On the front lines of climate change

Plant ecologist Erin Riordan, PhD. Image credit: courtesy Erin Riordan
Plant ecologist Erin Riordan, PhD. Image credit: courtesy Erin Riordan

UC’s Office of the President will celebrate Earth Day 2015 with a Lunch & Learn showcasing the Natural Reserve System. Plant ecologist Erin Riordan, a postdoctoral scholar at UCLA and UC Berkeley, will give a talk entitled On the front lines of climate change.

When: Wednesday, April 22
Time: noon to 1 p.m.
Where: Lobby One, 1111 Franklin St., Oakland
A light lunch and a dessert of artisan chocolates will be provided. In addition, all attendees will be entered into a raffle.

About the talk

In the next 50 years, climate change is expected to significantly alter California’s environment. Biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human systems across the state will be threatened. The signs of a rapidly changing environment are apparent already in our rising sea levels, declining snowpack, more frequent heat waves, and prolonged droughts.

The 39 reserves of the University of California’s Natural Reserve System (NRS) are on the front lines of the struggle to understand and manage climate change effects on natural systems. Many of California’s diverse habitats are represented within the more than 765,000 acres of natural lands under NRS stewardship.

Long-term research studies at reserves provide the baseline data needed to understand the driving forces behind biological and environmental change. With this information, scientists can predict consequences such as projected losses in species or shifts in habitat distributions. Only then can people adapt useful management and conservation strategies.

In fact, the role of the NRS in conservation extends far beyond reserve boundaries. Research conducted at reserves can help inform both local and statewide decisions about the environment. And by connecting local communities with the natural landscape, the reserve system engages students and the public in climate change education at a powerfully personal level.

Speaker bio

Erin Riordan studies future climate change impacts on California’s native flora, and how this will affect conservation. Her current project evaluates the future role of the NRS under climate change conditions. 

Riordan received her PhD from UCLA in 2013, where she studied projected climate change impacts and land use change on California sage scrub, a highly threatened habitat type in southern California and northwestern Baja California. She is now a postdoctoral scholar collaborating with the UC Natural Reserve System and professors David Ackerly at UC Berkeley and Phil Rundel at UCLA.