Scott Morrison

Conservation Programs & Science
[email protected]

As the Director of Conservation Programs & The Victor E. Shelford Director of Conservation Science, Scott leads an interdisciplinary team of conservation scientists and practitioners who design and implement cutting-edge conservation strategies across the lands and waters of California. He began his career with The Nature Conservancy in 2001, working to develop the science and planning foundations for our work to protect a network of conservation lands across that rapidly urbanizing landscape of southern California. In 2008, he assumed the directorship of California’s science and geodesign teams; his contributions during that tenure included co-leading the team that spearheaded the 2016 refresh of the Conservancy’s signature “approach”, Conservation by Design. In 2017, his scope was expanded to include leadership and management of California’s Conservation Programs Department.

Before joining the Conservancy, Scott was a Peace Corps volunteer working on a reforestation project in Costa Rica. He holds a B.S. in biological sciences from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in ecology and evolution from Dartmouth College.

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2021 | Freshwater | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Managing Groundwater to Ensure Ecosystem Function

Laurel Saito, Bill Christian, Jennifer Diffley, Holly Richter, Melissa M. Rohde, Scott A. Morrison

In this paper, we describe minimum provisions for planning, managing, and monitoring groundwater in a manner that collectively can lower the risk of harm to groundwater-dependent ecosystems and species, as well as providing sustainable groundwater resources for communities. The paper has a special emphasis on…

2018 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Oak habitat recovery on California's largest islands: Scenarios for the role of corvid seed dispersal

Mario B. Pesendorfer, Christopher M. Baker, Martin Stringer, Eve McDonald‐Madden, Michael Bode, A. Kathryn McEachern, Scott A. Morrison, T. Scott Sillett

A key aim of conservation is to restore ecological processes to degraded ecosystems. This study models how reintroducing an ecosystem engineer – the island scrub-jay, which is a highly efficient seed disperser – to a degraded island ecosystem could accelerate the recovery of its oak…

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 | Science | Publications & Reports

Spatially biased dispersal of acorns by a scatter-hoarding corvid may accelerate passive restoration of oak habitat on California’s largest island

Mario B. Pesendorfer, T. Scott Sillett, Scott A. Morrison

An individual jay can cache thousands of oak seeds per year, and in so doing provide oaks a means to disperse long distances. This ecological process can be especially important in restoration of degraded habitats – like Santa Cruz Island, CA, which experienced over 150…

2017 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Equipping the 22nd-Century Historical Ecologist

Scott A. Morrison, T. Scott Sillett, W. Chris Funk, Cameron K. Ghalambor, Torben C. Rick

Historical records can provide information critical for conservation. Yet, societal investment in collection and curation of museum archives is widely recognized to be insufficient, which is a trend that disadvantages conservationists today and into the future. In response, this essay calls for a crowdsourced initiative,…

2017 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Partial support for the central–marginal hypothesis within a population: reduced genetic diversity but not increased differentiation at the range edge of an island endemic bird

K.M. Langin, T.S. Sillett, W.C. Funk, S.A. Morrison, C.K. Ghalambor

Genetic diversity is an important target in biodiversity conservation. Understanding how it tends to be distributed across ranges of species can improve conservation planning. This paper examines patterns of genetic diversity of a species with a highly restricted and geologically-bounded range, the Island Scrub-Jay.

2017 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Bill morphology and neutral genetic structure both predict variation in acoustic signals within a bird population

Kathryn M. Langin, T. Scott Sillett, Scott A. Morrison, Cameron K. Ghalambor

Island Scrub-Jays, a species restricted to 250 km2 Santa Cruz Island, CA, have different bill forms depending on whether they occupy oak or pine dominated habitat, a pattern that may be associated with foraging efficiency. This paper shows how vocalizations important for pair bonding also…

2017 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Protocols for Argentine ant eradication in conservation areas

C. L. Boser, C. Hanna, D. A. Holway, K. R. Faulkner, I. Naughton, K. Merrill, J. M. Randall, C. Cory, D.H. Choe , S. A. Morrison

Argentine ants are highly invasive and ecologically damaging. This paper presents a method demonstrated to reduce even large-scale (~400 ha) infestations to non-detectable levels. This protocol represents a significant advance in methods to eradicate invasive ant populations, which not only is important in conservation areas…

2017 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

The relationship between female brooding and male nestling provisioning: does climate underlie geographic variation in sex roles?

