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Classification
Scientific Name: Rocky Mountain Subalpine-Montane Riparian Woodland
Unique Identifier: CES306.833
Classification Confidence: 2 - Moderate

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Summary: This riparian woodland system comprises seasonally flooded forests and woodlands found at montane to subalpine elevations of the Rocky Mountain cordillera, from southern New Mexico north into Montana, and west into the Intermountain West region and the Colorado Plateau. It occurs throughout the interior of British Columbia and the eastern slopes of the Cascade Range. This system contains the conifer and aspen woodlands that line montane streams. These are communities tolerant of periodic flooding and high water tables. Snowmelt moisture in this system may create shallow water tables or seeps for a portion of the growing season. Stands typically occur at elevations between 1500 and 3300 m (4920-10,830 feet), farther north elevation ranges between 900 and 2000 m. This is confined to specific riparian environments occurring on floodplains or terraces of rivers and streams, in V-shaped, narrow valleys and canyons (where there is cold-air drainage). Less frequently, occurrences are found in moderate-wide valley bottoms on large floodplains along broad, meandering rivers, and on pond or lake margins. Dominant tree species vary across the latitudinal range, although it usually includes Abies lasiocarpa and/or Picea engelmannii; other important species include Pseudotsuga menziesii, Picea pungens, Picea engelmannii x glauca, Populus tremuloides, and Juniperus scopulorum. Other trees possibly present but not usually dominant include Alnus incana, Abies concolor, Abies grandis, Pinus contorta, Populus angustifolia, Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa, and Juniperus osteosperma.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)


Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES306.804 Northern Rocky Mountain Lower Montane Riparian Woodland and Shrubland


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL000138 Pinus contorta / Calamagrostis canadensis Swamp Forest
CEGL000140 Pinus contorta / Carex (aquatilis, angustata) Swamp Woodland
CEGL000147 Pinus contorta / Deschampsia caespitosa Swamp Forest
CEGL000255 Abies concolor - Picea pungens - Populus angustifolia / Acer glabrum Forest
CEGL000296 Abies lasiocarpa - Picea engelmannii / Alnus incana Swamp Forest
CEGL000297 Abies lasiocarpa - Picea engelmannii / Alnus viridis ssp. sinuata Swamp Forest
CEGL000322 Abies lasiocarpa - Picea engelmannii / Oplopanax horridus Swamp Forest
CEGL000327 Abies lasiocarpa - Picea engelmannii / Salix drummondiana Swamp Forest
CEGL000336 Abies lasiocarpa - Picea engelmannii / Streptopus amplexifolius Swamp Forest
CEGL000339 Abies lasiocarpa / Trautvetteria caroliniensis Swamp Forest
CEGL000357 Picea engelmannii / Caltha leptosepala Swamp Forest
CEGL000359 Picea engelmannii / Carex angustata Swamp Forest
CEGL000361 Picea engelmannii / Eleocharis quinqueflora Swamp Woodland
CEGL000367 Picea engelmannii - Populus angustifolia / Heracleum maximum Swamp Forest
CEGL000376 Picea engelmannii / Senecio triangularis Swamp Forest
CEGL000388 Picea pungens / Cornus sericea Riparian Woodland
CEGL000389 Picea pungens / Equisetum arvense Riparian Woodland
CEGL000396 Picea pungens / Dasiphora fruticosa ssp. floribunda Riparian Woodland
CEGL000574 Populus tremuloides / Calamagrostis canadensis Riparian Forest
CEGL000576 Populus tremuloides Canyon Formation Riparian Forest
CEGL000577 Populus tremuloides / Carex pellita Riparian Forest
CEGL000582 Populus tremuloides / Cornus sericea Riparian Forest
CEGL000583 Populus tremuloides / Corylus cornuta Forest
CEGL000584 Populus tremuloides / Equisetum arvense Riparian Forest
CEGL000590 Populus tremuloides / Senecio bigelovii var. bigelovii Riparian Forest
CEGL000598 Populus tremuloides / Quercus gambelii / Symphoricarpos oreophilus Forest
CEGL000599 Populus tremuloides / Ranunculus alismifolius Riparian Forest
CEGL000600 Populus tremuloides / Ribes montigenum Riparian Forest
CEGL000621 Populus tremuloides / Veratrum californicum Riparian Forest
CEGL000894 Picea pungens / Alnus incana Riparian Woodland
CEGL001082 Populus tremuloides / Alnus incana - Salix spp. Riparian Forest
CEGL001149 Populus tremuloides / Alnus incana / Betula nana - Ribes spp. Riparian Forest
CEGL001150 Populus tremuloides / Alnus incana Riparian Forest
CEGL002057 Picea glauca Alluvial Black Hills Forest
CEGL002630 Picea engelmannii / Carex scopulorum var. prionophylla Swamp Woodland
CEGL002636 Abies lasiocarpa / Carex aquatilis Swamp Forest
CEGL002637 Picea pungens / Betula occidentalis Riparian Woodland
CEGL002650 Populus tremuloides / Betula occidentalis Riparian Forest
CEGL002663 Abies lasiocarpa - Picea engelmannii / Mertensia ciliata Swamp Forest
CEGL002677 Picea engelmannii / Cornus sericea Swamp Woodland
CEGL002902 Populus tremuloides / Salix drummondiana Riparian Forest
CEGL003371 Populus tremuloides / Carex obnupta Riparian Forest
CEGL003442 Populus tremuloides / Carex aquatilis var. aquatilis Riparian Forest
CEGL005367 Abies concolor - Acer negundo / Alnus incana ssp. tenuifolia Riparian Forest
CEGL005843 Picea engelmannii / Salix drummondiana Swamp Woodland
CEGL005905 Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa - Populus tremuloides - Conifer / Cornus sericea Riparian Forest
CEGL005907 Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa - Picea engelmannii / Equisetum arvense Riparian Forest
CEGL005908 Populus tremuloides - Abies lasiocarpa - Picea engelmannii / Streptopus amplexifolius Forest
CEGL005909 Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa - Populus tremuloides - Conifer / Calamagrostis canadensis Riparian Forest
CEGL005910 Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa - Populus tremuloides - Conifer / Heracleum maximum Riparian Forest
CEGL005929 Pinus contorta / Cornus sericea Swamp Woodland



