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Populus tremuloides / Betula occidentalis Riparian Forest
Translated Name: Quaking Aspen / Water Birch Riparian Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL002650
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This plant association of Colorado and eastern Nevada is a lush, deciduous riparian woodland with a canopy of aspen and sometimes conifer or cottonwood trees. The understory has a high structural diversity of mesic shrubs and an herbaceous undergrowth ranging from a thick carpet of grasses and forbs to a very sparse ground cover in heavily shaded areas. The streamside location and the presence of obligate riparian shrub species, such as Betula occidentalis, Salix exigua, and Cornus sericea, distinguish this association from upland Populus tremuloides communities.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low

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.

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL000648 Populus angustifolia / Betula occidentalis Riparian Woodland



Related Concepts from Other Classifications

Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Populus tremuloides / Betula occidentalis Community Type
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Manning, M. E., and W. G. Padgett. 1995. Riparian community type classification for Humboldt and Toiyabe national forests, Nevada and eastern California. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Region. 306 pp.
Related Concept Name: Populus tremuloides / Betula occidentalis 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 / Betula occidentalis 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/Betula occidentalis Community Type
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Manning, M. E., and W. G. Padgett. 1995. Riparian community type classification for Humboldt and Toiyabe national forests, Nevada and eastern California. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Region. 306 pp.
Related Concept Name: Populus tremuloides/Betula occidentalis
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/river birch (Populus tremuloides/Betula occidentalis) 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.
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Kittel, G., E. Van Wie, and M. Damm. 1997a. A classification of the riparian vegetation of the South Platte Basin (and part of Republican River Basin), Colorado. Submitted to Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency, Region VIII. Prepared by 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 (07Apr1998)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: CO, NV, UTpotentially occurs
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This association is known to occur in eastern Nevada and middle-elevation canyons throughout Colorado. It may occur in southeastern Utah in sheltered canyons with perennial water.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Dry Domain
Division Name: Temperate Steppe Division
Province Name: Great Plains-Palouse Dry Steppe Province
Province Code: 331 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Arkansas Tablelands Section
Section Code: 331I Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Division Name: Temperate Desert Division
Province Name: Intermountain Semi-Desert and Desert Province
Province Code: 341 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Northern Canyon Lands Section
Section Code: 341B Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
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: South-Central Highlands Section
Section Code: M331G Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Division Name: Temperate Desert Regime Mountains
Province Name: Nevada-Utah Mountains Semi-Desert - Coniferous Forest - Alpine Meadow Province
Province Code: M341 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Central Great Basin Mountains Section
Section Code: M341A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: This structurally diverse forest association is characterized by a canopy 10-15 m tall of Populus tremuloides, sometimes with Abies concolor, Pseudotsuga menziesii, Pinus ponderosa, or Populus deltoides present. Total canopy closure is 30% to more than 100%, with Populus tremuloides providing 20-85% cover. Betula occidentalis forms a subcanopy or tall-shrub layer with 15-80% cover. The short-shrub layer is diverse and can include Cornus sericea, Amelanchier alnifolia, Acer glabrum, Rosa woodsii, Salix scouleriana, Salix bebbiana, Salix exigua, and Symphoricarpos oreophilus. If Alnus incana is present, it has less than 5% cover. Because of light and soil moisture competition by the trees and shrubs, the herbaceous layer tends to be relatively sparse, rarely exceeding 10% cover. Common species include Poa pratensis, Calamagrostis canadensis, Equisetum arvense, Maianthemum stellatum (= Smilacina stellata), Urtica dioica, Taraxacum officinale, and Clematis ligusticifolia.

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
 
 
Betula occidentalis G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree subcanopy  
 
 
Cornus sericea G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling      
 
 
Salix exigua G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 
Rosa woodsii G3 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling  
 
 
Poa pratensis G3 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: This association occurs on seasonally flooded bottoms, terraces and benches of narrow canyons in the mountains of Nevada and Colorado and in sheltered canyons of western Colorado. Except during spring runoff, the water table is generally at least 1 m or more below the ground surface. Elevations range from 1875 to 3100 m (6150-10,400 feet), and slope gradients are gentle (3-6%), except in a few tributary gulch sites which have steeper gradients. Soils are coarse sandy alluvium, often with buried cobble layers. Litter and bare soil account for most of the unvegetated ground surface cover.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: In Nevada, this association is described as likely succeeding to a conifer-dominated riparian type because of the presence of conifers in the canopy (Manning and Padgett 1992). Conifers are absent from the Colorado stand, which is likely an isolated relict of cooler, wetter climates of the early Holocene. If the groundwater that sustains the Colorado stand is eliminated, the stand would likely be converted to a mesic shrub community.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): Western Ecology Group
Element Description Edition Date: 11Apr2006
Element Description Author(s): J. Coles

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 Ecology Team [Colorado Natural Heritage Program Ecology Team]. 2001. A classification of the native vegetation of Colorado. Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University, Fort Collins.

  • 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., 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.

  • Cogan, D., J. E. Taylor, and K. Schulz. 2012. Vegetation inventory project: Great Basin National Park. Natural Resource Report NPS/MOJN/NRR--2012/568. National Park Service, Fort Collins, CO. 373 pp.

  • 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]

  • 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. 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.

  • 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., E. Van Wie, and M. Damm. 1997a. A classification of the riparian vegetation of the South Platte Basin (and part of Republican River Basin), Colorado. Submitted to Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency, Region VIII. Prepared by Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University, Fort Collins.

  • Manning, M. E., and W. G. Padgett. 1992. Riparian community type classification for the Humboldt and Toiyabe national forests, Nevada and eastern California. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Region Ecology and Classification Program. 274 pp.

  • Manning, M. E., and W. G. Padgett. 1995. Riparian community type classification for Humboldt and Toiyabe national forests, Nevada and eastern California. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Region. 306 pp.

  • Schulz, K. A., and M. E. Hall. 2011. Vegetation inventory project: Great Basin National Park. Unpublished report submitted to USDI National Park Service, Mojave Desert Inventory and Monitoring Network. NatureServe, Western Regional Office, Boulder, CO. 30 pp. plus Appendices A-H.

  • Von Loh, J., K. Landgraf, A. Evenden, T. Owens, S. Blauer, and M. Reid. 2007. Vegetation classification and mapping project report, Colorado National Monument. Natural Resource Report NPS/NCPN/NRTR--2007/061. National Park Service, Fort Collins, CO. 564 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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