Ecological importance of California oak woodlands


Vegetation types dominated by oak trees cover about 4 million hectares
in (Bolsinger 1988), or roughly 10% of the state’s land area. These extensive
oak woodlands serve a number of important ecological functions. Oak woodlands play
a critical role in protecting soils from erosion and landsliding, regulating water flow in
watersheds, and maintaining water quality in streams and rivers. Oak woodlands also
have higher levels of biodiversity than virtually any other terrestrial ecosystem in
California. At least 300 terrestrial vertebrate species (Block, Morrison, and Verner
1990), 1,100 native vascular plant species (CalFlora Database 1998), 370 fungal
species and an estimated 5,000 arthropod species (Swiecki et al. 1997a) are
associated with California oak woodlands.

Elizabeth A. Bernhardt and Tedmund J. Swiecki