Fauna of California

Last updated
Coyotes live in every habitat in California, from the arid deserts in the south to foggy coastal regions in the north. Coyote arizona.jpg
Coyotes live in every habitat in California, from the arid deserts in the south to foggy coastal regions in the north.

The fauna of the State of California may be the most diverse in the United States of America. Of the Lower 48 conterminous states, California has the greatest diversity in climate, terrain and geology in general. [2] The state's six life zones are the lower Sonoran (desert); upper Sonoran (foothill regions and some coastal lands); transition (coastal areas and moist northeastern counties); and the Canadian, Hudsonian, and Arctic zones, comprising California's highest elevations. California’s diverse geography gives rise to dozens of different ecosystems, each of which has its own unique native plants and animals. California is a huge state, the 3rd largest in the U.S., and can range broadly in habitat type. [3]

Contents

Earth scientists typically divide California into eleven distinct geomorphic provinces with clearly defined boundaries. They are, from north to south, the Klamath Mountains, the Cascade Range, the Modoc Plateau, the Basin and Range, the Coast Ranges, the Central Valley, the Sierra Nevada, the Transverse Ranges, the Mojave Desert, the Peninsular Ranges, and the Colorado Desert. Here, the Los Angeles Basin, the Channel Islands, and the Pacific Ocean are treated as distinct regions.

Common animals that live throughout all the state include raccoons, weasels, otters, beavers, hawks, lizards, owls, coyotes, skunks, snakes, cougars, black bears, deer, squirrels and whales. As of 2013, there are 634 bird species on the California Birds Records Committee, ten of which are introduced species which are not native to the state. The California quail, the official state bird, has a breeding habit of mainly shrubby areas and open woodland. Another bird which winters in California is the American white pelican which is a large seabird, with a wingspan reaching up to 110 inches (280 cm).

Venomous spiders in California include Arizona recluse, baja recluse, chilean recluse, desert recluse, martha's recluse, russell's recluse, brown widow and western black widow. [4]

Northern California

The forests of Northern California are home to many animals, for instance the American black bear. There are between 25 000 and 35 000 black bears in the state. Canadian Rockies - the bear at Lake Louise.jpg
The forests of Northern California are home to many animals, for instance the American black bear. There are between 25 000 and 35 000 black bears in the state.

The forests in northern parts of California have an abundant fauna, which includes for instance the black-tailed deer, black bear, gray fox, North American cougar, bobcat, and Roosevelt elk. Garter snakes and rattlesnakes are common, as are such amphibians as the mudpuppy and redwood salamander. The kingfisher, chickadee, towhee, and hummingbird represent the bird life of this region. There are an estimated 1,750 wild horses in Northern California in 2013, according to the Bureau of Land Management. Gray wolves began repopulating California in 2011 as they entered Lassen, Siskiyou and Plumas Counties from the Cascade Range of Oregon. [6]

Sierra Nevada

Mammals of the Canadian zone include the snowshoe hare, mountain chickadee, and several species of chipmunk. Conspicuous birds include the blue-fronted jay, hermit thrush, American dipper, and Townsend's solitaire. Birds become scarcer as one ascends to the Hudsonian zone, and the wolverine is now regarded as rare. The only bird native to the high Arctic region is the gray-crowned rosy finch, but others often visit, including the Anna's hummingbird and Clark's nutcracker.

Principal mammals of this region are also visitors from other zones; the Sierra coney and white-tailed jackrabbit make their homes here. The bighorn sheep also lives in this mountainous terrain; the bighorn sheep was listed as endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Some animals in the Yosemite Valley include bobcats, mountain lions, ring-tailed cats, the Steller's jay, California ground squirrels and the American black bear.

Lake Tahoe

In terms of volume, the largest lake in California is Lake Tahoe, located on the California–Nevada border. The area in and around Lake Tahoe is filled with a huge diversity of animals and plants. Many mammals call the Lake Tahoe area home. Included among these are the yellow-bellied marmot, the Douglas squirrel or chickaree, golden-mantled ground squirrel, American martin, mule deer, black bear, coyote, raccoon, beaver, and porcupine. [7]

Birds in the region include American robin, bald eagle, California gull, Canada goose, dark-eyed junco, hairy woodpecker, mallard, mountain chickadee, red-tailed hawk, Steller's jay, western tanager, and yellow-headed blackbird. [8] The region has numerous venomous spiders, such as the black widow, brown recluse, tarantula, and hobo spider. The mountain yellow-legged frog is also living throughout the area. Fish species in the lake include Tahoe sucker, mountain whitefish, brown bullhead catfish, smallmouth bass, mosquitofish, and brown trout. [9]

Klamath Mountains

The California sea lion ranges along all of the western coast and islands of California. Lion de mer Amneville 01.jpg
The California sea lion ranges along all of the western coast and islands of California.

