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News for Southeastern Arizona, provided by the University of Arizona School of Journalism

Tucson couple carry out annual saguaro census

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For desert dwellers, saguaros are a part of daily life. Scattered in front yards, cropping up along the side of the road, sprinkled on mountainsides, the hulking cactuses are nearly omnipresent in the Arizona desert. We often see them without realizing what goes into the survival of these huge plants that only grow in the Sonoran Desert. But Tom Orum and Nancy Ferguson focus on just that: How long do these saguaros live, and how many survive each year? The Tucson couple, both retired University of Arizona researchers, have spent almost four decades conducting an annual census of the saguaros in six plots of land around Saguaro National Park. Limited by elevation and by freezing temperatures in the winter, saguaros are only found in the Sonoran Desert, according to Saguaro National Park. Ferguson, 73, said the Sonoran Desert’s combination of...

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