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?

2014 | Terrestrial | Technology | Publications & Reports

Remote Sensing and Residual Dry Matter Monitoring

H. Scott Butterfield, Miriam Tsalyuk, Carrie Schloss

The Nature Conservancy in California monitors residual dry matter (RDM) on approximately 300,000 acres of conservation lands. Researchers evaluated whether satellite remote sensing data could be used to monitor RDM, thereby decreasing costs and increasing the overall effectiveness and long-term sustainability of the monitoring…


2014 | Terrestrial | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Species distribution models of an endangered rodent offer conflicting measures of habitat quality at multiple scales

Tim Bean, Laura Prugh, Bob Stafford, Scott Butterfield, Mike Westphal, Justin Brashares

In this study, the authors developed a suite of species distribution models (SDMs) for the endangered giant kangaroo rat using the machine-learning method Maxent. They compared these models with three measures of habitat quality: survival, abundance and body condition. Species distribution models were not correlated…


2014 | | Technology | Publications & Reports

eBird enterprise: integrated approach to development and application of citizen science

Brian L. Sullivan, Jocelyn L. Aycrigg, Jessie H. Barry , Rick E. Bonney, Nicholas Bruns, Caren B. Cooper, Theo Damoulas, André A. Dhondt , Tom Dietterich, Andrew Farnsworth, Daniel Fink, John W. Fitzpatrick, Thomas Fredericks, Jeff Gerbracht, Carla Gomes, Wesley M. Hochachka, Marshall J. Iliff, Carl Lagoze, Frank A. La Sorte, Matthew Merrifield, Will Morris, Tina B. Phillips, Mark Reynolds, Amanda D. Rodewald, Kenneth V. Rosenberg, Nancy M. Trautmann, Andrea Wiggins, David W. Winkler, Weng-Keen Wong, Christopher L. Wood, Jun Yu, Steve Kelling

This paper outlines how eBird has evolved from a basic citizen-science project into a collective enterprise, taking a novel approach to citizen science by developing cooperative partnerships among experts in a wide range of fields: population and distributions, conservation biologists, quantitative ecologists, statisticians, computer scientists, GIS…


2013 | Marine | Planning | Technology | Publications & Reports

MarineMap: A web-based platform for collaborative marine protected area planning

Matthew S. Merrifield, Will McClintock, Chad Burt, Evan Fox, Paulo Serpa, Charles Steinback, Mary Gleason

This paper reviews the creation and use of MarineMap, a spatial decision support system that enabled stakeholder participation in designing marine protected areas (MPAs). The authors highlight why it was a necessary component of the planning process for California's Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative. 


2012 | Terrestrial | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

An evaluation of monitoring methods for the endangered giant kangaroo rat

Tim Bean, Bob Stafford, Laura Prugh, Scott Butterfield, Justin Brashares

This paper compares the efficacy of different monitoring methods for estimating distribution, abundance, and population growth of the endangered giant kangaroo rat to determine the best practices for monitoring. Expert rapid assessment of sites performed nearly as well as trapping in determining range extent, while…


2008 | Terrestrial | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

One size does not fit all: the use of cattle grazing for grassland management at Carrizo Plain National Monument

Caroline Christian , Lawrence Saslaw, H. Scott Butterfield

To better understand the ecological role of cattle grazing in managing Carrizo Plain National Monument, we initiated a long-term study in 1997 designed to evaluate the effects of cattle grazing on native plant communities and giant kangaroo rats. Contrary to grazing studies conducted elsewhere in…