As a Coastal Ecologist in the Pacific Coast and Central Valley Group at Point Blue, my work is focused on assessing and mitigating climate-change impacts to coastal habitats and ecosystems in central California. I work primarily on the threatened, western subspecies of snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus nivosus), which relies on beach-dune habitat throughout the annual cycle and provides an indicator of beach-dune ecosystem health. We use long-term data on the demography and reproductive ecology of western snowy plovers from Monterey Bay in combination with climate-change predictions, climate-smart management strategies, and adaptive management to maintain beach-dune ecosystem health and sustain the snowy plover population. I am fortunate to work with a dedicated team of ecologists from Point Blue, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and California Departments of Parks and Recreation.

After completing a BSc in avian biology at UC Davis in 1990, I conducted field work in avian ecology across North America, from southern California to northern Alaska and western Missouri. In 2002, I completed a MSc in physiological ecology at Simon Fraser University, and my thesis addressed age-related differences in energy acquisition strategies in migrating western sandpipers (Calidris mauri). In 2013, I completed a PhD in evolutionary biology at Simon Fraser University, and my dissertation advanced multistage explanations for the evolution of complex phenotypes at multiple levels across the avian phylogeny. From 2014-2015, I conducted postdoctoral research at Simon Fraser University on global priorities for conserving the evolutionary history of sharks, rays and chimaeras.

I have published over 10 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals, such as American Naturalist, Biological Conservation, Ecology and Evolution, Functional Ecology, Journal of Evolutionary Biology, Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, and Physiological and Biochemical Zoology. These papers address a diverse set of topics, from empirical work in conservation, physiological ecology and molecular phylogenetics to theoretical work in evolutionary ecology.

Featured work

Stein, R.W., J.W. Brown, A.Ø. Mooers. 2015. A molecular genetic time scale demonstrates Cretaceous origins and multiple diversification rate shifts within the order Galliformes (Aves). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 92:155-164.

Stein, R.W., and T.D. Williams. 2013. Extreme intraclutch egg-size dimorphism in Eudyptes penguins, an evolutionary response to clutch-size maladaptation. American Naturalist 182: 260-270.

Stein, R.W., G. Fernández, H. de la Cueva and R.W. Elner. 2008. Disproportionate bill-length dimorphism and niche differentiation in wintering western sandpipers (Calidris mauri). Canadian Journal of Zoology 86: 601-609.