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Populus tremuloides / Alnus incana Riparian Forest
Translated Name: Quaking Aspen / Gray Alder Riparian Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL001150
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This riparian plant association is located in narrow ravines and along first- and second-order streams in Colorado at elevations of 2480 to 2930 m (8140-9600 feet). At the upper end of its elevational range it typically occurs where upland Populus tremuloides forests intermix with riparian shrub vegetation, while at lower elevations it occurs where Populus tremuloides persists only in the riparian zone. Stream gradients range from 1 to 30% slopes. Soils are generally skeletal, shallow, sandy and sandy clay loams or deeper sandy clay loams. The open to closed tree canopy has 10-70% cover of Populus tremuloides. Several conifer species can occur, but Populus tremuloides is clearly the dominant tree species. Other tree species that may be present include Pinus contorta, Abies lasiocarpa, Picea pungens, and Pseudotsuga menziesii. The shrub layer is dominated by 10-70% cover of Alnus incana, which is diagnostic of this riparian type. Other associated shrubs may include Salix drummondiana, Lonicera involucrata, Rosa woodsii, and Salix bebbiana. The forb layer can be dense and includes Cardamine cordifolia, Mertensia ciliata, Osmorhiza depauperata, and Senecio triangularis. Graminoid cover may include Calamagrostis canadensis, Equisetum arvense, and Carex disperma. The presence of obligate riparian species in the shrub and forb canopies along the immediate streambank distinguishes this riparian plant association from the adjacent upland Populus tremuloides associations.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: This association is based on 20 quantitative plots completed by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program.

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

Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Populus tremuloides / Alnus incana / Symphoricarpos albus
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: Populus tremuloides / Alnus incana ssp. tenuifolia Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Carsey, K., D. Cooper, K. Decker, D. Culver, and G. Kittel. 2003b. Statewide wetlands classification and characterization: Wetland plant associations of Colorado. Prepared for Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Denver, by Colorado Natural Heritage Program, College of Natural Resources, Colorado State University, Fort Collins. 79 pp. [http://www.cnhp.colostate.edu/documents/2003/wetland_classification_final_report_2003.pdf]
Related Concept Name: Populus tremuloides / Alnus incana ssp. tenuifolia Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Carsey, K., G. Kittel, K. Decker, D. J. Cooper, and D. Culver. 2003a. Field guide to the wetland and riparian plant associations of Colorado. Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Fort Collins, CO.
Related Concept Name: Populus tremuloides / Alnus incana 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: Populus tremuloides/Alnus incana ssp. tenuifolia
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Kittel, G., E. Van Wie, M. Damm, R. Rondeau, S. Kettler, A. McMullen, and J. Sanderson. 1999b. A classification of riparian and wetland plant associations of Colorado: A user's guide to the classification project. Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University, Fort Collins CO. 70 pp. plus appendices.
Related Concept Name: Quaking aspen/thinleaf alder (Populus tremuloides/Alnus incana ssp. tenuifolia) Plant Association
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Kittel, G., E. Van Wie, M. Damm, R. Rondeau, S. Kettler, and J. Sanderson. 1999a. A classification of the riparian plant associations of the Rio Grande and Closed Basin watersheds, Colorado. Unpublished report prepared by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University, Fort Collins.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES306.833 Rocky Mountain Subalpine-Montane Riparian Woodland


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3 (18Dec1999)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: This riparian plant association has been documented from no fewer than 20 stands in Colorado, but at least 50 occurrences are expected in Colorado with additional stands possible in adjacent Rocky Mountain states. Individual stands occur on sites with an unusual juxtaposition of riparian and upland conditions, where both Populus tremuloides and Alnus incana are present in abundance. Additional inventory work is needed to determine the full extent of this association.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: CO
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This plant association has not been described in any previous literature or been documented outside of Colorado. However, it is expected to occur in other Rocky Mountain States.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Dry Domain
Division Name: Temperate Steppe Regime Mountains
Province Name: Southern Rocky Mountain Steppe - Open Woodland - Coniferous Forest - Alpine Meadow Province
Province Code: M331 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: North-Central Highlands Section
Section Code: M331H Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Northern Parks and Ranges Section
Section Code: M331I Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: The open to closed tree canopy of this riparian association has 10-70% cover of Populus tremuloides. Several conifer species can occur, but Populus tremuloides is clearly the dominant tree species. Other tree species that may be present include Pinus contorta (20%), Abies lasiocarpa (10%), Picea pungens (1-10%), and Pseudotsuga menziesii (1-10%). The shrub layer is dominated by 10-70% cover of Alnus incana, which is diagnostic of this riparian type. Other associated shrubs may include Salix drummondiana, Lonicera involucrata, Rosa woodsii, and Salix bebbiana. The forb layer can be dense and includes Cardamine cordifolia, Mertensia ciliata, Osmorhiza depauperata, and Senecio triangularis. Graminoid cover may include Calamagrostis canadensis, Equisetum arvense, and Carex disperma. The presence of obligate riparian species in the shrub and forb canopies along the immediate streambank distinguishes this riparian plant association from the adjacent upland Populus tremuloides associations. At the upper end of its elevational range it typically occurs where upland Populus tremuloides forests intermix with riparian shrub vegetation, while at lower elevations it occurs where Populus tremuloides persists only in the riparian zone.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Populus tremuloides G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Alnus incana ssp. tenuifolia G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 
Cardamine cordifolia G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Equisetum arvense G3 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)      
 
