Benjamin T. Wilder, PhD

Ben Wilder
Director, Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill
(520) 621-6945

Contact Email

Dr. Benjamin T. Wilder 

Ben's research is broadly focused in desert ecology, botany, and biogeography. He utilizes multiple approaches and time scales to establish baselines to better understand modern biodiversity and connect science to conservation.

Ben has served as Director of the Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill since October 2016, is Interim Director of CAZMEX, the Consortium for Arizona-Mexico Arid Environments, and co-founder and director of the Next Generation Sonoran Desert Researchers (N-Gen).

He received his PhD in Botany from the University of California, Riverside under the guidance of Dr. Exequiel Ezcurra for his dissertation research, "Historical Biogeography of the Midriff Islands, Gulf of California." and returned to his hometown of Tucson, Arizona after  two years as a Visiting Scholar in the lab of Dr. Rodolfo Dirzo at Stanford University focusing on ecological education for Indigenous communities. 

Ben's efforts incorporate diverse perspectives and strives to create opportunities for collaboration across borders and disciplines and a more holistic understanding and appreciation for the Sonoran Desert.

If you are a student interested in working with me or the Desert Lab, please contact me to discuss opportunities.

     Current research projects include:

- Understanding the origin of the Sonoran Desert and the arid lands of the New World through historical biogeography. I specifically employ phylogeography, paleoecology (fossil packrat midden analysis), floristics, ancient DNA, and additional techniques.

      • Baja GeoGenomics

      • Phylogeography of Canotia holacantha and other cruxificon thorns

- Land-sea connection in the Gulf of California

      • Marine subsidies produce cactus forest on desert islands

      • Geologic singularities and biodiversity hotspots in Cabo Pulmo National Park 

- Hidden Water: The Pozos of the Gran Desierto. A collaborative hydrology, vegetation, and artistic project. See this article for more information: Stopping for pozos

- Supporing conservation and ecology research among the Comcaac (Seri people) in support of the next generation of Indigenous leaders.

To see my resume see this file: PDF icon wilder_cv_nov2020.pdfPDF icon <br>



Felger, R.S., B.T. Wilder in collaboration with H. Romero-Morales. 2012. Plant Life of a Desert Archipelago: Flora of the Sonoran Islands in the Gulf of California. University of Arizona Press, Tucson. 624 pages.

      Buy here: UofA PressAmazon

Peer-reviewed papers and book chapters

28. Zamora, H.A., C.J. Eastoe, B.T. Wilder, J.C. McIntosh, T. Meixner, K.W. Flessa. 2020. Groundwater Isotopes in the Sonoyta River Watershed, USA-Mexico: Implications for Recharge Sources and Management of the Quitobaquito Springs. Water: 12(12), 3307; 

27. Wilder, B.T. 2020. At the desert’s edge. In Nabhan, G.P., The Nature of Desert Nature. University of Arizona Press. Pp. 79–81.

26. Nabhan, G.P., E.C. Riordan, L. Monti, A.M. Rea, B.T. Wilder, E. Ezcurra, J.B. Mabry, J. Aronson, G.A. Barron‐Gafford, J.M. García, A. Búrquez, T.E. Crews, P. Mirocha, W.C. Hodgson. 2020. An Aridamerican model for agriculture in a hotter, water scarce world. Plants People Planet: 

25. Clark, S.E., E. Magrane, T. Baumgartner, S.E.K. Bennett, M. Bogan, T. Edwards, M.A. Dimmitt, H. Green, C. Hedgcock, B.M. Johnson, M.R. Johnson, K. Velo, and B.T. Wilder. 2020. 6&6: A Transdisciplinary Approach to Art-Science Collaboration. BioScience: 

24. Armenta-Méndez, L., J.P. Gallo-Reynoso, B.T. Wilder, A.A. Gardeo, M.M. Ortega-Nieblas, I. Barba-Acuña. 2020. The role of wild canids in the seed dispersal of Washingtonia robusta (Arecaceae) in Sonoran Desert oases. Revista Mexicana de Biodiversidad 91: e913129, 

23. Zamora, H.A., B.T. Wilder, C.J. Eastoe, J.C. McIntosh, J. Welker, K.W. Flessa. 2019. Evaluation of Groundwater Sources, Flow Paths, and Residence Time of the Gran Desierto Pozos, Sonora, Mexico. Geosciences 9:378 doi:10.3390/geosciences9090378 PDF icon zamora_et_al._2019_age_and_origin_of_the_gran_desierto_pozos.pdf

22. Wilder, B.T., R.S. Felger, E. Ezcurra. 2019. Controls of plant diversity and composition on a desert archipelago. PeerJ 7:e7286 DOI 10.7717/peerj.7286 PDF icon wilder_et_al._2019_controls_of_plant_diversity_and_composition_on_a_desert_archipelago.pdf

