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Carex limosa Fen
Translated Name: Mud Sedge Fen
Unique Identifier: CEGL001811
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association is currently reported from the Rocky Mountains west into Utah, California and Washington at mid to high elevations. Stands occur in some of the wettest sites in fens that have formed in glacial kettles, on pond margins, along low-gradient lake inlets or outlets, in association with springs in broad valleys. Soils are typically highly organic and composed of deep fibric peat, with very little decomposition because of saturated conditions. Vegetation is characterized by the dominance of Carex limosa with 50% or greater cover (often occurring as a near monoculture) and may occur as a floating mat. Several other species that are adapted to nutrient-poor conditions, including Drosera spp., Eriophorum spp., Menyanthes trifoliata, and Trichophorum cespitosum, are sometimes present. In addition, Carex aquatilis, Carex rostrata, Carex utriculata, and Comarum palustre may be present. A dense layer of moss that often includes Sphagnum spp. occurs in some stands, and some stands may be codominated by Eleocharis quinqueflora or Carex aquatilis.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: This association is defined as a PNV vegetation type and has been characterized in numerous studies in the Great Lakes Region, in Canada, northern Europe, and northern Asia (Mattson 1984). It appears closely related to Carex aquatilis Wet Meadow (CEGL001802) with which it is commonly associated (Padgett et al. 1989). Hansen et al. (1995) indicate that Carex limosa has indicator priority over Carex lasiocarpa but not Carex aquatilis or Carex utriculata. Mattson's (1984) Carex limosa series described for the central portion of Yellowstone National Park are included in this broader association. A stand described from Rocky Mountain National Park was codominated by Eleocharis quinqueflora and fits the broader Mattson (1984) concept of Eleocharis quinqueflora phase of the Carex limosa - Carex aquatilis Habitat Type.

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 2 - Shrub & Herb Vegetation
Subclass 2.C - Shrub & Herb Wetland
Formation 2.C.2 - Temperate to Polar Bog & Fen
Division 2.C.2.Na - North American Bog & Fen
Macrogroup North American Boreal & Subboreal Alkaline Fen
Group Rocky Mountain Alkaline Fen
Alliance Rocky Mountain Alkaline Sedge Graminoid Fen

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL001802 Carex aquatilis Wet Meadow



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 Carex limosa Herbaceous Vegetation Equivalent Certain IDCDC 2005
Montana Carex limosa Herbaceous Vegetation Equivalent Certain MTNHP 2002
New Mexico Carex limosa-Eleocharis quinqueflora CT Finer Certain Muldavin et al. 2000


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Carex limosa - Carex aquatilis Habitat Type
Relationship: = - Equivalent
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: Carex limosa - Carex aquatilis Habitat Type, Carex aquatilis Phase
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: Carex limosa - Carex aquatilis Habitat Type, Eleocharis quinqueflora Phase
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: Carex limosa
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: McCain, C., and J. A. Christy. 2005. Field guide to riparian plant communities in northwestern Oregon. Technical Paper R6-NR-ECOL-TP-01-05. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland. 357 pp.
Related Concept Name: Carex limosa Association
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Christy, J. A. 2004. Native freshwater wetland plant associations of northwestern Oregon. Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center, Oregon State University, Portland, OR.
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: Carex limosa Community Type
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Cooper, D. J. 1990. Ecology of wetlands in Big Meadows, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. USDI Fish & Wildlife Service. Biological Report 90(15). Washington, DC. 45 pp.
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.
Related Concept Name: Carex limosa Dominance Type
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: 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.
Related Concept Name: Carex limosa Habitat Type
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: Carex limosa Series
Relationship: B - Broader
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: Mud Sedge-Fewflower Spikerush CT
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Muldavin, E., P. Durkin, M. Bradley, M. Stuever, and P. Mehlhop. 2000a. Handbook of wetland vegetation communities of New Mexico. Volume I: Classification and community descriptions. Final report to the New Mexico Environment Department and the Environmental Protection Agency prepared by the New Mexico Natural Heritage Program, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES204.063 North Pacific Bog and Fen
CES306.831 Rocky Mountain Subalpine-Montane Fen


