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Abies grandis / Acer glabrum Forest
Translated Name: Grand Fir / Rocky Mountain Maple Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL000267
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: These conifer forests are native to the Blue Mountains and Wallowa mountains of northeastern Oregon, southeastern Washington and Idaho's Payette National Forest. This forest association is typified by a rich shrub layer, and occurs both on mid-slopes and riparian corridors at elevations of 1000-1950 m (3300-6400 feet). Sites occur on all aspects and a wide variety of slopes. Soils tend to be silt loam and sand over residuum, colluvium, and alluvium of igneous rock with an ash mantle. The tree canopy is dominated by Abies grandis. Occasional codominants are Picea engelmannii, Pseudotsuga menziesii, and Larix occidentalis. The shrub cover is composed of Acer glabrum, Vaccinium membranaceum, and Rosa gymnocarpa. Cover of common herbaceous species includes Arnica cordifolia, Galium triflorum, Osmorhiza berteroi, Thalictrum occidentale, and Bromus vulgaris. Codominating tree species tend to be less common in the Wallowa and Seven Devils mountains.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
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.2 - Cool Temperate Forest & Woodland
Division 1.B.2.Nb - Rocky Mountain Forest & Woodland
Macrogroup Central Rocky Mountain Mesic Lower Montane Forest
Group Central Rocky Mountain Mesic Grand Fir - Douglas-fir Forest
Alliance Central Rocky Mountain Grand Fir - Douglas-fir Forest & Woodland

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL000282 Abies grandis / Symphoricarpos albus Forest
CEGL002601 Abies grandis / Bromus vulgaris Forest



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These data are subject to substantial ongoing revision and may be out of date for some states.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 Abies grandis / Acer glabrum Equivalent Certain Kagan et al. 2004


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Abies grandis / Acer glabrum
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Clausnitzer, R. R. 1993. The grand fir series of northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington: Successional stages and management guide. Technical Report R6-ECO-TP-050-93. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 193 pp. plus appendices.
Related Concept Name: Abies grandis / Acer glabrum - Floodplain
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: Abies grandis / Acer glabrum 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: Abies grandis / Acer glabrum Habitat Type
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Steele, R., R. D. Pfister, R. A. Ryker, and J. A. Kittams. 1981. Forest habitat types of central Idaho. General Technical Report INT-114. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Ogden, UT. 138 pp.
Related Concept Name: Abies grandis / Acer glabrum
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Johnson, C. G., and S. A. Simon. 1985. Plant associations of the Wallowa Valley Ranger District, Part II: Steppe. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. 258 pp.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES306.805 Northern Rocky Mountain Dry-Mesic Montane Mixed Conifer Forest


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3 (03Dec1999)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: This association is not known to occur anywhere besides the Blue and Ochoco Mountains. However, it is fairly abundant throughout its limited range with at least one occurrence within a Research Natural Area (RNA). Logging is a threat to this association. Furthermore, there is some indication post-logging regeneration can be a serious problem.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: ID, OR, WA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This forest association is native to the Blue and Wallowa mountains of northeastern Oregon's and central Idaho's Payette National Forest.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
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


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: In the tree layer, Abies grandis is dominant, averaging 42% cover. There are two main seral dominants, Pinus ponderosa (18% cover) and Pseudotsuga menziesii (17% cover). Small amounts of Larix occidentalis (10%), Picea engelmannii, and Abies lasiocarpa do occur. Acer glabrum (10%) dominates the shrub layer in old-growth stands. Common shrubs are Physocarpus malvaceus, Symphoricarpos albus, Spiraea betulifolia, Sorbus scopulina, Lonicera utahensis, Rosa gymnocarpa (4%), Vaccinium membranaceum (= Vaccinium globulare) (7%), and Paxistima myrsinites. In the herbaceous layer, shade-tolerant forbs such as Adenocaulon bicolor and Prosartes trachycarpa (= Disporum trachycarpum) help indicate this association, especially when the tree canopies become dense and the shrubs become depauperate. Cover of common herbaceous species includes Arnica cordifolia (6%), Galium triflorum (3%), Osmorhiza berteroi (= Osmorhiza chilensis) (3%), Thalictrum occidentale (4%), and Bromus vulgaris (2%). Calamagrostis rubescens also occurs in the herbaceous layer.

