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Eleocharis rostellata Herbaceous Vegetation
Translated Name: Beaked Spikerush Herbaceous Vegetation
Unique Identifier: CEGL003428
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association is known from low to mid elevations in widely scattered intermontane basins and plains of the West. It is documented to occur in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Wyoming, and Colorado. Unconfirmed stands have been reported from Washington and California, and it is suspected to occur in similar habitats in Nevada and British Columbia. This association forms sharply delineated, near-monocultural stands in areas with perennially saturated or inundated hydrologic conditions. It often occurs in association with warm springs or fens with alkaline or calcareous soils at the northern limits of its range, but it is also known from cold springs in desert canyons. This association forms on soils ranging from relatively deep organic soils, to alkaline and calcareous soils (e.g., travertine), to coarse mineral soils that are directly in contact with springs or thermal waters. There are two distinct phases of this association: a dense one with 90% cover of Eleocharis rostellata, occurring on relatively deep organic soils that sometimes form a quaking mat, and an open one with less than 70% Eleocharis rostellata cover. The open phase has considerable areas of exposed soil, gravel, rock, and water and appears restricted to mineral substrates on gentle to steep slopes. Low species diversity is characteristic of the Eleocharis rostellata association, and woody vegetation is lacking or if present only as a very minor component. Common associated species with low cover include Berula erecta, Castilleja minor ssp. minor, Carex simulata, Carex nebrascensis, Carex scirpoidea, Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda, Deschampsia caespitosa, Helianthus nuttallii, Juncus balticus, Juncus torreyi, Mimulus guttatus, Muhlenbergia asperifolia, Schoenoplectus americanus (= Scirpus americanus), Symphyotrichum ascendens, and Triglochin maritima.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: Although described from a limited number of plots (e.g., 3 plots in Montana, 6 plots in Idaho), the Eleocharis rostellata association is sharply delineated in the field by its clear dominance of the diagnostic species (Jankovsky-Jones et al. 2001). In Montana, Hansen et al. (1995) lumped all combinations of Eleocharis rostellata and Eleocharis quinqueflora into an Eleocharis quinqueflora habitat type due to similarities in environmental conditions and management concerns. Observations in Montana by Lesica (1990) indicate that the Eleocharis rostellata association is distinct, and at least partially thermophilic, unlike the Eleocharis quinqueflora type. In some cases, Eleocharis rostellata may be confused with Eleocharis palustris, especially if the stolons of Eleocharis rostellata are not present or not obvious, but the sites on which these associations occur are very different ecologically. Eleocharis rostellata is sometimes codominant with Carex lasiocarpa and Calamagrostis spp. in rich fens of the prairie states (from South Dakota to Indiana), but it never forms dense, nearly monoculture stands such as in this type. A Schoenoplectus americanus - Eleocharis rostellata community has been identified in the Owens Valley of California (Odion et al. 1992). The Eleocharis rostellata community considered here has no similarity to these types, other than their occurrence on saline or alkaline/calcareous sites. Eleocharis rostellata is a dominant plant in 4 different tidal marsh or salt meadow vegetation communities ranging from Louisiana to Florida, north to Delaware. A fen type, with codominant Eleocharis rostellata, occurs at sea level from Virginia to Maine. These eastern associations have no similarity in composition or ecology to the western, non-coastal association considered here.

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 2 - Shrub & Herb Vegetation
Subclass 2.C - Shrub & Herb Wetland
Formation 2.C.5 - Salt Marsh
Division 2.C.5.Nd - North American Western Interior Brackish Marsh
Macrogroup Warm & Cool Desert Alkali-Saline Wetland
Group North American Desert Alkaline-Saline Herbaceous Wetland & Playa
Alliance Common Spikerush Alkaline-Saline Herbaceous Wetland

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 Eleocharis rostellata Community Equivalent Certain IDCDC 2005
Oregon Eleocharis rostellata Community Equivalent Certain Kagan et al. 2004


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Eleocharis rostellata
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Evens, J. M., K. Sikes, D. Hastings, and J. Ratchford. 2014. Vegetation alliance descriptions for Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Death Valley National Park and Mojave National Preserve. Unpublished report submitted to USDI National Park Service, Mojave Desert Network Inventory and Monitoring Program. California Native Plant Society, Sacramento, CA.
Related Concept Name: Eleocharis rostellata Herbaceous Vegetation
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.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES306.812 Rocky Mountain Alpine-Montane Wet Meadow


