Astragalus anserinus - Atwood, Goodrich & Welsh
Goose Creek Milkvetch
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Astragalus anserinus Atwood, Goodrich & Welsh (TSN 192809)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.146621
Element Code: PDFAB0FA10
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 anserinus
Taxonomic Comments: A distinctive species, distinguished from similar forms of Astragalus purshii by its short leafy above-ground stems, and consistently rounded, densely gray-villous leaflets.
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G2
Global Status Last Reviewed: 10Dec2004
Global Status Last Changed: 03Aug1988
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Astragalus anserinus is restricted to fairly specific small habitat patches (averaging about 3 ha) that are uncommon along a small portion of the Goose Creek drainage, near the corners of northeastern Nevada/northwestern Utah and adjacent southern Idaho. About 15 occurrences with good viability exist within this range, and most are increasingly invaded by cheatgrass, leafy spurge, and other exotic plant species.
Nation: United States
National Status: N2

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Idaho (S1), Nevada (S1), Utah (S1)

Other Statuses

Comments on USESA: Removed from Candidate status in the October 8, 2015 Federal Register. "Based on the best available information, we find that listing Goose Creek milkvetch is not warranted throughout its range. Because the distribution of the species is relatively stable across its range and stressors are similar throughout the species? range, we found no concentration of stressors that suggests that the Goose Creek milkvetch may be in danger of extinction in any portion of its range. Therefore, we find that listing the Goose Creek milkvetch as a threatened or an endangered species is not warranted throughout all or a significant portion of its range at this time, and consequently we are removing it from candidate status. (USFWS 2015)
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Lead Region: R6 - Rocky Mountain

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Locally endemic to a portion of the Goose Creek basin near where the borders of Nevada, Idaho, and Utah join. Extreme northeastern Nevada in Elko County (with a disjunct occurrence 22 miles southwest in the Delano Mountains), Cassia County in Idaho, and extreme northwestern Utah in Box Elder County. A recent disjunct report from the YP desert of northwestern Elko County, Nevada, was based on a misidentified specimen of Astragalus purshii.

Area of Occupancy: 6-25 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Occurs on relatively small and isolated soil patches up to about 10 ha in size, and averaging about 3 ha, based on May-June, 2004 surveys.

Number of Occurrences: 6 - 20
Number of Occurrences Comments: 4 documented occurrences in Nevada, 9-10 occurrences in Idaho, and 9 occurrences in Utah as of May-June, 2004 surveys. These states contain potential habitat that may support additional occurrences.

Population Size Comments: Maximum counts for all occurrences totaled about 20,000 as of May-June, 2004 surveys. Annual fluctuations of 50% or more in observable numbers occur due to climatic variations.

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Few (4-12)
Viability/Integrity Comments: About 10-15 occurrences range-wide appear to have numbers sufficient and stable enough for long-term viability as of May-June, 2004. These numbers may decrease long-term as invasive species increase within its range

Overall Threat Impact: Medium
Overall Threat Impact Comments: As of May-June, 2004, most populations were invaded to some degree (usually less than surrounding areas) by Bromus tectorum (cheat grass). Several Idaho and Utah populations were affected by Euphorbia esula (leafy spurge). Continued invasion of exotic species could soon result in a somewhat declining trend. Cattle grazing may also threaten long-term viability by altering habitat indirectly, i.e. soil compaction, trail formation, increased erosion. Trampling and construction of access roads and water tank facilities also impacts habitat. Cattle grazing also depresses pollinators that may be assisting A. anserinus reproduction by destroying potential and existing nest sites and by removing food resources. The open, relatively barren slopes of the habitat are also potentially attractive to (though not yet significantly used by) off-road vehicles.

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable (<=10% change)
Short-term Trend Comments: Of the 4 known Nevada sites, 85-95% of the plants were mature, with low, roughly equal numbers of seedlings and senescent plants suggesting relatively stable populations. Declines in several Idaho populations were reported between 1989 and 1991, with high proportions of dead plants at a few sites. This could be explained by persistent drought conditions, coupled with a record cold winter of 1990-1991. Apparent increases in numbers of plants and occupied areas as of May-June, 2004 surveys are probably artifacts of the intense surveys conducted in that year.

