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Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata / Athyrium filix-femina - Cinna latifolia Wet Shrubland
Translated Name: Sitka Alder / Common Ladyfern - Drooping Woodreed Wet Shrubland
Unique Identifier: CEGL001156
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association is found in cool and moist mountainous regions between about 1022-1837 m (3350-6012 feet) elevation, ranging from northern California, along the eastern slope of the Cascades to southern British Columbia, through northeastern Oregon, Washington and Montana and north into the Canadian Rockies. It usually occurs as narrow stringers in moderate to steep, V-shaped valleys in areas of deep or long-lasting snowpacks. Such habitats include floodplains and streambanks of small streams (orders 1 and 2), avalanche chutes, and occasionally springs. These areas often flood during snowmelt and remain wet throughout the summer. Soils vary, but are typically thin silt or sandy loams over alluvial cobble and gravel. Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata forms dense, 3- to 5-m tall thickets with 60 to nearly 100% cover, but less dense stands are also known. Conifers, especially Abies grandis and Picea engelmannii, are sometimes present and may indicate a successional trend toward conifer-dominated associations. Periodic severe flood or avalanche disturbance may be necessary for maintaining the long-term dominance of Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata. The only understory shrubs with greater than 50% constancy (but usually low cover), are Ribes spp. (Ribes hudsonianum or Ribes lacustre), Salix drummondiana, and Rubus parviflorus. Athyrium filix-femina, 30-90 cm tall, is always present in the understory, typically with 20-80% cover, while another fern, Gymnocarpium dryopteris, is sometimes subdominant. Cinna latifolia is often present, but averages only 5% cover (and less than Athyrium filix-femina). Tall forbs, most commonly Maianthemum stellatum, Senecio triangularis, Chamerion angustifolium, Prosartes spp., and Streptopus amplexifolius, have high constancy but usually have less than 10% cover, although they can occasionally be quite abundant, with as much as 50% canopy cover. A lush ground layer composed of species including, but not limited to, Boykinia major, Circaea alpina, Claytonia cordifolia, Galium triflorum, and Mitella spp., is often present beneath the taller Athyrium filix-femina canopy.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low
Classification Comments: This association is defined as a PNV vegetation type. If it were renamed as a dominance type, the species would include Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata and Ribes hudsonianum (RIHU). This association is a well-documented type known from 64 quantitative plots: 14 plots sampled in northeastern Oregon (Crowe and Clausnitzer 1997, Crowe et al. 2002), approximately 38 plots from eastern Washington (Wooten and Morrison 1995, Kovalchik 2001, WNHP 2002), and 12 plots in central and northern Idaho (IDCDC 2002). Several plots included in the more general Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata community type sampled by Hansen et al. (1995) in northwestern Montana are likely synonymous with this association. Stands are known from Glacier National Park, Montana, but the total number of occurrences is not known (MTNHP 2002a). Cinna latifolia is not present in this community in Montana and rarely has over 10% cover in stands throughout its range. In stands with sparsely vegetated understories, Athyrium filix-femina can have low cover, but it remains the dominant understory species. The following three associations are similar but have yet to be incorporated into the National Vegetation Classification. The related, but distinct Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata / Cinna latifolia (Crowe and Clausnitzer 1997, Crowe et al. 2002) and Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata / Gymnocarpium dryopteris (Kovalchik 2001), which are distinguished by having 100% constancy and moderate cover of their respective diagnostic understory species, but only trace to low cover of Athyrium filix-femina. The Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata / Rubus spectabilis / Athyrium filix-femina association (Diaz and Mellon 1996, Murray 2000, Kovalchik 2001) apparently ranges from the eastern slope of the Cascades west to the Pacific coast and is distinguished by having moderate to high cover and constancy of Rubus spectabilis. If Oplopanax horridus is present with moderate cover, the stand is classified as Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata / Oplopanax horridus Shrub Swamp (CEGL001157) (Kovalchik 2001). [SVC sees very little, if any, environmental distinction between ALNVIR/ATHFIL and ALNVIR/MESIC and only the slightest compositional distinction, mostly ATHFIL present with modest cover or not; this may be the case for trying to adopt a type defined elsewhere to local circumstances; recognizing both types does no real "harm," but it is probably an inconsequential distinction.]

