California Coastal Sage, Chaparral, and Oak Woodlands

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California Coastal Sage, Chaparral, and Oak Woodlands


Central and southern California and northwestern Baja California, as well as Channel Islands.


The ecoregion has a Mediterranean climate of hot dry summers and mild winters. The mean annual temperature ranges from approximately 14C to 18xC. The frost-free period ranges from 180 to 365 days. The mean annual precipitation is 548 mm and ranges from 200 mm to more than 1400 mm on higher peaks in the northern portion. Coastal fogs provide some moisture in the dry season.


Mainly chaparral and oak woodlands; grasslands occur in some lower elevations and patches of pine are found at higher elevations. In the south, coastal sage scrub with chamise, white sage, black sage, California buckwheat, golden yarrow, coastal cholla. A small area of Torrey pine near San Diego. Inland chaparral with ceanothus, buckeye, manzanita, scrub oak, and mountain-mahogany. Coast live oak, canyon live oak, poison oak, California black walnut also occur. Around the Central Valley, blue oaks, and some Coulter pine, Digger pine, Jeffrey pine, or big-cone Douglas-fir at high elevations.


Mostly ephemeral and intermittent streams. A few perennial streams enter the region from adjacent highland ecoregions. Generally lacks lakes, but a few ponds and reservoirs occur.


Coastal terraces, some open low mountains or foothills, parallel ranges and valleys, and areas of irregular plains in the south and near the border of the adjacent Central California Valley ecoregion (11.1.2). Cenozoic marine and non-marine sedimentary rocks, Mesozoic granitic rocks. Coarse sediments on colluvial slopes. Dominant soil orders include Alfosols, Entisols, and Mollisols, with a thermic soil temperature regime and xeric soil moisture regime.


Mule deer, gray fox, cougar, coyote, bobcat, raccoon, skunk, jackrabbit, brush rabbit, kangaroo rat, California pocket mouse, turkey vulture, roadrunner, mockingbird, mountain quail, acorn woodpecker, wrentit, brown pelican, various shorebirds, western rattlesnake, western fence lizard, Monterey salamander.

Land Use/Human Activities

Urban, suburban, industrial, recreation, tourism, some livestock grazing, diversified cropland with lettuce, artichokes, spinach, celery, tomatoes, strawberries, citrus, avocados, vineyards, and nursery products. Large cities include San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Riverside, Santa Ana, Anaheim, San Diego, Tijuana, and Ensenada.




Griffith, G. 2010. Level III North American Terrestrial Ecoregions: United States Descriptions. Prepared for the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation. 393 rue St-Jacques oust, Suite 200, Montreal Quebec H2Y 1N9