Vertebrate Diversity


 The terrestrial mammal fauna of California includes about 160 species, with rodents making up more than half of this total. Among these, however, are 30 species restricted to the desert regions of the state and thus not part of the strict mediterranean-climate region. That leaves a total of about 130 terrestrial mammals native to the shrubland, grassland, woodland, and forest regions of California.


An additional five species which once occurred in the state have been extirpated in historical times. These include the grizzly bear, wolf, bison, jaguar (only an occasional visitor in the past), and giant deer mouse. Turnover between habitats (beta diversity) accounts for most of the diversity of mammal faunas, with alpha and gamma diversity relatively low.
Resident, breeding, and migrant bird diversity in California is about 350 species. Shore and marine birds make up 39% of this total. Passerines form the largest group of birds with 41% of the total. There are 21 species of hawks, vultures, and eagles, 13 species of owls, and 12 species of woodpeckers and flickers. Two bird species are endemic to California. These are the yellow-billed magpie and endangered California condor. Focussing on passerine birds, the alpha diversity of bird species across landscape gradients peaked in closed woodland and forest habitats, while species turnover between habitats (beta diversity) is greatestin mid-elevation chaparral.
There are 54 species of amphibians and 69 species of reptiles within the political boundaries of California. The salamander fauna is especially notable with 36 species, 24 of which are endemic. The reptiles include two turtles and tortoises, 33 lizards, and 33 snake species. However, the desert areas of the state are the habitats for 38 reptiles and amphibian species, thereby reducing the diversity of the California floristic region.


The native freshwater fish fauna of California includes 73 species of fish.