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UCSB Scientist Leads UC Effort to Save Coastal Oaks
Coastlines, Vol 31, No. 3
UCSB - Alumni Association
Winter 2001

UCSB's Marine Science Institute is administering a multi-campus project aimed at restoring California's threatened coastal-oak ecosystems. The UC Natural Reserve System has received a $263,600 grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation to develop the framework for the long-term research, monitoring , and training program.

"The award demonstrates the foundation's understanding that preserving open space is only the beginning of saving the biological diversity of oak woodlands and that informed stewardship and scientifically sound management and monitoring are also needed," said UCSB geographer Frank Davis, the project's principal investigator. He is a professor in the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management.

More than 3 million acres of California's oak woodlands and grassland ecosystems have been identified as being at risk. These ecosystems are in decline biologically and are also being lost to residential and agricultural development.

Studies have shown that even on undeveloped lands, many oak species are failing to reproduce. In fact, in many areas of coastal California, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find blue oaks and valley oaks that are less that 75 years old.

The grant from the Packard Foundation will support an extensive nine month planning effort by leading UC environmental field scientists and staffs at the UC's Berkeley, Davis, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz campuses."

An interdisciplinary team of experts will assess the current state of scientific knowledge of California foothill, woodland and grassland ecosystems. It will also identify suitable sites-both NRS reserves and non-UC sites-where research, monitoring and training programs can be conducted over the next decade.

Strong relationships will be developed with partner organizations and individuals to create and analyze mechanisms for applying the results of the research, disseminating data, and eliciting user comments. Additionally, parallel social science research will be performed to inform policy designs and management strategies for these ecosystems.

In addition to Davis, core participants from UCSB include Claudia Tyler, assistant researcher at the Institute for Computational Earth System Science; and Jim Richman, director, National Institute of Ecological Analysis and Synthesis."