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Biodiversity Hotspots - California Floristic Province

  • Website Summary
    As one of only five areas with a Mediterranean-type climate in the world -- all of which are on the hotspot list -- the California Floristic Province is characterized by hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters. The region contains a wide variety of ecosystems, including sagebrush steppe, prickly pear shrubland, coastal sage scrub, chaparral, juniper-pine woodland, upper montane-subalpine forest, alpine forest, riparian forest, cypress forests, mixed evergreen forests, Douglas fir forests, sequoia forests, redwood forests, coastal dunes, and salt marshes. Today, about 80,000 square kilometers or 24.7 percent of the original vegetation, remains in more or less pristine condition._x000D_ The California Floristic Province is a zone of Mediterranean-type climate and has the high levels of plant endemism characteristic of these regions. The hotspot is home to the giant sequoia, the planet's largest living organism and its taller but less massive relative, the coastal redwood. _x000D_ This region also holds a number of threatened endemic species such as the giant kangaroo rat and the desert slender salamander, and some of the last individuals of the Critically Endangered California condor can still be found here. In fact, it is the largest avian breeding ground in the United States. _x000D_ Wilderness destruction caused by commercial farming is a major threat for the region as the California Floristic Province generates half of all the agricultural products used by U.S. consumers. The hotspot is also heavily threatened by the expansion of urban areas, pollution, and road construction.