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Abies grandis / Taxus brevifolia Forest
Translated Name: Grand Fir / Pacific Yew Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL000283
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This is an evergreen conifer forest composed of two distinct tree canopies found mostly in the north-central Rocky Mountains of Idaho and with outlier stands in adjacent Washington, Oregon and Montana. This late- to mid-seral community is dominated by Abies grandis, Picea engelmannii, and/or Larix occidentalis in the tallest canopy and Taxus brevifolia in a lower tree canopy 6-9 m (20-30 feet) tall. The forest canopy is closed, although the upper layer is generally open. The undergrowth is sparse and patchy and follows the pattern of canopy gaps. The most common deciduous shrub is Acer glabrum which can be abundant in disturbed stands. The herbaceous layer is patchy and dominated by mesic site forbs such as Asarum caudatum, Anemone piperi, Clintonia uniflora, and Coptis occidentalis. This association includes the Taxus brevifolia phases of Abies grandis / Asarum caudatum, Abies grandis / Clintonia uniflora, and Abies grandis / Linnaea borealis habitat types.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low
Classification Comments: This association is defined as a PNV vegetation type. If it were renamed as a dominance type, the species would include Abies grandis and Picea engelmannii. Few studies have defined a forest type segregating Taxus from other understories. Daubenmire and Daubenmire (1968) have Taxus in their Thuja and Tsuga types, and Hall (1973) has Taxus in his Abies grandis/Vaccinium membranaceum 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.



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These data are subject to substantial ongoing revision and may be out of date for some states.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 - Taxus brevifolia Equivalent Certain Kagan et al. 2004


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Abies grandis / Asarum caudatum Habitat Type, Taxus brevifolia Phase
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: 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]
Related Concept Name: Abies grandis / Clintonia uniflora Habitat Type, Taxus brevifolia Phase
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: 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]
Related Concept Name: Abies grandis / Gymnocarpium dryopteris
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 / Gymnocarpium dryopteris Association
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: 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.
Related Concept Name: Abies grandis / Linnaea borealis Habitat Type, Taxus brevifolia Phase
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Clausnitzer, R. R., and B. A. Zamora. 1987. Forest habitat types of the Colville Indian Reservation. Unpublished report prepared for the Department of Forest and Range Management, Washington State University, Pullman. 110 pp.
Related Concept Name: Abies grandis / Taxus brevifolia / Clintonia uniflora
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 / Taxus brevifolia / Clintonia uniflora
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: 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.
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
CES306.802 Northern Rocky Mountain Mesic Montane Mixed Conifer Forest


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G2 (20Apr2000)
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: This community has a restricted natural range to north-central Idaho with outliers in adjacent Montana, Oregon, and Washington. This is a late-seral forest community that naturally depends upon a long fire return interval. Its area has been reduced by past logging and current harvesting of yew trees for their bark. There are fewer than 200 occurrences remaining and none protected in RNAs. National Forest plans propose managing the community for wildlife habitat values that may insure its long-term viability albeit in a degraded condition. A relatively uncommon community that has been degraded by fragmentation, and timber and yew bark extraction.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: ID, MT, OR, WA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: Restricted to the S.F. Clearwater River in Idaho with outliers in adjacent Oregon and over the Bitterroots in Montana. It is also apparently disjunct in Okanogan County, Washington, and Swan Valley, Montana.

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: Bitterroot Valley Section
Section Code: M332B Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Blue Mountains Section
Section Code: M332G Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Province Name: Northern Rocky Mountain Forest - Steppe - Coniferous Forest - Alpine Meadow Province
Province Code: M333 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Okanogan Highlands Section
Section Code: M333A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Flathead Valley Section
Section Code: M333B Occurrence Status: Possible
Section Name: Northern Rockies Section
Section Code: M333C Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Bitterroot Mountains Section
Section Code: M333D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: This is an evergreen needle-leaved forest association dominated by Abies grandis, with Picea engelmannii always present in lesser amounts, and Pseudotsuga menziesii occasionally present as a seral component. The tall-shrub layer is dense and dominated by a mix of the evergreen needle-leaved Taxus brevifolia and the deciduous, broad-leaved Acer glabrum. In many stands, Taxus is so dense that most low-shrub and forb species are eliminated, as well as other conifer seedlings. The low, creeping shrub Linnaea borealis is common. Herbaceous richness and cover can be high, except under the dense Taxus. The perennial forb Clintonia uniflora is the most abundant herbaceous species; other constant forbs include Arnica cordifolia, Osmorhiza berteroi (= Osmorhiza chilensis), Viola orbiculata, Coptis occidentalis, and Asarum caudatum. Moss cover is often over 40%.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Abies grandis G2 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Vaccinium membranaceum G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Acer glabrum G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Taxus brevifolia G2 Needle-leaved tree Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 
Arnica cordifolia G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Clintonia uniflora G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Linnaea borealis G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Viola orbiculata G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 


