Located adjacent to the Riverside campus, the Box Springs Reserve lies on a steep and rugged granitic slope near the top of Box Springs Mountain, in a transitional zone between coastal sage scrub and chamise chaparral. A cold spring on the adjacent land gives rise to freshwater seeps and an intermittent stream.
Rich in vertebrates, the reserve hosts nineteen species of reptiles, including three rare species: the coast horned lizard (Phrynosoma coronatum), the orange-throated whiptail (Cnemidoporus hyperythrus), and the red diamond rattlesnake (Crotalus ruber). Sixteen species of mammals inhabit the reserve, including the Pacific kangaroo rat (Dipodomys agilis), mountain lion (Felis concolor), and mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus). Also observed on site are over eighty-five bird species. Soaring and hunting on the updrafts are many raptors, such as golden eagle, turkey vulture, red-tailed hawk, white-tailed kite, northern harrier, and American kestrel. Other avian species frequently seen are white-throated swift, Anna’s hummingbird, rock and canyon wrens, lazuli bunting, western meadowlarks, and rufous-crowned, black-chinned, and sage sparrows.
Fire occurs fairly frequently in this area. The reserve burned most recently in 1993, but opportunities for research and instruction remain undiminished.
Effects of nitrogen eutrophication and fire on invasive annuals in California coastal sage shrublands.