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Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa / Cornus sericea Riparian Forest
Translated Name: Black Cottonwood / Red-osier Dogwood Riparian Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL000672
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association has been documented from Washington south to northern California and eastward to Idaho and Montana west of the Continental Divide, as well as central Montana. It occurs over a broad elevation range of 610 to 2135 m (2000-7000 feet) where Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa is the dominant cottonwood at elevations considered relatively low to mid gradient. This forest type occupies alluvial terraces of major rivers and streams, point bars, side bars, mid-channel bars, delta bars, an occasional lake or pond margin, and even creeps onto footslopes and lower subirrigated slopes of hilly or mountainous terrain. Stands occasionally occur on upper positions of moderate to steep toeslopes and colluvial fans at the base of avalanche chutes. Many of these sites are flooded in the spring and dry deeply by summer's end; capillary action keeps upper portions of the soil profile moist. Other sites are merely subirrigated. Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa dominates the overstory with average cover values ranging from approximately 30-90%. Populus angustifolia, Populus tremuloides, Betula papyrifera, and Salix amygdaloides are common subordinates. Several conifer species can be present with low cover (2-10%) in the upper canopy or as young saplings and are never consistently present. Conifers include Tsuga heterophylla, Pseudotsuga menziesii, Abies lasiocarpa, and Picea engelmannii. The shrub layer comprises at least 25% cover, with Cornus sericea diagnostic for the type and having anywhere from 1-90% cover; other shrub taxa with high constancy include Symphoricarpos spp., Rosa spp., Salix spp., Crataegus spp., Amelanchier alnifolia, Salix lutea, Acer glabrum, and Alnus incana. There are no graminoids exhibiting high constancy, though any one of a number of disturbance-associated exotics can manifest high coverages. Native grasses such as Calamagrostis canadensis, Glyceria striata, and Deschampsia cespitosa can be abundant in undisturbed stands, but this is increasingly less common. Maianthemum stellatum, Galium triflorum, Solidago canadensis, and Equisetum spp. are the only forbs that exhibit even relatively high constancy across the range of the type.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: This association is defined as a PNV vegetation type. If it were renamed as a dominance type, the species would include Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa and Betula papyrifera. In the concept for this association, stands containing both Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa and Populus tremuloides are defined as belonging to a Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa alliance, rather than a Populus tremuloides alliance. This is because Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa generally has a narrower ecological amplitude and better serves as a diagnostic species. More than half of the identified stands in Glacier National Park have less than 60% tree canopy cover, which means that a significant portion of this association qualifies physiognomically as woodland, rather than as forest as currently classified. There are strongly discordant criteria as to how much Cornus sericea cover should be represented (ranging from 1-25%) for a stand to be considered a member of this association; however, if Cornus is the dominant, or at least the most abundant of all shrubs present, it would fall into this type.

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 Northern Rocky Mountain Lowland-Foothill Riparian Forest
Alliance Northern Rocky Mountain Riparian Black Cottonwood Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL000582 Populus tremuloides / Cornus sericea Riparian Forest
CEGL000899 Pseudotsuga menziesii / Cornus sericea Riparian Woodland
CEGL002677 Picea engelmannii / Cornus sericea Swamp Woodland
CEGL002844 Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa / Cornus sericea / Carex obnupta Riparian Forest



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 Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa / Cornus sericea Forest Equivalent Certain IDCDC 2005
Montana Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa / Cornus sericea Forest Equivalent Certain MTNHP 2002
Oregon Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa / Cornus sericea Equivalent Certain Kagan et al. 2004


