• Red Rocks with water in front of them in the desert.
  • Clouds behind Joshua Tree and bushes.
  • Desert flowers blooming in bushes in front of mountains in the desert.
  • Setting sun reflecting of clouds of orange and blue behind a joshua tree.
  • Hoover Dam intake towers with water behind the dam showing that it is not full.

USGS and USFWS Fund Research Projects to Boost Science in the Desert LCC

USGS and USFWS Fund Research Projects to Boost Science in the Desert LCC

Projects Funded by USGS

Corridors, climate change, and conservation planning in the Desert Southwest
Project lead: Jason Kreitler, USGS Western Geographic Science Center
USGS Funding: $57,000

Summary: In the desert southwest biodiversity is facing a changing landscape due to human population growth, expansion of energy development, and from the persistent effects of climate change among other threats. The 2012 Desert LCC science needs document recognized the importance of modeling and predicting habitat area, fragmentation and corridor network connectivity for a broad range of wildlife taxa. Tools and methods from conservation planning are available to address some of these issues, but tools to evaluate the expected benefits of corridors in mitigating climate change effects are only in their infancy. This USGS project will use quantitative spatial analysis and principles from landscape ecology to determine where habitat corridors could most effectively connect large landscapes to potentially ameliorate certain effects of climate and land use change on biodiversity. It will also compare existing data on corridors to determine where there is consensus among sources, and where there are gaps. Specific outcomes and deliverables will include: (1) a new corridor map created from regionally derived parameters and Circuitscape (www.circuitscape.org); (2) an assessment of climate stability of existing protected areas within the Desert LCC where existing data are available; and (3) a prioritization of corridors for mitigation of climate change effects. The project is expected to be completed by October 2013. Photo Credit: Jordan Zylstra.

A map showing the Navajo Nation Climate Data RecoveryNavajo Nation Climate Data Recovery
Project Leads: Bruce Gungle and James Leenhouts, USGS Arizona Water Science Center
USGS Funding: $51,500

Summary: The Navajo Nation covers over 70,000 km2 in the Four Corners area of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. Climate data from the Navajo Nation have been both sparse and sporadic during the past 100 years, and have been limited to daily data from a handful of National Weather Service Cooperative Observer sites. Climate science researchers have identified the area in and around the Navajo Nation as among the most climate-data poor in the region, and the need to remedy this situation has been identified by both the Desert LCC and the Southern Rockies LCC. This USGS project will digitize hardcopy climate data collected between 1988 and 1995, including portions of 25 volumes of fan-fold line-printer computer printouts, with 10 columns of variables per page. The legacy weather data will be entered into appropriate databases and delivered to the Arizona State Climate Office, Navajo Nation, and the Desert and Southern Rockies LCCs. The project is expected to be complete by January 30, 2013.


Development of Protected Areas Digital Spatial Data for the Desert LCC
Project Lead: Terence Arundel, USGS Southwest Biological Science Center
USGS Funding: $25,000

Summary: Soon after its formation the Desert LCC identified the need for a Protected Areas spatial database that showed land ownership, management designations and conservation status for lands in the United States and Mexico. However, the existing Protected Areas database was found to be particularly prone to boundary and database errors that affected its potential use. This USGS project will develop a single, seamless, error-free Protected Areas dataset for the full geographic scope of the Desert LCC. This will involve acquiring numerous spatial layers from Federal, State, and NGO organizations which are responsible for administering and/or managing areas that have a designated protected status. Protected Area will be categorized as defined by the USGS-GAP program (in the U.S. ) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN; for both the U.S. and Mexico). The spatial dataset will include metadata that is compliant with the Federal Geographic Data Committee’s Content Standards for Digital Geospatial Metadata. It will be provided in XML format compatible with the most current version of ESRI’s ArcGIS Desktop software. This project is expected to be complete by January 30, 2013.

Corridors, climate change, and conservation planning in the Desert Southwest
Project lead: Jason Kreitler, USGS Western Geographic Science Center
USGS Funding: $57,000

Projects Funded by USFWS ($130,000)

Developing tools for detecting climate change impacts on birds and their habitats in the desert southwest
Project Lead: Sonoran Joint Venture (SJV) and Point Reyes Bird Observatory

Summary: This project expands the development of a web tool that can be used by managers and in workshops for identifying climate change impacts, identifying adaptation opportunities, and improving capacity for making conservation decisions for wildlife populations and habitats using birds as indicators. This project builds on and adds to existing work done for California, the Sonoran Joint Venture, and the Pacific Coast Joint Venture and will cover all of the Desert LCC geographic area including Mexico. The web tool will be available for all Desert LCC partners to use.


Mapping springs and seeps and aquatic habitat in the Desert LCC
Project Lead: Pinetop Fisheries Office/New Mexico State Ecological Services Office, USFWS, in cooperation with the Desert Fishes Council

Summary: This project will expand on existing efforts (e.g. , by USGS, Spring Stewardship Alliance, Sky Island Alliance) to inventory and assess springs, seeps, and aquatic resources throughout southern New Mexico, western Texas, and northern Mexico using a consistent protocol.

September 2012