Almost half of the world’s human population lives in coastal areas, and associated coastal development has significantly degraded or destroyed many coastal ecosystems. Burgeoning human populations and rising sea levels only further constrain the availability of habitat that coastal species depend on.

California’s 1,100 mile coast has more than 200 threatened, endangered or rare species living in coastal habitats. There are hundreds of coastal estuaries that provide critical rearing habitat for marine species, and are also important for recreation, water filtration, and carbon sequestration.

Only 10 percent of California’s historic coastal wetlands remain. Without intervention, we are at risk of losing 40 percent of our remaining coastal wetlands to sea level rise over the coming decades. Conservancy scientists are working to reverse these trends. 

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?

Marine | Planning | Science

Saving Tomorrow’s Coast

Can California protect its iconic coastline as sea levels rise?

2020 | Marine | Science | Publications & Reports

Effective fisheries management instrumental in improving fish stock status

Ray Hilborn, Ricardo Oscar Amoroso, Christopher M. Anderson, Julia K. Baum, Trevor A. Branch, Christopher Costello, Carryn L. de Moor, Abdelmalek Faraj, Daniel Hively, Olaf P. Jensen, Hiroyuki Kurota, L. Richard Little, Pamela Mace, Tim McClanahan, Michael C. Melnychuk, Cóilín Minto, Giacomo Chato Osio, Ana M. Parma, Maite Pons, Susana Segurado, Cody S. Szuwalski, Jono Wilson, Yimin Ye

Does fisheries management work at improving the status of fish stocks? The answer is a resounding, yes. This article compiles estimates of the status of global fish stocks, comprising roughly half of the world’s fish catch. Findings suggest that on average, fish stocks are increasing…


2020 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Planning | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve Integrated Resources Management Plan

Butterfield, H.S., M. Reynolds , M.G. Gleason, M. Merrifield, B.S. Cohen, W.N. Heady, D. Cameron, T. Rick, E. Inlander, M. Katkowski, L. Riege, J. Knapp, S. Gennet, G. Gorga, K. Lin, K. Easterday, B. Leahy, M. Bell

This Plan frames the biological and cultural significance and provides the short- and long-term goals, objectives, and priority actions for the Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve.


2020 | Marine | Science | Publications & Reports

Unusual occurrences of fishes in the Southern California Current System during the warm water period of 2014–2018

H.J. Walker Jr., Philip A. Hastings, John R. Hyde, Robert N. Lea, Owyn E. Snodgrass, Lyall F. Bellquist

In response to anomalously warm sea-surface temperatures, poleward shifts in the geographic range of hundreds of marine organisms worldwide have been documented. This paper reports on the unusual occurrences of 36 fish species recorded from the Southern California Current System (SCCS) during the period of…


2019 | Marine | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Collaborative research reveals cryptic declines within the multispecies California rock crab fishery

Sean P. Fitzgerald , Hunter S. Lenihan, Jono R. Wilson, Carolynn S. Culver, Matthew Potoski

This paper highlights the benefits of collaborative fisheries research in the management of wild capture fisheries. The authors teamed up with commercial fishermen in the southern California rock crab fishery and sampled over 45,000 crabs over a two-year period. Using statistical techniques, they compared these data to a study…


2019 | Freshwater | Marine | Planning | Technology | Science | Publications & Reports

Insights into estuary habitat loss in the western United States using a new method for mapping maximum extent of tidal wetlands

Laura S. Brophy, Correigh M. Greene, Van C. Hare, Brett Holycross, Andy Lanier, Walter N. Heady, Kevin O’Connor, Hiroo Imaki, Tanya Haddad, Randy Dana

The authors of this study generated new maps of current and historical tidal wetlands in 450 estuaries throughout Washington, Oregon, and California. Using laser-mapping technology known as LIDAR combined with water elevation models, the team estimated that West Coast estuaries historically covered nearly 2 million acres.…


2019 | Terrestrial | Marine | Science | Publications & Reports

Globally important islands where eradicating invasive mammals will benefit highly threatened vertebrates

Holmes ND, Spatz DR, Oppel S, Tershy B, Croll DA, et al.

