Southern California Coastal - Baja California
Salvador Contreras Balderas, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León. Additional text modified from Abell et al. (2000).
Major Habitat Type
Xeric freshwaters and endorheic (closed) basins
Drainages flowing into
Drainages flow into the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of California.
Main rivers to other water bodies
There are numerous small rivers and coastal basins within the ecoregion. One of the few major rivers is the Santa Ynez River in Central California.
This coastal ecoregion begins just south of Monterey, California and encompasses southwestern California and the entire Baja Peninsula in Mexico. The Channel Islands and Isla Cedros are also part of this ecoregion.
The Peninsular Ranges extend down the center of the ecoregion from southern California through the length of the Baja California Peninsula. Elevations reach over 3300 m asl. Some of the ranges within this chain include the Laguna Mountains, Santa Rosa Mountains, Sierra de la Giganta, Sierra San Pedro Màrtir, and Sierra de Juariz.
There are almost no permanent watercourses in Baja California. Yet, in spite of the arid conditions, the ecoregion contains high grade mountain creeks, coastal plain creeks, springs, and coastal lagoons.
In the northern part of the ecoregion, coastal sage scrub, chamise chaparral, and oak woodlands predominate over much of the landscape. Other habitats include montane conifer forests, Torrey pine (Pinus torreyana) woodlands, cypress (Cupressu spp.) woodlands, riparian woodlands, and grasslands. Western Baja is dominated by xeric scrubs, including Ambrosia camphorata, Erodium cicutarium, Astragalus prorifer, and many species of cacti. A majority of the perennial vegetation are epiphytes like Tillandsia recurvata and Rocella tinctoria that grow in low, humid areas. The eastern side of the Peninsular Ranges is part of the Sonoran Desert, and includes species like ironwood (Palo fierro), cardón (Pachycereus pringlei), and saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea spp.).
Description of endemic fishes
Most of the endemism of the region is found in the Los Angeles basin, in California. There are four known endemic fish species in the ecoregion. Endemic fish that occur in the Los Angeles basin include the Santa Ana sucker (Catostomus santaanae) and California killifish (Fundulus parvipinnis). Peninsular clingfish (Gobiesox juniperoserrai), killifish (F. lima), threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus microcephalus), and San Pedro Mártir rainbow trout (Onchorhynchus nelsoni) are also endemic to the ecoregion.
The freshwater fish fauna include genetically important populations as well as species with marginal distributional records.
Justification for delineation
Ecoregion delineations were based on qualitative similarity/dissimilarity assessments of major basins, using the standard administrative hydrographical regions of the Mexican federal government.
Level of taxonomic exploration
- Minckley, W. L. (2002). "Fishes of the lower most Colorado River, its delta, and estuary: a commentary on biotic change" M. Lozano-Vilano (Ed.) Libro Jubilar en Honor al Dr. Salvador Contreras Balderas. Dir. Gral. De Publicaciones ( pp. 63-78 ) Monterrey, México: Universidad A. de Nuevo León.
- Ruiz-Campos, G., Contreras-Balderas, S., Lozano-Vilano, M. d. L., et al. (2000). "Ecological and distributional status of the continental fishes of northwestern Baja California, Mexico" Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences 99 (2) pp. 59-90.
- World Wildlife Fund (WWF) (2001) \Terrestrial Ecoregions of the World\ "<"http://www.worldwildlife.org/wildworld/profiles/terrestrial_nt.html">"
- Abell, R. A.,Olson, D. M.,Dinerstein, E.,Hurley, P. T.,Diggs, J. T.,Eichbaum, W.,Walters, S.,Wettengel, W.,Allnutt, T.,Loucks, C. J.;Hedao, P. (2000). "Freshwater Ecoregions of North America: A Conservation Assessment" Washington, DC, USA: Island Press.
- Follett, W. I. (1961). "The fresh-water fishes: their origins and affinities. 1960. Symposium: the biogeography of Baja California and adjacent seas. Pt. III. Terrestrial and freshwater biotas" Systematic Zoolology 9 (3/4) pp. 212-232.
- Ruiz-Campos, G., J. L. Castro-Aguirre, S. Contreras-Balderas, et al. (2002). "An annotated distributional checklist of the freshwater fish from Baja California, Mexico" Rev. Fish Biol. and Fish. 12 (2-3) pp. 143-155.
- Köppen, W. (1936). "Das geographische System der Klimate" Köppen W. and R. Geiger (Ed.) Handbuch der. Klimatologie ( (Vol. 1, pp. 1–44 ) Berlin, Germany: Gebrüder Borntröger.
- Ruiz-Campos, G.,F. Camarena-Rosales,S.Contreras-Balderas,C.A.Reyes-Valdez,J. De La Cruz-Agϋero;E.Torres-Balcazar (2006). "Distribution and Abundance of the Endangered Killifish, Fundulus lima (Teleostei: Fundulidae), in Oases of Central Baja California Peninsula, México" The Southwestern Naturalist 51 (4) pp. 502-509.