The University of Arizona

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Research Highlights

The School of Natural Resources and the Environment is actively involved in a wide range of basic and applied research and extension projects. Topics currently being pursued by our faculty and graduate students range from climate adaptation and sustainability to natural products discovery and development. We invite you to explore some of our recent research highlights to learn how we develop science and solutions for natural resource management.


Photo: Dave Quanrud

Climate Adaptation and Sustainability

Natural resource managers in the Southwest are beginning to respond to the profound and rapid observed impacts of climate variability, and the anticipated impacts of projected environmental changes. We have observed wide-ranging changes, such as forest mortality, changes in species’ life cycles, massive wildfires, and dwindling surface water flows.

Conservation Biology

Conservation biology involves the study of biological diversity. Emphasis is placed on the maintenance and protection of species, the natural processes affecting them, and the habitats and ecosystems they occur in.

Conservation Genetics and Molecular Ecology

Our focus in this field is the application of molecular population genetics, molecular systematics and phylogenetics, and molecular genomics to questions of conservation and ecological importance.

Decomposition in Drylands: Soil Erosion and UV Interactions

Death is an integral part of the cycle of life.  In ecosystems, plants acquire inorganic compounds from their environment (carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, etc.) and build them into complex organic compounds that nourish animals either directly (e,g,, herbivores than consume plants) or indirectly (carnivores that


Ecohydrology is an interdisciplinary area that draws on both ecology and hydrology, and is related to watershed management.

Ecology, Management, and Restoration of Rangelands

Rangelands are many things to many people. Speak the word and some will envision the home of the American cowboy, others see vast herds on the African Serengeti, and for still others the Australian Outback is synonymous with the term.

Ecosystem Services

In 2001, more than 1,300 scientists, economists, business professionals, and other experts from 95 countries began an analysis of ecosystems worldwide. Their findings, published in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment in 2005, provide an in-depth look at the state of ecosystems and the services they provide.

Fire Ecology

Wildland fire is a fundamental ecosystem process in most Western forests, woodlands, and grasslands. As such, understanding fire effects on ecosystems is crucial for both scientists and land managers. Fire interacts with vegetation composition and structure, and plays a key role in nutrient cycling, watershed hydrology, and carbon sequestration.

Fisheries Conservation and Management

In research, the term fisheries is interpreted broadly to include biological and ecological studies of fish, aquatic invertebrates, and other aquatic organisms as well as their interrelationships with each other, with humans, and with the physical environment.

Human Dimensions of Natural Resource Management

People decide the values and uses of natural resources, and therefore the study of human dimensions seeks to understand how people decide and the outcomes of those decisions. 

Invasive Species Ecology

Annual costs to control invasive plants and animals in the U.S. are difficult to quantify but have been estimated to be in excess of $100 billion.

Natural Products Discovery and Development

It has been estimated that up to 70% of the currently used anticancer and anti-infective drugs contain one or more small-molecule natural products, with this term broadly defined so as to include various types of molecular modifications.


Phenology is a is a key component of life on earth. Many birds time their nesting so that eggs hatch when insects are available to feed nestlings.  In turn, insect emergence is often synchronized with leafing out in their host plants.

Population and Community Ecology

Populations and community ecology, are disciplines that are integral to developing effective conservation and recovery strategies for rare species and sustainable management strategies for harvested species.

Remote Sensing

Field, airborne and satellite remote sensing data and other geospatial information technologies are utilized to help understand eco-hydro-climatic responses of land surfaces and address issues in environmental and natural resource management for all regions in the world.

Restoration Ecology

Ecological restoration initiates or accelerates the recovery of an ecosystem, with respect to its health, integrity and sustainability, to its historic trajectory or some perceived pristine state. In most cases, the ecosystem that requires restoration has been degraded, damaged, transformed or entirely destroyed as the direct or indirect result of human activities.

Watershed Management

Watershed management is the study of the relevant characteristics of a watershed aimed at the sustainable distribution of its resources and the process of creating and implementing plans, projects, and programs to sustain and enhance watershed functions. The functions of watersheds in turn can affect the plant, animal, and human communities within a watershed boundary.

Wild Cat Conservation

Students and faculty in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment are doing exciting work in the field of conservation, especially related to wild cats. 

Wildlife Conservation and Management

Research in Wildlife Conservation and Management often focuses on the life histories of mammals, birds, and other terrestrial organisms, as well as their interrelationships with each other, with humans, and with the physical environment.