Greg Golet

Applied Scientist
[email protected]

In The Nature Conservancy’s California Chapter, Greg provides science guidance and leadership to direct engagements in the state’s Great Central Valley. Current areas of focus include advancing waterbird conservation through compatible agriculture, and restoring riparian and riverine ecosystems through floodplain restoration. His research focuses on evaluating the effects of management actions and advancing understanding of ecosystem dynamics so that conservation actions can be critically evaluated and new restoration strategies can be developed.

Prior to joining the Conservancy, Greg worked as a wildlife biologist studying seabirds for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Alaska. He has a Ph.D. in Biology and an M.S. in Marine Sciences from the University of California, Santa Cruz and has authored over 30 peer-reviewed publications.  

What Greg is working on now:

I am currently overseeing the monitoring of our fall BirdReturns program which is being implemented to provide habitat for migrating shorebirds on Sacramento Valley rice fields. At the same time, I am revising a journal article that describes the results of first two years of the program. Lastly I am organizing a special session focused on the Sacramento River for the upcoming Riparian Summit conference.  

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

Sacramento River: balancing ecological and social restoration goals to restore riparian habitat along a lowland floodplain river, California, USA

Case study by: K.D. Holl, G.H. Golet

Advancing conservation requires understanding the constraints imposed on natural systems by human societies. This understanding typically comes from engagement with local stakeholders, as opposed to from scholastic training. A recent textbook on restoration ecology by Karen Holl seeks to alleviate this problem by providing real-world…

2021 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Integrating citizen science data with expert surveys increases accuracy and spatial extent of species distribution models.

O.J. Robinson, V. Ruiz-Gutierrez, M.D. Reynolds, G.H. Golet, M. Strimas-Mackey and D. Fink

Information on species’ habitat associations and distributions, across wide spatial and temporal scales, is fundamental for guiding conservation. Yet these data are often in short supply. In recent years citizen science data, such as that derived from eBird, has increasingly become available to fill…

2021 | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Enhancing Habitat Value for Shorebirds in Rice Agriculture

Case study by: Khara Strum (Audubon California), Kristin Sesser (Point Blue Conservation Science), Greg Golet (TNC)

This case study communicates lessons learned by TNC and partners from years of research and monitoring of habitat enhancement projects in Sacramento Valley rice agriculture. It is a contribution to the Shorebird Management Manual that was developed by Manomet with guidance from shorebird…

2019 | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

The Relative Importance of Agricultural and Wetland Habitats to Waterbirds in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta of California

W. David Shuford, Matthew E. Reiter, Kristin A. Sesser, Catherine M. Hickey, Gregory H. Golet

Agricultural intensification has been a major factor in the loss of global biodiversity. Even so, agricultural landscapes provide important habitat for many bird species, particularly in the Central Valley of California, where >90% of wetlands have been lost. This study demonstrates that wetlands, and certain…

2018 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Impact of extreme drought and incentive programs on flooded agriculture and wetlands in California’s Central Valley

Matthew E. Reiter​, Nathan K. Elliott, Dennis Jongsomjit, Gregory H. Golet, Mark D. Reynolds

In the Central Valley of California, with 90% of the historic wetlands gone, waterbirds depend upon managed wetlands and seasonally flooded agriculture to meet their habitat needs. The 2013-2015 drought in the Central Valley was more severe than drought years during 2000-2011 and reduced waterbird…

2018 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Using ricelands to provide temporary shorebird habitat during migration

Gregory H. Golet, Candace Low, Simon Avery, Katie Andrews, Christopher J. McColl, Rheyna Laney, Mark D. Reynolds

Migratory birds face great challenges due to the climate change, conversion of historical stopover sites, and other factors. To help address these challenges, the Conservancy launched a dynamic conservation incentive program to create temporary wetland habitats in harvested and fallow rice fields for shorebirds…

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 | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

A General Framework for Setting Quantitative Population Objectives for Wildlife Conservation

Kristen E. Dybala, Neil Clipperton, Thomas Gardali, Gregory H. Golet, Rodd Kelsey, Stefan Lorenzato, Ronald Melcer, Jr., Nathaniel Seavy, Joseph G. Silveira, Gregory S. Yarris

Quantitative population objectives are necessary to achieve conservation goals of secure or robust wildlife populations, however, existing methods for setting them often require extensive species population viability data, which are often unavailable. This paper presents an alternative method that uses key milestones a population would be expected to…

2017 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Population and habitat objectives for avian conservation in California’s Central Valley riparian ecosystems

Kristen E. Dybala, Neil Clipperton, Thomas Gardali, Gregory H. Golet, Rodd Kelsey, Stefan Lorenzato, Ron Melcer, Jr., Nathaniel E. Seavy, Joseph G. Silveira

The Conservancy and partners are working to establish riparian ecosystems that provide sufficient habitat to support genetically robust, self-sustaining, and resilient bird populations in California's Central Valley. In this study, researchers selected 12 riparian landbird focal species as indicators of riparian ecosystem health and are…

