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Volume 22
Number 2
Fall 2004
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[Photo]. Remnant stands of coastal sage scrub in alien island grassland, Santa Rosa Island, with San Miguel Island in the background.
NPS PHOTO BY SARAH CHANEY Ecological effects of animal introductions at Channel Islands National Park
By Kathryn McEachern
Published: 15 Jan 2014 (online)  •  30 Jan 2014 (in print)
Pages
 
Abstract
  Introduction
Animal introductions
Alien plant invasions
Cascading ecological effects
Restoration and recovery
Literature cited
About the author
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Introduction
Photo montage of Channel Islands National Park.

Photo montage of Channel Islands National Park.

The California Channel Island archipelago is sometimes called the Galapagos of North America because of its high number of endemic species and unusual plant and animal community assemblages. Twelve islands make up the island group, scattered from near Point Conception, in California, USA, to the offshore waters near Baja California, Mexico. Channel Islands National Park manages the five northernmost islands: Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara. The remaining islands are owned and managed by the U.S. Navy, private conservation or recreation organizations, or Mexico.

Natural environmental factors have played a prominent role in the evolution of the plants and animals of all the islands. The islands vary widely in geology, topographic complexity, and elevation. The climate of the islands to the north is influenced by the colder waters of the Humboldt Current coming from the north Pacific, while the southern islands lie in currents bringing warm waters from the south. Island size varies from less than a square mile to nearly 50 square miles (2.6–129 sq km), and the islands lie between 15 and 60 miles (24 and 97 km) offshore. Some of the islands remain shrouded in dense fog for many days of the year, while others have fog-free areas in their interiors. These and other natural factors interplay to influence the development of a flora and fauna high in local endemism, with unusual combinations of mainland and endemic species in the plant and animal communities, and a high degree of diversity among the islands. Yet, all of the islands have been used for fishing, ranching, hunting, and other forms of development and recreation in the past. As a result, intentional and accidental introductions of animals and plants to all of the islands have occurred, with pervasive effects on nearly all aspects of island ecology. Channel Islands National Park was established to preserve, protect, and interpret the natural and cultural resources of the northern islands. The National Park Service and USGS–Biological Resources Division (USGS–BRD) have taken steps to understand the ecological effects of these invasions through the establishment of ecological monitoring and research programs, and the National Park Service is moving forward with conservation management for recovery and restoration.

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This page updated:  29 October 2006
URL: http://www.nature.nps.gov/ParkScience/index.cfm?ArticleID=121&Page=1



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