Our project investigated the relationship between climate change and vegetation type conversion in the Santa Monica Mountains on north and south facing slopes. Our hypothesis is that with a shift in climate towards dryer, hotter, and longer summers, and shorter and dryer winters, we will see a shift in the density of native chaparral in the Santa Monica mountains, and possibly an influx of non-native species. We tested this hypothesis by choosing three study sites that were on north/south ridgelines to simulate a dryer, harsher climate (south) and a more temperate climate (north). Using the point-quarter method to measure the prevalence of each type of plant in each study area we were able to determine what was growing on each slope. Our investigation is significant and relevant because if our hypothesis is correct, and there is a shift towards coastal sage and non-natives in areas that normally had chaparral, there would be serious consequences for the ecosystem and humans. An increase in smaller plants would decrease fire interval, which is dangerous to humans and is devastating to the plant infrastructure as it creates a positive feedback loop that promotes the influx of dry flash fuel invasive and exacerbates the decrease of the fire return interval.
Villablanca, Andrew; McCabe, Katherine; and Galuhn, Daniel, "The Differences in Vegetation Type on North and South-Facing Slopes" (2012). Pepperdine University, All Undergraduate Student Research. Paper 43.