Long-term Trend: Decline of <30% to increase of 25%
Long-term Trend Comments: Continued invasion of exotic species may justify a somewhat declining trend.

Environmental Specificity: Very narrow to narrow.
Environmental Specificity Comments: Although most occurrences are restricted to specific sandy rhyolitic ash deposits, some have been observed spreading into sandy soils of the adjacent zonal sagebrush vegetation with little apparent rhyolitic ash content.
 

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: Locally endemic to a portion of the Goose Creek basin near where the borders of Nevada, Idaho, and Utah join. Extreme northeastern Nevada in Elko County (with a disjunct occurrence 22 miles southwest in the Delano Mountains), Cassia County in Idaho, and extreme northwestern Utah in Box Elder County. A recent disjunct report from the YP desert of northwestern Elko County, Nevada, was based on a misidentified specimen of Astragalus purshii.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States ID, NV, UT

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
ID Cassia (16031)
NV Elko (32007)
UT Box Elder (49003)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
16 Pilot-Thousand Springs (16020307)+
17 Goose (17040211)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A tuft- or mat-forming perennial herb, the spreading, leafy stems 3-11 cm long. Herbage is covered with soft hairs, giving the plant an overall gray-green color. Plants bloom in June-July. The flowers are pink-purple, only 9-11 mm long, and are not elevated above the rest of the plant. The brownish-red fruit pods are soft-hairy, have a curved shape, and appear to be lying under the edge of the low-spreading stems.
Diagnostic Characteristics: Distinguished from similar forms of Astragalus purshii by its short leafy above-ground stems, and consistently rounded, densely gray-villous leaflets.

Duration: PERENNIAL
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest/Woodland, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Conifer
Habitat Comments: Apparently confined to deeply weathered, sandy, white rhyolitic ash of the Salt Lake Formation, sometimes overlain by a thin veneer of black glassy sinter gravel of apparent volcanic origin. Occurs in drainage bottoms, lower to upper slope and crest positions, typically within open Utah juniper (Juniperus osteosperma), big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), or rabbitbrush communities. In Nevada, restricted to west to southeast exposures, in Idaho, found on southeast to southwest exposures, and in Utah, found on all aspects, but predominately southern and western. Sites varied from 0-35 degrees in Nevada and from flat to very steep in Idaho and Utah. Elevations range from 1470 to 1800 m.
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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Excellent Viability: SIZE: >1,000 genets. CONDITION: Native plant community is intact with zero to trace introduced plant species cover and/or no significant anthropogenic disturbance. LANDSCAPE CONTEXT: Surrounding landscape is unfragmented and ecological processes are intact.

Good Viability: SIZE: 251-1,000 genets. CONDITION: Native plant community is intact with trace to low introduced plant species cover and minimal anthropogenic disturbance. LANDSCAPE CONTEXT: Surrounding landscape may be partially fragmented, but ecological processes are intact.

Fair Viability: SIZE: 51-250 genets. CONDITION: Native plant community is partially intact with low to moderate introduced plant species cover and/or moderate anthropogenic disturbance. LANDSCAPE CONTEXT: Surrounding landscape may be moderately fragmented, but ecological processes are intact.
Poor Viability: SIZE: <50 genets. CONDITION: Few components of the native plant community remain. Introduced plant species cover is moderate to high and/or there is significant anthropogenic disturbance. LANDSCAPE CONTEXT: Surrounding landscape is fragmented with many ecological processes no longer intact.

