Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

NOTE: As of 2014, the California Beetle Project page is no longer updated. The original database and list of California beetles in the menu on the left will remain for the time being, but the information contained within is not necessarily current. SBMNH Entomology Curator Matthew L. Gimmel has divided up the function of the original database into two conceptual halves:

  1. The SBMNH Entomology specimen-level database, including all SBMNH beetle specimens included in the CBP database, which is now available (and ever-growing) through the ecdysis portal at

  2. A literature- (and available specimen-)based checklist.
  3. of the Coleoptera of California, which is being revised and re-compiled by Dr. Gimmel, and, as of January 2017, is about 85% complete.

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Funded in part by award DEB0447694 from the National Science Foundation to M. Caterino.

Last updated 01/16/2009

 California Beetle Project > Fieldwork

California Beetle Project Fieldwork

California has had a long history of beetle collecting by many talented specialists, but many areas of the state are still poorly known. Most species are known from only a handful of localities, while a substantial number undoubtedly remain even to be discovered and described.

Field work conducted under this project was intended to develop complete beetle inventories for a network of field sites in central and southern California, with special emphasis on the Transverse Ranges. At each site a great diversity of collecting methods, described on a separate page, were employed to sample as many species as possible.

Most of these main sites were visited for at least four one-week periods, scattered throughout the year, for intensive sampling. A smaller subset of sites close to home was sampled for continuous periods of up to one year. The most heavily sampled sites include the Arroyo Hondo Preserve, The University of California's Sedgwick, Big Creek, Rancho Marino, and James Reserves, and the Carrizo Plain National Monument. Some details on the faunas of these sites can be browsed in some of the project's publications.

Choose from the list below to read descriptions of each site, and to learn what beetles have been found at each site. Species lists are built by querying the online database These lists include only those species that have been authoritatively identified to the species level. But the lists for each site actually include numerous additional species which have not yet been identified.

      1 UC Sagehen Creek Fld. Sta. (Nevada Co.)    species list
      2 Big Basin St. Pk. (Santa Cruz Co.)    species list
      3 UC Big Creek Reserve (Monterey Co.)    species list
      4 Cuesta Ridge (San Luis Obispo) Co.)    
      5 Carrizo Plain Nat. Mon. (San Luis Obispo Co.)    species list
      6 UC Sedgwick Reserve (Santa Barbara Co.)    species list
      7 Arroyo Hondo (Santa Barbara Co.)    species list
      8 UC Coal Oil Point Reserve (Santa Barbara Co.)    species list
      9 Mt. Pinos/Pine Mt. (Ventura Co.)    
      10 San Gabriel Mts. (Los Angeles Co.)    species list
      11 San Bernardino Nat. Forest     species list
      12 UC James Reserve (San Jacinto Mts.)   species list
      13 Santa Cruz Isl.    species list
      14 Southern Sierra Nevada    species list
      Rancho Marino Reserve     species list

Malaise trap along Sagenhen Creek UC Sagehen Creek Field Station     The Sagehen Creek field station is located in eastern Nevada County, about 10 miles north of Truckee, California. It is run by the University of California Berkeley. The habitats around the station are varied, with particular interest centered on wetlands including permanent stream and bog wetlands. Terrestrial habitats mainly include coniferous forest interspersed with open sagebrush flats. Elevations range from 6,000 ft. (at the station) to 8,300 (at the western most boundary of the watershed.

The station has a long history of hosting academic researchers, including a semiannual entomological field course from UC Davis. As with Big Basin, faunal data on the area's beetles has been complemented by these existing collections.
    See the species list.

Big Basin State Park    Big Basin, California’s oldest state park, is located in the southern Santa Cruz Mountains, about 60 miles south of San Francisco. The area contains large expanses of moist native redwood forest, and many northern faunal elements reach their southern limit in the area.

Many previous collectors have worked in the area, and many species will be found in existing collections that have not yet been catalogued.
    See the species list.

