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Classification
Scientific Name: Columbia Basin Foothill and Canyon Dry Grassland
Unique Identifier: CES304.993
Classification Confidence: 3 - Weak

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Summary: These grasslands are similar floristically to Columbia Basin Palouse Prairie (CES304.792) but are distinguished by landform, soil, and process characteristics. They occur in the canyons and valleys of the Columbia Basin, particularly along the Snake River canyon, the lower foothill slopes of the Blue Mountains, and along the main stem of the Columbia River in eastern Washington. Occurrences are found on steep open slopes, from 90 to 1525 m (300-5000 feet) elevation. Annual precipitation is low, ranging from 10 to 25 cm (4-10 inches). Settings are primarily long, steep slopes of 100 m to well over 400 m, with soils derived from residuum and having patchy, thin, wind-blown surface deposits. Slope failures are a common process. Fire frequency is presumed to be less than 20 years. The vegetation is dominated by patchy graminoid cover, cacti, and some forbs. Pseudoroegneria spicata, Festuca idahoensis, and Opuntia polyacantha are common species. Deciduous shrubs Symphoricarpos spp., Physocarpus malvaceus, Holodiscus discolor, and Ribes spp. are infrequent native species that may increase with fire exclusion.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)


Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES304.778 Inter-Mountain Basins Big Sagebrush Steppe
CES304.792 Columbia Basin Palouse Prairie
CES306.040 Northern Rocky Mountain Lower Montane, Foothill and Valley Grassland


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL001515 Aristida purpurea var. longiseta - Sporobolus cryptandrus Grassland
CEGL001516 Sporobolus cryptandrus - Poa secunda Grassland
CEGL001589 Aristida purpurea var. longiseta - Pseudoroegneria spicata - Sporobolus cryptandrus Grassland
CEGL001669 Pseudoroegneria spicata - Festuca idahoensis Canyon Grassland
CEGL001673 Pseudoroegneria spicata - Opuntia polyacantha - (Poa secunda) Grassland
CEGL001781 Aristida purpurea var. longiseta - Poa secunda Grassland



Classifiers

Land Cover Class: Herbaceous
Spatial Pattern: Large patch
Natural/Seminatural: No
Vegetated ( > 10% vascular cover):
Upland: Yes
Wetland: No
Isolated Wetland: No

Diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Lowland Foothill
Lowland Lowland
Sideslope  
Very Shallow Soil  
Landslide  
Graminoid  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Herbaceous  
Temperate Temperate Continental
Unconsolidated  
Succulent Shrub  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Ranunculus glaberrimus var. reconditus
  (Obscure Buttercup)
G5T2  
Spiranthes diluvialis
  (Ute Ladies'-tresses)
G2G3 LT: Listed threatened

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Opuntia polyacantha G5 Succulent shrub Short shrub/sapling  
 
 
Arenaria serpyllifolia GNR Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Plantago patagonica G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Ranunculus glaberrimus var. reconditus T2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Veronica arvensis GNR Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Bromus tectorum GNR Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Festuca idahoensis G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Pseudoroegneria spicata G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Pseudoroegneria spicata ssp. spicata T5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Sporobolus cryptandrus G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 


Animal Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status Charact-
eristic
Exotic
Onychomys leucogaster
  (Northern Grasshopper Mouse)
G5      
Thomomys talpoides
  (Northern Pocket Gopher)
G5      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: ID, OR, WA
Global Range: Occurs in the canyons and valleys of the Columbia Basin, particularly along the Snake River canyon, the lower foothill slopes of the Blue Mountains, and along the main stem of the Columbia River in eastern Washington, on steep open slopes, from 90 to 1525 m (300-5000 feet) elevation.

Biogeographic Divisions
Division Code and Name Primary Occurrence Status
304-Inter-Mountain Basins C: Confident or certain
306-Rocky Mountain C: Confident or certain

The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Ecoregions
Code Name Occurrence Status
6 Columbia Plateau Confident or certain
68 Okanagan Predicted or probable
8 Middle Rockies - Blue Mountains Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
1 Northern Cascades Predicted or probable
7 Cascade Mountain Range Never was there
8 Grande Coulee Basin of the Columbia Plateau Confident or certain
9 Blue Mountain Region Confident or certain
10 Northwestern Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
16 Utah High Plateaus Possible
17 Eastern Great Basin Possible
18 Snake River Plain Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 7106
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1134
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2134

West Landfire Legend: Yes
East Landfire Legend: No

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 14Jan2014
Element Description Author(s): R. Crawford, J. Kagan, M. Reid, K.A. Schulz

Ecological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).


