Natural History

 

Western Toad female

A very fat female Western toad, Anaxyrus (aka Bufo) boreas. She’s inflated to discourage us from eating her, and probably full of eggs besides. Her babies will emerge in mid-summer as to die for cute toadlets, watch where you step when they cover the gravel bars! photo by M. Power

cross-valley trees

from Power, M. E., W. E. Rainey, M. S. Parker, J. L. Sabo, A. Smyth, S. Khandwala, J. C. Finlay, F. C. McNeely, K. Marsee, and C. Anderson. 2004. River to watershed subsidies in an old-growth conifer forest. Pages 217-240 in G. A. Polis, M. E. Power, and G. Huxel, editors. Food webs and Landscapes. Univ. Chicago Press, Chicago.

The steep, dissected terrain of the Angelo Reserves harbors diverse wildlife and vegetation assemblages.  The dominant vegetation within or near the active mainstem channels are tussock sedges (Carex nudatum) and riparian groves of white alder (Alnus rhombifolia).  Alder and SedgesNine terrace meadows with native and European grasses and forbs flank the mainstem South Fork, but are perched tens of m above it now, abandoned by river incision. Old redwood groves  (Sequoia sempervirens) and associated understory assemblages (Oxalis, Vaccinium, Polystichum) are common near the river corridor and in moist swales, although some large individual redwoods occur upslope. Upland slopes are mostly covered with mixed forests of Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and broad-leafed trees (tanoak Lithocarpus densiflora, live oak (Quercus spp.), bay (Umbellularia ealifornica) and madrone (Arbutus menziesii).  Common understory plants include  Thin bands of chaparral with Manzanita, Ceonothus, Adenostoma fasciculatum and scrub oaks (Quercus sp.) occur at higher elevations on south-facing slopes, and along ridge tops.  Pileated woodpeckers, mountain lions, flying squirrels, mule deer, black bear, ring-tailed cats, grey fox, two native rabbits, and western grey squirrels are among the terrestrial inhabitants. The mainstem South Fork Eel River and four undisturbed tributaries support chinook and coho salmon, steelhead trout, 3-spined stickleback, California roach, Pacific lamprey, Pacific pond turtles, tailed frogs, foothills yellow-legged frogs, Western toads, Pacific giant salamanders, two native mussels, aquatic garter snakes, rough skinned newts, dippers, and river otters.

Species lists are available for many of the plants and animals found at the Reserve, and reserve users and visitors are encouraged to consult and contribute to the CalPhoto collection (http://calphotos.berkeley.edu) for initial species identifications.  Species lists, with picture guides for many organisms, can be found at our old website.  These will be transferred to this new web site over the coming months.

See also our Naturalist Notes page for stories about particular plants or animals encountered at the Reserve.  We invites comments or corrections from others who have observed, studied, or read about the organism in question.  Naturalist Notes is intended as a learning network among those of us who are interested in Angelo and North Coast natural history, so comments and corrections of previous postings are welcomed.  If you post, it would be great to identify the place and time you made observations (remembering to note the 4 dimensions:  X,Y, Z, and T).  Our naturalist notes will be periodically updated and corrected.