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Alnus rhombifolia / Betula occidentalis Riparian Forest
Translated Name: White Alder / Water Birch Riparian Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL000632
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This plant association is described from data collected in the Snake and Salmon river corridors, within the Blue Mountains ecoregional section. The plant association occurs within a relatively discrete elevational band (350-640 m [1150-2100 feet] and 550-760 m [1800-2500 feet], respectively) in the deeply incised terrain of the Snake and Salmon canyons. The association occurs on stable and unstable stream channel substrates. In this region of west-central Idaho, Betula occidentalis is usually found at elevations higher than Alnus rhombifolia. These species do co-occur near the upper elevational limit of Alnus rhombifolia on tributaries with fair to good stream channel stability ratings. This implies that Betula occidentalis occupies sites with less frequent disturbance, and with cold air drainage from higher elevations. This forest plant association is dominated by broad-leaved, deciduous tree species. Alnus rhombifolia is codominant with Betula occidentalis, both occur with high cover. Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa, Abies grandis and Pseudotsuga menziesii may also be associated. The understory is characterized by a dense, multi-layered, and species-rich deciduous shrub layer. Species commonly present include Crataegus douglasii, Cornus sericea, Ribes oxyacanthoides ssp. irriguum, Rosa woodsii, Rhus glabra, Philadelphus lewisii, Prunus virginiana, Sambucus nigra ssp. cerulea, and Salix scouleriana. The herbaceous component of this plant association has not been described.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low - Poorly Documented
Classification Comments: This association is defined as a PNV vegetation type.

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 1 - Forest & Woodland
Subclass 1.B - Temperate & Boreal Forest & Woodland
Formation 1.B.3 - Temperate Flooded & Swamp Forest
Division 1.B.3.Ng - Vancouverian Flooded & Swamp Forest
Macrogroup Vancouverian Flooded & Swamp Forest
Group North Pacific Montane Riparian Woodland
Alliance Cascadian Riparian White Alder Woodland

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
Idaho Alnus rhombifolia / Betula occidentialis Forest Equivalent Certain IDCDC 2005
Oregon Alnus rhombifolia / Betula occidentalis Equivalent Certain Kagan et al. 2004


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Alnus rhombifolia / Betula occidentalis Temporarily Flooded Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Crawford, R. C. 2003. Riparian vegetation classification of the Columbia Basin, Washington. Natural Heritage Report 2003-03. Washington Natural Heritage Program, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Olympia. 98 pp. plus appendices.
Related Concept Name: Alnus rhombifolia / Betula occidentalis 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]
Related Concept Name: Alnus rhombifolia Forest Alliance
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Daubenmire, R. F. 1970. Steppe vegetation of Washington. Washington State University Agricultural Experiment Station Technical Bulletin No. 62. 131 pp.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES304.768 Columbia Basin Foothill Riparian Woodland and Shrubland


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G1 (02Nov1997)
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: This plant association is a regional endemic of the Snake and Salmon river canyonlands in Idaho, Oregon, and possibly Washington. It is described as occurring within a relatively discrete elevational band in the deeply incised terrain of the Snake and Salmon canyons (1150-2100 and 1800-2500 feet, respectively). The distribution and representative quality of the association have declined severely in the last decades due to direct loss of habitat resulting from hydroelectric dam construction and chronic degradation resulting form livestock grazing and the associated alteration of hydrological regimes. Very few high-quality stands are known. Inventory work has not been conducted recently to determined the current number and condition of stands. Few, small stands are represented in protected areas.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: ID, OR, WA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: Miller (1976) described the association as occurring on the Snake and Salmon rivers and their tributaries.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Dry Domain
Division Name: Temperate Steppe Division
Province Name: Great Plains-Palouse Dry Steppe Province
Province Code: 331 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Palouse Prairie Section
Section Code: 331A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Division Name: Temperate Desert Division
Province Name: Intermountain Semi-Desert Province
Province Code: 342 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Owyhee Uplands Section
Section Code: 342C Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: High Lava Plains Section
Section Code: 342H Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Columbia Basin Section
Section Code: 342I Occurrence Status: Possible
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


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: This forest association is dominated by broad-leaved deciduous woody species. The tree Alnus rhombifolia is codominant with the typically shorter tree Betula occidentalis, both with high cover. Other occasional trees can include Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa (= Populus trichocarpa), and the conifers Abies grandis and Pseudotsuga menziesii. There is a dense, multi-layered, and diverse shrub layer, also primarily deciduous. Species commonly present include Crataegus douglasii, Cornus sericea, Ribes oxyacanthoides ssp. irriguum (= Ribes irriguum), Rosa woodsii, Rhus glabra, Philadelphus lewisii, Prunus virginiana, Sambucus nigra ssp. cerulea (= Sambucus caerulea), and Salix scouleriana. The herbaceous component of this association is undescribed. The small evergreen needle-leaved tree Taxus brevifolia is found in stands of this association along the Salmon River tributaries.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Alnus rhombifolia G1 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Taxus brevifolia G1 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy      
 
