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Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata / Mesic Forbs Wet Shrubland
Translated Name: Sitka Alder / Mesic Forbs Wet Shrubland
Unique Identifier: CEGL002633
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This deciduous shrubland is located in moderate to high-elevation (1200-3000 m) riparian habitats of the northern Rocky Mountains and Cascade Range where deep snow accumulations are common. They usually occur in low-gradient creek drainages, on midslope avalanche chutes, in cirque basins, and in relatively steep drainages, all of which flood from spring snowmelt or summer rainstorms. The wet soils and frequent fluvial disturbance act to discourage colonization by coniferous trees and allow full sunlight to reach the ground at these sites. Soils are often well-drained colluvial or glacial-fluvial deposits, generally sandy loam to clay loam over sorted gravels and sands. A dense tall-shrub cover of Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata characterizes this vegetation. Acer circinatum, Alnus incana, Sambucus racemosa, or Salix drummondiana may be codominant in the tall-shrub layer. Acer glabrum, Ribes lacustre, Sorbus scopulina, and Menziesia ferruginea may also be present. In the northern Rocky Mountains, Abies lasiocarpa colonizes these communities, and scattered seedlings or saplings may be present. Low cold-deciduous or ericaceous shrubs may be abundant, including Rubus spectabilis, Rubus parviflorus, Sambucus racemosa, Paxistima myrsinites, and Vaccinium spp. A lush herbaceous layer is usually present, characterized by a high diversity of low-abundance tall mesic forbs, including Aconitum columbianum, Achillea millefolium, Heracleum maximum, Veratrum viride, Senecio triangularis, Prosartes spp., Urtica dioica, and Osmorhiza berteroi. Graminoids are generally uncommon.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: There appears to be very little, if any, environmental distinction between Alnus viridis / Athyrium filix-femina and Alnus viridis / Mesic Forbs and only the slightest compositional distinction, mostly Athyrium filix-femina present with modest cover or not; this may be the case for trying to adopt a type defined elsewhere to local circumstances; recognizing both types does no real "harm," but it is probably an inconsequential distinction.

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 2 - Shrub & Herb Vegetation
Subclass 2.C - Shrub & Herb Wetland
Formation 2.C.4 - Temperate to Polar Freshwater Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Division 2.C.4.Nb - Western North American Temperate & Boreal Freshwater Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Macrogroup Western North American Montane Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Group Western Montane-Subalpine Riparian & Seep Shrubland
Alliance Western Alder Wet Shrubland

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL001061 Acer glabrum Avalanche Chute Shrubland
CEGL001154 Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata Shrub Swamp
CEGL001155 Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata / Acer circinatum Shrub Swamp
CEGL001156 Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata / Athyrium filix-femina - Cinna latifolia Wet Shrubland



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 Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata / Mesic Forbs Shrubland Equivalent Certain IDCDC 2005


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Alnus sinuata / Mesic Forb
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Crowe, E. A., and R. R. Clausnitzer. 1997. Mid-montane wetland plant associations of the Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman national forests. Technical Paper R6-NR-ECOL-TP-22-97. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES304.768 Columbia Basin Foothill Riparian Woodland and Shrubland
CES306.801 Northern Rocky Mountain Avalanche Chute Shrubland


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3G4 (01Feb1996)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: IDpotentially occurs, MT, OR, WA
Canadian Province Distribution: ABpotentially occurs
Global Distribution: Canada, United States
Global Range: This deciduous shrubland is located in moderate to high-elevation (1200-3000 m) riparian and avalanche chute habitats of the northern Rocky Mountains of Montana and Alberta, as well as the Cascade Range of Washington.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Dry Domain
Division Name: Temperate Steppe Regime Mountains
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
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


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: A dense tall-shrub cover of Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata characterizes this vegetation. Acer circinatum, Alnus incana, Sambucus racemosa, or Salix drummondiana may be codominant in the tall-shrub layer. Acer glabrum, Ribes lacustre, Sorbus scopulina, and Menziesia ferruginea may also be present. In the northern Rocky Mountains, Abies lasiocarpa colonizes these communities, and scattered seedlings or saplings may be present. Low cold-deciduous or ericaceous shrubs may be abundant, including Rubus spectabilis, Rubus parviflorus, Sambucus racemosa, Paxistima myrsinites, and Vaccinium spp. A lush herbaceous layer is usually present, characterized by a high diversity of low-abundance tall mesic forbs, including Aconitum columbianum, Achillea millefolium, Heracleum maximum (= Heracleum lanatum), Veratrum viride, Senecio triangularis, Prosartes spp. (= Disporum spp.), Urtica dioica, and Osmorhiza berteroi (= Osmorhiza chilensis). Graminoids are generally uncommon.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Acer circinatum G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Alnus incana G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 
Salix drummondiana G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Sambucus racemosa G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Achillea millefolium G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Aconitum columbianum G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Heracleum maximum G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Osmorhiza berteroi G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Senecio triangularis G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Urtica dioica G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Veratrum viride G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: This deciduous shrubland is located in moderate to high-elevation (1200-3000 m) riparian habitats of the northern Rocky Mountains and Cascade Range where deep snow accumulations are common. They usually occur in low-gradient creek drainages, on midslope avalanche chutes, in cirque basins, and in relatively steep drainages, all of which flood from spring snowmelt or summer rainstorms. The wet soils and frequent fluvial disturbance act to discourage colonization by coniferous trees and allow full sunlight to reach the ground at these sites. Soils are often well-drained colluvial or glacial-fluvial deposits, generally sandy loam to clay loam over sorted gravels and sands.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: This association usually occurs at sites that are too wet or frequently disturbed for coniferous forest to establish. Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata is highly shade-intolerant and persists largely in forest openings with abundant light. It colonizes quickly, has rapid growth, and resprouts following fire or flood, making it an important species on wet, disturbed sites.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): Western Ecology Group
Element Description Edition Date: 15Jan2004
Element Description Author(s): G. Kittel

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.

  • Crowe, E. A., and R. R. Clausnitzer. 1997. Mid-montane wetland plant associations of the Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman national forests. Technical Paper R6-NR-ECOL-TP-22-97. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR.

  • Erixson, J., D. Cogan, and J. Von Loh. 2011b. Vegetation inventory project report: Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area. Natural Resource Report NPS/UCBN/NRR--2011/434 National Park Service, Fort Collins, CO.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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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