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Leymus cinereus - Distichlis spicata Alkaline Wet Meadow
Translated Name: Basin Wildrye - Saltgrass Alkaline Wet Meadow
Unique Identifier: CEGL001481
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This community is located on the Columbia Plateau in Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, Washington and California, as well as the Uinta Basin of northwestern Colorado. This is a small-patch community ranging from 1-1000 acres in size that is restricted to alkaline or saline soils, often in swales or stream terraces. The water table can be shallow, or soils may have an impermeable layer holding a perched water table or may have a fine texture (e.g., clay loam) that holds water well. The community is composed of Leymus cinereus that forms an open 4-foot tall or taller bunchgrass layer and a 2-foot tall or less, dense rhizomatous Distichlis spicata grass cover. Leymus cinereus and Distichlis spicata are always present and can be the only vascular species present. Carex praegracilis, Equisetum laevigatum, Pascopyrum smithii, Poa fendleriana, Poa secunda (= Poa juncifolia), and Spartina gracilis may be present, although usually with less cover than the diagnostic species. Patches of exposed ground are common in more saline sites. The exotic annual grass Bromus tectorum is present to abundant in disturbed sites. Achillea millefolium is found in most sites in the Great Basin, and Asclepias speciosa is common in Uinta Basin stands. This is a low-diversity community with 5-17 species per plot. Total vegetative cover is rarely less than 50%.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low - Poorly Documented
Classification Comments: This association is defined as a PNV vegetation type. In Washington, there are three distinct Leymus cinereus communities: Leymus cinereus - Distichlis spicata as described here; Leymus cinereus Bottomland Wet Meadow (CEGL001480) with more Carex praegracilis cover than Distichlis spicata. It also occurs on better drained or subirrigated, less saline sites with more Poa pratensis and more forbs, especially mesic weeds. M. Jankovsky-Jones and R. Crawford recall, as discussed at the 1999 WA OR ID riparian crosswalk meeting, that CEGL001480 is a less alkaline bottomland type and that Leymus cinereus - Distichlis spicata Wet Meadow (CEGL001481) is an alkaline type. A third type is dominated by Leymus cinereus and Bromus tectorum with little or no Distichlis spicata or Carex praegracilis and occurs on more upland, well-drained, and more disturbed sites. The first two are natural vegetation; the third is a mix affected by livestock grazing/stream downcutting or ditching/sowing of Leymus cinereus and is best described as modified vegetation.

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 2 - Shrub & Herb Vegetation
Subclass 2.C - Shrub & Herb Wetland
Formation 2.C.5 - Salt Marsh
Division 2.C.5.Nd - North American Western Interior Brackish Marsh, Playa & Shrubland
Macrogroup Warm & Cool Desert Alkali-Saline Marsh, Playa & Shrubland
Group North American Desert Alkaline-Saline Marsh & Playa
Alliance Western Wildrye Alkaline Wet Meadow

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL001479 Leymus cinereus Alkaline Wet Meadow
CEGL001480 Leymus cinereus Bottomland Wet Meadow
CEGL001770 Distichlis spicata Alkaline 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 Elymus cinereus-Distichlis stricta Equivalent Certain IDCDC 2005
Oregon Distichlis spicata - Leymus cinereus Equivalent Certain Kagan et al. 2004


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Elymus cinereus - Distichlis stricta Association
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Daubenmire, R. F. 1970. Steppe vegetation of Washington. Washington State University Agricultural Experiment Station Technical Bulletin No. 62. 131 pp.
Related Concept Name: Leymus cinereus - Distichlis spicata association
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: Leymus cinereus-Distichlis stricta
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: 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.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES304.780 Inter-Mountain Basins Greasewood Flat
CES304.786 Inter-Mountain Basins Playa
CES306.821 Rocky Mountain Lower Montane-Foothill Riparian Woodland and Shrubland


