitative information on their global coverage and the environmental factors driving their distribution patterns, however, are not readily available. We...

Rodriguez-Caballero, Emilio; Belnap, Jayne; Büdel, Burkhard; Crutzen, Paul J.; Andreae, Meinrat O.; Pöschl, Ulrich; Weber, Bettina
Rodriguez-Caballero, E., Belnap, J., Büdel, B., Crutzen, P.J., Andreae, M.O., Pöschl, U., and Weber, B., 2018. Dryland photoautotrophic soil surface communities endangered by global change: Nature Geoscience, v. 11, p.185–189, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41561-018-0072-1. doi:10.1038/s41561-018-0072-1

Year Published: 2018

Warm water temperatures and shifts in seasonality increase trout recruitment but only moderately decrease adult size in western North American tailwaters

Dams throughout western North America have altered thermal regimes in rivers, creating cold, clear “tailwaters” in which trout populations thrive. Ongoing drought in the region has led to highly publicized reductions in reservoir storage and raised concerns about potential reductions in downstream flows. Large changes in riverine thermal regimes...

Dibble, Kimberly L.; Yackulic, Charles B.; Kennedy, Theodore A.
Dibble, K.L., Yackulic, C.B., and Kennedy, T.A., 2018, Warm water temperatures and shifts in seasonality increase trout recruitment but only moderately decrease adult size in western North American tailwaters: Environmental Biology of Fishes, early view available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10641-018-0774-7.

Year Published: 2018

Monitoring riparian-vegetation composition and cover along the Colorado River downstream of Glen Canyon Dam, Arizona

Vegetation in the riparian zone (the area immediately adjacent to streams, such as stream banks) along the Colorado River downstream of Glen Canyon Dam, Arizona, supports many ecosystem and societal functions. In both Glen Canyon and Grand Canyon, this ecosystem has changed over time in response to flow alterations, invasive species, and...

Palmquist, Emily C.; Ralston, Barbara E.; Sarr, Daniel A.; Johnson, Taylor C.
Palmquist, E.C., Ralston, B.E., Sarr, D.A., and Johnson, T.C., 2018, Monitoring riparian-vegetation composition and cover along the Colorado River downstream of Glen Canyon Dam, Arizona: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods, book 2, chap. A14, 65 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/tm2A14.