Map of the UC Davis Natural Reserve System
The UC Natural Reserve System (NRS) is the largest and most diverse set of university-owned and operated reserves in the world. Its 39 reserves include examples of nearly every major ecosystem in the state. These reserves provide secure sites for long-term environmental research, education and public outreach. They enable monitoring of environmental health, and provide a baseline for ecosystem restoration, in the context of California's rapidly growing population and the changing global environment.
The NRS makes relatively undisturbed samples of the state's natural ecosystems - and the facilities needed to support teaching and research - available not only to students, teachers, and researchers from the University of California, but to any qualified user from any institution, public or private, throughout the world.
Five reserves are administered by the Davis campus: Bodega Marine Reserve, Jepson Prairie Reserve, Donald and Sylvia McLaughlin Reserve, Quail Ridge Reserve, and Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve. These reserves represent a wide variety of habitats in close proximity to the campus.
Why the NRS Came to Be
By the late 1950s, disruption and loss of wildland field sites in California had already become a significant problem for university researchers and educators in the natural sciences. The state's population was increasing rapidly, and development had accelerated to such a pace that few places remained safe from disruption, even on protected public lands. As a growing proportion of California's natural landscapes became unusable for wildland or natural ecosystem research and teaching, university faculty began asking for natural areas managed specifically for academic use - samples of natural ecosystems where they could undertake long-term projects with confidence that their teaching and research sites would remain undisturbed.
Accordingly, in January of 1965, The Regents of the University of California established the Natural Land and Water Reserves System - as the Natural Reserve System was first known - and designated seven university-owned sites as its first reserves. Today the NRS manages 39 reserves that give access to more than 750,000 acres across twelve ecological regions in one of the most physiographically diverse regions in the U.S.