About Us

History and Setting

The Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was established in 1974 through a gift from the Campbell Family Foundation and The Nature Conservancy to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. A Spanish land grant dating to 1817, the Sevilleta NWR is approximately 100,000 hectares (220,000 acres) in size, consisting of two mountain ranges and much of the Rio Grande valley. The Sevilleta NWR is bounded on the east by the Los Pinos Mountains ("Mountains of the Pines"), and on the west by the Sierra Ladrones ("Thieves Mountains," in reference to 17th, 18th and 19th century bandit groups that would use these rugged mountains as hideouts).

The Sevilleta NWR lies at the junction of several major biomes of the American Southwest; it is at the northern edge of the Chihuahuan Desert, the western edge of the Great Plains Short-grass Prairie, and the southeastern edge of the Colorado Plateau Shrub-Steppe. Along the Rio Grande is the gallery cottonwood forest ("bosque"). Above the riparian corridor are grasslands, shrublands, juniper savannas and piñon-juniper woodlands. Nearby mountain ranges (the Magdalena Mountains to the southwest, and the Manzano Mountains to the northeast) climb to nearly 11,000 feet and support old growth forests of ponderosa pine, limber pine, Douglas fir, Engleman spruce, and quaking aspen.

As a result of the variety of ecosystems in the region, the biodiversity of the Sevilleta NWR is remarkably rich, supporting over 1,200 species of plants, 89 species of mammals, 353 species of birds, 58 species of reptiles, 15 species of amphibians, and thousands of species of arthropods.

The Sevilleta NWR is unique to the National Wildlife Refuge System, because it is dedicated to environmental research and education. As such, it is deemed a natural preserve and is closed to general public use.  Sspecial permits are required for research and other activities. The refuge has been closed to livestock grazing since 1974, and public use of the area (e.g. hunting, hiking, camping) is limited. The Sevilleta therefore remains a secure and undisturbed site for long-term field research.


The Sevilleta Field Station provides support for the the Sevilleta Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program and many other research and educational activities being conducted in the Middle Rio Grande Valley. The station's research facilities include state-of-the-art laboratories, specimen processing and storage facilities, reference plant and animal specimens, a library, classrooms, and conference rooms for group meetings.

The Sevilleta LTER program contributes a number of complementary activities and installations. For example, ten complete weather stations are distributed across the Sevilleta NWR (including an instrumented station adjacent to the field station), which provide continuous, long-term data sets for all research projects. All LTER datasets are available online through the Sevilleta LTER.

IT infrastructure

The Sevilleta Field Station has a long-term commitment to providing state-of-the-art computing by means of broadband internet connectivity, provision of wireless coverage and wireless data transmission over significant portions of them Sevilleta National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and Station facilities, as well as on-site server and desktop computing. The Field Station network is connected to UNM by fiber optic cable.  The Field Station's network extends beyond the main facilities by way of a wireless network that covers extensive portions of the Sevilleta NWR and beyond. The refuge wireless network serves more than thirty individual research sites ranging from meteorological stations, flux towers and wildlife monitoring webcams to larger-scale LTER monsoon, drought, and nighttime warming manipulative experiments. The network also includes flux towers 30 and 50 km east of the refuge, near the towns of Mountainair and Willard.