(Masters in Conservation and Restoration Science) Graduate Students shared their findings on
the effects of post-fire resiliency in coastal sage scrub communities.
Masters students Jessica Rath, Michelle dela Cruz, Rubeen Khunkhun and BryAnna Wertz
studied areas on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks that were damaged during the 2020
Silverado Fire, comparing restored versus unrestored coastal sage scrub habitats.
grassland composition and recovery varies overtime in relation to wildfire events, drought and
precipitation. Using grassland monitoring methods such as the point-intercept method, the
students were able to assess changes in plant coverage and growth. They also observed shrub
recovery methods like crown sprouting, a plant's ability to regenerate post-fire, and seedling recruitment where seeds are harvested and planted at restoration sites.
Findings from the study found that native plant species can struggle to regenerate post-fire,
whereas non-native plant species grow back quicker and can threaten the success of native
plants. The students also found that coastal sage scrub native shrubs have the ability to
maintain resiliency post-fire and that IRC has successfully assembled resilient plant
communities through a variety of restoration methods and projects.
To learn more about Irvine Ranch Conservancy and restoration efforts on the Landmarks, visit