California Plain Shows Surprising Winners and Losers from Prolonged Drought


Study tracked how species in Southern California fared during historic drought from 2012-2015.

The Carrizo Plain National Monument is a little-known ecological hotspot in Southern California. Though small, it explodes in wildflowers each spring and is full of threatened or endangered species.

A long-term study led by the University of Washington and the University of California, Berkeley tracked how hundreds of species in this valley fared during the historic drought that struck California from 2012 to 2015. It shows surprising winners and losers, uncovering patterns that may be relevant for climate change. The findings are published Aug. 20 in Nature Climate Change.

“The Carrizo Plain is one of the global hotspots of endangered species, with endangered species at every trophic level: plants, rodents, carnivores,” said lead author Laura Prugh, a UW assistant professor of quantitative wildlife sciences, part of the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. “It also is an ideal laboratory to see how an exceptional climate event affects a whole ecosystem.”

Continue reading at University of Washington

Image via Bureau of Land Management