Karen Thorne


Dr. Karen Thorne is a Principle Investigator with the USGS Western Ecological Research Center, where her research focus is in climate change impacts to ecosystems. In particular, her work has included assessing sea-level rise and storms impacts to nearshore ecosystems, wetland ecology and wildife. She received her Ph.D. and MS from the University of California, Davis.

Dr. Thorne's interests lie in conservation issues surrounding climate-related research that assess changes to ecosystems and wildlife.  Her current focus is assessing how sea-level rise and storms impact salt marsh ecosystems and local wildlife populations. In particular, Dr. Thorne is interested in how wildlife respond to high water events and how this relates to predation and breeding success.  Her research is based on field data collection methods that can be developed into climate change impact models using ArcGIS and other remote sensing tools.  

  • Global Change Biology
  • Coastal Ecosystems
  • Wetland Ecology
  • Threatened & Endangered Species
  • Wildlife Biology
  • Landscape Ecology
  • Ecological Response Modeling
  • Storm Monitoring
  • Sea-level Rise Planning & Decision Support



• PhD, Geography, Global Change, University of California, Davis, 2012
• MSc, Geography, Environmental Studies, University of California, Davis, 2008
• BS, Wildlife, Fish, & Conservation Biology, University of California, Davis 2000



• California Landscape Conservation Cooperative Science Team



• Biologist, USGS, Western Ecological Research Center, San Francisco Bay Estuary Field Station, 2005 to present
• Research Associate, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Fairbanks, AK, 2002 to 2005



Thorne, KM, DL Elliott-Fisk, GD Wylie, WM Perry, JY Takekawa. 2014. Importance of biogeomorphic and spatial properties in assessing a tidal salt marsh vulnerability to sea-level rise. Estuaries and Coasts. doi: 10.1007/s12237-013-9725-x

Takekawa, John Y.; Thorne, Karen M.; Buffington, Kevin J.; Spragens, Kyle A.; Swanson, Kathleen M.; Drexler, Judith Z.; Schoellhamer, David H.; Overton, Cory T.; Casazza, Michael L., 2013. Final report for sea-level rise response modeling for San Francisco Bay estuary tidal marshes. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2013-1081, x, 161 p.

Thorne, K., K. Buffington, K. Swanson, and J. Takekawa2013. Storm events lead to extreme flooding at salt marshes in San Francisco Bay, California; Implications for accretion processes and wildlife habitat in a changing climate. International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses.4 (4): 169-190.

Swanson K., J. Drexler, D. Schoellhamer, K. M. Thorne, M. L. Casazza, C. T. Overton, J. C. Callaway and J. Y. Takekawa. 2013. Wetland accretion rate model of ecosystem resilience (WARMER) and its application to habitat sustainability for endangered species in the San Francisco Estuary, Estuaries and Coasts. doi: 10.1007/s12237-013-9694-0.

Thorne, Karen M.; Takekawa, John Y.; Elliott-Fisk, Deborah L., 2012. Ecological effects of climate change on salt marsh wildlife: a case study from a highly urbanized estuary. Coastal Education and Research Foundation , 11 p.

Thorne. K.M. 2012. Climate Change Impacts to the Tidal Salt Marsh Habitats of San Pablo Bay, California. Dissertation, UC Davis. 178pp.

Takekawa, J. Y. T., I. Woo, K. M. Thorne, K. J. Buffington, N. Nur, M. Casazza, J. Ackerman. 2012. Chapter 12: Bird communities: effects of fragmentation, disturbance, and sea level rise on population viability. In (Palaima, A. Ed). Ecology Conservation, and Restoration of Tidal Marshes: the San Francisco Bay Estuary. University of California Press. 288pp.

Foxgrover, Amy C.; Finlayson, David P.; Jaffe, Bruce E.; Takekawa, John Y.; Thorne, Karen M.; Spragens, Kyle A., 2011. 2010 bathymetric survey and digital elevation model of Corte Madera Bay, California. U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011-1217, iv, 19 p.; Appendix; Download of Metadata; Download of Data Folder [Link]