Jongmin Yoon , Helen R. Sofaer, T. Scott Sillett , Scott A. Morrison, Cameron K. Ghalambor

Climate is an important factor in how birds apportion time tending their nests, e.g., how much time they spend brooding versus foraging. This study examines how the roles of males and females of one species of songbird vary along a climatic gradient that extends from…

2016 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Adaptive divergence despite strong genetic drift: genomic analysis of the evolutionary mechanisms causing genetic differentiation in the island fox

Funk, W.C., R.E. Lovich, P.A. Hohenlohe, C.A. Hofman, S.A. Morrison, T.S. Sillett, C.K. Ghalambor, J.E. Maldonado, T.C. Rick, M.D. Day, T.J. Coonan, K.R. Crooks, A. Dillon, D.K. Garcelon, J.L. King, L.M. Lyren, E.E. Boydston, N. Gould , W.F. Andelt

The genomics revolution provides powerful tools for understanding evolution and advancing conservation. This study applies genomics techniques to examine the evolutionary mechanisms underpinning differences in the six populations of island fox on the California Channel Islands. Such insights can be critical for conservation management of…

2016 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Context‐dependent seed dispersal by a scatter‐hoarding corvid

M.B. Pesendorfer, T.S. Sillett, S.A. Morrison, A.C. Kamil

Foraging behavior may be influenced by a variety of factors, including food abundance and competitor density. This study examines how such factors affect the seed caching behavior of the Island Scrub-Jay, and in turn how those contextual factors may affect the resulting distribution of seeds. 

2016 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Planning | Publications & Reports

Designing virtuous socio-ecological cycles for biodiversity conservation

Scott A. Morrison

Conservationists should assume that people don’t care about biodiversity. By doing so, they would be especially motivated to figure out what people do care about, and how conservation might be able to align with those interests. Focusing on what it is about nature or its…

2016 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Scatter-hoarding corvids as seed dispersers for oaks and pines: a review of a widely distributed mutualism and its utility to habitat restoration

M.B. Pesendorfer, T.S. Sillett, W.D. Koenig, S.A. Morrison

Many corvids are renowned as “ecosystem engineers” because they facilitate the long-distance seed dispersal of keystone tree species like oaks. This paper reviews research into various aspects of the relationship between these birds and these trees, and discusses how the relationship can be important –…

2016 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Phylogeographic and population genetic structure of bighorn sheep in North American deserts

Buchalski, M.R, B.N. Sacks, D.A. Gille, M.C.T. Penedo, H.B. Ernest, S.A. Morrison, W.M. Boyce

Bighorn sheep occupy a desert landscape of rugged mountains separated by expansive and very arid valleys. Highways and other development in those valleys fragment habitat and isolate populations from one another. Critical to managing this species is understanding how it was distributed and how its…

2016 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

An irruption interrupted: eradication of wild turkeys from Santa Cruz Island, California

Morrison, S.A., A.J. DeNicola, K. Walker, D. Dewey, L. Laughrin, R. Wolstenholme, N. Macdonald

This paper describes a program to eradicate an introduced and rapidly increasing population of wild turkeys from an island. It includes a description of the principles important for eradication success and how they were considered and applied in this context. It also represents one of…

2015 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Survival and mortality of pumas (Puma concolor) in a fragmented, urbanizing landscape

Vickers, T.W., J. N. Sanchez, C. Johnson, S.A. Morrison, R. Botta, T. Smith, B.S. Cohen, P. Huber, W.M. Boyce

Conservation of wide-ranging species like mountain lions is especially difficult in highly fragmented landscapes, such as coastal southern California. Research into their populations can provide important insights into what is needed to protect them, such as where to prioritize habitat conservation or restoration. This paper…

