California, Spain, South Africa and Australia have at least one thing in common -- they are all home to chaparral biomes. These semiarid environments usually serve as buffers between coasts and harsher deserts. Different species live in each chaparral region, but the individual biomes support similar fauna niches, regardless of where around the globe they're located.
On the Hunt
Apex predators are at the top of the food-chain in any environment, and the chaparral is no different. Cougars and lynxes hunt through the biome's scattered brush and trees. These feline predators may migrate in and out of the area to follow prey. Other carnivores of the chaparral include hunter-scavengers like weasels, foxes and jackals. The American coyote (Canis latrans) and gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) are common residents of the dry coastal regions of southern California.
Vegetarians and Insectivores
The chaparral isn't exactly the most luscious and vibrant place on earth. It has dry spells that test the strength of local vegetation on a regular basis. That doesn't stop herbivores from migrating through and foraging for food. Some chipmunks, hedgehogs, rabbits and piglike javelinas make their homes in the shrubby biome. The Mediterranean chaparral is home to two large herbivores: The wild goat (Capra aegagrus) and the mouflon (Ovis musimon), a wild sheep. Ant-eating aardvarks are unique residents of the African chaparral, while wallabies are found only in similar regions of Australia.
In the Sky
Plenty of birds hunt, forage and nest in chaparral biomes. Roadrunners (Geococcyx californianus) and valley quail (Callipepla californica) are both turf-friendly birds who live in the Californian chaparral. Other winged animals frequently found in the biome include various species of sparrow, hummingbird, thrush, finch and wren. These regions are home to birds of prey including the great horned owl.
As a relatively arid environment that borders desert regions, the chaparral biome is home to various reptiles who excel in warm, sunny environments. The carnivorous and nocturnal tuatara lizards are native to some of the warm and dry islands off New Zealand. Rattlesnakes, scorpions and other venomous creatures are among the reptiles found in the North American and African chaparral.
Chaparrals around the world are home to a variety of insects who form critical links in the local food chain. Aardvarks feed on populations of ants, while the elegant zebra swallowtail butterflies rely on shrubs for food and shelter. Walking stick insects (Timea californicum), found in the North American chaparral, rely heavily on the vegetation that grows there.
Quentin Coleman has written for various publications, including All Pet News and Safe to Work Australia. He spent more tan 10 years nursing kittens, treating sick animals and domesticating semi-feral cats for a local animal shelter. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.