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Classification
Scientific Name: Rocky Mountain Foothill Limber Pine-Juniper Woodland
Unique Identifier: CES306.955
Classification Confidence: 3 - Weak

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Summary: This ecological system occurs in foothill and lower montane zones in the Rocky Mountains from northern Montana south to central Colorado and on escarpments across Wyoming extending out into the western Great Plains. Elevation ranges from 1000-2440 m. It occurs generally below continuous forests of Pseudotsuga menziesii or Pinus ponderosa and can occur in large stands well within the zone of continuous forests in the northeastern Rocky Mountains. It is restricted to shallow soils and fractured bedrock derived from a variety of parent material, including limestone, sandstone, dolomite, granite and colluvium. Soils have a high rock component (typically over 50% cover) and are coarse- to fine-textured, often gravelly and calcareous. Slopes are typically moderately steep to steep. At lower montane elevations, it is limited to the most xeric aspects on rock outcrops, and at lower elevations to the relatively mesic north aspects. Fire is infrequent and spotty because rocky substrates prevent a continuous vegetation canopy needed to spread. Vegetation is characterized by an open-tree canopy or patchy woodland that is dominated by Pinus flexilis, Juniperus osteosperma, or Juniperus scopulorum. Pinus edulis is not present. A sparse to moderately dense short-shrub layer, if present, may include a variety of shrubs, such as Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, Artemisia nova, Artemisia tridentata, Cercocarpus ledifolius, Cercocarpus montanus, Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda, Ericameria nauseosa, Juniperus horizontalis, Purshia tridentata, Rhus trilobata, Rosa woodsii, Shepherdia canadensis (important in Montana stands), Symphoricarpos albus, or Symphoricarpos oreophilus. Herbaceous layers are generally sparse, but range to moderately dense, and are typically dominated by perennial graminoids such as Bouteloua gracilis, Festuca idahoensis, Festuca campestris, Danthonia intermedia, Leucopoa kingii, Hesperostipa comata, Koeleria macrantha, Piptatherum micranthum, Poa secunda, or Pseudoroegneria spicata. Within this ecological system, there may be small patches of grassland or shrubland composed of some of the above species.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: These limber pine and juniper woodlands are a subset of the scarp woodlands found throughout the northwestern Great Plains (CNHP 2010b).

Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL000730 Juniperus osteosperma / Artemisia tridentata Woodland
CEGL000734 Juniperus osteosperma / Cercocarpus ledifolius Woodland
CEGL000735 Juniperus osteosperma / Cercocarpus montanus Woodland
CEGL000738 Juniperus osteosperma / Pseudoroegneria spicata Open Woodland
CEGL000742 Juniperus scopulorum / Artemisia nova Woodland
CEGL000743 Juniperus scopulorum / Artemisia tridentata Woodland
CEGL000744 Juniperus scopulorum - Cercocarpus ledifolius Woodland
CEGL000745 Juniperus scopulorum / Cercocarpus montanus Woodland
CEGL000747 Juniperus scopulorum / Piptatherum micranthum Woodland
CEGL000748 Juniperus scopulorum / Pseudoroegneria spicata Woodland
CEGL000749 Juniperus scopulorum / Purshia tridentata Woodland
CEGL000750 Juniperus scopulorum / Schizachyrium scoparium Woodland
CEGL000804 Pinus flexilis / Cercocarpus ledifolius Woodland
CEGL000805 Pinus flexilis / Festuca idahoensis Woodland
CEGL000806 Pinus flexilis / Festuca campestris Woodland
CEGL000807 Pinus flexilis / Juniperus communis Woodland
CEGL000808 Pinus flexilis / Juniperus osteosperma Woodland
CEGL000809 Pinus flexilis / Juniperus scopulorum Woodland
CEGL000810 Pinus flexilis / Leucopoa kingii Woodland
CEGL000813 Pinus flexilis / Pseudoroegneria spicata Woodland
CEGL000815 Pinus flexilis Scree Woodland
CEGL001325 Krascheninnikovia lanata / Phlox spp. Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL002329 Pinus edulis - Juniperus osteosperma / Amelanchier utahensis Woodland
CEGL005320 Pinus flexilis / Cercocarpus montanus - Amelanchier utahensis Woodland
CEGL005321 Pinus flexilis / Symphoricarpos oreophilus Woodland