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…

2016 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Evidence for genetic pollution of a California native tree, Platanus racemosa, via recent, ongoing introgressive hybridization with an introduced ornamental species

Matthew G. Johnson, Kylene Lang, Paul Manos, Greg H. Golet, Kristina A. Schierenbeck

When non-native ornamental species spread into wild landscapes they can displace natives that have greater wildlife habitat value. Controlling the spread of a non-native species can be difficult when it hybridizes with a native species, because it may no longer be visually distinguishable. This study…

2016 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Response of medium- and large-sized terrestrial fauna to corridor restoration along the middle Sacramento River

Vasilissa V. Derugin, Joseph G. Silveira, Gregory H. Golet, Gretchen LeBuhn

In restoration ecology, understanding how and when species colonize newly created habitat is critically important for assessing progress toward restoration goals. By using camera traps to take a closer look, authors of this study found that riparian corridor restoration can support medium-and large-sized mammalian predators…

2016 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Historic and Recent Winter Sandhill Crane Distribution in California

Gary L. Ivey, Caroline P. Herziger, David A. Hardt, Gregory H. Golet

Understanding the geographic distribution and long-term dynamics of Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) foraging areas and night roost sites is fundamental to their conservation and management. The authors conducted surveys and compiled existing information on the distribution and abundance of these birds at these habitats across…

2015 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Publications & Reports

The benefits of crops and field management practices to wintering waterbirds in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta of California

W. David Shuford , Matthew E. Reiter, Khara M. Strum, Michelle M. Gilbert , Catherine M. Hickey, Greg Golet

Although agricultural intensification is one of the largest contributors to the loss of global biodiversity, agricultural landscapes can provide valuable habitat for birds. Recognizing this, wildlife professionals are working to promote “wildlife-friendly” farming. In this paper, authors assessed the value to wintering waterbirds of different…

2013 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Successes, Failures and Suggested Future Directions for Ecosystem Restoration of the Middle Sacramento River, CA

Golet G.H., D.L. Brown, M. Carlson, T. Gardali, A. Henderson, K.D. Holl, C.A. Howell, M. Holyoak, J. Hunt, G.M. Kondolf, E.W. Larsen, R.A. Luster, C. McClain, C. Nelson, S. Paine, W. Rainey, Z. Rubin, F. Shilling, J.G. Silveira, H. Swagerty, N.M. Williams, D.M. Wood

Large-scale ecosystem restoration projects seldom undergo comprehensive evaluation to determine project effectiveness. Consequently, there are missed opportunities for learning and strategy refinement. In their synthesis of 36 ecological indicators of Sacramento River riparian restoration, the authors found steady progress in the restoration of riparian habitats and…

2013 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Decline and Recovery of Small Mammals after Flooding: Implications for Pest Management and Floodplain Community Dynamics

Golet G.H., J. Hunt, D. Koenig

Floodplains often are managed both for agriculture and as habitat for native species. On the Sacramento River, farmers have expressed concern that natural areas may be sources of pests to adjoining farmlands, generating opposition to riparian restoration. This study examined this question by studying small…

2011 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Temporal and taxonomic variability in response of fauna to riparian restoration

G.H. Golet, T. Gardali, J.W. Hunt, D.A. Koenig, N.M. Williams

Most assessments of ecological restoration success track a single type of species over a single season. This study explores the limitations of such studies by examining how birds, rodents, bees and beetles responded to restoration along the Sacramento River for up to five years. The authors…

2008 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Wildlife Response to Restoration on the Sacramento River

Golet G.H., T. Gardali, C. Howell, J. Hunt, R. Luster, B. Rainey, M. Roberts, H. Swagerty, N. Williams

Studies that assess the success of riparian restoration projects seldom focus on wildlife. More often, vegetation is studied, with the assumption that animal populations will recover once adequate habitats are established. Authors of this paper present an exception: findings of a suite of studies that…

2006 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Abundance Patterns of Landbirds in Restored and Remnant Riparian Forests on the Sacramento River, California, U.S.A.

Gardali T. , A.L. Holmes, S.L. Small, N. Nur, G.R. Geupel, G.H. Golet

Restoration efforts on the Sacramento River are focusing on revegetating the land with native plants and restoring natural river processes in an attempt to recover wildlife populations. To evaluate the success of these efforts, surveys were conducted of landbirds on revegetated and remnant riparian plots.…

2006 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Planning | Economics | Science | Publications & Reports

Assessing societal impacts when planning restoration on large alluvial rivers: A case study of the Sacramento River Project, CA

Golet G.H., M.D. Roberts , E.W. Larsen, R.A. Luster, R. Unger, G. Werner, G.G. White.

River restoration projects have the potential to influence many of the services that rivers provide to people, yet rarely is this studied in a comprehensive manner. This paper reports on a set of coordinated studies that were conducted to evaluate the effects of alternative restoration…