California Ecoregions- Sierra Nevada

SIERRA NEVADA- Between Bakersfield and Tehachapi

Location: The Sierra Nevadas are a high, north-south mountain range of eastern California with a small extension into far western Nevada near Lake Tahoe. The photos in this post are from the Tehachapi Mountains area of the Sierra Nevadas based on the level IV ecoregion map.

Climate: The ecoregion has a severe to mild, mid-latitude climate with Mediterranean characteristics. It has mild to hot, dry summers and cool to cold, wet winters. The mean annual temperature ranges from approximately -3°C at high elevations to 17°C at low elevations on the southwest. The frost-free period ranges from 30 to 320 days. The mean annual precipitation is 1,070 mm, ranging from 150 mm in the eastern lowlands to over 2,500 mm on high elevation peaks.

Vegetation: The region contains very diverse temperate coniferous forests. The vegetation grades from chaparral and woodland to mostly ponderosa pine at the lower elevations on the west side, and lodgepole pine on the east side, to mixed conifer forests of ponderosa pine, sugar pine, Douglas fir, and white fir. Giant sequoias occur in some areas, the most massive trees on Earth. At higher elevations, white fir and red fir forests, and in the subalpine zone, lodgepole pine, Jeffrey pine, western white pine, limber pine, and aspen and spruce at the higher elevations. Alpine conditions prevail at the highest elevations.

Hydrology: Many high-gradient perennial streams and rivers, along with numerous alpine lakes and several reservoirs are found in the region. Rainfall and snowpack provide water for adjacent low elevation ecoregions.

Terrain: The Sierra Nevadas result from a deeply dissected block fault that rises sharply from the arid, basin and range ecoregions on the east and slopes gently toward the Central California Valley to the west. It has hilly to steep mountain relief. The eastern portion of the range has been strongly glaciated and generally contains higher mountains than are found in the Klamath Mountains  to the northwest. Elevations range from about 400 m to 4,418 m on Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the lower 48 United States. The central and southern parts of the region are mostly underlain by granite, in comparison to the more typical sedimentary formations of the Klamath Mountains and volcanic rocks of the Cascades. There are some areas of metamorphic and volcanic rocks. Alfisols, Entisols, Inceptisols, Mollisols, and Ultisols occur. There are mesic, frigid, and cryic soil temperature regimes, and mostly xeric and udic soil moisture regimes.

Wildlife: Black bear, black-tailed deer, mule deer, Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, cougar, coyote, bobcat, red fox, badger, ringtail, yellow-bellied marmot, crow, stellar jay, golden trout, Yosemite toad, and Kern salamander are among the region’s wildlife.

Land Use/Human Activities: Activities and land uses include recreation and tourism, forestry, rural residential areas, some ranching, woodland grazing, and some mining. The higher elevations of this region are mostly public lands, with national forests, national monuments, and several national parks (Lassen, Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia). Larger settlements include Susanville, Quincy.

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Ecoregion Facts:
Commission for Environmental Cooperation; North American Terrestrial Ecoregions—Level III; April 2011.
Photos taken in October 2013 along highways-
Route 58
Original Photography:
88x31Just Another Nature Enthusiast Photography by Jane Wilson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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