About Rocks Biological Consulting

With over 40 years of collective local experience, Rocks Biological Consulting possesses a level of proficiency that is uncommon among small biological consulting firms. We have the experience to deliver high quality work while keeping projects on schedule and within budget. We have led projects large and small, written hundreds of biological technical reports, and performed thousands of focused species surveys. Our team of experts is well-versed in Southern California biological species and habitats as well as local, state, and federal environmental regulations and processing guidelines.

We specialize in:

  • General biological surveys and biological technical reports (CEQA/NEPA compliant)
  • Focused and protocol surveys for endangered, threatened, and special-status species
  • Rare plant surveys
  • Habitat assessment
  • Wetland delineation
  • Biological monitoring
  • Land management
  • Habitat restoration planning

Please see our services page for a more complete list.

Why our clients choose Rocks Bio:

  • Our long-term, proven record of providing high quality work
  • Our deep understanding of the local regulatory environment
  • Our responsiveness to client needs
  • Our ability to provide project solutions

From small infill projects to large utility developments, we combine extensive training and experience to provide exceptional service.

Our Team

Jim Rocks, M.S.

Principal Biologist

Jim serves as lead biologist for the firm. He is responsible for overseeing all project fieldwork and ensuring technical accuracy. He holds an MS in biological science and is a department associate with the San Diego Natural History Museum Botany Department, where he has taught several botanical classes.  He has over 16 years of experience as a consulting biologist in San Diego. Mr. Rocks conducts a variety of special-status species surveys, wetland delineations, habitat restoration and management, impact analyses, and project permitting. He has worked extensively with federal, state, and local regulatory staff to obtain regulatory permits and implement mitigation programs.  He is federally permitted to conduct surveys for the Quino Checkerspot Butterfly, California Gnatcatcher, and all California Fairy Shrimps.

Melanie Rocks, M.S.

President / Principal

Melanie serves as a regulatory specialist, project manager, and biologist for RBC. She is responsible for project oversight and preparation of biological technical reports; restoration plans, and other biological reporting. In addition, she performs biological field work, including special-status surveys, habitat assessments, wetland delineations, impact analyses, and construction monitoring.   Melanie holds an MS in environmental science and has over 15 years experience in San Diego. She formerly served as a lead biologist for the City of San Diego’s Multiple Species Conservation Program (MSCP), where she performed rare plant monitoring; reviewed hundreds of projects for consistency with City biological regulations; trained staff on wetland delineation and regulations; assisted with City biological regulation revisions; and outreached with state and federal agency staff. Since joining Rocks Biological Consulting in 2008 she has permitted several complex development projects and assisted with large-scale restoration efforts.  She is permitted to conduct surveys for Quino Checkerspot Butterfly and all California Fairy Shrimp.

Shanti Santulli, M.S.

Senior Regulatory Specialist

Shanti Santulli serves as senior regulatory specialist for RBC. Ms. Santulli served as a project manager then team lead at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prior to joining RBC. Shanti has over ten years of experience in biological resources and permitting in the southern California region, and has extensive knowledge of federal regulations including Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA), National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), and Rivers and Harbors Act (RHA). Ms. Santulli has also reviewed and prepared documents in compliance with Section 401 of the CWA, Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act, and California Fish and Game Code Section 1602. She has frequently coordinated on regulatory permitting and compliance matters with federal and state agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB), California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the California Coastal Commission (CCC).

Lee Ripma, M.S.

Project Manager and Senior Biologist

Ms. Ripma serves as a project manager and senior biologist and has nine years of experience working as a botanist and wildlife biologist in Southern California.  Lee holds an MS in evolutionary biology from San Diego State University and teaches courses on plant identification. Ms. Ripma conducts special-status wildlife and botanical surveys, oversees field data collection, and prepares technical documents. She is federally permitted to conduct surveys for the Quino Checkerspot Butterfly, coastal California Gnatcatcher, and all California Fairy Shrimps.

Ian Hirschler

Associate Biologist

Ian Hirschler serves as associate biologist for a variety of projects and has two years of professional experience working as a wildlife biologist. Ian is well versed in ecology and field biology. Ian has a B.S. in field and wildlife biology from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo and has since gained valuable experience in the field working on multiple research, development, and restoration projects.

Brenda Bennett

Associate Biologist and Arborist

Brenda Bennett
Brenda holds a B.S. in biology with an emphasis in botany and is an ISA certified arborist. She has eight years of professional experience working as a botanist, arborist, and restoration ecologist. Brenda performs special-status plant surveys; endangered species surveys; tree surveys and inventories; vernal pool surveys; restoration and construction monitoring; and assists with preparation of technical reports for compliance with federal, state, and local environmental regulations.

Shannon Mindeman, M.S.

Associate Biologist

Shannon Mindeman has over four years of professional experience working as a wildlife biologist and is well-versed in environmental science, ecology, and evolutionary biology. Shannon holds a B.S. in biology from the University of Minnesota and a M.S. in biology from San Diego State University where she performed her masters research on the spotted towhee. Shannon conducts protocol surveys for Southern California special-status species including burrowing owl, least Bell’s vireo, and coastal California gnatcatcher; performs biological monitoring; monitors vernal pool restoration projects; and aids clients in the preparation of technical reports for compliance with federal, state, and local environmental laws and regulations.


At Rocks Bio, dedication to client satisfaction and to employee satisfaction are key principles.  We believe in teamwork, integrity, and professionalism, and we believe in empowering employees to take on new challenges and learn new skills.  We offer a flexible and friendly work environment, and provide a competitive benefits package including paid time off, retirement benefits, health insurance, professional development, and more.

We are a small company but are always on the lookout for new talent.  If you are interested in a career at Rocks Bio, please send us a message.  Include your work experience/certifications/skill highlights as well as a description of why you might be interested in working at Rocks Bio.