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The Chaparral Biome By Kelli Boone and Kelly Casarez.

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1 The Chaparral Biome By Kelli Boone and Kelly Casarez

2 Introduction Extraordinary adaptations made by both plants and animals in this biome make it one of the most unique, sparse and yet diverse environments on Earth.

3 Location This Biome is only located in selective areas on the planet such as Central Chile, the Mediterranean Basin, Southern Australia and the Southern tip of Africa. However, the Chaparral is also located all along middle and southern California. This is the same area where many wildfires occur and new suburbs are being built, making this unique biome one of the most controversial as well.

4 Climate The Chaparral has mild winters and hot, dry summers. Droughts are extremely common. The average annual rainfall reaches only 6-9 inches. Most of that rainfall arrives during the winter, bringing in electric storms which can spark a natural wildfire easily due to the dryness of the land. Average temperatures range from degrees Celsius (around 50° Fahrenheit) in the winter, to degrees Celsius (86-104° Fahrenheit).

5 Plants The shrubbery tends to dominate this biome and adaptations to wildfires and heat have resulted in many diverse plants which survive and reproduce in three distinct ways. Obligate resprouters, such as the toyon survive the fires by resprouting from their underground root systems, or burls. Facultative seeders, such as chamise both resprout and germinate after a fire. Obligate seeders such as Ceanothus are destroyed in the fire and depend on seedlings to replace their population. They need fire because their seed coats need fire to open them up so new plants can germinate.

6 Plants Plant communities of the Chaparral biome mainly consist of shrub land such as that of California’s Chaparral. Similar plant communities can be found in other Mediterranean climates such as the Maquis in the Mediterranean basin, the matorral in Chile, and the fynbos in South Africa as well as western and southern Australia. The shrub land has different names in these countries, but have similar adaptations to fire and heat. The plants are the primary producers and the animals which either eat the plants or use them for shelter have also amazingly adapted to this fire prone environment. The Fynbos in South Africa

7 Animals The animals are mainly grassland and desert types adapted to hot, dry weather. They include the jack rabbits, mule deer and scrub jays, which rely on the plants for food and shelter respectively. Coyotes are a good example of secondary consumers in the California chaparral which hunt the deer, rabbits and birds amongst the shrubbery.

8 Environmental Concerns Both the Mediterranean Basin and Californian Chaparral biomes are facing serious environmental concerns. Humans have hurt the Chaparral by cutting down trees that shelter birds and animals in order to build new suburbs. Fires also started by humans are considered necessary by many to cut back on vegetation that could be fuel for fire. However, that’s a common misconception as the Chaparral is naturally adapted to its own dry vegetation which is used as extra shade and the leaf litter is absorbed by the soil and brought back to the live plants as natural food.

9 Environmental Concerns Another false argument for controlled fires is to rid backyards of “ugly shrubs.” Many of these homes have been built upon Chaparral which has existed perfectly without the “help” of controlled fires. Another misunderstanding about the Chaparral biome is that the old growth is considered fuel for wildfires. It’s possible for there to be some wildfires over the years, however, “trashy and unproductive” growth is actually needed for some plants to germinate, meaning that even a 30 year old Chaparral is just beginning a new life cycle!

10 What You Can Do The beautiful Chaparral relies on its own vegetation to renew and recycle itself. Without the brush, plants and already small amount of land, it’s inevitable that it will no longer be an existing biome. Controlled fires mostly do harm to the Chaparral, so reduce or stop the amount of brush you burn because you may be destroying plant, and ultimately, animal species which might never be able to return and will eventually die off. New suburban neighborhoods being built on top of once thriving Chaparral are now cutting off animals from their food sources and reducing the important plant population. Don’t plan on buying a home in the new neighborhoods which are actually embedded in old Chaparral which is ripe for new wildfires.

11 Conclusion Without the Chaparral, there will be no more beautiful, rolling hills and lands of California or thriving European islands and cities. Many unique species will be lost if we continue to decrease this truly adaptable biome. It’s amazing that the only real threat to the Chaparral isn’t the hot sun or wildfires. It is man and his insatiable need for more land.


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