Endangered Species Recovery Program

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Recovery Plan for Upland Species of the San Joaquin Valley, California
Contents . Introduction . Species accounts . Recovery . Stepdown . Implementation . References . Appendix

1. Species Represented and Biotic Communities

Listed Species.-- This recovery plan covers 11 species federally-listed as endangered or threatened (Table 1). Five plants endemic to arid shrublands and grassland communities of the San Joaquin Valley are endangered or threatened. Of the five, the California jewelflower occupied a wide range of elevation and community types but is now very restricted in distribution. Bakersfield cactus is the only desert-adapted succulent plant within the San Joaquin Biotic Region (Williams and Kilburn 1992). A sixth endangered plant covered in this recovery plan, palmate-bracted birds beak, mostly occupies alkali sink and chenopod scrub communities; its range extends into similar communities in the Sacramento Valley.

Of the five federally-listed endangered species of animals included in this recovery plan, two species have formerly-approved recovery plans. A recovery plan for the blunt-nosed leopard lizard was approved in 1980 (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [USFWS] 1980a) and a revised recovery plan was approved in 1985 (USFWS 1985a). The San Joaquin kit fox recovery plan was approved in 1983 (USFWS 1983). Thus, this recovery plan represents a revision of the recovery plans for these two species.

Of these 11 federally-listed plant and animal species, critical habitat has been designated only for the Fresno kangaroo rat. See the species account for the Fresno kangaroo rat for a description of its critical habitat.

Associated Candidates and Species of Concern.-- Thirteen plant species of concern that occur in desert scrub, grassland, and seasonal playa habitats with existing geographic ranges within the region are fully considered in this recovery plan (Table 1). Three mammal that are candidates for Federal listing, and four mammal species of concern and one avian species of concern also are featured in this recovery plan (Table 1). The Buena Vista Lake shrew is the only species to be included that was historically most common in wetlands. It is included here because all of its extant habitat and potential habitat is included within the habitats of the listed species that use alkali sink and associated communities. Two riparian species also are included, the riparian brush rabbit and riparian woodrat. Though their habitats are distinct from those of the other featured species, they are the only two riparian species whose ranges are confined to the San Joaquin Valley. It was expedient to include them here. Three insect species of concern confined to interior sand dune communities and loose sandy soils in other grassland and shrubland communities also are featured in this plan (Table 1). Approximately 61 other plants of concern have geographic distributions partly or wholly within the San Joaquin Valley planning region, but either are confined to wetlands and vernal pools or range into the Sierra Nevada foothills or Delta and East Bay Regions at the north end of the Valley, and are not covered by this plan. Additionally, there are other listed and candidate species which occur within the San Joaquin Valley which are not covered in this plan. These species are either covered under existing recovery plans or will be covered by a recovery plan in the future. The federal status, species distribution, and the availability of a recovery plan are listed in Appendix D.

Table 1. Federally-listed, candidates and species of concern included in this recovery plan.

