Research, Teaching, and Public Service

Professor Ken Norris, whose conservation work included helping establish the University of California Natural Reserve System, shown here with a UCSC ENVS Natural History class in 1977. Photo courtesy Special Collections, UC Santa Cruz

The UC Natural Reserve System is a network of protected natural areas throughout California. Its 39 sites include more than 756,000 acres, making it the largest university-administered reserve system in the world. Most major state ecosystems are represented, from coastal tidepools to inland deserts, and lush wetlands to redwood forests. The reserves also serve as a gateway to more than a million acres of public lands. Founded in 1965 to provide undisturbed environments for research, education, and public service, the Natural Reserve System contributes to the understanding and wise stewardship of the earth.

Located on UCSC's Coastal Science Campus, Younger Lagoon Reserve is an ideal location for undergraduate teaching and research.  Students can visit Younger Lagoon Reserve during their normal class schedule, without taking time away from other classes, jobs, or family commitments as is required when visiting other, more remote reserves.  Graduate student and faculty researchers also appreciate Younger Lagoon Reserve's location, which allows them to teach and conduct research on protected land that is visible (in some cases) from their offices.  Ongoing research projects include investigations into the evolutionary ecology of lagoon fish, coastal fog, and native habitat restoration.

The Younger Lagoon Reserve Terrace Lands are open to the public from dawn to dusk.  The lagoon area is accessible to the public by guided tour run through the Seymour Marine Discovery Center.