On the Expedition
Explore the fascinating world of caterpillars to see how they protect themselves and respond to changes in their habitats.
Come search for and collect caterpillars and their host plants in Arizona’s beautiful riparian forest. You'll help scientists at the Southwest Research Station determine what types of caterpillars you've found, whether they've been attacked by parasites, and which plants they seem to favor. Principal Investigator Dr. Lee Dyer and his staff will teach you how to recognize all these things and join you in the forest, the lab, and around the dinner table. In your recreational time, you can explore the trails around the station and take in the beautiful world where forest meets desert.
Meals and Accommodations
The Southwest Research Station offers rustic shared rooms, hot water showers, conventional plumbing, electricity, and limited internet access. After a day in the Arizona sun, you can refresh yourself in the station's swimming pool. Typical American food will be prepared for you by the research station staff.
About the Research Area
The Southwestern Research Station (SWRS) is located at 5,400 feet of elevation in a riparian habitat, surrounded by woodlands of oak, juniper, and pinyon pine trees. Five types of habitats can be found in the course of a drive up the Chiricahua Mountains, which reach nearly 9,800 feet and are located at a crossroads between distinct desert and mountain regions.
The uniqueness and diversity of the region is well recognized by the bird-watchers who visit Cave Creek Canyon as one of the top birding sites in the US. The great diversity in this area is partly due to the unique geographical position of the Chiricahua and surrounding mountains. These mountains have been called “sky islands” because of their isolation from nearby mountain ranges, caused by expanses of desert valley. This isolation results in many species that are exclusive to their own area.
The region in Arizona where you’ll work is sparsely populated, and was important to Native Americans and early settlers because of a number of natural springs. Today the Cochise Stronghold is part of the Coronado National Forest and is a great place for solitude, hiking, and rock climbing.