2015 | Freshwater | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Patterns of Freshwater Species Richness, Endemism, and Vulnerability in California

Jeanette K. Howard, Kirk R. Klausmeyer, Kurt A. Fesenmyer, Joseph Furnish, Thomas Gardali, Ted Grantham, Jacob V. E. Katz, Sarah Kupferberg, Patrick McIntyre, Peter B. Moyle, Peter R. Ode, Ryan Peek, Rebecca M. Quiñones, Andrew C. Rehn, Nick Santos, Steve Schoenig, Larry Serpa, Jackson D. Shedd, Joe Slusark, Joshua H. Viers, Amber Wright, Scott A. Morrison

The California Freshwater Species Database is the first comprehensive geospatial database of California’s freshwater species compiled and standardized into single format from nearly 500 sources. It provides a single source for geodata covering the plants and animals that rely on California’s freshwater resources to…

2015 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Islands within an island: Repeated adaptive divergence in a single population

Langin, K.M., T.S. Sillett , W.C. Funk, S.A. Morrison, M.A. Desrosiers, C.K. Ghalambor

Islands are renowned laboratories for discovery into natural selection. This study looked at “islands” of habitat within a single island and remarkably found that the Island Scrub-Jay – notably, a highly vagile species – had different shaped bills depending on whether it occurred in pine…

2015 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Mitochondrial genomes suggest rapid evolution of dwarf California Channel Islands foxes (Urocyon littoralis)

Hofman, C.A., T. C. Rick, M. T. R. Hawkins, W. C. Funk, K. Ralls, C. L. Boser, P. W. Collins, T. J. Coonan, J. L. King, S.A. Morrison, S. D. Newsome, T. S. Sillett, R. C. Fleischer, J. E. Maldonado

Genomics techniques provide powerful means of understanding evolutionary history. This paper examines the evolution of the island fox, which occurs on six of the California Channel Islands. Insights from the research include the role humans played in the evolution of the species, and the remarkably…

2015 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Recommendations for improving recovery criteria under the US Endangered Species Act

Doak, D.F., G.K. Himes Boor, V.J. Bakker, W.F. Morris, A. Louthan, S.A. Morrison, A. Stanley, L. Crowder

One of the key components of a recovery plan for a threatened or endangered species in the United States is the set of recovery criteria that will be used to evaluate progress in abating the threats to the species and reducing its risk of extinction.…

2014 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

A framework for conservation in a human-dominated world

Scott Morrison

Recognition of the magnitude of human impacts on the planet and the urgent need to increase the pace and scale of conservation has led many conservation organizations to emphasize conservation for both “people and nature.” This article proposes a framework that clarifies what that relationship…

2014 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Fractured genetic connectivity threatens a southern California puma (Puma concolor) population

H.B. Ernest, T.W. Vickers, S.A. Morrison, M.R. Buchalski, W.M. Boyce

Highly fragmented landscapes can pose myriad threats to wide-ranging species like mountain lions. Coastal southern California has long been the focus of research into demographics, genetics, and movement patterns of lions, in large part to inform conservation planning. This paper presents genetic data, which combine…

2014 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Passive recovery of vegetation after herbivore eradication on Santa Cruz Island, California

Beltran, R.S., N. Kreidler, D.H. Van Vuren, S.A. Morrison, E.S. Zavaleta, K. Newton, B.R. Tershy, D.A. Croll

Introduced predators and herbivores can have dramatic ecological effects on island ecosystems; their eradication can produce similarly profound ecological responses. This paper analyzes data from photo-monitoring stations and vegetation maps to characterize the passive recovery of vegetation that occurred over decades on Santa Cruz Island,…

2014 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Ecological change on California's Channel Islands from the Pleistocene to the Anthropocene

Rick, T.C, T.S. Sillett, C.K. Ghalambor, C.A. Hofman, K. Ralls, R.S. Anderson, C.L. Boser, T.J. Braje, D.R. Cayan, R.T. Chesser, P.W. Collins, J.M. Erlandson, K.R. Faulkner, R. Fleischer, W.C. Funk, R. Galipeau, A. Huston, J. King, L. Laughrin, J. Maldonado, K. McEachern, D.R. Muhs, S.D. Newsome, L. Reeder-Myers, C. Still, S.A. Morrison

