UCLA La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science off to an ambitious start in 2011

California’s lush landscapes and diversity of species are in danger—according to some startling new research. An Endangered Species Coalition report published January 1, 2011, “It’s Getting Hot Out There: Top 10 Places to Save for Endangered Species in a Warming World,“ identified the California Sierra Mountains, the San Francisco Bay-Delta and the Southwest Deserts, which includes the Mojave Desert, as three of the top 10 most endangered ecosystems in the nation. Additionally, a recent study by scientists from UCLA, the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey found evidence of significant population genetic changes, including loss of genetic diversity, associated with urban fragmentation in the Santa Monica Mountains. It was in recognition of just these kinds of considerable threats that the UCLA La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science was established to help preserve ecosystems and biodiversity, in partnership with the National Park Service, California State Parks and the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority.

Kicking off its program for 2011, the La Kretz Center sponsored the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s California Landscape Conservation Cooperative (CA LCC) Workshop, held at the UCLA Faculty Center on January 26, 2011. The CA LCC is a management-science partnership informing and promoting integrated science, natural resource management and conservation, to address impacts of climate change and other stressors within and across ecosystems. This workshop marked the introduction of the LCC programs into Southern California. Institute of the Environment and Sustainability Director Glen MacDonald delivered the keynote address.

UCLA La Kretz Center Executive Director Dr. Felicia Federico noted that “the goals of the LCC are closely aligned with those of the La Kretz Center. We were delighted to have the opportunity to host this workshop at which over 70 attendees, representing more than 25 natural resource management agencies and organizations throughout the Los Angeles area, came together to learn about and engage with the California LCC.”

During the month of January the La Kretz Center also supported the Santa Monica Mountains Education Consortium’s Training for Naturalists. This free one-day program covered techniques to deal with challenging groups, how to adapt lessons for different age groups, and provided a networking opportunity for docents that work in the Santa Monica Mountains. The event was also sponsored by the National Park Service, California State Parks, Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority, Resource Conservation District of Santa Monica Mountains and UCLA Stunt Ranch Reserve.

In April the La Kretz Center will co-host a Climate Change Workshop with the National Park Service’s Inventory and Monitoring Program. UCLA faculty and park service scientists will collaborate to exchange information and identify climate change research priorities for the park.

The La Kretz Center will also be involved with the National Park Service’s Santa Monica Mountains Science Festival, to be held on April 15 and 16, 2011.

The 2nd annual UCLA La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science Public Lecture and Reception on May 15, 2011 will feature Paul Ehrlich, president of Stanford University’s Center for Conservation Biology and author of the seminal book, “The Population Bomb.” More details on this free event will be available soon at www.environment.ucla.edu/lakretz.

A major initiative led by the La Kretz Center is the MEDECOS Mediterranean Ecosystems International Conference to be held at UCLA September 6 – 9, 2011. The MEDECOS conference brings together ecologists and resource managers from all five Mediterranean-climate regions of the world. MEDECOS XII will be the 40th anniversary of this long-standing event that rotates among participating countries.

In addition to these scheduled activities, La Kretz Center researchers are actively authoring publications related to the ecological impacts of night lighting and the protection of stream ecosystems from excess runoff of urban stormwater. The Center will begin hosting several visiting scholars during the summer of 2011.

“We are privileged to do this work through the vision and generous gift of Morton La Kretz. This ambitious program reflects our excitement about the Center’s mission, as well as the strong positive response we’ve received from our partner agencies and others in the conservation community,” stated Dr. Federico.

Participants at the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative Workshop photo credit: Karen Lefkowitz. Red Fox photo credit: Flickr, mikebaird