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Salix geyeriana / Mesic Forbs Wet Shrubland
Translated Name: Geyer's Willow / Mesic Forbs Wet Shrubland
Unique Identifier: CEGL002666
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: The association is widely distributed, but infrequently sampled, in the northern central and southern Rocky Mountains at mid to high elevations of about 1122 to over 3019 m (3680-9900 feet). This association usually occurs in wide, low-gradient valley bottoms with sinuous streams or large rivers, but it is also known from narrower, slightly steeper valleys of headwater creeks. Sites supporting this association include terraces and streambanks (at or much higher than mean high water), as well as the drier margins of wetland floodplains. Soils are highly stratified alluvium and range from well-drained sandy loams and clay loams, with large amounts of coarse fragments intermixed, to highly organic and poorly drained, silty clay loams with mottling. The association is clearly dominated by clumps of 1.5- to 2.5-m tall Salix geyeriana (usually 60-90% cover) with Salix boothii sometimes also present with low to moderate cover. Other willows, such as Salix drummondiana, low shrubs (especially Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda, Ericameria parryi, Ribes inerme, Ribes lacustre, and/or Rosa woodsii), and trees occasionally occur with low to moderate cover in stands. There is a diverse mixture of mesic forbs (with cover greater than that of mesic graminoids) in the understory, forming multiple height layers. No single species has consistently high cover or constancy. The most common and widespread forbs are Aconitum columbianum, Equisetum arvense, Fragaria virginiana, Geranium spp., Geum macrophyllum, Maianthemum stellatum, Pedicularis groenlandica, Swertia perennis, and Symphyotrichum foliaceum. Other tall forb species, sometimes with moderate cover but lower constancy, include Angelica arguta, Heracleum maximum, Mertensia spp., Polemonium occidentale, Potentilla gracilis, Thalictrum spp., and Urtica dioica. The graminoid layer is poorly developed, tending to be dominated by exotic species with low cover (e.g., Agrostis gigantea, Agrostis stolonifera, Poa pratensis, and Phleum pratense), but also includes native graminoids (most commonly Bromus ciliatus, Calamagrostis canadensis, Carex microptera, Carex utriculata, or Juncus arcticus ssp. littoralis).



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: Classification of this association is based on over 20 plots from throughout the range of the association (Youngblood et al. 1985a, Padgett et al. 1989, Kittel et al. 1999b, Jankovsky-Jones et al. 2001, Walford et al. 2001, IDCDC 2002). This association is sometimes lumped within broader associations when dominance by Salix geyeriana is not obvious. A general Salix geyeriana association described in eastern Idaho may include stands with mesic forb understories (Hansen and Hall 2002). In contrast, other studies may have split this association into finer types that are included here; some of these may represent grazing-induced variants of this association. Several other associations, such as Salix boothii / Mesic Forbs Wet Shrubland (CEGL001180), may floristically resemble this association. However, when undisturbed, this association is defined by obvious Salix geyeriana dominance with an understory dominated by mixed native mesic forbs, none of which has consistently high cover and constancy (Youngblood et al. 1985a, Padgett et al. 1989).

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 Western Montane-Subalpine Riparian & Seep Shrubland
Alliance Western Montane Tall Willow Wet Shrubland

This is the revised vegetation hierarchy. For more information see Classification Sources and usnvc.org.

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL001180 Salix boothii / Mesic Forbs Wet Shrubland
CEGL001223 Salix geyeriana - Salix monticola / Mesic Forbs Wet Shrubland



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 Salix geyeriana / Mesic Forbs Shrubland Equivalent Certain IDCDC 2005


