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Classification
Scientific Name: Mediterranean California Alpine Dry Tundra
Unique Identifier: CES206.939
Classification Confidence: 2 - Moderate

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Summary: These dry meadows typically occur between 3200 and 4500 m (9700-13,600 feet) elevation in the northern Sierra Nevada, Klamath Mountains and Cascade Range. They are typically found on gentle to steep slopes, flat ridges and upper basins where the soil is thin and the water supply is constant and strongly regulated by snowpatch patterns. These sites are generally very well-drained and xeric once the snow melts. The system is commonly composed of a mosaic of small-patch plant communities that are dominated by sedges, grasses and forbs. Characteristic species include Phlox diffusa, Phlox covillei, Erigeron pygmaeus, Podistera nevadensis, Carex congdonii, Calamagrostis purpurascens, Eriogonum incanum, Carlquistia muirii (= Raillardella muirii), Castilleja nana, Erigeron compositus, Eriogonum ovalifolium, Eriogonum gracilipes, etc. There is a rocky mesic version of this system with Hulsea algida, Saxifraga tolmiei, Carex helleri, Ranunculus eschscholtzii, Polemonium eximium, Salix reticulata (rarely), Oxyria digyna, Sibbaldia procumbens, etc. that could be found near snowmelt patches generally on sheltered, steep, rocky slopes. Alpine dry tundra typically intermingles with alpine bedrock and scree, ice field, fell-field, alpine dwarf-shrubland, and alpine/subalpine wet meadows.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL003138 Carex helleri - Eriogonum incanum - Raillardella argentea Alpine Meadow
CEGL003139 Carex helleri - Saxifraga tolmiei - Luzula spicata Alpine Meadow
CEGL008658 Calamagrostis purpurascens - Linanthus pungens Alpine Fell-field



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
Alpine/AltiAndino Alpine/AltiAndino
Herbaceous  
Temperate Temperate Oceanic
Udic  
W-Landscape/High Intensity  
Graminoid  
Alpine Mosaic  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Ridge/Summit/Upper Slope  
Sideslope  
Glaciated  
Shallow Soil  
Forb  
Late-lying snowpack  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Calamagrostis breweri
  (Brewer's Reedgrass)
G3  
Erigeron pygmaeus
  (Pygmy Fleabane)
G3?  
Eriogonum gracilipes
  (White Mountain Buckwheat)
G3G4  
Polemonium eximium
  (Sierra Jacob's-ladder)
G3?  
Raillardiopsis muirii
  (Muir's Tarplant)
G2  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Castilleja nana G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Podistera nevadensis G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Calamagrostis breweri G3 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex congdonii G4 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex vernacula G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Trisetum spicatum 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
Anthus rubescens
  (American Pipit)
G5      
Leucosticte tephrocotis
  (Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch)
G5      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: CA, NV, OR
Global Range: This system occurs between 3200 and 4500 m (9700-13,600 feet) elevation in the northern Sierra Nevada, Klamath Mountains, and Cascade Range of California, Nevada and Oregon.

Biogeographic Divisions
Division Code and Name Primary Occurrence Status
206-Mediterranean California C: Confident or certain

The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Ecoregions
Code Name Occurrence Status
12 Sierra Nevada Confident or certain
4 Modoc Plateau and East Cascades Confident or certain
5 Klamath Mountains Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
2 Oregon Coastal Range Reported but false
3 Northern California Coastal Range Possible
6 Sierra Nevada Mountain Range Confident or certain
7 Cascade Mountain Range Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 7108
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1136
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2136

West Landfire Legend: Yes
East Landfire Legend: No

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 07Oct2005
Element Description Author(s): P. Comer, T. Keeler-Wolf

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


References
  • Barbour, M. G., and J. Major, editors. 1988. Terrestrial vegetation of California: New expanded edition. California Native Plant Society, Special Publication 9, Sacramento. 1030 pp.

  • Barbour, M. G., and W. D. Billings, editors. 2000. North American terrestrial vegetation. Second edition. Cambridge University Press, New York. 434 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.

  • Holland, V. L., and D. J. Keil. 1995. California vegetation. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, Dubuque, IA. 516 pp.

  • Sawyer, J. O., and T. Keeler-Wolf. 1995. A manual of California vegetation. California Native Plant Society, Sacramento. 471 pp.

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


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Data last updated: March 2019