Restoring islands by eradicating damaging, non-native invasive mammals such as rats, cats, goats, and pigs has repeatedly proven to be a high impact conservation action. New research published in PLOS ONE shows this conservation action can have a major contribution towards stemming the global extinction…


2019 | Terrestrial | Marine | Science | Publications & Reports

Future Directions in Conservation Research on Petrels and Shearwaters

Rodríguez A, Arcos JM, Bretagnolle V, Dias MP, Holmes ND, Louzao M, Provencher J, Raine AF, Ramírez F, Rodríguez B, Ronconi RA, Taylor RS, Bonnaud E, Borrelle SB, Cortés V, Descamps S, Friesen VL, Genovart M, Hedd A, Hodum P, Humphries G, Le Corre M, Lebarbenchon C, Martin R, Melvin EF, Montevecchi WA, Pinet P, Pollet IL, Ramos R, Russell JC, Ryan PG, Sanz-Aguilar A, Spatz DR, Travers M, Votier SC, Wanless RM, Woehler E, Chiaradia A

Seabirds are amongst the most engaged species on our planet. Among these are petrels and shearwaters: species characterized by long ocean journeys for migration and feeding, and a dependence on islands to safely breed and raise young. This dual lifestyle places them at risk from…


2018 | Terrestrial | Marine | Science | Publications & Reports

Islands

Nicholas D. Holmes, Olivier Langrand, Russell A. Mittermeier, Anthony B. Rylands, Thomas Brooks, Dena R. Spatz, James C. Russell, Wes Sechrest, Federico Méndez Sánchez, Cristina Mittermeier (Editor)

Covering only five percent of the land on our planet, islands are home to an estimated 20 percent of the world’s bird, reptile, and plant species, as well as the most astonishing examples of species’ evolution. "Islands" is the 26th volume in the CEMEX Nature Series…


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 | Marine | Science | Publications & Reports

CA Rock Crab Fishery Management

Sean P. Fitzgerald, Jono R. Wilson , Hunter S. Lenihan

Despite the economic value of California fisheries, many lack information needed to determine if fishing is occurring at a sustainable level. The Southern California Rock Crab fishery in the Santa Barbara Channel is one such data-limited fishery that is currently managed through a state-wide size…


2018 | Terrestrial | Marine | Science | Publications & Reports

Tracking invasive species eradications on islands at a global scale

Holmes ND, Keitt BS, Spatz DR, Will DJ, Hein S, Russell JC, Genovesi P, Cowan PE, Tershy BR

Indicators for tracking conservation efforts at a global scale are rare but important tools for understanding trends and measuring progress towards global conservation targets. Eradication of invasive species from islands is an increasingly used conservation intervention in countries and territories around the world. This paper…


2018 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Conserving California's Coastal Habitats: A Legacy and a Future with Sea Level Rise

Walter N. Heady, Brian S. Cohen, Mary G. Gleason, Joshua N. Morris, Sarah G. Newkirk, Kirk R. Klausmeyer, Hilary R. Walecka, Elizabeth Gagneron

Sea level rise presents a new challenge to coastal conservation. The authors quantified and mapped the vulnerability of habitats, imperiled species, and conservation lands to sea level rise throughout the entire California coast, where high biodiversity, high endemism, and 26.5 million people coincide. Combining habitat…


2018 | Terrestrial | Marine | Science | Publications & Reports

Invasive rat eradication strongly impacts plant recruitment on a tropical atoll

Wolf CA, Young HS, Zilliacus KM, Wegmann AS, McKown M, Holmes ND, Tershy BR, Dirzo R, Kropidlowski S, Croll DA

Prior to eradication in 2011, non-native invasive rats were known to be active seed predators on Palmyra Atoll, Central Pacific Ocean. This paper reports on native and non-native tree and palm seedling abundance before and after eradication, with seedling recruitment increasing for five of the…


2018 | Freshwater | Terrestrial | Marine | Planning | Science | Publications & Reports

Improving multi-objective ecological flow management with flexible priorities and turn-taking: a case study from the Sacramento River and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Alexander C.A.D., F. Poulsen, D.C.E. Robinson, B.O. Ma , R.A. Luster

Management of the Sacramento River and Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta is one of California’s greatest challenges, requiring trade-offs between valued components that serve a multiplicity of conflicting purposes. This paper demonstrates an improved method for multiple-objective allocation of water based on a “turn-taking” optimization model. The…


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…


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 | Marine | Publications & Reports

Marine and Coastal Impacts of Ocean Desalination in California

Szeptycki, L., E. Hartge, N. Ajami, A. Erickson, W. N. Heady, L. LaFeir, B. Meister, L. Verdone, J.R. Koseff

The drought in California rekindled interest in ocean desalination as a new and reliable water supply option; yet desalination is expensive, energy intensive, potentially emits greenhouse gases, and has adverse impacts on coastal and marine ecosystems. This report is a synthesis of an Uncommon…