Celebrating and conserving the ecological richness of California's grasslands

Grasslands are Home to Many Species of Plants and Animals

Grassland birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, pollinators and other animals depend on the resources grassland plants and spaces provide. Currently 73 grassland-associated species are listed by the state & federal Endangered Species Acts: 14 vertebrates and 59 plants, and 14 invertebrates, including 6 butterfly species.This count does not even include native pollinators and other plants and animals experiencing sharp declines. 

Species Spotlights, Plant Profiles, and Articles

Below are links to reprints from CNGA's Grasslands Journal and to other articles on grassland plants and animals. 


Enhancing Grassland Restoration for Grassland Birds, Rodd Kelsey, Grasslands Winter 2010

Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum)

Species Spotlight: Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum)

 Link: Grasshopper Sparrow, Common Bird in Steep Decline , Partners in Flight

Research Paper: Winnicki, S. K., Munguía, S. M., Williams, E. J., and Boyle, W. A.. 2020. Social interactions do not drive territory aggregation in a grassland songbird. Ecology 101( 2):e02927. 10.1002/ecy.2927

Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus)

Species Spotlight: Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus): A Small Grassland Bird with a Big Appetite, Felix Ratcliff. Spring 2018 Grasslands. 

White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus)

Species Spotlight: White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus)

Western Burrowing Owl (Athene cunciulariia hypugaea)

Species: Western burrowing owl (Athene cunciularia hypugaea)

Article: Managing California Grassland Ecosystems for Burrowing Owls (photo: R. DiGuadio)

Conservation Program: San Diego Zoo Global’s Burrowing Owl Recovery Program is working to keep the western burrowing owl (Athene cunciularia hypugaea) from going locally extinct. The program includes monitoring, including motion-activated cameras, and creating artificial burrows as well as recruiting California ground squirrels to create burrow! Learn more a the Wild Watch San Diego website.

Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)

Species Spotlight: Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta: photo: Jack Booth)


Native plants support native animals. Fletcher, Rebecca A. Rachel K. Brooks, Vasiliy T. Lakoba, Gourav Sharma, Ariel R. Heminger,  Christopher C. Dickinson, Jacob N. Barney. 2019. Invasive plants negatively impact native, but not exotic, animals. Global Change Biology. First published: 07 August 2019 https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.14752

Guide to the Coastal Plants of San Mateo County, by Mel Preston, Point Blue Conservation Science. 


Species Spotlight: Fire Poppy (Papaver californicum), by Tatiana Manzanillo, Grasslands, Summer 2019

Species Spotlight: Narrow-leaf Milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis)

Species Spotlight: Clustered Field Sedge (Carex praegracilis)

Species Spotlight: Dove Weed (Croton setiger) - Winter 2018

Species Spotlight: California Poppy, (Eschscholzia californica)

Species Spotlight: Douglas Iris (Iris douglasiana)


Squirreltail (Elymus elymoides) by Kendra Moseley

Species Spotlight: Fescue to the Rescue (Festuca californica, F. idahoensis, F. rubra, F. spp.) by Andrea Williams

Species Spotlight: Small Fescue (Festuca microstachys), by Andrew Rayburn

Festuca Rubra (Red Fescue), David Amme, 2004, from Notes on California Grasses from A to V

Species Spotlight: The sweet green of narrow mannagrass (Glyceria leptostachya), by Jeffery T. Wilcox. Fall 2018

Species Spotlight: Deergrass (Muhlenbergia rigens)

Species Spotlight:  Sandberg Bluegrass, (Poa secunda)

Species Spotlight: Purple Needlegrass (Stipa pulchra)

Article: Grazing Nasella: Maintaining purple needlegrass in a sea of aggressive annuals. George MR, S Larson-Praplan, M Doran, KW Tate. 2013. Rangelands Vol 35. No. 2. (2013). 

Festuca rubra, Red Fescue



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