Hastings Natural History Reservation

Hastings Natural History Reservation
Hastings Natural History Reservation / Photo by Lobsang Wangdu

Hastings Natural History Reservation, set in the open foothills of the Santa Lucia Mountains in upper Carmel Valley, protects excellent examples of habitats characteristic of the interior central Coast Range. Reserve ecosystems include annual and perennial grasslands, oak woodlands, chaparral, and running streams. This hilly reserve lies primarily on south-facing slopes and encompasses three narrow tributary valleys.

The long history of Hastings includes more than 50 years of research on vertebrate ecology and oak-woodland biology. Detailed ornithological records include sightings of over 165 bird species, nearly half of which have nested on site. Records are also maintained on nine species of amphibians, ten snakes, and seven lizards that live on or near the reserve.

The abundance of acorns and oak seedlings provides forage for many mammals, particularly mule deer and pocket gophers. The reserve is also home to numerous other mammals—not only smaller species, such as California ground squirrels, dusky-footed woodrats, kangaroo rats, voles, and mice, but also larger predators, such as bobcats and mountain lions.

Public Outreach

Environmental consultation with local ranches; K-12 teacher education program; the reserve also publishes a monthly newsletter for neighbors, researchers, and others, and maintains an outreach website.

Student Activities

Field trips for secondary schools; student volunteers from Carmel High School assist researchers, plant oaks, and help with restoration and the reserve’s website.

Field Courses

Field trips for university courses in mammalogy, botany, docent training, plant taxonomy, general biology, forestry, and conservation biology.

Selected Research

  • Behavioral ecology of western bluebirds.
  • Ecology and evolution of social behavior in acorn woodpeckers.
  • Population biology of the California tiger salamander.
  • Genetics, physiology, and fitness of pocket gophers, with implications for conservation.
  • Restoration ecology of native grasses and oak woodland.
  • Site factors, dendrochronology, and flowering biology of California oaks.
  • Long-term studies of vegetation, bees, bird populations, small mammals.

Jennifer Hunter
Resident Director
Hastings Natural History Reservation
38601 East Carmel Valley Rd.
Carmel Valley, CA 93924
Hastings Natural History Reservation website

Monterey County (upper Carmel Valley); 42 km (26 mi.) southeast of Carmel; 228 km (142 mi.) from Berkeley campus.

Field station with scattered houses, workshop, offices, group meeting room/kitchen, lab with bench/office space for four to six investigators, housing for 38, kitchen facilities in each house, modest library and herbarium; secure storage space in large barn. Wireless internet at all buildings and much of the reserve, some cell coverage.

The reserve bibliography includes citations of journal articles, books, theses, art, and other works published about or based on activities conducted at the reserve.

Plant List
Extensive synoptic collections/field notes; complete herbarium and flora; long-term weather data from on-site weather stations; photographic archive; aerial photos/large-scale maps; extensive bibliography; geographic information system (GIS).

On-site reserve manager, research zoologists, and reserve steward.

960 hectares (2,373 acres); plus access to 11,590 hectares (28,640 acres) from cooperating landowners.

467 – 953 m (1,530 – 3,125 ft.)

53 cm (21 in.) per year.

July maximum: 31 ºC (87 ºF)
January minimum: 1 ºC (34 ºF)
Annual mean: 17 ºC (63 ºF)
Dendra Weather Data

Hastings Natural History Reservation
Hastings Natural History Reservation / Photo by Lobsang Wangdu
Hastings Natural History Reservation 1
Hastings Natural History Reservation / Photo by Lobsang Wangdu