Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

130 McAllister Way
Coastal Science Campus

Programs Offered

Biology B.A.

Ecology and Evolution B.S.

Marine Biology B.S.

Plant Sciences B.S. 

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Bachelor's/Master's Contiguous Pathway

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology M.A.

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Ph.D.

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Designated Emphasis

Other Programs of Interest

Science Education B.S.

Environmental Studies/Biology Combined Major B.A.

Undergraduate Program

The Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) is devoted to the study of ecological and evolutionary processes across marine, terrestrial, and freshwater environments. Our approach is to blend an emphasis on key ideas and concepts with a focus on organismal biology and natural history. Recent advances in both analytical and genetic methods have given us a far richer understanding of the complexities of ecological and evolutionary processes in the natural world, allowing us to tackle ever more sophisticated questions. Biologists at UC Santa Cruz have played and will continue to play an important part in these advances, and the campus programs offer unique educational opportunities in biology that feature small class sizes, field studies, and extensive faculty-student interactions.

Class offerings and student research opportunities leverage the varied natural environments in the Monterey Bay region, throughout the western US, and in more distant locations such as Africa, Europe, Mexico, Tahiti, Australia, and East Asia. This emphasis on field and laboratory studies is the hallmark of our undergraduate majors. Within this context they address not only basic ecological and evolutionary processes, but also the application of this knowledge to advance environmental, conservation and sustainability science.

An outstanding group of faculty, each with a vigorous, internationally recognized research program, is available to teach courses in their specialties as well as core courses for the major. Areas of research strength within the department include plant biology, animal behavior, physiology, evolution, ecology, and marine biology. UC Santa Cruz is unique in the UC system in providing exceptional opportunities for undergraduate research, allowing students to interact one-on-one with faculty and other researchers in a laboratory or field setting.

Students may plan a program that leads to one of several bachelor of arts (B.A.) and bachelor of science (B.S.) degrees. These different majors overlap considerably in content and differ mainly in providing students with flexibility to take a few more courses that focus on the major subject. Students may choose from the following major options:

Biology B.A.

Ecology and Evolution B.S.

Marine Biology B.S.

Plant Sciences B.S.

Environmental Studies/Biology combined major B.A. (administered by the Environmental Studies Department).

EEB offers a variety of independent research opportunities for students. Advanced undergraduates, with the guidance of faculty mentors, have access to extensive departmental laboratories, including state-of-the-art genetics, physiology, and marine science facilities, for independent research. Fieldwork draws on a remarkable variety of terrestrial, marine, and freshwater ecosystems, all in close proximity to campus. Terrestrial studies are supported by the UC Santa Cruz reserve on campus, an arboretum, greenhouse facility, and vehicles to transport students to field sites off campus. Freshwater studies have access to a number of coastal tributaries and laboratory facilities at the Coastal Biology Building. Marine studies are supported on the Coastal Science Campus with running seawater facilities, a boating program, and an AAUS accredited SCUBA diving program for underwater classes and research. Año Nuevo Island, north of Santa Cruz, is the site of extensive behavioral studies of marine mammals. The Norris Center, located in the Environmental Studies Department on the main campus, provides a natural history hub for the entire campus and offers opportunities for students to learn about natural history and museum techniques. In addition to coursework, there is an array of opportunities for directed independent study that enables majors to enhance their upper-division programs to reflect and strengthen their own interests and goals in the sciences.

Descriptions of faculty research interests and nearby coastal and marine environments, institutions, and facilities are available through the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) Department website.

Graduate Program

The ecology and evolutionary biology (EEB) graduate program at UC Santa Cruz reflects the remarkable local and global diversity of species and environments studied by the EEB faculty and students. The vision of the EEB graduate program is to provide a nurturing, creative, and intellectual environment conducive to the development of world-class scientists. The EEB graduate program encourages close working relations between students and faculty in an informal atmosphere advantageous to rapid learning and professional growth. Interdisciplinary collaborations with oceanographers, geologists, mathematicians, environmental and conservation biologists, toxicologists, and others enable students to explore the conceptual connections between related fields as they acquire mastery in their areas of specialization.

The graduate program in EEB at UC Santa Cruz is one of the premier EEB programs in the country. UCSC graduate students in EEB regularly win prestigious research fellowships and awards for their presentations at international meetings in addition to publishing their work in the best journals of their fields. Students take advantage of local field sites and state-of-the-art departmental laboratories, more than two-thirds of the EEB faculty also participate in field studies throughout the world, especially in Africa, Latin America, Antarctica, the Arctic, and around the Pacific Rim. Research in EEB comprises four core areas: ecology, evolutionary biology, physiology, and behavior.