Sierran Strategies

Welcome to our Sierran Strategies applied research group within the Center for Watershed Sciences. We are a diverse group, consisting of ecologists, engineers, hydrologists, and the like, all dedicated to developing and answering pressing questions in watershed science with a focus on the Sierra Nevada. We have four broad areas of collaboration:

1) hydrologic connectivity -- many pressing questions exist with respect to the longitudinal connectivity of Sierran water bodies, how connectivity occurs and is or can be managed, and at what spatial and temporal dimensions connectivity has relevant ecological ramifications. Additional measures of connectivity, such as vertical and lateral dimensions, are also included here, with examples such as meadow restoration and hydrologic budget studies and our many Cosumnes River seasonal floodplain studies.

2) scale integration -- vertical integration of research performed at nested spatial scales is complex, but increasingly important to improve our knowledge base and make meaningful recommendations for management. We are challenged to both model landscapes (or entire mountain ranges) and perform empirical observations at the site scale. To date, integrating across the range of spatial scales has proven challenging, but we are beginning to do so in a variety of ways, such as regional scale stream temperature modeling with instrumentation in selected long term monitoring locations.

3) regulated versus unregulated systems -- a fundamental strength is our ability to compare and contrast biotic and abiotic components of regulated and unregulated systems throughout the Sierra Nevada. Not only do these analyses help bridge the two areas of research above, but in effect these systems allow us to perform watershed scale experimentation, ala a before-after control-impact type studies, to better isolate the effects of management and the role of the natural flow regime in structuring river systems. While we have largely focused on forks of the Yuba and American Rivers to date, we have started to include others, such as tributaries of the Tuolumne River into our portfolio of rivers.

4) climate change, vulnerability, and adaptation -- the foremost challenge for the management of the Sierra Nevada's water supply and aquatic ecosystems is understanding the spatial and temporal dimensions of climate change, identifying and quantifying degrees of vulnerability to ecosystems and infrastructure, and crafting sound adaptation strategies that will best sustain ecosystem services.