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Classification
Scientific Name: North Pacific Dry and Mesic Alpine Dwarf-Shrubland, Fell-Field and Meadow
Unique Identifier: CES204.862
Classification Confidence: 1 - Strong

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Summary: This ecological system occurs above the environmental limit of trees, at the highest elevations of the mountain regions of the Pacific Northwest coast. It is confined to the coldest, wind-blown areas above treeline and above the subalpine parkland. This system is found at elevations above 2350 m (7200 feet) in the Klamath Mountains and Cascades north into the Cascade Range and Coast Mountains of British Columbia. It is commonly composed of a mosaic of plant communities with characteristic species including Cassiope mertensiana, Phyllodoce empetriformis, Phyllodoce glanduliflora, Luetkea pectinata, Saxifraga tolmiei, and Carex spp. It occurs on slopes and in depressions where snow lingers, the soil has become relatively stabilized, and the water supply is more or less constant. Vegetation in these areas is controlled by snow retention, wind desiccation, permafrost, and a short growing season. This system includes all vegetated areas in the alpine zone of the North Pacific. Typically it is a mosaic of dwarf-shrublands, fell-fields, tundra (sedge turfs), and sparsely vegetated snowbed communities. Small patches of krummholz (shrub-form trees) are also part of this system and occur at the lower elevations. Communities are dominated by graminoids, foliose lichens, dwarf-shrubs, and/or forbs. Vegetation cover ranges from about 5 or 10% (snowbeds) to nearly 100%. The alpine tundra of the northern Cascades has floristic affinities with many mountain regions in western North America. The strongest relationships are with the Arctic and Cordilleran regions to the north and east.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: Alpine systems in Alaska are placed into different types than this.

Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL001392 Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Alpine Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001395 Cassiope mertensiana Alpine Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001397 Cassiope mertensiana / Luetkea pectinata Alpine Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001398 Cassiope mertensiana - Phyllodoce empetriformis Alpine Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001399 Empetrum nigrum Alpine Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001400 Empetrum nigrum / Lupinus sellulus var. lobbii Alpine Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001408 Phyllodoce glanduliflora / Oreostemma alpigenum Alpine Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001433 Salix cascadensis / Festuca brachyphylla Alpine Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001434 Salix nivalis / Festuca brachyphylla Alpine Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001613 Festuca idahoensis ssp. roemeri - Delphinium glareosum Alpine Meadow
CEGL001622 Festuca idahoensis ssp. roemeri - Phlox diffusa ssp. longistylis Alpine Meadow
CEGL001805 Carex breweri Alpine Meadow
CEGL001807 Carex capitata Alpine Meadow
CEGL001809 Carex pellita Wet Meadow
CEGL001812 Carex nardina Scree Alpine Meadow
CEGL001850 Calamagrostis purpurascens Alpine Meadow
CEGL001859 Carex proposita Alpine Meadow
CEGL001865 Carex scirpoidea ssp. pseudoscirpoidea Alpine Meadow
CEGL001891 Dryas octopetala Alpine Dwarf-shrub Meadow
CEGL001949 Antennaria lanata Alpine Meadow
CEGL001961 Erigeron aureus - Lupinus sellulus var. lobbii Alpine Fell-field
CEGL001963 Eriogonum pyrolifolium - Luzula piperi Alpine Snowbed
CEGL001977 Pedicularis contorta - Carex spectabilis Alpine Meadow
CEGL001978 Phlox diffusa ssp. longistylis - Arenaria capillaris Alpine Meadow
CEGL001979 Phlox diffusa ssp. longistylis - Carex spectabilis Alpine Meadow
CEGL001986 Saxifraga tolmiei - Luzula piperi Alpine Snowbed



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
Shrubland (Shrub-dominated)  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Temperate Temperate Oceanic
W-Landscape/High Intensity  
Long (>500 yrs) Persistence  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Arabis furcata var. olympica
  (Columbia Gorge Rockcress)
G4T2  
Marmota olympus
  (Olympic Marmot)
G2  
Nisquallia olympica
  (Olympic Grasshopper)
G1G2  
Synthyris pinnatifida var. lanuginosa
  (Cutleaf Synthyris)
G4T3  
Taricha granulosa mazamae
  (Crater Lake Newt)
G5T1Q  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Phyllodoce empetriformis G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Luetkea pectinata G5 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Vaccinium deliciosum G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Vaccinium scoparium G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Cassiope mertensiana G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Arabis furcata var. olympica T2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Micranthes tolmiei G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Phlox diffusa ssp. longistylis T5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Synthyris pinnatifida var. lanuginosa T3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Carex nigricans G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex spectabilis 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
Lepus americanus
  (Snowshoe Hare)
G5      
Marmota olympus
  (Olympic Marmot)
G2      
Microtus oregoni
  (Creeping Vole)
G5      
Neotamias amoenus
  (Yellow-pine Chipmunk)
G5      
Nisquallia olympica
  (Olympic Grasshopper)
G1G2      
Ochotona princeps
  (American Pika)
G5      
Taricha granulosa mazamae
  (Crater Lake Newt)
G5T1Q      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: OR, WA
Nation: Canada
Canadian Province Distribution: BC
Global Range: This system occurs above the environmental limit of trees, at the highest elevations of the mountain regions of the Pacific Northwest coast. Alpine systems in Alaska are placed into different types than this.

Biogeographic Divisions
Division Code and Name Primary Occurrence Status
204-North American Pacific Maritime C: Confident or certain

The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Ecoregions
Code Name Occurrence Status
1 Pacific Northwest Coast Confident or certain
3 North Cascades Confident or certain
69 S.E. Alaska - B.C. Coastal Forest and Mountains Possible
81 West Cascades Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
1 Northern Cascades Confident or certain
2 Oregon Coastal Range Confident or certain
7 Cascade Mountain Range Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 5205
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1068
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2068

West Landfire Legend: Yes
East Landfire Legend: No

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 31Mar2005
Element Description Author(s): K. Boggs, C. Chappell, R. Crawford

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


References
  • BCMF [British Columbia Ministry of Forests]. 2006. BEC Master Site Series Database. British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Victoria, BC. [http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hre/becweb/resources/codes-standards/standards-becdb.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.

  • Ecosystems Working Group. 1998. Standards for broad terrestrial ecosystem classification and mapping for British Columbia. Prepared by the Ecosystems Working Group, Terrestrial Ecosystem Task Force, Resources Inventory Committee, for the Province of British Columbia. 174 pp. plus appendices. [http://srmwww.gov.bc.ca/risc/pubs/teecolo/tem/indextem.htm]

  • Franklin, J. F., and C. T. Dyrness. 1973. Natural vegetation of Oregon and Washington. General Technical Report PNW-8. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station, Portland, OR. 417 pp.

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

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

  • WNHP [Washington Natural Heritage Program]. 2018. Unpublished data files. Washington Natural Heritage Program, Department of Natural Resources, Olympia, WA.


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