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Salix spp. / Mesic Forb
Relationship: B - Broader
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: Salix geyeriana / Fragaria virginiana Habitat Type
Relationship: F - Finer
Reference: Mattson, D. J. 1984. Classification and environmental relationships of wetland vegetation in central Yellowstone National Park. Unpublished thesis, University of Idaho, Moscow. 409 pp.
Related Concept Name: Salix geyeriana / Geum macrophyllum Community Type
Relationship: F - Finer
Reference: Tuhy, J. S. 1981. Stream bottom community classification for the Sawtooth Valley, Idaho. Unpublished thesis, University of Idaho, Moscow. 230 pp.
Related Concept Name: Salix geyeriana / Mesic Forb Shrubland
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]
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: Salix geyeriana / Mesic Forbs Community Type
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Padgett, W. G., A. P. Youngblood, and A. H. Winward. 1989. Riparian community type classification of Utah and southeastern Idaho. Research Paper R4-ECOL-89-0. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Ogden, UT.
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: Salix geyeriana/Mesic forb
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: Cold Willow/Mesic Forb Association
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Weixelman, D. A., D. C. Zamudio, and K. A. Zamudio. 1996. Central Nevada riparian field guide. USDA Forest Service Technical Report R4-ECOL-96-01. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Region.
Related Concept Name: Geyer willow/Mesic Forbs (Salix geyeriana/Mesic Forbs) 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
CES306.832 Rocky Mountain Subalpine-Montane Riparian Shrubland


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3 (22Oct2002)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: This association is a widely distributed and well-documented association known mainly from mid to high elevations of the northern Rockies (especially central and eastern Idaho) and central Rockies (especially Colorado). This association usually occurs on streambanks and terraces in wide, low-gradient valley bottoms of variable size streams, but it may also occur on the drier margins of floodplains. Habitats and soils supporting this association are variable but are relatively common across the landscape. Despite the association's broad geographic range, wide distribution of potential habitat, and relatively low environmental specificity, stands of this type are infrequently observed. Large stands in good to excellent ecological condition, with no exotic grasses or forbs in the understory, are rare. This association is known from only about 60-100 occurrences. Because this is a broadly defined association by some researchers, degraded stands with exotic species in the understory have been included in classification results. This makes estimation of the exact number of occurrences difficult. Livestock overgrazing, hydrologic alterations, road building, and recreational use are documented threats to the association. Stands are apparently under-represented in protected areas.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: CO, ID, MT, OR, UT, WY
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This association is known mainly from mid to high elevations of the northern, central and southern Rocky Mountains from Montana and Idaho to Colorado extending west into the high plateaus of Utah. Very similar associations, if determined synonymous, may extend the range to Nevada and Oregon (Weixelman et al. 1996, Crowe and Clausnitzer 1997).

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Dry Domain
Division Name: Tropical/Subtropical Steppe Division
Province Name: Colorado Plateau Semi-Desert Province
Province Code: 313 Occurrence Status: Possible
Section Name: Navajo Canyonlands Section
Section Code: 313B Occurrence Status: Possible
Division Name: Temperate Desert Division
Province Name: Intermountain Semi-Desert Province
Province Code: 342 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Snake River Basalts Section
Section Code: 342D 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: Yellowstone Highlands Section
Section Code: M331A Occurrence Status: Possible
Section Name: Bighorn Mountains Section
Section Code: M331B Occurrence Status: Possible
Section Name: Overthrust Mountains Section
Section Code: M331D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: South-Central Highlands Section
Section Code: M331G 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
Section Name: Wind River Mountain Section
Section Code: M331J Occurrence Status: Possible
Province Name: Middle Rocky Mountain Steppe - Coniferous Forest - Alpine Meadow Province
Province Code: M332 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Rocky Mountain Front Section
Section Code: M332C Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Beaverhead Mountains Section
Section Code: M332E Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Challis Volcanics Section
Section Code: M332F 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: Flathead Valley Section
Section Code: M333B Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: The association is clearly dominated by clumps of 1.5- to 2.5-m tall Salix geyeriana (usually 60-90% cover) with Salix boothii sometimes also present (with low to moderate cover). Other tall willows, such as Salix drummondiana, low shrubs (especially Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda, Ericameria parryi, Ribes inerme, Ribes lacustre, and/or Rosa woodsii), and trees occasionally occur with low to moderate cover in stands. There is a diverse mixture of mesic forbs (with cover greater than that of mesic graminoids) in the understory, forming multiple height layers. No single species has consistently high cover or constancy. The most common and widespread forbs are Aconitum columbianum, Equisetum arvense, Fragaria virginiana, Geranium spp., Geum macrophyllum, Maianthemum stellatum, Pedicularis groenlandica, Swertia perennis, and Symphyotrichum foliaceum. Other tall forb species, sometimes with moderate cover but lower constancy, include Angelica arguta, Heracleum maximum, Mertensia spp., Polemonium occidentale, Potentilla gracilis, Rumex salicifolius, Thalictrum spp., Urtica dioica, and Vicia americana. The graminoid layer is poorly developed, tending to be dominated by exotic species with low cover (e.g., Agrostis gigantea, Agrostis stolonifera, Poa pratensis, and Phleum pratense), but also includes native graminoids (most commonly Bromus ciliatus, Calamagrostis canadensis, Carex microptera, Carex utriculata, or Juncus arcticus ssp. littoralis (= Juncus balticus)). Introduced forbs include Cardaria chalepensis, Cirsium arvense, Descurainia sophia, Lepidium campestre, and Taraxacum officinale.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Salix boothii G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Salix geyeriana G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 
Rosa woodsii G3 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling  
 
