National Park Service

State of the Park Reports

State of the Park Report for Cabrillo National Monument

Natural Resources

Old Point Loma Lighthouse
Old Point Loma Lighthouse at Cabrillo National Monument

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The Status and Trend symbols used in the summary table below and throughout this report are summarized in the following key. The background color represents the current condition status, the direction of the arrow summarizes the trend in condition, and the thickness of the outside line represents the degree of confidence in the assessment. In some cases, the arrow is omitted because data are not sufficient for calculating a trend (e.g., data from a one-time inventory or insufficient sample size).

Condition Status Trend in Condition Confidence in
Assessment
Condition of resource warrants significant concern Warrants Significant Concern Condition is improving Condition is Improving High confidence in the assessment High
Condition of resource warrants moderate concern Warrants Moderate Concern Condition is unchanging Condition is Unchanging Medium confidence in the assessment Medium
Resource is in good condition Resource is in Good Condition Condition is deteriorating Condition is Deteriorating Low confidence in the assessment Low

Examples of how the symbols should be interpreted:

Resource is in good condition; condition is improving; high confidence in the assessment. Resource is in good condition; condition is improving; high confidence in the assessment.
Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment.
Condition of resource warrants significant concern; trend in condition is unknown or not applicable; low confidence in the assessment. Condition of resource warrants significant concern; trend in condition is unknown or not applicable; low confidence in the assessment.
Rocky Intertidal Communities Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment. Brief - Rocky Intertidal Community
The rocky intertidal community at Cabrillo National Monument (a.k.a. "the tidepools") exists in an urban setting that is easily accessible to 3.5 million residents of San Diego and nearby areas, and yet is considered to be the most intact rocky intertidal habitat on the mainland of Southern California because of its protected status. More than 213,000 people visited the rocky intertidal at Cabrillo in 2011 (Phillips et al. 2013). Management of this resource involves a balance between providing for the inspiration, education, and enjoyment of this generation, but leaving it unimpaired for this and future generations.
Indicators of Condition Specific Measures Condition Status/Trend Rationale
Mussels Percent cover Condition of resource warrants significant concern; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment. Mussel populations along the Southern California coast crashed in early 1990s, and while they have recovered at other locations, they have not recovered at Cabrillo (Becker et al. 2007, Becker 2006, Becker 2005, Pister et al. in prep).
Giant Owl Limpet Average size and abundance of limpets Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is deteriorating; high confidence in the assessment. Average size of Giant Owl Limpets has decreased by 5 mm per decade, for unknown reasons. Abundance has remained steady (Becker 2006, Pister et al. in prep).
Abalone Number of individuals Condition of resource warrants significant concern; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment. Abalone have not been found in the park since the 1980s. They were added to the federal Endangered Species List in 2011. After years of overfishing a withering disease wiped them out in the mid-1980s (Becker 2006, Raimondi et al. 2002, Alstatt et al. 1996, Richards and Davis 1993, Zedler 1976, Pister et al. in prep).
Ochre Seastar Number of individuals Condition of resource warrants significant concern; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment. Ochre seastars have not been found in the park since the 1980s. A wasting disease knocked down populations in the 1970s. Despite small populations a few miles up and down coast, they have not returned to Cabrillo (Becker 2006, Pister et al. in prep, Engle 2005).
Barnacles Percent cover Resource is in good condition; condition is deteriorating; high confidence in the assessment. Barnacle populations are highly variable through time. Of the four common species living in the park two have decreased slightly over the last 10 years while the other two have remained steady (Becker 2006, Pister et al. in prep).
Surf Grass, Turf Algae, Rockweed, Kelp Percent cover Resource is in good condition; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment. Surfgrass and turf algae have increased or remained steady over the last 20 years. Rockweed has decreased over the last five years and is decreasing regionally. Boa kelp has increased over the past two years (Becker 2006, Pister et al in prep, Yap, personal communication).