21. Ezcurra, E., B.T. Wilder. 2019. Tres siglos de colaboración científica entre México y los Estados Unidos. Ciencia 70:8–15.  PDF icon ezcurra_wilder_2019_ciencia_3sigloscolaboracion.pdf

20. Gil-Loaiza J., Lutz Ley A.N., Wilder B.T., Lever J., Ruiz J., Scott, C.A. 2019. La ciencia cruzando fronteras: Consorcio Arizona-México para Ambientes Áridos. Ciencia 70:56–63. PDF icon gil-loaiza_et_al._2019_cazmex.pdf

19. Armenta-Méndez, L., M.M. Ortega-Nieblas, J.P. Gallo-Reynoso, A.A. Gardea, B.T. Wilder, G. González-Aguilar, & A.M. Preciado-Saldaña. 2019. Proximal chemical analysis and secondary metabolites in Washingtonia robusta fruit (Arecaceae): relevance for the feeding of wildlife and humans. Botanical Sciences 97 :155–166. DOI:

18. Wilder, B.T., C.O’Meara, L. Monti, G. Nabhan. 2016. The importance of indigenous knowledge in curbing the loss of language and biodiversity. BioScience 66:499–509.PDF icon pdf (suplementary info)

17. Wilder, B.T., C.O’Meara, L. Monti, G. Nabhan. 2016. Ethnoscience, the “Oldest Science”: A needed complement to academic science and citizen science to stem to the losses of biodiversity, indigenous languages, and livelihoods. In Nabhan, G. (ed) Ethnobiology for the Future. University of Arizona Press. Pp. 23–35. Link

16. O’Meara, C., B.T. Wilder (eds). 2015. Seeds in the Sand: The next generation of approaches to understanding the Sonoran Desert and Gulf of California. Journal of the SouthwestLink

15. Wilder, B.T., C. O’Meara. 2015. The Continuum of Desert Research. In O’Meara, C., B.T. Wilder (eds.) Seeds in the Sand: The next generation of approaches to understanding the Sonoran Desert and Gulf of California. Journal of the Southwest 57:163–186.  pdf

14. Dolby, G. Bennett, S.E.K., A. Lira-Noriega, B.T. Wilder, A. Munguia-Vega. 2015. The Geologic and Climatic Forcing of Biodiversity Surrounding the Gulf of California. In, O'Meara, C., B.T. Wilder (eds.) Seeds in the Sand: The next generation of approaches to understanding the Sonoran Desert and Gulf of California. Journal of the Southwest 57:391–455. pdf Supplemental Info 1 (additional maps, studies used in distribution maps, and list of the 526 plant species co-distributed between Mainland Mexico and the Baja California peninsula PDF icon 57.2-3_8_dolby_et_al_si1.pdfSupplemental Info 2 (supplemental bibliography) PDF icon 57.2-3_8_dolby_et_al_si2.pdf

13. Wilder, B.T. 2014. Historical Biogeography of the Midriff Islands in the Gulf of California, Mexico. Dissertation, UC, Riverside, Plant Biology. Link

12. Ratay, S.E., S. Vanderplank, B.T. Wilder. 2014. Island specialists: Shared flora of the Alta and Baja California Pacific islands. Western North American Naturalist 7:161–220.  pdf

11. Wilder, B.T., J.L. Betancourt, C. Epps, R. Crowhurst, J.I. Mead, E. Ezcurra. 2014. Local extinction and unintentional rewilding of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) on a desert island. PLoS ONE 9(3): e91358. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0091358pdf

                        Media coverage: 35+ unique articles in Spanish and English including La JornadaNSF, and The Last Word on Nothing.

10. Velarde, E., B.T. Wilder, R.S. Felger, E. Ezcurra. 2014. Floristic diversity and dynamics of Isla Rasa, Gulf of California, Mexico – A globally important seabird site. Botanical Sciences 92(1):89–101. pdf

9. Wilder, B.T., C. O’Meara, A. Medel, N. Narchi, O. Aburto-Oropeza. 2013. The need for a next generation of Sonoran Desert researchers. Conservation Biology 27:243–244. PDF icon pdf

8. Wilder, B.T., P.P. Garcillán, B. Marazzi. 2013. Sonoran Desert. In Howarth, R.W. (ed.), Biomes and Ecosystems: An Encyclopedia. Salem Press, Ipswich, MA. Pp. 1160–1163. PDF icon pdf

7. Garcillán, Pedro P., B. Marazzi, B.T. Wilder. 2013. Baja California Desert. In Howarth, R.W. (ed.), Biomes and Ecosystems: An Encyclopedia. Salem Press, Ipswich, MA. Pp. 346–349. PDF icon pdf

