The Desert Laboratory monitors the height, growth, birth, and death of over 6,000 saguaros on Tumamoc Hill.
Shortly after establishing the Lab’s long-term vegetation plots, in 1908 Dr. Spalding mapped every saguaro on Tumamoc Hill and adjacent Sentinel Peak.
In 1964, James Rodney Hastings and Ray Turner established four large plots in the same area, on each cardinal direction, which the Lab still monitors today. Dr. Turner established ten additional long-term saguaro plots across the norther range of the species, which are mirrored in the southern portion of the saguaro’s range by plots established and maintained by Dr. Alberto Búrquez of the Instituto de Ecología in Mexico.
This research is done in collaboration with many scientists in the U.S. and Mexico across the range of this iconic species. A great deal of work, across scales, is helping establish the saguaro as a model system to understand the history and future of the desert.
The range of the saguaro. Map by Paul Mirocha, featured in the Proceedings of the Desert Laboratory, In the Arms of Saguaros.
Learn more of the scientific effort to reveal the history of a saguaro’s life, part of the Tumamoc Tour.