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Vegetation monitoring of endangered species habitat: Coastal sage scrub.
SEIGER, LESLIE1, ZEDLER, PAUL2, 1 2
ABSTRACT- Coastal sage scrub habitat in southern California is in a highly fragmented and degraded state due to urban development. CSS supports numerous candidate and listed wildlife species under the state and federal ESAs, including the California gnatcatcher, the coastal cactus wren , and the orange-throated whiptail lizard. A large and biologically important portion of remaining CSS is on Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, occupying 50,000 ha along 27 km of coastline north of San Diego. The Base initiated a long-term vegetation monitoring program in 1991. Fire history and land use data are collected annually at each of 199 permanent transects. Vegetation cover data were collected in 1994 and in 1998. These data are being used to evaluate the condition of CSS habitat and to enhance conservation planning efforts. The dominant shrub species are Artemisia californica (California sage), Salvia mellifera (black sage) and Malosma laurina (laurel sumac) comprising, in roughly equal proportions, 53% of the aerial shrub cover. Between 1994 and 1998, each of the three dominant species experienced roughly a 20% increase in number of individuals and aerial cover. The number of Artemisia californica seedlings doubled at the same time, while increases in seedlings of the other two species were small. Vertical stratification of mature Artemisia californica shifted noticeably as well. Our findings suggest that CSS gnatcatcher habitat is being maintained under the current patterns of military land use.
KEY WORDS: coastal sage scrub, endangered species habitat, vegetation monitoring, gnatcatcher