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