Strawberry Creek - Geomorphology

Strawberry Creek's varied geomorphology and substrate composition provide habitat complexity which encourages and enhances species diversity. For example, young Sacramento Suckers prefer to live in shallow, gravel bedded areas, while adults prefer to live in deep pools and spawn in gravel bedded reaches. Sticklebacks, on the other hand, can spawn in sand or gravel (McGinnis, 1984).

The geomorphic condition of Strawberry Creek on the UC Berkeley campus is typical of urban streams. Both forks are partially culverted upstream from and on the central campus. Over the past 150 years, peak flows increased with channelization and urbanization of the watershed as the area of impervious surfaces increased, preventing rain from infiltrating and instead causing runoff to flow directly into the creek. Increased peak flows and channelization caused the creek to downcut, and become less geomorphologically complex. Since 1889, 54 check dams have been installed on both the North and South Forks throughout central campus to help prevent further incision. About 400 linear feet of creek bed on campus is completely cemented (not including underground culverts). Very little of the creek is allowed to meander because the banks and/or bed are either cemented or downcut, confining the creek to its existing channel.

Nevertheless, portions of the creek retain a relatively natural structure within the constraints of urbanization and the creek provides habitat for flora and fauna that have returned since restoration began in 1987.

This page provides data and reports on the Strawberry Creek geomorphology.

Historical Data and Reports:

  • 1987 Strawberry Creek Management Plan
  • 1988 Strawberry Creek Bank Stabilization Study, University of California at Berkeley, June 1988, Haltiner, Schultz and Christian, Philip Williams & Associates
  • 1994 Strawberry Creek Cross-Section Report, May 1994, Sarah Morley and Karl Hans
    • This report describes cross-sectional elevation measurements taken in early 1994 at fifteen locations on the UC Berkeley campus and compares these elevations to 1990 measurements.  The primary objective of this study was to provide reliable baseline data for future monitoring.  The report includes color photos of cross-section reaches and photos of pin locations.
  • 1994 Strawberry Creek Surface Bed Material Size Study, Sara Morley
    • This report presents baseline data for the distribution of surface bed material size in Strawberry Creek on the UC Berkeley campus. Two follow-up student project papers from 2005 are included in the pdf.