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The Status and Trend symbols used in the summary table below and throughout this report are summarized in the following key. The background color represents the current condition status, the direction of the arrow summarizes the trend in condition, and the thickness of the outside line represents the degree of confidence in the assessment. In some cases, the arrow is omitted because data are not sufficient for calculating a trend (e.g., data from a one-time inventory or insufficient sample size).

Condition Status Trend in Condition Confidence in
Assessment
Condition of resource warrants significant concern Warrants Significant Concern Condition is improving Condition is Improving High confidence in the assessment High
Condition of resource warrants moderate concern Warrants Moderate Concern Condition is unchanging Condition is Unchanging Medium confidence in the assessment Medium
Resource is in good condition Resource is in Good Condition Condition is deteriorating Condition is Deteriorating Low confidence in the assessment Low

Examples of how the symbols should be interpreted:

Resource is in good condition; condition is improving; high confidence in the assessment. Resource is in good condition; condition is improving; high confidence in the assessment.
Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment.
Condition of resource warrants significant concern; trend in condition is unknown or not applicable; low confidence in the assessment. Condition of resource warrants significant concern; trend in condition is unknown or not applicable; low confidence in the assessment.
Coastal Sage Scrub Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment.Brief - Coastal Sage Scrub
Cabrillo contains approximately 160 acres of relatively undisturbed coastal sage scrub habitat that is becoming increasingly rare in Southern California, and which supports many plant and animal species that are more commonly found south of the United States border. The most widespread vegetation alliances in the park are Salvia mellifera - Eriogonum fasciculatum, Encelia californica - Artemisia californica and Rhus integrifolia (Klein and Keeler-Wolf 2010). A prominent ridgeline that runs the length of the Point Loma peninsula plays a significant role in defining the plant communities of CABR. West of the ridgeline is dominated by the coastal sage scrub plant community with isolated patches of maritime succulent scrub, southern foredune, and coastal bluff scrub scattered across the marine terraces found above the western shores of the park. The coastal sage scrub community can also be found east of the ridgeline, although significant patches of southern maritime chaparral are found in the steeper east- and north-facing drainages on the eastern edge of the park. The ridgeline itself is highly disturbed as most of the park infrastructure is located here. Where natural areas do exist in this zone, a mix of coastal sage scrub and southern maritime chaparral communities are typically encountered. The park supports 12 species of reptiles and amphibians, at least 15 species of mammals and an abundance of invertebrate species (Atkinson et al. 2003). A multitude of birds species have been identified at CABR (Edwards 2002, Madden-Smith et al. 2012). Residents use the native vegetation for nesting habitat while migrants use this area of the Point Loma Peninsula as a stopover along their migratory route.
Indicators of Condition Specific Measures Condition Status/Trend Rationale
Species Composition Richness and diversity of native species Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. Native species richness and diversity have remained constant over the 15-year period in which monitoring has been conducted. The most common coastal sage scrub (CSS) species are well represented. Status and trends for the less common annual species, which play an important role in the coastal sage scrub habitat, are not well known because of the difficulty of monitoring rare annual species.
Abundance Percent cover of five representative species Resource is in good condition; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. The percent cover of five representative species (Artemisia californica, Encelia californica, Eriogonum fasciculatum, Rhus integrifolia and Salvia mellifera) has remained constant over the 15-year monitoring period. These five species account for approximately 70% of the average percent cover detected in monitoring transects.
Abundance of State-listed Species Percent cover of two representative species Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. Euphorbia misera abundance has remained relatively constant over the 15-year monitoring period. However, Ceanothus verrucosus has exhibited a moderate decline in abundance over the same time period.

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The Status and Trend symbols used in the summary table below and throughout this report are summarized in the following key. The background color represents the current condition status, the direction of the arrow summarizes the trend in condition, and the thickness of the outside line represents the degree of confidence in the assessment. In some cases, the arrow is omitted because data are not sufficient for calculating a trend (e.g., data from a one-time inventory or insufficient sample size).

