Amphibian, reptile, bird, and mammal populations that depend on freshwater marsh, streamside habitat, and wet meadows are struggling most to endure the drought that has gripped California for more than four years, according to a recently-released assessment released by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).
CDFW biologists ranked the vulnerability of the state’s terrestrial species and gave top priority for additional monitoring and assistance to 48 species.
The greatest concentrations of these high-risk populations are found in Southern California coastal, mountain and valley regions, the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the Mojave Desert, Central Valley and the southern Cascade mountain range.
The majority of these “Priority 1” species are found in freshwater marsh, riparian and wet meadow habitats. The species include the mountain yellow-legged frog, the giant garter snake, tricolored blackbird and the Amargosa vole.
CDFW researchers analyzed and assessed the vulnerability of more than 358 land species. Scientists then classified them into Priority I (most vulnerable) and Priority II (less vulnerable) categories.
All of the species evaluated were threatened, endangered or were otherwise considered species of special concern before the drought impacted them.
CDFW also determined the San Joaquin Valley, southern Sierra Nevada, western Mojave Desert and Owens Valley areas experienced the least amount of normal average rainfall during this extended drought. As a result, wildlife in these regions struggle most finding resources to survive.
California has more native species and the greatest number of endemic species than any other state in the nation with approximately 68 amphibian species, 85 reptile species, 429 bird species and 185 mammal species, many that occur nowhere else in the world.
source: California Department of Fish and Wildlife