Historical Ecology

Historical ecology seeks to understand the natural processes and habitat types that were found in an area at a specified period in time.  It is particular interesting for cities because historical habitat types have largely been replaced by highly modified systems.  It is important, however, because understanding these patterns at a time when similar climatic and geomorphological forces were at play can provide insights into ways to manage the current landscape that are consistent with the climate, promote native biodiversity, and work with rather than against natural forces.

Current Projects

Historical Ecology of the Los Angeles River and Watershed: Infrastructure for a Comprehensive Analysis

Reconstruction of Historical Topography to Estimate Erosionand Model Historical Vegetation Distribution on San Clemente Island, California


Longcore, T., N. Noujdina, and P. Dixon. 2018. Landscape modeling to predict the potential natural vegetation of Santa Catalina Island (California). Western North American Naturalist 78(4):617-632.

Safran, S. M., S. A. Baumgarten, E. E. Beller, J. A. Crooks, R. M. Grossinger, J. Lorda, T. R. Longcore, D. Bram, S. J. Dark, E. D. Stein, and T. L. McIntosh. 2017. Tijuana River Valley historical ecology investigation. Prepared for the State Coastal Conservancy. A Report of SFEI-ASC’s Resilient Landscapes Program, Publication # 760, San Francisco Estuary Institute-Aquatic Science Center, Richmond, California, pp. 1–216.

Longcore, T. 2016. Historical Ecology of the Los Angeles River Riparian Zone in the Elysian Valley. Pp. 2-1–2-29 in Water Supply and Habitat Resiliency for a Future Los Angeles River: Site-Specific Natural Enhancement Opportunities Informed by River Flow and Watershed-Wide Action: Los Feliz to Taylor Yard. The Nature Conservancy, Urban Conservation Program, Los Angeles.

Dark, S., E. D. Stein, D. Bram, J. Osuna, J. Monteferante, T. Longcore, R. Grossinger, and E. Beller. 2011. Historical ecology of the Ballona Creek watershed. Southern California Coastal Water Research Project Technical Publication No. 671. 75 pp.

Beller, E. E., R. M. Grossinger, M. N. Salomon, S. J. Dark, E. D. Stein, B. K. Orr, P. W. Downs, T. R. Longcore, G. C. Coffman, A. A. Whipple, R. A. Askevold, B. Stanford, and J. R. Beagle. 2011. Historical ecology of the lower Santa Clara River, Ventura River, and Oxnard Plain: an analysis of terrestrial, riverine, and coastal habitats. Prepared for the State Coastal Conservancy. A report of SFEI’s Historical Ecology Program, SFEI Publication #641, San Francisco Estuary Institute, Oakland, CA.. 273 pp.

Jacobs, D., E. S. Stein, and T. Longcore. 2011. Classification of California estuaries based on natural closure patterns: Templates for restoration and management. Southern California Coastal Water Research Project Technical Publication No. 619a. 50 pp.

Stein, E. D., S. Dark, T. Longcore, R. Grossinger, N. Hall, and M. Beland. 2010. Historical ecology as a tool for assessing landscape change and informing wetland restoration priorities. Wetlands 30(3):589-601.

Stein, E.D., S. Dark, T. Longcore, N. Hall, M. Beland, R. Grossinger, J. Casanova, and M. Sutula. 2007 Historical ecology and landscape change of the San Gabriel River and floodplain. Southern California Coastal Water Research Project Technical Report #499, Los Angeles, 101 pp. + appendices.

Longcore, T., and C. Rich. 1998. 419 acres: UCLA’s natural history. 1. Land use, 2. Biological homogenization, 3. Island biogeography. Poster series and display presented at California’s Biodiversity Crisis: The Loss of Nature in an Urbanizing World (UCLA, October 1998).

Mattoni, R., T. Longcore, J. George and C. Rich. 1997. The Los Angeles Coastal Prairie and its vernal pools. Presented at 2nd Interface Between Ecology and Land Development in California (Occidental College, Los Angeles, California, April 18-19). (pdf)

Mattoni, R. and T. R. Longcore. 1997. The Los Angeles Coastal Prairie, a vanished community. Crossosoma23(2):71–102.