UCSC Forest Ecology Research Plot (FERP)

Nature of Research/Program Description: 

The UCSC-FERP (Forest Ecology Research Plot) is a 6-ha mapped forest plot in Mediterranean-climate, mixed-evergreen coastal forest in the Santa Cruz mountains, along the Central Coast of California, USA. Established in 2007 on the Campus Natural Reserve of the University of California Santa Cruz Campus, it is both part of an extensive area of protected forest habitat and just a short walk or drive from the UCSC laboratories and classrooms. It is meant to foster research and inquiry-based teaching about ecology and evolutionary biology in a changing world.

As an intern, you can help to expand the plot to 16 ha and an estimated 21,000 mapped trees, shrubs, and vines. The FERP is a living laboratory designed to study forest dynamics and species interactions in the mixed-evergreen forest, and is a resource for teaching and student research in ecology, evolution, and environmental sciences at UCSC. Senior theses/projects are encouraged, but generally require at least one quarter of 2-unit internship on the FERP first.

Keywords: fall quarter; winter quarter; on-campus; academic credit; forest ecology; plant ecology; small mammals; plant physiology; forest dynamics; species interactions

Faculty Director: Gregory Gilbert

Targeted Students: 
Any students. Requires ability to walk 4 miles, on uneven ground, up and down hills, including off-trail in the forest. The internship is not appropriate for students with strong sensitivity to poison oak. Students unable to participate in the field internships have options for some opportunities working on databases and the FERP web site.
Program Time Period: 
Winter Quarter
Spring Quarter
Fall Quarter
Academic Credit
Credit arranged through the Environmental Studies Internship Program.
Approximate Number of UCSC Students (Each Year): 
Year Began: 
Greg Gilbert
Contact Title: 
Faculty Director
Contact Email: 
Faculty Director: 
Gregory Gilbert
Faculty Director Email: 

Gilbert, G.S., E. Howard, B. Ayala-Orozco, M. Bonilla-Moheno, J. Cummings, S. Langridge, I.M. Parker, J. Pasari, D. Schweizer, S. Swope. 2010. Beyond the tropics: forest structure in a temperate forest mapped plot. Journal of Vegetation Science 21:388-405    PDF   appendices

Video on UCSC Environmental Studies Internship site

Ecology and Evolution
Environmental Studies
Plant Sciences