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Populus tremuloides / Tall Forbs Forest
Translated Name: Quaking Aspen / Tall Forbs Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL000618
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This Populus tremuloides forest is one of the most common and abundant aspen forest types in the Rocky Mountains. It occurs throughout mountainous areas and occurs on any aspect but tends to occur more often on north-facing slopes. It can be found on steep moist hillsides and often along narrow riparian areas. The broad-leaved deciduous tree canopy in dominated by Populus tremuloides. Low shrubs are virtually absent from this type. The undergrowth is characterized by a thick carpet of tall forbs (<1 m) with no one species dominant. Tall forbs include Agastache urticifolia, Delphinium x occidentale, Eucephalus engelmannii, Hackelia floribunda, Heracleum maximum, Mertensia arizonica, Osmorhiza occidentalis, Senecio serra, and Valeriana occidentalis. Other herbaceous species are present, including graminoid species. Forb species in streambank stands can be different from hillside stands.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 1 - Forest & Woodland
Subclass 1.B - Temperate & Boreal Forest & Woodland
Formation 1.B.2 - Cool Temperate Forest & Woodland
Division 1.B.2.Nb - Rocky Mountain Forest & Woodland
Macrogroup Rocky Mountain Subalpine-High Montane Forest
Group Rocky Mountain Subalpine-Montane Aspen Forest & Woodland
Alliance Rocky Mountain Aspen Forest & Woodland

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL000578 Populus tremuloides / Carex siccata Forest
CEGL000586 Populus tremuloides / Heracleum sphondylium Forest
CEGL000591 Populus tremuloides / Ligusticum filicinum Forest
CEGL000595 Populus tremuloides / Heracleum maximum Forest
CEGL000603 Populus tremuloides / Rudbeckia occidentalis Forest
CEGL000615 Populus tremuloides / Symphoricarpos oreophilus / Tall Forbs Forest



Related Concepts from Other Classifications

Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Populus tremuloides / Elymus glaucus Plant Association
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Powell, D. C. 1988a. Aspen community types of the Pike and San Isabel national forests in south-central Colorado. Report R2-ECOL-88-01. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region, Denver, CO. 254 pp.
Related Concept Name: Populus tremuloides / Heracleum lanatum Community Type
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Mueggler, W. F., and R. B. Campbell, Jr. 1982. Aspen community types on the Caribou and Targhee national forests in southeastern Idaho. Research Paper INT-294. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Ogden, UT. 32 pp.
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Youngblood, A. P., and W. F. Mueggler. 1981. Aspen community types on the Bridger-Teton National Forest in western Wyoming. Research Paper INT-272. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Ogden, UT. 34 pp.
Related Concept Name: Populus tremuloides / Ligusticum filicinum Community Type
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Youngblood, A. P., and W. F. Mueggler. 1981. Aspen community types on the Bridger-Teton National Forest in western Wyoming. Research Paper INT-272. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Ogden, UT. 34 pp.
Related Concept Name: Populus tremuloides / Rudbeckia occidentalis Community Type
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Mueggler, W. F., and R. B. Campbell, Jr. 1982. Aspen community types on the Caribou and Targhee national forests in southeastern Idaho. Research Paper INT-294. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Ogden, UT. 32 pp.
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Youngblood, A. P., and W. F. Mueggler. 1981. Aspen community types on the Bridger-Teton National Forest in western Wyoming. Research Paper INT-272. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Ogden, UT. 34 pp.
Related Concept Name: Populus tremuloides / Senecio serra Community Type
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Mueggler, W. F., and R. B. Campbell, Jr. 1982. Aspen community types on the Caribou and Targhee national forests in southeastern Idaho. Research Paper INT-294. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Ogden, UT. 32 pp.
Related Concept Name: Populus tremuloides / Tall Forb Community Type
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Mueggler, W. F. 1988. Aspen community types of the Intermountain Region. General Technical Report INT-250. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Ogden, UT. 135 pp.
Related Concept Name: Populus tremuloides / Tall Forb 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/Tall 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: Quaking Aspen / Tall Forbs Forest (Populus tremuloides / Tall Forbs Forest)
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Bell, J., D. Cogan, J. Erixson, and J. Von Loh. 2009. Vegetation inventory project report, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/UCBN/NRTR-2009/277. National Park Service, Fort Collins, CO. 358 pp.
Related Concept Name: Quaking aspen/tall forb (Populus tremuloides/Tall 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.
Related Concept Name: Quaking aspen/tall forb (Populus tremuloides/tall forb) Plant Association
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
CES306.813 Rocky Mountain Aspen Forest and Woodland


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G5 (01Feb1996)
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: CO, ID, MT, NV, UT, WY
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This deciduous forest association occurs in the southern and central Rocky Mountains and plateaus and mountains of the Colorado Plateau and extends into the Jarbridge and Independence mountains of northeastern Nevada and into southwestern Montana.

