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      Biosphere Reserve Information

United States of America


  General Description   Situated in the southern Sierra Nevada (California), this biosphere reserve comprises Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. From west to east, the two adjacent parks extend from the foothills of the San Joaquin Valley to the crest of the Sierra Nevada and contain the highest parts of that range. Pleistocene glaciers left an abrupt topography of granite carved canyons and domes and hundreds of glacial lakes.
The most notable vegetation is forests of giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum). Oak woodland (Quercus douglasii, Q. wislizenii) and chaparral with Adenostoma fasciculatum, Arctostaphylos viscida characterize the lower elevations. Mixed conifer forest with Colorado white fir (Abies concolor), red fir (A. magnifica), western yellow pine (Pinus ponderosa), sugar pine (P. lambertiana) and lodgepole pine (P. contorta) forests and montane meadows occupy the middle elevations. Subalpine forests with foxtail pine (P. balfouriana, P. albicaulis) and meadows, krummholz, and alpine ecosystems typify the higher elevations.
In addition to their natural diversity, the parks also host a unique cultural and historical record. Archeological sites date back at least five thousand years, indicating the presence of Native American peoples throughout the Sierra Nevada. Past herding of sheep (1850-1900) and cattle (1850-1940) has resulted in significant changes in the species composition and extent of upland and foothill vegetation. Fire suppression during the 20th century has interrupted successional patterns. Air pollution from outside the biosphere reserve affects several prominent tree species. Recreational impact is locally acute. Sequoia National Park contains a number of visitor centers, campsites and supply facilities.
  Major ecosystem type   Mixed mountain and highland systems
  Major habitats & land cover types  
  Location   3645'N; 11830'W
  Area (hectares)    
  Total   349,543
  Core area(s)  
  Buffer zone(s)  
  Transition area(s) when given  
  Altitude (metres above sea level)   +336 to +4,418
  Year designated   1976
  Administrative authorities   Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks National Park Service
  Brief description   Acidic deposition/atmospheric pollutants
Biological survey and collections
Comparative ecological research
Fire history and effects
Global change research
  Specific variables...    
  Abiotic   Acidic deposition/Acid rain, global change, pollution, pollutants.
  Biodiversity   Biology, ecology, fires/fire ecology.
  Socio-economic   n.a.
  Integrated monitoring   n.a.
  Contact address   Michael Tollefson
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
47050 Generals Way
93721 Three Rivers, California
United States of America
  Telephone   (1.559) 565 3101
(1.559) 565 3120
  Fax   (1.559) 565 3730
  Web site

Last updated: 31/08/2001

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