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USGS Scientists Contribute Chapters to New Book About Point Loma in San Diego, CA

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The Cabrillo National Monument Foundation unveiled a new book on Point Loma's natural resources, Understanding the Life of Point Loma, with a book signing on September 19 at the James Edgar and Jean Jessop Hervey Point Loma Library in San Diego. Two U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists from the Western Ecological Research Center, Kathryn McEachern and Robert N. Fisher, are chapter authors, and Fisher was on hand at the book signing.

Cover of the new book. California kingsnake Buckthorn
Above Left: Cover of the new book.

Above Center: California kingsnake photographed by Christopher W. Brown, USGS. This is one of 16 photographs by Brown illustrating Robert Fisher’s chapter on the diversity of animal life in the book Understanding the Life of Point Loma. (Additional information about the California kingsnake is available in A Field Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Coastal Southern California.)

Above Right: Buckthorn, a "seeder" plant. In Mediterranean ecosystems, seeders are plants that respond to recurring fires by sprouting new plants from seeds laid down in the soil during intervals between fires. This photograph by Kathryn McEachern is among the images illustrating her chapter on plant communities in the book Understanding the Life of Point Loma.

Cabrillo National Monument Superintendent Terry M. DiMattio described the book as the first to be "written specifically about the natural resources of Point Loma, both those found on the peninsula and those from the kelp forest offshore to the tidepools, where the ocean meets the land."

The seven-chapter book provides a grounding in Point Loma's geologic history, climate and oceanography, nearshore environment, plant communities, animals, and history of human impacts, as well as a description of ongoing efforts to preserve Point Loma's natural resources and educate people about its unique natural systems.

"The chapters written by the USGS scientists Kathryn McEachern and Robert Fisher are captivating," said DiMattio. "They provide the reader with insight into the workings of the plant and animal communities on this interesting, islandlike peninsula within the city limits of San Diego."

In chapter 4, "A Mediterranean Place: Plant Communities," plant ecologist Kathryn McEachern discusses the fascinating and different ways in which plants have adapted to take advantage of the Mediterranean climate's winter rain, yet survive its summer drought. Additionally, the plants have evolved with fire and have developed strategies of renewal, some resprouting from fire-resistant stems or roots after fire ("sprouters"), and others ("seeders") establishing seed crops that sprout new plants after fire. McEachern describes the native plant communities and their distribution on Point Loma, the history of vegetation in the area, and conservation challenges.

In chapter 5, "Life on the 'Island': Animals," research zoologist Robert N. Fisher describes how Point Loma was and is like an island to many animals. Historically, it was isolated from the mainland by water and, likely, marshland; today it is isolated by development. Point Loma has "20 species of mammals, 12 species of reptiles, 1 amphibian, and more than 250 species of birds." Fisher discusses "island" animals, from invertebrates to carnivores and raptors, and discusses such threats as invasive Argentine ants, feral cats, and poaching of reptiles and amphibians.

The 184-page paperback is available at the Cabrillo National Monument bookstore and retails for $16.95.

Related Web Sites
Western Ecological Research Center
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
A Field Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Coastal Southern California
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Cabrillo National Monument
National Park Service

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