Point Conception Institute

Wave approaching ocean shore with tidal pool in the foreground and sun setting over a ridgeline in the distance.
Intertidal Zone Tide pools near Government Point at TNC’s Dangermond Preserve. © Bill Marr/TNC

About the Institute

The Point Conception Institute (PCI) is a global conservation science center based at The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve. PCI’s impact model leads to faster, more adaptive conservation in critical places.

We harness the power of open science by facilitating diverse research collaborations, data stewardship and sharing, and technology applications to protect biodiversity, restore ecosystems, and address climate change with innovative solutions.

PCI VISION Our vision is a place of intentional collaboration. © Carrie Kappel/LegacyWorks

PCI Vision

Our vision is a place of intentional collaboration, where researchers bring ideas and energy, leverage the unique ecological assets of the Preserve for breakthrough conservation science, and commit to cross-pollinating their approaches and findings both while at the Preserve and beyond.

We believe open data is an essential ingredient to accelerating conservation research and decision-making, and that the data systems and technology infrastructure created here will have an impact beyond the sum of individual projects.

Sun sets over the ocean with gentle waves lapping up against the shore, viewed from a beach.
Sunset at the Dangermond The sun sets on the Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve. © Ian Boyle

Point Conception Institute Newsletters

As the climate crisis takes hold around the world, there is a pressing need for living laboratories where the future of resilience and sustainability can be designed.

Protected areas like Dangermond Preserve can serve as proving grounds for bold conservation action and can serve as engines of knowledge generation if their data and lessons learned circulate beyond their borders. Only by sharing data and lessons learned across geographies can we make a global impact.

The Point Conception Institute has the vision of a “Digital Twin” for conservation, where ecological data emerging from instrumentation networks, remote sensing, primary research, mobile data collection platforms, and other sources becomes open and available to the global scientific community to enable discovery, synergy, and pathways to conservation action and decision making.

Our work facilitates research collaborations, data collection and management, and technology applications to address biodiversity loss and climate change in ecosystems around the world.


Falling Through the Cracks

Pathways for Conserving California's Coastal Ecosystems.


Featured Projects


  • PCI partnered with NASA-Jet Propulsion Lab and University of California on Project SHIFT (for Surface Biology and Geology High Frequency Time series). This is a first-of-its-kind deployment of AVIRIS (Airborne Visible/InfraRed Imaging Spectrometer) optical sensor technology and on-the ground vegetation sampling to calibrate and validate vegetation observations for NASA’s Surface Biology and Geology (SBG) mission. This coordinated effort will, for the first time, document large-scale seasonal change in vegetation of Mediterranean ecosystems through weekly flyovers coupled with ground-based sampling. Check out the data and SHIFT media and stay tuned for emerging research.


  • Dangermond Preserve’s Jalama watershed is a medium-sized, intact southern California watershed. Without major dams, diversions, or development, over 90% of the watershed is within The Nature Conservancy’s conservation ownership of the Dangermond Preserve. This makes it ideal for deploying a combination of ground-based, airborne, and satellite sensing to create pipelines of data on freshwater ecosystems—a freshwater digital twin.

    Through the development of a wireless network of weather stations, stream gauges, and ground water level loggers, and in situ sampling of isotopes and water quality we are working with partners (UCSB, etc) to understand the “pulse” of the Preserves freshwater resources and use information pipelines to make sustainable water decisions.

    Specifically, our goal is to:

    • Develop data and evidence to guide conservation actions in ecologically similar, but more impaired, watersheds (e.g., impaired watersheds throughout the global Mediterranean biome).
    • Create and demonstrate efficient, technologically-enabled approaches for monitoring data-poor freshwater systems.
    • Create a rich database (digital twin) to allow for new approaches and integration of insitu data with airborne and satellite technologies for water system monitoring.
    • Invest directly in developing scalable approaches by convening water resource managers and decision makers, presenting approaches, data and findings and determining the impact pathway forward.

PCI and Our Collaborators

The Point Conception Institute will facilitate collaborations between TNC; Esri; University of California, Santa Barbara; National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); National Geographic Society; Smithsonian Institution; Vandenberg Space Force Base; National Center for Ecological Analysis & Synthesis (NCEAS) and other institutions to support and accelerate research initiatives. Specific examples of our research collaborations include the deployment of Esri mobile data collection tools to support field research, and the development with NASA of new approaches for applying satellite-based information to manage freshwater, coastal, and terrestrial ecosystems and conserve biodiversity.

Visualization of PCI's Impact Model
PCI's Impact Model Visualization of PCI's Impact Model © Carrie Kappel/LegacyWorks

PCI's Impact Model visualization

Point Conception Institute at work

PCI staff and partners in the field

Meet Our Team
Headshot of Mark Reynolds, Point Conception Institute Director.
A group of three researchers work in a tidal pool, collecting data on iPads.
A group of scientists look at a map, standing outside in a rolling, grassy field with ocean in the distance.
Kelly Easterday stands outside on a fire-scarred landscape holding mobile devices.
Two people stand on the beach with a camera trap in the foreground.
Headshot of Kelly Easterday, Point Conception Institute Director of Conservation Technology.
Scientist holding a bird in the field.
Pole-mounted camera with a solar panel in front of a barbed-wire fence.
A group of people look down at a map on the ground.
Headshot of Rae Wynn-Grant.