Steven R. Beissinger

A. Starker Leopold Professor of Wildlife Ecology and Professor of Conservation Biology


Research Interests

Conservation, behavioral and population ecology

Research Description

We study conservation, behavior and population biology toward the goals of understanding the influence of climate change, managing endangered or commercially-valuable wildlife, or by understanding the factors shaping life histories to satisfy our curiosity about how nature works. Our research combines intensive field studies based on quantitative sampling with field or lab experimentation, and modeling. Recent work has been done in California, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico.

My current research focuses on:

  1. Response of California birds and mammals to 20th century climate change as part of the Grinnell Resurvey Project
  2. Metapopulation biology of cryptic rails in a working landscape
  3. Avian parental care strategies and population dynamics
  4. Longterm studies of behavioral and evolutionary ecology of parrotlets in Venezuela
  5. Ecology of endangered or exploited species

With my students and collaborators, we have published over 175 scientific articles.  I am senior editor of the books Population Viability Analysis (University of Chicago Press, 2002) and New World Parrots in Crisis: Solutions from Conservation Biology (Smithsonian Press, 1992). I teach courses in conservation biology, population viability, and behavioral and population ecology.

Read more about my research in the Beissinger Lab website.

Selected Publications

Tarwater, C. E. and S. R. Beissinger.  2012.  Dispersal polymorphisms from natal phenotype-environmental interactions have carry-over effects on lifetime reproductive success of a tropical parrot.  Ecology Letters 15:1218-1229.

Tingley, M. W., M. Koo, C. Moritz, A. Rush and S. R. Beissinger. 2012. The push and pull of climate change causes heterogeneous shifts in avian elevational ranges.  Global Change Biology 18: 3279-3290.

Morelli, T.L., A. B. Smith, C. R. Kastely, I. Mastroserio, C. Moritz, and S. R. Beissinger.  2012.  Anthropogenic refugia ameliorate the severe climate-related decline of a montane mammal along its trailing edge.  Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B.  279:4279-4286.

Richmond, O.M.W., J. Tecklin, and S. R. Beissinger. 2012.  Impact of cattle grazing on the occupancy of a cryptic, threatened rail.  Ecological Applications 22:1655-1664.

Berg, K. S., S. Delgado, K. A. Cortopassi, S. R. Beissinger and J. W. Bradbury.  2012.  Vertical transmission of learned signatures in a wild parrot. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B. 279:585-591.

Flather, C. H., G. D. Hayward, S.R. Beissinger and P. A. Stephens.  2011.  Minimum viable populations: is there a ‘magic number’ for conservation practitioners?  Trends in Ecology and Evolution 26:307-316.

Wang, J. M., M. K. Firestone, and S. R. Beissinger.  2011.  Microbial and environmental effects on avian egg viability: do tropical mechanisms act in temperate environments?  Ecology 92:1137-1145.

Risk, B. B., P. de Valpine, and S. R. Beissinger. 2011.  A robust-design formulation of the incidence function model of metapopulation dynamics applied to two species of rails.  Ecology 92:462-474.

Richmond, O. M. W., J.E. Hines, and S. R. Beissinger. 2010. Two-species occupancy models: a new parameterization applied to co-occurrence of secretive rails. Ecological Applications 20: 2036-2046.

Peery, M. Z., L. A. Hall, A. Sellas, S. R. Beissinger, C. Moritz, M. Bérubé , M. G. Raphael, S. K. Nelson, R. T. Golightly, L. McFarlane-Tranquilla, S. Newman, and P. J. Palsbøll. 2010. Genetic analyses of historic and modern marbled murrelets suggest decoupling of migration and gene flow after habitat fragmentation.  Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B. 277:679-706.

Hall, L. A., P. J. Palsbøll, S. R. Beissinger, J. T. Harvey, M. Bérubé , M. G. Raphael, S. K. Nelson, R. T. Golightly, L. McFarlane-Tranquilla, S. H. Newman, and M. Z. Peery. 2009. Characterizing dispersal patterns in a threatened seabird with limited genetic structure. Molecular Ecology 18:5074-5085.

Tingley, M. W., W. B. Monahan, S. R. Beissinger and C. Moritz. 2009. Birds track their Grinnellian niche through a century of climate change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106:19637-19643.

Tingley, M. and S. R. Beissinger. 2009. Detecting range shifts from historical species occurrences: new perspectives on old data. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 24:625-633.

Wang, J. M. and S. R. Beissinger. 2009. Variation in the onset of incubation and its influence on avian hatching success and asynchrony. Animal Behaviour 78:601-613.

Veran, S. and S. R. Beissinger. 2009. Demographic origins of skewed operational and adult sex ratios: perturbation analyses of two-sex models. Ecology Letters 12:129-143.

Peery, M. Z., S. R. Beissinger, R. F. House, M. Bérubé, L. A. Hall, A. Sellas, and P. J. Palsbøll. 2008. Characterizing source-sink dynamics with genetic parentage assignments. Ecology 89:2746-2759.

Moritz, C., J. L. Patton, C. J. Conroy, J. L. Parra, G. C. White, and S. R. Beissinger. 2008. Impact of a century of climate change on small-mammal communities in Yosemite National Park, USA. Science 322: 261-264.

Beissinger, S. R., J. M. Wunderle, J. M. Meyers, B-E. Sæther, and S. Engen. 2008. Anatomy of a bottleneck: diagnosing factors limiting population growth in the Puerto Rican Parrot. Ecological Monographs 78:185-203.

Beissinger, S. R. and M. Z. Peery. 2007. Reconstructing the historic demography of an endangered seabird. Ecology 88:296-305.

Honors and Awards

William Brewster Memorial Award, American Ornithologists’ Union, 2010, for the most meritorious body of work on birds of the Western Hemisphere over the past decade.

Fellow, London Zoological Society.

Fellow, American Ornithologists' Union.

Leopold Lecture, Dept. of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, University of Wisconsin, April 2012.

Weese Lecture, Dept. of  Zoology, University of Oklahoma, April 2012.

John Bonner Lecture on Evolution and Behavior, Princeton University, Oct. 2011 .

Recent Teaching

  • 284 - Demographic Methods for Population Viability Analysis
  • 290 - SPECIAL TOPICS ESPM - Recent seminars have included topics centered on extinction, occupancy modeling, and biological impacts of climate change.

Contact Information


Office: 29 Mulford Hall

Office Phone: 510-643-3038


Office Hours

Mondays 11-12 am

Tuesdays 1-2 pm

Research Group(s)

Mailing Address

Dept of Environmental Science, Policy, & Management
UC Berkeley
130 Mulford Hall #3114
Berkeley, CA 94720