The endemic species and communities of the Santa Cruz Sandhills are extraordinarily rare naturally. This is because they occur only on Zayante Soils within the central portion of Santa Cruz County, in central California. Unfortunately, the persistence of Sandhills endemic species and communities is threatened by:
These factors often interact to impact Sandhills species. For example, development of a residential subdivision within the Sandhills removes habitat. Many populations cannot persist within the small, isolated habitat patches around the subdivision, where habitat quality is often degraded by a variety of anthropogenic factors, including the invasion and spread of exotic plants, use of habitat for recreation, and suppression of natural wildfires which maintain habitat for many sandhills species. These factors cause population extinctions (extirpations) or dramatic declines which can reduce genetic diversity required for species to persist. Genetic erosion also results when non-Sandhills genetic material is introduced and swamps the locally adapted genetic complexes of the native populations.
To conserve the endemic species and communities of the Santa Sandhills, conservation measures will need to address these factors, which threaten biodiversity at the ecosystem, community, species, and genetic level.