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: Powder River Basin Section
Section Code: 331G 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
Section Name: Northeastern Great Basin Section
Section Code: 341G Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
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: Snake River Basalts Section
Section Code: 342D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Bear Lake Section
Section Code: 342E 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: Confident or certain
Section Name: Overthrust Mountains Section
Section Code: M331D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Uinta Mountains Section
Section Code: M331E 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
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: Belt Mountains Section
Section Code: M332D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Beaverhead Mountains Section
Section Code: M332E 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
Section Name: Utah High Plateaus and Mountains Section
Section Code: M341C Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: The vegetation of this type is structurally simple but may be compositionally complex. The canopy is dominated by Populus tremuloides, with occasional small amounts of conifer species present (particularly Abies lasiocarpa and Picea engelmannii). Shrubs are poorly represented, but Juniperus communis, Ribes sp., Sambucus racemosa, and Symphoricarpos oreophilus may occur with low cover. The herbaceous layer is characterized by the presence of several species of mesic tall forbs, accompanied by a mixture of low forbs and graminoids. The unifying characteristic of this type is the presence and usual prominence of one or more members of the tall-forb group of species, the absence of distinct shrub layers, and a lack of substantial amounts of conifers in the tree layer. Members of the tall-forb guild are Agastache urticifolia, Delphinium x occidentale, Eucephalus engelmannii (= Aster engelmannii), Hackelia floribunda, Heracleum maximum (= Heracleum lanatum), Mertensia arizonica, Osmorhiza occidentalis, Senecio serra, and Valeriana occidentalis (Mueggler 1988). No one member of this group is consistently dominant or even present, but as a group they form the dominant cover of the herbaceous layer, often exceeding 10%. Additional low forbs may include Achillea millefolium var. occidentalis (= Achillea lanulosa), Galium boreale, Galium triflorum, Geranium richardsonii, Geranium viscosissimum, Helianthella quinquenervis, Hydrophyllum fendleri, Ligusticum filicinum, Maianthemum stellatum, Streptopus amplexifolius, Thalictrum fendleri, Urtica dioica, and Viola spp. Common graminoids include Bromus spp., Calamagrostis canadensis, Carex spp., Elymus glaucus, and Poa pratensis. At higher elevations, with cooler conditions, Powell (1988a) describes two stands of this community type with Elymus glaucus dominating, which otherwise are floristically the same as described here. Many of the stands of this type are species-rich, and cover of the herbaceous understory is very high, usually over 200%.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Populus tremuloides G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Agastache urticifolia G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Delphinium x occidentale G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Eucephalus engelmannii G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Hackelia floribunda G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Heracleum maximum G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Mertensia arizonica G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Osmorhiza occidentalis G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Senecio serra G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Valeriana occidentalis G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This deciduous forest association occurs in the southern and central Rocky Mountains and plateaus and mountains of the Colorado Plateau and extends into the Jarbridge and Independence mountains of northeastern Nevada and into southwestern Montana. Stands occupy flat to gently sloping, moist to wet sites, often adjacent to streams. Slope positions are topographically low-lying, such as toeslopes or lower sidehills, flats, valley bottoms, and stream terraces. It is generally found on concave landforms where moisture can accumulate, rarely on convex topography. Aspect is variable, but many easterly or northerly stands are reported in the literature. Elevations are upper montane to lower subalpine and range from about 2100-3080 m (7000-10,000 feet), with most examples reported above 2745 m (9000 feet). Soils underlying this community type are derived from alluvial deposition of a variety of parent materials, but rarely is it found on volcanic soils (Mueggler 1988). The soils are deep, well-drained loams, sandy loams to clay loams in texture (Boyce 1977, Hess and Wasser 1982). With increasing depth, coarse and rock fragments increase in proportion. Hess and Wasser (1982) report very thin litter layers, and Boyce (1977) reports a low percentage of organic matter in the A horizon. Litter and duff comprise the majority of the unvegetated ground cover.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: Successionally, this community type appears to be stable and, therefore, near climax (Mueggler 1988, Powell 1988a). Aspen is regenerating in some of the stands reported, while conifer regeneration is very low. The primary source of disturbance for this community is livestock grazing, which can have severe impacts. Species diversity will decrease, and palatable tall forbs may be eliminated with a shift in species composition to dominance by unpalatable forbs, such as Lathyrus and Rudbeckia spp. Extreme cases of abusive grazing, by either sheep or cattle, may result in a species-poor community, dominated by annuals (Mueggler 1988). Livestock may also significantly impact the growth of aspen shoots, impeding regeneration (Johnston and Hendzel 1985). Additional disturbance may be caused by timbering operations, which will adversely impact the wet soils of this type.

Fire is important to the initiation of these stands. The layer of tall forbs may help to carry fires, particularly during the dry fall season. Light fires will stimulate aspen suckering but may also kill the canopy trees.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): M.S. Reid
Element Description Edition Date: 10Jan2006
Element Description Author(s): M.S. Reid, G. Kittel and K.A. Schulz
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 01Apr1991
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): M.S. Reid

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


References
  • Bell, J., D. Cogan, J. Erixson, and J. Von Loh. 2009. Vegetation inventory project report, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/UCBN/NRTR-2009/277. National Park Service, Fort Collins, CO. 358 pp.

