Cataloging California’s Diverse Ecosystems

Berkeley researchers contribute to sourcebook on the state's ecological abundance

March 09, 2016
Ecosystems of California book cover

"Ecosystems of California" is now available from UC Press.

Now available from UC Press, Ecosystems of California presents a comprehensive reference on the remarkably diverse ecosystems in the state. Using many lenses—past and present, flora and fauna, aquatic and terrestrial, natural and managed—the over 1,000 page volume draws on the knowledge of 149 expert chapter contributors, including 13 with ties to UC Berkeley.

In addition to outlining natural processes and history related to each ecosystem, the book explicitly analyzes the impacts of human activity and also addresses policy, conservation, and stewardship matters.

It was edited by Harold Mooney, professor of environmental biology at Stanford University, and Erika Zavaleta, professor of environmental studies at University of California, Santa Cruz. In a blog post about the book, Zavaleta writes, “Hal Mooney and I envisioned Ecosystems of California  to tackle a simple question: what do we know about the trajectory of this globally significant region’s ecology, from the deep past into the next 100 years?"

In many chapters, the challenges created by climate change are part of the conversation about those next 100 years. “California's forests were central to redefining America's relationship with our wilderness areas, and they now provide new opportunities to mitigate climate change,” says William Stewart, Berkeley cooperative extension specialist and co-author of the forestry chapter. “Combining a big picture analysis with a detailed look at processes led to an amazingly rich portrait of our state."

“Writing our chapter gave us the opportunity to present an integrated picture of the social, economic, and biophysical aspects of lands grazed by livestock in California,” says Sheri Spiegal (Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, ’15), who wrote the ‘Range Ecosystems chapter within the Managed Systems section. Spiegal worked on her chapter while finishing her doctoral research on restoration management of Californian grasslands; she is now a post-doctoral research scientist at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.

UC Berkeley Contributors

UC Berkeley contributors include David Ackerly (Professor, Integrative Biology - IB), Dennis Baldocchi (Professor, Environmental Science, Policy, and Management – ESPM) James Bartolome (Professor, ESPM), Todd Dawson (Professor, IB, ESPM), Peter Hopkinson (Specialist, ESPM), Lynn Huntsinger (Professor, ESPM ), Sarah Kupferberg (Visiting Scholar, IB) Adina Merenlender (Cooperative Extension Specialist, Adjunct Professor, ESPM), Mary Power (Professor, IB), Benktesh Sharma (Postdoctoral Researcher, ESPM), Sheri Spiegal (USDA ARS), William Stewart (Cooperative Extension Specialist in Forestry, ESPM), and Rob York (Adjunct Assistant Professor, ESPM).

Nineteen Berkeley alumni were chapter contributors, and many other CNR researchers were first authors on references for individual chapters.