Big Creek hills Big Creek Reserve    The U.C. Landels-Hill Big Creek Reserve is located in coastal Monterey Co., 20 miles south of Big Sur. The Reserve encompasses much of the Big Creek and Devils Creek watersheds, abutting wilderness areas of Los Padres National Forest to the east. Its habitats include beach, riparian redwood forest, oak woodland, chapparal, and pine forest.

Big Creek was sampled over several one-week periods, primarily during 2002-2004. Among the most exciting finds were new species of Scydmaenidae and Cryptophagidae.
    See more photos of this site.         See the species list.

Zaca Peak UC Sedgwick Reserve    The Sedgwick Reserve, in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley, offers a mix of grassland, valley oak woodland, coastal sage scrub, and gray pine woodland. It also has significant perennial streams and vernal pools. The Reserve has seen little previous invertebrate survey work, but its diversity of habitats promises a tremendous insect diversity.

Sedgwick was continuously collected from late October, 2004 through August, 2005. As expected, the Reserve exhibited great beetle diversity, resulting in over 700 species. Some highlights were a few genera not previously known from California, including the lampyrid, Paraphausis.
    See the species list.        See more photos of this site.

view north across the Carrizo Carrizo Plain National Monument    The Carrizo Plain, located in eastern San Luis Obispo County, was designated a National Mounment in 2001, and is managed by BLM, Cal. Fish & Game, and the Nature Conservancy. The Monument's 250,000 acres include grassland and salt flats in the valley floor, with semidesert scrub and juniper/oak woodland at higher elevations. It offers a rare glimpse of what native San Joaquin Valley habitats once were.

Carrizo was sampled heavily and continuously from November, 2003 through June, 2004. This collecting revealed over 375 beetle species in the Monument. Some of the more interesting finds include several new Scydmaenidae (one in a genus previously unknown in the western US), new Leiodidae, and a couple of rare Meloids, Lytta morrisoni and Tricrania stansburyi.
    See the species list.        See more photos of this site.

Arroyo HondoArroyo Hondo Preserve    This preserve, managed by the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, extends from the beach to the mountains, where it meets Los Padres National Forest. This swath contains exceptionally well preserved riparian woodland, coastal sage-scrub, and chaparral habitats. The Preserve encompasses about 780 acres and is located near the west end of the spectacular Gaviota coastline.

Work at Arroyo Hondo began in April, 2002, with nearly continuous trapping through October, 2003, over 625 beetle species were documented, including at least 5 new species.
    See the species list.        See more photos of this site.

Malaise trap in dunes Coal Oil Point Reserve    The Coal Oil Point Reserve, adjacent to the UC Santa Barbara campus, encompasses about 160 acres of well preserved beach, dune and salt marsh habitats. All of these habitats are subject to heavy use and development pressures through most of southern California, and Coal Oil Point represents an important refuge for many endemic plants and animals.

Beetle survey work at the Reserve entailed numerous day trips, as well as a continuous two-month period of Malaise and pitfall trapping. The species list also incorporates records from numerous student collections made in the Reserve. An online guide to all known Reserve insects has just been completed.
    See the species list.        See more photos of this site.

view south from Mt. San Jacinto Mt. San Jacinto    The San Jacinto Mts. represent the southeastern-most, and most isolated, of California's transverse ranges. Separating coastal zones of the greater Los Angeles area from the Colorado desert, the higher elevations of the range are an isolated outpost of relatively wet, montane habitats, surrounded by an ocean of desert. San Jacinto Peak reaches nearly 11,000 ft. and has subalpine coniferous forest at its summit. Just below the summit, habitats range from coniferous forest to montane meadow, to riparian woodland, all concentrated in a relatively small area.

The range has been collected sporadically by previous workers, but little beetle data is available. The San Jacintos, particularly the area around the UC James Reserve, was collected intensively in 2005, resulting in about 450 beetle species.
    See the species list.        See more photos of this site.

See photographs from additional field sites:

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