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Classification
Scientific Name: North Pacific Maritime Mesic Subalpine Parkland
Unique Identifier: CES204.837
Classification Confidence: 2 - Moderate

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Summary: This ecological system occurs throughout the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, from the southern Cascades of Oregon to the mountains of southeastern Alaska bordering British Columbia. It occurs at the transition zone of forest to alpine, forming a subalpine forest-meadow ecotone. Mountain hemlock forests, as they approach treeline, become open patches of mature-height trees surrounded by mesic and wet meadows rich in dwarf-shrubs and forbs. Clumps of trees to small patches of forest interspersed with low shrublands and meadows characterize this system. Krummholz often occurs near the upper elevational limit of this system where it grades into alpine vegetation. Associations include woodlands, forested, and subalpine meadow types. It occurs on the west side of the Cascade Range and is a transitional open forest into the true alpine on the interior side of the Coast Mountains of British Columbia where deep, late-lying snowpack is the primary environmental factor. Major tree species are Tsuga mertensiana, Abies amabilis, Callitropsis nootkatensis (= Chamaecyparis nootkatensis), and Abies lasiocarpa. This system includes British Columbia Hypermaritime and Maritime Parkland (Tsuga mertensiana). Dominant dwarf-shrubs include Phyllodoce empetriformis, Cassiope mertensiana, and Vaccinium deliciosum. Dominant herbaceous species include Lupinus arcticus ssp. subalpinus, Valeriana sitchensis, Carex spectabilis, and Polygonum bistortoides. There is very little disturbance, either windthrow or fire. The major process controlling vegetation is the very deep long-lasting snowpacks (deepest in the North Pacific region) limiting tree regeneration. Trees get established only in favorable microsites (mostly adjacent to existing trees) or during drought years with low snowpack. It is distinguished from more interior dry parkland primarily by the presence of Tsuga mertensiana or Abies amabilis and absence or paucity of Pinus albicaulis and Larix lyallii.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: This system includes what the Alaska Natural Heritage Program called Maritime Subalpine Fir-Mountain Hemlock Forest. It is very localized in its occurrence in Alaska, occurring in the eastern portion of the panhandle at high elevations.

Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL000350 Callitropsis nootkatensis Subalpine Parkland Woodland
CEGL001397 Cassiope mertensiana / Luetkea pectinata Alpine Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001404 Phyllodoce empetriformis Parkland Alpine Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001406 Phyllodoce empetriformis / Lupinus latifolius Alpine Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001407 Phyllodoce empetriformis / Vaccinium deliciosum Alpine Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001427 Vaccinium deliciosum Parkland Alpine Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001428 Vaccinium membranaceum - Vaccinium deliciosum Alpine Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001827 Carex spectabilis Alpine Meadow
CEGL001828 Carex spectabilis - Polygonum bistortoides Alpine Meadow
CEGL001829 Carex spectabilis - Potentilla flabellifolia Alpine Meadow
CEGL001918 Luetkea pectinata - Saxifraga tolmiei Alpine Meadow
CEGL001945 Saussurea americana - Heracleum maximum Wet Meadow
CEGL001973 Lupinus arcticus ssp. subalpinus - Carex spectabilis Alpine Meadow
CEGL001981 Potentilla flabellifolia - Polygonum bistortoides Wet Meadow
CEGL001996 Valeriana sitchensis - Carex spectabilis Meadow
CEGL001997 Valeriana sitchensis - Ligusticum grayi Meadow
CEGL001998 Valeriana sitchensis - Veratrum viride Meadow
CEGL003251 Tsuga mertensiana / Cassiope mertensiana Woodland
CEGL005578 Tsuga mertensiana Krummholz
CEGL005579 Tsuga mertensiana / Phyllodoce empetriformis - Vaccinium deliciosum Woodland
CEGL005583 Tsuga mertensiana - Abies lasiocarpa / Vaccinium deliciosum - Phyllodoce empetriformis Woodland



Classifiers

Land Cover Class: Forest and Woodland
Spatial Pattern: Large patch, Small patch
Natural/Seminatural: No
Vegetated ( > 10% vascular cover):
Upland: Yes
Wetland: No
Isolated Wetland: No

Diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Montane Upper Montane
Tsuga mertensiana  
Late-lying snowpack  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Forest and Woodland (Treed)  
Temperate Temperate Continental

