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Classification
Scientific Name: Tamaulipan Calcareous Thornscrub
Unique Identifier: CES301.986
Classification Confidence: 2 - Moderate

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Summary: This xeric thornscrub ecological system is restricted to limestone and calcareous sandstone hills and caliche substrates such as along the Bordas Scarp in southern Texas and northeastern Mexico. Soils are shallow, alkaline, strongly calcareous and underlain by bedrock or a caliche layer. It has a shorter, more open shrub canopy (usually less than 2 m) when compared to more typical thornscrub growing on more favorable sites. However, shrub cover is generally greater than 70% and often greater than 85%. Dominant species include Leucophyllum frutescens, Acacia berlandieri, and Acacia farnesiana with many other shrub species that may be locally dominant. The sparse to moderately dense herbaceous layer is dominated by perennial graminoids.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)


Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES301.711 Tamaulipan Saline Thornscrub
CES301.983 Tamaulipan Mixed Deciduous Thornscrub
CES303.041 Edwards Plateau Limestone Shrubland


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL002168 Leucophyllum frutescens Shrubland
CEGL004923 Helietta parvifolia - Acacia rigidula - Ebenopsis ebano - Leucophyllum frutescens Shrubland
CEGL007760 Acacia rigidula - Leucophyllum frutescens - Hechtia glomerata Shrubland
CEGL007789 Leucophyllum frutescens - Salvia ballotiflora - Lippia graveolens Shrubland



Classifiers

Land Cover Class: Shrubland
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 Lowland
Shrubland (Shrub-dominated)  
Ridge  
Ridge/Summit/Upper Slope  
Tropical/Subtropical Tropical Xeric
Calcareous  
Very Shallow Soil  
Caliche Layer  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Oligotrophic Soil  
Alkaline Soil  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Crotaphytus reticulatus
  (Reticulate Collared Lizard)
G3  
Sceloporus cyanogenys
  (Blue Spiny Lizard)
G3  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Acacia rigidula G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Acacia berlandieri G4 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Castela erecta ssp. texana TNR Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)  
 
 
Celtis pallida G4 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Eysenhardtia texana G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)  
 
 
Koeberlinia spinosa G4 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)  
 
 
Lippia graveolens G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Parkinsonia texana var. macra TNR Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Acacia farnesiana G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Amyris madrensis G4 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Amyris texana G4 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Cordia boissieri G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Helietta parvifolia G4 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)  
 
 
Leucophyllum frutescens G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Sophora secundiflora G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)  
 
 
Salvia ballotiflora G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Hechtia glomerata G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Bothriochloa ischaemum var. songarica TNR Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Pennisetum ciliare GNR 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
Cophosaurus texanus
  (Greater Earless Lizard)
G5      
Crotalus atrox
  (Western Diamond-backed Rattlesnake)
G5      
Crotaphytus reticulatus
  (Reticulate Collared Lizard)
G3      
Ictidomys parvidens
  (Rio Grande Ground Squirrel)
G5      
Phrynosoma cornutum
  (Texas Horned Lizard)
G4G5      
Sceloporus cyanogenys
  (Blue Spiny Lizard)
G3      
Sceloporus olivaceus
  (Texas Spiny Lizard)
G5      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: TX
Distribution Outside Canada and the United States: Mexico
Global Range: Restricted to limestone and calcareous sandstone hills and caliche substrates such as along the Bordas Scarp in southern Texas and northeastern Mexico.

Biogeographic Divisions
Division Code and Name Primary Occurrence Status
301-Madrean Semidesert C: Confident or certain
303-Western Great Plains P: Predicted or probable

The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Ecoregions
Code Name Occurrence Status
24 Chihuahuan Desert Confident or certain
29 Edwards Plateau Confident or certain
30 Tamaulipan Thorn Scrub Confident or certain
31 Gulf Coast Prairies and Marshes Predicted or probable

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
26 Chihuahuan Desert Confident or certain
35 Edwards Plateau Confident or certain
36 Western Gulf Plains Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 5323
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1392
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2392

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: Yes

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 14Jan2014
Element Description Author(s): J. Teague and L. Elliott

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


References
  • CONABIO. 2003b. Tamaulipan mezquital (NA1312). [www.worldwildlife.org/wildlife/profiles/terrestrial/na/na131 2_full.html]

  • 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.

  • Elliott, L. 2011. Draft descriptions of systems, mapping subsystems, and vegetation types for Phases I, II, III, and IV. Unpublished documents. Texas Parks and Wildlife Ecological Systems Classification and Mapping Project. Texas Natural History Survey, The Nature Conservancy of Texas, San Antonio.

  • Jahrsdoerfer, S. E., and D. M. Leslie. 1988. Tamaulipan brushland of the lower Rio Grande Valley of south Texas: Description, human impacts, and management options. USDI Fish & Wildlife Service. Biological Report 88(36). 63 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).

  • McLendon, T. 1991. Preliminary description of the vegetation of south Texas exclusive of coastal saline zones. Texas Journal of Science 43:13-32.

  • 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).


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