Steele et al. (1981) recognize two phases of this type. The first phase, a Physocarpus malvaceus - Physocarpus malvaceus phase, represents a warm dry variant of the association. Physocarpus is the dominant shrub, although it may have low coverage in dense stands. A layer of Calamagrostis rubescens is common in this phase. The second phase is the Acer glabrum - Acer glabrum typic phase. This phase is found on the more moist aspects. Acer glabrum dominates the shrub layer, and Calamagrostis rubescens seldom develops high coverages.


Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Abies grandis G3 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Acer glabrum G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)  
 
 
Adenocaulon bicolor G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Prosartes trachycarpa G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This association is found between 1070 and 1950 m (3500-6400 feet ). It is typically found on mid to lower slopes facing north to east. It often extends down drainages, occurring in narrow bands above riparian vegetation on steep slopes directly above riparian vegetation of narrow V-canyon streams (Johnson and Simon 1985). According to Steele et al. (1981), soil parent materials are mainly basalt, granitics, and occasionally quartz diorite. Textures vary from clay loam to sandy loam with pH ranges averaging 6.1. Areas of bare rock or bare soil seldom exceed 5%. Litter depths average 10 cm.

This is a moist type (Johnson and Simon 1985). No precise climatic data are available for this type. However, its location in Idaho and Oregon subjects it to a maritime climate during winter and early spring which moderates its temperature and environment for plant growth through prolonged, gentle rainfall interspersed with periods of fog and heavy cloud cover. In late spring, the maritime influence diminishes and is replaced by a continental climate characterized by warm days and cold nights. Small amounts of precipitation are delivered in brief downpours. This results in plant species tolerating greater summer drought and severely fluctuating temperatures.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: Damping-off fungus takes a heavy toll of Abies grandis seedlings during wet seasons, and insolation and drought cause mortality during the dry summer months. Seedlings are well established by the third year.

Fire hazard is normally low to moderate under normal weather conditions (Fischer and Bradley 1987). Although this type does not occur in Fischer and Bradley's study, this type is equivalent to their Group Eleven - warm, moist grand fir, western red-cedar, and western hemlock habitat types. The threat of fire is highest in the summer, when the moist maritime climate no longer prevails. During severe summer drought, heavy fuel loading from high plant productivity can set the stage for severe, widespread fires. Stands are replaced and sites revert to pioneer species. Summertime fuel moisture conditions in young stands are not nearly as high as in older, more dense stands, and the effects of fire are often more severe than they are in older stands. Surface fires often scar the base of the grand fir, creating favorable entry points for decay organisms. The initial floral component, seeds stored on site, and the accidents of natural seeding and seedling establishment may structure the community following the fire more than the characteristics of the fire itself. Although generally true for all fire groups, it is more pronounced in this fire group. The use of fire for site preparation will usually result in increased spring and summer browse for big game in addition to successful regeneration of seral tree species.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): L.D. Engelking and M.P. Murray
Element Description Edition Date: 13Feb1991
Element Description Author(s): L.D. Engelking and M.P. Murray
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 03Dec1999
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): M.P. Murray

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.

  • Clausnitzer, R. R. 1993. The grand fir series of northeastern Oregon and southeastern Washington: Successional stages and management guide. Technical Report R6-ECO-TP-050-93. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 193 pp. plus appendices.

  • Cooper, S. V., K. E. Neiman, R. Steele, and D. W. Roberts. 1987. Forest habitat types of northern Idaho: A second approximation. General Technical Report INT-236.USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Ogden, UT. 135 pp. [reprinted in 1991]

  • 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.

  • Fischer, W. C., and A. F. Bradley. 1987. Fire ecology of western Montana forest habitat types. General Technical Report INT-223. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Ogden, UT. 95 pp.

  • Johnson, C. G., Jr., and S. A. Simon. 1987. Plant associations of the Wallowa-Snake Province Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. Technical Paper R6-ECOL-TP-255A-86. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. 399 pp. plus appendices.

  • Johnson, C. G., and R. R. Clausnitzer. 1992. Plant associations of the Blue and Ochoco mountains. R6-ERW-TP-036-92. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. 163 pp. plus appendices.

  • Johnson, C. G., and S. A. Simon. 1985. Plant associations of the Wallowa Valley Ranger District, Part II: Steppe. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. 258 pp.

  • 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.

  • Lyons, S. 1996. Grand fir mosaic. Wild Earth 6(4):17-18.

  • Steele, R., R. D. Pfister, R. A. Ryker, and J. A. Kittams. 1981. Forest habitat types of central Idaho. General Technical Report INT-114. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Ogden, UT. 138 pp.

  • 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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