Earthwatch researchers collected data to help restore riverside habitats in Central California while supporting sustainable farming.
The Central Valley of California is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots and most productive agricultural regions. It has lost over 85% of its waterside habitats to increased agricultural and urban development. As a result, the region has lost many species, as well as fish-rearing habitat and water quality.
The Mokelumne River, located in the Cosumnes River Preserve, is regulated by a series of dams that allow it to be used for drinking and irrigation, as well as hydropower production. By decreasing the likelihood of flooding, however, these dams and associated levees have permitted agricultural producers to expand their area of cultivation to the river margin, thus limiting the amount of riverside habitat.
Our research project used the remaining riverside habitat of the Mokelumne River as an example of marginalized habitat. By studying the vegetation, birds, and pollinators (bees and butterflies) in this region, we were able to make better suggestions for restoring and revitalizing the area.