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Management Tools for Landscape-Scale Restoration of Ecological Functions

The Delta Landscapes Project seeks to develop a set of tools for facilitating landscape-scale restoration of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta ecosystem. The project will use the historical perspective of the Delta as a basis to identify landscape scale patterns and characteristics that provided ecological functions (based on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Historical Ecology Investigation). The historical perspective will be compared to the present-day Delta to identify opportunities to restore ecological functions, not by replicating the historical Delta, but by recreating viable habitat mosaics with the vision of how they connect at the landscape scale. Conceptual models will be developed to help practitioners identify these landscape level opportunities along with assisting with the development of appropriate metrics to assess individual projects.

The project has four major components:

  1. Analyzing historical and contemporary Delta landscape spatial habitat patterns
  2. Comparing past and present ecological function within the Delta
  3. Developing landscape-scale conceptual models, restoration principles, and target metrics
  4. Visualizations and public participation

Final products will include an interactive website with landscape visualizations, technical memos, and peer-reviewed publication.

Photo: "View of Island Land Before Reclamation" (Yardley Collection, courtesy of The Haggin Museum)

Principal Investigators

Robin Grossinger
Letitia Grenier

Landscape Interpretation Team

The project draws upon a strong multidisciplinary team including:
Stephanie Carlson (UC Berkeley)
Jim Cloern (U.S. Geological Survey)
Brian Collins (University of Washington)
Chris Enright (Delta Science Program)
Joseph Fleskes (U.S. Geological Survey)
Geoffrey Geupel (PRBO Conservation Science)
Todd Keeler-Wolf (California Department of Fish and Game)
William Lidicker (UC Berkeley)
Steve Lindley (NMFS)
Jeff Mount (UC Davis)
Peter Moyle (UC Davis)
Anke Mueller-Solger (Bay-Delta Interagency Ecological Program and Delta Science Program)
Eric Sanderson (Wildlife Conservation Society)
Hildie Spautz (California Department of Fish and Game)
Dave Zezulak (California Department of Fish and Game)

Project Downloads


Report (2014) A Delta Transformed: Ecological Functions, Spatial Metrics, and Landscape Change in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

Presentation (2014) for the Bay Delta Science Conference
Delta Landscape Metrics: Creating a Spatial Framework to Inform Restoration Planning (8.4 Mb)

Poster (2013) for the State of the Estuary Conference
A landscape ecology analysis of San Francisco Bay-Delta marsh then (1850) and now (20.1 Mb)

Report (2013) for the Nature Conservancy
Landscape Patterns and Processes of the McCormack-Williamson Tract and Surrounding Area (21.3 Mb)

Poster (2012) for the Bay Delta Science Conference
Developing Tools for Landscape-Scale Restoration in the Delta (4.6 Mb)

Presentation (2012) for the Bay Delta Science Conference
Historical Ecology and Landscape-Scale Restoration: Application to the McCormack-Williamson Tract (110 Mb)

Project Press


The Record (by Michael Fitzgerald)- "The Delta That Ceased to Be"
Department of Fish and Wildlife- "Report Reveals Dramatic Changes to Delta Ecosystem"
KQED (by Lauren Sommer)- "Why California’s Largest Estuary No Longer Works for Wildlife"
KCET (by Chris Clarke)- "Report: Sacramento Delta 'No Longer a Delta'"
The Record (by Alex Breitler)- "The Delta Hardly a Delta Anymore"
Central Valley Business Times- "Report Reveals Dramatic Changes to Delta Ecosystem"

Project Status

This project is scheduled for completion in 2016


Robin Grossinger



Programs and Focus Areas: 
Design and Communications
Resilient Landscapes Program
Historical Ecology
Landscape Ecology
Center for Resilient Landscapes
Location Information