Get to know our newest John Muir Institute Fellow, Brandi Goss!

Sugar Creek BDA

The John Muir Institute of the Environment has recently announced Brandi Goss among the recipients of the 2021 Muir Institute Scholars Program! This competitive program "recognizes UC Davis graduate students doing outstanding policy relevant research in one of the core Muir Institute initiatives which include: One Climate, Big Environmental Data, Wild Energy, and World Water Initiative" (JMIE April 26, 2021).

Brandi Goss is a Master's Student under Dr. Robert Lusardi in the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis. Her work is centered on aquatic community ecology research with real-world conservation applications. ​Read on to learn more about this sprouting collaborative project!

Project Summary & Aims

In 2014, two Beaver Dam Analogs (BDAs) (or, human-made beaver dams constructed using natural materials) were installed on Sugar Creek and French Creek near Fort Jones, CA. The potential benefits of these structures are many and varied - from population persistence and of endangered Coho salmon to community resilience and increased habitat diversity. In particular, Brandi is excited that these BDAs may provide refuge from the many impacts of climate change on anadromous fish. Brandi's project is part of a larger effort to understand these benefits. Specifically, Brandi will be using stable isotope analysis to compare food webs in traditional stream habitat and BDA habitat to better understand changes in community diversity that result from BDA installation. Brandi will also be conducting a pilot study to understand if sulfur isotopes can be used to trace use of BDA habitat by Coho salmon so that future studies can investigate how Coho are using this habitat feature and what the benefits to their surivival and reproduction are.

Brandi and Dr. Lusardi are working primarily with a local, community-run non-profit in the Scott River watershed to complete this proejct - the Scott River Watershed Council. This organization led the installation of the BDA's and has been involved in a variety of monitoring efforts since their installation, including supporting Brandi's Master's project.

Brandi was recently selected as a 2021 JMIE scholar, which includes $5,000 in funds to support her research, and she is incredibly grateful and excited for the opportunity to be a part of the program. She has shared that she really wants her work to go out into the world and DO something, and that being a part of this program will enable her to better accomplish this goal through development of excellent collaboration and communication skills. These funds will largely be used to help fund the sulfur isotope pilot project which will hopefully be the basis for other research and conservation work around Coho salmon.

Brandi Goss  sugar-creek-bda-forest-covered  sugar-creek-bda-1

About the John Muir Institute of the Environment

Established in 1997, the Muir Institute supports innovation and discovery aimed at solving real-world environmental problems. The institute’s faculty span all of UC Davis’ colleges and professional schools, with a commitment to strengthening the scientific foundation for environmental decision making through collective entrepreneurship – a team-oriented approach that recognizes the complexities of environmental problems and the societal context in which they occur. Read more at the Muir Institute website: