California chaparral and woodlands

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The California chaparral and woodlands is a terrestrial ecoregion of central and southern California (United States) and northwestern Baja California (Mexico), located on the west coast of North America. It is a Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and shrub ecoregion, part of the Nearctic ecozone.

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Chaparral.jpg
Chaparral, Santa Ynez Mountains, near Santa Barbara, California

The ecoregion includes coastal southern and central California and northwestern Baja California, including the southern and central California Coast Ranges, the Transverse ranges and the western slope of the northern Peninsular Ranges. The Channel Islands of California, off the southern California coast, and Guadalupe Island off the coast of Baja California, are also part of the ecoregion. Most of the population of California and Baja California lives in this ecoregion, which includes the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Tijuana.

The California Central Valley grasslands ecoregion, as well as the coniferous Sierra Nevada forests, Northern California coastal forests, and Klamath-Siskiyou forests of northern California and southwestern Oregon, share many plant and animal affinities with the California chaparral and woodlands. Many botanists consider the California chaparral and woodlands, Sierra Nevada forests, Klamath-Siskiyou forests, and Northern California coastal forests as a single California floristic province, excluding the deserts of eastern California, which belong to other floristic provinces. Many Bioregionalists, including poet Gary Snyder, identify the central and northern Coast Ranges, Klamath-Siskiyou, the Central Valley, and Sierra Nevada as the Shasta Bioregion or the Alta California bioregion.

The ecoregion includes a great variety of plant communities, including grasslands, Oak savannas and woodlands, chaparral, and coniferous forests, including stands of the giant Coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). It is home to a great many endemic species. The region has been heavily affected by grazing, logging, dams and water diversions, and intensive agriculture and urbanization, as well as competition by numerous introduced or exotic plant and animal species. Some unique plant communities, like southern California's Coastal Sage Scrub, have been nearly wiped out by agriculture and urbanization. As a result, the region now has many rare and endangered species, including the California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus).

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