Robin M. Grossinger

Program Director
Senior Scientist
Resilient Landscapes Program
Historical Ecology
Urban Nature Lab
510-746-7380

Robin Grossinger is a Senior Scientist at the San Francisco Estuary Institute, where he co-directs, with Letitia Grenier, SFEI’s Resilient Landscapes program. For over twenty years, Robin has analyzed how California landscapes have changed since European contact, using these data to guide landscape-scale restoration strategies. Robin leads efforts throughout the state to reintegrate natural processes within our highly modified landscapes, creating healthier and more adaptive neighborhoods, cities, and surrounding landscapes. He has advised restoration strategies for San Francisco Bay, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, urban landscapes such as the Google campus, and rivers throughout California.

Robin's innovative work to synthesize history and science has been acclaimed for helping scientists, managers, and the public appreciate both the dramatic transformation and the impressive resilience of the state's ecosystems. Robin’s publications include the Napa Valley Historical Ecology Atlas (University of California Press 2012) and his work has been featured by NPR, KQED’s QUEST, Saving the Bay, and The New York Times. Recently he has led the development of SFEI's Landscape Resilience Framework, which is guiding regional adaptation efforts.

Among his popular science communication efforts, Robin served as a guest curator for the award-winning multi-disciplinary exhibit on San Francisco Bay Above and Below, at the Oakland Museum of California. He has been recognized with a Local Hero award from Bay Nature magazine and the Carla Bard Bay Education Award from The Bay Institute and Aquarium of the Bay.

Featured Links
Curriculum-Vitae: 

Related Projects, News, and Events

Google Ecology Advising (Project)

SFEI collaborates with the Google Ecology Program to advance the science and application of urban biodiversity and nature-based sustainability planning.

Making Nature's City (Project)

Cities will face many challenges over the coming decades, from adapting to a changing climate to accommodating rapid population growth. A related suite of challenges threatens global biodiversity, resulting in many species facing extinction. While urban planners and conservationists have long treated these issues as distinct, there is growing evidence that cities not only harbor a significant fraction of the world’s biodiversity, but also that they can also be made more livable and resilient for people, plants, and animals through nature-friendly urban design. 

Ecology for Health (Project)

This project is integrating research from the largely separate fields of urban ecology and public health to create design guidance that advances both ecological and human health in cities.

Peninsula Watershed Historical Ecology Study (Project)

Nestled in the rugged coastal mountains between San Francisco and Silicon Valley lies one of the ecological treasures of the San Francisco Bay Area: the Peninsula Watershed. Home to mountain lions, marbled murrelets, towering old-growth Douglas-firs, and an immense diversity of other plants and animals, the Peninsula Watershed is a unique and wild expanse of open space just minutes from one of the most urbanized parts of California.

Next Generation Urban Greening (Project)

SFEI is working with partners across the Bay Area to design tools to help cities achieve biodiversity, stormwater, and climate benefits through multifunctional green infrastructure.

Trees, Hydrology, Urban-Greening, and Nature-Based Solutions (News)

Two key reports support nature-based solutions. Green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) and enhancements to the urban tree canopy offer benefits to stormwater management, urban ecological improvements, and complementary urban greening activities.

On KGO TV, these projects were featured on July 1, 2021.

Russian River Watershed Projects at the San Francisco Estuary Institute (Project)

Our projects in the Russian River Watershed help us to understand our past, understand our present, and envision our future. Learn more about what SFEI is doing in partnership with others to advance our scientific understanding of this valuable landscape.

Sediment for Survival report released (News)

SFEI worked with local, state, and federal science experts to develop the new Sediment for Survival report. The report provides a regional sediment strategy aimed at examining the future of sediment in the Bay and informing sediment management for the resilience of tidal marshes and tidal flats to climate change.

Moffett Park Specific Plan Urban Ecology Technical Study (Project)

The City of Sunnyvale is incorporating urban ecology into the new Moffett Park Specific Plan, as part of creating an ecological innovation district.

