Denise Knapp

Lecturer in Environmental Studies


Plant Ecology, Channel Islands, Biogeography, and Ecosystem Restoration 

Director of Conservation and Research at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden


  • Ph.D, Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • M.S., Biogeography, University of California, Los Angeles


Born and raised in Santa Barbara county, Denise attended Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo before living in various southern California locations, earning a Master's degree in Biogeography from UCLA, and working briefly for an environmental consulting firm. Before coming to UCSB, she worked for eight years on Catalina Island as a plant ecologist, where she studied the effects of introduced animals and fire, monitored and protected rare plants like the Catalina mahogany and ironwood, and mapped vegetation. She has also conducted extensive research on the threats to the Island's oak trees, and how best to accomplish ecosystem restoration. She became interested in insects and other arthropods while on the island, as she realized that they are the tiny creatures that do the "heavy lifting" in the ecosystem yet often do not receive enough attention.


In her current research Denise seek to understand how a monoculture such as that caused by plant invasion affects the composition and function of the arthropod community. 

She is currently investigating how and why the diversity, abundance, and composition of arthropods differ between Carpobrotus edulis -invaded coastal dunes and native dunes, and how that affects ecosystem function. She is also investigating how the arthropod assemblage is altered by the varying extent, density, and configuration of both Carpobrotus and revegetated native patches, in experimental restoration plots at Coal Oil Point Reserve, near the UCSB campus.


ES 100/GEOG 149: California Channel Islands