The vast forested Klamath Mountains in Northern California, coupled with a low rate of human settlement in the rugged remote terrain, makes for excellent habitat for a number of species. Mammal species include mountain lions, black bears, bobcats, lynx, raccoons, martens, fishers, beavers, grey fox, red fox, northern flying squirrel, and plentiful deer. Bird species include bald eagles, golden eagles, pileated woodpecker, band-tailed pigeon, several hawks including goshawks, several large owl species including the spotted owl, plus an extensive variety of additional species both plant and animal. [10]

The area has wolves. The 517,000-acre Trinity Alps Wilderness is the second largest designated wilderness in California and spans three national forest boundaries. Bears are very common, and it is recommended that hikers use bear bags or bear canister. [11] Salmon and steelhead runs occur in a number of rivers whose headwaters lie in the wilderness, including the Stuart Fork Trinity River, South Fork Salmon River, North Fork Trinity River and New River. Other fish species include king salmon, silver salmon, brown trout, rainbow trout, kokanee salmon, eastern brook trout, crappie, bluegill, catfish, large and smallmouth bass.

Big Sur

Big Sur is a region of the Central Coast of California where the Santa Lucia Mountains rise abruptly from the Pacific Ocean. Big Sur is home to a wide variety of animals. Mammals include bobcat, weasel, coyote, gray fox and puma, as well as non-native Russian boar which were imported in the 1920s for sport hunting to Rancho San Carlos and can now be found in 56 of the state's 58 counties. [12] [13] Sea lions, harbor seals, elephant seals, gray whales, sea otters, and several species of sharks can be spotted off the rocky coastline. [14]

Many varieties of seabirds and waterfowl also call it home, including seagulls, cormorants, willets, sandpipers, oystercatchers, guillemots and many others. Andrew Molera State Park has over 350 different species of birds. The peregrine falcon, brown pelican, Brandt's cormorant and other seabirds are very easy to see along the coast. [14] Three amphibians are found in the area: Arboreal salamander, California newt and western toad.

Southern California

California is home to dozens of species of lizards. The western fence lizard depicted is the most common in Southern California. WesternFenceLizard.jpg
California is home to dozens of species of lizards. The western fence lizard depicted is the most common in Southern California.
The Sonoran Desert has more species of rattlesnakes (11) than anywhere else in the world. Crotalus cerastes mesquite springs CA.JPG
The Sonoran Desert has more species of rattlesnakes (11) than anywhere else in the world.

Southern California constitutes one of the more varied collections of geologic, topographic, and natural ecosystem landscapes in a diversity outnumbering other major regions in the country. The region spans from Pacific Channel Islands, shorelines, beaches, and coastal plains, through the Transverse and Peninsular Ranges with their peaks, into the large and small interior valleys, to the vast deserts of California.

Several varieties of rattlesnakes are indigenous to the region. While only the Pacific Northwest rattler makes its home in Northern California, almost a dozen rattlesnakes make their home in the deserts of Southern California, including the western diamondback and the Mojave rattlesnake. Birds in the region include the Anna's hummingbird, acorn woodpecker, northern flicker, California towhee, California vulture, red-tailed hawk and many more.

Mojave Desert

The Mojave Desert appears to have little in the way of wildlife but actually has large, diverse populations. The extremely warm desert environment has animals that have adapted to their environment with each filling an important niche in the desert ecosystem. Animals in the Mojave Desert include the Mohave rattlesnake, desert tortoise, glossy snake, common side-blotched lizard, California kingsnake, giant hairy scorpion, stripe tailed scorpion and the desert iguana.

Sonoran Desert

Mammals found in the deserts of the lower Sonoran zone include the jackrabbit, kangaroo rat, and opossum. The Western screech-owl, [17] roadrunner, cactus wren, and various species of hawk are common birds, and the sidewinder, desert tortoise, and horned toad represent the area's reptilian life. The upper Sonoran zone is home to such mammals as the antelope, brown-footed woodrat, and ring-tailed cat. Birds distinctive to this zone are the California thrasher, the American bushtit, and California condor.

Colorado River

The Colorado River is the longest river in the State of California. Many animals have made the Colorado River and surrounding Lower Colorado River Valley their home. Animals along the river include several species of snakes, scorpions, tarantula, yellow-headed blackbird, desert iguana, kit fox, bobcats and coyotes. Rivers and streams in the Colorado Basin were once home to 49 species of native fish, of which 42 are endemic. [18]

Engineering projects and river regulation have led to the extinction of four species and severe declines in the populations of 40 species. The bonytail chub, razorback sucker, Colorado pikeminnow, and humpback chub are among those considered the most at risk. All are unique to the Colorado River system and well adapted to the river's natural silty conditions and flow variations. [18]

Californian Coast

On the Californian Coast, many species of animals and plants can be found. The raccoon, skunk, opossum, and rat are 4 of the species. Large predators include the red fox, bobcat, coyote, American black bear, and the cougar. Wasps, the European honeybee, yellowjackets, flies, moths, and many other insects also live on the Californian coast. Marine life includes orcas and great white sharks. The gray fox is more common than its red cousin.

