On Saturday 12 October 2013, over 70 people attended the 10th Annual RISE (Research Insights in Semi-Arid Environments) Symposium in the Marley Building on the University of Arizona (UA) campus (http://www.tucson.ars.ag.gov/rise/index.htm). Seven invited speakers covered topics ranging from the National Phenology Network, Dynamic Process Networks, Jaguars in SE Arizona, the North American Monsoon Macrosystem, Soil Moisture Constraints on Revegetation Success, and poignant humor about living in rural southern Arizona from Petey Mesquitey. Two videos celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed were viewed in lieu of presentations from USDA scientists who were unavailable due to the recent shortfall of federal funding. The highlight was the two-hour poster session where 27 presenters led a cacophony of discussion in the Marley Building foyer. The objectives of the symposium are to share recent results of scientific research in semiarid environments, with an emphasis on that conducted at the USDA-ARS Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed (WGEW) and the University of Arizona Santa Rita Experimental Range (SRER), and to encourage future research and outreach activities.
Through a generous contribution from long-time supporter Mr. Malcolm McGregor, there were monetary awards for the Best and Honorable Mention posters reporting research performed by undergraduate and graduate students working at WGEW or SRER, or using data collected at those facilities. Among the 11 graduate student contestants, Best Poster and $500 was awarded to Eva Levi from UA School of Natural Resources and the Environment with the title “Soil deposition and UV radiation influence litter decomposition in a shrub-invaded dryland ecosystem”; and Honorable Mention and $200 was awarded to Matthew Nielsen from UA Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with the title “Interactions between behavioral thermoregulation and color change in pipevine swallowtail caterpillars (Battus philenor)”. For undergraduate students, Best Poster and $300 was awarded to Amy Kwiecien from University of California, Riverside with the title “Mesquite and Cactus Abundance on a Grazed and Protected Sonoran Desert Grassland Site”; and Honorable Mention and $100 was awarded to John Hottenstein from UA Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering with the title “Complex Response of Grassland Soil Moisture to Extreme Precipitation Patterns”.
Poster contest winners (from left) Steve Archer standing in for Amy Kwiecien, Malcolm McGregor (contest benefactor), Matthew Nielsen, John Hottenstein, and Eva Levi after the 10th Annual RISE Symposium on 12 October 2013.