Understanding the deep history of places and resources, and the interplay between natural and cultural histories, can be critical to science-based conservation management. This paper explores the case study in applied historical ecology provided by the California Channel Islands, highlighting insights gained from transdisciplinary research…

2014 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Partitioning the sources of demographic variation reveals density‐dependent nest predation in an island bird populationv

H.R. Sofaer, T.S. Sillett, K.M. Langin, S.A. Morrison, C.K. Ghalambor

The density of birds in their breeding areas can affect reproductive success in myriad ways – and it is often difficult to distinguish which factors are more influential. For example, areas that have a high density of breeders may have lower per capita reproductive output,…

2014 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

A bird in our hand: weighing uncertainty about the past against uncertainty about the future in Channel Islands National Park

S.A. Morrison

When should managers intervene if threats from climate change are likely but there is uncertainty about when those threats would actually jeopardize a conservation value? This paper presents a case study that brings that question into sharp focus. Should Island Scrub-Jays be re-introduced to Santa…

2014 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Reintroduction of historically extirpated taxa on the California Channel Islands

S.A. Morrison, K.A. Parker, P.W. Collins, W.C. Funk, T.S. Sillett

Pest eradication as a means to restore island ecosystems may come too late for populations that have already been driven extinct. Over decades, the California islands have been the focus of numerous eradication projects. With most vertebrate invasive species now removed, there is the opportunity…

2014 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Argentine ant management in conservation areas: results of a pilot study

CL Boser, C Hanna, KR Faulkner, C Cory, JM Randall, SA Morrison

Argentine ants are a highly aggressive and impactful non-native species introduced to California and around the world, impacting ecologically sensitive areas, commercial industries and residential homes. This paper describes a new method of eliminating Argentine ant nests from a conservations area using low concentration toxicant…

2014 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

On the fast track to recovery: island foxes on the northern Channel Islands

TJ Coonan, V Bakker, B Hudgens, CL Boser, DK Garcelon, SA Morrison

The island fox is a rare carnivore existing on only six California Channel Islands. In the late 1990’s, due to new and excessive golden eagle predation, it was threatened with extinction on the three northern islands. After extensive and carefully-managed conservation efforts spearheaded by the Conservancy…

2014 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Identifying evolutionarily significant units and prioritizing populations for management on islands

Jeanne M. Robertson, Kathryn M. Langin, T. Scott Sillett, Scott A. Morrison, Cameron K. Ghalambor, W. Chris Funk

Conservation of biodiversity can be complicated when there are many priority taxa and tradeoffs in management need to be made. This can be especially challenging on islands, where populations with relatively low dispersal ability often develop some degree of genetic distinctiveness. Natural communities on islands…

2014 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Stand structure and acorn production of the island scrub oak (Quercus pacifica)

Mario B. Pesendorfer, Kathryn M. Langin, Brian Cohen, Zachary Principe, Scott A. Morrison, T. Scott Sillett

Acorns are an important food resource for many species that occupy oak habitats. Patterns of acorn abundance across time and space, however, are often difficult to characterize. This paper describes observed patterns associated with a dominant and keystone species of oak on Santa Cruz Island,…

2014 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Strategies for biosecurity on a nearshore island in California

CL Boser, C Cory, KR Faulkner, JM Randall, JJ Knapp, SA Morrison

Biosecurity is the prevention of damaging non-native species’ arrival and establishment to new areas, for the protection of native plants and animals. This paper discusses the first iterations of a biosecurity program on Santa Cruz Island, California, wherein wildlife cameras were used to search for…

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

Biodiversity in a changing climate: a synthesis of current and projected trends in the US

Michelle D Staudinger, Shawn L Carter, Molly S Cross, Natalie S Dubois, J Emmett Duffy, Carolyn Enquist, Roger Griffis, Jessica J Hellmann, Joshua J Lawler, John O'Leary, Scott A Morrison, Lesley Sneddon, Bruce A Stein, Laura M Thompson, Woody Turner

This paper synthesizes research pertaining to climate change impacts on biodiversity, reviewed by the biodiversity technical working group of the 2014 National Climate Assessment. The paper focuses on research published since the 2009 NCA. 

