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LOCATION: The chaparral
biome is found in small sections of most continents, including the west coast
of the United States, the west coast of South America, the Cape Town area of South Africa,
the western tip of Australia and the coastal areas of the Mediterranean. In Europe it is
called the maquis, Australia has the mallee, Chile the matorral, and South Africa calls
it fynbos. It is also called the Mediterranean Forest, Woodland, and Scrub biome. The chaparral
biome has many different types of terrain. Some examples are flat plains, rocky hills and
WEATHER: The chaparral is characterized as being
very hot and dry. The winter is very mild and is usually about 50°F (10°C). Most of the rain
in this biome comes in the winter. The summer is hot and dry at up to 100°F (37.5°C). This makes
fires and droughts very common.
chaparral plants have large, hard leaves, which hold moisture. The plants are also
very well adapted to fires. Plants in the chaparral often have root systems designed to
get as much water as possible. Shallow roots extend horizontally under the surface of the
soils and are good at catching water when it falls as rain; taproots extend deep into the
soil to capture groundwater. Some examples of plants in the chaparral are toyon, chemise,
poison oak, scrub oak, Yucca and other shrubs, trees and cacti. The maquis contains plants
such as myrtle, hawthorn, and broom. The Australian mallee is more open than these other
types of chaparral and consists mainly of dwarf eucalyptus trees. The fynbos is also composed
mainly of scrub and shrubs, such as heathers and protea plants.
animals are all mainly grassland and desert types adapted to hot, dry weather. A few
examples from California are: coyotes, jack rabbits, mule deer, alligator lizards, horned
toads, praying mantis, honey bees and ladybugs. In Europe one might find wild goats, sheep,
cattle, mouflon, horses, lynx, wild boar, rabbits, vultures and eagles. There are also many
small mammals, reptiles and insects, just like in California. The fynbos of South Africa
also has many butterfly species that rely on this habitat.
PEOPLE AND THE CHAPARRAL: In California, a main concern
associated with the chaparral is the large human populations that live in and around this
biome. In Santa Barbara we live in the chaparral habitat. The hills surrounding the city
are chaparral. The islands off the coast are chaparral. With people living in this dry biome,
we have to be concerned about fire. Fire occurs naturally, but can also be caused by human
activity. There are many endangered and sensitive species living in this region. Surrounding
Santa Barbara, we have two National Parks to help protect the important chaparral habitat.
The Los Padres National Forest stretches from the hills northward to Monterey County, and
the Channel Islands National Park includes the five northern Channel Islands off the coast.
Both of these parks contain many natural and cultural resources, including unique species
and Native American artifacts.
General Biome Information
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