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 2 - Shrub & Herb Vegetation
Subclass 2.C - Shrub & Herb Wetland
Formation 2.C.4 - Temperate to Polar Freshwater Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Division 2.C.4.Nb - Western North American Temperate & Boreal Freshwater Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Macrogroup Western North American Montane Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Group Western Montane-Subalpine Riparian & Seep Shrubland
Alliance Western Alder Wet Shrubland

This is the revised vegetation hierarchy. For more information see Classification Sources and usnvc.org.

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL001061 Acer glabrum Avalanche Chute Shrubland
CEGL001157 Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata / Oplopanax horridus Shrub Swamp
CEGL002633 Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata / Mesic Forbs Wet Shrubland



Related Concepts from Other Classifications

Related Subnational Community Units
These data are subject to substantial ongoing revision and may be out of date for some states.
In the U.S., contact the state Heritage Program for the most complete and up-to-date information at: http://www.natureserve.org/natureserve-network.
Information from programs in other jurisdictions will be posted when they are made available.
Subnation Concept Name Relationship to Standard Confidence Reference
Idaho Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata / Athyrium filix-femina - Cinna latifolia Shrubland Equivalent Certain IDCDC 2005
Montana Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata / Athyrium filix-femina Shrubland Equivalent Certain MTNHP 2002
Oregon Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata / Athyrium filix-femina Equivalent Certain Kagan et al. 2004


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Alnus sinuata / Athyrium filix-femina
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Crowe, E. A., and R. R. Clausnitzer. 1997. Mid-montane wetland plant associations of the Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman national forests. Technical Paper R6-NR-ECOL-TP-22-97. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR.
Related Concept Name: Alnus sinuata / Athyrium filix-femina Association
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Kovalchik, B. L. 1993. Riparian plant associations on the national forests of eastern Washington - Draft version 1. USDA Forest Service, Colville National Forest, Colville, WA. 203 pp.
Related Concept Name: Alnus sinuata / Cinna latifolia
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Crowe, E. A., and R. R. Clausnitzer. 1997. Mid-montane wetland plant associations of the Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman national forests. Technical Paper R6-NR-ECOL-TP-22-97. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR.
Related Concept Name: Alnus sinuata / Cinna latifolia association
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Crowe, E., B. Kovalchik, M. J. Kerr, J. Titus, and J. S. Kagan. 2002. Riparian and wetland plant communities of eastern Oregon. Draft report. Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center, Portland, OR.
Related Concept Name: Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata / Gymnocarpium dryopteris association
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Kovalchik, B. L. 2001. Classification and management of aquatic, riparian and wetland sites on the national forests of eastern Washington. Part 1: The series descriptions. 429 pp. plus appendix. [http://www.reo.gov/col/wetland_classification/wetland_classification.pdf]
Related Concept Name: Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata / Rubus spectabilis / Athyrium filix-femina association
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Diaz, N. M., and T. K. Mellen. 1996. Riparian ecological types, Gifford Pinchot and Mt. Hood national forests, and Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Technical Report R6-NR-TP-10-96. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR. 203 pp. plus appendices.
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Kovalchik, B. L. 2001. Classification and management of aquatic, riparian and wetland sites on the national forests of eastern Washington. Part 1: The series descriptions. 429 pp. plus appendix. [http://www.reo.gov/col/wetland_classification/wetland_classification.pdf]
Related Concept Name: Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata community type
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Hansen, P. L., R. D. Pfister, K. Boggs, B. J. Cook, J. Joy, and D. K. Hinckley. 1995. Classification and management of Montana's riparian and wetland sites. Miscellaneous Publication No. 54. Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station, School of Forestry, University of Montana. 646 pp. plus posters.
Related Concept Name: Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata / Rubus spectabilis / Athyrium filix-femina
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Murray, M. P. 2000. Wetland plant associations of the western hemlock zone in the central coastal and westslope Cascade Mountains. Unpublished report, Oregon Natural Heritage Program, Portland, OR. 82 pp. [http://www.natureserve.org/nhp/us/or/nw_or_wetlands.pdf]
Related Concept Name: Alnus viridus ssp. sinuata / Athyrium filix-femina Association
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Crowe, E. A., B. L. Kovalchik, and M. J. Kerr. 2004. Riparian and wetland vegetation of central and eastern Oregon. Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center, Institute for Natural Resources, Oregon State University, Portland. 473 pp. [http://oregonstate.edu/ornhic/ publications.html]

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES204.866 North Pacific Montane Riparian Woodland and Shrubland
CES306.801 Northern Rocky Mountain Avalanche Chute Shrubland
CES306.832 Rocky Mountain Subalpine-Montane Riparian Shrubland


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G4 (18Oct2002)
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: This association is a wide-ranging but irregularly distributed association. It mostly occurs as small patches in relatively steep drainages and avalanche chutes of higher elevation moist climatic zones with deep snowpacks. The association is relatively abundant, currently known from at least 67 plots in eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, central and northern Idaho, northwestern Montana, and elsewhere. Much potential habitat for the type has not yet been inventoried in the rugged mountains and wilderness of southeastern British Columbia, northwestern Montana, central Idaho, and Cascade Range. It is likely that more occurrences of this association exist in these areas. Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata is a resilient resprouting species, and this association may be maintained by periodic severe disturbances including avalanches and floods. Few significant threats to this association have been documented. Due to the tendency of Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata to form impenetrable thickets, as well as the association's occurrence in rugged and steep terrain, livestock grazing, human recreation, and other threats are minimal. Exotic species rarely occur within this association. For these reasons, revising the rank from G3G4 to G4 is warranted.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: CA, ID, MT, OR, WA
Canadian Province Distribution: BCpotentially occurs
Global Distribution: Canadapotentially occurs, United States
Global Range: This association is known from moist, mid elevations in the inland Pacific Northwest. It is documented in Oregon, Idaho, Washington, British Columbia, Montana, and California.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Humid Temperate Domain
Division Name: Marine Regime Mountains
Province Name: Cascade Mixed Forest - Coniferous Forest - Alpine Meadow Province
Province Code: M242 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Eastern Cascades Section
Section Code: M242C Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Division Name: Mediterranean Regime Mountains
Province Name: Sierran Steppe - Mixed Forest - Coniferous Forest - Alpine Meadow Province
Province Code: M261 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Klamath Mountains Section
Section Code: M261A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Domain Name: Dry Domain
Division Name: Temperate Steppe Regime Mountains
Province Name: Middle Rocky Mountain Steppe - Coniferous Forest - Alpine Meadow Province
Province Code: M332 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Idaho Batholith Section
Section Code: M332A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Blue Mountains Section
Section Code: M332G Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Province Name: Northern Rocky Mountain Forest - Steppe - Coniferous Forest - Alpine Meadow Province
Province Code: M333 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Okanogan Highlands Section
Section Code: M333A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Flathead Valley Section
Section Code: M333B Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Bitterroot Mountains Section
Section Code: M333D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata forms dense, 3- to 5-m tall, thickets with 60% to nearly 100% cover, but less dense stands are also known. Conifers, especially Abies grandis and Picea engelmannii, are sometimes present and may indicate a successional trend toward conifer-dominated associations. Periodic severe flood or avalanche disturbance may be necessary for maintaining the long-term dominance of Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata. The only understory shrubs with greater than 50% constancy (but usually low cover), are Ribes spp. (Ribes hudsonianum or Ribes lacustre) and Rubus parviflorus. Athyrium filix-femina, 30-90 cm tall, is always present in the understory, typically with 20-80% cover, while another fern, Gymnocarpium dryopteris, is sometimes subdominant. Cinna latifolia is often present, but averages only 5% cover (and less than Athyrium filix-femina). Tall forbs, most commonly Maianthemum stellatum, Senecio triangularis, and Streptopus amplexifolius, have high constancy but usually have less than 10% cover each. A lush forb ground layer composed of species including, but not limited to, Boykinia major, Circaea alpina, Claytonia cordifolia, Galium triflorum, and Mitella spp., is often present beneath the taller Athyrium filix-femina canopy.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 
Maianthemum stellatum G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Senecio triangularis G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Streptopus amplexifolius G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Athyrium filix-femina G4 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 
Gymnocarpium dryopteris G4 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 
Cinna latifolia G4 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: This association is apparently limited to moist, mid- to high-elevation mountainous areas with deep or long-lasting snowpacks between about 1022-1837 m (3350-6012 feet) elevation (Crowe and Clausnitzer 1997, Crowe et al. 2002). In these areas the association most frequently develops as narrow stringers in moderate to steep, V-shaped valleys along small streams (orders 1 and 2) and avalanche chutes. Although sediments must remain stable and moist enough to support initial establishment of both Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata and Athyrium filix-femina (Crowe and Clausnitzer 1997), the association may need periodic severe flood or avalanche disturbance to reduce tree invasion and maintain Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata dominance (Hansen et al. 1995, MTNHP 2002a). Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata readily sprouts after severe disturbance and is long-lived.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata is considered an early-seral species able to quickly colonize bare mineral soil. It has the ability to resprout after fire, flood, avalanche, ice, or other disturbances to above-ground stems (Kovalchik 2001). Repeated broadcast burning in the Thuja plicata - Tsuga heterophylla zone (such as after logging operations) can increase the frequency and cover of Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata (Hansen et al. 1995), although severe fires may kill root crowns (Crowe and Clausnitzer 1997, Kovalchik 2001). Natural fires are rare to occasional in cool and moist valley bottoms occupied by this type. While it is possible that logging and subsequent slash burning may promote this association in some areas, logging operations may also lead to site desiccation through alteration of the hydrology, soil compaction, and erosion leading to the loss of mesic species such as Athyrium filix-femina (Hansen et al. 1995, Crowe and Clausnitzer 1997).