 
Calamagrostis canadensis G3 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: This riparian plant association is located in narrow ravines and along first- and second-order streams in Colorado at elevations of 2480 to 2900 m (8140-9600 feet). At the upper end of its elevational range it typically occurs where upland Populus tremuloides forests intermix with riparian shrub vegetation, while at lower elevations it occurs where Populus tremuloides persists only in the riparian zone. Stream gradients range from 1 to 30% slopes. Soils are generally skeletal, shallow, sandy and sandy clay loams or deeper sandy clay loams.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: Alnus incana is a long-lived, early-seral species. It is one of the first species to establish on fluvial or glacial deposits.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): J. Stevens
Element Description Edition Date: 05May2005
Element Description Author(s): J. Stevens, S.L. Neid and K.A. Schulz
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 18Dec1999
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): J. Stevens

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.

  • CNHP [Colorado Natural Heritage Program]. 2006-2017. Tracked natural plant communities. Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University, Fort Collins. [https://cnhp.colostate.edu/ourdata/trackinglist/plant_communities/]

  • Carsey, K., D. Cooper, K. Decker, D. Culver, and G. Kittel. 2003b. Statewide wetlands classification and characterization: Wetland plant associations of Colorado. Prepared for Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Denver, by Colorado Natural Heritage Program, College of Natural Resources, Colorado State University, Fort Collins. 79 pp. [http://www.cnhp.colostate.edu/documents/2003/wetland_classification_final_report_2003.pdf]

  • Carsey, K., G. Kittel, K. Decker, D. J. Cooper, and D. Culver. 2003a. Field guide to the wetland and riparian plant associations of Colorado. Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Fort Collins, CO.

  • 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.

  • Kettler, S., and A. McMullen. 1996. Routt National Forest riparian vegetation classification. Report prepared for Routt National Forest by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University, Fort Collins.

  • Kittel, G., E. Van Wie, M. Damm, R. Rondeau, S. Kettler, A. McMullen, and J. Sanderson. 1999b. A classification of riparian and wetland plant associations of Colorado: A user's guide to the classification project. Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University, Fort Collins CO. 70 pp. plus appendices.

  • Kittel, G., E. Van Wie, M. Damm, R. Rondeau, S. Kettler, and J. Sanderson. 1999a. A classification of the riparian plant associations of the Rio Grande and Closed Basin watersheds, Colorado. Unpublished report prepared by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University, Fort Collins.

  • Kittel, G., R. Rondeau, N. Lederer, and D. Randolph. 1994. A classification of the riparian vegetation of the White and Colorado River basins, Colorado. Final report submitted to Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency. Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Boulder. 166 pp.

  • Kittel, G., R. Rondeau, and S. Kettler. 1995. A classification of the riparian vegetation of the Gunnison River Basin, Colorado. Submitted to Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency. Prepared by Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Fort Collins. 114 pp.

  • Salas, D. E., J. Stevens, K. Schulz, M. Artmann, B. Friesen, S. Blauer, E. W. Schweiger, and A. Valdez. 2010b. Vegetation classification and mapping project report: Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. Natural Resource Report NPS/ROMN/NRR--2010/179. National Park Service, Fort Collins, CO.

  • Salas, D., J. Stevens, and K. Schulz. 2005. USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program: Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Technical Memorandum No. 8260-05-02. USDI Bureau of Reclamation, Denver, CO. 161 pp. plus Appendices A-L (733 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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