17th Annual Symposium

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Recent research at the USDA-ARS Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed (WGEW) and the University of Arizona Santa Rita Experimental Range (SRER)

Researchers measure the hydraulic conductivity of the soil near the RainMan experiment in the Santa Rita Experimental Range.

University of Arizona, Tucson, Marley Building, Rm. 230 [MAP]
Saturday, 20 November 2021, 8:30AM to 3:00PM

View the Symposium Program
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Past Symposia:


The 17th annual Research Insights in Semiarid Ecosystems (RISE) Symposium will be held Saturday, 20 November 2021, 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM on the University of Arizona campus.



  • Share recent results of research at the USDA-ARS Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed (WGEW) and the University of Arizona Santa Rita Experimental Range (SRER)
  • Encourage future research activities at the WGEW and the SRER
  • Promote the WGEW and the SRER as outdoor scientific laboratories

Dye tracers are used by ARS and University of Arizona researchers to measure the velocity of overland flow from simulated runoff events at the Walnut Gulch Experimental Watershed (Photo: Justin Johnson, University of Arizona, School of Natural Resources and the Environment).



The Symposium will feature invited speakers presenting recent or on-going research on the WGEW, the SRER or other outdoor laboratories in the region. There will be time for questions from the audience, which will consist of federal agency, NGOs (non-governmental organizations) stakeholders from southern Arizona and university faculty, staff and students



Conditions resulting from the Covid-19 Pandemic could prevent an in-person meeting again this year. However, we are optimistic and are preparing for an in-person meeting on Saturday November 20, 2021.  Given the possibility that we may cancel the meeting due to Covid-19 conditions, we ask that you register on-line but do not submit registration payments until directed to do so. Registration will ensure that we can communicate the status of the meeting with you via email.



The deadline for registration (as a courtesy for catering plans) is 10 November 2021. Late registrations will be accepted at the Symposium site on 20 November, 8:30 to 9:00 AM. Registration is $25 for non-students and $10 for students. Make Checks Payable to: The University of Arizona. NOTE: Unless otherwise instructed, do not mail payments prior to the Symposium because we are not yet certain this will be an In-Person meeting.

The deadline for Poster Abstract Submission is 04 November 2021.  Note: Space may be limited to 20 posters and decisions about acceptance will be made by 10 November 2021.



Poster Dimensions (applies to all posters, including student contestants and others):  

Posters should not exceed 36 inches tall by 60 inches wide. 

NOTE: In the event of a Remote meeting, formatting guidelines for on-line posters will be forthcoming

Student Poster Contest:

Through a generous contribution from long-time supporter Mr. Malcolm McGregor, we are able to provide monetary awards for outstanding student posters.  A single award will be granted in each of the following categories: 

To qualify for a poster award, the work presented on the poster must have been conducted on or have used data from the WGEW, the SRER, or both.  Entry to the contest is made via the symposium registration link above.

Contestant's posters will be judged and awards presented at the close of the Symposium. A poster should stand on its own merit, but poster judges will also be visiting with each student at their posters to evaluate enthusiasm and competence in the subject area. Note: Students in the competition will be asked to identify at least a 30-minute window in which they will be at their poster during the poster session. 

Poster Judging Criteria 

  1. APPEARANCE: 1) Neat and visually appealing, 2) Well organized and easy to follow; it has a logical and clear progression of problem statement, methods, and results, and 3) Words are readable from an appropriate distance.

  2. CONTENT: 1) Purpose of study is stated clearly, 2) Conclusions are stated clearly and supported by results, 3) Scientific method was utilized, and 4) Topic relevant to semiarid ecosystems.

  3. SCIENTIFIC ORIGINALITY: Creative approach.

  4. GRAPHICS: Graphics are effective and enhance the results.

  5. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS/REFERENCES: Proper acknowledgements are given for support of the study, and literature cited. 

