Research Areas

Sat, 07/15/2017 - 09:08 -- Katja Seltmann

Coastal Ecosystem Restoration Research Program

CCBER manages more than 300 acres of open space between Ellwood Mesa and Goleta Slough. Characterized by a rich complex of oak woodland, coastal sage scrub, grassland, and wetland ecosystems, the area is known for its relatively high level of biodiversity. CCBER’s restoration project sites and management areas serve to protect and strengthen the region’s ecology through habitat conservation, upland restoration, wetland creation and enhancement, and the implementation of sustainable stormwater management solutions. Through careful integration with local watersheds and surrounding natural areas, CCBER's management areas provide important corridor and refuge for wildlife, and ensure the longterm preservation of the region's of natural resources.


CCBER's Ecosystem Restoration Research Program (ERRP) utilizes these sites to employ a variety of wildlife and vegetation monitoring protocols, and to conduct research along two broad themes:

  • Ecosystem Functions and Services
  • Ecosystem Restoration and Management Techniques

Primary Contact: Lisa Stratton

Arthropods of Coastal California

California dune, coastal sage and chaparral are home to many unique and endemic insects and other arthropods. CCBER biologists are interested in understanding our rich insect biodiversity and analyzing their underlying ecological specialties, such as their associations with host plants and other biological interactions. Many of these insects are important to humans, such as pollinators and pest species, while others help us explore fundamental evolutionary questions and the effects that human disturbance on biological systems. CCBER maintains a regular sampling program around UCSB and has a regionally focused insect collection for voucher specimens.

Primary Contact: Katja Seltmann

Projects: Ophionine Wasps of CaliforniaCoccinellidae Communities at Coastal SitesDetritivore distributions in human impacted ecosystems

Checklists: Bees of Coastal CaliforniaAnts of Santa Barbara CountyUC Santa Barbara Insects

Plant Speciation via Hybridization and Allopolyploidy

In recent years, it has been recognized that hybridization and allopolyploidy are important mechanisms of speciation in plants. Previously, hybrid origin has been inferred through morphological intermediacy, by tracing maternal parentage using plastid DNA sequences, and through cloning of nuclear DNA sequences. However, these methods can be misleading, inconclusive, or are extremely laborious and expensive. In order to unravel reticulating patterns of evolution in hybrid species, a new approach is needed to generate haplotype-resolved, or haplotype-phased, nuclear DNA sequences. One focus of systematics research conducted at CCBER is optimizing haplotype-specific DNA extraction for use in plants to detect and confirm hybrid origin in a number of Californian groups, including manzanitas (Arctostaphylos spp.), pines, chaparral mallows (Malacothamnus spp.), and Clarkia.

Primary Contact: Greg Wahlert

Natural History Collection Information Science

CCBER houses the UCSB Natural History Collections, which includes about half a million plants, insects and vertebrates. Natural history collections constitute our biodiversity libraries and they have broad cultural significance, and more importantly, constitute enormous primary resources that support fundamental research in the biological sciences. Our library of biological specimens, ranging from preserved pollinating bees to deep ocean core samples, shed light on the past, and illuminate ways that the climate has changed, that species are lost, and how biological knowledge has evolved. They also constitute voucher repositories for specimens used in research and identification of organisms of all varieties. As informational resources, natural history collections hold tremendous value, but remain underused. A major focus of CCBER's research is the examination of processes through which we capture information in digital formats, how we publish and share biological information, preserve at risk information, and use this information in scientific activities. At its heart, this process involves the digitization of physical specimens and textual collection event data, how we manage these digital records, how we assess the quality of these data, and how we may augment them with salient metadata. This work is consequently aligned with a major thrust of research in biodiversity informatics that has sought to enable access to biodiversity data troves via computing systems, data science methods, and new technologies.

Primary Contacts: Katja Seltmann and Greg Wahlert

UCSB NHC Databases

Capturing California Flowers Project

Lepidoptera of North America

Endangered Endemic Plants

The California Floristic Provence is home to approximately 6,500 species, subspecies, and varieties of unique endemic plants that are found nowhere else in the world. CCBER is involved in studying the requirements for these plants to help ensure their survival. These studies include categorizing their pollinators and pests, habitat preferences, and genetics. CCBER restoration emphasizes regional diversity by outsourcing for local plant genotype and planting a rich mix of plant species on its restoration sites.

Primary Contacts: Lisa Stratton and Greg Wahlert

Nipomo Lupine Project

CDFW Endangered and Threatened Plants