Laurel Larsen

2015 Hellman Fellow

Assistant Professor, Geography
UC Berkeley

Project Title: Quantifying the Importance of Groundwater for Fish Habitat in Calfiornia’s Intermittent Streams

The research of the Environmental Systems Dynamics Laboratory is aimed at understanding how the flow of water through the environment influences landscapes and ecosystems. Water interacts with physical (e.g., sediment) and biological (e.g., plants) components of the environment in highly nonlinear ways, leading to dynamics characterized by thresholds, sudden shifts between alternate stable states, or chaotic behavior. The group uses diverse types of tools (field and laboratory experiments, simulation modeling, and data-driven analysis) to understand these nonlinear interactions so that anticipatory planning and restoration efforts can be made more effective and efficient. This work has influenced restoration efforts in in the Everglades, with ongoing work focusing on the Chesapeake Bay, Wax Lake Delta (part of the greater Mississippi River delta complex), wet meadows, and intermittent streams in coastal California.