Condition Status Trend in Condition Confidence in
Assessment
Condition of resource warrants significant concern Warrants Significant Concern Condition is improving Condition is Improving High confidence in the assessment High
Condition of resource warrants moderate concern Warrants Moderate Concern Condition is unchanging Condition is Unchanging Medium confidence in the assessment Medium
Resource is in good condition Resource is in Good Condition Condition is deteriorating Condition is Deteriorating Low confidence in the assessment Low

Examples of how the symbols should be interpreted:

Resource is in good condition; condition is improving; high confidence in the assessment. Resource is in good condition; condition is improving; high confidence in the assessment.
Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment.
Condition of resource warrants significant concern; trend in condition is unknown or not applicable; low confidence in the assessment. Condition of resource warrants significant concern; trend in condition is unknown or not applicable; low confidence in the assessment.
Reptiles and Amphibians Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment.
Indicators of Condition Specific Measures Condition Status/Trend Rationale
Lizards Species richness Condition of resource warrants significant concern; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment. Five species of lizards currently occur in the park. The Coronado Island skink and the coast horned lizard once occurred in the park but have since disappeared (Atkinson et al. 2003).
Capture rates by year Resource is in good condition; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment. The capture rate for lizards is about 25 times higher than that for the amphibian, and 33 times higher than that for snakes. There is no overall trend in lizard capture rates between 1995 and 2011, and the number of species stayed the same.
Evenness index Resource is in good condition; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment. The mean Simpson's Evenness Index was 0.85 between 1995–2011, with no upward or downward trend.
Snakes Species richness Condition of resource warrants significant concern; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment. Six species of snakes currently occur in the park. The Southern Pacific Rattlesnake is abundant. Six species of snakes are no longer found in the park: California Glossy Snake, Coachwhip, Red Diamond Rattlesnake, Two-Striped Garter Snake, Western Long-Nosed Snake, and Yellow-bellied Racer (Atkinson et al. 2003).
Pacific Slender Salamander Capture rate Resource is in good condition; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment. The capture rate for the only amphibian in the park remained steady between 1995–2011.

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The Status and Trend symbols used in the summary table below and throughout this report are summarized in the following key. The background color represents the current condition status, the direction of the arrow summarizes the trend in condition, and the thickness of the outside line represents the degree of confidence in the assessment. In some cases, the arrow is omitted because data are not sufficient for calculating a trend (e.g., data from a one-time inventory or insufficient sample size).

Condition Status Trend in Condition Confidence in
Assessment
Condition of resource warrants significant concern Warrants Significant Concern Condition is improving Condition is Improving High confidence in the assessment High
Condition of resource warrants moderate concern Warrants Moderate Concern Condition is unchanging Condition is Unchanging Medium confidence in the assessment Medium
Resource is in good condition Resource is in Good Condition Condition is deteriorating Condition is Deteriorating Low confidence in the assessment Low

Examples of how the symbols should be interpreted:

Resource is in good condition; condition is improving; high confidence in the assessment. Resource is in good condition; condition is improving; high confidence in the assessment.
Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment.
Condition of resource warrants significant concern; trend in condition is unknown or not applicable; low confidence in the assessment. Condition of resource warrants significant concern; trend in condition is unknown or not applicable; low confidence in the assessment.
Birds Resource is in good condition; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment.
Indicators of Condition Specific Measures Condition Status/Trend Rationale
Resident Songbirds Species richness Resource is in good condition; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment. Thirty-three (33) species of birds breed in the park, and 103 species on the park's certified species list in 2011 are abundant or common.
Migratory Songbirds Species richness Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment. The park is an important stopover location for birds migrating along the Pacific coast during the spring and fall (Madden-Smith et al. 2012).
Raptors Species richness Resource is in good condition; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. Peregrine Falcons recently returned to a nesting site adjacent to the park. Red-tailed hawks are abundant, and three other hawk species are common.
Shorebirds and Seabirds Species richness Resource is in good condition; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment. Numbers of shorebirds, wading birds, and seabirds counted during annual surveys remained stable between 1992–2011.