 
Betula occidentalis G1 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree subcanopy  
 
 
Crataegus douglasii G1 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Rhus glabra G1 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea G1 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Rosa woodsii G1 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 


Vegetation Structure
Stratum Growth Form
Height of Stratum (m)
Cover
Class
%
Min
Cover %
Max
Cover %
Tree canopy Broad-leaved deciduous tree
 
 
 
 
Tree subcanopy Broad-leaved deciduous tree
 
 
 
 
Tall shrub/sapling Shrub
 
 
 
 
Short shrub/sapling Shrub
 
 
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: This association is found in a mountainous region dissected by major river canyons and tributary streams. There are elevational extremes in this region, from subalpine summits over 2740 m (9000 feet), to canyon bottoms below 610 m (2000 feet). Topography is characterized by precipitous canyon walls along the rivers, steep upland slopes, and smaller tributary streams with cliffs, rocky slopes and mass-wasting features such as slumps and mud-rock flows. The soils of the region are especially prone to erosion and slippage. Slopes often exceed the angle of repose and periodic severe thunderstorms with intense rains will supersaturate the soil mantle. The resulting slumping and mud-rock flows often deposit materials into stream channels and can destroy streambanks.

The climatic conditions in these deep canyon bottoms are strikingly different from surrounding uplands and mountains. In the canyons, summers are hot and dry, and winters mild, with only limited and ephemeral snows. Precipitation is variable, but generally the higher elevation reaches have higher precipitation. Annual precipitation is approximately 33 cm (13 inches) at 225 m (740 feet), and about 46 cm (18 inches) at 610 m (2000 feet). However, a rainshadow effect occurs farther to the east, in upstream reaches, and annual precipitation is less than 25 m (10 inches).

This association occurs on riparian sites in canyon bottoms, from 350 to 640 m (1150-2100 feet) elevation along the Snake River tributaries, and from 550 to 760 m (1800-2500 feet) along the Salmon River tributaries. In this region of west-central Idaho, Betula occidentalis is usually found at elevations higher than Alnus rhombifolia. These species do co-occur near the upper elevational limit of white alder on tributaries with fair to good stream channel stability ratings. This implies that river birch occupies sites with less frequent disturbance, and with cold-air drainage from higher elevations.


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): M.S. Reid
Element Description Edition Date: 11Nov1993
Element Description Author(s): M.S. Reid and S.K. Rust
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 02Nov1997
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): S.K. Rust

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.

  • Crawford, R. C. 2001. Initial riparian and wetland classification and characterization of the Columbia Basin in Washington. Prepared for Environmental Protection Agency and Bureau of Land Management, Spokane District. Washington Natural Heritage Program, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Olympia. 83 pp.

  • Crawford, R. C. 2003. Riparian vegetation classification of the Columbia Basin, Washington. Natural Heritage Report 2003-03. Washington Natural Heritage Program, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Olympia. 98 pp. plus appendices.

  • 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]

  • Daubenmire, R. F. 1970. Steppe vegetation of Washington. Washington State University Agricultural Experiment Station Technical Bulletin No. 62. 131 pp.

  • Holmstead, G. 2001. Vegetation of the Snake River corridor in Hells Canyon-Weiser, Idaho to the Salmon River. Technical Report Appendix E.3.3-1 prepared for FERC License No. 1971, Hells Canyon Complex by Idaho Power Company, Boise, ID. 49 pp. plus appendices.

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • Mancuso, M., and R. Moseley. 1994. Vegetation description, rare plant inventory, and vegetation monitoring for Craig Mountain, Idaho. Unpublished report prepared for Bonneville Power Administration. 146 pp.

  • Miller, J. R., Jr., and D. K. Halligan. 1976. Some aspects of the snow damage to the Black Hills Forest. 26-27 April 1976. Unpublished report.

  • Miller, T. B. 1976. Ecology of riparian communities dominated by white alder in western Idaho. Unpublished thesis, University of Idaho, Moscow. 154 pp.

  • Neiman, K. 1987. Inventory of Garden Creek Ranch conducted during summer of 1987. Report to The Nature Conservancy, Sun Valley, Idaho.

  • 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.


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