SpeciesStatusaRecovery PrioritybFederal Listing Date & Reference; State Listing Date Community Associations
California jewelflower (Caulanthus californicus) FE, CE2 19 Jul 1990, 55 Fed. Reg. 29370; Jan 1987 grasslands, subshrub scrub, chenopod scrub, juniper woodland
palmate-bracted bird's-beak (Cordylanthus palmatus) FE, CE2c 31 Jul 1986, 51 Fed. Reg. 23765, May 1984 Valley and foothill alkaline grasslands, chenopod scrub
Kern mallow (Eremalche kernensis) FE2 19 Jul 1990, 55 Fed. Reg. 29370 chenopod scrub, arid grassland
Hoover's woolly-star (Eriastrum hooveri) FT2 19 Jul 1990, 55 Fed. Reg. 29370 chenopod scrub, arid grassland
San Joaquin woolly-threads (Lembertia congdonii) FE1 19 Jul 1990, 55 Fed. Reg. 29370 arid grassland, chenopod scrub, subshrub scrub
Bakersfield Cactus (Opuntia basilaris var. treleasei) FE, CE3c 19 Jul 1990, 55 Fed. Reg. 29370; Jan 1990 sandy soils, arid grassland, chenopod scrub
giant kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ingens) FE, CE2c 5 Jan 1987, 52 Fed. Reg. 283; 2 Oct 1980 arid grassland, chenopod scrub, subshrub scrub
Fresno kangaroo rat (Dipodomys nitratoides exilis) FE, CE3c 30 Jan 1985, 50 Fed. Reg. 4222; 27 June 1971(rare), 2 Oct 1980 (endangered) Relictual Interior Dune Grassland, other arid grasslands, chenopod scrub, alkali sink
Tipton kangaroo rat (Dipodomys nitratoides nitratoides) FE, CE3c 8 Jul 1988, 53 Fed. Reg. 25608; 11 Jun 1989 Relictual Interior Dune Grassland, chenopod scrub, alkali sink, other arid grasslands
blunt-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia sila) FE, CE2c 11 Mar 1967, 32 Fed. Reg. 4001; 27 Jun 1971 arid grassland, chenopod scrub, alkali sink, subshrub scrub
San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica) FE, CT3c 11 Mar 1967, 32 Fed. Reg. 4001; 27 Jun 1971 grasslands, chenopod scrub, alkali sink, subshrub scrub, oak savanna, agriculture
lesser saltscale (Atriplex minuscula) SC chenopod scrub, alkaline grassland, alkaline playas
Bakersfield smallscale (Atriplex tularensis) SC, CE Jan 1987 alkali sink, chenopod scrub
giant kangaroo rat (Dipodomys ingens) FE, CE 5 Jan 1987, 52 Fed. Reg. 283; 2 Oct 1980 arid grassland, chenopod scrub, subshrub scrub
Fresno kangaroo rat (Dipodomys nitratoides exilis) FE, CE 30 Jan 1985, 50 Fed. Reg. 4222; 27 June 1971(rare), 2 Oct 1980 (endangered) Relictual Interior Dune Grassland, other arid grasslands, chenopod scrub, alkali sink
Tipton kangaroo rat (Dipodomys nitratoides nitratoides) FE, CE 8 Jul 1988, 53 Fed. Reg. 25608; 11 Jun 1989 Relictual Interior Dune Grassland, chenopod scrub, alkali sink, other arid grasslands
blunt-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia sila) FE, CE 11 Mar 1967, 32 Fed. Reg. 4001; 27 Jun 1971 arid grassland, chenopod scrub, alkali sink, subshrub scrub
San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica) FE, CT 11 Mar 1967, 32 Fed. Reg. 4001; 27 Jun 1971 grasslands, chenopod scrub, alkali sink, subshrub scrub, oak savanna, agriculture
lesser saltscale (Atriplex minuscula) SC chenopod scrub, alkaline grassland, alkaline playas
Bakersfield smallscale (Atriplex tularensis) SC, CE Jan 1987 alkali sink, chenopod scrub
Lost Hills saltbush (Atriplex vallicola) SC alkali sink, chenopod scrub
Vasek's clarkia (Clarkia tembloriensis ssp. calientensis) SC Valley and foothill grassland
Temblor buckwheat (Eriogonum temblorense) SC barren clay, shale soils, arid grassland, subshrub scrub
Tejon poppy (Eschscholzia lemmonii ssp. kernensis) SC alkaline grasslands
diamond-petaled California poppy (Eschscholzia rhombipetala) SC clay soils, grasslands
Comanche Point layia (Layia leucopappa) SC chenopod scrub, grasslands
Munz's tidy-tips (Layia munzii) SC alkaline clay soils, grasslands, chenopod scrub
Jared's peppergrass (Lepidium jaredii) SC alkali sink, alkaline grasslands, chenopod scrub
Merced monardella (Monardella leucocephala) SC sandy soils, grasslands
Merced phacelia (Phacelia ciliata var. opaca) SC clay soils, grasslands
oil neststraw (Stylocline citroleum) SC clay soils, chenopod scrub
Ciervo aegialian scarab beetle (Aegialia concinna) SC Relictual Interior Dune Grassland, chenopod scrub in sand soil
San Joaquin dune beetle (Coleus gracilis) SC Relictual Interior Dune Grassland, chenopod scrub
Doyen's dune weevil (Trigonoscuta sp.) SC Relictual Interior Dune Grassland, chenopod scrub
San Joaquin antelope squirrel (Ammospermophilus nelsoni) SC, CT 2 Oct 1980 grassland, chenopod scrub, subshrub scrub, alkali sink
short-nosed kangaroo rat (Dipodomys nitratoides brevinasus) SC grassland, chenopod scrub, subshrub scrub, alkali sink
riparian woodrat (Neotoma fuscipes riparia) C riparian forest and shrubland
Tulare grasshopper mouse (Onychomys torridus tularensis) SC grassland, chenopod scrub, subshrub scrub, alkali sink
Buena Vista Lake shrew (Sorex ornatus relictus) C wetlands, riparian
riparian brush rabbit (Sylvilagus bachmani riparius) C, CE 29 Apr 1994 riparian forest and shrubland
San Joaquin LeConte's thrasher (Toxostoma lecontei macmillanoura) SC chenopod scrub, subshrub scrub

