Trail Habitats

A variety of habitats provide homes for a rich diversity of life

What is a habitat and how many different kinds of habitats can we find along the LATO trails we explore? A habitat is the natural home for the organisms that live there. It provides just the right mix of food, water, shelter and space to survive. The needs for each organism are different.

From coastal areas to inland, LATO trails* include a variety of habitats:

  • Oak woodland – VES, SMR, PP
  • Oak grassland (savanna) – VES, SMR, PP
  • Creek (riparian) – VES, PP
  • Coastal scrub – PP

Each of these habitats has its own associated diversity of life. Within each habitat there are many microhabitats. One place in nature provides homes for a variety of animals. Why does one animal live under a log while another chooses a home high in the canopy of a majestic old oak? Below, you’ll find descriptions of LATO trail habitats. Do you have a favorite? Which kind(s) of habitat is/are found near your home?

* VES =Vineyard Elementary School Nature Trail; SMR = Santa Margarita Ranch LATO Trail; PP = Pismo Preserve

Original artwork provided by Jim Tyler Fine Art. They are featured on an interpretive sign at the VES Nature Trail. 


Oak Woodland

In the cool and shady woodlands, there’s more moisture than in the grasslands. Oak leaf litter is rich in biodiversity, especially invertebrates (animals without backbones). Oak canopies and cavities provide shelter for a variety of animals.

LATO Trails that include oak woodland:



Oak Savanna (Grassland)

This is a drier, warmer habitat than the oak woodlands. Badgers, snakes, and hawks hunt for rodents here. Deer and rabbits graze, while lizards hang out on rocks, soaking up the sun.

LATO Trails that include oak savanna:



Creek (Riparian)

This habitat is for those seeking a cool, moist place to live. Tall sycamores, willows and grasses provide shelter and nesting sites. In creek waters and along its banks, ducks, raccoons and other animals find food. Some, like dragonflies, also complete their life cycles here.

LATO Trails that include riparian:


Coastal Scrub

Shaped by the strong winds, salty air and fog of the coast, low-lying shrubs and herbaceous plants, like lupine, dominate this harsh habitat. Butterflies flit from flower to flower on sunny days, while bobcats roam under the cover of dawn and dusk.

LATO Trail that includes coastal scrub: