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Wildlife Habitats - California Wildlife Habitat Relationships System

About the CWHR Habitat Classification Scheme

The CWHR habitat classification scheme has been developed to support the CWHR System, a wildlife information system and predictive model for California's regularly-occurring birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. When first published in 1988, the classification scheme had 53 habitats. These habitats, except the non-vegetated Barren habitat, are described in detail in the CWHR publication entitled:

A Guide to Wildlife Habitats of California. 1988.
Edited by Kenneth E. Mayer and William F. Laudenslayer, Jr.
State of California, Resources Agency,
Department of Fish and Game
Sacramento, CA. 166 pp.

The entire original publication is available online with updates (see below).

At present, there are 59 wildlife habitats in the CWHR System: 27 tree, 12 shrub, 6 herbaceous, 4 aquatic, 8 agricultural, 1 developed, and 1 non-vegetated (download Habitat Range shapefiles (.zip)). Please note: the 59 habitats described below were designed for use with a predictive model for terrestrial vertebrate wildlife species. They do not represent a comprehensive classification scheme for the conservation and mapping of California's terrestrial vegetation* or its marine and estuarine habitats**.

  • Stages are defined for virtually all habitats. A stage is a combination of size and cover class for tree-dominated habitats, age and cover class for shrub habitats, height and cover class for herb habitats, and depth and substrate for aquatic habitats. A field sampling protocol is well-established for determining stages in all vegetated habitats.
  • Special habitat elements are also defined. They include live and decadent vegetation elements such as snags, physical elements such as banks and burrows, aquatic elements, vegetative and animal diet elements and human-made elements.

The predictive model for each species has expert-applied suitability ratings for three life-requisites – breeding, cover and feeding. For each species, each habitat stage is rated as high, medium, low or unsuitable for each of these life requirements. Each special habitat element is also assessed as essential, secondarily essential, preferred or not rated for the species.

* Notes on Classification and Mapping of Terrestrial Vegetation in California

  • Information on classification and mapping of terrestrial vegetation is available from the Vegetation Classification and Mapping Program (VegCAMP), CDFW Biogeographic Data Branch.
  • Field sampling for CWHR habitat stages has been incorporated into the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) Rapid Assessment Protocol, to increase the utility of the resulting vegetation maps for wildlife modeling and conservation. Information and links to field forms are available on the link opens in new windowCNPS website.
  • Crosswalks to the CWHR habitat classification scheme are included in all of California's major vegetation and land cover mapping efforts.

** Notes on Classification of Marine and Estuarine Habitats in California

  • A classification scheme for the conservation and management of marine and estuarine habitats was developed in cooperation with the CWHR Program in 2002. It includes descriptions for 22 marine and 19 estuarine habitats. At present, it does not include suitability ratings to habitat stages or special habitat elements for the terrestrial amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals currently in the CWHR System.
  • The new classification includes crosswalks to other important, recent classifications regarding coastal waters. Included are crosswalks to Wetlands of the Central and Southern California Coast and Coastal Watersheds; a methodology for their classification and description (Ferren et al., 1996), Baylands Ecosystem Habitat Goals: a report of habitat recommendations (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1999), A classification scheme for deep sea floor habitats (Greene et al., 1999), and Wildlife-habitat relationships in Oregon and Washington (Johnson and O'Neil, 2001). Also included are crosswalks to a national scheme for marine and estuarine ecosystems and habitat classification published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2002 and a classification for habitats of the Channel Islands drafted in 2000 by the Channel Island National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS).

link opens in new windowRevision to Marine and Estuarine Habitats of the California Wildlife Habitat Relationships System (2002) (PDF)

A Guide to Wildlife Habitats of California (1988)

Guide Section Updates

link opens in new windowContributing Authors, Acknowledgements, and Preface (PDF)

 

link opens in new windowIntroduction and Scope (PDF)
Includes:

  • How to Use the Guide
  • How to Classify Habitats
  • Special Habitat Elements
  • Available Habitat Stages

link opens in new windowRevised Classification Rules (2005) (PDF)

link opens in new windowWooded Habitat Sampling Datasheet (PDF)

link opens in new windowAnalysis of Wooded Habitat Sampling Data (PDF)

link opens in new windowNon-Wooded Habitat Sampling Datasheet (PDF)

link opens in new windowAnalysis of Non-Wooded Habitat Sampling Data (PDF)

link opens in new windowHabitat Element Checklist (PDF)

link opens in new windowAvailable Habitat Stages for Agricultural Habitats (PDF)

link opens in new windowDefinition of Added Human Element - Mine (PDF)

link opens in new windowClarification of the Measurement of California Wildlife Habitat Relationships (CWHR) System Size Class 5 and 6 for Tree Habitats (2007) (PDF)

link opens in new windowCrosswalk Between WHR and California Vegetation Classifications (PDF)

link opens in new windowCWHR Crosswalked with CNPS Vegetation Classification (2005) (PDF)

link opens in new windowCWHR Crosswalked with CalVeg Classification (2005) (PDF)

link opens in new windowUNESCO Formations Within CWHR (1998) (PDF)

link opens in new windowCWHR Crosswalked with DWR Land Use Types (2008) (PDF)

link opens in new windowLiterature Cited (PDF)