Classifiers

Land Cover Class: Forest and Woodland
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
Forest and Woodland (Treed)  
Very Shallow Soil  
Mineral: W/ A-Horizon <10 cm  
Sand Soil Texture  
Aridic  
Long Disturbance Interval  
F-Patch/High Intensity  
Needle-Leaved Tree  
Pinus flexilis, Juniperus scopulorum, J. osteosperma  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Montane Lower Montane
Escarpment  
Hillslope bedrock outcrop  
Ridgetop bedrock outcrop  
Ridge/Summit/Upper Slope  
Sideslope  
Temperate Temperate Continental
Loam Soil Texture  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Aquilegia laramiensis
  (Laramie Columbine)
G2G3  
Arabis fecunda
  (Sapphire Rockcress)
G2  
Astragalus proimanthus
  (Precocious Milkvetch)
G1  
Centrocercus urophasianus
  (Greater Sage-Grouse)
G3G4  
Phlox pungens
  (Beaver Rim Phlox)
G3  
Physaria saximontana var. saximontana
  (Rocky Mountain Twinpod)
G3T3  
Trifolium barnebyi
  (Barneby's Clover)
G1G2  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Juniperus communis G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Juniperus osteosperma G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Juniperus scopulorum G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Pinus flexilis G4 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Shepherdia canadensis G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Symphoricarpos oreophilus G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Artemisia tridentata G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Cercocarpus ledifolius G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Cercocarpus montanus G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Purshia tridentata G4 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Juniperus horizontalis G5 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Symphoricarpos albus G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Artemisia nova G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Antennaria microphylla G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Aquilegia laramiensis G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Arabis fecunda G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Arnica lonchophylla G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Astragalus proimanthus G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Phlox pungens G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Physaria saximontana var. saximontana T3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Trifolium barnebyi G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Bouteloua gracilis G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Danthonia intermedia G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Festuca campestris G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Festuca idahoensis G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Festuca kingii G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Hesperostipa comata G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Koeleria macrantha G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Piptatherum micranthum G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Poa secunda G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Pseudoroegneria spicata G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Pseudoroegneria spicata ssp. spicata T5 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
Centrocercus urophasianus
  (Greater Sage-Grouse)
G3G4      
Crotalus viridis
  (Prairie Rattlesnake)
G5      
Melanerpes lewis
  (Lewis's Woodpecker)
G4      
Pituophis catenifer
  (Gophersnake)
G5      
Sceloporus graciosus
  (Sagebrush Lizard)
G5      
Vireo vicinior
  (Gray Vireo)
G5      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: CO, MT, ND, SD, WY
Nation: Canada
Canadian Province Distribution: ABpotentially occurs
Global Range: This system occurs in foothill and lower montane zones in the Rocky Mountains from northern Montana south to central Colorado and on escarpments across Wyoming, extending out into the western Great Plains. Elevation ranges from 1000-2400 m. This system may also occur in southeastern Idaho, though it would not be common there. It is also very likely to occur north into Canada along the Front Range of Alberta, in similar ecological settings.

Biogeographic Divisions
Division Code and Name Primary Occurrence Status
303-Western Great Plains C: Confident or certain
306-Rocky Mountain C: Confident or certain

The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Ecoregions
Code Name Occurrence Status
10 Wyoming Basins Confident or certain
20 Southern Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
25 Black Hills Predicted or probable
26 Northern Great Plains Steppe Confident or certain
27 Central Shortgrass Prairie Confident or certain
8 Middle Rockies - Blue Mountains Confident or certain
9 Utah-Wyoming Rocky Mountains Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
16 Utah High Plateaus Confident or certain
19 Northern Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
20 Missouri River Plateau Confident or certain
21 Middle Rocky Mountains Predicted or probable
22 Wyoming Basin Confident or certain
28 Southern Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
29 Wyoming Highlands Confident or certain
30 Northwestern Great Plains Confident or certain
31 Sandhills Possible
33 Western Great Plains Confident or certain
40 Northern Great Plains Possible

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 4236
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1049
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2049

West Landfire Legend: Yes
East Landfire Legend: Yes

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 04Nov2015
Element Description Author(s): G. Jones, K.A. Schulz, 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
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  • 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.

  • Burns, R. M., and B. H. Honkala, technical coordinators. 1990a. Silvics of North America: Volume 1. Conifers. Agriculture Handbook 654. USDA Forest Service, Washington, DC. 675 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.

  • Eyre, F. H., editor. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Society of American Foresters, Washington, DC. 148 pp.

  • Hamilton, H., et al. [2016]. Observed West-wide climate trends. NatureServe, Arlington, VA. [in preparation]

  • Hoff, R., R. T. Bingham, and G. I. McDonald. 1980. Relative blister rust resistance of white pines. European Journal of Forest Pathology 10(5):307-316.

  • Johnson, K. A. 2001. Pinus flexilis. In: Fire Effects Information System [Online]. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). [http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/]

  • 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).

  • Lanner, R. M. 1985. Effectiveness of the seed wing of Pinus flexilis in wind dispersal. The Great Basin Naturalist 45(2):318-320.

  • Lanner, R. M. 1996. Made for each other: A symbiosis of birds and pines. Oxford University Press, New York, NY. 160 pp.

  • Lanner, R. M., and S. B. Vander Wall. 1980. Dispersal of limber pine seed by Clark's nutcracker. Journal of Forestry 78(10):637-639.

  • Peet, R. K. 1978a. Latitudinal variation in southern Rocky Mountain forests. Journal of Biogeography 5:275-289.

  • Peet, R. K. 1988. Forests of the Rocky Mountains. Pages 64-101 in: M. G. Barbour and W. D. Billings, editors. North American Terrestrial Vegetation. Cambridge University Press, New York.

  • Rosentreter, R., and J. Belnap. 2003. Biological soil crusts of North America. Chapter 2 in: J. Belnap and O. L. Lange, editors. Biological soil crusts: Structure, function, and management. Second edition. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

  • Scher, J. S. 2002. Juniperus scopulorum. In: Fire Effects Information System [Online]. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). [http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/] (accessed 25 June 2015).

  • Schmidt, W. C., and K. J. McDonald, compilers. 1990. Proceedings-Symposium on whitebark pine ecosystems: Ecology and management of a high-mountain resource. March 29-31 1989, Bozeman, MT. General Technical Report INT-270. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Ogden, UT. 386 pp.

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