  • 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.

  • Boyce, D. A. 1977. Vegetation of the South Fork of the White River Valley, Colorado. Unpublished dissertation, University of Colorado, Boulder. 312 pp.

  • Bunin, J. E. 1975a. Aspen forests of the west slope of the Park Range, north-central Colorado. Unpublished paper presented at the 1975 AIBS/ESA Meetings, 17-22 August 1975, Oregon State University, Corvallis. 22 pp.

  • Bunin, J. E. 1975c. The vegetation of the west slope of the Park Range, Colorado. Unpublished dissertation, University of Colorado, Boulder. 235 pp.

  • 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., 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.

  • Coles, J., A. Tendick, J. Von Loh, G. Bradshaw, G. Manis, A. Wight, G. Wakefield, and A. Evenden. 2010. Vegetation classification and mapping project report, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/NCPN/NRTR--2010/361. National Park Service, Fort Collins, CO.

  • Friesen, B. A., S. Blauer, K. Landgraf, J. Von Loh, J. Coles, K. Schulz, A. Tendick, A. Wight, G. Wakefield, and A. Evenden. 2010. Vegetation classification and mapping project report, Fossil Butte National Monument. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/NCPN/NRTR--2010/319. National Park Service, Fort Collins, CO. 552 pp. [http://biology.usgs.gov/npsveg/fobu/foburpt.pdf]

  • Hess, K., and C. H. Wasser. 1982. Grassland, shrubland, and forest habitat types of the White River-Arapaho National Forest. Unpublished final report 53-82 FT-1-19. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, CO. 335 pp.

  • Hoffman, G. R., and R. R. Alexander. 1980. Forest vegetation of the Routt National Forest in northwestern Colorado: A habitat type classification. General Technical Report RM-221. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, CO. 41 pp.

  • Hoffman, G. R., and R. R. Alexander. 1983. Forest vegetation of the White River National Forest in western Colorado: A habitat type classification. Research Paper RM-249. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, CO. 36 pp.

  • Johnston, B. C., and L. Hendzel. 1985. Examples of aspen treatment, succession and management in western Colorado. USDA Forest Service, Range Wildlife Fisheries and Ecology. Denver, CO. 164 pp.

  • Keammerer, W. R., and R. E. Stoecker. 1980. Vegetation and wildlife studies for the Mount Emmons project. Unpublished report prepared for AMAX Environmental Services, Inc., by Stoecker-Keammerer and Associates, Ecological Consultants, Boulder, CO. 3 volumes.

  • 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.

  • Kittel, G., R. Rondeau, N. Lederer, and D. Randolph. 1994. A classification of the riparian vegetation of the White and Colorado River basins, Colorado. Final report submitted to Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency. Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Boulder. 166 pp.

  • Lewis, M. E. 1975a. Plant communities of the Jarbidge Mountain Complex, Humboldt National Forest. Unpublished report compiled for USDA Forest Service, Region IV, Ogden, UT. 22 pp.

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

  • MTNHP [Montana Natural Heritage Program]. No date. Unpublished data on file. Montana Natural Heritage Program, Helena, MT.

  • Marr, J. W., D. Buckner, and C. Mutel. 1973a. Ecological analyses of potential shale oil products pipeline corridors in Colorado and Utah. Unpublished report prepared for Colony Development Operation, Atlantic Richfield Company, Denver, by Thorne Ecological Institute and University of Colorado, Boulder. 96 pp. plus appendices.

  • Mueggler, W. F. 1988. Aspen community types of the Intermountain Region. General Technical Report INT-250. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Ogden, UT. 135 pp.

  • Mueggler, W. F., and R. B. Campbell, Jr. 1982. Aspen community types on the Caribou and Targhee national forests in southeastern Idaho. Research Paper INT-294. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Ogden, UT. 32 pp.

  • Mueggler, W. F., and R. B. Campbell, Jr. 1986. Aspen community types of Utah. Research Paper INT-362. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Ogden, UT.

  • Powell, D. C. 1988a. Aspen community types of the Pike and San Isabel national forests in south-central Colorado. Report R2-ECOL-88-01. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region, Denver, CO. 254 pp.

  • Richard, C., G. Kittel, and S. Kettler. 1996. A classification of the riparian vegetation of the San Juan National Forest. Draft 1 report. Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University, Fort Collins.

  • Tendick, A., J. Coles, P. Williams, G. Bradshaw, G. Manis, A. Wight, G. Wakefield, and A. Evenden. 2010. Vegetation classification and mapping project report, Curecanti National Recreation Area. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/NCPN/NRTR--2010/408. National Park Service, Fort Collins, CO. 797 pp.

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

  • Youngblood, A. P., and W. F. Mueggler. 1981. Aspen community types on the Bridger-Teton National Forest in western Wyoming. Research Paper INT-272. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Ogden, UT. 34 pp.


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