 

link opens in new windowPlants and Animals Referenced in Text (PDF)

 

Habitat Types

HABITAT TYPE PRIMARY SPECIES REFERENCED IN TEXT 1988
Text
Account
Range
Map
Photo

Tree Dominated Habitats

Subalpine Conifer (SCN) Engelmann Spruce, Subalpine Fir, Mountain Hemlock Subalpine Conifer Description - link opens in new window Subalpine Conifer Map - link opens in new window Subalpine Conifer Photo - link opens in new window
Red Fir (RFR) Red Fir, White Fir, Lodgepole Pine Red Fir Description - link opens in new window Red Fir Map - link opens in new window Red Fir Photo - link opens in new window
Lodgepole Pine (LPN) Lodgepole Pine, Aspen, Mountain Hemlock Lodgepole Pine Description - link opens in new window Lodgepole Pine Map - link opens in new window Lodgepole Pine Photo - link opens in new window
Sierran Mixed Conifer (SMC) Douglas Fir, Ponderosa Pine, White Fir
  New! updated description of range
Sierran Mixed Conifer Description - link opens in new window Sierran Mixed Conifer Map - link opens in new window Sierran Mixed Conifer Photo - link opens in new window
White Fir (WFR) White Fir, Douglas Fir, Sugar Pine
  New! corrected range map
White Fir Description - link opens in new window White Fir Map - link opens in new window White Fir Photo - link opens in new window
Klamath Mixed Conifer (KMC) White Fir, Douglas-Fir, Ponderosa Pine
  New! updated description
Klamath Mixed Conifer Description - link opens in new window Klamath Mixed Conifer Map - link opens in new window Klamath Mixed Conifer Photo - link opens in new window
Douglas Fir (DFR) Douglas Fir, Tanoak, Ponderosa Pine Douglas Fir Description - link opens in new window Douglas Fir Map - link opens in new window Douglas Fir Photo - link opens in new window
Jeffrey Pine (JPN) Jeffrey Pine, Ponderosa Pine, Sugar Pine Jeffrey Pine Description - link opens in new window Jeffrey Pine Map - link opens in new window Jeffrey Pine Photo - link opens in new window
Ponderosa Pine (PPN) Ponderosa Pine, Jeffrey Pine, Douglas Fir Ponderosa Pine Description - link opens in new window Ponderosa Pine Map - link opens in new window Ponderosa Pine Photo - link opens in new window
Eastside Pine (EPN) Ponderosa Pine, Jeffrey Pine, White Fir Eastside Pine Description - link opens in new window Eastside Pine Map - link opens in new window Eastside Pine Photo - link opens in new window
Redwood (RDW) Redwood, Grand Fir, Sitka Spruce Redwood Description - link opens in new window Redwood Map - link opens in new window Redwood Photo - link opens in new window
Pinyon-Juniper (PJN) Pinyon Species, Juniper Species, Mountain Mahogany Species Pinyon-Juniper Description - link opens in new window Pinyon-Juniper Map - link opens in new window Pinyon-Juniper Photo - link opens in new window
Juniper (JUN) Juniper Species, White Fir, Jeffrey Pine Juniper Description - link opens in new window Juniper Map - link opens in new window Juniper Photo - link opens in new window
Aspen (ASP) Aspen, Willows, Alders Aspen Description - link opens in new window Aspen Map - link opens in new window Aspen Photo - link opens in new window
Closed-Cone Pine-Cypress (CPC) Sargent Cypress, Monterey Cypress, Monterey Pine Closed Cone Pine-Cypress Description - link opens in new window Closed Cone Pine-Cypress Map - link opens in new window Closed Cone Pine-Cypress Photo - link opens in new window
Montane Hardwood-Conifer (MHC) Ponderosa Pine, Incense Cedar, California Black Oak Montane Hardwood-Conifer Description - link opens in new window Montane Hardwood-Conifer Map - link opens in new window Montane Hardwood-Conifer Photo - link opens in new window
Montane Hardwood (MHW) Canyon Live Oak, California Black Oak, Oregon White Oak Montane Hardwood Description - link opens in new window Montane Hardwood Map - link opens in new window Montane Hardwood Photo - link opens in new window
Blue Oak Woodland (BOW) Blue Oak, Interior Live Oak, California Buckeye Blue Oak Woodland Description - link opens in new window Blue Oak Woodland Map - link opens in new window Blue Oak Woodland Photo - link opens in new window
Valley Oak Woodland (VOW) Valley Oak, California Walnut, California Sycamore Valley Oak Woodland Description - link opens in new window Valley Oak Woodland Map - link opens in new window Valley Oak Woodland Photo - link opens in new window
Coastal Oak Woodland (COW) Coast Live Oak, Engelmann Oak, Island Oak
  New! updated description of dominants
Coastal Oak Woodland Description - link opens in new window Coastal Oak Woodland Map - link opens in new window Coastal Oak Woodland Photo - link opens in new window
Blue Oak-Foothill Pine (BOP) Foothill Pine, Blue Oak, Interior Live Oak Blue Oak-Foothill Pine Description - link opens in new window Blue Oak-Foothill Pine Map - link opens in new window Blue Oak-Foothill Pine Photo - link opens in new window
Eucalyptus (EUC) Blue Gum, Red Gum Eucalyptus Description - link opens in new window Eucalyptus Map - link opens in new window Eucalyptus Photo - link opens in new window
Montane Riparian (MRI) Black Cottonwood, Bigleaf Maple, White Alder Montane Riparian Description - link opens in new window Montane Riparian Map - link opens in new window Montane Riparian Photo - link opens in new window
Valley Foothill Riparian (VRI) Cottonwood, Sycamore, Valley Oak Valley Foothill Riparian Description - link opens in new window Valley Foothill Riparian Map - link opens in new window Valley Foothill Riparian Photo - link opens in new window
Desert Riparian (DRI) Tamarisk, Mesquite, Fremont Cottonwood Desert Riparian Description - link opens in new window Desert Riparian Map - link opens in new window Desert Riparian Photo - link opens in new window
Palm Oasis (POS) Fan Palm, Velvet Ash, California Sycamore Palm Oasis Description - link opens in new window Palm Oasis Map - link opens in new window Palm Oasis Photo - link opens in new window
Joshua Tree (JST) Joshua Tree, Juniper Species, Mojave Yucca Joshua Tree Description - link opens in new window Joshua Tree Map - link opens in new window Joshua Tree Photo - link opens in new window

