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Puccinellia lemmonii - Poa secunda Seasonally Flooded Herbaceous Vegetation
Translated Name: Lemmon's Alkali Grass - Sandberg Bluegrass Seasonally Flooded Herbaceous Vegetation
Unique Identifier: CEGL001658
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This is a valley bottom, semi-alkaline grassland known from the Klamath Basin in south-central Oregon, and from the Baker Valley in northeastern Oregon. As a valley bottom type, it is always found on flat, deep soil areas, usually of alluvial or pluvial origin, between 760-1220 m (2500-4000 feet) in elevation. It usually occurs along the edges of lakes, backwater oxbows or large wetlands, in valleys that have moderately alkaline soils. Puccinellia lemmonii and Poa secunda (= ssp. juncifolia and = ssp. nevadensis) dominate these grasslands. Hordeum jubatum is often present, and occasionally codominant, along with Elymus elymoides and Juncus species. Forbs (Castilleja pilosa, Erigeron filifolius, Astragalus purshii, Astragalus applegatei) and bare ground provide a significant part of the overall cover. In addition, all known sites had some (between 1-5%) cover of Ericameria nauseosa (= Chrysothamnus nauseosus), although this is assumed to be an artifact of historic grazing. At the wetter end, this type grades into Deschampsia caespitosa or Carex wetlands, and at the drier end into playa, or more commonly sagebrush habitats.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Provisional
Classification Comments: This is a very poorly described and understood association. It is not ranked with a Q in this treatment because it is the only representation of a real entity, valley bottom Puccinellia - Poa-dominated, slightly alkaline grassland, which were clearly important in eastern Oregon valley bottoms. Elymus elymoides has been removed from the name, since it is not characteristic of anything but cattle disturbance.

Given the rarity, and the lack of plot data, this may actually represent two or three different types. In addition, there remains some question as to the identity of Puccinellia lemmonii in the sites in northeastern Oregon. In the northern Great Basin, Puccinellia lemmonii is replaced by Puccinellia nuttalliana. The type is of interest in the Klamath Valley of Oregon because it provides the only habitat for an endangered plant, Astragalus applegatei, so the habitat has been well-inventoried, and at least 8 occurrences have been found. The relationship between these Klamath Basin occurrences and other low-elevation, intermountain sites is not clear.


Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 2 - Shrub & Herb Vegetation
Subclass 2.C - Shrub & Herb Wetland
Formation 2.C.5 - Salt Marsh
Division 2.C.5.Nd - North American Western Interior Brackish Marsh
Macrogroup Warm & Cool Desert Alkali-Saline Wetland
Group North American Desert Alkaline-Saline Herbaceous Wetland & Playa
Alliance Scratchgrass - Alkali Cordgrass - Alkali Sacaton Alkaline Grassland

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



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
Oregon Poa secunda ssp. juncifolia - Puccinellia lemmonii Equivalent Certain Kagan et al. 2004


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Poa nevadensis-Puccinellia lemmonii-Elymus elymoides
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: 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.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES304.786 Inter-Mountain Basins Playa
CES304.998 Inter-Mountain Basins Alkaline Closed Depression


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G1 (02Jan2001)
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: This is an extremely rare and endangered habitat. There are only two high-quality occurrences and 11 known occurrences of this type, mostly in the Klamath Valley of south-central Oregon, but with two others in northeastern Oregon. This grassland was probably common in valley bottoms, and has been almost entirely eliminated by agricultural, residential or urban development. Much of the habitat in the Klamath Valley is part of the Lower Klamath Wildlife Refuge, but is now farmed for potatoes. Remnant sites are being altered by grazing, introduced species and changes in hydrology. There are no protected occurrences of this type in even fair condition, and over 95% of the remaining sites are on private lands. The occurrence of an endangered species may provide incentive to protect or restore some habitat in the Klamath Valley, but there appears to be no similar efforts in other interior valleys.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: OR
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community is currently only known from the Klamath, Grand Ronde, and Powder river valleys in Oregon.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Dry Domain
Division Name: Temperate Desert Division
Province Name: Intermountain Semi-Desert Province
Province Code: 342 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Northwestern Basin and Range Section
Section Code: 342B Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Domain Name: Humid Temperate Domain
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: Modoc Plateau Section
Section Code: M261G Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: This herbaceous association is composed of perennial bunchgrasses, but little information is available on canopy cover, density or species composition. Poa secunda, Puccinellia lemmonii, and Elymus elymoides are the characteristic and probably dominant grasses, the first two typically less than 0.5 m in height, while Elymus elymoides can be up to 1 m on favorable sites. The deciduous, succulent-leaved shrub Sarcobatus vermiculatus may occasionally occur in some stands and is typically 1-3 m tall. Forbs (Castilleja pilosa, Erigeron filifolius, Astragalus purshii, Astragalus applegatei) and bare ground provide a significant part of the overall cover. In addition, all known sites had some (between 1-5%) cover of Ericameria nauseosa (= Chrysothamnus nauseosus), although this is assumed to be an artifact of historic grazing. At the wetter end, this type grades into Deschampsia caespitosa or Carex wetlands, and at the drier end into playa, or more commonly sagebrush habitats.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Astragalus applegatei   Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Elymus elymoides   Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Poa secunda   Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Puccinellia lemmonii   Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Astragalus applegatei
  (Applegate's Milkvetch)
G1 LE: Listed endangered


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: This association occurs in scattered localities of eastern Oregon. The region is semi-arid, with average annual precipitation varying from 20 cm to 40 cm in all except the higher elevations in the Blue Mountains, where over 60 cm fall annually. A high proportion of the annual precipitation falls as snow, but winter temperatures are not as extreme as to the east of the Rocky Mountains.

Little detailed information is available for this association. It is found in flat, poorly drained floodplains and internally drained basins or historic lake basins (playas). Soils are alkaline and typically seasonally flooded.


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): M.S. Reid
Element Description Edition Date: 09Dec1993
Element Description Author(s): M.S. Reid
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 26Oct2000
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): M.S. Reid, mod. J.S. Kagan

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


References
  • Borgais, D. 1990. Unpublished data from Roundtop Butte Preserve. Data on file at Oregon Natural Heritage Program, Portland, OR.

  • 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.

  • Driscoll, R. S., D. L. Merkel, D. L. Radloff, D. E. Snyder, and J. S. Hagihara. 1984. An ecological land classification framework for the United States. Miscellaneous Publication No. 1439. USDA Forest Service, Washington, DC. 56 pp.

  • Kagan, J. S. 1986. Status report for Thelypodium howellii subsp. spectabilis. Oregon Natural Heritage Data Base, The Nature Conservancy, Portland.

  • Kagan, J. S., J. A. Christy, M. P. Murray, and J. A. Titus. 2000-2004. Classification of native vegetation of Oregon. Oregon Natural Heritage Program, Portland. 63 pp.

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

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


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Data last updated: October 2015