Backyard wildlife

Raccoons, opossums, skunks, and foxes are common in yards, along with insects, birds, lizards, and squirrels. Bobcats may appear near the wild-land borders, along with rattlesnakes, coyotes, cougars, and bears. [19]

Channel Islands

The Channel Island fox is native to six of the eight Channel Islands of California. There are six subspecies of the fox, each unique to the island it lives on, reflecting its evolutionary history. Urocyon littoralis standing.jpg
The Channel Island fox is native to six of the eight Channel Islands of California. There are six subspecies of the fox, each unique to the island it lives on, reflecting its evolutionary history.

More than 2000 species of plants and animals can be found within the Channel Islands National Park, which consists of five out of the eight islands that compromise the California Channel Islands. Three mammals are endemic to the archipelago: the Channel Islands fox, the deer mouse and the Channel Islands spotted skunk. Introduced mammal species include feral pigs, cats, rats, deer, cattle, the Santa Cruz sheep, and the Catalina Island bison herd. [20]

Other mammals include the harvest mouse, the ground squirrel, and the ornate shrew. Other animals in the islands include island fence lizard, island scrub jay, harbor seal, California sea lion, island night lizard, barn owl, bald eagles, American kestrel, horned lark and meadowlark and California brown pelican. One hundred and forty-five of these species are unique to the islands and found nowhere else in the world. Marine life ranges from microscopic plankton to the endangered blue whale, the largest animal ever to live on earth. [20] The oceans surrounding the islands have a rich marine life, species include for instance orcas, swellshark, bat ray, California moray, great white shark and sea lions.

Coastal California

Dolphins by Anacapa Island.

Along the coast of California is the California sea lion, which can grow up to seven feet long and can be found in shallow ocean water, near beaches, and among rocks. In the open ocean is the northern elephant seal, which grows up to a massive 14 feet (4.3 metres) and has a population of just over 150,000. [3] The California ocean is home to six species of seals: Guadalupe fur seal, northern fur seal, northern sea lion, California sea lion, northern elephant seal and harbor seal.

California waters are also home to eleven species of dolphins, including the short-beaked common dolphin and the Pacific white-sided dolphin. A dozen species of whales live in California, including the killer whale and the gray whale. At least 34 species of sharks have been recorded off the California Coast, including the great white shark and tiger shark. [21]

See also

Related Research Articles

Ringtail Species of mammal

The ringtail is a mammal of the raccoon family native to arid regions of North America. It is widely distributed and well adapted to disturbed areas. It has been legally trapped for its fur. It is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List. It is also known as the ringtail cat, ring-tailed cat, miner's cat or bassarisk, and is sometimes called a cacomistle, though this term seems to be more often used to refer to Bassariscus sumichrasti.

Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden Zoo and botanical garden in Oklahoma City, United States

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is a zoo and botanical garden located in Oklahoma City's Adventure District in northeast Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The fauna of Maine include several diverse land and aquatic animal species, especially those common to the North Atlantic Ocean and deciduous forests of North America. Some of these creatures' habitats has been reduced or fully removed.

Aridoamerica Ecological region of North America

Aridoamerica denotes an ecological region spanning Northern Mexico and the Southwestern United States, defined by the presence of the culturally significant staple foodstuff Phaseolus acutifolius, a drought-resistant bean. Its dry, arid climate and geography stand in contrast to the verdant Mesoamerica of present-day central Mexico into Central America to the south and east, and the higher, milder "island" of Oasisamerica to the north. Aridoamerica overlaps with both.

Species Survival Plan

The American Species Survival Plan or SSP program was developed in 1981 by the (American) Association of Zoos and Aquariums to help ensure the survival of selected species in zoos and aquariums, most of which are threatened or endangered in the wild.

Fauna of the United States Native animals of the United States

The fauna of the United States of America is all the animals living in the Continental United States and its surrounding seas and islands, the Hawaiian Archipelago, Alaska in the Arctic, and several island-territories in the Pacific and in the Caribbean. The U.S. has many endemic species found nowhere else on Earth. With most of the North American continent, the U.S. lies in the Nearctic, Neotropic, and Oceanic faunistic realms, and shares a great deal of its flora and fauna with the rest of the American supercontinent.