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The Status and Trend symbols used in the summary table below and throughout this report are summarized in the following key. The background color represents the current condition status, the direction of the arrow summarizes the trend in condition, and the thickness of the outside line represents the degree of confidence in the assessment. In some cases, the arrow is omitted because data are not sufficient for calculating a trend (e.g., data from a one-time inventory or insufficient sample size).

Condition Status Trend in Condition Confidence in
Assessment
Condition of resource warrants significant concern Warrants Significant Concern Condition is improving Condition is Improving High confidence in the assessment High
Condition of resource warrants moderate concern Warrants Moderate Concern Condition is unchanging Condition is Unchanging Medium confidence in the assessment Medium
Resource is in good condition Resource is in Good Condition Condition is deteriorating Condition is Deteriorating Low confidence in the assessment Low

Examples of how the symbols should be interpreted:

Resource is in good condition; condition is improving; high confidence in the assessment. Resource is in good condition; condition is improving; high confidence in the assessment.
Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment.
Condition of resource warrants significant concern; trend in condition is unknown or not applicable; low confidence in the assessment. Condition of resource warrants significant concern; trend in condition is unknown or not applicable; low confidence in the assessment.
Terrestrial Mammals Resource is in good condition; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment.
Indicators of Condition Specific Measures Condition Status/Trend Rationale
Rodents and Shrews Species richness Resource is in good condition; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment. Desert Shrews, Ornate Shrews, and 10 species of mice, voles, and woodrats are incidentally captured in livetraps during reptile/amphibian monitoring studies.
Other Mammals Frequency of sightings Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. Foxes and deer are no longer found in the park. The frequency of coyote sightings has been increasing. Rabbits and squirrels are common.
Bats Number of species Resource is in good condition; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. Ten species of bats have been detected during three bat inventories in the park (Stokes et al. 2003).

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The Status and Trend symbols used in the summary table below and throughout this report are summarized in the following key. The background color represents the current condition status, the direction of the arrow summarizes the trend in condition, and the thickness of the outside line represents the degree of confidence in the assessment. In some cases, the arrow is omitted because data are not sufficient for calculating a trend (e.g., data from a one-time inventory or insufficient sample size).

Condition Status Trend in Condition Confidence in
Assessment
Condition of resource warrants significant concern Warrants Significant Concern Condition is improving Condition is Improving High confidence in the assessment High
Condition of resource warrants moderate concern Warrants Moderate Concern Condition is unchanging Condition is Unchanging Medium confidence in the assessment Medium
Resource is in good condition Resource is in Good Condition Condition is deteriorating Condition is Deteriorating Low confidence in the assessment Low

Examples of how the symbols should be interpreted:

Resource is in good condition; condition is improving; high confidence in the assessment. Resource is in good condition; condition is improving; high confidence in the assessment.
Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment.
Condition of resource warrants significant concern; trend in condition is unknown or not applicable; low confidence in the assessment. Condition of resource warrants significant concern; trend in condition is unknown or not applicable; low confidence in the assessment.
Invasive Plants and Animals Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment.
Approximately 25% of the plant species found in CABR are of non-native descent (Cabrillo 2009a); however, a large percentage of the park's acreage is relatively free of non-native species and most occurrences are limited to roadsides, trails and facility footprints (Dossey 2006, Lombardo, pers. obs.). In 2009, an NPS Exotic Plant Management Team identified 12 high-priority invasive species based on the substantial nature of their threat to the ecological integrity of the coastal sage scrub ecosystem in the park (Simpson 2009). A formal monitoring protocol has been developed and will play a critical role in tracking (a) changes in invasive species occurrence and distribution, and (b) the effectiveness of efforts to control invasive species (Irvine et al. in review.). An aggressive program of eradication is underway and we are aiming for CABR to be free of invasive plant species by 2016.
Indicators of Condition Specific Measures Condition Status/Trend Rationale
Marine Flora Species richness Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment. Few invasive species are found in the rocky intertidal area. The three species that are present are considered naturalized.
Terrestrial Flora Number of species detected Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is improving; medium confidence in the assessment. A 2003 survey identified 44 unique populations of non-native plant species, 40 of which have been subsequently treated (91% treatment rate) (Dossey 2006, Lombardo, unpublished data).
Terrestrial Fauna Number of new species detected Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is deteriorating; medium confidence in the assessment. Argentine ants have recently been found in the park and seem to be increasing (Menke and Holway 2006). Brown widow spiders have been found in the park.

