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Projects Worked On

Project Name Description
CosHawk (Cosumnes River Futures Modeling for Swainson's Hawk)

The main objective of this project is to quantitatively assess how changes to the landscape through time will impact Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni) habtiat and other potentially beneficial ecosystem services. Accounting for this type of natural capital and how ecosystem services change through time is not well documented in the literature and developing this methodology was a secondary objective for our research group. Despite the loss of natural habitat, this study area and the surrounding region supports the highest density of breeding Swainson’s Hawks in California. Swainson’s Hawk is a species of high conservation concern given historic population declines and its listing as a threatened species in California. It is also a valuable focal species due to its dependence on tree canopy nesting sites, on which many other raptors and riparian species also depend, as well as nearby open-country foraging habitat, which is valuable to a number of other migratory birds. This study area supports a mix of forested areas and agricultural areas, providing excellent habitat for nesting and foraging areas. We conducted a mesoscale landscape assessment to quantify ecosystem services and develop habitat suitability models for Swainson’s Hawk (in partnership with Audubon California) in an agriculturally-dominated area in the Central Valley of California. Specifically, we developed three different management scenarios for the study area projected to 2050; a restoration focused scenario, an increasing urbanization scenario, and an enhanced agriculture scenario intended to benefit Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni), a biodiversity conservation target. Using the current configuration of land use across the study area, we quantified the impact of each scenario on four major ecosystem services, carbon storage, water recharge potential to groundwater, biodiversity using B. swainsoni nesting habitat as a proxy, and nitrous oxide emissions and nitrate leaching.

Sacramento River Vegetation Map

This project will be used to post reports and other materials associated with DFG/Calfed Ecosystem Restoration Program Grant ERP062002.

Perennial Pepperweed Control Project

Perennial pepperweed, Lepidium latifolium, is a highly invasive perennial herb that can thrive in a wide range of habitats including riparian areas, wetlands, marshes, and floodplains (Bossard et at. 2000; Young et al. 1995).

Once established this plant creates large monospecific stands that displace native plants and animals and can alter soil composition by concentrating salts at the surface (Young, Turner et al. 1995; Renz and DiTomaso 1998).

Due to its highly invasive nature it is on the A-list of the California Invasive Plant Council’s (CALIPC) list of Exotic Pest Plants of Greatest Ecological Concern in California, and on the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s B list of noxious weeds.

This plant is a priority for control efforts not only because of its highly invasive nature and the threat it poses to native habitats but also because potential for its control is considered high.

Cosumnes Phase 3

The Center for Watershed Sciences is partnering with The Nature Conservancy in an experimental floodplain restoration on the Cosumnes River. The Center's role in this Department of Fish & Wildlife funded project, "Wildlife And Vegetation Response to Experimental Restoration of Flooded Riparian Forest Habitat for the Cosumnes River Preserve," is intended to conduct biophysical monitoring of an experimental restoration on approximately 800 acres of flooded riparian forest habitat in the Cosumnes River Preserve.

The riparian and floodplain restoration is expected to benefit native fish and wildlife, using natural process restoration techniques where possible and horticultural restoration carried out in an experimental context. This will be one of the first projects to monitor changes in Bay-Delta ecosystem processes resulting from floodplain reconnection.

The project area has been identified as one of the primary locations where riparian restoration can be conducted successfully in the lower Cosumnes River Corridor. 

The Cosumnes Research Group 3 (CRG3) began in the Fall of 2011 to monitor and measure the impact of the planned restoration at the Oneto and Denier Properties along the lower Cosumnes River. The group is currently working on collecting baseline data that will be used to compare with the restored landscape in the following areas: 

  • Groundwater
  • Surface Water
  • Aquatic Ecology
  • Water Quality
  • Soil Carbon
  • Geomorphology
  • Hydrochory