With relatively mild weather and wide variation of biomes, California is home to several endemic species. Some of these species face endangerment due to construction of freeways, using wetland habitats for landfills, and suburban development. Three such species with shrinking habitats include the California Newt, the California clapper rail, and the Valley elderberry longhorn beetle.
The California Newt can be found along the coastline from San Francisco to Santa Ana. They are five to eight inches in length and breed in ponds along the forest. Their skin produces a toxin to protect them from predators and salamanders in the area have evolved to mimic the unique coloring of the newt. Although newt habitats have been compromised by the building of roads and homes, many efforts are being made to protect these creatures. Grasslands Ecology restores habitats throughout the bay area by planting native plants and removing invasive plant species. There are also road closures to protect newts crossing the roads for breeding season. These efforts are helping to ensure the indigenous newt population is restored.
The California clapper rail is native to the California coast from Morro Bay to the San Francisco Bay. This bird makes her home in the pickleweed and cordgrass of the California Bay Areas wetlands. These areas are quickly becoming destroyed by landfills and urban encroachment. The California clapper rail is similar to a chicken and cannot fly to avoid danger. Fortunately, awareness of the endangerment of this species has led to efforts to protect the unusual bird. Efforts by the federal and state government protecting breeding seasons and through habitat restoration efforts made possible by nonprofit organizations like Save the Bay are working specifically to restore the California clapper rail population.
Making his home in the riparian woodland in California’s Central Valley, the Valley elderberry longhorn beetle thrives in stands of elder shrubs. These elder shrubs make a perfect home for the beetle so that their young can tunnel in the inch thick upper stems. This messy pollinator helps the ecosystem by spreading the pollen to further fertilization of the elderberry seeds. The beetle was placed on the Threatened Species list in the 1980’s due to suburban encroachment. Agencies and conservationists have continued to make protection of the riparian woodland habitat a priority so that these beetles can be delisted as endangered.
Californians have the opportunity to protect the ecosystem by becoming environmental stewards. With awareness and consideration of the animals that live in our state we can support efforts to protect endemic species essential to our thriving environment. We can also volunteer or donate to Save the Bay and Grassroots Ecology to assist in efforts to restore the natural habitat of the California newt, the California clapper rail, and the Valley elderberry longhorn beetle. We can arm ourselves with information about native plants and habitats and use that knowledge when we vote.
Although the habitats of several species native to California have been threatened in the past, efforts are being made to re-establish the environment. We can protect the California newt, California clapper rail, and Valley elderberry longhorn beetle from being threatened. Through efforts by conservationists these species are being protected. We all have a role in restoring our environment. Share your knowledge, donate to a cause, volunteer, and vote to be part of these efforts. By protecting California’s environment and endemic species we can ensure the beauty we love about living here will stay for years to come.