Historical Ecology

Historical Ecology Studies synthesize diverse historical data to enhance understanding of the ecological, hydrological, and geomorphic conditions of a particular region prior to major Euro-American modification. Drawing on sources such as historical maps, landscape and aerial photographs, textual accounts, and early surveys, the studies will reconstruct comprehensive pictures of landscape-scale patterns and local variability. Findings from the studies are compiled into illustrated technical reports describing historical conditions and processes and discussing implications for management and restoration.

At the present time, we have partnered with the Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, the University of Southern California (History and Geography Dept.), and the San Francisco Estuary Institute. We plan to continue our efforts in working these organizations and hope to encourage other local agencies to get involved in historical ecology projects in their local communities. This type of applied historical ecology is an invaluable tool for management!

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San Gabriel River Historical Ecology Project


Project Maps:


Ventura Historical Ecology Project


Ballona Historical Ecology Project


Calleguas Creek/Mugu Lagoon Project

CGS worked with Larry Walker and Associates to perform historical wetland mapping for the Calleguas Creek Watershed Sediment Study. The Center acquired, compiled and georectified historical imagery of Mugu Lagoon for numerous years, and then digitized wetland habitat based on each year of imagery. Summary statistics were produced to evaluate any potential system changes across time periods that could inform the sediment study. The Center also performed a change assessment of historical and contemporary landuse in the Calleguas Creek Watershed.


San Diego Lagoons Historical Ecology Project

In Progress


Tijuana Estuary Historical Ecology Project

In Progress