2013 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Male's return rate, rather than territory fidelity and breeding dispersal, explains geographic variation in song sharing in two populations of an oscine passerine (Oreothlypis celata)

J Yoon, TS Sillett, SA Morrison, CK Ghalambor

When members of a single species display very different behavioral patterns it can present a helpful model for ecological study. This paper examines two breeding populations of a songbird species: one population is mostly sedentary year-round and breeds on the Channel Islands of California; the…

2013 | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

50-Year Climate Scenarios and Plant Species Distribution Forecasts for Setting Conservation Priorities in Southwestern California

Principe, Z., J.B. MacKenzie, B. Cohen, J.M. Randall, W. Tippets, T. Smith, S.A. Morrison

Coastal southern California has long been the focus of regional conservation planning efforts. Decades ago – and prior to today’s heightened awareness of the magnitude of the likely impacts climate change – reserve designs were established with the intent of protecting the region’s very diverse…

2013 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Reproductive ecology of the island scrub-jay

Luke Caldwell, Victoria J. Bakker, T. Scott Sillett, Michelle A. Desrosiers, Scott A. Morrison, Lisa M. Angeloni

The Island Scrub-Jay is the only island restricted bird species in the continental U.S.  This study presents findings of a comprehensive breeding ecology study, aimed at elucidating demographic parameters and natural history information needed for conservation management.

2013 | Terrestrial | Planning | Publications & Reports

Laying the Foundation: How Existing Conservation Areas Have Helped Prepare California for Climate Change

Klausmeyer, K, D. Cameron, S. Morrison

This study evaluated the existing network of conservation lands in California to determine the extent to which it includes landscape features that may be especially important for biodiversity conservation in the context of climate change. The authors found that past conservation action has created an…

2013 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Farm practices for food safety: an emerging threat to floodplain and riparian ecosystem

Gennet, S., J. Howard, J. Langholz, K. Andrews, M.D. Reynolds, S.A. Morrison

This paper discusses the 2006 outbreak of toxic foodborne E. coli and its impact on wildlife. The authors explain how farming practices for food safety that target wildlife can damage ecosystems but may not actually improve the safety of the food supply and how high…

2012 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Differential effects of food availability and nest predation risk on avian reproductive strategies

HR Sofaer, TS Sillett, SI Peluc, SA Morrison, CK Ghalambor

Island archipelagos can provide useful opportunities for comparative studies in ecology. In this paper, for example, breeding ecology of a songbird was studied on two of the California Channel Islands, which share many environmental attributes but differ in ways that elicit different behavioral responses in…

2012 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Hierarchical distance-sampling models to estimate population size and habitat-specific abundance of an island endemic

TS Sillett, RB Chandler, JA Royle, M Kéry, SA Morrison

The Island Scrub-Jay occurs only on 250 km2 Santa Cruz Island. This study combined an intensive, short-term field survey with novel statistical modeling to generate estimates of population abundance, and to characterize its habitat and distribution across its global range.

2012 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Breeding density, not life history, predicts interpopulation differences in territorial aggression in a passerine bird

JongminYoon, T. Scott Sillett, Scott A.Morrison, Cameron K. Ghalambora

When members of a single species display very different behavioral patterns it can present a helpful model for ecological study. This paper examines two breeding populations of a songbird species: one population is mostly sedentary and breeds on the Channel Islands of California; the other…

2012 | Terrestrial | Planning | Publications & Reports

Solar Energy Development in the Western Mojave Desert

Cameron, D., S. Parker, B. Cohen, J. Randall, B. Christian, J. Moore, L. Crane, S. A. Morrison

