Steven Beissinger

Steven R. Beissinger

Professor of Ecology and Conservation Biology
Dept of Environmental Science, Policy & Management
(510) 643-3038
Research Expertise and Interest
conservation biology, climate change, endangered species, environmental science, wildlife, behavioral and population ecology, ornithology
Research Description

 A major area of research in my lab concentrates on quantifying and ameliorating the impacts of climate change on biodiversity.  I lead the Grinnell Resurvey Grinnell Resurvey Project to document the effects of contemporary climate and land use change on the birds and mammals of California. Another research thrust during this period has been a set of contributions to the development and application of analytical methods in ecology and conservation biology. My long-term studies of parrotlets in Venezuela are in their 31st year, making this the longest continuously studied bird in the tropics, and have attracted widespread attention for the discovery of how baby parrots learn their names as well as informing the population biology of this poorly known, threatened and heavily traded group of birds.  A final area of current research is with threatened and endangered species. We currently study  the metapopulation dynamics two secretive water birds - black and Virginia rails - that inhabit small wetlands in the foothills of the Sierras, trying to understand how human modifications of their habitats and climate change will shape their future.

In the News

September 30, 2019

Collapse of desert birds due to heat stress from climate change

As temperatures rise, desert birds need more water to cool off at the same time as deserts are becoming drier, setting some species up for a severe crash, if not extinction, according to a new study from the University of California, Berkeley.
August 27, 2018

UC Berkeley leads new assessment of Bay Area climate impacts

California today issued its latest assessment of the many challenges the state faces from climate change — including wildfires like those still raging throughout the state – and highlighted for the first time the regional impacts with nine deep-dive reports spearheaded by University of California scientists.
September 9, 2014

Biologists try to dig endangered pupfish out of its hole

Scientists estimate that fewer than 100 Devils Hole pupfish remain in their Mojave Desert home, but a conservation biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, is giving important guidance in the efforts to rescue them by establishing a captive breeding program.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of the campus.
October 4, 2019
Amina Khan
After a Berkeley study last year found that bird populations in the Mojave Desert were collapsing, likely due to climate change, a new one suggests that the key factor causing the decline is heat stress. The birds are finding it difficult to stay hydrated, and that makes them unable to stay cool. The study, led by environmental science, policy, and management professor Steven Beissinger, builds on more than 100 years' worth of data that was first collected by Berkeley ecologist Joseph Grinnell in 1904. "It's quieter out there than it used to be," Professor Beissinger says. For more on this, see our press release at Berkeley News. Another story on this topic appeared on KQED Online.
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