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Classification
Scientific Name: Northern California Claypan Vernal Pool
Unique Identifier: CES206.948
Classification Confidence: 2 - Moderate
Image 22159
© Todd Keeler-Wolf
Summary: These systems are shallow ephemeral waterbodies found in depressions (up to several hectares in size) among grasslands and open woodlands throughout the northern Central Valley of California. Northern claypan vernal pools include a clay hardpan that retains water inputs throughout some portion of the spring, but typically the depression dries down entirely into early summer months. They tend to be circumneutral to alkaline and slightly saline wetlands with characteristic plant species including Downingia bella, Downingia insignis, Cressa truxillensis, Plagiobothrys leptocladus (= Allocarya leptoclada), Pogogyne douglasii, Eryngium aristulatum, Veronica peregrina, Lasthenia ferrisiae, Lasthenia glaberrima, and Spergularia salina (= Spergularia marina). Due to draw-down characteristics, vernal pools typically form concentric rings of similar forb-rich vegetation. Given their relative isolation in upland-dominated landscapes, many endemic and Federally-listed plant species are common in California vernal pools.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)



Classifiers

Land Cover Class: Herbaceous Wetland
Spatial Pattern: Small patch
Natural/Seminatural: No
Vegetated ( > 10% vascular cover):
Upland: No
Wetland: Yes
Isolated Wetland: Strictly Isolated

Diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Depressional  
Forb  
Circumneutral Water  
Saline Water Chemistry  
Impermeable Layer  
Vernal Pool Mosaic  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Lowland Foothill
Lowland Lowland
Herbaceous  
Depression  
Mediterranean Mediterranean Xeric-Oceanic
Isolated Wetland Strictly Isolated
Shallow (<15 cm) Water  
Intermittent Flooding  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Agrostis hendersonii
  (Henderson's Bentgrass)
G2Q  
Ambystoma californiense
  (California Tiger Salamander)
G2G3 LE, LT: Listed endangered, listed threatened
Branchinecta conservatio
  (Conservancy Fairy Shrimp)
G2 LE: Listed endangered
Branchinecta longiantenna
  (Longhorn Fairy Shrimp)
G1 LE: Listed endangered
Branchinecta lynchi
  (Vernal Pool Fairy Shrimp)
G3 LT: Listed threatened
Branchinecta mesovallensis
  (Midvalley Fairy Shrimp)
G2  
Callitriche longipedunculata
  (Longstock Water-starwort)
G2G3  
Cyzicus californicus
  (California Clam Shrimp)
G2G3Q  
Cyzicus elongatus
  (Elongate Clam Shrimp)
G2G3Q  
Downingia bella
  (Hoover's Downingia)
G2G3  
Downingia bicornuta var. bicornuta
  (Double-horn Downingia)
G3G4T3T4  
Downingia cuspidata
  (Toothed Calicoflower)
G3?  
Downingia ornatissima var. eximia
  (Solano Downingia)
G2G3T1T3  
Downingia ornatissima var. ornatissima
  (Solano Downingia)
G2G3T1T3  
Downingia pulchella
  (Flat-face Downingia)
G3?  
Elaphrus viridis
  (Delta Green Ground Beetle)
G1 LT: Listed threatened
Epilobium cleistogamum
  (Cleistogamous Spike-primrose)
G3G4  
Eryngium aristulatum var. hooveri
  (Hoover's Coyote-thistle)
G5T1  
Gratiola heterosepala
  (Boggs Lake Hedge-hyssop)
G2G3  
Hesperevax caulescens
  (Involucrate Evax)
G3  
Hordeum intercedens
  (Bobtail Barley)
G3G4  
Isoetes orcuttii
  (Orcutt's Quillwort)
G2?  
Ivesia sericoleuca
  (Plumas Ivesia)
G2  
Juncus kelloggii
  (Kellogg's Rush)
G3?  
Juncus leiospermus var. ahartii
  (Ahart's Rush)
G2T1  
Juncus leiospermus var. leiospermus
  (Red Bluff Rush)
G2T2  
Lasthenia burkei
  (Burke's Goldfields)
G1 LE: Listed endangered
Lasthenia chrysantha
  (Alkali-sink Goldfields)
G3?  
Lasthenia conjugens
  (Contra Costa Goldfields)
G1 LE: Listed endangered
Lasthenia ferrisiae
  (Ferris' Goldfields)
G3  
Legenere limosa
  (False Venus'-looking-glass)
G2  
Limnanthes alba ssp. versicolor
  (White Meadowfoam)
G4T3T4  
Limnanthes bakeri
  (Baker's Meadowfoam)
G1  
Limnanthes douglasii ssp. nivea
  (Douglas' Meadowfoam)
G4T3T4  
Limnanthes douglasii ssp. rosea
  (Douglas' Meadowfoam)
G4T3T4  
Limnanthes douglasii ssp. sulphurea
  (Pt. Reyes Meadowfoam)
G4T1  
Limnanthes floccosa ssp. bellingeriana
  (Bellinger's Meadowfoam)
G4T3  
Limnanthes floccosa ssp. grandiflora
  (Large-flower Woolly Meadowfoam)
G4T1 LE: Listed endangered
Limnanthes vinculans
  (Sebastopol Meadowfoam)
G1 LE: Listed endangered
Linderiella occidentalis
  (California Fairy Shrimp)
G2G3  
Lomatium cookii
  (Agate Desert Lomatium)
G1 LE: Listed endangered
Myosurus sessilis
  (Sessile Mousetail)
G2  
Navarretia heterandra
  (Tehama Navarretia)
G3  
Navarretia myersii ssp. deminuta
  (Small Pincushion Navarretia)
G2T1  
Orcuttia viscida
  (Sacramento Orcutt Grass)
G1 LE: Listed endangered
Plagiobothrys figuratus ssp. corallicarpus
  (Coral-seeded Allocarya)
G4T1  
Plagiobothrys hystriculus
  (Bearded Allocarya)
G2  
Plagiobothrys stipitatus var. micranthus
  (Stalked Popcorn-flower)
G4T3T4  
Polygonum polygaloides ssp. confertiflorum
  (Dense-flower Knotweed)
G4G5T3T4  
Spea hammondii
  (Western Spadefoot)
G2G3  
Tuctoria greenei
  (Green's Awnless Orcutt Grass)
G1 LE: Listed endangered
Tuctoria mucronata
  (Mucronate Orcutt Grass)
G1 LE: Listed endangered