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): Western Ecology Group
Element Description Edition Date: 15Jan2004
Element Description Author(s): C. Murphy and G. Kittel
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 18Oct2002
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): C. Murphy

Ecological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).


References
  • Bourgeron, P. S., and L. D. Engelking, editors. 1994. A preliminary vegetation classification of the western United States. Unpublished report. The Nature Conservancy, Western Heritage Task Force, Boulder, CO. 175 pp. plus appendix.

  • Clearwater National Forest. 1999. Riparian ECODATA plots, 1991-1995. Unpublished data from USFS Region 1 database on file at the Idaho Conservation Data Center, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Boise, ID.

  • Crowe, E. A., B. L. Kovalchik, and M. J. Kerr. 2004. Riparian and wetland vegetation of central and eastern Oregon. Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center, Institute for Natural Resources, Oregon State University, Portland. 473 pp. [http://oregonstate.edu/ornhic/ publications.html]

  • Crowe, E. A., and R. R. Clausnitzer. 1997. Mid-montane wetland plant associations of the Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman national forests. Technical Paper R6-NR-ECOL-TP-22-97. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR.

  • Crowe, E., B. Kovalchik, M. J. Kerr, J. Titus, and J. S. Kagan. 2002. Riparian and wetland plant communities of eastern Oregon. Draft report. Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center, Portland, OR.

  • Diaz, N. M., and T. K. Mellen. 1996. Riparian ecological types, Gifford Pinchot and Mt. Hood national forests, and Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Technical Report R6-NR-TP-10-96. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR. 203 pp. plus appendices.

  • Hansen, P. L., R. D. Pfister, K. Boggs, B. J. Cook, J. Joy, and D. K. Hinckley. 1995. Classification and management of Montana's riparian and wetland sites. Miscellaneous Publication No. 54. Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station, School of Forestry, University of Montana. 646 pp. plus posters.

