Grasslands Californian Chaparral - By Kyle Rodriguez

Climate of Chaparral in California

Average rainfall: 3.92 cm [Max - 9 cm, Min - 0 cm] (monthly)

Average Temperature: 14.4 ℃ [Max - 19 ℃, Min - 6 ℃] (monthly)

General Explanation: The climate in the Californian Chaparral is characterized as having hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. The Chaparral undergoes all 4 seasons including winter, spring, summer and fall.

Net Productivity

The Californian Chaparral has an average net productivity (8) in comparison to the various biomes world wide. The reason behind this may be that there is simply not enough plants that are capable of successfully living in such an area to populate in abundance. The Californian Chaparral is found at latitude 35-40 degrees North, and longitude 118-123 degrees West. The biome is at heart an extensively diverse region. Due to environmental conditions being unfavorable (usually dry and hot) and a threat for many (wildfires), there are many plants and animals with peculiar qualities that give them the ability to survive in this ecosystem. For example, some plants have become "fire-resistant" by storing moisture in their leaves, while some animals have learned to solidify their urine in order to conserve necessary fluids.

Soil

The soil located in the Chaparral Biome is actually very bad for farming. It is susceptible to erosion because only a select few species of plants can thrive here (less vegetation leads to looser/unstable soil). In addition, the lack of soil fertility is largely due to human acts of disruption such as overgrazing and deforestation. There is great biodiversity in this region as plants need to be able to put up with nutrient poor soil and a dry environment.

Invasive and Endangered Species

- Endangered California Condor -

The California Condor is an endangered species found in rocky, forested areas such as canyons and mountains in North America. The cause for its endangerment stems from a variety of factors. One reason is due to the destruction of it's habitat (Habitat Destruction in HIPPCO). Human development is to blame for this as there becomes less environmental space for animals such as the Condor to live in as humans expand. Another factor that contributes to their endangerment is the illegal shooting of these birds (Over Exploitation in HIPPCO). Many are placed in captivity today.

- Invasive Spanish Broom -

The Spanish Broom is native to the Southern Mediterranean region in Europe. It was actually first physically introduced into California in 1884 through ornamental trade. It was planted along the highways in southern California during the late 1930's. Basically, the invasive act was purposeful.

Animals in the Californian Chaparral

The Red Diamond Rattlesnake burrows in underground dens during the winter season and emerges during the spring to hunt and breed. If temperatures ever rise too high, this reptile is known to climb a short heights in order to avoid excessive heat. This species uses its scales to blend in with the rocky environment and catch prey unnoticed.

The Coast Horned Lizard uses its rough edgings to ward off predators and can even shoot a stream of blood from its eye if threatened as a method of distraction. The soil in the Californian Chaparral is very loose, and this is exactly what the Coast Horned Lizard likes to burrow in if it feels as if it is getting too hot. Like the snake, this lizard can blend in with its environment, however, it does so to escape predators as oppose to sneaking up on prey. This animal actually takes its stealth to another level as it has the ability to take on the color of its surroundings, which is called Cryptic coloration.

The Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher is a small bird that likes to wander around in tree-tops in woodland areas. They utilize their small frame and stellar speed to catch small insects along the trunks of many plants in the Californian Chaparral, hence the name "Gnatcatcher."

Plants in the Californian Chaparral

The Manzanita is a very drought tolerant plant that thrives in dry, hot environments. They have a unique ability in reproducing offspring as their seedlings will not sprout until its soil is disturbed by an outside force such as a fire. Surprisingly, this plant relies partially on the otherwise destructive forces of nature to sustain its population.

The Blue Oak is a tree that actually contains Mycorrhizae, which is a group of fungi that improves a plants ability to absorb nutrients and water from the earth. This trait is essential in a biome such as this one because the weather conditions are dry for most of the year. Water sufficiency is key factor when it comes to living a healthy life (and that includes plants!).

The Coyote Brush is a peculiar plant that has waxed leaves which prevent loss of moisture that occurs through evaporation. The bush is also said to be fire resistant, which improves its chance of survival as wildfires happen a lot in California. In addition, the wax on its leaves lessen the likelihood of it getting consumed as they taste rather unpleasant.

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