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Title: Plant Fluctuations”;

 With photograph of California Poppies

 “The Bird Trail at Wavecrest

Three plant communities at Wavecrest: Coastal Prairie, Coastal Scrub, and Woodland

From where you are standing you can see Coastal Prairie, Coastal Scrub and Woodland Communities. These plant communities are constantly changing as they are buffeted by a number of environmental factors.”

Photo 1:

Photograph depicting the coastal land cover mosaic, with Woodlands in the background and Coastal Prairie and Coastal Scrub in the foreground.

“Evolutionary Adaptation of Plant Communities”

“Many plants have evolved to use heavy fog to get enough water during the dry summer season. Plants that make up these ecosystems have to be tolerant of high salt levels in the air and soil. Coyote Brush, a member of the Coastal Scrub community, accumulates salt from the air in its foliage and roots increasing the salt content of the soil when it dies.”

“Environmental Adaptations”

“Offshore winds sculpt the shape of many of these plants. Other plants avoid the salt’s drying effects by growing close to the ground.”

Photo 2: Vetch
Photo 3: Beach Strawberry

“Causes of plant community fluctuations:”

·      Fires encourage growth of Prairie.

·      Drought encourages Prairie and Scrub.

·      Grazing livestock and predation from predators limit invasion of Scrub into the Prairie.

·      Scrub flourishes in the absence of fire and grazing.

·      Once Scrub is present it helps establish Woodlands by preventing access by grazers.

·      Woodland Trees shade out the Scrub and Prairie until the cycle begins again.

“Characteristic Plants”

These are the plants that are most common and can help identify and define the type of plant community.


Photo 4: Monterey Pine

Photo 5: Monterey Cypress

“Coastal Scrub”

Photo 6: Coyote Brush

Photo 7: Sage Brush

“Coastal Prairie”

Photo 8: Bird’s Foot Trefoil

Photo 9: California Brome Grass

This portion of the California Coastal Trail sponsored by:

The Peninsula Open Space Trust, Coastal Conservancy, Coastside Land Trust, and San Mateo County Parks.