Technology is enabling conservation scientists to collect and analyze data with an efficiency unimagined just decades ago. Satellite and drone-based remote sensing allow rapid mapping and monitoring of environmental conditions; networked sensors such as camera traps and flow meters provide real-time data about the health and potential threats to important resources.

Data are fundamental to making science-based conservation decisions. By modernizing environmental data capture and analysis and streamlining the delivery of usable information to decision makers, we can unlock new opportunities for transformative change in resource management.

The Conservancy’s team of designers, engineers, and data scientists are continually applying new applications of technology to increase the pace and scale of conservation in California – and beyond.

Science in Action

Terrestrial | Planning | Technology | Economics

Wildfire and Communities

How can land protection and restoration help protect communities from wildfire?

Marine | Technology | Science

Closing the Abalone Data Gap

Can putting technology in the hands of citizen scientists transform how abalone are managed?

2022 | Marine | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Using unoccupied aerial vehicles to map and monitor changes in emergent kelp canopy after an ecological regime shift

Vienna R. Saccomanno, Tom Bell, Camille Pawlak, Charlotte K. Stanley, Katherine C. Cavanaugh, Rietta Hohman, Kirk R. Klausmeyer, Kyle Cavanaugh, Abby Nickels, Waz Hewerdine, Corey Garza, Gary Fleener, Mary Gleason

Kelp forests are complex underwater habitats that provide valuable services for both people and nature. Despite their importance, increasingly severe stressors have resulted in declines in kelp forests in many regions including the North Coast of California. Given the significant and sustained loss of kelp…


2022 | Terrestrial | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Soil microbial community composition and tolerance to contaminants in an urban brownfield site

Maura Palacios Mejia, Connie Rojas, Emily Curd, Mark Renshaw, Kiumars Edalati, Beverly Shih, Nitin Vincent, Meixi Lin, Peggy Nguyen, Robert Wayne, Kelsey Jessup, Sophie Parker

This paper presents results from a study conducted at TNC’s multi-benefit stormwater management and habitat enhancement project site adjacent to the Los Angeles River. Due to a history of industrial use, soils at the project site are contaminated with heavy metals, petroleum hydrocarbons, and…


2022 | Terrestrial | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Predictive ecological land classification from multi-decadal satellite imagery

Daniel Sousa, Frank W. Davis, Kelly Easterday, Mark Reynolds, Laura Riege, H. Scott Butterfield, Moses Katkowski

This paper details a first of its kind approach to land classification, using random forests and multivariate regression trees and historical Landsat satellite imagery to map and then assess changes in oak canopies at the Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve. Using this “topoclimatic-edaphic” approach to…


2022 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Technology | Economics | Science | Publications & Reports

Developing an adaptive management approach to cowbird control on the Santa Clara River, California

Sophie S. Parker, Linnea S. Hall, Mary J. Whitfield, Laura Riege, Kathryn R. Selm, René Corado

This paper presents results from a field-based study that can be used to benefit songbirds in riverside habitats like those found along the Santa Clara River in Ventura County, California. Songbirds such as the Least Bell’s Vireo suffer population declines in part because Brown-headed…


2022 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Planning | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Prioritizing actions: spatial action maps for conservation

Heather Tallis, Joe Fargione, Edward Game, Rob McDonald, Leandro Baumgarten, Nirmal Bhagabati, Rane Cortez, Bronson Griscom, Jonathan Higgins, Christina M. Kennedy, Joe Kiesecker, Timm Kroeger, Trina Leberer, Jennifer McGowan, Lisa Mandle, Yuta J. Masuda, Scott Morrison, Sally Palmer, Rebecca Shirer, Priya Shyamsundar, Nicholas H.Wolff, and Hugh P. Possingham

Spatial analysis is a powerful tool in conservation planning. Yet it is often under-deployed as a means of elucidating which conservation actions may deliver the highest return on investment. This paper presents a framework for “spatial action mapping” and discusses how it can improve conservation…


2022 | Terrestrial | Planning | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

A framework to select strategies for conserving and restoring habitat connectivity in complex landscapes

D. Richard Cameron, Carrie A. Schloss, David M. Theobald, Scott A. Morrison

Protecting or restoring habitat connectivity in landscapes undergoing rapid environmental change requires multiple conservation and restoration strategies. These strategies have different risk profiles, costs, and require various types of expertise to conduct. This diversity in landscape context and strategic approach requires more nuance than traditional…


2022 | Terrestrial | Planning | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

The influence of model frameworks in spatial planning of regional climate-adaptive connectivity for conservation planning

Hyeyeong Choe, Annika T.H. Keeley, D. Richard Cameron, Melanie Gogol-Prokurat, Lee Hannah, Patrick R. Roehrdanz, Carrie A. Schloss, James H. Thorne

Planning for connectivity conservation often relies on modeled movement routes. However, these pathways can be sensitive to the conservation objective, modeling approach, analysis tool, and assumptions. The authors compared four different approaches to planning for connectivity for climate adaptation in California.  Three or more models…


2022 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Planning | Technology | Science | Maps & Webmaps

The Mitigation Wizard

Carrie Schloss, Liz O’Donoghue, Dan Rademacher, Patric Huber, Jodi McGraw, Kim Becerril, Janine Knapp

Every year, infrastructure agencies and developers spend hundreds of millions of dollars to mitigate for impacts to sensitive species and habitats. These mitigation sites are often piecemeal projects, which can result in islands of mitigation. Regional advance mitigation programs seek to change this paradigm so…


2022 | Terrestrial | Planning | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

“No-regrets” pathways for navigating climate change: planning for connectivity with land use, topography, and climate

