The official website of the Elkhorn Slough Foundation and Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve
Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve Research Program

The goal of the ESNERR research program is to investigate estuarine ecosystems and their associated watersheds. In particular, we emphasize science that will help us to better conserve Elkhorn Slough and other estuaries. This estuarine conservation research includes long-term monitoring to detect changes over time, and short-term projects focused on understanding and diminishing threats to Slough habitats and communities.

Elkhorn Slough State of Estuary Report

Our 2013 report highlights the temporal trends observed in key indicators monitored by the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve.  The focus of this report is on changes over time, using long-term monitoring data to detect trends in indicators that would suggest that aspects of ecosystem health or function at Elkhorn Slough are improving, degrading, or remaining stable.  Download this report (.pdf, 688KB) for more information.

Salt Marsh Research - Past, Present & Future

Elkhorn Slough ResearchWe have used a combination of paleographic and stratigraphic approaches with field monitoring of current conditions and modeling of future scenarios to inform coastal decision-makers about marsh sustainability. Find out more...

Otter Research at Elkhorn Slough

Eelgrass Connections: Scientists studying the decline and recovery of seagrass beds at the Elkhorn Slough have found that recolonization of the estuary by sea otters was a crucial factor in the seagrass comeback. Led by Ph.D. candidate in ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz, Brent Hughes at the University of California, Santa Cruz, the study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of August 26, 2013. Download the study here.

USGS Study: Starting September 2013, scientists hope to compile new data to support the recovery of the southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis). Using a variety of established study methods — radio tracking, veterinary exams, genetic analysis, diet observations — this collaborative group of scientists hopes to uncover new knowledge about this population of California’s iconic sea otters — a population that hasn’t been extensively studied for 15 years. Find out more at

ESNERR Research Questions

Download this document (ESNERR_research_questions_2013-10-21.pdf) with the major questions that ESNERR scientists will be addressing, through long-term monitoring and short-term applied research. These represent questions whose answers are critically needed for improving Elkhorn Slough area conservation, and which lend themselves to the expertise and resources of ESNERR.

Download this document (student_project_ideas_2013-10-22.pdf) containing interesting questions that could be addressed in term papers or thesis research.

Research Permits

Click here for a guide for researchers wishing to work in the coastal habitats of the Elkhorn Slough area near Moss Landing, California.

References about Elkhorn Slough

State of the Estuary Report, updated 2013 (pdf, 688KB)
Download a list of references about Elkhorn Slough or search the Slough bibliography.
Download technical reports about Elkhorn Slough.
Download abstracts and powerpoints from the January 2010 Slough Symposium.

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This site is maintained by the Elkhorn Slough Foundation in partnership with the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve