Protecting the Rivers of the California Delta

Wildlife & Ecosystems

Protecting the Rivers of the California Delta

How can ecologists help to restore riverside habitats in Central California’s agricultural Delta?

Previously Funded Expedition

Explore this expedition

Read testimonials
Join Ambassador Program
Earn expedition discounts & rewards for spreading the word about Earthwatch.

Have a question?


The facts

Why the research is important

Why the research is important

Our research focused on insect plant pollinators and the sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere by trees.

We explored the riverside habitats of Central California to better understand their role in slowing climate change.

Trees and shrubs take in carbon dioxide for photosynthesis and give off oxygen while storing much of the carbon in their woody tissue, thus slowing the process of climate change. Trees and shrubs, in turn, depend upon pollinators (bees and butterflies) for reproduction.

Bees pollinate up to 75% of our food plants, and butterflies are essential for native plant reproduction. In the Central Valley of California, large-scale industrial agriculture does not provide good habitat for these insects: bees and butterflies are sensitive to many of the pesticides that are used to control non-native insect pests. Natural areas such as riparian (riverside) habitat and upland valley oak forest are therefore critical for their survival.

Recording tree measurements to estimate biomass

By measuring the size and biomass of a tree, we can calculate how much carbon it is storing.

Our research focused on two features of the riparian forest: its community of insect plant pollinators and the sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere by trees. By better understanding the role of native insects and trees in ecosystems and by measuring their contribution to such vital processes as pollination and carbon storage, we can find ways to protect these organisms and restore the services they provide to both people and nature.

About the research area

Cosumnes River Preserve, California, United States, North America & Arctic

Daily life in the field


This is a summary:

The Scientists


Professor and Associate Director of the Center for Watershed Sciences, University of California at Davis

ABOUT Josh Viers

Earthwatch ecologist Dr. Josh Viers studies sustainable agriculture and conservation in the watersheds of California’s North Coast, Sierra Nevada, and Delta.


Accommodations and Food

Accommodations and Food


Comments & Questions

Got a question for Earthwatch, prior expedition participants, or just have something to say?

Tell us what’s on your mind!

Have a question?


Please login to post a comment or question.

Displaying results

Upcoming Expeditions

You are currently on our Earthwatch U.S. website. If you are interested in learning more about our expeditions and seeing contribution costs listed in Pounds and Euros, please close this dialog box. To visit our new Earthwatch Europe website, click the button below.

To view and book expeditions with prices in Australian Dollars CLOSE this dialogue box OR Click the button below for all other Earthwatch Australia content on our new website.