Plant Community Mapping & Monitoring
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
Grasslands & vernal pools
CNPS has been engaged in a multi-year effort focused on grasslands, prairies, and vernal pools. CNPS has recently turned its attention toward the analysis of over a decade of vernal pool research.
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.
2021 California Vegetation Map in Support of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan
includes Jawbone North, Flat-Tailed Horned Lizard, Salton Sea North, and Salton Sea South subareas supported by the Bureau of Land Management
2020 California Vegetation Map in Support of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan
includes Picacho, Owens Valley, and Jawbone South subareas supported by the Bureau of Land Management
2020 Mojave Desert Network Vegetation Classification report
includes a link to the main classification report for Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Castle Mountain National Monument, Mojave National Preserve, and Death Valley National Park; plus report volumes for the Field Keys, Vegetation Alliance descriptions, and Association descriptions supported by the National Park Service
2014-2016 California Vegetation Map in Support of the DRECP
includes subareas 4, 5 and 6 supported by the California Energy Commission and CA Department of Fish & Wildlife
2013 California Desert Vegetation Map and Accuracy Assessment in Support of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan
includes subareas 1, 2, and 3 supported by the California Energy Commission and CA Department of Fish & Wildlife
2007 – NECO Vegetation Survey & Classification
includes the Northern & Eastern Colorado Desert
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.
Out on the Range – An Update from the Modoc Plateau
2021 – Classification of the Vegetation of Modoc and Lassen Counties, California
2021 – Vegetation Map of a Portion of Modoc and Lassen Counties, California for BLM
2021 – Vegetation Mapping in Modoc and Lassen Counties, California for CDFW
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.
Veg is the Fabric!
Donate now to support ongoing efforts to study and track California’s plant communities!
From the Blog
We’re finding an abundance of fire-following plants in previously mature forests and shrublands across the Central Coast.
Post-Fire Mapping and Report Provide Insights for Southern SierraBefore and after fine-scale vegetation maps now complete for BLM wildfire areas in the southern Sierra Nevada.
Recovery & Monitoring of Central Coast VegetationIn 2021, CNPS staff, volunteers, and students spent six weeks conducting vegetation assessments in five state parks post-fire.