Landscape Ecology

Multi-scaled Ecological Assessment Methods in the Interior Columbia Basin

The research plan, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, outlines to use extensive databases compiled for the terrestrial and aquatic systems of the interior Columbia River Basin to investigate relationships among multi-scaled biophysical variables and biological features of terrestrial and aquatic systems of critical value in the use of ecological assessment data. The project involves collaborators from across the country, with participation by staff in the UCSB Biogeography Lab.

Vulnerability of Coastal Sage Scrub to Patch Dynamics and Exotic Invasion

This project addresses needs identified through the Natural Community Conservation Planning Program relating to the maintenance of coastal sage scrub communities in southern California. With colleagues at UCSD and Riverside, this project will address inventory and monitoring, species persistence/demographics, exotic and invasive species, and reserve design/biogeography/landscape processes, historical land use/succession.

Landscape patterns of pollen movement in declining populations of Quercus lobata

Fragmentation and population declines jeopardize the survival of many species. Excessive reproductive isolation can cause a loss of valuable alleles, decrease genetic variation, induce inbreeding depression, reduce demographic fitness, and lead to reproductive failure. When tree populations are reduced to scattered and clustered individuals, pollen movement is critical to connectivity. This project develops a novel approach that can cover landscape-scale areas and can be integrated into spatially explicit simulation modeling of landscape changes.

Santa Barbara County Oak Restoration

We are conducting a long-term oak regeneration program to improve our understanding of the role of cattle and other ecological factors in limiting or promoting recruitment by valley oak (Quercus lobata), blue oak (Q. douglasii), and coast live oak (Q. agrifolia). We will translate our findings into both management recommendations and prescriptions for restoring oak woodlands and savannas. More than 75% of oak woodland and savanna ecosystems in California is grazed by cattle, making cattle the most pervasive anthropogenic influence on these ecosystems and on their oak populations.

Collaborative Research: Do Microenvironments Govern Macroecology?

How environmental conditions vary locally in mountainous regions of the western United States and how rapid climate change determine the survival and migration rates of trees will be studied by an interdisciplinary team of climate scientists, ecologists, hydrologists and plant geographers. Current climate data and models are too coarse to accurately predict the finer scale spatial variation that enables plant communities to exist and persist.

Adaptive Management of Phytophthora ramorum in the Big Sur ecoregion

The Big Sur area is one of the most ecologically diverse regions in California. Although the forests of Big Sur are protected by numerous preserves, state parks, county parks and the Los Padres National Forest, they are still threatened by exotic species, climate change and alterations of key ecosystem processes such as a fire. At this time, one of the most significant threats is the invasive pathogen Phytophthora ramorum, the causal agent of the forest disease sudden oak death.

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