Industrial-scale renewable energy generation facilities can have sizable footprints and therefore significant impact on the conservation values of a landscape. This assessment focused on a region experiencing intense development pressure, the western Mojave Desert, to highlight how facilities could be sited to have lower impact…

2012 | Terrestrial | Planning | Publications & Reports

An Approach to Enhance the Conservation-Compatibility of Solar Energy Development

Cameron, D.R., B.S. Cohen, S.A. Morrison

California, like many regions in the world, needs to plan for emissions reductions and domestic clean energy. Ideally, that would be done in a way that is strategic, not reactionary. Through science-based landscape planning for conservation and energy, the trade-offs between energy development and habitat…

2011 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Proactive Conservation Management of an Island-endemic Bird Species in the Face of Global Change

Scott A. Morrison, T. Scott Sillett, Cameron K. Ghalambor, John W. Fitzpatrick, David M. Graber, Victoria J. Bakker, Reed Bowman, Charles T. Collins, Paul W. Collins, Kathleen Semple Delaney, Daniel F. Doak, Walter D. Koenig, Lyndal Laughrin, Alan A. Lieberman, John M. Marzluff, Mark D. Reynolds, J. Michael Scott, Jerre Ann Stallcup, Winston Vickers, Walter M. Boyce

This paper discusses conservation of the Island Scrub-Jay in the context of novel threats posed by climate change. The authors discuss management actions that could reduce extinction risk—including vaccination, captive propagation, biosecurity measures, and establishing a second free-living population on a neighboring island—and present a…

2011 | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Trophic considerations in eradicating multiple pests

SA Morrison

Invasive species can have profound effects on island ecosystems. So, too, can their removal. And interactions among species can both help and hinder the attainment of restoration goals. This paper provides a 30 year retrospective review of the multiple eradications that have occurred on Santa…

2011 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Surveillance for West Nile virus and vaccination of free-ranging island scrub-jays (Aphelocoma insularis) on Santa Cruz Island, California

Walter M. Boyce, Winston Vickers, Scott A. Morrison, Scott Sillett, Luke Caldwell, Sarah S. Wheeler, Christopher M. Barker, Robert Cummings, William K. Reisen

As West Nile virus invaded the mainland southern California coast in 2003 there were widespread die-offs of certain species of bird. Corvids (e.g., jays, ravens, crows) were especially susceptible. Concerns about the potential impact on Island Scrub-Jays – which are restricted to Santa Cruz Island,…

2011 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Efficacy of three vaccines in protecting Western scrub-jays (Aphelocoma californica) from experimental infection with West Nile virus: implications for vaccination of Island scrub-jays (Aphelocoma insularis)

Sarah S. Wheeler, Stanley Langevin, Leslie Woods, Brian D. Carroll, Winston Vickers, Scott A. Morrison, Gwong-Jen J. Chang, William K. Reisen, Walter M. Boyce

Concerns about the spread of West Nile virus in North America and the high mortality it causes in corvids have led managers to consider vaccination as a strategy to proactively protect free-ranging Island Scrub-Jays. But, are available vaccines effective? This study tested the efficacy of…

2011 | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

The essential non-science of eradication programmes: creating conditions for success

SA Morrison, KR Faulkner, LA Vermeer, L Lozier, MR Shaw

Eradication programs are complex undertakings that require comprehensive multidisciplinary planning and nimble adaptive implementation. This paper discusses the preparation that went into the most intensive feral pig eradication program to date, and highlights how that preparation enabled to project to proceed uninterrupted, despite numerous anticipated…

2011 | Terrestrial | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Increasing the return on investments in island restoration

A Saunders, JP Parkes, A Aguirre-Munoz, SA Morrison

Tremendous advances over recent decades in eradication of invasive species on islands raise the question whether there are now opportunities to further increase the pace and scale of that work. This paper highlights the increased return on investment that could come via conservationists, scientists, managers,…

2010 | Terrestrial | Planning | Publications & Reports

Mojave Desert Ecoregional Assessment

John M. Randall, Sophie S. Parker, James Moore, Brian Cohen, Laura Crane, Bill Christian, Dick Cameron, Jason B. Mackenzie, Kirk Klausmeyer, Scott Morrison