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3 (11Dec2000)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: This community occurs on the Columbia Plateau in Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, California and Washington, as well as in the Uinta Basin of northwestern Colorado. This is a small-patch community (1-1000 acres) dominated by an open 4-foot tall or taller bunchgrass layer with a dense, shorter rhizomatous grass cover. This community is restricted environmentally and is associated with stream terraces, swales, vernal pools and depressions that stay moist into the growing season. Soils are fine-textured, poor to moderately drained, and alkaline or high in sodium. The type is naturally restricted, although individual occurrences can exceed 1000 acres. There are well over 100 occurrences in all conditions across its range. The number of occurrences is estimated from vegetation surveys and observations. Most occurrences are in fair to poor condition due to alterations of hydrology and grazing. Many sites have been lost due to conversion to other land uses. The global rank was changed from G1 to G3 to reflect the wider geographic area of occurrence and higher number of occurrences than previously estimated.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: CA, CO, ID, NV, OR, UT, WA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community is located on the Columbia Plateau in Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, California and Washington, as well as the Uinta Basin of northwestern Colorado. It may also extend into British Columbia and Utah. This description is primarily based on samples from Adams County and plots from Daubenmire (1970) in Douglas, Walla Walla and Yakima counties in Washington.

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: Palouse Prairie Section
Section Code: 331A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Division Name: Temperate Desert Division
Province Name: Intermountain Semi-Desert Province
Province Code: 342 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Columbia Basin Section
Section Code: 342I 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: Uinta Mountains Section
Section Code: M331E Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: The community is composed of Leymus cinereus that forms an open 4-foot tall or taller bunchgrass layer and a 2-foot tall or less, dense rhizomatous Distichlis spicata grass cover. Leymus cinereus and Distichlis spicata are always present and can be the only vascular species present. Carex praegracilis, Equisetum laevigatum, Pascopyrum smithii, Poa fendleriana, Poa secunda (= Poa juncifolia), and Spartina gracilis may be present, although usually with less cover than the diagnostic species. Patches of exposed ground are common in more saline sites. The exotic annual grass Bromus tectorum is present to abundant in disturbed sites. Achillea millefolium is found in most sites in the Great Basin, and Asclepias speciosa is common in Uinta Basin stands. This is a low-diversity community with 5-17 species per plot. Total vegetative cover is rarely less than 50%.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Lepidium perfoliatum G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Bromus tectorum G3 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Distichlis spicata G3 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Leymus cinereus G3 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: This community is located on the Columbia Plateau in Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, Washington and California, as well as the Uinta Basin of northwestern Colorado. This is a small-patch community ranging from 1-1000 acres in size that is restricted to alkaline or saline soils, often in swales or stream terraces. The water table can be shallow, or soils may have an impermeable layer holding a perched water table or may have a fine texture (e.g., clay loam) that holds water well.


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): R.C. Crawford
Element Description Edition Date: 13Oct2005
Element Description Author(s): R.C. Crawford and J. Coles
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 13Oct2005
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): R.C. Crawford, 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
  • 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.

  • Coles, J., D. Cogan, D. Salas, A. Wight, G. Wakefield, J. Von Loh, and A. Evenden. 2008a. Vegetation classification and mapping project report, Dinosaur National Monument. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/NCPN/NRTR-2008/112. National Park Service, Fort Collins, CO. 814 pp.

  • 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.

  • Daubenmire, R. F. 1970. Steppe vegetation of Washington. Washington State University Agricultural Experiment Station Technical Bulletin No. 62. 131 pp.

  • Driscoll, R. S., D. L. Merkel, D. L. Radloff, D. E. Snyder, and J. S. Hagihara. 1984. An ecological land classification framework for the United States. Miscellaneous Publication No. 1439. USDA Forest Service, Washington, DC. 56 pp.

  • Franklin, J. F., and C. T. Dyrness. 1973. Natural vegetation of Oregon and Washington. General Technical Report PNW-8. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station, Portland, OR. 417 pp.

  • 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. 2000-2004. Classification of native vegetation of Oregon. Oregon Natural Heritage Program, Portland. 63 pp.

  • ORNHP [Oregon Natural Heritage Program]. No date. Unpublished data files. Oregon Natural Heritage Program, The Nature Conservancy, Portland, OR.

  • Poulton, C. E. 1955. Ecology of the non-forested vegetation in Umatilla and Morrow counties, Oregon. Unpublished dissertation. State College of Washington, Pullman. 166 pp.

  • WNHP [Washington Natural Heritage Program]. No date. 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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