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Classification
Scientific Name: North Pacific Seasonal Sitka Spruce Forest
Unique Identifier: CES204.841
Classification Confidence: 1 - Strong

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Summary: This ecological system is restricted to the hypermaritime climatic areas near the Pacific Coast from Point Arena, California, north to northern Vancouver Island, British Columbia. These forests are typically dominated or codominated by Picea sitchensis and often have a mixture of other conifers present, such as Tsuga heterophylla, Thuja plicata, Pseudotsuga menziesii, or Callitropsis nootkatensis. Tsuga heterophylla is very often codominant. In the southern extent (in Oregon, but not in California), Abies grandis, Acer circinatum, Alnus rubra, Acer macrophyllum, Chamaecyparis lawsoniana, and Frangula purshiana can be associates, while Callitropsis nootkatensis is completely absent. Wet coastal environments that support stands of Chamaecyparis lawsoniana in the absence of Picea sitchensis are also part of this system. The understory is rich with shade-tolerant shrubs and ferns, including Gaultheria shallon, Vaccinium ovatum, Polystichum munitum, Dryopteris spp., and Blechnum spicant, as well as a high diversity of mosses and lichens. This ecological system is restricted to the hypermaritime climatic areas near the Pacific Coast from Point Arena, California, north to northern Vancouver Island and Smith Sound on the mainland coast of British Columbia. They are generally limited to areas within 25 km or so of saltwater and are most abundant along the coast of Vancouver Island, southern portions of coastal mainland British Columbia, and the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. This ecosystem is defined as the "Seasonal Rain Forest" by Wolf et al. (1995), as the climate has abundant rainfall in the winter months and very little in the summer months. At the northern boundary this Sitka spruce forest ecosystem merges into Alaskan Pacific Maritime Sitka Spruce Forest (CES204.151) which has more continuous year-round rainfall and lacks Douglas-fir. North Pacific Seasonal Sitka Spruce Forest (CES204.841) occurs on outermost coastal fringe where salt spray is prominent, riparian terraces and valley bottoms near the coast where there is major fog accumulation, and on steep, well-drained productive slopes not directly adjacent to the outer coast but within the hypermaritime zone. Annual precipitation ranges from 65 to 550 cm, with the majority falling as rain. Winter rains can be heavy. When summer drought occurs it is typically short in duration and ameliorated by frequent, dense coastal fog and cloud cover. In fact the fog belt becomes more and more important in the southern half of this ecosystem's distribution. In Washington and Oregon, it is found mostly below 300 m elevation. It also occurs as a very narrow strip or localized patches along the southern Oregon and northern California coasts. The disturbance regime is mostly small-scale windthrow or other gap mortality processes (though there are occasional widespread intense windstorms) and very few fires, the latter mainly in Oregon.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: Stands dominated or codominated with Chamaecyparis lawsoniana that are within 25 km (15 miles) of the coast are part of either California Coastal Redwood Forest (CES206.921) (extreme southern Oregon and northern California) or North Pacific Seasonal Sitka Spruce Forest (CES204.841) (central and northern coastal Oregon). Stands in these areas may or may not have redwood or Sitka spruce present. Stands away for the coast and not on serpentine soils are considered part of North Pacific Maritime Mesic-Wet Douglas-fir-Western Hemlock Forest (CES204.002).

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES204.842 North Pacific Hypermaritime Western Red-cedar-Western Hemlock Forest


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL000048 Chamaecyparis lawsoniana / Vaccinium ovatum Forest
CEGL000054 Chamaecyparis lawsoniana - Picea sitchensis / Vaccinium ovatum - Rhododendron macrophyllum Forest
CEGL000056 Picea sitchensis - (Pseudotsuga menziesii) / Vaccinium parvifolium - Menziesia ferruginea Forest
CEGL002603 Picea sitchensis - Tsuga heterophylla / Rhododendron macrophyllum - Vaccinium ovatum Forest
CEGL005524 Picea sitchensis / Gaultheria shallon Forest
CEGL005526 Picea sitchensis - Pseudotsuga menziesii / Gaultheria shallon Forest
CEGL005527 Picea sitchensis - Pseudotsuga menziesii / Oplopanax horridus Forest
CEGL005528 Picea sitchensis - Pseudotsuga menziesii / Oxalis oregana Forest
CEGL005529 Picea sitchensis - Tsuga heterophylla - (Alnus rubra) / Oplopanax horridus / Polystichum munitum Forest
CEGL005530 Picea sitchensis - Tsuga heterophylla / Polystichum munitum - Oxalis oregana 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
Forest and Woodland (Treed)  
Temperate Temperate Hyperoceanic
Picea sitchensis  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Lowland Foothill
Lowland Lowland