Regional conservation planning is critical to inform land and resource use decisions. The Mojave Desert Ecoregional Assessment represents an important advance in such planning, because of how its output  characterized not just areas of high conservation value, but how conservation values distributed and graded across…

2010 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Interfacing models of wildlife habitat and human development to predict the future distribution of puma habitat

CL Burdett, KR Crooks, DM Theobald, KR Wilson, EE Boydston, LM Lyren, RN Fisher, TW Vickers, SA Morrison, WM Boyce

Long-term studies of animal movement can generate data that allow for robust modeling of habitat use by the species. This study characterizes and maps the distribution of habitat for mountain lions in coastal southern California, and combines those data with models of projected urban growth…

2010 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Convergent Conservation

S.A. Morrison

Conservationists around the world work in systems and on problems that often have clear analogues to the efforts of others. This essay highlights the importance of collaborating and sharing lessons learned as a means to make conservation not only more effective but also more efficient. 

2010 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Rapid eradication of feral pigs (Sus scrofa) from Santa Cruz Island, California

John P. Parkes, David S.L.Ramsey, Norman Macdonald, Kelvin Walker, Sean McKnight, Brian S.Cohen, Scott A. Morrison

This paper describes the approach, planning, and field implementation of an intensive effort to eradicate a population of feral pigs from an island. Key elements of the project included comprehensive data collection of all field effort and outcomes, and comprehensive use of helicopters in nearly…

2009 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Fire on Guadalupe Island reveals some old wounds – and new opportunity

Oberbauer, T., L. Luna Mendoza, N. Citlali Oliveres, L. Barbosa Deveze, I. Granillo Duarten, S.A. Morrison

Guadalupe Island in Mexico is undergoing a dramatic ecological recovery following the eradication of feral goats. Unfortunately, that eradication came too late for some species and ecosystems, and almost too late for others. The precariousness of some of its extant biota is illustrated by its…

2009 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Reproductive consequences of an extreme drought for orange-crowned warblers on Santa Catalina and Santa Cruz Islands

Kathryn M. Langin, T. Scott Sillett, Jongmin Yoon, Helen R. Sofaer, Scott A. Morrison, Cameron K. Ghalambor

Island archipelagos can provide useful opportunities for comparative studies in ecology. For example, breeding ecology of a songbird was studied on two of the California Channel Islands, which share many environmental attributes, such as general vegetation types, but differ in other ways, such as intra-…

2009 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Incorporating ecological drivers and uncertainty into a demographic population viability analysis for the island fox

Victoria J. Bakker, Daniel F. Doak, Gary W. Roemer, David K. Garcelon, Timothy J. Coonan, Scott A. Morrison, Colleen Lynch, Katherine Ralls, Rebecca Shaw

Population models can be a critical tool in managing recovery of endangered species. This paper presents an analysis that became the foundation of recovery planning and tracking for the endangered island fox. By combining data from research and long-term monitoring efforts across the six islands…

2009 | Terrestrial | Planning | Publications & Reports

Expanding the global network of protected areas to save the imperiled mediterranean biome

Underwood, E.C., K.R. Klausmeyer, R.L. Cox, S.M. Busby, S.A. Morrison, M.R.Shaw

Mediterranean habitats are among the rarest on Earth. Characterized by warm dry summers and cool wet winters, they are restricted to only 2% of the Earth’s land surface–portions of southern Australia, Chile, South Africa, California and Baja California, and the Mediterranean Basin. Though small, these…

2008 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Quantifying eradication success: the removal of feral pigs from Santa Cruz Island, California

DSL Ramsey, J Parkes, SA Morrison

Populations at very low abundance can be very difficult to detect. Consequently, one of the biggest challenges of eradication projects is determining whether an inability to detect the species at the presumed end of a project means that it has been completely removed. A helpful…

