On Saturday 08 October 2016, 60 people attended the 13th Annual RISE (Research Insights in Semi-Arid Environments) Symposium in the Marley Building on the University of Arizona (UA) campus. The objectives of the symposium are to share recent results of scientific research in semiarid environments, with an emphasis on work 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. A recent UA News story described the legacy of student engagement and research collaborations that have emerged from the previous 12 symposia.
This year, the topics covered by the nine invited speakers included the
1) National Ecological Observatory Network,
2) Toolbox and management practices to control buffelgrass at Saguaro National Park,
3) Arthropod distribution, diversity and genetic variation in the local Sky Islands mountain ranges,
4) Patterns and implications of rain storm intensity and duration over the past 60 years,
5) Soil erosion and deposition rates using radio-isotope tracers,
6) Spatial and temporal scaling of Net Ecosystem Exchange of carbon across southwestern North America,
7) Preliminary results of herbaceous diversity responses to mesquite control,
8) On-going efforts that merge lidar, structure for motion imagery, and multi-spectral data to represent spatial and temporal patterns of vegetation, and
9) A reflection on the history of the Santa Rita history as a benchmark for appreciating ongoing and future activities.
These presentations and posters will be archived at http://www.tucson.ars.ag.gov/rise/index.htm, where we also provide presentations and poster from the previous 12 symposia.
The highlight was the two-hour poster session where 9 presenters led a cacophony of discussion in the Marley Building foyer. 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 graduate students working at WGEW or SRER, or using data collected at those facilities. Best Poster and $500 was awarded to Sam Abercrombie from UA School of Natural Resources and the Environment (SNRE) with the title “Small Mammalian Herbivores Decrease Herbaceous Plant Cover in Shrub Invaded Grassland”; and the Honorable Mention awards of $200 each went to Mark Kautz from UA SNRE with the title “Parameterization of the Rangeland Hydrology and Erosion Model (RHEM) using dynamic Landsat-based foliar cover estimates”.
Members of the Tierra Seca Club, which is the student chapter of the Society for Range Management provided coffee, juice, fruit and baked goodies for attendees before the talks began at 9 am. The Club will use donations for these goodies to help cover travel expenses to the national meeting of the Society for Range Management this January 2016 in St George, Utah.