Seashore Science

Turkey-tail mushrooms on a log

Seashore Science

Pacific Coast Science & Learning Center

As a partner to the Pacific Coast Science & Learning Center, one of 19 Research Learning Centers in national parks across the country, PRNSA helps fund projects and programs that increase the effectiveness and communication of research and science in the national parks. This is done by encouraging the use of parks for scientific inquiry, supporting science-informed decision making, communicating relevance and providing access to research knowledge and promoting resource stewardship through partnerships.

Research Learning Centers facilitate collaborative research activities and provide researchers with laboratory and office space, dormitory facilities and access to park research priorities and scientists. Each center's education specialist works with park interpreters and partners to make new information about park resources available to the public and park management leaders. They also provide hands-on learning experiences that connect researchers with learners of all ages. 

Point Reyes Marine Science Fund

The Marine Science Fund was established in 2012 thanks to a generous $100,000 gift by an anonymous donor who made the gift in honor of long-time superintendent Don Neubacher. Administered in collaboration with the park's Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center, the Marine Science Fund was established to support research designed to advance  understanding of the Point Reyes marine environment. Follow this link to read about how past Marine Science Fund fellows are using their grants to better understand and protect the park and other marine environments. PRNSA gladly accepts donations to the fund this project.

Each year, nearly 150 independent research projects are conducted within the boundaries of Point Reyes National Seashore, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and Tomales Bay. While these areas provide a natural laboratory for ecological and other scientific research, many of these projects provide key information for the conservation and informed management of natural resources. To encourage partnerships with the research community and to support National Park Service (NPS) and partner information needs, we are pleased to offer three grant competitions this year. To learn more about the grants and how to apply, check out the 2020 Small Research Grants Announcement!

Learn about the 2020 Golden Gate National Recreation Area Research Priorities for the Golden Gate Science into Action Fund.

San Francisco Bay Area National Parks Science & Learning Network

The San Francisco Bay Area National Parks Science & Learning Network includes eleven national park units, each of which contain a rich and varied array of natural and cultural resources. The many National Park Service programs and partners in the Bay Area are dedicated to understanding and preserving the region’s unique resources through science and education. This web site delivers information about these resources and about scientific activities underway. 

"Brown Bag" Science Lectures

The Pacific Coast Science & Learning Center presents a Brown Bag Science Lecture Series in the Point Reyes Red Barn Classroom. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area offers a similar series at Fort Mason in Building 201. These “brown-bag” lunch talks are usually held at noon, and last approximately 45 minutes. All are welcome and admission is free.

Point Reyes Christmas Bird Count for Kids (CBC4Kids)

With 490 species of birds recorded (nearly 45% of species of birds in North America), Point Reyes claims the prize for having the greatest avian diversity of any national park in the country. The CBC4Kids is a half-day event designed to introduce children and their parents to basic bird identification, wildlife census and citizen science.

Fire Ecology

Fire is one of the most important processes shaping natural communities in the western United States. Fire recycles nutrients and increases diversity across the landscape. A wide variety of plants depend on fire to regenerate. Many animals, in turn, benefit from increased plant growth following fire. Learn more about Fire Ecology at Point Reyes.

1995 Vision Fire

From its start on October 3rd near Mount Vision until its containment on October 7, 1995, the Mount Vision Fire burned 12,354 acres of private, state and federal lands. Winds up to 45 mph quickly transformed the smoldering remains of an illegal campfire into the Seashore's largest wildfire.

Ecological Restoration

Everyday, throughout the Seashore, we are working on multiple fronts to preserve and restore our ecological legacy.

Coastal Dune Habitat Restoration Project

Since 2001, the Seashore has been working on a series of Coastal Dune Habitat Restoration Projects near Abbotts Lagoon to remove non-native, invasive plant species such as European beachgrass and iceplant. Native dune habitat in the Seashore provides critical habitat for four federally listed species, several additional rare and unique species of plants and animals, as well as some of the largest expanses of two rare native dune plant communities remaining in California.

Giacomini Wetland Restoration Project

Since the early 1900s, levees constructed at the southern end of Tomales Bay for roads and dairy farms have served to hydrologically disconnect Lagunitas Creek and its tributaries from their floodplains. As a result, wetland conditions within the Waldo Giacomini Ranch and Olema Marsh (Project Area) have been degraded, and hydrologic and ecological functionality of what was once of the largest integrated tidal marsh complexes in Tomales Bay has been substantially reduced. The Giacomini Wetland Restoration Project aims to reconnect and restore the wetlands.

Coastal Watershed Restoration Program 

The Coastal Watershed Restoration Program will restore five coastal watersheds within Point Reyes National Seashore's wilderness area. The project includes a number of specific physical treatments within the five coastal watersheds, all draining into the Drakes Estero system. This project intends to remove facilities from wilderness and estuarine areas, and replace existing road crossings with structures that allow for natural hydrologic process and fish passage for anadromous salmonids (two federally listed threatened species: coho salmon and steelhead trout) and other aquatic species.

Climate Change

Point Reyes National Seashore and other national parks are currently confronting one of the greatest threats in their history. The world is heating up, and the signs are already visible in National Parks: rising temperatures, prolonged drought, severe wildfires, diminished snowfall, acidifying oceans, and changing habitats. To learn more about the threat of climate change and its effect on our National Parks, click here.

Fungus Fair

The Point Reyes Fungus Fair is an opportunity to learn about the fungi gathered by more than 100 volunteers who are helping to collect, identify and catalog the species of mushrooms at Point Reyes National Seashore. Amateur mycologists will be on hand to talk about mushrooms, their role in the environment, and more.

Snowy Plover Protection

Since 1995, Point Reyes National Seashore (PRNS) and Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly known as Point Reyes Bird Observatory) have partnered to implement the Snowy Plover Protection Project, a recovery project for the breeding western snowy plover population within the Seashore. The snowy plover is a small shorebird that was listed as a federally threatened species in 1993. Current estimates project that there are roughly 2,100 western snowy plovers along the Pacific Coast from Washington to Baja. Their diminishing numbers are largely due to habitat loss and habitat degradation from the introduction of non-native plants, and predation.

Winter Wildlife Docent Training & Volunteering

The Winter Wildlife Docent Training Program trains volunteers to promote awareness and protection of northern elephant seals, gray whales, and other marine life by helping visitors view, understand, and appreciate these species; helps visitors understand the ongoing management and research issues relating to northern elephant seals in Point Reyes National Seashore; and provides general park information and assistance to visitors. Docents must attend a 3-day Winter Wildlife Docent training scheduled for November and December.

Special Status Species

Check here soon for updated information regarding the Special Status Species found at Point Reyes and our efforts to protect them.

Science Fellowship

Bookmark this page or contact us for up-to-date information about Science Fellowship opportunities at the Seashore.

School Programs

Hands-on science and environmental education are cornerstones of PRNSA's school programs. For more information on field trips and residential programs, please click here.