Erica Spotswood's picture

Erica  Spotswood

Applied Ecologist
Resilient Landscapes Program
510-746-7331
Erica Spotswood is an Applied Ecologist in the Resilient Landscapes program at the San Francisco Estuary Institute where she leads projects related to urban ecology and ecological resilience. Current projects address how regional planning can integrate with local project-scale design, and how urban greening efforts can be coordinated to contribute to broader regional goals for biodiversity and ecological resilience. Her areas of expertise include urban ecology and plant community ecology. Before joining SFEI, Erica conducted postdoctoral research with Katherine Suding, and received her PhD from the University of California at Berkeley in the department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management. Prior to graduate school, Erica worked for the Wildlife Conservation Society in Central Africa, and as a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa.  

Related Projects, News, and Events

Resilient Silicon Valley (Project)

Drawing on resilience science, regional data, and local expertise, we will develop the vision and tools that will allow stakeholders in the region ensure that local actions contribute toward the creation of a high-functioning and resilient Silicon Valley ecosystem.

SFEI Scientists collaborate on Building Resilience paper (News)

Erin Beller led the effort to publish this article in BioScience. This important collaborative effort outlines seven important dimensions to consider when attempting ecological restoration in highly modified urban and agricultural landscapes.

Photo Credits: Micha Salomon (L), Dee Shea Himes (R)

Healthy Watersheds Resilient Baylands (Project)

The Healthy Watersheds Resilient Baylands project will enhance resilience to climate change through the implementation of several multi-benefit environmental projects by the San Francisco Estuary Partnership, SFEI, and 15 other organizations. The project has two major components: Multi-benefit Urban Greening and Tidal Wetlands Restoration. Through both components, we are developing science-based strategies that inform the design of innovative implementation projects.

SFEI and Google share Award for Re-Oaking (News)

SFEI and Google have won the Arnold Soforenko Award from the non-profit Canopy for significant contributions to the urban forest. The award is for our work on Re-Oaking Silicon Valley: Building Vibrant Cities with Nature.

The award ceremony was held at Palo Alto City Hall on January 25, 2018.

Photo courtesy of Canopy.org

SFEI partner Canopy plants oaks in East Palo Alto (News)

On Martin Luther King day, 170 volunteers came out to help plant oaks and other native landscaping at the St. Francis Assisi church in East Palo Alto. With guidance from SFEI, and funded through the Healthy Watersheds, Resilient Baylands project, the planting highlights the partnership between SFEI and the non-profit urban forestry group Canopy, based in Palo Alto.

Photo Courtesy of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

Peninsula Watershed Historical Ecology Study (Project)

The Peninsula Watershed, located in San Mateo County on the San Francisco Peninsula, is the site of three of the Bay Area’s largest reservoirs—San Andreas, Upper and Lower Crystal Springs, and Pilarcitos—which provide drinking water for residents throughout region. Encompassing the upper portions of San Mateo Creek and Pilarcitos Creek watersheds, the “Peninsula Watershed” also supports some of the largest intact remnants of contiguous habitat in the region, including extensive oak woodlands, old-growth Douglas Fir forests, serpentine grasslands, and chaparral.

Photo by Shira Bezalel

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.

Announcing the release of Re-Oaking Silicon Valley: Building Vibrant Cities with Nature (News)

Could restoring lost ecosystems to cities play a role in building ecological resilience across landscapes? In Re-oaking Silicon Valley, a new report by SFEI, we explore this opportunity in our region. Both beautiful and functional, native oaks can be excellent choices for streetscapes, backyards, and landscaping. Requiring little water after establishment, oaks can save money by reducing irrigation requirements while sequestering more carbon than most other urban trees common to our region.

Image courtesy of Estuary News magazine

SFEI’s Re-oaking Silicon Valley appears as a feature in Estuary News magazine (News)

Over the past century, oaks have been lost from fertile valleys across California to make way for agriculture, and then for cities. Yet cities could make room for their return; by harnessing the many greening activities that are already occurring, oaks could be planted along streets, in yards, and on corporate campuses. Re-oaking could help build ecological resilience while providing benefits for people such as carbon storage and water savings.

SFEI work on Landscape Resilience and Urban Biodiversity featured in Google Blog and Fast Company Story (News)

Our partnership with Google to enhance the ecological resilience of urban landscapes is featured in a story by Fast Company, a Google Blog post, and an accompanying video.

SFEI's new Landscape Resilience Framework outlines attributes of ecological resilience (News)

SFEI's Resilient Landscapes Program has developed a Landscape Resilience Framework, with the goal of facilitating the integration of resilience science into environmental management, urban design, conservation planning, and ecological restoration. The framework proposes seven key landscape attributes that contribute to ecological resilience, providing details and examples on each.