A Deeper Focus


2020 Biodiversity First! Research Grant: Beavers, Climate Change, and Ecosystem Resilience

Emily Fairfax, PhD, ecohydrologist and Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and

Resource Management at California State University Channel Islands, has begun research on

the Upper Salinas River to explore the connections between beaver-built environments, climate

change, and ecosystem resilience with a grant from San Luis Obispo non-profit Biodiversity

First! During the 2020-2021 grant cycle, Dr. Fairfax will be assisted by her CSUCI students.

She plans to share research results in articles and conference presentations in 2021.

Dr. Fairfax double majored in Chemistry and Physics as an undergraduate at Carleton College,

then went on to earn her PhD in Geological Sciences in 2019 from University of Colorado

Boulder. During her doctoral studies, she used a combination of remote sensing and field

work to study how beaver activity can create drought and fire-resistant patches in the

landscape under a changing climate. Well-known in the beaver research community, Dr.

Fairfax has several published peer-reviewed articles, was recently featured in National

Geographic, and routinely gives both technical and outreach presentations on her work.

Biodiversity First! is a San Luis Obispo based non-profit whose mission is to support habitat

corridors. In 2018, Biodiversity First!! funded a two-year grant to Upper Salinas-Las Tablas

Resource Conservation District for Salinas River restoration efforts. This study resulted in a

conceptual management model for endangered steelhead species populations in the entire

Salinas River watershed from SLO County to Monterey Bay and a resource library index of over

400 previous studies of the Salinas River and its steelhead population. There was a single small

anecdotal reference to beavers that created an opening for research that Dr. Fairfax will


For more information:

Dr. Emily Fairfax at emily.fairfax@csuci.edu, www.emilyfairfaxscience.com

Elizabeth Johnson at elizabethljoh@gmail.com for www.biodiversityfirst.net.

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