Publication Date

Fall 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Studies


Will Russell

Subject Areas

Environmental studies


The Alameda Creek watershed is located within the ancestral homeland of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area. Their ancestors historically utilized a variety of plants for food, medicine, ceremonies, and building materials, with their understanding of the value of the plants based on traditional ecological knowledge (TEK). The arrival of Spanish, and later Anglo/American, colonists beginning in the mid-18th century introduced urbanization and European agricultural practices, which have degraded wildlands and impacted species richness and diversity. As interest in environmental restoration has been increasing in recent decades, the present-day Muwekma Ohlone Tribe has an opportunity to once again access ancestral lands and educate the public on their TEK practices. A vegetation survey was conducted to analyze the distribution of historic plant resources, native plants species, and non-native species in a riparian corridor in the Alameda Creek watershed. Areas with greater anthropogenic land use, specifically grazed lands and seasonal service roads, had the lowest levels of biodiversity, traditional plant resources, and native species presence. Undisturbed and restored sections of the corridor, in contrast, were found to have the greater amounts of resource presence and diversity. Although the effects of Western urban expansion have drastically altered the traditionally managed environment, reintroducing Ohlone TEK could help support ecological biodiversity and allow a marginalized group to reclaim their culture and traditions.