Sediment for Survival (Project)

The tidal marshes and tidal flats along the San Francisco Bay shoreline depend on sediment delivered by the tides. Healthy sediment supplies are essential for maintaining resilient marshes and tidal flats that can persist into the future and build up as sea level continues to rise. Currently, the sediment supply in the Bay is adequate to meet the sediment needed by tidal marshes and tidal flats. However, as sea level rise accelerates in the coming decades, the sediment needed for these habitats to survive will increase considerably.

Healthy Watersheds Resilient Baylands (Project)

Through the EPA-funded Healthy Watersheds Resilient Baylands project, SFEI and sixteen partner organizations are developing multi-benefit tools to enhance climate change resilience in San Francisco Bay. Healthy Watersheds Resilient Baylands has two major components: Multi-benefit Urban Greening and Tidal Wetlands Restoration. Through both components, we have developed strategies that inform  policy, planning, and design of innovative implementation projects.

Trees and Hydrology in Urban Landscapes (Project)

Effective implementation of urban greening strategies is needed to address legacies of landscape change and environmental degradation, ongoing development pressures, and the urgency of the climate crisis. With limited space and resources, these challenges will not be met through single-issue or individual-sector management and planning. Increasingly, local governments, regulatory agencies, and other urban planning organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area are expanding upon the holistic, portfolio-based, and multi-benefit approaches.

Preparing for the Storm (Project)

Preparing for the Storm is an innovative public-private partnership funded by the US EPA to improve watershed health and resilience in the Alameda Creek watershed.

Hidden Nature San Francisco: A conversation about the past, present, and future of nature in San Francisco (News)

SFEI and our partners from the Exploratorium, the San Francisco Department of the Environment, and the Presidio Trust were joined live by over 400 participants for a conversation around the nature, both past and present, that is hidden in plain sight in San Francisco. On Wednesday, February 24th, SFEI unveiled our mapping of San Francisco’s historical ecology and shared stories that uncover the mysteries of San Francisco’s ecological past.

New article published in BioScience: Cities contribute more than we think to regional biodiversity (News)

Erica Spotswood and a team of scientists have established a new perspective on cities and nature, identifying the ways cities can contribute to regional biodiversity conservation. "The Biological Deserts Fallacy: Cities in Their Landscapes Contribute More than We Think to Regional Biodiversity" was published in the journal BioScience. Writer Eric Simons discusses the article in the Bay Nature story What a City Can Do for Nature.

Hidden Nature SF (Project)

Hidden Nature SF brings a new perspective to our view of San Francisco, studying the city’s historical ecology in order to engage the public in re-imagining San Francisco’s ecological past, present, and future.

Ventura County Historical Ecology Study (Project)

This project investigated the historical ecological patterns and hydrological dynamics of most of lowland Ventura County.

Sports and Urban Biodiversity (Project)

SFEI collaborated with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to create a guide to incorporating nature into urban sports, from the development of Olympic cities to the design and management of the many sport fields throughout the urban landscape.

Re-Oaking (Project)

“Re-Oaking” is an approach to reintegrating oaks and other native trees within the developed California landscape to provide a range of ecosystem services. The concept has emerged from SFEI's research into the distribution and characteristics of California's former valley oak savannas -- a distinctive, widespread habitat that was mostly lost a century ago. Now valley oaks and other native trees are being recognized for the benefits they did -- and could again – provide, as communities design the ecologically healthy and resilient landscapes of the future.

Coyote Creek Native Ecosystem Enhancement Tool (Project)

The Coyote Creek Native Ecosystem Enhancement Tool (CCNEET, neet. ecoatlas.org) is an online decision-support tool to identify opportunities to improve ecological conditions. CCNEET was inspired by the need for a watershed approach to environmental resource management. Available ecological and environmental information is synthesized by objectives, management questions, and enhancement actions to identify and justify potential habitat improvements along the creek corridor. The overarching goal of CCNEET is to help coordinate habitat conservation and enhancement along so that multiple projects and limited funding can result in meaningful ecological improvement.