Active Research Projects

Research at the Desert Laboratory is ongoing, focused on the Sonoran Desert, place-based research on Tumamoc Hill, and transdisciplinary research projects. Click on each project below to learn more about the research and research teams.


Aridamerica Food Resilience

Through several interwoven efforts, the Desert Lab is working with campus, community, and Indigenous partners, as well as governments to establish resiliency in the face of dramatic disruptions, create jobs, and help urban communities adapt to accelerating climate change over the next half century.

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Buffelgrass and Fire in the Desert

The Desert Laboratory is actively working with the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum to use Tumamoc Hill as a model site for buffelgrass control and restoration.

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This collaborative research aims to resolve longstanding biogeographic puzzles of the Sonoran Desert, such as whether current disjunct distributions of species represent locations where the desert survived through the wetter Pleistocene. This synthetic understanding will help define how populations are responding to climate change today, both through genetic evolution and spatial movement, and help forecast future trajectories.

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Agave-Human Symbiosis

The agave-human symbiosis project is bringing together a broad collaborative working group to establish a biocultural sanctuary of agaves, emphasizing domesticates, on Tumamoc Hill to create an educational and research common garden utilizing the historic Indigenous technology found in the archaeological agave fields of the greater Southwest.

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Gulf of California

The Sonoran Desert is intimately connected to the Gulf of California, the desert's own sea. In fact, the terrestrial desert is far more connected to the ocean than you may suspect. The moisture that drives the summer monsoons is evaporated off the closed basin of the Gulf of California. The maritime influence provides ideal growing conditions for many succulent desert plant species.

Research at the Desert Laboratory encompasses a broad range of questions and study systems from islands to marine protected areas and the connections between the land and the sea.

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Tumamoc Hill

Click through to see the active, place-based research taking place on Tumamoc Hill.

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