Research Framework

Understanding the Past - Understanding the Present - Understanding the Future

Global climate change, habitat fragmentation, invasive species, and human population growth have made forecasting the effects of human activities on our world vital.


The global ecosystem consists of many relatively discrete interconnected local ecological networks. The key to managing global change is being able to predict when local ecosystems will change in state, which of those local changes will propagate to adjoining ecological networks, and how many networks need to be affected before we see a “tipping point” at the regional scale.

The approach of the Berkeley Initiative for Global Change Biology (BiGCB) emphasizes using integrated analyses of fossil, historic, and modern biological data, much of which is unique to UC Berkeley. By applying new technologies to understand past responses, we can develop predictions of future biological change.

BiGCB's initial phases involve developing an enabling framework which explores the opportunites and constraints of existing biological theories, novel combinations of enabling tools and technologies, and field and experimental studies, then applying them to exemplar ecosystems.

We will demonstrate and refine these tools on the Sierra Nevada, central California coast, and oceanic islands of eastern Polynesia, distinct systems for which we have extensive information and faculty expertise. Our strategy is general and can be applied globally.