Sierra Nevada Foothills Ecosystem
Jamie Haymes, Clare Raimondo
University of Phoenix
BIO101 Travis Kibota
Sierra Nevada Foothills Ecosystem
The foothills of the Sierra Nevada are only a small section of the mountain range, encompassing the East and West slopes of the ranges in elevation from around 1,000 to 3,000 feet. The foothills are known as a biotic zone, one of five biotic zones, or ten if the person studying wishes to separate the Eastern side of the range from the Western side of the range. For our purposes, we will be including the Eastern and Western sides of the mountain range together as all being foothill zones. There are different types of species in the foothills of ...view middle of the document...
Almost every part of the manzanita plant is edible, from the berries that are carried in the spring and summer to the flowers that bloom from winter through early spring, to the branch tips that can be chewed on to stave off thirst. The Blue oak tree is a slow-growing short tree with a widely distributed, open canopy (Schaffner, 2010). Blue oaks also produce acorns that are eaten by many of the animals in the region. The Interior Live oak tree is an evergreen tree with a rounded canopy that can grow up to 60 feet tall, and produces acorns that many of the animals in the region will eat (Charters, 2010). The Gray pine tree is a conifer (cone-producing) tree that grows to an average of 34 feet tall, and it produces seeds that are eaten by small animals (Charters, 2010).
The most common animals to find in this region are the black bear, ringtail cat, coyote, gray squirrel, bobcat, skunk, and California mule deer (Encyclopedia Americana, 2006). Black bears are omnivores that have been considered very opportunistic eaters. Most of their diet consists of grasses, roots, berries and insects, but they will also eat fish and mammals, as well as develop the taste for human foods and garbage around camp sites (National Geographic, 2011). Ringtail cats are not actually cats at all, but are relatives of raccoons, and they eat smaller animals, insects, and fruits from native plants. Coyotes are members of the dog family, and are probably the least finicky eaters in the world, as they will eat anything. The gray squirrel, also known as the western gray squirrel, is an herbivorous rodent, meaning that it eats plants and nuts (National Geographic, 2011). Bobcats are named for their short tails, and are solitary animals that are fierce hunters of rabbits, birds, mice, squirrels and other small game, though they are capable of killing prey much larger than themselves (National Geographic, 2011). Skunks are omnivores, eating a diet that usually consists of fruit and plants, insects, worms, eggs, reptiles, fish, and smaller mammals (National Geographic, 2011). They protect themselves from predators with a fine-mist, greasy spray that is secreted in glands and produces a horrible odor that can take days to get rid of. California mule deer are herbivores, receiving around 90% of its diet from shrubs and leaves, and the rest from grasses (National Geographic, 2011).
Populations in this ecosystem are regulated by natural selection, for the most part. Wildfires play an important role in regulating the population levels of both animals and plants in the Sierra Nevada Foothill mountain region. Occasionally, pollution from large cities within a couple hundred miles from the foothills will create an acid rain that can damage plant life and endanger the animals in the ecosystem. There is also the problem with pollution from trash left behind by campers and hunters that frequent the area, especially during the fall and early winter months, which encompass the bear and...