About Us

A unique combination of ecology and culture, the Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill is an 860-acre ecological preserve in the heart of Tucson. Its innovative, sustained, long-term environmental studies have made it a US National Historical Landmark. A 2,500-year-old village sits atop Tumamoc Hill and the rich cultural context of four millennia of human society lie at its feet. Our name derives from the Tohono O'odham place name Chemamagi Do’ag—Hill of the Horned Lizard— which signifies the profound cultural importance of this site.

Tumamoc's Desert Laboratory (1903) gave birth to the sciences of plant physiology, ecology, and arid land studies. Its permanent study plots include the world's longest continously monitored vegetation plots, active since 1906. It is also the world's first and oldest restoration ecology project: cattle were excluded from the site in 1907. Today, researchers continue to track these changes as well as delve deeper into the functioning, origin, and future of the Sonoran Desert.