References
  • Belnap, J., J. Kaltenecker, R. Rosentreter, J. Williams, S. Leonard, and D. Eldridge. 2001. Biological soil crusts: Ecology and management. Technical Report 1730-2. USDI Bureau of Land Management. 110 pp.

  • Comer, P., D. Faber-Langendoen, R. Evans, S. Gawler, C. Josse, G. Kittel, S. Menard, C. Nordman, M. Pyne, M. Reid, M. Russo, K. Schulz, K. Snow, J. Teague, and R. White. 2003-present. Ecological systems of the United States: A working classification of U.S. terrestrial systems. NatureServe, Arlington, VA.

  • Darambazar, E., T. DelCurto, D. Damiran, A. A. Clark, and R. V. Taylor. 2007. Species composition and diversity on northwestern bunchgrass prairie rangelands. Proceedings of Western Section, American Society of Animal Sciences 58:233-236.

  • Davies, K. W., T. J. Svejcar, and J. D. Bates. 2009. Interaction of historical and nonhistorical disturbances maintains native plant communities. Ecological Applications 19(6):1536-1545.

  • Eldridge, D. J., and R. Rosentreter. 1999. Morphological groups: A framework for monitoring microphytic crusts in arid landscapes. Journal of Arid Environments 41(1):11-25.

  • Hall, F. C. 1973. Plant communities of the Blue Mountains in eastern Oregon and southeastern Washington. R6 Area Guide 3-1. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR. 62 pp.

  • Johnson, C. G., and R. R. Clausnitzer. 1992. Plant associations of the Blue and Ochoco mountains. R6-ERW-TP-036-92. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. 163 pp. plus appendices.

  • Johnson, C. G., and S. A. Simon. 1985. Plant associations of the Wallowa Valley Ranger District, Part II: Steppe. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. 258 pp.

  • LANDFIRE [Landfire National Vegetation Dynamics Database]. 2007a. Landfire National Vegetation Dynamics Models. Landfire Project, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Department of Interior. (January - last update) [http://www.LANDFIRE.gov/index.php] (accessed 8 February 2007).

  • Rosentreter, R., and D. J. Eldridge. 2002. Monitoring biodiversity and ecosystem function: Grasslands, deserts, and steppe. Pages 199-233 in: P. L. Nimis, C. Scheidegger, and P. A. Wolseley, editors. Monitoring with lichens--monitoring lichens. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands.

  • Shiflet, T. N., editor. 1994. Rangeland cover types of the United States. Society for Range Management. Denver, CO. 152 pp.

  • TNC [The Nature Conservancy]. 2013. Climate Wizard. The Nature Conservancy, University of Washington, and The University of Southern Mississippi. [http://www.climatewizard.org/] (accessed September 19, 2013).

  • Tisdale, E. M., and M. Bramble-Brodahl. 1983. Relationships of site characteristics to vegetation in canyon grasslands of west-central Idaho and adjacent areas. Journal of Range Management 36:775-778.

  • Tisdale, E. W. 1986. Canyon grasslands and associated shrublands of west-central Idaho and adjacent areas. Bulletin No. 40. Forest, Wildlife and Range Experiment Station, University of Idaho, Moscow. 42 pp.

  • Tyler, K. J. 2006. Biological crusts: Analysis of monitoring techniques at the Yakima Training Center, Washington. M.S. thesis, Central Washington University, Ellensberg. 117 pp.

  • WNHP [Washington Natural Heritage Program]. 2011. Ecological integrity assessments for the ecological systems of Washington. Version: 2.22.2011. Washington Natural Heritage Program, Department of Natural Resources, Olympia. [http://www1.dnr.wa.gov/nhp/refdesk/communities/eia_list.html] (accessed September 9, 2013).

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


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