Carrie A. Schloss, D. Richard Cameron, Brad H. McRae, David M. Theobald, and Aaron Jones

Plant and animal species are already shifting their ranges in response to a changing climate. Maintaining connectivity between present habitat and suitable habitat in the future will become increasingly important to ensure lasting protection for biodiversity. Connectivity that facilitates climate adaptation requires pathways with "stepping…


2022 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Quantity and fate of synthetic microfiber emissions from apparel washing in California and strategies for their reduction

Roland Geyer, Jenna Gavigan, Alexis M. Jackson, Vienna R. Saccomanno, Sangwon Suh, Mary G. Gleason

Synthetic microfibers are the most prevalent type of microplastic and apparel washing is a major source of microfiber pollution. Using California as a case study to estimate the magnitude of microfiber emissions and evaluate mitigation approaches, the authors estimate that in 2019 over 4,850,000 pounds (2.2…


2022 | Marine | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Reducing the Risk of Mortality to Whales

Jessica Morten, Ryan Freedman, Jeffrey D. Adams, Jono Wilson, Aliya Rubinstein, Sean Hastings

The great whales, including, blue, humpback, and fin whales are threatened by collisions with ocean going vessels. Global shipping traffic is projected to increase up to 12-fold in coming decades. Slowing vessels down reduces the risk of whale collisions and mortality. Here, the authors examined…


2022 | Marine | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Lost Fishing Gear is a Key Contributor to Ocean Plastic Pollution

Brandon Kuczenski, Camila Vargas Poulsen, Eric L. Gilman, Michael Musyl, Roland Geyer, Jono Wilson

More than 4.5 million fishing vessels ply ocean waters each year, setting countless nets, traps, hooks and lines. Much of this fishing gear is made of plastic components and a significant fraction of it is lost in the ocean each year, causing irreparable harm to…


2022 | Marine | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Use of Simple Indicators to Improve Fisheries Management

William J. Harford, Ricardo Amoroso, Richard J. Bell, Matias Caillaux, Jason Marc Cope, Dawn Dougherty, Natalie Anne Dowling, Frank Hurd, Serena Lomonico, Josh Nowlis, Dan Ovando, Ana M. Parma, Jeremy D. Prince, Jono R. Wilson

Overfishing threatens the health of ocean ecosystems. Effective fisheries management is key to minimizing ocean impacts and improving outcomes for millions of fishing dependent people throughout the world. Most fisheries, however, lack sufficient data for managers to perform quantitative stock assessments and inform management regulations.…


2021 | Terrestrial | Marine | Planning | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve Invasive Plant Species Action Plan

Moses Katkowski, H. Scott Butterfield, John Knapp, Kelly Easterday, Laura Riege, Mark Reynolds

This 5-year action plan describes the vision for invasive plant species mapping, monitoring and treatment at the Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve in Sourthern California. The plan is adaptive and will updated as new species, management approaches (including new and emerging technologies), and monitoring results…


2021 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Planning | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Planting Stormwater Solutions: A methodology for siting nature-based solutions for pollution capture, habitat enhancement, and multiple health benefits

Kelsey Jessup, Sophie S. Parker, John M. Randall, Brian S. Cohen, Rowan Roderick-Jones, Shona Ganguly, Jill Sourial

This paper presents results from Planting Stormwater Solutions, part of TNC’s Urban Conservation work in Los Angeles. The authors develop a methodology to prioritize siting of vegetated nature-based solutions for stormwater capture so that these projects maximize benefits to biological diversity, social and public…


2021 | Terrestrial | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

The tree cover and temperature disparity in US urbanized areas: Quantifying the association with income across 5,723 communities

Robert I. McDonald, Tanushree Biswas, Cedilla Sachar, Ian Housman, Timothy M. Boucher, Deborah Balk, David Nowak, Erica Spotswood, Charlotte K. Stanley, Stefan Leyk

Urban tree cover provides benefits to human health and well-being, but it is often inequitably distributed. In this study, researchers Google Earth Engine (GEE) and an automated machine learning algorithm to map urban tree cover at 2m resolution across 5,723 municipalities and unincorporated communities in the…


2021 | Terrestrial | Planning | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Combining Occurrence and Habitat Suitability Data Improve Conservation Guidance for the Giant Kangaroo Rat

Alyssa E. Semerdjian, H. Scott Butterfield, Robert Stafford, Michael F. Westphal, William T. Bean

This paper in the Journal of Wildlife Management combines nearly 20 years of remote sensing, field/trapping, and modeling data to develop a new approach to the identification and prioritization of conservation land for the giant kangaroo rat. As a keystone species in the San Joaquin…


2021 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Planning | Technology | Science | Data

Natural Communities Commonly Associated with Groundwater Version 2.0 (NCCAG 2.0)

Kirk Klausmeyer, Jeanette Howard, Melissa Rohde, Charlotte Stanley

The first step to sustainably manage groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs) is to identify where they are. The Nature Conservancy developed a statewide spatial database that provides locations of seeps and springs, wetlands, and vegetation likely to depend on groundwater. This database (version 2.0) is an…


2021 | Terrestrial | Technology | Economics | Science | Publications & Reports

Tahoe-Central Sierra Initiative Phase 1 Restoration Wood Supply Assessment

Tom Baribault, Daniel Porter, Jessica Burton Desrocher, Douglas Larmour, Mark Rasmussen, Roy Anderson

The Tahoe-Central Sierra Initiative (TCSI) area has seen recent megafires and is highly developed, making the risk new of human-caused wildfire ignitions high. In this report, experts from Mason Bruce & Girard, The Beck Group and The Nature Conservancy assess quantities of…