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  Nature Elective

The Biozones of the Redwood Forest
First posted February 1, 2004 Last updated June 19, 2009

Introduction There are many ways of describing the interrelationships of plants, animals, and their environment. One method is to describe a Biological Zone, or Biozone. Think of your own experience when you have been out hiking: you think of a forest as one type of wild place, a streamside as another, and a grassland as another. Scientists have taken this same approach. Each biozone is given a name. Since the plants stay put and the animals move around (it would be bad to have a "deer zone" but not find any deer there, right?), the zones are named after the dominant plant of that zone. The Redwood Biozone is one example: the redwood tree is the dominant plant of this zone, and when you find a redwood, you usually find other characteristic plants, animals, rainfall, sunlight, and soil conditions, as well as other factors such as elevation, moisture, and similar influences.

No classification scheme is perfect for all applications, and no biozone description is a perfect characterization for every occurance of the dominant plant. However, these descriptions are powerful ways to help us see what exists in each biozone and to learn about the complex interactions between the elements of the zone. Look at the photograph at the right and see if you can find the different zones described in the caption.

The table below lists the biozones of California according to Munz, the author of one of the definitive plant books on California (second only to the Jepson Manual). (Note: the table was adapted from a summary by the Las Pilitas Nursery).

This photograph was taken looking upstream and across the river from the baseball diamond. It shows most of the biozones of Caz, from the grass field at the top, to the redwood forest and finally, at the botton, the riparian biozone. The oak woodland is hidden behind the redwoods.

Biozones of California
Desert, Seaside, Grassland and Marsh Communities
Alkali Sink
Alpine Fell-Fields
Coastal Prairie
Coastal Salt Marsh
Coastal Strand
Creosote Bush Scrub
Freshwater Marsh
Great Basin Sagebrush
Joshua Tree Woodland
Mountain Meadow
Northern Juniper Woodland
Sagebrush Scrub
Shadscale Scrub
Valley Grassland
Woodlands and Scrublands
Bristle-cone Pine
Coastal Sage Scrub
(Foothill) Central Oak Woodland
Mixed-evergreen Forest

Northern Coastal Scrub
Northern Oak Woodland
Pinyon-Juniper Woodland
Redwood Forest
Riparian (rivers&creeks)

Conifer Forests

Closed-cone Pine Forest
Douglas-Fir Forest
Lodgepole Forest
North Coastal Coniferous Forest

Red Fir Forest
Subalpine Forest
Yellow Pine Forest

The Biozones of Cazadero and surrounding areas: