The California chaparral and woodlands is a terrestrial ecoregion of southwestern Oregon, northern, central, and southern California (United States) and northwestern Baja California (Mexico), located on the west coast of North America. It is an ecoregion of the Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biome, and part of the Nearctic realm.


Three sub-ecoregions

The California chaparral and woodlands ecoregion is subdivided into three smaller ecoregions. *California coastal sage and chaparral ecoregion: In southern coastal California and northwestern coastal Baja California, as well as all the Channel Islands of California and Guadalupe Island. *California montane chaparral and woodlands: In southern and central coast adjacent and inland California, covering some of the mountains of: the Coast Ranges; the Transverse Ranges; and the western slopes of the northern Peninsular Ranges. *California interior chaparral and woodlands: In central interior California surrounding the California Central Valley cover the foothills and the Transverse Ranges and Sierra Nevada (U.S.), Sierra Nevada.


Most of the population of California and Baja California lives in these ecoregions, which includes the San Francisco Bay Area, Ventura County, California, Ventura County, the Greater Los Angeles Area, San Diego County, California, San Diego County, and Tijuana. The California Central Valley grasslands ecoregion, as well as the coniferous Sierra Nevada forests, Northern California coastal forests, and Klamath-Siskiyou forests of northern California and southwestern Oregon, share many plant and animal affinities with the California chaparral and woodlands. Many botanists consider the California chaparral and woodlands, Sierra Nevada forests, Klamath-Siskiyou forests, and Northern California coastal forests as a single California Floristic Province, excluding the deserts of eastern California, which belong to other floristic provinces. Many Bioregionalism, Bioregionalists, including poet Gary Snyder, identify the central and northern Coast Ranges, Klamath-Siskiyou, the Central Valley, and Sierra Nevada as the Shasta Bioregion or the Alta California Bioregion.


The ecoregion includes a great variety of plant communities, including grasslands, oak savannas and woodlands, chaparral, and temperate coniferous forest, coniferous forests, including southern stands of the tall coast redwood (''Sequoia sempervirens''). The flora of this ecoregion also includes tree species such as Pinus sabiniana, Gray or foothill pine (''Pinus sabiniana''), Quercus dumosa, Scrub oak (''Quercus dumosa''), Aesculus californica, California buckeye (''Aesculus californica''), the rare Cupressus goveniana, Gowen cypress (''Cupressus goveniana)'', the rare Cupressus macrocarpa, Monterey cypress (''Cupressus macrocarpa''), and a wealth of endemic plant species, including the extremely rare Dudleya densiflora, San Gabriel Mountain liveforever (''Dudlea densiflora''), Cercocarpus traskiae, Catalina mahogany (''Cercocarpus traskiae''), and the threatened Streptanthus albidus, most beautiful jewel-flower (''Streptanthus albidus'' ssp. ''Peramoenus''). (material included verbatim under th
CC BY-SA 3.0 license
/ref> Hesperoyucca whipplei, colloquially known as Chaparral Yucca, is commonplace throughout the lower elevations of the climate zone. There are two types of chaparral: coastal sage scrub, soft and hard chaparral. Hard chaparral is usually evergreen, located at higher elevation and is harder to walk through. Soft chaparral tends to be drought deciduous, live at lower elevations and tends to be easier to walk through.


Species include the Polioptila californica, California gnatcatcher (''Polioptila californica''), Calypte costae, Costa's hummingbird (''Calypte costae''), Phrynosoma coronatum, coast horned lizard (''Phrynosoma coronatum''), and Lichanura trivirgata, rosy boa (''Lichanura trivirgata''). Other animals found here are the Dipodomys heermanni, Heermann kangaroo rat (''Dipodomys heermanni''), Dipodomys venustus, Santa Cruz kangaroo rat (''Dipodomys venustus''), and the endangered Perognathus alticolus, white-eared pocket mouse (''Perognathus alticolus''). Another notable insect resident of this ecoregion is the rain beetle (''Pleocoma'' sp.) It spends up to several years living underground in a larval stage and emerges only during wet-season rains to mate.


Chaparral, like most Mediterranean shrublands, is highly fire resilient and historically burned with high-severity, stand replacing events every 30 to 100 years. Historically, Native Americans burned chaparral to promote grasslands for textiles and food. Though adapted to infrequent fires, chaparral plant communities can be exterminated by frequent fires especially with climate change induced drought. Today, frequent accidental ignitions can convert chaparral from a native shrubland to nonnative annual grassland and drastically reduce species diversity, especially under global-change-type drought. The historical fire regime, fire return interval for chaparral communities used to be 30–50 years, but has now decreased to 5–10 years due to human interference.

Human influence

The region has been heavily affected by grazing, logging, dams and water diversions, and intensive farming, intensive agriculture and urbanization, as well as competition by numerous introduced or exotic plant and animal species. Some unique plant communities, like southern California's Coastal Sage Scrub, have been nearly eradicated by agriculture and urbanization. As a result, the region now has many rare and endangered species, including the California condor (''Gymnogyps californianus'').

See also

* California Chaparral Institute * California coastal prairie * California montane chaparral * Chaparral * Closed-cone pine forest * Coast Redwood, Coast Redwood forest * Coastal sage scrub * California mixed evergreen forest, Mixed evergreen forest * Northern coastal scrub * California oak woodland, Oak woodland * Sierra Nevada lower montane forest


* Bakker, Elna (1971) ''An Island Called California.'' University of California Press; Berkeley. * Dallman, Peter R. (1998). ''Plant Life in the World's Mediterranean Climates.'' California Native Plant Society–University of California Press; Berkeley. * Ricketts, Taylor H; Eric Dinerstein; David M. Olson; Colby J. Loucks; et al. (1999). ''Terrestrial Ecoregions of North America: a Conservation Assessment.'' Island Press; Washington, DC. * Schoenherr, Allan A. (1992). ''A Natural History of California.'' University of California Press; Berkeley.

External links

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World Wildlife Fund: California Chaparral and Woodlands ecoregionCalifornia Chaparral Institute website
([http://www.cas.vanderbilt.edu/bioimages/ecoregions/51201.htm slow modem version])
California Interior Chaparral and Woodlands images at bioimages.vanderbilt.edu

— ([http://www.cas.vanderbilt.edu/bioimages/ecoregions/51203.htm slow modem version]) California chaparral and woodlands, Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub in the United States Ecoregions of California Ecoregions of Mexico Flora of California, *01 Forests of California Natural history of the California chaparral and woodlands, Natural history of Baja California Plant communities of California Nearctic ecoregions