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Rhamnus alnifolia Riparian Wet Shrubland
Translated Name: Alderleaf Buckthorn Riparian Wet Shrubland
Unique Identifier: CEGL001132
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association is known from the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon, scattered locations in moist mountainous regions of Idaho, Montana, and in western Wyoming. Stands of this Rhamnus alnifolia association occur at low to mid elevations (e.g., up to 2074 m [6800 feet]) in seeps, along sloped spring-fed creeks, on alluvial terraces of small streams (orders 1 and 2), and in broad basins or fens. Soils are typically loams and contain coarse rock fragments. Soils often show signs of a seasonally high water table (e.g., mottling), but the association also occurs on semipermanently saturated sites. Nearly complete cover of Rhamnus alnifolia characterizes this association, with few associates having consistently high cover due to the dense canopy. Associated shrubs that may be present include Alnus incana, Lonicera involucrata, Ribes spp., Salix geyeriana, and Symphoricarpos albus. The herbaceous understory is diverse, but most species have low to moderate cover. Common graminoid species include Bromus spp., Calamagrostis canadensis, Cinna latifolia, Elymus glaucus, and Glyceria spp. Tall forbs are characteristically present, including Heracleum maximum, Mertensia spp., Thalictrum occidentale, and Urtica dioica, but no single species has high cover and constancy throughout the association's range.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: This association is defined as a PNV vegetation type. Because no understory herbaceous species has consistently high cover and constancy, and Rhamnus alnifolia is clearly dominant with high cover, this association is broadly defined. Similar associations have not yet been incorporated into the National Vegetation Classification: Crowe and Clausnitzer (1997) identified a Rhamnus alnifolia / mesic forb community from the Blue Mountains of northeast Oregon. Oregon Natural Heritage Program (2002) identified a Rhamnus alnifolia / Mertensia paniculata community from the Blue Mountains of eastern Oregon that includes Crowe and Clausnitzer's stands. Youngblood et al. (1985a) did not have data supporting identification of an understory diagnostic species. Idaho stands of Rhamnus alnifolia are likely synonymous with Crowe and Clausnitzer's (1997) Rhamnus alnifolia / mesic forb community. The Idaho stands and Rhamnus alnifolia / mesic forb community (Crowe and Clausnitzer 1987) differ from Rhamnus alnifolia / Mertensia paniculata by lacking the diagnostic forb Mertensia paniculata. They are otherwise similar and all three types are synonymous according to Oregon Natural Heritage Program (2002). Further sampling is needed to confirm the existence of different Rhamnus alnifolia types.

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 2 - Shrub & Herb Vegetation
Subclass 2.C - Shrub & Herb Wetland
Formation 2.C.4 - Temperate to Polar Freshwater Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Division 2.C.4.Nb - Western North American Temperate & Boreal Freshwater Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Macrogroup Western North American Montane Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Group Rocky Mountain-Great Basin Lowland-Foothill Riparian Shrubland
Alliance Skunkbush Sumac - River Hawthorn - Stretchberry Shrubland

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 Rhamnus alnifolia Shrubland Equivalent Certain IDCDC 2005
Montana Rhamnus alnifolia Shrubland Equivalent Certain MTNHP 2002
Wyoming Rhamnus alnifolia Shrubland Equivalent Certain WNDD unpubl. data


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Rhamnus alnifolia / Mertensia paniculata 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: Rhamnus alnifolia / Mesic Forb
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: Rhamnus alnifolia Community Type
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Youngblood, A. P., W. G. Padgett, and A. H. Winward. 1985a. Riparian community type classification of eastern Idaho-western Wyoming. R4-Ecol-85-01. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Region, Ogden, UT. 78 pp.
Related Concept Name: Rhamnus alnifolia Dominance Type
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Hansen, P. L., S. W. Chadde, and R. D. Pfister. 1988b. Riparian dominance types of Montana. University of Montana Miscellaneous Publication 49. Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station, Missoula. 411 pp.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES306.961 Northern Rocky Mountain Subalpine Deciduous Shrubland
CES306.994 Northern Rocky Mountain Montane-Foothill Deciduous Shrubland


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3 (22Oct2002)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: This is a wide-ranging, but infrequently encountered association known from less than 30 occurrences in the Blue Mountains, moist mountainous areas of Idaho, Montana, and western Wyoming. This association requires wet, coarse loamy soils in areas of seasonally high water tables or semipermanent saturation (e.g., alluvial terraces, seeps, spring-fed creeks, and fens). However, sites favorable for the occurrence of Rhamnus alnifolia-dominated stands are uncommon across the landscape. The competitive, rhizomatous habit of Rhamnus alnifolia minimizes establishment of exotic species and makes the association resilient when disturbed. Although the number of occurrences is low, the wide range and resiliency of this association justify a G3 rank.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: ID, MT, OR, WA, WY
Canadian Province Distribution: AB
Global Distribution: Canada, United States
Global Range: This association is known from eastern Oregon and Washington, throughout Idaho and into western Wyoming and Montana.