 
Ribes inerme G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling  
 
 
Ribes lacustre G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda G3 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Aconitum columbianum G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Cardaria draba ssp. chalapensis G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Cirsium arvense G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Descurainia sophia G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Fragaria virginiana G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Geum macrophyllum G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Lepidium campestre G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Maianthemum stellatum G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Taraxacum officinale G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Equisetum arvense G3 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 
Agrostis gigantea G3 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Agrostis stolonifera G3 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Bromus ciliatus G3 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex microptera G3 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Juncus balticus var. littoralis G3 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Phleum pratense G3 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Poa pratensis G3 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: The association is widely distributed, but infrequently sampled, in the northern central and southern Rocky Mountains at mid to high elevations of about 1122 to over 3019 m (3680-9900 feet). This association usually occurs in wide, low-gradient valley bottoms with sinuous streams or large rivers, but it is also known from narrower, slightly steeper valleys of headwater creeks. Sites supporting this association include terraces and streambanks (at or much higher than mean high water), as well as the drier margins of wetland floodplains. Soils are highly stratified alluvium and range from well-drained sandy loams and clay loams, with large amounts of coarse fragments intermixed, to highly organic and poorly drained, silty clay loams with mottling (Padgett et al. 1989, Kittel et al. 1999b, Carsey et al. 2003a).


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: The association has many corridors between willow clumps that allow livestock access and increase the risk of overgrazing (Hansen and Hall 2002). Overgrazing of Salix geyeriana causes lost vigor, decreased stand density, and eventual elimination. The mesic forb understory will become dominated by Poa pratensis or other weedy species that increase with grazing (Youngblood et al. 1985a, Padgett et al. 1989, Walford et al. 2001, Hansen and Hall 2002). Livestock grazing, as well as human developments (e.g., roads, recreation sites, etc.), compact the Mollisol soils of stands and are not usually compatible (especially under wet conditions). Moreover, when the association converts to Poa pratensis dominance, streambank stability decreases and cattle trampling causes bank sloughing, creek overwidening, and water table alterations (Padgett et al. 1989, Hansen and Hall 2002). Salix geyeriana may be less tolerant of browsing pressure than Salix boothii, thus, moderate grazing may move the association toward Salix boothii-dominated associations. Similarly, understory shrub and forb composition may be the result of disturbances (e.g., some species, such as Rosa woodsii and some mesic forbs, increase under livestock grazing) (Weixelman et al. 1996, Hansen and Hall 2002). The removal of season-long grazing may help this association return to a native forb-dominated undergrowth or dominance by Calamagrostis canadensis (Kittel et al. 1999b).


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): C. Murphy
Element Description Edition Date: 27Feb2006
Element Description Author(s): C. Murphy, G. Kittel and K.A. Schulz
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
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