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?

2015 | Freshwater | Marine | Publications & Reports

Aligning Natural Resource Conservation and Flood Hazard Mitigation in California

Juliano Calil, Michael W. Beck, Mary Gleason, Matthew Merrifield, Kirk Klausmeyer, Sarah Newkirk

The U.S. National Flood Insurance Program has paid out more than $38 billion in claims since its inception in 1968, more than a third of which has gone to the 1% of policies that experienced multiple, repetitive losses. During the same period, the loss of…


2015 | Freshwater | Marine | Publications & Reports

Climate mediates hypoxic stress on fish diversity and nursery function at the land–sea interface

Brent B. Hughes, Matthew D. Levey, Monique C. Fountain, Aaron B. Carlisle, Francisco P. Chavez, Mary G. Gleason

This comprehensive study of a major California estuary documents the links between nutrient runoff from coastal land use, the health of the estuary as a nursery for young fish, and the abundance of fish in an offshore commercial fishery. The researchers assembled long-term data sets…


2014 | Freshwater | Marine | Planning | Publications & Reports

An Inventory and Classification of U.S. West Coast Estuaries

Walter N. Heady, Kevin O'Connor, Jennifer Kassakian , Kate Doiron, Charles Endris, Daniel Hudgens, Ross P. Clark , Jena Carter , Mary G. Gleason

Estuaries are some of the most productive ecosystems on the planet. This inventory classifies more than 600 coastal confluences on the West Coast of the United States. Each estuary was classified using the federal Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard (CMECS). A spatial database of…


2014 | Freshwater | Marine | Science | Publications & Reports

Nursery Functions of U.S. West Coast Estuaries: The State of Knowledge for Juveniles of Focal Invertebrate and Fish Species

Brent B. Hughes, Matthew D. Levey, Jennifer A. Brown, Monique C. Fountain, Aaron B. Carlisle, Steven Y. Litvin, Correigh M. Greene, Walter N. Heady, Mary G. Gleason

Estuaries support significant biodiversity and important ecosystem functions such as providing rearing habitat for juvenile fish and invertebrates. This report synthesizes the scientific literature and geospatial data on the nursery requirements of fifteen species of commercial, cultural, and conservation concern and highlights the potential nursery role…


2012 | Marine | Planning | Publications & Reports

Near-term priorities for the science, practice, and policy of Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning

Halpern, B.S., Diamond, J., Gaines, S., Gelcich, S., Gleason, M., Jennings, S., Lester, S., Mace, A., McCook, L., McLeod, K., Napoli, N., Rawson, K., Rice, J., Rosenberg, A., Ruckelshaus, M., Saier, B., Sandifer, P., Sholtz, A., Zivian, A.

This paper informs emerging efforts to implement coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP) in the United States, Europe and elsewhere around the world. In order to identify priority needs for significantly advancing CMSP, the authors—expertsexperts in the science, policy and practice of CMSP—developed recommendations for…