Our Mission

Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican

The California Institute of Environmental Studies (CIES) was established in 1976 as a 501 (c)(3) organization recognizing a need for independent research of breeding seabird populations that were affected by marine contaminants in the Southern California Bight. CIES initiated its first project in 1977 assessing the breeding population of California Brown Pelicans on Anacapa Island, located along the southern California coast. The documented findings of eggshell thinning and reproductive failure in this population, as well as other effects of contamination, eventually led to important lawsuit testimony. Over the last 40 years CIES has grown into a well-respected organization dedicated to seabird research, monitoring, restoration, and education.

CIES’s projects range from Baja California, Mexico, to Humboldt County, California. Today, many of its projects occur on the Channel Islands in southern California, focusing on 4 species of seabirds: the California Brown Pelican, Scripps’s Murrelet, Ashy Storm-petrel, and Cassin’s Auklet. All of these species have been affected to a large degree by human activities such as: organochlorine contaminants, oil pollution, over-exploitation of fishery resources, farming and grazing, and introduction of nonnative species, as well as predation.

CIES strives to:

  • Monitor current population sizes of each of the above species.
  • Determine productivity of these species.
  • Track changes in population size and productivity over time.
  • Restore breeding habitat.
  • Limit the potential for further adverse effects from human activities.
  • Examine the population status of each species to further understand the effects of climactic change on seabird populations.