Detailed Census Results for
Keckiella rothrockii var. jacintensis, San Jacinto Mts. keckiella
See Plant Species of San Jacinto Mountain: Keckiella rothrockii var. jacintensis, San Jacinto Mts. keckiella for an introduction to this taxon and our surveys. This page describes the individual surveys in which we censused the population of this taxon.
Detailed Census Results of each survey
- southwest Tahquitz Valley 7 September 2016: 3,162 plants
- Fuller Ridge 12 September 2016: 2,093 plants
- northwest Tahquitz Valley 16 September 2016: 1,863 plants
Census Results from 7 September 2016 in southwest Tahquitz Valley
On 7 September 2016, Tom censused the western end of Tahquitz Valley for Keckiella rothrockii var. jacintensis.
The following topo map shows the route censused in green, with blue diamonds indicating areas where Keckiella was found and counted.
This is a very busy map, showing all the areas where we have done surveys for all species, and is just put here temporarily to show where the 9/7/16 survey was done on a topo map, and how much was off-trail.
Details on the Census Procedure
The census began at the top of the Devils Slide Trail, where Keckiella plants were found on the north-facing slope above Saddle Junction.
Tom then surveyed what we think is the area with the largest numbers of plants of Keckiella, in the drainage that ends at Skunk Cabbage Meadow just below the Caramba Trail. That entire drainage was surveyed, from where the plants ended just above the wetter area of the upper Meadow, to the top of the drainage above the PCT.
The general procedure in this first part of the census was to walk to any patch seen, and then survey from there for other patches and then walk to them, to try to find all the populations in that drainage.
The census continued on the PCT, with an excursion above the trail to the ridgeline as shown on the map, proceeding to Chinquapin Flat, and then down the PCT to cover another large population in the east / northeast flowing drainage above Little Tahquitz Meadow. In this part of the census, due to time constraints, only populations near the trails were counted, without walking to them and trying to find connecting populations.
The census continued on the Tahquitz Meadow trail, with an off-trail excursion to the west, since no Keckiella plants had previously been found on the trail north of Tahquitz Meadow. In this off-trail excursion, Tom once again tried to find off-trail populations visible from each population found . However, in this area only a small number of plants were found, in another drainage leading to Skunk Cabbage Meadow.
The census was conducted by taking a GPS point at each patch of Keckiella, and then counting all the individual plants that could be reliably distinguished from that single point, using well-defined boundaries. If a patch in the distance was partially blocked by a log or a ridge, Tom would go there, take a new GPS point and count those plants separately.
The census found 3,162 plants, counted at 109 GPS points. The following figure shows a histogram of the counts at the 109 GPS points:
The above figure shows that most points had smaller number of plants, with only a very small number of points having more than 50 plants per point. The most common number of plants at a GPS point was a single plant; 13 points had only a single plant visible at that location, and 39 points had just 1 to 10 plants counted.
The average is 29 plants per GPS point (3162 plants divided by 109 points), with a median value of 18 plants per GPS point (half the points have more than 18 plants; half have less). The very large number of plants at some GPS points makes the average much higher than the median.
The following figures show the survey results using Google Earth.
Map view, with north up, showing all points where Keckiella was found and counted, and the number of plants found in each geographic group. The light blue line is the track surveyed, showing areas that had no Keckiella plants seen.
"Airplane view" to wsw showing the population near Saddle Junction, with points with over 50 plants plotted as larger balls.
Airplane view to wsw showing the population between Chinquapin Flat and Little Tahquitz Meadow, with points with over 50 plants plotted as larger balls.
Most of the time, the plants seen were in a north-facing or east-facing drainage, or in flattish areas along drainages, or on small rocky hilltops, especially on the north or east side. The following figure shows off-trail target areas that have similar habitat for the next surveys here.
Airplane view of target areas with similar habitat for future surveys, shown outlined in white.
Census Results from 12 September 2016 from Fuller Ridge
On 12 September 2016, Tom, Nancy and Bruce censused the Fuller Ridge Trail, along its Fuller Ridge portion, for Keckiella rothrockii var. jacintensis.
The survey was done almost entirely from the trail itself, counting all plants of this species that could be reliably seen from the trail. We went a very short distance away from the trail a few times in order to accurately count the population.