a FE and FT - Federal Endangered and Threatened; CE and CT - California Endangered and Threatened; PE - proposed endangerement; C - Federal canidates for listing; SC - species of concern (species not presently canidates for listing) (USFWS 1996).

b Recovery Priority - See Appendix C for how recovery priorities are established for listed species.

Biotic Communities.-- Major types of natural plant communities in the San Joaquin Valley below the 500-meter (1,500-foot) contour include herbaceous (grasslands, vernal pools, and marshes), shrublands, woodlands, and riparian forests (Figure 2; Küchler 1977, Holland 1986, Griggs et al. 1992). Above that elevation, vegetation grades through woodlands and into evergreen forests. On the west, grassland and shrub communities extend to between 600 and 900 meters (2,000 and 3,000 feet).

Although biotic communities comprise both animals and plants, communities typically are named on the basis of the dominant plant species or site characteristics. Several classification systems have been proposed for biotic communities in California, but none is universally accepted. Specific community names that are capitalized herein correspond to those described by Holland (1986) and Griggs et al. (1992). The equivalent names under alternate systems are summarized by Mayer and Laudenslayer (1988). Many of the natural communities in the San Joaquin Valley are considered rare (Holland 1986, Griggs et al. 1992), irrespective of the presence of rare species. Certain recovery actions for endangered and threatened species also will contribute to the conservation of the rare communities they inhabit. Plant communities discussed in this recovery plan are described below. See Table 1 for the featured species that occur in these plant communities.

Grasslands are dominated by perennial or annual grasses, but the associated forbs (broad-leaved herbs) often are conspicuous because of their showy flowers. General terms that have been used for grasslands in the San Joaquin Valley include California prairie (Küchler 1977) and Valley and Foothill Grassland (Holland 1986). The featured species in this recovery plan occur in the following grassland communities: Nonnative Grassland, Pine Bluegrass Grassland, Relictual Interior Dune Grassland, Valley Needlegrass Grassland, and Valley Sacaton Grassland. Some of the featured species may range through areas that consist of a mosaic of grasslands and vernal pools, particularly Northern Claypan Vernal Pools and Northern Hardpan Vernal Pools.

A marsh is an herbaceous wetland community. The dominant plants (sedges, rushes, and cattails) are related to grasses. A general name for freshwater marshes of the San Joaquin Valley is tule marsh (Küchler 1977), which includes Cismontane Alkali Marsh, Valley Freshwater Marsh, and Vernal Marsh. Valley Freshwater Marsh intergrades with Coastal Brackish Marsh in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

San Joaquin Valley shrublands often are referred to as scrub because they are dominated by shrubs less than 2 meters (6 feet) tall. In scrub communities the actual cover of shrubs may be dense or sparse, and the ground cover often consists of grasses and forbs typical of grassland communities. In the San Joaquin Valley, scrubs occur in alkali sinks, on alluvial fans, on dune remnants, in riparian areas, and in arid uplands.

Alkali sinks are drainage basins that have soils high in soluble salts, which may or may not be alkaline (Twisselmann 1967). These basins are dominated by halophytes, i.e., plants tolerant of alkaline and saline soils. Playas (shallow, temporary lakes) may form in alkali sinks during periods of heavy rainfall. Alkali sinks in the San Joaquin Valley typically support scrub plant communities such as Alkali Playa, Haplopappus Shrubland, and Valley Sink Scrub.