Shrub Dominated Habitats

Alpine Dwarf-Shrub (ADS) Oceanspray, Greene Goldenweed, Mountain Heather Alpine Dwarf-Shrub Description - link opens in new window Alpine Dwarf-Shrub Map - link opens in new window Alpine Dwarf-Shrub Photo - link opens in new window
Low Sage (LSG) Low Sagebrush, Black Sagebrush, Rabbitbrush Species Low Sage Description - link opens in new window Low Sage Map - link opens in new window Low Sage Photo - link opens in new window
Bitterbrush (BBR) Bitterbrush Species, Big Sagebrush, Rubber Rabbitbrush Bitterbrush Description - link opens in new window Bitterbrush Map - link opens in new window Bitterbrush Photo - link opens in new window
Sagebrush (SGB) Sagebrush Species, Rabbitbrush Species, Horsebrush Sagebrush Description - link opens in new window Sagebrush Map - link opens in new window Sagebrush Photo - link opens in new window
Montane Chaparral (MCP) Ceanothus Species, Manzanita Species, Bitter Cherry Montane Chaparral Description - link opens in new window Montane Chaparral Map - link opens in new window Montane Chaparral Photo - link opens in new window
Mixed Chaparral (MCH) Scrub Oak, Ceanothus Species, Manzanita Species Mixed Chaparral Description - link opens in new window Mixed Chaparral Map - link opens in new window Mixed Chaparral Photo - link opens in new window
Chamise-Redshank Chaparral (CRC) Chamise, Redshank, Ceanothus Species Chamise-Redshank Chaparral Description - link opens in new window Chamise-Redshank Chaparral Map - link opens in new window Chamise-Redshank Chaparral Photo - link opens in new window
Coastal Scrub (CSC) Coyotebush, California Buckwheat, Sage Species Coastal Scrub Description - link opens in new window Coastal Scrub Map - link opens in new window Coastal Scrub Photo - link opens in new window
Desert Succulent Shrub (DSS) Octillo, Mojave Yucca, Desert Agave Desert Succulent Shrub Description - link opens in new window Desert Succulent Shrub Map - link opens in new window Desert Succulent Shrub Photo - link opens in new window
Desert Wash (DSW) Paloverde Species, Desert Ironwood, Mesquite Desert Wash Description - link opens in new window Desert Wash Map - link opens in new window Desert Wash Photo - link opens in new window
Desert Scrub (DSC) Creosotebush, Catclaw Acacia, Desert Agave Desert Scrub Description - link opens in new window Desert Scrub Map - link opens in new window Desert Scrub Photo - link opens in new window
Alkali Desert Scrub (ASC) Allscale, Saltbush Species, Shadscale Alkali Desert Scrub Description - link opens in new window Alkali Desert Scrub Map - link opens in new window Alkali Desert Scrub Photo - link opens in new window

