Michael E.
UC Santa Cruz
Associate Professor in Environmental Studies

Michael Loik’s research interests focus on linking biological processes with meteorological patterns at multiple temporal and spatial scales, primarily in desert and montane ecosystems. He uses a combination of in situ manipulative experiments, gradient analysis and modeling to develop better understanding of how soil water availability affects vegetation, and feedbacks from ecosystems on water and energy fluxes. Results are used to help inform management of water, carbon, biodiversity and fire fuels. His current projects include (1) examination of daily to decadal responses of the ecological physiology, population ecology, and ecosystem consequences of a desert-montane ecotone to variation in winter snowfall and summer rainfall in the eastern Sierra Nevada, and (2)

Quantifying the impacts of altered patterns of winter rain and summer fog on community biodiversity and ecosystem productivity in central California coastal grasslands, shrub lands, and forests.

UC Water Connection: 

Michael Loik brings his expertise on vegetation physiology, energy and water fluxes, micrometerology, ecohydrology, and sensor design to assist and to guide UC Water efforts. 


Michael E. Loik is an associate professor in the Environmental Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He has conducted research on plant and ecosystem water and carbon in the four deserts of the US, the Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada, Costa Rica, and Australia. 

Prof. Loik is on the Steering Committee for DroughtNet and the International Drought Experiment. He also facilitates cooperation and efforts among sites within the California Drought Experiment. Prof. Loik serves on the Executive Board for the University of California Institute for the Study of Ecological and Evolutionary Climate Impacts. At UCSC he teaches a general education class on global warming to hundreds of students each year, as well as upper division classes on plant physiological ecology and climate change ecology.