  6. INTERACTION WITH STUDENT PRESENTER: 1) Presenter made appropriate reference to material in the poster and 2) Presenter spoke clearly and effectively. 3) Presenter provided requested elaboration and answered questions effectively

17th RISE Symposium (Research Insights in Semiarid Ecosystems)

Saturday, 20 November 2021

Marley Building, Room 230, University of Arizona





Mitch McClaran

Phil Heilman


RISE Welcome



Abe Karam

Updates and opportunities with NEON, the National Ecological Observatory Network


Brett Blum

Updates and opportunities at the Santa Rita Experimental Range


Andy Hubbard
NPS Sonoran Desert Network

Citizen science, research and monitoring in Sonoran Desert national parks


Larry Fisher

Using indicators of watershed health to guide management decision making


Marguerite Mauritz
Univ Texas El Paso

A decade of ecosystem carbon fluxes in Chihuahuan Desert shrubland and outlook on new research


Tyson Swetnam
UA CyVerse

The Airborne Environmental Observations Laboratory for Unoccupied Systems (AEOLUS) 


Bridget Hass

Leveraging NEON remote sensing data in the Desert Southwest


Poster Introductions

Presenters give a 1-minute advertisement of their poster


Poster Session Lunch w/ Posters

Provided at the meeting; included in RISE registration


Gary Nabhan
UA Southwest Center

The status of crop wild relatives and their significance to monitoring efforts in USDA ARS Climate Hubs


Sheri Spiegal

Circular management of beef supply chains in the Southwestern United States: strategies for sustainability


Guillermo Ponce Campos

Applying machine learning with NEON-AOP data products to classify vegetation using Google Earth Engine


Dave Goodrich

USA continental scale intensification or not, of sub-daily precipitation intensities


Poster Awards




(*=graduate and **=undergraduate in poster contest)


Lead Author



Nicolas Katz

Biological soil crust coverage and abundance are reduced along a gradient of disturbance by livestock at the Santa Rita Experimental Range


Craig Rasmussen

Pedogenic record of environmental change in the Upper San Pedro River basin


Robin Bradley

Are symbionts of invasive grasses a key to their ecological dominance in grasslands of southern Arizona?


Pamela Nagler

A Machine Learning and Data Fusion Approach for Classifying Landsat OLI Spectral and Vegetation Dynamic Data in Support of Habitat Mapping in the Santa Rita Mountains


Alejandra Huerta

Rainfall Frequency and Intensity Impact Root Growth and Root Depth Variability in a Semi-Arid Grassland of the Southwest


Joel Biederman

An introduction to RainManSR: A field manipulative experiment linking above- and below-ground responses to temporal repackaging of precipitation in a semiarid grassland agroecosystem


Jacob Blais

Quantifying the response of soil respiration to rainfall pulses: A comparison of weekly manual and continuous automated measurement techniques


Moshe Steyn

Microbial exoenzyme activities and resilience to short-term drought conditions in Southern Arizona


Austin Rutherford

Monsoon season precipitation variation, not herbaceous cover, controls shrub (Prosopis velutina) recruitment in Sonoran grasslands


Nate Pierce

Investigating the drivers of perennial grass transplant mortality in a semiarid rangeland


Tianyi Hu

The effect of Biological and Physical Processes on Soil Water Dynamics and its Feedback to Arizona Grassland


Fangyue Zhang

Field evidence reveals atmospheric demand determines photosynthesis in a semiarid ecosystem


Mostafa Javadian

Impacts of Rainfall Repackaging on Canopy Temperature in a Semiarid Grassland


William Smith

Rainfall pulses drive coordinated responses in leaf hydraulic, biochemical, and photosynthetic traits that can be tracked with hyperspectral remote sensing


Charles Devine

Applying novel remote sensing techniques in a rainfall manipulation experiment - progress and updates from the RainManSR project


Brandon Mayer

Grazing Management: Virtual Approach


Ravindra Dwivedi

Use of SNOTEL, snow photography and lidar datasets for an improved understanding of amount, timing and duration of net water input to soil at contrasting forested sites in Arizona, USA


Xian Wang

Characterizing the response of photosynthesis, spectral reflectance, and sun-induced chlorophyll fluorescence to extreme drought at a semi-arid grassland site


RISE Organizing Committee:

Steve Archer, Phil Heilman, Mitch McClaran, Jason Williams 






AOP: Airborne Observatory Platform
ARS: Agricultural Research Service
JRN: Jornada Experimental Range
NEON: National Ecological Observatory Network
NPS: National Park Service
SNRE: School of Natural Resources and the Environment
SRER: Santa Rita Experimental Range
SWRC: Southwest Watershed Research Center
UA: University of Arizona
USDA: United States Department of Agriculture