Herbaceous Dominated Habitats

Annual Grassland (AGS) Wild Oats, Soft Chess, Brome Species
  New! updated range map and description of range
Annual Grassland Description - link opens in new window Annual Grassland Map - link opens in new window Annual Grassland Photo - link opens in new window
Perennial Grassland (PGS) California Oatgrass, Hairgrass, Sweet Vernalgrass
  New! updated range map and description of range
Perennial Grassland Description - link opens in new window Perennial Grassland Map - link opens in new window Perennial Grassland Photo - link opens in new window
Wet Meadow (WTM) Sedge Species, Rush Species, Tufted Hairgrass Wet Meadow Description - link opens in new window Wet Meadow Map - link opens in new window Wet Meadow Photo - link opens in new window
Fresh Emergent Wetland (FEW) Cattail, Bulrush, Redroot Nutgrass Fresh Emergent Wetland Description - link opens in new window Fresh Emergent Wetland Map - link opens in new window Fresh Emergent Wetland Photo - link opens in new window
Saline Emergent Wetland (SEW) Cordgrass, Pickleweed, Bulrush Saline Emergent Wetland Description - link opens in new window Saline Emergent Wetland Map - link opens in new window Saline Emergent Wetland Photo - link opens in new window
Pasture (PAS) Bermuda Grass, Ryegrass, Tall Fescue Pasture Description - link opens in new window Pasture Map - link opens in new window Pasture Photo - link opens in new window

Aquatic Habitats

See also: "Notes on Classification of Marine and Estuarine Habitats"

Riverine (RIV) Water Moss, Algae, Duckweed Riverine Description - link opens in new window Riverine Map - link opens in new window Riverine Photo - link opens in new window
Lacustrine (LAC) Plankton, Duckweed, Water Lilies Lacustrine Description - link opens in new window Lacustrine Map - link opens in new window Lacustrine Photo - link opens in new window
Estuarine (EST) Plankton, Algae, Eel Grass Estuarine Description - link opens in new window Estuarine Map - link opens in new window Estuarine Photo - link opens in new window
Marine (MAR) Plankton, Algae, Kelp Marine Description - link opens in new window Marine Map - link opens in new window Marine Photo - link opens in new window

Developed Habitats

Cropland (CRP) Tomatoes, Corn, Wheat
  ** Replaced by DGR, IGR, IRH, IRF, RIC **
Cropland Description - link opens in new window Cropland Map - link opens in new window Cropland Photo - link opens in new window
Dryland Grain Crops (DGR) Cereal Rye, Barley, Wheat Dryland Gran Crops Description - link opens in new window Dryland Grain Crops Map - link opens in new window Dryland Grain Crops Photo - link opens in new window
Irrigated Grain Crops (IGR) Corn, Dry Beans, Safflower Irrigated Grain Crops Description - link opens in new window Irrigated Grain Crops Map - link opens in new window Irrigated Grain Crops Photo - link opens in new window
Irrigated Hayfield (IRH) Alfalfa, Hay Irrigated Hayfield Description - link opens in new window Irrigated Hayfield Map - link opens in new window Irrigated Hayfield Photo - link opens in new window
Irrigated Row and Field Crops (IRF) Tomatoes, Cotton, Lettuce Irrigated Row and Field Crops Description - link opens in new window Irrigated Row and Field Crops Map - link opens in new window Irrigated Row and Field Crops Photo - link opens in new window
Rice (RIC) Rice Rice Description - link opens in new window Rice Map - link opens in new window Rice Photo - link opens in new window
Orchard - Vineyard (OVN) Apples, Oranges, Grapes
  ** Replaced by DOR, EOR, VIN **
Orchard - Vineyard Description - link opens in new window Orchard - Vineyard Map - link opens in new window Orchard - Vineyard Photo - link opens in new window
Deciduous Orchard (DOR) Almonds, Walnuts, Peaches Deciduous Orchard Description - link opens in new window Deciduous Orchard Map - link opens in new window Deciduous Orchard Photo - link opens in new window
Evergreen Orchard (EOR) Oranges, Avocados, Lemons Evergreen Orchard Description - link opens in new window Evergreen Orchard Map - link opens in new window Evergreen Orchard Photo - link opens in new window
Vineyard (VIN) Grapes, Kiwi Fruit, Boysenberries Vineyard Description - link opens in new window Vineyard Map - link opens in new window Vineyard Photo - link opens in new window
Urban (URB) Grass Lawns, Ornamental Trees, Hedges Urban Description - link opens in new window Urban Map - link opens in new window Urban Photo - link opens in new window

Non-vegetated Habitats

Barren (BAR) Rock, Gravel, Soil Barren Description - link opens in new window Barren Map - link opens in new window Barren Photo 1
Barren Photo 2