The Partnership of Regional Institutions for Sage Scrub Monitoring (PRISSM) is a multi-institutional effort to set up long-term bio-monitoring programs in California sage scrub fragments throughout southern California. PRISSM was initiated with National Science Foundation support to the Robert J. Bernard Field Station and with significant contribution from land managers and researchers

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Plant Diversity

Justification: Perennial shrubs and annual herbs form the foundation of California Sage Scrub (CSS) habitat (structure and food). Monitoring both perennial shrubs and annual plants is critical because diversity and abundance of shrubs tend to respond slowly to many stressors, whereas annual plants show large response to inter-annual variation in climate. Focusing on both perennial and annual…

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Plant Phenology

Justification: Phenology is the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena in relation to climate and plant and animal life. Climate warming and changes in precipitation have already impacted the life cycles of many species (Kimball et al. 2010; Crimmins et al. 2011), such as the timing of plant flowering and the emergence of insects…

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Justification: Monitoring vertebrate communities will provide many benefits to the CSS bio-monitoring program. Vertebrates (mammals, birds, reptiles, etc.) more than any other taxonomic group engage the public’s attention and support. In addition, many CSS vertebrate species are listed as threatened or endangered (O’Leary 1990, Keeley & Swift, 1995)…

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Justification: Monitoring of bird diversity and phenology can be done using a variety of methods, each with its own set of biases (see Bart & Earnest 2002 & Thompson 2002). In addition to recording birds as part of the vertebrate monitoring component, using motion sensor cameras: we decided not to use point counts for three…

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Bernardino Dotted-Blue Butterfly nectaring on California Buckwheat (Eriogonum fasiculatum)


Justification: Monitoring invertebrate communities in CSS fragments can be done using a variety of methods and can focus on a myriad of taxa. The criteria PRISSM used to identify a taxon for bio-monitoring of CSS included: (1) ease of identification to species, (2) ease of sampling using methods that do not include extensive processing efforts…

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Justification: Rising concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are leading to increasing global temperatures and changes in the hydrological cycle (IPCC, 2013). Because such abiotic changes are impacting the distribution of biota across the planet (Parmesan 2006, Chen et al. 2011) and are predicted to influence the distribution…

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