Astragalus albens - Greene
Cushenbury Milkvetch
Other Common Names: cushenbury milkvetch
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Astragalus albens Greene (TSN 25406)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.159120
Element Code: PDFAB0F0A0
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Pea Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Fabales Fabaceae Astragalus
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Astragalus albens
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G1
Global Status Last Reviewed: 20Oct2015
Global Status Last Changed: 08Mar1988
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: Restricted to a carbonate belt in the northeastern San Bernardino Mountains, San Bernardino County, California. Approximately 16 occurrences are believed extant (with another 2 historical and 1 of unknown status) within an area of approximately 80 square kilometers. Population size was estimated to be 7000-7500 plants, but is likely less in drought years. Habitat destruction and degradation associated with limestone mining is the major threat to this species. Other threats include off-highway vehicle use, target shooting, road building and maintenance, trash dumping, and potential development. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (2002) has designated Critical Habitat and the U.S. Forest Service has developed the Carbonate Habitat Management Strategy (2003) with the aim of mitigating these threats.
Nation: United States
National Status: N1

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States California (S1)

Other Statuses

U.S. Endangered Species Act (USESA): LE: Listed endangered (24Aug1994)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R8 - California-Nevada

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Restricted to a carbonate belt in the northeastern San Bernardino Mountains (east slope of the Transverse Range) extending from Dry Canyon southeastward to the head of Lone Valley (approximately 24 km) in and adjacent to San Bernardino National Forest; San Bernardino County, California. Using GIS tools, range extent was calculated to be approximately 82 square km.

Area of Occupancy: 26-500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Using the 2 x 2 km grid method, this species occupies approximately 14 grid cells. Nevertheless, a specific study of area occupied estimated that actual on-the-ground populations occupy much less area than this, stating that high density occurrences of A. albens are limited to just 5-6 square km of the approximately 152 square km of carbonate substrate habitat in the San Bernardino Mountains (Neel 2008).

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20
Number of Occurrences Comments: Approximately 16 occurrences are believed extant, with another 2 historical and 1 of unknown status, when mapped using the separation distance of the California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB). Other reports, using a much smaller separation distance, have broken the total population into a smaller number of "patches" (e.g. 91 patches reported by Neel 2008).

Population Size Comments: Approximately 7000-7500 plants were counted in the most recent surveys. In drought years, there are likely fewer plants than this (USFWS 1997).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Few (4-12)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Approximately 11 occurrences are believed to have excellent or good viability.

Overall Threat Impact: Very high - high
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Limestone mining is the major threat to this species. Habitat destruction and degradation result from direct removal of mined minerals, disposal of overburden on adjacent unmined habitat, associated impacts such as windblown dust, and road construction (USFWS 1997). Other threats include off-highway vehicle use, target shooting, road building and maintenance, trash dumping, and potential development. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (2002) has designated Critical Habitat and the U.S. Forest Service has developed the Carbonate Habitat Management Strategy (2003) with the aim of mitigating these threats. These conservation plans include most, but not all, known occurrences of A. albens (Neel 2008).

Short-term Trend Comments: More than one occurrence is decreasing (CNDDB 2003).

Long-term Trend:  
Long-term Trend Comments: The number and size of populations has been reduced by surface mining activities.

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow. Specialist or community with key requirements scarce.
Environmental Specificity Comments: Restricted and patchy distribution in a highly specialized habitat.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Restricted to a carbonate belt in the northeastern San Bernardino Mountains (east slope of the Transverse Range) extending from Dry Canyon southeastward to the head of Lone Valley (approximately 24 km) in and adjacent to San Bernardino National Forest; San Bernardino County, California. Using GIS tools, range extent was calculated to be approximately 82 square km.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States CA

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
CA San Bernardino (06071)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
18 Southern Mojave (18100100)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A winter annual or short-lived perennial herb, silvery-white with a covering of dense, appressed silvery hairs. Stems (several) are slender, decumbent, up to 3 dm in legnth, together forming a loose mat. Leaves have 5-9 leaflets. Purple flowers are borne in clusters of 5-14 towards the tips of the stems. Blooms March-May.
Duration: ANNUAL, PERENNIAL, Short-lived
Reproduction Comments: Plants have a taproot and show no evidence of vegetative reproduction (Neel 2008). Fruits and seeds have no specialized dispersal mechanism (Neel 2008).
Ecology Comments: Establishes after disturbances like fire from the seed bank (Sclafani 2013).
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Desert, Forest/Woodland, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Conifer
Habitat Comments: Primarily found on soils derived directly from decomposing limestone bedrock, especially on ridgetops and on open, very rocky, relatively gentle slopes at 1500-2000 m elevation. Also known from lower elevations (down to about 1170 m) in rocky washes that receive limestone outwash and from granite and granite-quartzite substrates. Plant communities are pinyon-juniper woodland, pinyon woodland, Joshua tree woodland, blackbrush scrub, and creosote bush-blackbrush scrub. Occupied sites tend to have low overstory and shrub canopy cover, high soil pH, and a high percentage of soil calcium. Associated species include Fremontodendron californicum (California Flannelbush), Coleogyne ramosissima (Blackbrush), Echinocereus triglochidiatus var. mojavensis (King-Cup Cactus), Prunus fasciculata (Desert Almond), and Yucca schidigera (Mojave Yucca).
Economic Attributes
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Economically Important Genus: Y
Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 23Jul2003
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Bittman, R.L., rev. Maybury (1997), rev. L. Oliver (2003), rev. K. Gravuer (2009)

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Barneby, R.C. 1964. Atlas of North American Astragalus. 2 Vols. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York. 1188 pp.

  • California Department of Fish and Game. 2000. Natural Diversity Database (RareFind 2), Version 2.1.2, January 25, 2000. Downloaded in 2003.

  • California Native Plant Society (CNPS). 2001. Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants of California (sixth edition). Rare Plant Scientific Advisory Committee, David P. Tibor, Convening Editor. California Native Plant Society. Sacramento, CA. x + 388pp.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Neel, M. 2008. Patch connectivity and genetic diversity conservation in the federally endangered and narrowly endemic plant species Astragalus albens (Fabaceae). Biological Conservation 141: 938-955.

  • Olson, T. G. 2003. Carbonate Habitat Management Strategy. San Bernardino National Forest Association. Online. Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/scfpr/projects/lmp/docs/carbonate-strategy.pdf (Accessed 2009)

  • Sclafani, C.J. 2013. Astragalus albens. In: Fire Effects Information System. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory. Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/. Accessed 26 Sep 2016.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 1997. San Bernardino Mountains Carbonate Plants Draft Recovery Plan. U.S. Fist and Wildlife Service, Portland, Oregon. 51 pp.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2002. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of Critical Habitat for Five Carbonate Plants From the San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California; Final Rule. Federal Register 67(247): 78570-78610. 24 December 2002.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1994. Five plants from the San Bernardino Mountains in southern California determined to be threatened or endangered. Federal Register 59(163): 43652-43664.

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