Critical data on California’s native plant communities
California enjoys the most diverse vegetation of any state in the nation. As with its flora, this diversity arises as a result of topography, unique climate, geology, and ecological isolation. California has 435 recognized alliances and within those more than 1,200 vegetation associations exist. This compares to only 2,000 associations throughout the entire 10 western state region. Yet the taxonomy of vegetation is not as well defined and static as that of plants, and there are many more types to be defined and revisions to be made.
CNPS mapping and monitoring projects are helping California close critical gaps of information needed to make sound conservation decisions in the years ahead.
The CNPS Vegetation Program is working to address these challenges in collaboration with key partners across government, universities, and other organizations. Today, these efforts have become increasingly urgent against the backdrop of climate change, weather extremes, and increased development pressure. As part of the CNPS Important Plant Area Initiative, CNPS mapping and monitoring projects are helping California close critical gaps of information needed to make sound conservation decisions in the years ahead.
Grasslands & vernal pools
As part of the CNPS Important Plant Area Initiative, the CNPS vegetation team is working to map, classify, and monitor treasured desert landscapes like the Castle Mountains in the Mojave National Preserve and the Colorado Desert. Today, the team is tracking the ongoing impact of climate change and increased fire as shrublands (sagebrush and native perennials) transition to annual grasslands following fire.
Updates & publications
Vegetation Sampling & Mapping in the Castle Mountains
In the northeastern corner of California, lies a massive volcanic plain known as the Modoc Plateau. Here reside some of North America’s most remote and threatened ecosystems, due to a combination of over-grazing, fire, woodland expansion, and invasive species. In the past year, CNPS and partners from the Bureau of Land Management, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, and others have partnered to complete some of the region’s first vegetation mapping.
Other important work
Other important work
In recent years, the CNPS vegetation team has reported on areas ranging from the Sierra and Lassen foothills to Carrizo Plain and the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Meanwhile, our partners are completing much-needed work alongside us.
From the Blog
Before and after fine-scale vegetation maps now complete for BLM wildfire areas in the southern Sierra Nevada.
In 2021, CNPS staff, volunteers, and students spent six weeks conducting vegetation assessments in five state parks post-fire.
CNPS sampled 30+ plant alliances in the Santa Susana Mountains, progress on classifying vegetation with the first fine-scale map of local plant communities.