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CSMR Flora and Fauna

The flora of Carpinteria Salt Marsh has been of interest to many scientists for at least 90 years. Historical records and collections have made possible a reconstruction of the floristic diversity of the estuary and vicinity before many impacts of urbanization occurred. A synopsis of the findings has shown that at least 55 vascular plants families containing 153 genera and 252 species are know to occur or have occurred at Carpinteria Salt Marsh, including the estuary's historical limits and adjacent sand dunes. Of those plants, 104 species (45%) are native. Eleven species listed for Carpinteria Salt Marsh and vicinity are possibly extirpated, representing 17% of the 64 native wetland species. Eleven species growing presently at the estuary are regionally rare plants, and two species (Salt Marsh Bird's-beak and Salt Marsh Goldfields) are considered endangered.

The fauna of Carpinteria Salt Marsh also has been studied by many researchers from UCSB and other institutions. At least 190 bird species, 37 fish species, 11 mammal species, 5 herpetofauna species, and over 100 invertebrate species have been observed, collected, or reported from Carpinteria Salt Marsh. The estuary is important for resident species including (1) birds such as many shorebirds (e.g., Marbled Godwits), wading birds (e.g., Great Blue Herons), gulls and terns, and passerines (e.g., Belding's Savannah Sparrows); (2) fish such as Arrow Gobies, and California Killifish; and estuarine-restricted crustaceans (e.g., Fiddler Crabs and Ghost Shrimp) and molluscs (e.g., California Oysters). The estuary also provides important habitat for migratory birds and habitat for seasonal use by species of special interest such as regionally-declining and threatened or endangered bird species including Long-billed Curlews, Least Terns, and Snowy Plovers. Carpinteria Salt Marsh also provides important nursery functions for various marine fish including Diamond Turbot, Stary Flounder, and the economically-important California Halibut.