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

Marine | Technology | Science

Closing the Abalone Data Gap

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

Freshwater | Terrestrial | Technology | Economics | Science

Dynamic Conservation

In an era of rapid global change, how can conservationists provide habitat where and when nature needs it most?

2018 | Marine | Planning | Technology | Science | Blogs

Managing Fisheries in the Face of Climate Change

Jono Wilson

The author discusses a need for a new paradigm in fisheries management to address the challenges of a changing climate.  See related publication by the author and colleagues in Conservation Letters.


2018 | Terrestrial | Planning | Technology | Science | Blogs

Climate Connectivity Analysis: An Innovation Approach to Identifying Critical Habitat in California

Alex Leumer, Carrie Schloss, Cara Lacey

Plants and animals lack the ability to change their environment. As their current habitat becomes unsuitable due to climate change, they may search out new, more suitable habitat to adapt to changing conditions. With limited resources for protecting additional lands, the conservation community must protect…


2018 | Marine | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Adaptive comanagement to achieve climate‐ready fisheries

Jono R. Wilson, Serena Lomonico, Darcy Bradley, Leila Sievanen, Tom Dempsey, Michael Bell, Skyli McAfee, Christopher Costello, Cody Szuwalski, Huff McGonigal, Sean Fitzgerald, Mary Gleason

Climate change is amplifying threats to ocean ecosystems and marine fisheries worldwide. In order to respond appropriately in the face of these ocean changes, commercial and recreational fisheries management requires improved information collection, expanded utilization of diverse data sources, and enhanced decision-making. While advances in science and…


2017 | Terrestrial | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Testing a Remote Sensing-Based Interactive System for Monitoring Grazed Conservation Lands

Lawrence D. Ford, H. Scott Butterfield, Pete A. Van Hoorn, Kasey B. Allen, Ethan Inlander, Carrie Schloss, Falk Schuetzenmeister, Miriam Tsalyuk

The Nature Conservancy developed RDMapper, a web-based tool that uses satellite-based productivity estimates, rainfall records, and compliance history to identify easement properties at risk of being below the required level of RDM. TNC successfully used RDMapper in 2015 and 2016 to predict compliance across ~47,000…


2017 | Marine | Technology | Science | Video

Aquaculture by Design, Tomales Bay

Serena Lomonico, Robert Jones, Torrey Johnson, Sarah Newkirk, Sarah Lummis, Kirk Klausmeyer, John Finger, Terry Sawyer, Richard James

Aquaculture is becoming an increasingly important global food source. With this growth comes urgent, unanswered questions about the interactions of aquaculture operations—both positive and negative—and ecosystems. This video describes a collaboration between the Conservancy, the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Hog Island Oyster Company aimed at…


2017 | Terrestrial | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Novel fine-scale aerial mapping approach quantifies grassland weed cover dynamics and response to management

Carolyn M. Malmstrom, H. Scott Butterfield, Laura Planck, Christopher W. Long, Valerie T. Eviner

Invasive weeds threaten the biodiversity and forage productivity of grasslands worldwide. However, management of these weeds is constrained by the practical difficulty of detecting small-scale infestations across large landscapes and by limits in understanding of landscape-scale invasion dynamics. This study demonstrates the application of a…


2017 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Technology | Economics | Science | Publications & Reports

Dynamic conservation for migratory species

Mark D. Reynolds, Brian L. Sullivan, Eric Hallstein, Sandra Matsumoto, Steve Kelling, Matthew Merrifield, Daniel Fink, Alison Johnston, Wesley M. Hochachka, Nicholas E. Bruns, Matthew E. Reiter, Sam Veloz, Catherine Hickey, Nathan Elliott, Leslie Martin, John W. Fitzpatrick, Paul Spraycar, Gregory H. Golet, Christopher McColl, Scott A. Morrison

What if instead of buying habitat, conservationists could rent it when and where nature needs it most? The Conservancy is using predictive models of shorebird movements, data from the citizen science program eBird, and NASA satellite wetland habitat data to create a habitat marketplace of…


2017 | Marine | Technology | Video

Big Data and the Deep Blue Sea

The Nature Conservancy, Matt Merrifield

Nearly half of the world depends on seafood for their main source of protein. In the Western and Central Pacific, where 60% of the world’s tuna is caught, illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing practices are threatening marine ecosystems, global seafood supplies and local livelihoods. This…


2016 | Marine | Technology | Science | Video

Sustainable Management of Abalone Fishery in California

The Nature Conservancy, Jono Wilson

California fisheries, like the red abalone fishery, are facing increasing environmental variation and uncertainty due to climate change, complicating the sustainable management of commercial and recreational fisheries and threatening the resilience of fishing communities. To better manage these resources, better data is needed. In this video,…


2016 | Terrestrial | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Integrating technologies for scalable ecology and conservation

David C. Marvin, Lian Pin Koh, Antony J. Lynam, Serge Wich, Andrew B. Davies, Ramesh Krishnamurthy, Emma Stokes, Ruth Starkey, Gregory P. Asner

Integration of multiple technologies greatly increases the spatial and temporal scales over which ecological patterns and processes can be studied, and threats to protected ecosystems can be identified and mitigated. A range of technology options relevant to ecologists and conservation practitioners are described, including ways…


2016 | Terrestrial | Planning | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Spatially explicit analysis of field inventories for national forest carbon monitoring

David C. Marvin, Gregory P. Asner

Policies that incentivize forest conservation by monetizing forest carbon ultimately depend on the accuracy of carbon stock estimates. Often, these estimates are based on field inventory sampling. In this paper, the authors assessed the accuracy of two common field-plot carbon sampling approaches when creating large-scale…


2016 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Pop-up wetland habitats benefit migrating birds and farmers

Christopher J. McColl , Katie Andrews, Mark Reynolds, Gregory H. Golet

In response to the decline of wetland habitats for migrating and wintering water birds in California, the Conservancy developed a program called BirdReturns that creates “pop-up” wetland habitat where and when birds need them most by enlisting farmers to flood their fields at specific times. This…


2015 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Technology | Publications & Reports

Abundance models improve spatial and temporal prioritization of conservation resources

Johnston, A., D. Fink, M. D. Reynolds, W. M. Hochachka, B. L. Sullivan, N. E. Bruns, E. Hallstein, M. S. Merrifield, S. Matsumoto, S. Kelling

Global declines in migratory species in response to accelerating habitat destruction and climate change challenge the scope and scale of conservation efforts. The ability to pinpoint where and when conservation interventions will have the greatest positive population impact is especially important for conservation of migratory…


2014 | Terrestrial | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

A multi-scale distribution model for non-equilibrium populations suggests resource limitation in an endangered rodent

Tim Bean, Bob Stafford, Scott Butterfield, Justin Brashares

This paper presents a multi-step approach to estimate the realized and potential distribution of the endangered giant kangaroo rat. The authors estimate the potential distribution by modeling suitability using static bioclimatic variables, then examine annual changes in extent at a population-level. The best model indicated the…