Erika Zavaleta

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

I am a community and ecosystem ecologist broadly interested in implications of interacting global and regional environmental changes, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, and stewardship of wild ecosystems. My research group studies ecological and conservation responses to climate and atmospheric changes, drivers and consequences of changing biological diversity, and effective and equitable conservation practice. Current projects address the effects of climate variability and change on alpine songbirds and tree distributions; the effects of land and water use changes on bat communities; the effectiveness of riparian conservation measures in California and community forestry efforts in Brazil and Nepal; and the nature and effectiveness of conservation responses to climate change.

I strive to bridge ecological theory, training and research to sound conservation and management practice. Our lab incorporates collaboration with conservation practitioners and elements of economics, public policy, and anthropology in our research, and I serve in advisory roles to conservation non-profits and to government. Finally, I work on inclusive, field-based education and its effects on learning, belonging and success in ecology and conservation.

Recent Awards:
2018: Fellow of the Ecological Society of America
2017: Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences
2016: California Book Award – Gold Medal for Contribution to Publishing
2008: Ecological Society of America Sustainability Science Award

BA and MA in Anthropology (Stanford University, 1995)
Ph.D in Biological Sciences (Stanford University, 2001)

Erika Zavaleta

Erika Zavaleta, 2018

Dr. Abe Borker

Director of the UCSC Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program

I work to improve conservation of our home in three ways, pursuing useful research, teaching future conservationists, as well as mentoring and accelerating students with the potential to transform conservation efforts.

My research on scalable acoustic monitoring and ecoacoustics, stems from a desire to empower conservation practitioners to accurately measure outcomes, and find the best solutions. My teaching and mentoring, at UCSC and the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program stems from a desire to build a more inclusive, socially just, and effective conservation movement.

For fun, I love natural history, photography, birdwatching and coffee.

Sushmita Poudel

PhD student

I am broadly interested in understanding the effectiveness of community forestry in terms of biodiversity conservation in Nepal. I am interested in understanding how the different management systems (government and community-managed forests) affect plant biodiversity and the overall sustainability of the forest.

Flavia Oliveira

PhD candidate

I am researching the role of community-based governance of common-pool resources (CPRs) for promoting forest conservation within traditional farming systems from Southern Brazil. I work in areas where there are high levels of forest degradation due to large-scale monoculture agriculture and logging, but also evidence of traditional landscape management leading to forest conservation.

Graduate directory:

A peek at my doctoral research in Southern Brazil:

Kyle Reid

PhD: Assessing California bat community structure changes in response to land use, elevation and climate factors.

I am interested in the ecology and conservation of Chiroptera (bats). Currently, I am interested in studying the effects of human-modified ecosystems throughout California. Large parts of land in California are undergoing increased modification from wilderness to ranch land, to vineyards and suburban environments due to urban sprawl.

I will be using acoustic and visual monitoring techniques to access current and predict future changes while promoting citizen science programs to raise awareness for these important but often misunderstood creatures.

Kat Bernier

Masters student

My research interests draw me upwards, toward the alpine zone of mountains and the diversity of life that thrives under harsh environmental conditions. What niches can cold-hardy, high-elevation species utilize? What drives individual species’ habitat selection? How will their requirements continue to be met or change under rapidly advancing climatic shifts?

My current research explores population size and habitat variables that drive local densities in Brown-capped Rosy Finches (Leucosticte australis),  a generalist alpine songbird nearly endemic to Colorado. In conjunction with this project, I hope to incorporate years of field research experience to implement achievable, long-term monitoring frameworks for potentially vulnerable high-altitude ecosystems.

Tim Brown

PhD Student

I am broadly interested in understanding how alpine mountain species cope with climate variation. Specifically, I am interested in better understanding environmental constraints to the distribution of one of North America’s highest-elevation breeding birds, Sierra Nevada Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch (Leucosticte tephrocotis dawsoni).

I am also interested in understanding environmental mechanisms that drive their elevational movement during non-breeding periods and what role phenotypic differentiation may play in this story.

My website