6. Gallo-Reynoso, J.P, R.S. Felger, B.T. Wilder. 2012. Near colonization of a desert island by a tropical bird: Military macaw (Ara militaris) at Isla San Pedro Nolasco, Gulf of California. The Southwestern Naturalist 57:461–464. PDF icon pdf

5. Felger, R.S., B.T. Wilder, J P. Gallo-Reynoso. 2011. Floristic diversity and long-term vegetation dynamics of San Pedro Nolasco Island, Gulf of California, Mexico. Proceedings of the San Diego Society of Natural History 43:1–42. PDF icon pdf

4. Wilder, B.T. & R.S. Felger. 2010. Cardons, guano, and isolation: The flora and vegetation of San Pedro Mártir Island, Gulf of California, Mexico. Proceedings of the San Diego Society of Natural History 42:1–24. PDF icon pdf

3. Wilder, B.T., R.S. Felger, H. Romero. 2008. Succulent plant diversity of the Sonoran Islands, Gulf of California, Mexico. Haseltonia 14:128–161. PDF icon pdf

2. Wilder, B.T., R.S. Felger, T. R. Van Devender, H. Romero-Morales. 2008. Canotia holacantha on Isla Tiburón, Gulf of California, Mexico. Canotia 4(1):1–7. PDF icon pdf

1. Wilder, B.T., R.S. Felger, H. Romero-Morales, A. Quijada-Mascareñas. 2007. New plant discoveries for Sonoran Islands, Gulf of California, Mexico. Journal of Botanical Research Institute of Texas 1:1203–1227. PDF icon pdf


Reports and general audience publications

8. Rutman, S., K.A. Dahl, R.E. McManus, G.P. Nabhan, A.T. Smith, M.B. Traphagen, B.T. Wilder. 2019. Defend the Biological and Cultural Integrity of the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands.

7. Wilder, B.T. 2019. 6&6: Artists | Scientists. Next Generation Sonoran Desert Researchers. 43 pg. 

6. Wilder, B.T., M.M. Early Capistrán, S.E. Vanderplank. 2018. 2018 N-Gen Border BioBlitz. Next Generation Sonoran Desert Researchers. 36 pg. 

5. Vanderplank S.E., B.T. Wilder, E. Ezcurra. 2016. Arroyo la Junta: Una joya de biodiversidad en la Reserva de la Biosfera Sierra La Laguna / A biodiversity jewel in the Sierra La Laguna Biosphere Reserve. Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Next Generation Sonoran Desert Researchers, and UC MEXUS. 159 pg. Link

                        Media coverage: Six unique articles in Spanish and English including MongabayLa Jornada, and Latin American Science

 4. Vanderplank, S.E., B.T. Wilder, E. Ezcurra. 2014. Descubriendo la Biodiversidad Terrestre en la Región de Cabo Pulmo / Uncovering the Dryland Biodiversity of the Cabo Pulmo Region. Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Next Generation Sonoran Desert Researchers, and UC MEXUS, U.S.A. 122 pg. Link

                        Media coverage: 15+ unique articles in Spanish and English including and Huffington Post.

3. Wilder, B.T., C. O’Meara, A. Medel, N. Narchi. 2012. Next Generation Sonoran Desert Researchers 2012 Summit: The beginning of a movement. EnglishSpanish.

2. Wilder, B.T., R.S. Felger, H. Romero-Morales. 2007. Succulents and bighorn of Isla Tiburón. The Plant Press, Arizona Native Plant Society 31(2):9–11. PDF icon pdf

1. Wilder, B.T. 2007. Report to Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science on the project: Vascular flora of Isla Tiburón and satellite Islands, Gulf of California Mexico. Journal of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science 39(1):51–55.


4. Felger, R.S., S.D. Carnahan, J.J. Sánchez-Escalante. In Review. The Desert Edge: Flora of Guaymas-Yaqui Region of Sonora, Mexico. Special Publication of the Desert Laboratory.

3. Bird, W.L. In Review. In the Arms of Saguaros. Proceedings of the Desert Laboratory, 3.

2. Esquer, G. 2018. Campos de Fuego: A Brief and Fantastic History of an Expedition into the Volcanic Region of the Pinacate. English and Spanish Editions. Proceedings of the Desert Laboratory, 2:1–154. 

1. Felger, R.S., S.D. Carnahan, J.J. Sánchez-Escalante. 2017. Oasis at the Desert Edge: Flora of Cañón del Nacapule, Sonora, Mexico. Proceedings of the Desert Laboratory, 1:1–220. 


2020. Hidden Water - Ben Johnson & Dr. Ben Wilder, Biosphere 2 Podcast.

2020. Dr. Benjamin Wilder, The Agave Sessions.