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New List Of Species A Gauge Of LA's Biodiversity, Environmental Health

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — How healthy is the city of Los Angeles' environment? A new list of charismatic umbrella indicator species was released this week to give city officials a way to track any changes in biodiversity and habitat quality.

Los Angeles is one of the first cities in the nation to publish such a list, which includes 37 species that indicate a good habitat quality and connectivity to other open space that is a sufficient size to host a diversity of species.

"Los Angeles may be known as a sprawling metropolis, but it's the abundance of natural beauty that makes this city such a prolific hotspot for native life," Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement.

LA biodiversity
(credit: Nurit Katz/LA Sanitation)

The list was published by the LA Sanitation Department and includes amphibians -- like the Western toad, black-bellied slender salamander, and Baja California tree frog – and reptiles, among them the Western pond turtle, coachwhip snake, Western rattlesnake, California kingsnake, gopher snake, and sideblotched lizard. Five mammals indicate a healthy LA – the bobcat, dusky-footed woodrat, mule deer, mountain lion, and gray fox.

Birds dominate the list: the red-winged blackbird, great blue heron, great horned owl, the red-tailed hawk, California quail, canyon wren, Northern harrier, greater roadrunner, hooded merganser, acorn woodpecker, spotted towhee, Western bluebird, cinnamon teal, and Western meadowlark.

Nine invertebrates are on the list, including the bumblebee, butterflies like the Sara orangetip, Behr's metalmark, bramble green hairstreak, El Segundo blue butterfly, Lorquin's admiral; and harvester ants, velvet ants, and North American Jerusalem crickets.

Over time, LA Sanitation's biodiversity team will track observations of these species on platforms on online community science platforms like iNaturalist and eBird. But this summer, LA Sanitation and the LA Public Library are challenging Angelenos to observe, photograph and map these species in and around their homes, parks, hiking trails and other natural areas.

The L.A. Bioblitz Challenge runs through Aug. 7.

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