Desert Laboratory

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Desert Laboratory — aka: Desert Botanical Laboratory; Tumamoc Hill; Tumamoc: People & Habitats
Desert Lab, Tucson.jpg
Desert Laboratory is located in Arizona
Desert Laboratory
Desert Laboratory is located in the US
Desert Laboratory
Nearest city 1675 West Anklam Road, Tucson, Arizona
Coordinates 32°13′31″N 111°0′9″W / 32.22528°N 111.00250°W / 32.22528; -111.00250Coordinates: 32°13′31″N 111°0′9″W / 32.22528°N 111.00250°W / 32.22528; -111.00250
Area 860 acres (3.5 km2)
Built 1903
NRHP reference # 66000190
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966[1]
Designated NHL December 21, 1965[2]

The Desert Laboratory at 1675 West Anklam Road, Tucson, Arizona was founded by the Carnegie Institution in 1903 to study how plants survive and thrive in the heat and aridity of deserts. Beginning in 1906, numerous long term ecological observation areas were set up by Volney Spalding & Forrest Shreve on the 860 acres (3.5 km2) scientific domain of Tumamoc Hill. Nine of these are the world's oldest permanent ecology study quadrats. The facility and staff were key contributors to what is now considered the science of ecology, including participating in the creation of the Ecological Society of America in 1915 and the Ecology journal.[3] Led by Spalding & Shreve, they also contributed innovations in conservation.

Part of it was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965.[2][4] The rest was added in 1987.


Acting on the authority of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Frederick Vernon Coville Botanist of the USDA and Daniel T. McDougal of the New York Botanical Garden chose Tumamoc Hill as the location of the Desert Laboratory in February, 1903. It opened in October of that year.

It is now operated by Tumamoc: People & Habitats, part of The University of Arizona's College of Science.


Its current director is Michael Rosenzweig[5]

Walking up Tumamoc's Road[edit]

The public is welcome to walk up almost to the top of Tumamoc Hill except not from 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM, Mon-Fri. Walkers must stay on the road. Bicycles and pets are not allowed. And the very top of the Hill is an archaeological site where there is no unsupervised entry. Vehicular traffic restricted to authorized persons.


  1. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b "Desert Laboratory". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2007-09-27. 
  3. ^ Research at Tumamoc
  4. ^ Ann Huston (September 1986) National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Desert Laboratory of the Carnegie Institution / Tumamoc Hill, National Park Service and Accompanying 8 photos, exterior, from 1986.
  5. ^ Desert Laboratory Director Honored by Ecological Society of America

"Discovering the Desert: The Legacy of the Carnegie Desert Botanical Laboratory" by William G. McGinnies, 276 pp, 1981 ISBN 978-0-8165-0728-3

External links[edit]