Vegetation Structure
Stratum Growth Form
Height of Stratum (m)
Cover
Class
%
Min
Cover %
Max
Cover %
Tree canopy Needle-leaved tree
 
 
 
 
Tall shrub/sapling Shrub
 
 
 
 
Short shrub/sapling Shrub
 
 
 
 
Herb (field) Flowering forb
 
 
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This is a cool, very moist type. All of the mountainous regions where this association is found are characterized by an inland maritime climate, particularly in the winter and spring. During these months, temperatures are moderate, and precipitation typically occurs as prolonged gentle rains, with periods of fog and heavy cloud cover. During summer, the maritime influence is weak; these months are dry and have daily extremes of temperature. This association occurs from 850 to 1770 m (2800-5800 feet) elevation, but is generally found at the higher elevations of the Abies grandis series and on warmer, protected sites. Slopes are moderate to steep, ridgetop benches or toeslopes, but apparently seeps, springs, and rivulets are commonly present. Parent materials are typically volcanic ash over colluvium-alluvium or granitics. Soils are relatively shallow, with silt loam to silty clay loam textures.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: Johnson and Simon (1987) relate that in Oregon and Idaho disturbance by ungulates may increase hedging and eliminate the Taxus brevifolia from spring and seepage sites. Trifolium longipes, Moehringia macrophylla, and Arnica cordifolia may increase in cover value due to ungulate disturbance. Indian paint fungus (Echinodontium tinctorium) and root rot are common in this type (Cooper et al. 1991).

Due to its moist microenvironment, this type has very infrequent fires. When fire does occur, the Taxus brevifolia is almost always eliminated (Zamora 1975). Abies grandis may be damaged by surface fire when the duff is burned deep enough to injure the root system. Because of the very high shade tolerance of Taxus and its elimination of coniferous tree seedlings under its canopy, some authors postulate stands of this association may eventually succeed to Taxus-dominated climax communities.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): L.D. Engelking
Element Description Edition Date: 23Aug1993
Element Description Author(s): L.D. Engelking, M.S. Reid and R.C. Crawford
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 23Nov1998
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): R.C. Crawford

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


References
  • Antos, J. A. 1977. Grand fir (Abies grandis (Douglas) Forbes) forests of the Swan Valley, Montana. Unpublished thesis, University of Montana, Missoula. 220 pp.

  • 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.

  • Clausnitzer, R. R., and B. A. Zamora. 1987. Forest habitat types of the Colville Indian Reservation. Unpublished report prepared for the Department of Forest and Range Management, Washington State University, Pullman. 110 pp.

  • 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]

  • Crawford, R. C., and F. D. Johnson. 1985. Pacific yew dominance in tall forests, a classification dilemma. Canadian Journal of Botany 63:592-602.

  • 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.

  • Daubenmire, R. F., and J. B. Daubenmire. 1968. Forest vegetation of eastern Washington and northern Idaho. Washington State University Agricultural Experiment Station Technical Bulletin No. 60. 104 pp.

  • Hall, F. C. 1973. Plant communities of the Blue Mountains in eastern Oregon and southeastern Washington. R6 Area Guide 3-1. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR. 62 pp.

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • MTNHP [Montana Natural Heritage Program]. 2002b. List of ecological communities for Montana. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Montana State Library, Helena, MT.

  • McCune, B., and T. F. H. Allen. 1985. Will similar forests develop on similar sites? Canadian Journal of Botany 63:367-375.

  • Titus, J. H., M. Kerr, E. Crowe, and B. Kovalchik. 1998. Riparian zones of eastern Oregon. Oregon Natural Heritage Program, Portland.

  • 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.

  • Zamora, B. A. 1975. Secondary succession on broad-cast burn clearcuts of the Abies grandis/Pachistima myrsinites habitat type in north-central Idaho. Ph.D. thesis, Washington State University, Pullman.


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