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The Carrizo Plain

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Submitted By frankcasas
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The Carrizo Plain
SCI 256
02FEB2013

The Carrizo plain is a large enclosed grassland area that is approximately 50 miles long and 15 miles across. Its location is in California spread between the Kern and San Luis Obispo counties. The Carrizo plains national monument is the single largest native grasslands that remain in California. Its unique ecosystem is home to much wildlife and has the largest concentration of some of the most endangered species of animals in California. The San Andres fault line runs through the plains and is unique because of the ease on is able to view the fractures of the fault from the plains floor. The plains are home to many archeological sites as well that have been named national historic landmarks. The Geography of the Carrizo plains has a lot of diversity. It lies in the valley in between tow mountain ranges, the Caliente range on south west and the temblor range on the north east. One of the major features in this ecosystem is Soda Lake. This is the only closed basins in the southern California coastal ranges; all other valleys have drainage to the sea. The water runoff soda lake comes from the Carrizo and carries sediment from the basin into it. The lake is a shallow ephemeral, alkali Endothecia Lake, which means it’s a short lived closed basin the high alkali level. The water and surrounding areas are home to many creatures to include brine and fairy shrimp as well as lots of migratory nesting birds as well as the salt bush which thrives around its shore lines. The climate of the plains grasslands is semi arid, there are no trees growing in the area as well as the annual rain fall is about nine inches per year. Besides runoff from the mountain ranges and rain fall the only water the Lake receives is from the Wallace creek it’s a small stream that mostly stays dry throughout the year. Due to the tectonic movements because of the San Andreas Fault the creek bed is offset by 425 feet. There are other creek beds that were formed in previous times and due to geological movements like earth quakes scientist can form a correlation between the offsets and historical events. This ecosystem even though it may look somewhat desolate and uninhabitable contains a verity of wildlife and many of which are on the endangered species list. Some the animals in this area include the San Joaquin fit fox and antelope squirrel, the blunt nose leopard lizard, giant kangaroo rats, Sand hill cranes and the majestic California condor make this place their home. There are also Tule elk, black tailed jackrabbits, western coyote and le contes thrasher which is a small bird that thrives in the dessert and blend in with the sandy soils. Many of the animals and plant life that thrive here are of the type that like arid regions with little water and vegetation. The area does receive a lot of sun as many companies have built systems to harness the energy and most that power is used in the San Luis Obispo County area. The soil in the Carrizo plains is predominantly alluvium deposits. This is soil that comes from rivers or flowing water. Throughout the valley soil composition varies between clay loams, silts clay loams, sandy and gravel loams. The sandier areas are near the valley slopes and the denser clay can be found mostly by the lake in the valley floor, and has poor drainage. The soils are not very fertile because of the alkalinity content and also due to low amount of rain fall received throughout the year. In conclusion you can see that the Carrizo plains has a vast amount of diversity both in animal habitat and as well as geological events. It’s a place that is ever changing and with the San andreas fault so nearby as well as other fault lines its almost certain to change again in the future. Even thought there is little rain and poor soil for plants you can see that there are plenty of animal that will strive to survive and will defy the odds and continue to thrive in this arid ecosystem.
References
Graham, C. (2011, ). Ode to carrizo plain. Santa Barbara Independent. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/873876879?accountid=35812
Carrizo plain. (1998, Sunset, 200, 84-85. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/203285413?accountid=35812…...

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