The UCI Ecological Preserve is a 60 acre site on the southern edge of the campus located adjacent University Hills, the Irvine Research Park, and the San Joaquin Transportation Corridor. It is a part of the UCI main campus and is managed by the UCI Office of Natural Reserves for the School of Biological Sciences. The Preserve is enrolled in the Nature Reserve of Orange County.
Ecologically, the Preserve consists of coastal sage scrub and disturbed grassland habitats, and it currently sustains seven nesting pairs of the threatened California gnatcatcher and four pairs of the coastal cactus wren – both sensitive species associated with coastal sage scrub.
The Preserve is used for research and is a cherished and scenic campus asset. Its panoramic view encompasses much of the campus, with the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island as a westerly backdrop. The Ecological Preserve has seen extensive research efforts over the years, including many publications, theses, and surveys of plants and animals ranging from bobcats, California gnatcatchers, and cactus wrens to research focused upon restoration ecology and plant-animal interactions.