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Classification
Scientific Name: Sierra Nevada Subalpine Lodgepole Pine Forest and Woodland
Unique Identifier: CES206.912
Classification Confidence: 2 - Moderate

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Summary: This ecological system is widespread in glacial basins at upper montane to subalpine elevations of the central and northern Sierra Nevada and Transverse and Peninsular ranges where cold-dry conditions exist (1800-2450 m [6000-8000 feet] in the north and 2450-3600 m [8000-12,000 feet] in the south). It also occurs on extensive broad ridges and pumice plateaus of the southern Cascades in Oregon (the broad ridges that form the Cascade crest in southern Oregon tend to be dominated by extensive stands of lodgepole pine). Soils are often shallow and coarse-textured. These forests and woodlands are dominated by Pinus contorta var. murrayana with shrub, grass or barren understories. Avalanche as well as tree mortality from insect outbreak and disease, drought and associated wildfire are drivers of community structure and composition. Understories are open, with scattered shrubs and herbaceous species, which do not carry fire should one get started. Trees can be very large and old and can attain diameters of 1.2 m (4 feet). Associated plant species include Arctostaphylos nevadensis, Ceanothus cordulatus, Cercocarpus ledifolius (although not that common, just occasional in drier sites), Chrysolepis sempervirens, Phyllodoce breweri, and Ribes montigenum. Common graminoids include Poa wheeleri, Carex filifolia, Carex rossii, and Carex exserta. Fire-return intervals are many hundreds of years. This system occurs in less severe settings than Mediterranean California Subalpine Woodland (CES206.910) and Northern California Mesic Subalpine Woodland (CES206.911) and is made up of trees that are not usually krummholz. Avalanches are less of a factor except in association with the volcanic peaks. Low-elevation stands of Pinus contorta in the pumice zone of Oregon are included in Rocky Mountain Poor-Site Lodgepole Pine Forest (CES306.960).

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)


Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES206.910 Mediterranean California Subalpine Woodland
CES206.911 Northern California Mesic Subalpine Woodland
CES306.960 Rocky Mountain Poor-Site Lodgepole Pine Forest


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL000130 Pinus albicaulis - Pinus contorta / Penstemon laetus Forest
CEGL002747 Pinus contorta var. murrayana / Ligusticum grayi Forest
CEGL002748 Pinus contorta var. murrayana / Penstemon newberryi Woodland
CEGL002749 Pinus contorta var. murrayana / Carex rossii Forest
CEGL003069 Pinus contorta var. murrayana / Sparse Understory Forest
CEGL003070 Pinus contorta var. murrayana / Sparse Understory Woodland
CEGL005812 Pinus contorta var. murrayana / Artemisia tridentata Forest
CEGL008667 Pinus contorta var. murrayana / Carex exserta Forest
CEGL008668 Pinus contorta var. murrayana / Ledum glandulosum Forest



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
Montane Upper Montane
Mediterranean Mediterranean Xeric-Oceanic
Shallow Soil  
Xeric  
Short Disturbance Interval Periodicity/Irregular Disturbance
Pinus contorta  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Forest and Woodland (Treed)  
Acidic Soil  
Sand Soil Texture  
F-Patch/High Intensity  
Avalanche  
Needle-Leaved Tree  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Pinus contorta G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Pinus contorta var. murrayana T4 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Arctostaphylos nevadensis G4 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Arctostaphylos patula G4 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Ceanothus cordulatus G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Poa wheeleri G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: CA, NV, OR
Distribution Outside Canada and the United States: Mexico
Global Range: This system occurs in glacial basins at upper montane to subalpine elevations of the central and northern Sierra Nevada and Transverse and Peninsular ranges where cold-dry conditions exist (1800-2450 m [6000-8000 feet] in the north and 2450-3600 m [8000-12,000 feet] in the south). It also extends south into Baja California, Mexico, in the San Pedro Martir Mountains.

If present in Oregon, the most likely location is the southern Oregon Cascades. The broad ridges that form the Cascade Crest in southern Oregon tend to be dominated by extensive stands of lodgepole pine (south of Crater Lake and north maybe to Mount Bachelor). There are also relatively large areas of lodgepole pine along the broad crest from Mt. Jefferson to a little ways north of Olallie Butte that may also fit this type better than the Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine type, as these stands are more likely dominated by Pinus contorta var. murrayana than Pinus contorta var. latifolia. Understory species are probably different from those listed, however.


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
4 Southern California Coastal Range Confident or certain
6 Sierra Nevada Mountain Range Confident or certain
7 Cascade Mountain Range Confident or certain
12 Western Great Basin Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 4245
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1058
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2058

West Landfire Legend: Yes
East Landfire Legend: No

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 12Jan2012
Element Description Author(s): P. Comer, T. Keeler-Wolf, M.S. Reid, L. Evers and 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
  • Agee, J. K. 1993. Fire ecology of Pacific Northwest forests. Island Press, Washington, DC. 493 pp.

  • Barbour, M. G, and R. A. Minnich. 2000. California upland forests and woodlands. Pages 161-202 in: M. G. Barbour and W. D. Billing, editors. North American Terrestrial Vegetation, second edition. Cambridge University Press.

  • 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.

  • Caprio, A. C. 2008. Reconstructing fire history of lodgepole pine on Chagoopa Plateau, Sequoia National Park, California. In: M. G. Narog. Proceedings of the 2002 fire conference: managing fire and fuels in the remaining wildlands and open spaces of the Southwestern United States. General Technical Report PSW-GTR-189. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Albany, CA. [http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/publications/documents/psw_gtr189/psw_gtr189_255-262_caprio.pdf]

  • 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.

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

  • Keeley, J. E. 1980. Reproductive cycles and fire regimes. Pages 231-277 in: H. A. Mooney, T. M. Bonnicksen, N. L. Christensen, J. E. Lotan, and W. A. Reiners, technical coordinators. Proceedings of the Conference: Fire Regimes and Ecosystem Properties. 11-15 December 1978, Honolulu,HI. GTR-WO-26. USDA Forest Service.

  • Parker, A. J. 1986b. Persistence of lodgepole pine forests in the central Sierra Nevada. Ecology 67:1560-1567.

  • Potter, D. A. 1998. Forested communities of the upper montane in the central and southern Sierra Nevada. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Albany, CA. 319 pp.

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

  • Sheppard, P. R., and J. P. Lassoie. 1998. Fire regime of the lodgepole pine forest of Mt. San Jacinto, California. Madroņo 45:47-56.

  • van Wagtendonk, J. W. 1991. Spatial analysis of lightning strikes in Yosemite National Park. Pages 605-611 in: P. Andrews and D. F. Potts, editors. Proceedings of the Eleventh Conference on Fire and Forest Meteorology. Society of American Foresters, Bethesda, MD. [http://www.werc.usgs.gov/ProductDetails.aspx?ID=757]


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