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This ISEECI postdoctoral research project investigates the changing relationship between land use, ecology, and climate on the northern Channel Islands (San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, and Anacapa) during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It asks, for example, how the introduction of ungulates to the islands, the human uses of wood products, the islands’ gradual incorporation into the national park system, and changes in climate have combined to reshape the islands’ landscapes. Ultimately, this work seeks to build a clear understanding of the mechanisms, tempo, and variations in environmental change across the Channel Islands during this period, providing a novel and nuanced portrait of the archipelago. This work can contribute not only to ongoing ecological and archeological research on the islands as well as management planning by the National Park Service, but also to understandings of the political economy of southern California, the twentieth century development of ecology and range management sciences, and the broader history and historiography of island environments. The specific products of this research will be three manuscripts suitable for submission to peer reviewed journals.
To produce this history, the project will utilize archival collections from around California and elsewhere, including at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at UC Berkeley, the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum, and the National Archives in College Park, Maryland. Along with examining the textual records traditionally used by historians, this project will examine historical maps, photographs, climate data, and specimen collections. By examining the records of the Santa Cruz Island Reserve (UC Santa Barbara), meanwhile, this project will also help develop a methodological model for using the archival materials of, and writing about, sites within the UC Natural Reserve System.