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa / Alnus incana - Cornus sericea ssp. sericea Association
Relationship: B - Broader
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 balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa/Cornus sericea Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Crawford, R. C., C. B. Chappell, C. C. Thompson, and F. J. Rocchio. 2009. Vegetation classification of Mount Rainier, North Cascades, and Olympic national parks. Plant association descriptions and identification keys: Appendices A-G. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/NCCN/NRTR--2009/D-586. National Park Service, Fort Collins, CO. 586 pp.
Related Concept Name: Populus balsamiferia ssp. trichocarpa / Cornus sericea Temporarily Flooded Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Crawford, R. C. 2003. Riparian vegetation classification of the Columbia Basin, Washington. Natural Heritage Report 2003-03. Washington Natural Heritage Program, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Olympia. 98 pp. plus appendices.
Related Concept Name: Populus trichocarpa / Cornus stolonifera Community Type
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Hall, J. B., and P. L. Hansen. 1997. A preliminary riparian habitat type classification system for the Bureau of Land Management districts in southern and eastern Idaho. Riparian and Wetland Research Program, School of Forestry, University of Montana. Idaho Bureau of Land Management, Technical Bulletin No. 97-11. 381 pp.
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: 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.
Related Concept Name: Populus trichocarpa / Cornus stolonifera Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Evans, S. 1989a. Riparian survey of Washington's Columbia Basin. Unpublished report prepared for The Nature Conservancy Washington Natural Heritage Program, Olympia, Washington.
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Kovalchik, B. L. 1993. Riparian plant associations on the national forests of eastern Washington - Draft version 1. USDA Forest Service, Colville National Forest, Colville, WA. 203 pp.
Related Concept Name: Black cottonwood - Engelmann spruce / mountain alder - red-osier dogwood community type
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Kovalchik, B. L. 1987. Riparian zone associations - Deschutes, Ochoco, Fremont, and Winema national forests. Technical Paper 279-87. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR. 171 pp.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES204.869 North Pacific Lowland Riparian Forest and Shrubland
CES304.768 Columbia Basin Foothill Riparian Woodland and Shrubland
CES306.801 Northern Rocky Mountain Avalanche Chute Shrubland
CES306.804 Northern Rocky Mountain Lower Montane Riparian Woodland and Shrubland


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3G4 (23Feb2004)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Association rank has been changed from G3? to G3G4 on the basis of this type's broad geographic distribution and the fact that within local landscapes, say western Montana, it is relatively common. A thorough crosswalk of this type across its range of distribution is needed; there may be local variations in composition and ecology that would bear recognition of separate associations. Threats to this type include floodplain harvesting of cottonwood and over-browsing from livestock and wildlife, which both find Cornus sericea extremely palatable to the point of extirpating it from local floodplain landscapes. The more serious over-browsing consequences are reduced diversity, the introduction of weedy species, and the increase in unpalatable native taxa such as Symphoricarpos occidentalis, Ribes spp., and Urtica dioica.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: CA, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY
Canadian Province Distribution: AB
Global Distribution: Canada, United States
Global Range: This association has been documented from Washington south to northern California and eastward to Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. It also occurs north along the Front Range of Montana into southern Alberta, Canada.

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: High Lava Plains Section
Section Code: 342H Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Columbia Basin Section
Section Code: 342I 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: Confident or certain
Section Name: Eastern Cascades Section
Section Code: M242C Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Division Name: Mediterranean Regime Mountains
Province Name: Sierran Steppe - Mixed Forest - Coniferous Forest - Alpine Meadow Province
Province Code: M261 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Modoc Plateau Section
Section Code: M261G Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
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
Section Name: Overthrust Mountains Section
Section Code: M331D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
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: 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: Okanogan Highlands Section
Section Code: M333A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Flathead Valley Section
Section Code: M333B Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
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: Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa dominates the overstory with cover values ranging from approximately 30-90%. Populus angustifolia, Populus tremuloides, Betula papyrifera, and Salix amygdaloides are common subordinates. Several conifer species can be present with low cover (2-10%) in the upper canopy or as young saplings and are never consistently present. Conifers include Tsuga heterophylla, Abies lasiocarpa, Pseudotsuga menziesii, and Picea engelmannii. The shrub layer comprises at least 10% cover, with Cornus sericea diagnostic for the type and having anywhere from 1-90% cover; other shrub taxa with high constancy include Symphoricarpos spp., Ribes spp., Rosa spp., Salix spp., Crataegus spp., Amelanchier alnifolia, Salix lutea, and Alnus incana. There are no graminoids exhibiting high constancy, though any one of a number of disturbance-associated exotics can manifest high coverages. Native grasses such as Calamagrostis canadensis, Calamagrostis rubescens, Carex geyeri, Glyceria striata, and Deschampsia cespitosa can be abundant in undisturbed stands, but this is increasingly less common. Maianthemum stellatum, Galium triflorum, Solidago canadensis, and Equisetum spp. are the only forbs that exhibit even relatively high constancy across the range of the type.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Populus tremuloides G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Cornus sericea G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Symphoricarpos albus G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Taraxacum officinale G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Equisetum arvense G3 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 
Calamagrostis canadensis G3 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Elymus glaucus G3 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Poa pratensis G3 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: This association has been documented from Washington south to northern California and eastward to Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. It occurs over a broad elevational range of 610 to 2135 m (2000-7000 feet) where Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa is the dominant cottonwood. This forest type occupies alluvial terraces of major rivers and streams, point bars, side bars, mid-channel bars, delta bars, an occasional lake or pond margin, and even creeps onto footslopes and lower subirrigated slopes of hilly or mountainous terrain. Stands occasionally occur on upper positions of moderate to steep toeslopes and colluvial fans at the base of avalanche chutes or erosional gullies, where they are subject to avalanche or flash-flood disturbance. Many of these sites are flooded in the spring and dry deeply by summer's end; capillary action keeps upper portions of the soil profile moist. Other sites are merely subirrigated. Adjacent wetter sites are dominated by a suite of wetland Salix spp., Alnus incana, wetland-associated Carex spp. often including Carex utriculata, Carex aquatilis and Carex buxbaumii, or Typha latifolia-dominated communities. Adjacent drier sites are dominated by Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa or Populus tremuloides types or any of a number of conifer-dominated types.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: This is a successional community that colonizes moist, newly deposited alluvium exposed to full sunlight; in the absence of fluvial disturbance it is capable of developing into conifer-dominated communities belonging to alliances as diverse as Tsuga heterophylla, Pseudotsuga menziesii, or Picea spp. if sites are no longer subject to flooding or avalanche disturbance. This association is also found on frequently avalanched sites, with subirrigation during the summer from snowmelt. In these situations the trees may be dwarfed, broken, bent or otherwise damaged by avalanche impacts, resulting in the canopy being a mix of both Populus and Cornus or other shrubs.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): S.V. Cooper
Element Description Edition Date: 13Jul2004
Element Description Author(s): S.V. Cooper and G. Kittel
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 09Jan2000
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): S.V. Cooper