Classifiers

Land Cover Class: Woody Wetland
Spatial Pattern: Linear
Natural/Seminatural: No
Vegetated ( > 10% vascular cover):
Upland: No
Wetland: Yes
Isolated Wetland: No

Diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Montane Upper Montane
Montane Montane
Forest and Woodland (Treed)  
Riverine / Alluvial  
Short (<5 yrs) Flooding Interval  
RM Subalpine/Montane Riparian Shrubland  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Montane Lower Montane
Drainage bottom (undifferentiated)  
Floodplain  
Stream terrace (undifferentiated)  
Valley bottom  
Temperate Temperate Continental
Needle-Leaved Tree  
Broad-Leaved Deciduous Tree  
Circumneutral Water  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Botrychium ascendens
  (Upward-lobed Moonwort)
G3  
Botrychium paradoxum
  (Peculiar Moonwort)
G3G4  
Rana pretiosa
  (Oregon Spotted Frog)
G2 LT: Listed threatened
Sidalcea oregana var. calva
  (Oregon Checker-mallow)
G5T1 LE: Listed endangered

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Populus angustifolia G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Populus tremuloides G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Abies lasiocarpa G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Picea engelmannii G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Alnus incana G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Sidalcea oregana var. calva T1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Botrychium ascendens G3 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)      
 
 
Botrychium paradoxum G3 Fern (Spore-bearing 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
Castor canadensis
  (American Beaver)
G5      
Rana pretiosa
  (Oregon Spotted Frog)
G2 LT: Listed threatened    
Sorex monticolus
  (Dusky Shrew)
G5      
Zapus princeps
  (Western Jumping Mouse)
G5      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: AZ, CO, ID, MT, NM, NV, OR, SD, UT, WA, WY
Nation: Canada
Canadian Province Distribution: AB, BC
Global Range: This system is found at montane to subalpine elevations of the Rocky Mountain cordillera, from southern New Mexico north into Montana, Alberta and British Columbia, and west into the Intermountain region and the Colorado Plateau.

Biogeographic Divisions
Division Code and Name Primary Occurrence Status
204-North American Pacific Maritime P: Predicted or probable
304-Inter-Mountain Basins C: Confident or certain
306-Rocky Mountain C: Confident or certain

The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Ecoregions
Code Name Occurrence Status
11 Great Basin Confident or certain
18 Utah High Plateaus Confident or certain
19 Colorado Plateau Confident or certain
20 Southern Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
21 Arizona-New Mexico Mountains Confident or certain
25 Black Hills Confident or certain
4 Modoc Plateau and East Cascades Predicted or probable
6 Columbia Plateau Predicted or probable
68 Okanagan Confident or certain
7 Canadian Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
8 Middle Rockies - Blue Mountains Confident or certain
9 Utah-Wyoming Rocky Mountains Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
1 Northern Cascades Confident or certain
6 Sierra Nevada Mountain Range Predicted or probable
7 Cascade Mountain Range Possible
9 Blue Mountain Region Confident or certain
10 Northwestern Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
12 Western Great Basin Confident or certain
16 Utah High Plateaus Predicted or probable
17 Eastern Great Basin Predicted or probable
18 Snake River Plain Predicted or probable
19 Northern Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
20 Missouri River Plateau Confident or certain
21 Middle Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
22 Wyoming Basin Confident or certain
23 Colorado Plateau Confident or certain
24 Navajo Plateau Confident or certain
25 Rio Grande Basin Confident or certain
26 Chihuahuan Desert Predicted or probable
27 Great Plains Tablelands Confident or certain
28 Southern Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
29 Wyoming Highlands Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 9171

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: No

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 09Feb2005
Element Description Author(s): Western Ecology Team, 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
  • Baker, W. L. 1988. Size-class structure of contiguous riparian woodlands along a Rocky Mountain river. Physical Geography 9(1):1-14.