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Albatrellus avellaneus
  (a fungus)
G2  
Batrachoseps wrightorum
  (Oregon Slender Salamander)
G3  
Cortinarius pavelekii
  (a fungus)
G2  
Deroceras hesperium
  (Evening Fieldslug)
G2Q  
Dodecatheon austrofrigidum
  (Southerly Frigid Shootingstar)
G2  
Endogone oregonensis
  (a fungus)
G2G3  
Erigeron peregrinus var. thompsonii
  (Thompson's Wandering Daisy)
G5T3  
Hemphillia burringtoni
  (Keeled Jumping-slug)
G1G2  
Hesperarion mariae
  (Tillamook Westernslug)
G3  
Heterodermia sitchensis
  (Seaside Centipede Lichen)
G1  
Lactarius silviae
  (a fungus)
G2  
Lilium occidentale
  (Western Lily)
G1G2 LE: Listed endangered
Limbella fryei
  (Frye's Limbella Moss)
G1  
Monadenia fidelis flava
  (Pacific Sideband)
G4G5T1T2  
Octaviania cyanescens
  (a fungus)
G2?  
Phaeocollybia californica
  (a fungus)
G3  
Phaeocollybia dissiliens
  (a fungus)
G2G3  
Phaeocollybia gregaria
  (a fungus)
G1G2  
Pristiloma johnsoni
  (Broadwhorl Tightcoil Snail)
G3  
Pristiloma pilsbryi
  (Crowned Tightcoil)
G1  
Pseudaleuria quinaultiana
  (a fungus)
G2  
Pterostichus rothi
  (Blind Carabid Beetle)
G2?  
Sidalcea hirtipes
  (Bristly-stem Sidalcea)
G2  
Silene douglasii var. oraria
  (Cascade Head Catchfly)
G4T1  
Tuber pacificum
  (a fungus)
G2  
Vertigo sp. 1
  (Hoko Vertigo)
G1  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Picea sitchensis G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Thuja plicata G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Tsuga heterophylla G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Gaultheria shallon G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Dodecatheon austrofrigidum G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Erigeron peregrinus var. thompsonii T3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Lilium occidentale G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Sidalcea hirtipes G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Silene douglasii var. oraria T1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Limbella fryei G1 Moss Nonvascular      
 
 
Heterodermia sitchensis G1 Lichen Nonvascular      
 
 
Hypogymnia oceanica G4 Lichen Nonvascular      
 
 
Albatrellus avellaneus G2 Non-plant Nonvascular      
 
 
Cortinarius pavelekii G2 Non-plant Nonvascular      
 
 
Endogone oregonensis G2 Non-plant Nonvascular      
 
 
Lactarius silviae G2 Non-plant Nonvascular      
 
 
Octaviania cyanescens G2 Non-plant Nonvascular      
 
 
Phaeocollybia californica G3 Non-plant Nonvascular      
 
 
Phaeocollybia dissiliens G2 Non-plant Nonvascular      
 
 
Phaeocollybia gregaria G1 Non-plant Nonvascular      
 
 
Pseudaleuria quinaultiana G2 Non-plant Nonvascular      
 
 
Tuber pacificum G2 Non-plant Nonvascular      
 
 


Animal Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status Charact-
eristic
Exotic
Batrachoseps wrightorum
  (Oregon Slender Salamander)
G3      
Deroceras hesperium
  (Evening Fieldslug)
G2Q      
Hemphillia burringtoni
  (Keeled Jumping-slug)
G1G2      
Hesperarion mariae
  (Tillamook Westernslug)
G3      
Monadenia fidelis flava
  (Pacific Sideband)
G4G5T1T2      
Peromyscus keeni
  (Northwestern Deermouse)
G5      
Poecile rufescens
  (Chestnut-backed Chickadee)
G5      
Pristiloma johnsoni
  (Broadwhorl Tightcoil Snail)
G3      
Pristiloma pilsbryi
  (Crowned Tightcoil)
G1      
Pterostichus rothi
  (Blind Carabid Beetle)
G2?      
Scapanus orarius
  (Coast Mole)
G5      
Sorex monticolus
  (Dusky Shrew)
G5      
Sorex vagrans
  (Vagrant Shrew)
G5      
Tamiasciurus douglasii
  (Douglas' Squirrel)
G5      
Vertigo sp. 1
  (Hoko Vertigo)
G1      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: CA, OR, WA
Nation: Canada
Canadian Province Distribution: BC
Global Range: This ecological system is restricted to the hypermaritime climatic areas near the Pacific Coast from Point Arena, California, north to northern Vancouver Island and Smith Sound on the mainland coast of British Columbia (S. Saunders pers. comm. 2013), where it merges with its northern counterpart, Alaskan Pacific Maritime Sitka Spruce Forest (CES204.151).

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
69 S.E. Alaska - B.C. Coastal Forest and Mountains Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
1 Northern Cascades Confident or certain
2 Oregon Coastal Range Confident or certain
3 Northern California Coastal Range Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 4223
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1036
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2036

West Landfire Legend: Yes
East Landfire Legend: No

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 14Jan2014
Element Description Author(s): G. Kittel, P. Comer, D. Vanderschaaf, C. Chappell, T. Keeler-Wolf and M.S. Reid

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


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