Erin Riordan, PhD

Research Designated Campus Colleague, Biosphere 2
Conservation Research Scientist, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

I am an applied ecologist working at the intersection of plants, people, and climate. My research addresses climate adaptation in complex socio-ecological systems, including restoration of ecological and cultural landscapes, natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, and most recently arid land food systems. Focusing on the Sonoran Desert as a laboratory for the future, my work aims to better understand and conserve the arid-adapted wild relatives of modern-day crops and expand the regional food system to include native desert plant foods. These plants can provide low-cost, low-maintenance food supplies for households and local producers as well as genetic material to adapt future large-scale agriculture to a changing climate.



Nabhan GP, EC Riordan, L Monti, AM Rea, BT Wilder, E Ezcurra, JB Mabry, J Aronson, GA Barron-Gafford, JM Garcia, A Burquez, TE Crews, P Mirocha, and WC Hodgson. 2020. An Aridamerican model for agriculture in a hotter, water scarce world. Plants, People, Planet 2: 627–639.

Riordan EC and GP Nabhan. 2019. Trans-situ conservation of crop wild relatives in the United States-Mexico Borderlands. Crop Science, 59:2387-2403.

 Evans MEK, PF Gugger, AM Lynch, CH Guiterman, JC Fowler, S Klesse, and EC Riordan. 2018. Dendroecology meets genomics in the common garden: New insights into climate adaptation. New Phytologist, 218:401–403.

Morueta-Holme N, MF Oldfather, RL Olliff-Yang, AP Weitz, CR Levine, MM Kling, EC Riordan, C Merow, SN Sheth, AH Thornhill, and DD Ackerly. 2018. Best practices for reporting climate data in ecology. Nature Climate Change, 8:92–94.

Riordan EC, AM Montalvo, and JL Beyers. 2018. Using species distribution models with climate change scenarios to aid ecological restoration decision making for southern California shrublands. Res. Pap. PSW-RP-270. Albany, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station. 130 p. 


  • Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Science, University of Arizona in 2019
  • PhD Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, The University of California, Los Angeles in 2013
  • BS Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution, University of California, Los Angeles in 2005