Erin Riordan

Dr. Erin Riordan,

UA Desert Laboratory,

Laboratory of Tree Ring Research

Monday, February 15,

2:30-3:30 pm,

an ASA Zoom Webinar*


Without radical changes to food production, arid lands face growing food insecurity in a hotter, drier future. Climate change has already begun to disrupt, degrade, and restructure arable land and food systems in the deserts of North America. Megadroughts supercharged by anthropogenic warming are testing the adequacy of conventional crops, as well as the health and well-being of desert dwellers. Desert food plants, however, may hold the key to a more resilient food future. These plants can produce reliable yields with a fraction of the water used to grow conventional crops, even under adverse heat and drought conditions, while providing numerous environmental and health benefits. Focusing on arid North America (“Aridamerica”) as a laboratory for the future, Erin Riordan and her research group propose a new model for climate-smart desert food production that is not only resilient to climate change, but also benefits land and human health. 

Dr. Erin Riordan is a biogeographer and ecologist working at the intersection of plants, people, and climate. Her interests include conservation, restoration, and arid land food systems. She received her PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2013 before moving to Tucson in 2016. Riordan is currently a researcher at the University of Arizona, where she applies a transdisciplinary approach to climate change adaptation in order to promote resilience in both ecological and human systems. She works at the Desert Laboratory on Tumamoc Hill, west of Tucson, evaluating Sonoran Desert food plants for arid-adapted agriculture. Riordan also holds a postdoctoral research position at UA’s Laboratory of Tree Ring Research. Here, she uses tree-rings to better understand how forests respond to climate in order to inform management practices that will increase forest resilience to drought.

*To access the Zoom Webinar, please write 

Edited by Norman Scott, Academy Village Volunteer

Feb 15: “A New Model for Desert Food Production in a Warming, Drying World”