In general, the populations seen did not appear to extend very far from the trail. This was unlike the situation in Tahquitz Valley, probably for two reasons:
- This area on the north side of the ridge is heavily forested, and the terrain is steep. This produces too much shade for Keckiella rothrockii var. jacintensis to survive except near the ridgeline itself, and in the few open areas where the trees give way to chinquapin meadows, or where significant rock exposures reduce the amount of shade cast by trees.
- The Fuller Ridge Trail stays close to the ridge on the eastern side of the Castle Rocks and east, which is where the populations lives in this area, and thus luckily traverses most of the population.
Of course, there are almost certainly some plants present in some areas not near the trail, such as the area near the ridge above the trail at peak 8462, and on the north side of the western portion of the Castle Rocks above the trail. Hence this is not a complete census of the population; only a census of the population near the trail. However, we suspect that we have counted a clear majority of all the plants that exist in this area, simply from considerations of the amount of potential habitat that remained unsurveyed.
The census found a total of 2,093 plants in this survey, counted at 96 GPS points.
The westernmost population begins at an elevation of 7850 feet, which appears to be the lowest elevation at which Keckiella is found in this area. This westernmost population is found in an open area dominated by chinquapin plants.
The rest of the population is found mainly on north-facing slopes at or just below the ridge, with some plants seen in areas that are more open due to exposed boulders.
The highest-elevation plants seen were an isolated group of two plants on the east-facing slope of the small hill at the easternmost end of Fuller Ridge, at an elevation of 8720 feet.
The population ends on the east side of Fuller Ridge when the trail turns south and leaves the ridge. From that point on, the trail is on the south-facing slope of the continuation of Fuller Ridge that extends up to Folly Peak, which is also the west-facing slope of Folly Peak well below the ridgeline to the east.
It is not likely that there are many plants on the north-facing slope below the continuation of Fuller Ridge, since that is a very steep heavily eroded area, not a habitat in which we have seen any Keckiella plants.
The following figures show the survey results using Google Earth.
Map view, with north up, showing all points on Fuller Ridge where Keckiella was found and counted, and the number of plants found in each geographic group, with points with over 50 plants plotted as larger balls. The light blue line is the track surveyed, showing areas that had no Keckiella plants seen.
"Airplane view" to wsw showing the Fuller Ridge population.
Airplane view to east / southeast showing that the largest Keckiella populations were found on north-facing slopes at or just below the ridge. The number of plants dwindles to just a few where the flattish part of Fuller Ridge edges at a saddle and the Fuller Ridge Trail turns south.
Census Results from 16 September 2016 in northwest Tahquitz Valley
On 16 September 2016, Tom censused the trail and immediately surrounding area from Saddle Junction to the northern Wellman Cienega, the PCT from Saddle Junction to the Strawberry / Wellman junction, and then the Wellman Divide Trail to Wellman Cienega.
The following Google Earth "airplane view" shows where Keckiella plants were found along that route.
Google Earth "airplane view" looking west, showing locations where Keckiella plants were found and counted, with points with over 50 plants plotted as larger balls. The light blue line shows the survey path. Each patch outlined in white is labeled by the number of plants found there.
The census found a total of 1,863 plants, counted at 50 GPS points.
The view above shows that most of the plants were found on the northeast-facing slopes just below the ridgeline, with no plants found once the survey path entered the Wellman Cienega area where the ridgeline was far above the trail.
Most areas with Keckiella were in the immediate vicinity of the trail, with no plants seen in the distance where they could be easily spotted, except in one location where the plants extended significantly below the trail. That area contained some flattish benches with large populations of Keckiella that continued out of sight of the trail. In that location, Tom followed the plants to map the entire population on those benches. There were no Keckiella plants at all on either side of the population on those benches, and Tom saw no other similar population from other places on the trail. That bench population contained 57% of all the Keckiella plants found in the entire survey.
In some of the areas where the trail was near the ridge, Tom could see what appeared to be the edge of the ridgeline, which had bouldery areas that typically contain few Keckiella plants in other areas. But only a separate survey along the ridgeline can establish how many Keckiella plants grow there.
The patch with 310 plants was in the kind of drainage that Keckiella loves, and it is entirely possible there were more plants lower in the drainage. But there wasn't time to explore that drainage farther.
Copyright © 2016 by Tom Chester, Dave Stith, Nancy Accola and Bruce Watts.
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Comments and feedback: Tom Chester
Updated 18 September 2016.