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Classification
Scientific Name: Mediterranean California Alpine Fell-Field
Unique Identifier: CES206.900
Classification Confidence: 2 - Moderate

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Summary: This ecological system occurs in limited alpine environments mostly concentrated in the Sierra Nevada but also on Mount Shasta and as far south as the Peninsular Ranges and White Mountains. Alpine elevations begin around 3500 m (10,600 feet) in the southern mountain ranges and 2700 m (8200 feet) in the southern Cascades. Wind scours fell-fields free of snow in the winter, exposing the plants to severe environmental stress. These systems typically have immature soils. Most fell-field plants are cushioned or matted, frequently succulent, flat to the ground in rosettes, and often densely hairy and thickly cutinized. Common species include Ribes cereum, Linanthus pungens (= Leptodactylon pungens), Ericameria discoidea, Castilleja nana, Minuartia nuttallii (= Arenaria nuttallii), Phlox condensata, Draba densifolia, Oxyria digyna, and Aquilegia pubescens. Plants cover 15-50%, while exposed rock makes up the rest. Fell-fields are usually nested within or adjacent to alpine tundra dry meadows.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)



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
Alpine/AltiAndino Alpine/AltiAndino
Ridge/Summit/Upper Slope  
Temperate Temperate Oceanic
Very Shallow Soil  
Cushion plants  
Alpine Mosaic  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Shrubland (Shrub-dominated)  
Herbaceous  
Moss/Lichen (Nonvascular)  
Avalanche chute  
Cirque  
Colluvial slope  
Talus (Landform)  
Sideslope  
Talus (Substrate)  
Glaciated  
W-Landscape/High Intensity  
Dwarf-Shrub  
Nonvascular  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Aquilegia pubescens
  (Sierra Columbine)
G3  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Draba densifolia G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Leptodactylon pungens G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Minuartia nuttallii G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Phlox condensata G4 Flowering forb 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      
Corvus corax
  (Common Raven)
G5      
Eremophila alpestris
  (Horned Lark)
G5      
Leucosticte tephrocotis
  (Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch)
G5      
Peromyscus maniculatus
  (North American Deermouse)
G5      


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 limited alpine environments mostly concentrated in the Sierra Nevada but also on Mount Shasta and as far south as the Peninsular Ranges and White Mountains.

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
16 California South Coast 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
4 Southern California Coastal Range Predicted or probable
6 Sierra Nevada Mountain Range Confident or certain
7 Cascade Mountain Range Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 5204
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1067
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2067

West Landfire Legend: Yes
East Landfire Legend: No

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 12Jan2012
Element Description Author(s): P. Comer, T. Keeler-Wolf, 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
  • 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