  • Hop, K., M. Reid, J. Dieck, S. Lubinski, and S. Cooper. 2007. U.S. Geological Survey-National Park Service Vegetation Mapping Program: Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. U.S. Geological Survey, Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center, La Crosse, WI. 131 pp. plus Appendices A-L.

  • IDCDC [Idaho Conservation Data Center]. 2002. Unpublished riparian and wetland association occurrence and plot data on file at the Idaho Conservation Data Center, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Boise, ID.

  • IDCDC [Idaho Conservation Data Center]. 2005. Wetland and riparian plant associations in Idaho. Idaho Conservation Data Center, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Boise. [http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/tech/CDC/ecology/wetland_riparian_assoc.cfm] (accessed 14 June 2005).

  • Idaho Panhandle National Forest. 1999. Riparian ECODATA plots, 1988-1990. Unpublished data from USFS Region 1 database on file at the Idaho Conservation Data Center, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Boise, ID.

  • Kagan, J. S., J. A. Christy, M. P. Murray, and J. A. Titus. 2004. Classification of native vegetation of Oregon. January 2004. Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center, Portland. 52 pp.

  • Kovalchik, B. L. 1993. Riparian plant associations on the national forests of eastern Washington - Draft version 1. USDA Forest Service, Colville National Forest, Colville, WA. 203 pp.

  • Kovalchik, B. L. 2001. Classification and management of aquatic, riparian and wetland sites on the national forests of eastern Washington. Part 1: The series descriptions. 429 pp. plus appendix. [http://www.reo.gov/col/wetland_classification/wetland_classification.pdf]

  • MTNHP [Montana Natural Heritage Program]. 2002a. Unpublished riparian and wetland association occurrence and plot data on file at the Montana Natural Heritage Program, Montana State Library, Helena, MT.

  • MTNHP [Montana Natural Heritage Program]. 2002b. List of ecological communities for Montana. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Montana State Library, Helena, MT.

  • Murray, M. P. 2000. Wetland plant associations of the western hemlock zone in the central coastal and westslope Cascade Mountains. Unpublished report, Oregon Natural Heritage Program, Portland, OR. 82 pp. [http://www.natureserve.org/nhp/us/or/nw_or_wetlands.pdf]

  • Nez Perce National Forest. 1999a. Riparian ecological plot data collected on the Nez Perce National Forest between 1989 and 1991. Unpublished data on file at the Idaho Conservation Data Center, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Boise, ID.

  • Nez Perce National Forest. 1999b. Riparian ECODATA plots, 1987-1995. Unpublished data on file at the Idaho Conservation Data Center, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Boise, ID.

  • ORNHP [Oregon Natural Heritage Program]. No date. Unpublished data files. Oregon Natural Heritage Program, The Nature Conservancy, Portland, OR.

  • Reid, M. S., S. V. Cooper, and G. Kittel. 2004. Vegetation classification of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. Final report for USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program, International Peace Park Mapping Project. NatureServe, Arlington VA.

  • Sawyer, J. O., and T. Keeler-Wolf. 1995. A manual of California vegetation. California Native Plant Society, Sacramento. 471 pp.

  • Seyer, S. 1984. Inventory of Guard Slough wild-rye stand. Unpublished report prepared for Oregon Natural Heritage Program, Portland, OR.

  • WNHP [Washington Natural Heritage Program]. 2002. Unpublished riparian and wetland association occurrence and plot data on file at Washington Natural Heritage Program, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Olympia, WA.

  • WNHP [Washington Natural Heritage Program]. 2018. Unpublished data files. Washington Natural Heritage Program, Department of Natural Resources, Olympia, WA.

  • Western Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Boulder, CO.

  • Wooten, G., and P. Morrison. 1995. Classification of vascular plant communities of the North Cascades using discreet space boundary analysis. Unpublished report. 113 pp.


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