2008 | Terrestrial | Planning | Publications & Reports

Conserving connectivity: some lessons from mountain lions in southern California

Scott Morrison, Walter Boyce

Critical for biodiversity conservation is the retention of ecological connectivity in the landscape, so that wildlife—and the natural processes that sustain wildlife—can move around. Ideally, that cohesion would be protected by conserving landscape-scale linkages—large swaths of relatively intact habitat joining core reserve lands. Where linkages…

2007 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Reducing risk and enhancing efficiency in non-native vertebrate removal efforts on islands: a 25 year multi-taxa retrospective from Santa Cruz Island, CA

Scott A. Morrison

Eradication of invasive non-native species is often necessary to protect island ecosystems. Eradication efforts can nonetheless be risky investments. How they are planned and implemented can greatly reduce the risk of failure. Santa Cruz Island provides an interesting case study in eradication, because a variety…

2007 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Facing the dilemma at eradication’s end: uncertainty of absence and the Lazarus effect

Scott A. Morrison, Norman Macdonald, Kelvin Walker, Lynn Lozier, M Rebecca Shaw

One of the greatest challenges in pest eradication is knowing when it has been achieved. This paper discusses why that is challenging, and why it is so important to consider how that challenge will be met before any eradication effort is initiated. For many vertebrates,…

2006 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Publications & Reports

Designing and establishing conservation areas in the Baja California-Southern California border region

M.D. White , J.A. Stallcup, K. Comer, M.A. Vargas, J.M. Beltran Abaunza, F. Ochoa, S.A. Morrison

The California South Coast Ecoregion, a global biodiversity hotspot, is bisected by the US-Mexico border. Development near the border, ranging from urban sprawl to border security infrastructure, threatens to sever the ecological cohesion of the ecoregion, to the detriment of conservation – and ecosystem services…

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

Where to draw the line: integrating feasibility into connectivity planning

Scott A. Morrison, Mark D. Reynolds

Protecting, restoring, and enhancing habitat connectivity in already fragmented landscapes poses many challenges for conservationists. This essay discusses the importance of considering implementation feasibility when developing connectivity conservation priorities and plans. In Connectivity Conservation edited by Kevin R. Crooks and M Sanjayan.  

2006 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Global Deserts Outlook: United Nations Environment Programme

United Nations Environment Programme, chapters co-authored by Scott Morrison

For the International Year of Deserts and Desertification, 2006, a team of environmental and social scientists assembled to assess the state of the world’s deserts. This report is the product of that effort, which includes chapters co-authored by Conservancy scientist Scott Morrison on Natural history…

2004 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Annual survivorship of a sedentary sparrow: no effect of edge or rainfall

Scott A. Morrison, Douglas T. Bolger, T. Scott Sillett

Fragmentation-sensitive species – those that tend to disappear when their habitat is fragmented – pose particular challenges for conservation, in part because fragmentation ushers in such a wide array of ecological changes. This study focuses on one such species, examining whether its annual survivorship is…

2002 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Variation in a sparrow’s reproductive success with rainfall: food and predator-mediated processes

Scott A. Morrison, Douglas T. Bolger

Reproductive success of many species in arid environments can be sensitive to rainfall patterns: rainfall events can produce a boom of primary productivity that fuels an ecological response from the “bottom-up.” This study describes the reproductive success of a songbird in a semi-arid region over…

2002 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Lack of an urban edge effect on reproduction in a fragmentation-sensitive sparrow

Scott A. Morrison, Douglas T. Bolger

Fragmentation-sensitive species – those that tend to disappear when their habitat is fragmented – pose particular challenges for conservation, in part because fragmentation ushers in such a wide array of ecological changes. This study focuses on one such species, examining whether reproductive success is different…

2000 | Terrestrial | Science | Publications & Reports

Arthropods in urban habitat fragments in southern California: area, age and edge effects

Douglas T. Bolger, Andrew V. Suarez, Kevin R. Crooks, Scott A. Morrison, Ted J. Case

Habitat fragmentation ushers in a wide array of ecological changes, and understanding the drivers and impacts of those changes is critical for conservation management. This study examines an often overlooked suite of taxa – arthropods – and describes patterns of abundance and diversity across a…