Research at UC Berkeley has helped guide evidence-based management policies and actions for parks and other public lands since the National Park Service was created in 1916. Berkeley's faculty, graduate students, and natural history museums' curators conduct research in and for parks. Interdisciplinary studies of ecosystems yield key insights to managing biodiversity in the face of climate change, introduced species, and other threats, and assess how protected land contributes to the health of the economy and the health of the planet, including carbon sequestration and ecosystem services. Research on the social, cultural, and health benefits of parks contributes to decisions on park use and human enjoyment.
Faculty research spans migration of large mammals in the Yellowstone ecosystem, the changes in wildlife presence in the areas originally surveyed by Joseph Grinnell, and the die-off of the Sierra forests from the persistent California drought. Work by Kevin O’Hara, John Battles, Richard Dodd, and Todd Dawson is helping managers to better understand how forest ecosystems will respond to climate change. Justin Brashares and colleagues are comparing wildlife communities in undisturbed parks in California and Africa to altered ecosystems outside of parks. Erica Bree Rosenblum and Wayne Getz study diseases in Californian and African national parks, respectively. Scott Stephens conducts research on fire management in parks and surrounding lands. Patrick Gonzalez conducts research on anthropogenic climate change in national parks, including vegetation shifts and forest carbon, and helps parks manage for changing conditions.