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


References
  • ANHIC [Alberta Natural Heritage Information Centre]. 2018. Community database files. Alberta Natural Heritage Information Centre, Parks and Protected Areas Division, Alberta Community Development, Edmonton.

  • 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.

  • Caicco, S. 1988. Idaho Natural Heritage Program plant association classification. Idaho Natural Heritage Program, Boise, ID. Mimeograph copy.

  • 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.

  • Crawford, R. C. 2003. Riparian vegetation classification of the Columbia Basin, Washington. Natural Heritage Report 2003-03. Washington Natural Heritage Program, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Olympia. 98 pp. plus appendices.

  • Crawford, R. C., C. B. Chappell, C. C. Thompson, and F. J. Rocchio. 2009. Vegetation classification of Mount Rainier, North Cascades, and Olympic national parks. Plant association descriptions and identification keys: Appendices A-G. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/NCCN/NRTR--2009/D-586. National Park Service, Fort Collins, CO. 586 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]

  • Evans, S. 1989a. Riparian survey of Washington's Columbia Basin. Unpublished report prepared for The Nature Conservancy Washington Natural Heritage Program, Olympia, Washington.

  • Hall, J. B., and P. L. Hansen. 1997. A preliminary riparian habitat type classification system for the Bureau of Land Management districts in southern and eastern Idaho. Riparian and Wetland Research Program, School of Forestry, University of Montana. Idaho Bureau of Land Management, Technical Bulletin No. 97-11. 381 pp.

  • 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., K. Boggs, and R. Pfister. 1991. Classification and management of riparian and wetland sites in Montana. Unpublished draft version prepared for Montana Riparian Association, Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station, School of Forestry, University of Montana, Missoula. 478 pp.

  • 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]. 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).

  • 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.

  • Kovalchik, B. L. 1987. Riparian zone associations - Deschutes, Ochoco, Fremont, and Winema national forests. Technical Paper 279-87. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR. 171 pp.

  • Kovalchik, B. L. 1993. Riparian plant associations on the national forests of eastern Washington - Draft version 1. USDA Forest Service, Colville National Forest, Colville, WA. 203 pp.

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

  • Manning, M. E., and W. G. Padgett. 1991. Riparian community type classification for the Humboldt and Toiyabe national forests, Nevada and eastern California. Unpublished draft report prepared for USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Region Ecology and Classification Program, Ogden, UT. 490 pp.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Walford, G., G. Jones, W. Fertig, S. Mellman-Brown, and K. Houston. 2001. Riparian and wetland plant community types of the Shoshone National Forest. General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-85. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fort Collins, CO. 122 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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