Alluvial fans are fan-shaped areas of soil deposited by mountain streams where they enter valleys or plains. In the San Joaquin Valley, alluvial fans typically support saltbush scrub, which is one of several plant assemblages dominated by common saltbush (Atriplex polycarpa) or spiny saltbush (A. spinifera). These include Interior Coast Range Saltbush Scrub, Sierra-Tehachapi Saltbush Scrub, and Valley Saltbush Scrub. A type of saltbush scrub also may occur on sandy deposits surrounding historical lake beds, where it is termed the Relictual Interior Dunes community. Chenopod scrub is a general term for shrublands that are dominated by plants in the goosefoot family (Chenopodiaceae); in the San Joaquin Valley this includes the various saltbush scrubs, Alkali Playa, and Valley Sink Scrub. Alkali Meadow is a transitional community that occurs at the bottom of alluvial fans; it comprises a mixture of species characteristic of alkali sinks, grasslands, marshes, and riparian forests.

Riparian scrubs occur along rivers and streams and may intergrade with riparian forests. The general name Great Valley Riparian Scrub includes several community types dominated by different shrub species, including Buttonbush Scrub, Elderberry Savanna, Great Valley Mesquite Scrub, and Great Valley Willow Scrub. Intermittent Stream Channels also are riparian but have a different shrub composition than do the channels of permanent streams.

Other scrubs that occur in arid upland areas of the San Joaquin Valley and adjacent high plains include Upper Sonoran Subshrub Scrub and chaparrals. Subshrubs are perennial plants that are woody only at the base, such as California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) and matchweed (Gutierrezia californica). However, Upper Sonoran Subshrub Scrub also includes true shrubs such as California ephedra (Ephedra californica) and bladderpod (Isomeris arborea). Chaparrals are characterized by evergreen shrubs and occur most often in the outer coast ranges. Small patches have been mapped in the hills surrounding the San Joaquin Valley (Küchler 1977), but none provide habitat for the featured species in this recovery plan.

Both woodlands and forests are dominated by trees. However, trees are spaced more distantly in woodlands than in forests and do not form a solid canopy. Woodlands are characteristic of the foothills surrounding the San Joaquin Valley and also occur in the transition zones between riparian forest and grassland. Woodlands may be named on the basis of the most common trees (e.g., oak woodland, juniper woodland) or on their location (e.g., foothill woodlands, riparian woodlands). Cismontane woodlands are those that occur west of the Sierra Nevada crest. Woodlands in the region covered by this recovery plan include Blue Oak Woodland, Cismontane Juniper Woodland and Scrub, and Valley Oak Woodland.

Forests in the Great Central Valley consist of broad-leaved, deciduous trees and occur along rivers and streams. Shrubs, vines, and tree seedlings typically create a dense understory. A general term for this forest type is Valley riparian forest. Specific community names include Great Valley Cottonwood Riparian Forest, Great Valley Mixed Riparian Forest, and Great Valley Valley Oak Riparian orest.

Any division of vegetation into community types must be somewhat arbitrary because communities often intergrade, rather than having identifiable boundaries. The intergradation of plant communities leads to some discrepancies regarding their proper classification. Thus, Holland (1986) included Alkali Meadow and Alkali Playa with the herbaceous communities even though both include shrubs. He classified Great Valley Mesquite Scrub as a riparian plant community, but Twisselmann (1967) considered it to be characteristic of alkali sinks. Communities also may occur in mosaics, which are interspersed patches of vegetation dominated by different species. Plants and animals may be restricted to particular microhabitats, which are localized areas with unique conditions due to small-scale variations in topography, soil characteristics, drainage patterns, and other physical features of the landscape. Thus, habitat descriptions for the rare and endangered species in this recovery plan are to some extent generalizations, which take into account the range of communities in which each species occurs.

The San Joaquin Valley shares much of its unique biota with the Sacramento Valley. Most of the Central Valleys endemism (species restricted in occurrence) is associated, in order of numbers, with extreme aridity, vernal pools, and wetlands. Among vascular plants, endemism is mostly associated with vernal pools (14 species), extreme aridity (8 species), and alkaline soils (6 or more species). Of the 44 endemic plants of the Central Valley, 26 are shared by the 2 regions, 14 are San Joaquin Valley endemics, and only 4 are confined to the Sacramento Valley. Of the 28 species and subspecies of endemic mammals, reptiles, and amphibians in the Central Valley, 16 are associated with arid grassland and shrubland communities in the San Joaquin Valley, and only 3 are confined to the Sacramento Valley (Bradford 1992, Williams and Kilburn 1992). More endemic vertebrate species co-occur in the San Joaquin Valley than anywhere comparable in the continental United States.

Figure 2
Figure 2. Map of historical natural vegetation of central California, based on Kuchler (1977).

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