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Cressa truxillensis G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Downingia bella G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Downingia insignis G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Lasthenia glaberrima G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Plagiobothrys figuratus ssp. corallicarpus T1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Spergularia salina G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Veronica peregrina G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 


Animal Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status Charact-
eristic
Exotic
Ambystoma californiense
  (California Tiger Salamander)
G2G3 LE, LT: Listed endangered, listed threatened    
Branchinecta conservatio
  (Conservancy Fairy Shrimp)
G2 LE: Listed endangered    
Branchinecta longiantenna
  (Longhorn Fairy Shrimp)
G1 LE: Listed endangered    
Branchinecta lynchi
  (Vernal Pool Fairy Shrimp)
G3 LT: Listed threatened    
Branchinecta mesovallensis
  (Midvalley Fairy Shrimp)
G2      
Cyzicus californicus
  (California Clam Shrimp)
G2G3Q      
Cyzicus elongatus
  (Elongate Clam Shrimp)
G2G3Q      
Elaphrus viridis
  (Delta Green Ground Beetle)
G1 LT: Listed threatened    
Lepidurus packardi
  (Vernal Pool Tadpole Shrimp)
G4 LE: Listed endangered    
Linderiella occidentalis
  (California Fairy Shrimp)
G2G3      
Spea hammondii
  (Western Spadefoot)
G2G3      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: CA, OR
Global Range: Found in depressions among grasslands and open woodlands throughout the northern Central Valley of California.

Biogeographic Divisions
Division Code and Name Primary Occurrence Status
206-Mediterranean California C: Confident or certain

The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Ecoregions
Code Name Occurrence Status
13 Great Central Valley Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
2 Oregon Coastal Range Predicted or probable
5 California Central Valley Confident or certain
7 Cascade Mountain Range Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 9251

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: No

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 14Jan2014
Element Description Author(s): P. Comer, T. Keeler-Wolf, G. Kittel

Ecological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).


References
  • Barbour, M. G. 1998. Forward. In: C. W. Witham, editor. Ecology, conservation and management of vernal pool ecosystems. Proceedings from a 1996 Conference, California Native Plant Society, Sacramento.

  • Barbour, M. G., A. I. Solomeshch, R. F. Holland, C.W. Witham, R. L. Macdonald, S. S. Cilliers, J. A. Molina, J. J. Buck, and J. M. Hillman. 2005. Vernal pool vegetation of California: Communities of long-inundated deep habitats. Phytocoenologia 35:177-200.

  • Barbour, M. G., A. Solomeshch, C. Witham, R. Holland, R. Macdonald, S. Cilliers, J. A. Molina, J. Buck, and J. Hillman. 2003. Vernal pool vegetation of California: Variation within pools. Madroņo 50:129-146.

