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Populus tremuloides / Alnus incana / Betula nana - Ribes spp. Riparian Forest
Translated Name: Quaking Aspen / Gray Alder / Dwarf Birch - Currant species Riparian Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL001149
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This is a valley bottom, riparian forest known only from the Wallowa River valley in northeastern Oregon. The forests are found along the northern boarder of the Wallowa Mountains, in a limestone area known as Alder Slope, extending from Ruby Peak to Mount Howard. All the sites are extremely wet, with limestone substrates and numerous springs. The forest canopy is mixed Populus tremuloides and Alnus incana, which is almost a tree in these stands. The stands have a very diverse understory, dominated by Betula nana at 10-20% cover, but which also includes Ribes species, Rosa woodsii, Cornus sericea, and Salix species. The shrub understory is patchy, interrupted by small Deschampsia cespitosa or Carex openings, streams, and occasional bogs. Occasionally, individuals of Picea engelmannii or Juniperus scopulorum can be found, but these are both rare. Forbs, including Corydalis caseana, Urtica dioica, Dicentra cucullaria, Aquilegia, Caltha, and Ranunculus species, are important in patches under the shrubs.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low - Poorly Documented
Classification Comments: This is a fairly unique community. However, given its rarity and the high degree of manipulation that most of the eastern Oregon valleys have received, it is difficult to be confident about its successional status or relationship to other valley bottom riparian forests.

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.Nc - Rocky Mountain-Great Basin Montane Flooded & Swamp Forest
Macrogroup Rocky Mountain-Great Basin Montane Riparian & Swamp Forest
Group Rocky Mountain-Great Basin Montane Riparian & Swamp Forest
Alliance Quaking Aspen Riparian Forest

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These data are subject to substantial ongoing revision and may be out of date for some states.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 Populus tremuloides / Alnus incana - Betula nana - Ribes spp. Equivalent Certain Kagan et al. 2004



Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES304.768 Columbia Basin Foothill Riparian Woodland and Shrubland
CES306.833 Rocky Mountain Subalpine-Montane Riparian Woodland


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G1 (06Jan2000)
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: This is a very rare, valley bottom, riparian forest known only from the Wallowa River valley in northeastern Oregon. No examples are protected; all are being degraded by grazing, and all sites are likely to be developed for rural residential or recreational housing as development continues to expand in the Wallowas. Agricultural and rural residential development has resulted in declines in this and most other valley bottom vegetation associations. Water diversions to irrigate drier valley bottom properties continue to result in these very wet habitats drying up and this plant community disappearing. All of these threats continue at the few remaining sites, which are entirely in private ownership. Given the incredible conflicts over water in the valley, protection of these sites and restoration of native flows are going to be exceedingly difficult. The fact that two sites support listed, endangered salmon and steelhead provide a little opportunity, but protection of a significant example of this community is going to be very difficult.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: OR
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This riparian forest known only from the Wallowa River valley in northeastern Oregon.

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: Blue Mountains Section
Section Code: M332G Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: The forest canopy is mixed Populus tremuloides and Alnus incana, which is almost a tree in these stands. The stands have a very diverse understory, dominated by Betula nana at 10-20% cover, but which also includes Ribes species, Rosa woodsii, Cornus sericea (= Cornus stolonifera), and Salix species. The shrub understory is patchy, interrupted by small Deschampsia cespitosa or Carex openings, streams, and occasional bogs. Occasionally, individuals of Picea engelmannii or Juniperus scopulorum can be found, but these are both rare. Forbs, including Corydalis caseana, Urtica dioica, Dicentra cucullaria, Aquilegia, Caltha, and Ranunculus species, are important in patches under the shrubs.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Populus tremuloides G1 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Juniperus scopulorum G1 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy      
 
 
Alnus incana G1 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 
Betula nana G1 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling  
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: The forests are found along the northern boarder of the Wallowa Mountains, in a limestone area known as Alder Slope, extending from Ruby Peak to Mount Howard. All the sites are extremely wet, with limestone substrates and numerous springs.


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): J.S. Kagan
Element Description Edition Date: 26Nov1997
Element Description Author(s): J.S. Kagan
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 06Jan2000
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): 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
  • 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.

  • Kagan, J. S. 1985. Status report for Thelypodium howellii ssp. spectabilis. Unpublished report by Oregon Natural Heritage Program for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. On file at Oregon Natural Heritage Program, Portland, OR.

  • 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.

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


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