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    • June 14, 2019

    Collage of various habitats of Carrizo Plains
    link opens in new windowCarrizo Plains Ecological Reserve, over 38,900 acres in size, is located in the Coast Range adjacent to Carrizo Plains National Monument. It was historically established as a cattle ranch in the 1800s and was acquired by CDFW in the early 2000s. The reserve is composed of diverse habitat such as scrubland, oak and juniper woodland, yucca slopes, and expansive annual grassland, which supports a variety of wildlife and plants, including special status species.

    With such a large reserve, one may wonder, what’s out there? A number of recurring surveys have been performed over the years to help answer this question. This year, CNDDB staff joined department biologists from the Wildlife Branch and Region 4 to conduct wildlife surveys focused on reptiles and amphibians.

    A few creeks run through the reserve with man-made ponds along the drainages. Western pond turtles, western spadefoots, western toads, and chorus frogs have made these waterways and ponds their home. We surveyed the ponds for western pond turtles and western spadefoot, which are both California Species of Special Concern and tracked by the CNDDB.

    Three photo collage of pond along Barrett Creek, spadefoot tadpole, and adult pond turtle
    Large pond along Barrett Creek (left). Spadefoot tadpole (center). Spot the turtle: an adult basking (right)

    Over 250 coverboards were placed throughout the reserve in order to capture and record terrestrial herps that occur in the different habitat types. We often found nothing, but with a bit of luck, flipping the boards can reveal snakes, lizards or even small mammals sheltering underneath. Of course, watch out for rattlesnakes!

    Three photo collage of a coverboard nestled in grass, a side-blotched lizard, and a small rattlesnake
    A coverboard nestled in grass (left). A side-blotched lizard (center) was found this year and small rattlesnake (right) in 2017.

    The Carrizo Plain Ecological Reserve is one of 749 CDFW-owned lands throughout the state, and forms part of an important network of reserves and public land in the Carrizo Plain area. The Carrizo Plain is the largest intact native grassland left in California, and the 250,000 acres of public land in this area allow wildlife to range freely and make use of a diversity of habitat types.

    Four-photo collage of elk, golden eagle flying, great horned owl in a tree, and mountain lion paw print
    Some other animals found on the reserve: elk, golden eagle, great horned owl, mountain lion

    Categories: Education and Awareness
    • June 13, 2019

    Number of Element Occurrences in Current Distribution: 93,015
    Number of New Element Occurrences Added Since Last Distribution: 208
    Number of Element Occurrences Updated Since Last Distribution: 315
    Number of Source Documents Added: 1,509

    Taxa we've been working on:


    • Agave shawii var. shawii (Shaw's agave)
    • Astragalus claranus (Clara Hunt’s milk-vetch)
    • Botrychium minganense (Mingan moonwort)
    • Calochortus palmeri var. munzii (San Jacinto mariposa-lily)
    • Cirsium scariosum var. loncholepis (La Graciosa thistle)
    • Croton wigginsii (Wiggins' croton)
    • Howellia aquatilis (water howellia)
    • Iliamna latibracteata (California globe mallow)
    • Linanthus orcuttii (Orcutt’s linanthus)
    • Mentzelia tridentata (creamy blazing star)
    • Monardella undulata ssp. crispa (crisp monardella)
    • Oreostemma elatum (tall alpine-aster)
    • Penstemon filiformis (thread-leaved beardtongue)
    • Penstemon personatus (closed-throated beardtongue)
    • Puccinellia simplex (California alkali grass)
    • Scutellaria bolanderi ssp. austromontana (southern mountain skullcap)
    • Stellaria longifolia (long-leaved starwort)
    • Utricularia intermedia (flat-leaved bladderwort)


    • Catostomus platyrhynchus (mountain sucker)
    • Gambelia sila (blunt-nosed leopard lizard)
    • Oncorhynchus mykiss gilberti (Kern River rainbow trout)
    • Ovis canadensis (bighorn sheep)
    • Rana boylii (foothill yellow-legged frog)
    • Rana cascadae (Cascades frog)
    • Spea hammondii (western spadefoot)

    Categories: Monthly Updates
    • June 10, 2019

    Darlingtonia californica in a field and Pinguicula macroceras in soil

    Photo credit: Kristi Lazar
    Photo caption: Left: Darlingtonia californica (CNPS List 4), Right: Pinguicula macroceras (CNPS List 2B.2)

    Not all carnivores are in the order Carnivora – in fact some are plants! Carnivorous plants are plants that have adapted to trap insects as a nutritional supplement, to compensate for the nutrient-poor soils they usually grow in.

    Most people are familiar with the Venus flytrap, which is native to the Carolinas, but there are other pretty cool carnivorous plants growing right under our noses here in California. CNDDB tracks several species of carnivorous plants which you may not have thought to look for in California – one species of sundew (Drosera anglica), one species of butterwort (Pinguicula macroceras), three bladderworts (Utricularia intermedia, U. minor, and U. ochroleuca), and our only native pitcher plant (Darlingtonia californica).

    The California pitcher plant has large balloon-like leaves with a tiny exit hole, lined with slippery secretions and downward-pointing hairs, so that any insects unlucky enough to crawl inside cannot find their way out again and eventually die. Sundews and butterworts catch insects by secreting a sticky fluid and digestive enzymes onto their leaves, trapping insects like flypaper. Bladderworts have small round traps with lids growing from modified stems that float in the water or are buried in wet soil. These traps have trigger hairs at the opening so that when small organisms touch the hairs, the lid snaps open and sucks them in!

    You can find these plants in the wild in bogs and seeps in the northern Sierras and on the North Coast. And remember to fill out an link opens in new windowOnline Field Survey Form if you see one of these neat plants!

    Categories: Taxon of the week