Author Info

James A. West


Situated at the northwest end of Santa Cruz County and occupying circa 30 square miles of sharply contrasted terrain, the Scott Creek Watershed concentrates within its geomorphological boundaries, at least 10-12% of California's flora, both native and introduced. Incorporated within this botanical overview but technically not part of the watershed sensu strictu, are the adjacent environs, ranging from the coastal strand up through the Western Terrace to the ocean draining ridge tops... with the Arroyo de las Trancas/Last Chance Ridge defining the western/northwestern boundary and the Molino Creek divide, the southern demarcation. Paradoxically, the use/abuse that the watershed has sustained over the past 140+ years, has not necessarily diminished the biodiversity and perhaps parallels the naturally disruptive but biologically energizing processes (fire, flooding, landslides and erosion), which have also been historically documented for the area. With such a comprehensive and diverse assemblage of floristic elements present, this topographically complex but relatively accessible watershed warrants utilization as a living laboratory, offering major taxonomic challenges within the Agrostis, Arctostaphylos, Carex, Castilleja, Clarkia, Juncus, Mimulus, Pinus, Quercus, Sanicula and Trillium genera (to name but a few), plus ample opportunities to study the significant role of landslides (both historical and contemporary) with the corresponding habitat adaptations/modifications and the resulting impact on population dynamics. Of paramount importance, is the distinct possibility of a paradigm being developed from said studies, which underscores the seeming contradiction of human activity and biodiversity within the same environment as not being mutually exclusive and understanding/clarifying the range of choices available in the planning of future land use activities, both within and outside of Swanton.

James A. West authorizes the entire use of this content as the basis for other authors' works. For additional research topics areas that could be explored, please see addendums.


Biodiversity | Biology | Botany | Plant Sciences

Number of Pages


Addendum1_SiteData_SupplementalVer.pdf (672 kB)
Addendum 1: Site Data

Addendum2_ResTopics_SupplementalVer.pdf (1126 kB)
Addendum 2: Research Topics

Addendum3_NonnativeTaxa_SupplementalVer_2018.pdf (778 kB)
Addendum 3: Non-native Taxa

Addendum4_Carex_SupplementalVer.pdf (617 kB)
Addendum 4: Research Material Relative to Carex x imperfecta Study