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Pseudotsuga menziesii / Betula occidentalis Riparian Woodland
Translated Name: Douglas-fir / Water Birch Riparian Woodland
Unique Identifier: CEGL002639
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This woodland association occurs in cool, narrow foothill canyons of the Colorado Front Range between 2015 and 2500 m (6600-8080 feet) elevation in the upper Arkansas and South Platte river basins and in Rio Grande National Forest. It has also been documented from box canyons in southeastern Utah at 1883 m (6175 feet) and may also occur in Nevada. Vegetation is limited to a narrow band along small, steep perennial streams in fairly shallow (165-343 cm [65-135 inches]), loamy alluvial soils, often with a high cover of surface rock. Pseudotsuga menziesii (15-50% cover) trees up to 35 m tall and Betula occidentalis (20-40% cover) are key indicators even if other tree and shrub species are present. Other tree species may include Acer negundo, Salix amygdaloides, Populus angustifolia, Populus tremuloides, Juniperus scopulorum, Pinus ponderosa, Abies concolor, Abies lasiocarpa, or Picea pungens. The shrub canopy may be thick and diverse and include Alnus incana, Acer glabrum, Ericameria nauseosa, Quercus gambelii, Rhus trilobata, Salix bebbiana, Salix ligulifolia, Salix monticola, Salix irrorata, Rosa woodsii, Jamesia americana, and Cornus sericea. The herbaceous layer is generally sparse due to heavy shade; more abundant species include Maianthemum stellatum, Eurybia glauca, Equisetum arvense, Equisetum hyemale, Carex disperma, and Melilotus officinalis.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low
Classification Comments: Classification is based on 8 quantitative plots from Colorado and Utah. Closely related communities occur in the Snake Range of Nevada.

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 Blue Spruce 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
CEGL002637 Picea pungens / Betula occidentalis Riparian Woodland
CEGL002754 Pseudotsuga menziesii / Acer negundo Riparian Woodland



Related Concepts from Other Classifications

Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Pseudotsuga menziesii / 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: Pseudotsuga menziesii / Betula occidentalis Woodland
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: Pseudotsuga menziesii/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: Conifer / Betula occidentalis Community Type
Relationship: B - Broader
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: Douglas-fir/river birch (Pseudotsuga menziesii/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
CES306.821 Rocky Mountain Lower Montane-Foothill Riparian Woodland and Shrubland
CES306.825 Southern Rocky Mountain Mesic Montane Mixed Conifer Forest and Woodland


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3? (03Nov2005)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: This woodland association is documented from 11 occurrences on the eastern slope of the Colorado Rockies (and one on the western slope). Less than 20 occurrences are expected to occur. One site has been documented in Utah and it may occur in Nevada. It appears to be limited to perennial streams where cold-air drainage and perennial water provide a cool, moist environment to support a diverse shrub canopy. Severe flooding must be infrequent enough to allow Pseudotsuga menziesii to achieve dominance. This plant association is highly threatened by development, road maintenance and improvements, and heavy recreational use. The question mark in the rank indicates that the community is suspected to be more abundant, but additional locations have not been documented.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: CO, NVpotentially occurs, OR, UT
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: Documented locations occur across the eastern half of the Colorado Rocky Mountains ecoregion in Colorado and in sheltered canyons of the Colorado Plateau in southeastern Utah. It may also occur in Nevada.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Dry Domain
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: Southern Parks and Ranges Section
Section Code: M331F Occurrence Status: Predicted or probable
Section Name: Northern Parks and Ranges Section
Section Code: M331I Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: Pseudotsuga menziesii (15-50% cover) trees up to 35 m tall and Betula occidentalis (20-40% cover) are key indicators even if other tree and shrub species are present. Other tree species may include Acer negundo, Salix amygdaloides, Populus angustifolia, Populus tremuloides, Juniperus scopulorum, Pinus ponderosa, Abies concolor, Abies lasiocarpa, or Picea pungens. The shrub canopy may be thick and diverse and include Alnus incana, Acer glabrum, Ericameria nauseosa, Quercus gambelii, Rhus trilobata, Salix bebbiana, Salix ligulifolia (= Salix eriocephala var. ligulifolia), Salix monticola, Salix irrorata, Rosa woodsii, Jamesia americana, and Cornus sericea. The herbaceous layer is generally sparse due to heavy shade; more abundant species include Maianthemum stellatum, Eurybia glauca (= Aster glaucodes), Equisetum arvense, Equisetum hyemale, Carex disperma, and Melilotus officinalis.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Populus angustifolia G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Tamarix chinensis G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy      
 
 
Pseudotsuga menziesii G3 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Salix amygdaloides G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree subcanopy  
 
 
Betula occidentalis G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 
Cornus sericea G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 
Quercus gambelii G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Salix exigua G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: This woodland association occurs in cool, narrow foothill canyons of the Colorado Front Range between 2015 and 2500 m (6600-8080 feet) elevation in the upper Arkansas and South Platte river basins and in Rio Grande National Forest. It has also been documented from box canyons in southeast Utah at 1883 m (6175 feet) and may also occur in Nevada. Vegetation is limited to a narrow band along small, steep perennial streams in fairly shallow (165-343 cm [65-135 inches]), loamy alluvial soils, often with a high cover of surface rock.

Sites with this association were sampled only in the Blue Mountains Ecoregion but this association may also occur in the Columbia Basin Ecoregion and northern part of the East Cascades Ecoregion of Oregon (Crowe et al. 2004). Valleys are north- and east-facing, moderately steep, narrow to wide and V-, trough- and flat-shaped with moderately steep to steep sideslopes. Most valley aspects are east- and southeast-facing. Rosgen (1996) stream types are C2 and C3. Soils are skeletal in subsoil horizons. Data are available for only two sites and show the average depth to 20-30% coarse fragments is 11 cm and to 23-35% coarse fragments is 38 cm.


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): Western Ecology Group
Element Description Edition Date: 03Nov2005
Element Description Author(s): J. Coles
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 18Jul2016
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): R.J. Rondeau, mod. 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
  • 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.

  • Clark, D., M. Dela Cruz, T. Clark, J. Coles, S. Topp, A. Evenden, A. Wight, G. Wakefield, and J. Von Loh. 2009. Vegetation classification and mapping project report, Capitol Reef National Park. Natural Resource Report NPS/NCPN/NRTR--2009/187. National Park Service, Fort Collins, CO. 882 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]

  • 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, and A. McMullen. 1996. A classification of the riparian vegetation of the Lower South Platte and parts of the Upper Arkansas River basins, Colorado. Submitted to Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency, Region VIII. Prepared by Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Fort Collins. 243 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.

  • Romme, W. H., K. D. Heil, J. M. Porter, and R. Fleming. 1993. Plant communities of Capitol Reef National Park, Utah. USDI National Park Service, Technical Report NPS/NAUCARE/NRTER-93/02. Cooperative Park Studies Unit, Northern Arizona University. 37 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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