ZooAmerica

ZooAmerica is a zoo located in Hershey, Pennsylvania, United States. It was founded in 1910 by Milton S. Hershey with a few animals, including bears, birds, and deer. Today, it covers 11 acres and is home to more than 75 species and 200 individual animals, including some that are rare and endangered.

Fauna of West Virginia

The life zones of West Virginia allow for a diversity of habitats for fauna, varying from large lowland farming valleys bordered with forest and meadow to highland ridge flats and heavy forestland, some with rocky ridge-line peaks. The "Mountain State" harbors at least 56 species and subspecies of mammals. The state has more than 300 types of birds and more than 100 species of fish.

Xerocole Any animal adapted to live in the desert

A xerocole, is a general term referring to any animal that is adapted to live in a desert. The main challenges xerocoles must overcome are lack of water and excessive heat. To conserve water they avoid evaporation and concentrate excretions. Some are so adept at conserving water or obtaining it from food that they do not need to drink at all. To escape the desert heat, xerocoles tend to be either nocturnal or crepuscular.

Sarcocystis is a genus of parasitic Apicomplexan alveolates. Species in this genus infect reptiles, birds and mammals. The name is derived from Greek: sarkos = flesh and kystis = bladder.

West Virginia State Wildlife Center Zoological park in the United States

The West Virginia State Wildlife Center is a zoological park in French Creek, West Virginia. Operated by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, the Wildlife Center displays many of West Virginia's wildlife, including both native and introduced species. A few of the animals at the Wildlife Center were once found naturally in West Virginia, but were extirpated by the early 1900s.

Ecotourism in the United States is commonly practiced in protected areas such as national parks and nature reserves. The principles and behaviors of ecotourism are slowly becoming more widespread in the United States; for example, hotels in some regions strive to be more sustainable.

Fauna of Nevada

The fauna of the U.S. State of Nevada is mostly species adapted to desert, temperature extremes and to lack of moisture. With an average annual rainfall of only about 7 inches (180 mm), Nevada is the driest – and has the largest percentage of its total area classified as desert – of all states in the United States. Two-thirds of the state is located within the largest desert on the North American continent, the Great Basin Desert, while the lower one-third is the Mojave Desert.

Fauna of Louisiana State ecology

The fauna of Louisiana is characterized by the region's low swamplands, bayous, creeks, woodlands, coastal marshlands and beaches, and barrier islands covering an estimated 20,000 square miles, corresponding to 40 percent of Louisiana's total land area. Southern Louisiana contains up to fifty percent of the wetlands found in the Continental United States, and are made up of countless bayous and creeks.

The Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary is the 501(c)(3) nonprofit animal sanctuary in Red Lodge, Montana, with the mission of providing lifelong sanctuary to non-releasable Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem wildlife while sharing a message of education and conservation. The Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary is accredited by the American Sanctuary Association.

References

  1. "Coyote Management Guidelines--UC IPM". Ipm.ucdavis.edu. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  2. "Flora and fauna - California". City-data.com. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  3. 1 2 "California Fauna". Travelcalifornia.com. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  4. George, David W. "Dangerously Venomous Spiders of the United States by State". Venombyte.com. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  5. "Black Bear Facts". Tahoewildbears.org. Archived from the original on 9 August 2017. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  6. "BLM Wild Horses & Burros, Bureau of Land Management, California". Blm.gov. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  7. "Lake Tahoe California Wildlife, Animals - AllTrips". Alllaketahoe.com. Archived from the original on 21 September 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  8. "The Lake Tahoe Basin - Lake Tahoe Vacation Guide". Tahoevacationguide.com. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  9. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-12-07. Retrieved 2013-04-08.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. "Klamath National Forest - Home". Fs.usda.gov. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  11. "Klamath National Forest - Special Places". Fs.usda.gov. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  12. Dowd, Katie (December 26, 2019). "One eccentric socialite is to blame for California's wild pig problem". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  13. Scutro, Andrew (November 28, 2002). "Hog Heaven". Monterey County Weekly. Retrieved 7 February 2021.
  14. 1 2 "Big Sur California : Vegetation and Wildlife : BigSur-Coastline.com". Bigsur-coastline.com. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  15. "Commonly Encountered California Lizards". Californiaherps.com. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  16. "Rattlesnake facts". wc.pima.edu. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  17. "Owls". www.desertmuseum.org. Retrieved 2019-03-23.
  18. 1 2 Colorado River Basin#CITEREFBenkeCushing2005
  19. Sahagun, Louis (September 4, 2019). "California becomes first state to ban fur trapping after Gov. Newsom signs law". Los Angeles Times . Retrieved September 5, 2019.
  20. 1 2 "Places To Go - Channel Islands National Park (U.S. National Park Service)". Nps.gov. Retrieved 15 October 2017.
  21. Sharks Indigenous to Waters off the Pacific Coast Archived 2013-10-21 at the Wayback Machine