Justification: Rank factors (size, condition, and landscape context) were developed based on the evaluation of existing custom EO rank specifications for Goose Creek milkvetch (IDCDC 2006a), extant EOs in Idaho (IDCDC 2006a), Utah (Utah Natural Heritage Program 2007), and Nevada (Nevada Natural Heritage Program 2007), the "Element occurrence data standard" (NatureServe 2002), "Ranking species occurrences - A proposed generic approach" (Hammerson et al. 2006), and "Element occurrence review and update for five rare plant species" (Colket et al. 2006). Rank factors were weighted so that: size=33%; condition=33%; and landscape context=33%. The rank factors were calculated to verify the most appropriate rank, where A=4, B=3, C=2, and D=1. The output calculation was used to designate the following ranks: A=3.6-4.0; B=2.6-3.4; C=1.6-2.4; and D=0.0-1.4. A range rank (i.e. AB, BC, or CD) was used when the output calculation was 3.5, 2.5, or 1.5 respectively. Range ranks were sometimes used if the EO or rank factors shared qualities of multiple ranks. If there was incomplete information about size, condition, and/or landscape context factors, the "?" qualifier was used with the most appropriate rank (i.e. B?). E-, F-, H-, and X-ranks were used when appropriate.

Key for Ranking Species Element Occurrences Using the Generic Approach (2008).
Date: 13Sep2007
Author: L. Hahn
Notes: For additional information (including the definitions for EO rank specifications E-X) see: Idaho Conservation Data Center. 2007. Rare Plant Element Occurrence Review and Updates. Idaho Conservation Data Center, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Boise, Idaho. 29 pp.
BCD Rank Specifications were created by Jim Morefield (NV) in 2004. See Plant EF: Astragalus anserinus (U04MOR01IDUS).

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: 28Sep2015
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: J. Morefield (NVHP) (2004), rev. Treher (2015)

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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  • Atwood, N.D., S. Goodrich, and S.L. Welsh. 1984. New Astragalus (Leguminosae) from the Goose Creek drainage, Utah - Nevada. Great Basin Naturalist 44(2): 263-264.

  • Baird, G.I., J. Tuhy, and M.A. Franklin. 1991. Report for the 1990 Challenge Cost share project USDI Bureau of Land Management. Target species: Astragalus anserinus Atwood, Goodrich, and Welsh, Penstemon idahoensis Atwood and Welsh, Potentilla cottamii Holmgren. Unpublished report on file at the Utah Natural Heritage Program, Utah Department of Natural Resources, Salt Lake City, Utah.

  • Barneby, R.C. 1989. Fabales. In A. Cronquist, A.H. Holmgren, N.H. Holmgren, J.L. Reveal, and P.K. Holmgren (eds.). Intermountain flora: Vascular plants of the Intermountain West, U.S.A. Vol. 3, Part B. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. 279 pp.

  • 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.

  • Mancuso, M., and R.K. Moseley. 1991. Report on the conservation status of Astragalus anserinus, in Idaho and Utah. Report prepared for Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation through Section 6 funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 1. Conservation Data Center, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Boise, ID. 33 pp. plus appendices.

  • Morefield, J.D. 1992. Interim status report for Astragalus anserinus Atwood, Goodrich, & Welsh. Nevada Natural Heritage Program, Carson City, prepared for the Bureau of Land Management, Elko District, Elko, Nevada.

  • Spahr, R., L. Armstrong, D. Atwood, and M. Rath. 1991. Threatened, endangered, and sensitive species of the Intermountain Region. U.S. Forest Service, Intermountain Region, Ogden, UT.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 2009. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on a Petition to List Astragalus anserinus (Goose Creek milkvetch) as Threatened or Endangered. Federal Register 74(174): 46521-46542. 10 September 2009.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS. 2009. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding on a Petition to List Astragalus anserinus (Goose Creek milkvetch) as Threatened or Endangered. Federal Register 74(174): 46521-46542.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2015. 12-Month Findings on Petitions To List 19 Species as Endangered or Threatened Species. Federal Register 80(195): 60834-60850.

  • U.S. Forest Service, Intermountain Region (USFS). 1990. Idaho and Wyoming endangered and sensitive plant field guide. U.S. Forest Service, Intermountain Region, Ogden, UT. 192 pp.

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