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The Nature Conservancy Announces New Institute for Scientific Research in California

Two researchers leaning over a tidepool collecting samples with nets.
Dangermond Preserve Research TNC staff collect samples for a photographic biodiversity survey during one of the lowest tides of the year. © Bill Marr/TNC

The Nature Conservancy in California today announced the new Point Conception Institute (PCI), a conservation research enterprise based at the Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve, which brings together environmental scientists and research partners to foster collaboration, tech innovation, and data science and to boost ecosystem resilience to climate change. 

Named after the Point Conception region, straddling a major ecological boundary where California’s northern and southern terrestrial and marine ecoregions meet, PCI will function as a living laboratory to facilitate leading-edge research in one of the most biologically diverse habitats in the world. Through transdisciplinary collaboration and data stewardship and sharing, the Institute will leverage open science to tackle urgent conservation challenges and promote the value of nature in an increasingly human-impacted world.

The newly formed Point Conception Institute will be led by Director Mark Reynolds, Ph.D., and supported by Director of Conservation Technology Kelly Easterday, Ph.D. Mark provides scientific leadership and guidance by developing analytical approaches to planning, conservation strategy development, and monitoring. Kelly oversees geographic information systems (GIS) and technology projects related to the operation, management, and research at the Dangermond Preserve. 

“As impacts from the climate and biodiversity crises increase, PCI will be a proving ground for bold conservation action,” said Mark Reynolds, Director of The Nature Conservancy’s Point Conception Institute. “The extraordinary ecological richness of the Dangermond Preserve provides endless opportunities for discovery, research, and protection. PCI will give scientists a rare look at how wildlife and natural systems adapt unfettered to climate change, sea level rise, wildlife passages, and other pressing issues for California and the world.”

With its close proximity to several of the world’s premier science, technology, and data-focused Institutions, Point Conception Institute and research partners have already begun turning this amazing landscape into an engine of knowledge generation for scientists around the globe. Current projects include: making available open-source ecological data from the Dangermond Preserve via a “digital twin” of its landscape; deploying a Mobile Marine Monitor Radar system known as M3 to monitor priority conservation areas; and wiring the Dangermond Preserve with a network of near-real time sensors in the ground, water, and air, to detect environmental changes that affect the ecological health of the preserve and the region. 

Key partners include: UCSB, NASA, UC Reserve System, Esri, Smithsonian, National Geographic and Vandenberg Space Force Base.

The Point Conception Institute gratefully acknowledges support from the Jack and Laura Dangermond Conservation Foundation and the Zegar Family Foundation.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.