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: Overthrust Mountains Section
Section Code: M331D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: Nearly complete cover of Rhamnus alnifolia characterizes this association, with few associates having consistently high cover due to the dense canopy. Associated shrubs that may be present include Alnus incana, Lonicera involucrata, Ribes spp., Salix geyeriana, and Symphoricarpos albus. The herbaceous understory is diverse, but most species have low to moderate cover. Common graminoid species include Bromus spp., Calamagrostis canadensis, Cinna latifolia, Elymus glaucus, Poa pratensis, Poa nemoralis ssp. interior, and Glyceria spp. Tall forbs are characteristically present, including Heracleum maximum, Mertensia spp., Thalictrum occidentale, Rudbeckia occidentalis, and Urtica dioica, but no single species has high cover and constancy throughout the association's range.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Rhamnus alnifolia G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling
 
 
Heracleum maximum G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Rudbeckia occidentalis G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Thalictrum occidentale G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: Rhamnus alnifolia apparently requires wet, loamy soils containing coarse fragments. It apparently requires seasonally high water tables or semipermanent saturation (e.g., sites such as seeps or spring-fed creeks). Rhamnus alnifolia is not found on organic, acidic, saline, alkaline, or heavy clay soils (Elzinga and Rosentreter 2000). The species does appear resilient and vigorous on favorable sites. The competitive habit of Rhamnus alnifolia decreases establishment of other species. Where there is a mix of shrub species present it is thought that it may have invaded stands (Youngblood et al. 1985a).


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): C. Murphy
Element Description Edition Date: 09Aug2005
Element Description Author(s): C. Murphy and G. Kittel
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 22Oct2002
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): C. Murphy

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


References
  • Allen, L. 2012-2013. Alberta Conservation Information Management System Ecological Community Tracking List. Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation, Edmonton, AB. [http://tpr.alberta.ca/parks/heritageinfocentre/default.aspx]

  • 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.

  • Bursik, R. J., and R. K. Moseley. 1995. Ecosystem conservation strategy for Idaho Panhandle peatlands. Cooperative project between Idaho Panhandle National Forests and Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Conservation Data Center, Boise. 28 pp. plus appendix.

  • Cogan, D., K. Varga, and G. Kittel. 2005. USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program: Grand Teton National Park and John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway. Final Project Report 2002-2005 Vegetation Mapping Project. Technical Memorandum 8260-06-02. USDI Bureau of Reclamation, Denver, CO. 87 pp. plus Appendixes A-F.

  • 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.

  • Crowe, E., B. Kovalchik, M. J. Kerr, J. Titus, and J. S. Kagan. 2002. Riparian and wetland plant communities of eastern Oregon. Draft report. Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center, Portland, OR.

  • Elzinga, C., and R. Rosentreter. 2000. Riparian and wetland plants of the Intermountain West. Unpublished draft distributed for review by Alderspring Consulting, Tendoy, ID.

  • Hansen, P. L., S. W. Chadde, and R. D. Pfister. 1988b. Riparian dominance types of Montana. University of Montana Miscellaneous Publication 49. Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station, Missoula. 411 pp.

  • Hansen, P. L., and J. B. Hall. 2002. Classification and management of the USDI Bureau of Land Management's riparian and wetland sites in eastern and southern Idaho. Unpublished draft prepared for the Upper Snake River District, Bureau of Land Management, by Bitterroot Restoration, Inc., Corvallis, MT.

  • Hop, K., M. Reid, J. Dieck, S. Lubinski, and S. Cooper. 2007. U.S. Geological Survey-National Park Service Vegetation Mapping Program: Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. U.S. Geological Survey, Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center, La Crosse, WI. 131 pp. plus Appendices A-L.

  • IDCDC [Idaho Conservation Data Center]. 2002. Unpublished riparian and wetland association occurrence and plot data on file at the Idaho Conservation Data Center, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Boise, ID.

  • 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).

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

  • ORNHP [Oregon Natural Heritage Program]. 2002. Unpublished data files. Oregon Natural Heritage Program, The Nature Conservancy, Portland, OR.

  • Reid, M. S., S. V. Cooper, and G. Kittel. 2004. Vegetation classification of Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. Final report for USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program, International Peace Park Mapping Project. NatureServe, Arlington VA.

  • USDA NRCS [Natural Resources Conservation Service]. 2001. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.1. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA. [http://plants.usda.gov]

  • WNDD [Wyoming Natural Diversity Database]. No date. Unpublished data on file. Wyoming Natural Diversity Database, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY.

  • WNHP [Washington Natural Heritage Program]. 2002. Unpublished riparian and wetland association occurrence and plot data on file at Washington Natural Heritage Program, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, Olympia, WA.

  • 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.

  • Youngblood, A. P., W. G. Padgett, and A. H. Winward. 1985a. Riparian community type classification of eastern Idaho-western Wyoming. R4-Ecol-85-01. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Region, Ogden, UT. 78 pp.


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