Josh Collins's picture

Joshua N. Collins, PhD

Chief Scientist
Wetland Monitoring & Assessment
510-384-0740

Josh Collins is the Lead Scientist at SFEI. He oversees the development and integration of SFEI’s scientific work. Dr. Collins is a landscape ecologist and regional ecological planner with special expertise in mapping and assessing stream and wetland ecosystems. He received his Doctorate in Entomological Sciences at the University of California at Berkeley and did post-doctoral work in Geography and Ecology at the UC Berkeley and UC Davis. As an ecologist in the public utilities industry, Dr. Collins assessed the impacts of power plants on marine, estuarine, and riverine ecosystems. As a consulting ecologist in private practice, he designed stream and wetland restoration projects and developed methods to assess their performance. Since joining SFEI, Dr. Collins has initiated continuing programs in wetland science, watershed science, historical ecology, and regional GIS. He is a leader for a variety of efforts in the West to set long range ecological goals and he has been instrumental in the development of wetland and stream monitoring and assessment methods for California and the nation. Among his many current advisory roles, Dr. Collins chairs the technical team supporting California’s new wetland and riparian area protection policy.

Related Projects, News, and Events

Delta Aquatic Resource Inventory (Project)

DARI is the Delta Aquatic Resources Inventory of surface waters, wetlands and other aquatic resources in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta). The goal of the DARI project is to develop a geospatial inventory of aquatic resources that will be used as a common base map for the Delta. A similar mapping approach used to create the California Aquatic Resource Inventory (CARI) will be applied to provide a map of the aquatic resources and their associated attributes.

Coyote Creek near Embedded Way. Photo by SFEI.

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.

South Baylands Mercury Project (SBMP) (Project)

We have developed biosentinel species indicators for wetlands to help the SBMP management team make decisions relative to mercury risk about where and how to restore salt ponds to wetlands. 2008 was the third and last year of a project to characterize and monitor bio-available mercury and its uptake into local food webs of the South Bay managed ponds and intertidal habitats, focusing initially on Pond A8 and Alviso Slough. Results indicated that this approach can be used to guide management decisions about wetlands restoration locations.

Head of Tide (Project)

SFEI completed a pilot study focused on creating a framework for a rapid protocol that can be used to delineate the current and future head of tide zone for San Francisco Bay tributaries using both “desktop” and field investigations.

Wetlands Regional Monitoring Project (Project)

This Prop 50 - funded project was a three-year effort to monitor and track changes in Bay Area wetland condition. This wetland monitoring toolkit meets basic information needs for managing wetlands: to develop a scientific framework with standard methods for monitoring wetlands and for interpreting the results, and to regularly report the findings to the public. These monitoring tools are intended to help provide a public measure of the environmental costs or benefits of most wetland management actions.

SF Estuary Wetlands Regional Program Plan Released! (News)

The Wetland Regional Monitoring Program (WRMP) Plan has been released! The WRMP will improve wetland restoration project success by putting in place regional-scale monitoring increasing the impact, utility and application of permit-driven monitoring to inform science-based decision-making.

Design by Linda Wanczyk

RipZET: A GIS-based Tool for Estimating Riparian Zones (Project)

The Riparian Zone Estimator Tool (RipZET) is a decision support tool developed by the San Francisco Estuary Institute and Aquatic Science Center for the California Riparian Habitat Joint Venture and the California Water Resources Control Board to assist in the visualization and characterization of riparian areas in the watershed context.

Visualizing and Sharing Intensive Data Assessments (Project)

With California's drought rapidly changing the outlook for natural resources, decision-makers must be equipped with information and tools that facilitate clear and rapid decisions. The proposed grant would fund the standardization, visualization, and sharing of Level 3 data. 

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.

North Bay Mercury Biosentinel Monitoring (Project)

In 2011-2014 SFEI and UC Davis developed and implemented a multi-species biosentinel monitoring approach as an effective and efficient way of monitoring methylmercury exposure in wetland restoration projects across the North Bay. The monitoring design for this project was developed with input from a Science Advisory Group (SAG) of regional and national experts and input from local stakeholders, in order to build a design that would address questions of management concern.

Montezuma Technical Review Team (Project)

The Montezuma wetland restoration project is returning ~2,000 acres of diked baylands to tidal, seasonal, and managed wetlands in an eastern portion of Suisun Bay near the town of Collinsville, California in Solano County.

EcoAtlas (Project)

California's EcoAtlas provides access to information for effective wetland management. EcoAtlas is a set of tools for generating, assembling, storing, visualizing, sharing, and reporting environmental data and information. The tools can be used individually or together, and they can be adjusted or tuned to meet the specific needs of environmental planners, regulators, managers, scientists, and educators. The maps and tools can be used to create a complete picture of aquatic resources in the landscape by integrating stream and wetland maps, restoration information, and monitoring results with land use, transportation, and other information important to the state’s wetlands.

Statewide Wetland Tracking, Science, and Policy Development Support (Project)

SFEI’s Wetland Science Focus Area’s Director, Josh Collins, is a leader in the coordination of statewide science advisory teams and acquiring funding to develop monitoring and assessment tools that support the State’s Wetland and Riparian Area Protection Policy.

California Rapid Assessment Method for Wetlands (CRAM) Updates (News)

CRAM Training sessions for 2020 have been posted on the CRAM website.

Assessing Five Watersheds in Santa Clara County (News)

A new synthesis report characterizing the amount, distribution, and diversity of streams and wetlands within the County employing CARI, and an ambient survey of the overall ecological condition of streams employing CRAM.

Riparian zone decision support tool just released! (News)

In April 2015, SFEI released a GIS-based decision support tool called the Riparian Zone Estimation Tool (RipZET). RipZET was developed with funding by the State Water Resources Control Board to assist watershed managers and restoration practitioners in the visualization and characterization of riparian areas next to streams and wetlands. The tool’s innovative approach uses readily accessible data to determine “functional riparian width,” which varies throughout a watershed based on local vegetation and topographic conditions.

Graphic: Linda Wanzyck

EcoAtlas: New CARI Editor and Modern Delta Habitat Types (News)

An accurate basemap is fundamental to watershed planning and assessments. The California Aquatic Resources Inventory, or CARI, offers such a basemap for aquatic resource identification and classification. But to keep it current and enhance its details, SFEI-ASC must leverage local knowledge. The new CARI Editor promotes regional stewardship and allows users to submit updates, deletions or new features for streams and wetlands.

Coyote Creek Watershed Historical Ecology Study (Project)

This report synthesizes historical evidence into a picture of how Coyote Creek looked and functioned before intensive modification. Prepared for the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the report helps explain contemporary landscape conditions and identify options for watershed restoration, natural flood protection, and integrated water management.

Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Project (Project)

SFEI's Letitia Grenier served as lead scientist of the Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals Project, which yielded a report called The Baylands and Climate Change: What We Can Do. The report is an update to the 1999 Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals, which for the first time set comprehensive restoration goals for the San Francisco Bay estuary. Produced by a collaborative of 21 management agencies working with a multi-disciplinary team of over 100 scientists, it synthesizes the latest science—particularly advances in the understanding of climate change and sediment supply—and incorporates projected changes through 2100 to generate new recommendations for achieving and sustaining healthy baylands ecosystems.

Santa Rosa Plain Wetlands Profile: A Demonstration of WRAMP (Project)

The Santa Rosa Plain WRAMP project demonstrated the use of the State’s standardized monitoring and assessment tools in a North Coast watershed setting and described how the results can support watershed based management and planning decisions to protect and manage the state’s wetlands at a landscape scale.