Klamath Siskiyou Coniferous Forests

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Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, United States of America.
© WWF-Canon / Jamie PITTOCK

About the Area

The Klamath-Siskiyou ecoregion is considered a global centre of biodiversity because it harbors 1 of the 3 richest temperate coniferous forests in the world (along with the Southeastern Conifer forests of North America and the forests of the Primorye region of the Russian Far East).

Close to 30 conifer species grow here, including the 2 ancient and endemic species of the Brewer spruce and Port Orford cedar (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana).

The uplifted Coast Ranges, the volcanic Cascades, and the ancient volcanic roots of the Sierra Nevada surround this ecoregion; numerous species would have found it difficult to survive under the harsh geologic conditions of these surrounding areas, if it weren’t for the forests of Klamath Siskiyou.

Two other reasons for the high numbers of endemic species found here are the complexity of habitats and the serpentine soils (known for harboring unusual plant species capable of growing in the soils' naturally toxic conditions).

Size:
50,000 sq. km (19,000 sq. miles)

Habitat type:
Temperate Coniferous Forests

Geographic Location:
North America: California and Oregon

Conservation Status:
Critical/Endangered

Local Species
The forests are home to a variety of conifers such as the Incense cedar (Calocedrus decurrens), Western red cedar (Thuja plicata), Western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), Mountain hemlock (T. mertensiana), Noble fir (Abies procera), and the Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii).

Also found here is the endemic Siskiyou mountain salamander (Plethodon stormi) in addition to the Del Norte salamander (P. elongatus), clouded salamander (Aneides ferreus), the threatened foothill yellow-legged frog (Rana boylii), Western skink (Eumeces skiltonianus), sagebrush lizard (Sceloporus graciosus), and the California whipsnake (Masticophis lateralis).

Many kinds of fish inhabit the region's Rogue and Trinity rivers, including 4 endangered species: the lost river sucker, the shortnose sucker, the northern California coho salmon, and the steelhead trout. Seven animal species that once inhabited the area including the grizzly bear, gray wolf (Canis lupus), and bighorn sheep have now disappeared.
 / ©: WWF-Canon / Helmut DILLER
Baja California pronghorn (Antilocapra americana peninsularis).
© WWF-Canon / Helmut DILLER

Featured species

Sagebrush lizards (Sceloporus graciosus), along with Western fence lizards are in the genus Sceloporus, and are known as spiny lizards. This common name refers to the highly keeled and ‘spiny’ scales found dorsally on species in this genus. It is a scaled reptile, and it sheds its skin. Male sagebrush lizards are slightly larger than females. The neck and sides of these lizards may have a yellow or orange tinge and this is exaggerated in females during breeding season.

They mate in the spring, and lay between 2 and 7 (usually 4) eggs in June. The eggs hatch in August, and the neonates resemble the adults. They are predominately found in sagebrush cover, but they can also be found in greasewood and other desert shrubs and sometimes on small rocky outcrops. It is both a carnivore and an omnivore. Diet includes beetles, flies, ants, caterpillars, aphids, other insects, and spiders, ticks, and mites.

Read more:
Threats
Virtually all old-growth stands of Port Orford cedar have been eliminated, and an exotic root-disease, the spread of which is facilitated by intensive logging, road building and other disturbances, threatens to wipe out those that remain, highlighting the need to protect the last road less areas.
WWF’s work
WWF works within the United States to safeguard wildlife, fisheries, forests, and wetlands. WWF is active in 6 US ecoregions, each home to a spectacular array of wildlife and plant species. More than three decades of international experience give WWF a unique perspective on the global importance of US biological resources and the conservation challenges facing the United States.

Because the Klamath-Siskiyou is threatened by unsustainable logging, livestock grazing, mining, and other land-use practices, WWF has developed a comprehensive vision to ensure that the forest's unique natural resources survive for future generations.

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