Temperate Shrubland (Chaparral)

By: James Wright

What are the Temperate Shrublands?

The Temperate Shrublands is a biome consisting of dense low growing evergreen shrubs and some small trees. The area's soil is generally thin and lacks good amounts of nutrients limiting growth of plants. These soil conditions only allow low growing plants like shrubs and other small plants giving the Shrublands its name.

Location and Climate

Chaparrals are generally located near the coast in areas like southern California, central Chile, southern Australia, and southwest South Africa. Being close to the sea allows the biome to have longer winter rain seasons than other temperate deserts have, and more fog during spring and fall to reduce evaporation. The summer seasons are long, warm, and dry making most of the plants and vegetation dry and highly flammable. This makes fires caused by humans or lightening spread incredibly fast.

Species and Communities

Most plants growing in the chaparral are low growing shrubs or trees. The shrubs dominate the area and force out the smaller grasses. There is a large number of animals that can live in the chaparral. Animals like mule deer, jackrabbits, chipmunks, puma, lizards, and several species of birds inhabit the chaparral.

Adaptations

Due to the very hot and dry summers the plants have adapted to sustain nutrients in the soil incase of a forest fire. Most shrubs like the Red Shanks and Sagebrush have fire resistant roots that store food reserves so when a fire occurs there are food reserves left in the ground allowing the new seeds to sprout and grow quickly. Hares and rabbits like the black-tailed jackrabbit have adapted to have large ears. By regulating blood flow in and out of their large ears they can control their body temperature so they don't get too hot or too cold.

A typical food chain would be Sagebrush-Black Tailed Rabbit-Grey Fox-Puma-Earthworm

Human Impacts

As people first started populating areas in the chaparral, they were scared of the fires that broke out and started fire suppression. However, trying to suppress the fires only made the eventual fires that occurred even worse causing more damage. Thankfully, they did learn from their mistakes and not only do we let the fires occur naturally now, but we do some controlled fires ourselves. These fires help recycle nutrients in the ground and help plant growth. In order to stop more destruction than necessary, we do control fires from spreading too far and becoming dangerous.

Bibliography

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Lucy M. NA. Chaparral Animals [Internet]. NA. NA(NA):NA; [2002, cited 2016 Jan 28] . Available from: http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/chaparral_animal_page.htm

Lopez A. NA. Human Impact/Existence in the Mediterranean Scrub, California's Chaparral [Internet]. Na. NA(NA):Blogspot; [2012 Nov 27, cited 2016 Jan 28] . Available from: http://alopez--geography5.blogspot.com/2012/11/human-impact-on-mediterranean-scrub.html

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