UCSC ecologist Erika Zavaleta appointed to California Fish and Game Commission

Erika Zavaleta
Erika Zavaleta (photo by Matt Kroll)

Governor Gavin Newsom has appointed Erika Zavaleta, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz, to the California Fish and Game Commission.

Zavaleta will be one of five members of the commission, which has a wide range of responsibilities, setting policies and regulations to be implemented and enforced by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. This position requires Senate confirmation.

“I look forward to supporting world-class wildlife stewardship in our amazing state and bringing science to bear on regulatory decisions,” Zavaleta said. “I am also excited to contribute to the commission’s efforts to broaden access to natural spaces and wildlife for all Californians.”

Zavaleta has worked with a wide range of government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, land managers, and community members to connect strong science to effective conservation solutions. Her research focuses on terrestrial ecosystems and plant communities, links between biodiversity and human well-being, and the implications of interacting global and regional environmental changes. She coauthored the award-winning textbook Ecosystems of California.

“The commission has great authority over many aspects of California’s terrestrial, freshwater, and marine resource management and conservation policies,” said Mark Carr, professor and chair of ecology and evolutionary biology at UCSC. “Historically, there has not been strong science or diversity representation on the commission, and Erika’s appointment represents a marked change in the composition of the commission.”

A Howard Hughes Medical Institute Professor, Zavaleta is a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences and the Ecological Society of America. Dedicated to mentoring future leaders in ecology and conservation, she directs the Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at UCSC and the Center to Advance Mentored, Inquiry-based Opportunities (CAMINO), a program to increase student access to research-based field courses and internships at UCSC.

Zavaleta earned her B.A. and M.A. in anthropology and a Ph.D. in biological sciences at Stanford University. She joined the faculty at UC Santa Cruz in 2003.