California (source: Encyclopedia Britannica 1911 Edition)
A low summer temperature enables northern species to push far southward, while the high heat total of the year enables southern species to push far north. The resultant intermingling of forms is very marked and characteristic of the Pacific Coast states. The distribution of life-zones is primarily a matter of altitude and corresponds to that of the isotherms. The mountain goat and mountain sheep live in the Sierran upper-land, though long ago well-nigh exterminated. The Douglas red squirrel is ubiquitous in the Sierran forests and their most conspicuous inhabitant. White-tailed deer and especially black-tails are found on the high Sierra; the mule deer, too, although its habitat is now mainly east of the range, on the plateau, is also met with. Grizzly, black, cinnamon and brown bears are all Californian, species once common and to-day rare. When Americans began to rule in California elk and antelope herded in great numbers in the Great Valley; the former may to-day sometimes, be seen, possibly, in the northern forests, and the latter occasionally cross into the state from Nevada. The sage-hen is abundant on the eastern flank of the Sierra. Grouse, quail, crows and woodpeckers (Melanerpes formicivorus) furnish species characteristic of the state. There are various species of ground-squirrels and gophers, which are very abundant. Noteworthy in the animal life of the lower Sonoran and tropic region are a variety of snakes and lizards, desert rats and mice; and, among birds, the cactus wren, desert thrasher, desert sparrow, Texas night-hawk, mocking-bird and ground cuckoo or road runner (Geococcyx Californianus). The California vulture, the largest flying bird in North America and fully as large as the Andean condor, is not limited to California but is fairly common there. In the zoology and botany of California as of the rest of the Pacific Coast, the distinctions between the upper austral and humid transition zones are 'largely obliterated; and as one passes southward into the arid lands, life forms of both these zones intermingle with those of the arid transition. Fish are abundant. The United States fish commission, and an active state commission established in 1869, have done much to preserve and increase this source of food. In 1904 the yield of the fisheries of the three Pacific Coast states was 168,600,000 lbs., valued at $6,681,000,—nearly half that of the New England states, more than one-third that of the Middle Atlantic states and more than that of the South Atlantic and Gulf states combined. Of the total, California yielded between a quarter and a third. A third of her fish comes from the Sacramento river. Some 230—more or less—marine food fishes are to be found in the market at San Francisco. The exports of fish from that port from 1892–1899 were valued at from $2,000,000 to $2,500,000 annually. Native oysters are small and of peculiar flavour; eastern varieties also are fattened, but not bred in California waters. Shrimp are abundant; the shrimp fishers are Chinese and four-fifths of the catch is exported to China. Sturgeon were once the cheapest fish after salmon; to-day, despite all efforts to increase the supply, they are the dearest. Salmon, once threatened with extinction, have been saved, maintained in good supply, and indeed have probably regained their pristine abundance. Shad and striped bass are both very abundant and cheap. Black bass, flounders, terrapin, sea-turtles, perch, turbot, sole and catfish are also common. Great herds of seals once lay like toll-gatherers off the Golden Gate and other bays of the coast, taking a large. share of the salmon and other fish; but they are no longer common. The sea-lions sometimes raid the rivers for loo m. inland. They have greatly increased since hunting them for their hides and oil ceased to be profitable, and thousands sometimes gather on the Farallones, off the Golden Gate. Flora.—Inclusiveness of range in the distribution of vegetable life is perhaps more suggestive than the distribution of animal,species. The variation is from dwarf mountain pine to giant cactus and dates.