Coastal prairie and coastal scrub are part of a complex and dynamic mosaic of upland habitats within the Elkhorn Slough watershed. Coastal prairie is a species-rich grassland habitat (download the coastal prairie species list) that occurs along the coast. It hosts not only array of insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals, but also a number of endangered wildflowers. Coastal prairie often coexists with, and frequently has a successional relationship with, coastal scrub. Coastal scrub is an assemblage of evergreen shrubs, and in the Elkhorn Slough watershed it is dominated by coyote brush. Other scrub plants include California sagebrush, black sage, coffeeberry, bush monkeyflower, California blackberry, yellow bush lupine, and poison-oak. This habitat is important for a variety of small mammals and birds.
Unfortunately, both coastal prairie and coastal scrub face significant threats. Approximately 99% of California native grasslands have been lost over the last 200 years, making them one of the most critically endangered ecosystems in the U.S. Loss of coastal scrub in some parts of California has also been severe. Within the Elkhorn Slough watershed, coastal scrub assemblages often face threats from infestation by tall exotic weeds, such as poison hemlock, fennel, and jubata grass.
We are currently featuring the following slough life from this habitat:
Coastal Prairie Species List (pdf, 81KB)