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  
Arabis suffrutescens var. horizontalis
  (Crater Lake Rockcress)
G5T1  
Botrychium ascendens
  (Upward-lobed Moonwort)
G3  
Botrychium pedunculosum
  (Stalked Moonwort)
G3G4  
Castilleja cryptantha
  (Obscure Indian-paintbrush)
G2G3  
Dodecatheon austrofrigidum
  (Southerly Frigid Shootingstar)
G2  
Gastroboletus vividus
  (a fungus)
G2?  
Gymnomyces nondistinctus
  (a fungus)
G1  
Marmota olympus
  (Olympic Marmot)
G2  
Micranthes tischii
  (Olympic Saxifrage)
G2  
Nisquallia olympica
  (Olympic Grasshopper)
G1G2  
Pedicularis rainierensis
  (Mount Rainier Lousewort)
G2G3  
Pinus albicaulis
  (Whitebark Pine)
G3? C: Candidate
Polites mardon
  (Mardon Skipper)
G2G3  
Pristiloma johnsoni
  (Broadwhorl Tightcoil Snail)
G3  
Ramaria coulterae
  (a fungus)
G2G3  
Rana pretiosa
  (Oregon Spotted Frog)
G2 LT: Listed threatened
Rubroboletus pulcherrimus
  (Red-pored Bolete)
G3  
Taricha granulosa mazamae
  (Crater Lake Newt)
G5T1Q  
Trematodon asanoi
  (Asano's Trematodon Moss)
G2G3  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Abies amabilis G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Abies lasiocarpa G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Chamaecyparis nootkatensis G4 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Tsuga mertensiana G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Vaccinium deliciosum G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Cassiope mertensiana G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Phyllodoce empetriformis G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Arabis furcata var. olympica T2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Arabis suffrutescens var. horizontalis T1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Castilleja cryptantha G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Dodecatheon austrofrigidum G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Lupinus arcticus ssp. subalpinus T5 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Micranthes tischii G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Pedicularis rainierensis G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Polygonum bistortoides G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Valeriana sitchensis G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Botrychium ascendens G3 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)      
 
 
Botrychium pedunculosum G3 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)      
 
 
Carex nigricans G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex spectabilis G5 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Trematodon asanoi G2 Moss Nonvascular      
 
 
Gastroboletus vividus G2 Non-plant Nonvascular      
 
 
Gymnomyces nondistinctus G1 Non-plant Nonvascular      
 
 
Ramaria coulterae G2 Non-plant Nonvascular      
 
 
Rubroboletus pulcherrimus G3 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
Lepus americanus
  (Snowshoe Hare)
G5      
Marmota caligata
  (Hoary Marmot)
G5      
Marmota olympus
  (Olympic Marmot)
G2      
Microtus longicaudus
  (Long-tailed Vole)
G5      
Microtus oregoni
  (Creeping Vole)
G5      
Neotamias amoenus
  (Yellow-pine Chipmunk)
G5      
Neotamias townsendii
  (Townsend's Chipmunk)
G5      
Nisquallia olympica
  (Olympic Grasshopper)
G1G2      
Polites mardon
  (Mardon Skipper)
G2G3      
Pristiloma johnsoni
  (Broadwhorl Tightcoil Snail)
G3      
Rana pretiosa
  (Oregon Spotted Frog)
G2 LT: Listed threatened    
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 throughout the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, from the central Oregon Cascades (Diamond Peak, 30 miles north of Crater Lake National Park), north to the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, where it can occur on the east side, facing the interior of British Columbia, as well as north to the mountains along the border of Alaska.

Biogeographic Divisions
Division Code and Name Primary Occurrence Status
204-North American Pacific Maritime C: Confident or certain
207-North American Pacific Warm Continental C: Confident or certain
306-Rocky Mountain C: Confident or certain

The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Ecoregions
Code Name Occurrence Status
1 Pacific Northwest Coast Confident or certain
144 Montane Cordillera Confident or certain
4 Modoc Plateau and East Cascades Confident or certain
69 S.E. Alaska - B.C. Coastal Forest and Mountains Possible
7 Canadian Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
70 Gulf of Alaska Mountains and Fjordlands Confident or certain
81 West Cascades Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
1 Northern Cascades Confident or certain
7 Cascade Mountain Range Predicted or probable
78 Southeast Alaska Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 4225
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1038
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2038

West Landfire Legend: Yes
East Landfire Legend: No

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 06Feb2009
Element Description Author(s): G. Kittel and C. Chappell

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]

  • Banner, A., W. MacKenzie, S. Haeussler, S. Thomson, J. Pojar, and R. Trowbridge. 1993. A field guide to site identification and interpretation for the Prince Rupert Forest Region. Ministry of Forests Research Program. Victoria, BC. Parts 1 and 2. Land Management Handbook Number 26.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Green, R. N., and K. Klinka. 1994. A field guide to site interpretation for the Vancouver Forest Region. British Columbia Ministry of Forests. ISSN 0229-1622 Land Management Handbook 28. 285 pp.

  • Viereck, L. A., C. T. Dyrness, A. R. Batten, and K. J. Wenzlick. 1992. The Alaska vegetation classification. General Technical Report PNW-GTR286. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, OR. 278 pp.

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


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Data last updated: March 2019