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3 (18Oct2002)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: This association is restricted to habitats with perennially saturated or inundated hydrologic conditions. It has high affinity with warm springs, as well as fens and cool springs with alkaline or calcareous soils. Stands are most frequently observed in southern and central Idaho, but the association is also known from geothermally influenced areas of south-central Montana and Yellowstone National Park. The association is suspected to occur, but poorly documented from, a much wider range (e.g., the Great Basin, Colorado, and the Pacific Northwest). In general, this association is not frequently observed and is probably rare across the landscape because hydrologically functioning warm springs and rich fens are relatively uncommon. The association is relatively well-represented in protected areas due to the uniqueness and highly valued habitats (e.g., warm springs), but other stands can be threatened by hydrologic alterations, livestock grazing, and exotic species invasion. The association was formerly ranked G2, but the number of occurrences (over 25 estimated), combined with its relatively wide range and resistance to minor disturbances, does not justify this rank. Until further inventory confirms the occurrence of many more Eleocharis rostellata stands, the association is best ranked as G3.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: CA, CO, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This association is documented in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Colorado. Unconfirmed stands have been reported from Washington and California. It is suspected to occur in similar habitats in Nevada and British Columbia.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Dry Domain
Division Name: Temperate Desert Division
Province Name: Intermountain Semi-Desert Province
Province Code: 342 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Northwestern Basin and Range Section
Section Code: 342B Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Owyhee Uplands Section
Section Code: 342C Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Snake River Basalts Section
Section Code: 342D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Domain Name: Humid Temperate Domain
Division Name: Marine Regime Mountains
Province Name: Cascade Mixed Forest - Coniferous Forest - Alpine Meadow Province
Province Code: M242 Occurrence Status: Predicted or probable
Section Name: Western Cascades Section
Section Code: M242B Occurrence Status: Predicted or probable
Section Name: Eastern Cascades Section
Section Code: M242C Occurrence Status: Predicted or probable
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: Yellowstone Highlands Section
Section Code: M331A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: The association is restricted to areas with perennially saturated or inundated hydrologic conditions. It has high affinity with warm springs or fens with alkaline or calcareous soils at the northern limits of its range, but it is also known from cold springs in desert canyons (Jankovsky-Jones et al. 2001).


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: Springs, rich fens, and thermal areas supporting Eleocharis rostellata are heavily impacted by human recreation, livestock grazing, water diversions, and wild ungulate use (IDCDC 2002). Some areas that once had the potential to support this association have been completely de-watered or otherwise eliminated from the landscape. However, Eleocharis rostellata is reported to be an early colonizer of bare substrates with proper chemical and hydrological conditions. At Ohanacaposh Hot Spring (Mount Rainier National Park) this association has apparently expanded and colonized the lower springs after removal of water developments over 50 years ago. It is presumed to be a stable association once established, unless water tables are altered (FEIS 2000). Eleocharis species have low palatability for livestock and wild animals (Hansen et al. 1995) and are generally vigorous colonizers that are resilient to, and increasers with, minor disturbances.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): C. Murphy
Element Description Edition Date: 18Oct2002
Element Description Author(s): C. Murphy
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 18Oct2002
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
  • CNHP [Colorado Natural Heritage Program]. 2003. Unpublished data. List of Elements and Elcodes converted and entered into Biotics Tracker 4.0. Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO.

  • CNHP [Colorado Natural Heritage Program]. 2006-2010a. Tracked natural plant communities. Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University, Fort Collins. [http://www.cnhp.colostate.edu/tracking/communities.html].

  • 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.

  • Evens, J. M., K. Sikes, D. Hastings, and J. Ratchford. 2014. Vegetation alliance descriptions for Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Death Valley National Park and Mojave National Preserve. Unpublished report submitted to USDI National Park Service, Mojave Desert Network Inventory and Monitoring Program. California Native Plant Society, Sacramento, CA.

  • FEIS [Fire Effects Information System]. 2002. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory. [http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/]

  • Hansen, P. L., R. D. Pfister, K. Boggs, B. J. Cook, J. Joy, and D. K. Hinckley. 1995. Classification and management of Montana's riparian and wetland sites. Miscellaneous Publication No. 54. Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station, School of Forestry, University of Montana. 646 pp. plus posters.

  • Hansen, P., S. Chadde, R. Pfister, J. Joy, D. Svoboda, J. Pierce, and L. Myers. 1988a. Riparian site types, habitat types, and community types of southwestern Montana. Draft Version 1. Montana Riparian Association, Missoula.

  • 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).

  • Jankovsky-Jones, M., C. J. Murphy, and C. L. Coulter. 2001. Riparian and wetland plant associations of southwestern Idaho in the Lower Snake River District, Bureau of Land Management. Idaho Conservation Data Center, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Boise.

  • Kagan, J. S., J. A. Christy, M. P. Murray, and J. A. Titus. 2000-2004. Classification of native vegetation of Oregon. Oregon Natural Heritage Program, Portland. 63 pp.

  • Lesica, P. 1990. Vegetation and sensitive plant species of wetlands associated with geothermal areas in the greater Yellowstone ecosystem in Montana. Unpublished report on file at the Montana Field Office, The Nature Conservancy, Helena. 9 pp.

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

  • Odion, D. C., R. M. Callaway, W. R. Ferren, and F. W. Davis. 1992. Vegetation of Fish Slough, an Owens Valley wetland ecosystem. Pages 171-196 in: C.A. Hall and B. Widawski, editors. The history of water: Eastern Sierra Nevada, Owens Valley, White-Inyo Mountains. White Mountains Research Station Symposium 4. University of California, White Mountain Research Station, Los Angeles, CA.

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


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