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Beagle, J.; Lowe, J.; McKnight, K.; Safran, S. M.; Tam, L.; Szambelan, S. Jo. 2019. San Francisco Bay Shoreline Adaptation Atlas: Working with Nature to Plan for Sea Level Rise Using Operational Landscape Units. SFEI Contribution No. 915. SFEI & SPUR: Richmond, CA. p 255.

As the climate continues to change, San Francisco Bay shoreline communities will need to adapt in order to build social and ecological resilience to rising sea levels. Given the complex and varied nature of the Bay shore, a science-based framework is essential to identify effective adaptation strategies that are appropriate for their particular settings and that take advantage of natural processes. This report proposes such a framework—Operational Landscape Units for San Francisco Bay.

Printed copies available for purchase from Amazon.

 (259.64 MB) (84.6 MB) (20.93 MB)
Iknayan, K.; Wheeler, M.; Safran, S. M.; Young, J. S.; Spotswood, E. 2021. What makes urban parks good for California quail? Evaluating park suitability, species persistence, and the potential for reintroduction into a large urban national park. Journal of Applied Ecology.

  1. Preserving and restoring wildlife in urban areas benefits both urban ecosystems and the well-being of urban residents. While urban wildlife conservation is a rapidly developing field, the majority of conservation research has been performed in wildland areas. Understanding the applicability of wildland science to urban populations and the relative importance of factors limiting species persistence are of critical importance to identifying prescriptive management strategies for restoring wildlife to urban parks.
  2. We evaluated how habitat fragmentation, habitat quality and mortality threats influence species occupancy and persistence in urban parks. We chose California quail Callipepla californica as a representative species with potential to respond to urban conservation. We used publicly available eBird data to construct occupancy models of quail in urban parks across their native range, and present an application using focal parks interested in exploring quail reintroduction.
  3. Urban parks had a 0.23 ± 0.02 probability of quail occupancy, with greater occupancy in larger parks that were less isolated from potential source populations, had higher shrub cover and had lower impervious cover. Less isolated parks had higher colonization rates, while larger parks had lower extinction rates. These results align with findings across urban ecology showing greater biodiversity in larger and more highly connected habitat patches.
  4. A case study highlighted that interventions to increase effective park size and improve connectivity would be most influential for two highly urban focal parks, while changes to internal land cover would have a relatively small impact. Low joint extinction probability in the parks (0.010 ± 0.013) indicated reintroduced populations could persist for some time.
  5. Synthesis and applications. We show how eBird data can be harnessed to evaluate the responsiveness of wildlife to urban parks of variable size, connectivity and habitat quality, highlighting what management actions are most needed. Using California quail as an example, we found park size, park isolation and presence of coyotes are all important drivers of whether quail can colonize and persist in parks. Our results suggest reintroducing quail to parks could be successful provided parks are large enough to support quail, and management actions are taken to enhance regional connectivity or periodic assisted colonization is used to supplement local populations.
 (2.33 MB)
Whipple, A.; Robinson, A.; Safran, S. M. 2022. ELEVATION AND OPPORTUNITY IN THE DELTA: Restoring the right thing in the right place. SFEI Contribution No. 1082. San Francisco Estuary Institute: Richmond, Ca.


A future Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Suisun Marsh (“Delta” herein) that supports healthy ecosystems and native species, while also meeting flood risk reduction, water supply, water quality, carbon sequestration, economic, and cultural objectives, requires that appropriate restoration and management actions be taken in the right place at the right time. Geographic setting affects the potential opportunities available—not all actions are suitable everywhere. Physical factors determining what types of activities are appropriate now and in the future include a site’s elevation, degree of tidal and fluvial influence, salinity, soil type, and local effects of climate change, which all vary spatially across the Delta. While there has been considerable progress over the last several decades, continued acceleration of the pace and scale of enhancement actions appropriate to landscape position is needed. Understanding the physical template is necessary for developing strategies that move beyond opportunistic restoration, support resilience over time, and have the potential to connect and magnify benefits across the larger landscape.

 (11.1 MB) (1.24 MB)
Whipple, A.; Grenier, L.; Safran, S. M.; Zeleke, D.; Wells, E.; Deverel, S.; Olds, M.; Cole, S.; Rodríguez-Flores, J.; Guzman, A.; et al. 2022. RESILIENT STATEN ISLAND: Landscape Scenario Analysis Pilot Application. SFEI Contribution No. 1083. San Francisco Estuary Institute: Richmond, Ca.

A central motivating question for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta science and management community is what should be done, where and when, to support future Delta landscapes that are ecologically and economically viable and resilient to change. Actions must be taken that have the greatest potential for achieving multiple benefits. This is especially important given the urgency to rapidly transition Delta landscapes to address biodiversity loss, erosion of ecosystem resilience, flood risk, water supply reliability, and cultural and economic sustainability. Landscape-scale planning is needed to examine how individual actions add up to meaningful change. Such planning involves figuring out how different areas can provide different functions at different times and helps show how choices made now can help shift trajectories toward desired outcomes. Too often, land use and management decisions are made based on a limited set of objectives or at the site scale, resulting in missed opportunities. Actions (or inaction) should not foreclose on critical opportunities. Moving forward, there is great need to more effectively compare possible future scenarios across a range of ecological and economic factors. This scenario analysis for Staten Island — a large Delta island managed for multiple uses and facing challenges similar to elsewhere in the Delta — provides an approach to help address this need.

 (8.44 MB) (1012.75 KB)