The Desert Laboratory maintains what are collectively the most extensive in space and time paleo Natural History Collections of the Sonoran Desert as well the most comprehensive Sonoran Desert Library.

These collections represent over 100 years of legacy data and research effort by dozens of pioneering scientists across over five generations at the Desert Laboratory.

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The Desert Laboratory Library is one of the best collections of Sonoran Desert scholarship. Filled with classics and more recent publications, the library is a valuable resource for researchers and students alike.

The library is a non-circulating collection, though you are welcome to come in and use the collection. Email us at to arrange library use, making note of any academic or research affiliations in your email.


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Metereological Data

The Desert Laboratory has maintained on site weather stations since 1907. Daily temperatures were recorded from January 1, 1907 to December 31, 1939; January 1, 1943 to December 31, 1956; and January 1, 1976 to April 12, 1998. Rainfall was recorded from January 1, 1907 to December 31, 1939; January 1, 1943 to December 31, 1971; and January 1, 1976 to the present.


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Vertebrate Paleontology Collection

The Desert Laboratory houses and curates the University of Arizona Laboratory of Paleontology (UALP) collection. The UALP collection comprises over 23,730 numbered specimens from 9,906 fossil localities, primarily from the southwestern United States, with an emphasis on Arizona, and from northern Mexico. The majority of the material is Rancholabrean (240,000 years to 11,000 years BP) with primary collections from Clovis Mammoth kill sites in the San Pedro River Valley.


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Paleo Packrat Middens

Since 1960, more than 2,000 fossil packrat middens have been collected, dated, and analyzed from western North America, with nearly a third of these contained in the Desert Laboratory’s collection. These middens offer unrivaled taxonomic and spatial resolution, and hence unique perspectives, on the stability, disassembly, and assembly of local communities through major climatic events in the dynamic late Quaternary.

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Sonoran Desert Pollen Reference Collection

As part of its collections, the Desert Laboratory has an extensive Sonoran Desert pollen reference collection. This collection was carefully assembled since the 1960s, most recently by Owen Davis.

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Greenhouse and Sonoran Plant Garden

Prehistoric, evolutionary, and cultural stories and scenarios are represented by plants that can look ordinary, strange, and beautiful to the casual observer, while sparking intrigue and contemplation about our presence in and responsibility to the places we call home.  The Lab maintains primary living collections in (1) the Desert Laboratory Greenhouse, (2) the Sonoran Plant Garden, and (3) the Tumamoc Resilience Garden Shade house.

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