Mediterranean California

A Mediterranean-style climate—with rainy, mild winters and dry summers—coupled with an eclectic geologic history has produced a greater variety of plant and animal species in this region than anywhere else in the nation.  Referred to as “an island called California” for its distinctive ecology, the Golden State harbors more than 1,200 unique species. Rampant development has consumed large areas of native habitat, imperiling dozens of these plants and animals. 

Location
Almost entirely within the State of California, west of the crest of the Sierra Nevada and southern California mountain ranges.  Includes the southwest Oregon Klamath Mountains, as well as the coastal Peninsular ranges extending from southern California into Baja Norte, Mexico.

Climate
Mediterranean climate characterized by generally mild (even subtropical) temperatures.  Most precipitation falls as rain during winter months, followed by very dry summer months. Average annual temperatures range from 16.8ºC, (62ºF) and mean annual precipitation of 484mm (19 inches) at Pasadena, CA, to 5.7ºC (42ºF) and 790mm (31 inches) at Tahoe, CA.

Features
Different forms of chaparral and grassland predominate. Into higher elevations, mixed conifer and broadleaf evergreen forests mostly.  The California central valley was historically oak savanna and grassland, with large floodplains draining from the Sierra Nevada and some coast ranges. Extraordinarily high numbers of native plants

History and Trends
Intense land development for mining, agriculture, coastal development, urbanization; many introduced species; altered fire regimes. Portions of California are a global ‘hot spot’ for endemic biodiversity under intense pressure from development in invasive species.

Mediterranean California Ecoregions

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