Biogeography and Vegetation Mapping

Work within the IEMM focuses especially on Mediterranean-type ecosystems that are common in Southern California, with special emphasis on spatial and temporal patterns of species diversity, community composition, post-disturbance resilience, influence of exotic species, and habitat preference of species. Results from these studies have guided refinements to vegetation mapping and restoration and management targets.

Landscape and Connectivity Modeling

We use a broad array of theoretical, modeling, and observation based techniques to innovate concepts, methods and applications in environmental and natural resource conservation and policy-making. IEMM has led numerous projects focused on landscape connectivity modeling and planning. Data from IEMM studies are being used to guide reserve design, land acquisitions, as well as restoration and management targets.

Impact of Land-Use Change

We study the impacts from the combination of land-use and climatic shifts and how they affect ecosystems and local communities. Land-use change analysis can impact global decisions based on large-scale effects like warming, aridification, and shifting disturbance regimes, meso-scale impacts like border security, and even micro effects like the rising water levels in local estuaries or wetland accretion.

Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES)

IEMM conducts research on the ecological, socio-economic, and policy impacts of PES programs. Highlighted ecosystem services such as climate change mitigation, watershed services, and biodiversity conservation are all critical policy issues in Southern California and beyond.

Population and Conservation Genetics

IEMM supports multiple projects that involve field-based monitoring and assessment techniques to track populations through genetic analysis to guide management strategies. One IEMM approach is to consider questions of fundamental and applied importance in a broad sense, and then refine the questions based on field experience and observations of natural systems.

Decision Support Tools

IEMM scientists have provided science and decision support tools to facilitate decision making that is fundamentally collaborative in nature and strives to provide the most meaningful evaluation to all stakeholders. IEMM research applies multiple criteria evaluation techniques to generate meaningful recommendations and support for decision making on topics such as acquisitions, restoration targets, and other management strategies.

Watershed Processes and Wetland Health

IEMM scientists focus on the effects of urbanization and fire on watershed processes in semi-arid climates. Watershed analysis describes and quantifies connections between natural landscape properties, human activities, and ecosystem services related to soil, water resources, and aquatic ecosystems. Our work focuses on understanding the main processes that control water quantity, water quality, sediment transport, and aquatic habitat for natural systems and people.

Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation

IEMM supports planning for climate resilience in local ecosystems and communities through research into climate impacts on ecological systems and identification of specific climate adaptation strategies that can be employed to reduce the effects of those impacts. IEMM supports adaptive management strategies pairing actions with monitoring to ensure these actions are effective and efficient in addressing climate impacts.

Meaningful Stakeholder Engagement

IEMM has been a leader in facilitating meaningful stakeholder engagement across the region. We focus on co-production, collaboration, and consensus building with partners and stakeholders. We strive to include diverse perspectives by fostering inclusion and trust, which are key to IEMM’s goal of delivering actionable science. IEMM is committed to interdisciplinary approaches, cross-jurisdictional partnerships, and multi-sector engagement.

Translating Science into Action

Effectively communicating the results of our scientific work is one of the key goals of the IEMM. The Institute specializes in translational and accessible applied science. We strive to develop scientific products to meet the needs of our partners, stakeholders, and our local communities. IEMM scientists also provide project-associated training and workshops for stakeholders and more generalized training in conceptualizing and writing management and monitoring strategies and plans, climate adaptation strategies, and adaptive management planning.