Sunday, January 25, 2009

Endangered Species Around Us...

Belding's savannah sparrow , Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

This is the first in an occasional series about endangered species in Southern California.

Those of you in my classes have an opportunity to earn extra credit by working at Bolsa Chica to help restore the Bolsa Chica Mesa with native plants. One of the reasons Bolsa Chica is an important area is that it is home to a variety of threatened or endangered species. A threatened species is one that is likely to become endangered in the near future, and an endangered species is one that is in danger of extinction throughout all or most of its range.

Common reasons for species becoming endangered include habitat loss, pollution, or over hunting or fishing. Habitat loss is what caused the Belding's savannah sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis beldingi) pictured above to be placed on the endangered species list. This bird lives all year at Bolsa Chica in and around a plant called pickleweed. Pickleweed grows in salt water wetlands or estuaries. We have lost over 95 % of our coastal wetlands in California to development. This loss of habitat has pushed this small bird to the brink of extinction.

Preservation of remaining coastal wetlands is important for the recovery of this and other species.

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