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The Status and Trend symbols used in the summary table below and throughout this report are summarized in the following key. The background color represents the current condition status, the direction of the arrow summarizes the trend in condition, and the thickness of the outside line represents the degree of confidence in the assessment. In some cases, the arrow is omitted because data are not sufficient for calculating a trend (e.g., data from a one-time inventory or insufficient sample size).

Condition Status Trend in Condition Confidence in
Assessment
Condition of resource warrants significant concern Warrants Significant Concern Condition is improving Condition is Improving High confidence in the assessment High
Condition of resource warrants moderate concern Warrants Moderate Concern Condition is unchanging Condition is Unchanging Medium confidence in the assessment Medium
Resource is in good condition Resource is in Good Condition Condition is deteriorating Condition is Deteriorating Low confidence in the assessment Low

Examples of how the symbols should be interpreted:

Resource is in good condition; condition is improving; high confidence in the assessment. Resource is in good condition; condition is improving; high confidence in the assessment.
Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment.
Condition of resource warrants significant concern; trend in condition is unknown or not applicable; low confidence in the assessment. Condition of resource warrants significant concern; trend in condition is unknown or not applicable; low confidence in the assessment.
Invertebrates Resource is in good condition; condition is unchanging; low confidence in the assessment.
Indicators of Condition Specific Measures Condition Status/Trend Rationale
Selected Taxa Species richness Resource is in good condition; condition is unchanging; low confidence in the assessment. Invertebrates are an important component of the coastal sage scrub ecosystem. Scorpions, spiders, ants, centipedes and other species are captured in pit-fall traps while monitoring reptiles and amphibians. Sixty-seven (67) species of spiders have been discovered in the park. Inventories by the San Diego Natural History Museum are continuing.

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The Status and Trend symbols used in the summary table below and throughout this report are summarized in the following key. The background color represents the current condition status, the direction of the arrow summarizes the trend in condition, and the thickness of the outside line represents the degree of confidence in the assessment. In some cases, the arrow is omitted because data are not sufficient for calculating a trend (e.g., data from a one-time inventory or insufficient sample size).

Condition Status Trend in Condition Confidence in
Assessment
Condition of resource warrants significant concern Warrants Significant Concern Condition is improving Condition is Improving High confidence in the assessment High
Condition of resource warrants moderate concern Warrants Moderate Concern Condition is unchanging Condition is Unchanging Medium confidence in the assessment Medium
Resource is in good condition Resource is in Good Condition Condition is deteriorating Condition is Deteriorating Low confidence in the assessment Low

Examples of how the symbols should be interpreted:

Resource is in good condition; condition is improving; high confidence in the assessment. Resource is in good condition; condition is improving; high confidence in the assessment.
Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment.
Condition of resource warrants significant concern; trend in condition is unknown or not applicable; low confidence in the assessment. Condition of resource warrants significant concern; trend in condition is unknown or not applicable; low confidence in the assessment.
Marine Water Quality Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment.
Indicators of Condition Specific Measures Condition Status/Trend Rationale
Fecal Coliform Bacteria Colony forming units/100mL Resource is in good condition; condition is unchanging; high confidence in the assessment. Monitoring is conducted by the City of San Diego because of adjacent wastewater treatment plant. Critical threshold has only been exceeded once in the past 10 years.
Heavy Metals Concentration Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. Heavy metals are monitored in San Diego Bay. Monitoring is done sporadically (Engle and Largier 2006).
Organophosphates Concentration Condition of resource warrants moderate concern; condition is unchanging; medium confidence in the assessment. Organophosphates are monitored in San Diego Bay. Monitoring is done sporadically (Engle and Largier 2006).

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Last Updated: June 24, 2014 Contact Webmaster