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G2 (19Oct2000)
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: This plant association is naturally rare being restricted to the specialized habitat of nutrient-poor fens. Stands occupy very small areas of the landscape with the sum of patches usually being less than a few (5) acres. Homes and cabins are frequently located along shores of lakes supporting this association. In some locations boat docks are cut into peat mats, and access across unstable substrates is provided by primitive boardwalks (created with palettes or wood scraps). In addition, nutrients from faulty sewage systems and sediment from activities (roads and logging) within the watershed may impact water chemistry of sites. Drought years may make stands accessible to both domestic and wild grazing animals, which creates bare mud tracks or rutted and hummocky soils. Loss of waterfowl habitat may concentrate foraging and bedding within stands.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: AKpotentially occurs, CA, CO, ID, MT, NM, OR, UT, WA, WY
Canadian Province Distribution: BCpotentially occurs
Global Distribution: Canadapotentially occurs, United States
Global Range: This association is known from scattered locations across the Rocky Mountains and parts of western North America from western Montana west to Washington and possibly British Columbia, south into California, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. Carex limosa is widespread, occurring at mid to high elevations in boreal regions of the Northern Hemisphere, so range may be wider yet.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
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
Section Name: Northern Parks and Ranges Section
Section Code: M331I 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: 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: Vegetation is characterized by the dominance of Carex limosa with 50% or greater cover (often occurring as a as a near monoculture) and may form floating organic mats held together by long rhizomes and roots of mostly graminoids (Padgett et al. 1989, Cooper 1990). Several other species that are adapted to nutrient-poor conditions, including Drosera linearis, Drosera rotundifolia, Eriophorum scheuchzeri, Eriophorum chamissonis, Menyanthes trifoliata, and Trichophorum cespitosum (= Scirpus cespitosus), are sometimes present. In addition, Carex aquatilis, Carex buxbaumii, Carex lasiocarpa, Carex rostrata, Carex utriculata, and Comarum palustre (= Potentilla palustris) may be present. A dense layer of moss that often includes Sphagnum spp. occurs in some stands. Scattered shrubs of Betula glandulosa, Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda, Salix candida, or Salix planifolia may be present (Hansen et al. 1995).

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Drosera linearis G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Drosera rotundifolia G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Menyanthes trifoliata G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex aquatilis G2 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex limosa G2 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Eleocharis quinqueflora G2 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: This association is currently reported from the Rocky Mountains west into Utah, California and Washington at mid to high elevations ranging from 1787-3235 m (5860-10,600 feet). However, one occurrence in Glacier National Park, Montana, is found at 1010 m (3320 feet). Carex limosa is widespread, occurring at mid to high elevations in boreal regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Stands occur in some of the wettest sites in fens that have formed in glacial kettles, on pond margins, along low-gradient lake inlets or outlets, in association with springs in broad valleys. It often occurs as floating organic mats held together by long rhizomes and roots of mostly graminoids (Padgett et al. 1989, Cooper 1990). Soils are typically highly organic and composed of deep fibric peat, with very little decomposition because of saturated conditions (Hansen et al. 1995). If a site get drier from water diversion, etc., Carex aquatilis will become more competitive and abundant (Padgett et al. 1989). Soils are classified as Borofibrists or Cryohemists.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: Carex limosa is important in primary succession, spreading onto the water and shading out submergent and floating aquatic plants (Cooper 1990). As succession proceeds the species composition likely become more diverse.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): M. Jankovsky-Jones
Element Description Edition Date: 25Apr2007
Element Description Author(s): M. Jankovsky-Jones, K.A. Schulz
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 19Oct2000
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): M. Jankovsky-Jones

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 [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/]

  • Christy, J. A. 2004. Native freshwater wetland plant associations of northwestern Oregon. Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center, Oregon State University, Portland, OR.

  • Cooper, D. J. 1990. Ecology of wetlands in Big Meadows, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. USDI Fish & Wildlife Service. Biological Report 90(15). Washington, DC. 45 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. 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.

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • Mattson, D. J. 1984. Classification and environmental relationships of wetland vegetation in central Yellowstone National Park. Unpublished thesis, University of Idaho, Moscow. 409 pp.

  • McCain, C., and J. A. Christy. 2005. Field guide to riparian plant communities in northwestern Oregon. Technical Paper R6-NR-ECOL-TP-01-05. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland. 357 pp.

  • Muldavin, E., P. Durkin, M. Bradley, M. Stuever, and P. Mehlhop. 2000a. Handbook of wetland vegetation communities of New Mexico. Volume I: Classification and community descriptions. Final report to the New Mexico Environment Department and the Environmental Protection Agency prepared by the New Mexico Natural Heritage Program, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Salas, D., J. Stevens, and K. Schulz. 2005. USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program: Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Technical Memorandum No. 8260-05-02. USDI Bureau of Reclamation, Denver, CO. 161 pp. plus Appendices A-L (733 pp.).

  • WNHP [Washington Natural Heritage Program]. 2018. Unpublished data files. Washington Natural Heritage Program, Department of Natural Resources, Olympia, WA.

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


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