  • Barbour, M. G., and J. Major, editors. 1988. Terrestrial vegetation of California: New expanded edition. California Native Plant Society, Special Publication 9, Sacramento. 1030 pp.

  • Bjork, C. R., and P. W. Dunwiddie. 2004. Floristics and distribution of vernal pools on the Columbia Plateau of eastern Washington. Rhodora 106(928):327-347.

  • Brown, W. 1999. Evaluation of cattle grazing effects on floristic composition in eastern Washington vernal pools. M.S. thesis, University of Washington, Seattle.

  • Calderaro, A. 2011. Physical and chemical factors that affect diversity of aquatic invertebrates in vernal pools in Sacramento County, California. M.S. thesis, California State University, Sacramento. [http://hdl.handle.net/10211.9/1474]

  • Comer, P., D. Faber-Langendoen, R. Evans, S. Gawler, C. Josse, G. Kittel, S. Menard, C. Nordman, M. Pyne, M. Reid, M. Russo, K. Schulz, K. Snow, J. Teague, and R. White. 2003-present. Ecological systems of the United States: A working classification of U.S. terrestrial systems. NatureServe, Arlington, VA.

  • Dlugolecki, L. 2010. A characterization of seasonal pools in central Oregon's high desert. M.Sc. thesis, Oregon State University, Corvallis. 76 pp. [http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/handle/1957/15038]

  • Hanes, T., and L. Stromberg. 1998. Hydrology of vernal pools on non-volcanic soils in the Sacramento Valley. In: C. W. Witham, editor. Ecology, conservation and management of vernal pool ecosystems. Proceedings from a 1996 Conference, California Native Plant Society, Sacramento.

  • Holland, R. 1998. Changes in Great Valley vernal distribution from 1989 to 1997. Report prepared for California Department of Fish and Game, Sacramento. 18 pp. [https://dfgsecure.dfg.ca.gov/biogeodata/wetlands/pdfs/Holland_ChangesInGreatValleyVernalPoolDistribution.pdf]

  • Holland, R. 2009. California's Great Valley vernal pool habitat status and loss: Rephotorevised 2005. Report prepared for Placer Land Trust, Auburn, CA. 23 pp.

  • Holland, V. L., and D. J. Keil. 1995. California vegetation. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, Dubuque, IA. 516 pp.

  • Keeley, J. E., and P. H. Zedler. 1998a. Evolution of life histories in Pinus. Pages 219-250 in: D. M. Richardson, editor. Ecology and biogeography of Pinus. The Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

  • Marty, J. T. 2005. Effect of cattle grazing on diversity in ephemeral wetlands. Conservation Biology 19:1626-1632.

  • PRBO Conservation Science. 2011. Projected effects of climate change in California: Ecoregional summaries emphasizing consequences for wildlife. Version 1.0. PRBO Conservation Science, Petaluma, CA. [http://data.prbo.org/apps/bssc/climatechange]

  • Pollak, O., and T. Kan. 1998. The use of prescribed fire to control invasive exotic weeds at Jepson Prairie Preserve. In: C. W. Witham, editor. Ecology, conservation and management of vernal pool ecosystems. Proceedings from a 1996 Conference, California Native Plant Society, Sacramento.

  • Robins, J. D., and J. E. Vollmar. 2002. Chapter 11: Livestock grazing and vernal pools. Pages 401-430 in: Wildlife and rare plant ecology of eastern Merced County's vernal pool grasslands. Vollmar Consulting, Berkeley, CA. [www.ucmercedplanning.net/pdfs/eco/ecoch11.pdf]

  • Rocchio, Joe. Personal communication. Ecologist. Washington Natural Heritage Program, Department of Natural Resources, Olympia, WA.

  • Sawyer, J. O., and T. Keeler-Wolf. 1995. A manual of California vegetation. California Native Plant Society, Sacramento. 471 pp.

  • Shiflet, T. N., editor. 1994. Rangeland cover types of the United States. Society for Range Management. Denver, CO. 152 pp.

  • Solomeshch, A., M. G. Barbour, and R. F. Holland. 2007. Chapter 15: Vernal pools. In: M. G. Barbour, T. Keeler-Wolf, and A. A. Schoenherr, editors. Terrestrial vegetation of California, third edition. University of California Press.

  • Wills, R. 2006. Central Valley bioregion. Pages 295-320 in: N. G. Sugihara, J. W. van Wagtendonk, K. E. Shaffer, J. Fites-Kaufman, and A. E. Thode, editors. Fire in California's ecosystems. University of California Press, Berkeley.


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