Research linking landscapes, ecosystems, atmosphere and coastal oceans along the California North Coast

The Angelo Coast Range Reserve provides a unique setting for studies of rivers, fish, forests, meadows, and landscape evolution along California‚Äôs North Coast.  Fundamental natural processes are clearer in places that have not been destabilized by multiple disturbances.  Many important questions can not be addressed without long-term research, and long-term research cannot be maintained without protected research sites.  In Angelo’s protected watersheds, researchers have learned:

  • that bed scouring floods are necessary to rejuvenate the food web that supports the growth of juvenile salmonids;
  • that reductions in summer base flows can shift conditions from those favorable for nutritious diatoms to those that favor cyanobacteria at the base of the river food web;
  • how life cycles of native frogs are attuned to natural Mediterranean seasonality of flow and temperature, and why they are threatened by altered flow or temperature regimes in regulated rivers;
  • how changes in light availability down river networks drive change fluxes and concentrations of different molecular forms of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and mercury in ways that both reflect and affect river ecology and watershed-river exchanges;
  • that because of ecological interactions, meadows will respond to climate changes in the seasonality of rainfall in ways that would not be predicted by the traits of European annual and native perennial grasses;
  • that topography, rock type, and tree species affect water storage in deep fractured bedrock and its slow release to sustain river flow through drought;
  • that large broad-leafed trees and conifers differ in their sources of water and the timing of their exchanges of moisture with the local atmosphere, even when they grow side by side.