  • Baker, W. L. 1989a. Macro- and micro-scale influences on riparian vegetation in western Colorado. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 79(1):65-78.

  • Baker, W. L. 1989b. Classification of the riparian vegetation of the montane and subalpine zones in western Colorado. Great Basin Naturalist 49(2):214-228.

  • Baker, W. L. 1990. Climatic and hydrologic effects on the regeneration of Populus angustifolia James along the Animas River, Colorado. Journal of Biogeography 17:59-73.

  • Comer, P. J., M. S. Reid, R. J. Rondeau, A. Black, J. Stevens, J. Bell, M. Menefee, and D. Cogan. 2002. A working classification of terrestrial ecological systems in the Northern Colorado Plateau: Analysis of their relation to the National Vegetation Classification System and application to mapping. NatureServe. Report to the National Park Service. 23 pp. plus appendices.

  • 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.

  • Crowe, E. A., and R. R. Clausnitzer. 1997. Mid-montane wetland plant associations of the Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman national forests. Technical Paper R6-NR-ECOL-TP-22-97. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR.

  • 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]

  • Eyre, F. H., editor. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Society of American Foresters, Washington, DC. 148 pp.

  • Kittel, G. 1993. A preliminary classification of the riparian vegetation of the White River Basin. Unpublished report prepared for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program. 106 pp.

  • Kittel, G., E. Van Wie, M. Damm, R. Rondeau, S. Kettler, A. McMullen, and J. Sanderson. 1999b. A classification of riparian and wetland plant associations of Colorado: A user's guide to the classification project. Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University, Fort Collins CO. 70 pp. plus appendices.

  • Kittel, G., E. Van Wie, M. Damm, R. Rondeau, S. Kettler, and J. Sanderson. 1999a. A classification of the riparian plant associations of the Rio Grande and Closed Basin watersheds, Colorado. Unpublished report prepared by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University, Fort Collins.

  • Kittel, G., R. Rondeau, N. Lederer, and D. Randolph. 1994. A classification of the riparian vegetation of the White and Colorado River basins, Colorado. Final report submitted to Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency. Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Boulder. 166 pp.

  • Kittel, G., R. Rondeau, and S. Kettler. 1995. A classification of the riparian vegetation of the Gunnison River Basin, Colorado. Submitted to Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the Environmental Protection Agency. Prepared by Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Fort Collins. 114 pp.

  • Kovalchik, B. L. 1987. Riparian zone associations - Deschutes, Ochoco, Fremont, and Winema national forests. Technical Paper 279-87. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR. 171 pp.

  • Kovalchik, B. L. 1993. Riparian plant associations on the national forests of eastern Washington - Draft version 1. USDA Forest Service, Colville National Forest, Colville, WA. 203 pp.

  • Kovalchik, B. L. 2001. Classification and management of aquatic, riparian and wetland sites on the national forests of eastern Washington. Part 1: The series descriptions. 429 pp. plus appendix. [http://www.reo.gov/col/wetland_classification/wetland_classification.pdf]

  • Manning, M. E., and W. G. Padgett. 1995. Riparian community type classification for Humboldt and Toiyabe national forests, Nevada and eastern California. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Region. 306 pp.

  • Muldavin, E., P. Durkin, M. Bradley, M. Stuever, and P. Mehlhop. 2000a. Handbook of wetland vegetation communities of New Mexico. Volumn I: Classification and community descriptions. Final report to the New Mexico Environment Department and the Environmental Protection Agency prepared by the New Mexico Natural Heritage Program, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

  • NCC [The Nature Conservancy of Canada]. 2002. Canadian Rockies ecoregional plan. The Nature Conservancy of Canada, Victoria, BC.

  • Nachlinger, J., K. Sochi, P. Comer, G. Kittel, and D. Dorfman. 2001. Great Basin: An ecoregion-based conservation blueprint. The Nature Conservancy, Reno, NV. 160 pp. plus appendices.

  • Neely, B., P. Comer, C. Moritz, M. Lammerts, R. Rondeau, C. Prague, G. Bell, H. Copeland, J. Humke, S. Spakeman, T. Schulz, D. Theobald, and L. Valutis. 2001. Southern Rocky Mountains: An ecoregional assessment and conservation blueprint. Prepared by The Nature Conservancy with support from the U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region, Colorado Division of Wildlife, and Bureau of Land Management.

  • Padgett, W. G. 1982. Ecology of riparian plant communities in southern Malheur National Forest. Unpublished thesis, Oregon State University, Corvallis. 143 pp.

  • Padgett, W. G., A. P. Youngblood, and A. H. Winward. 1988b. Riparian community type classification of Utah. Publication R4-ECOL-88-01. USDA Forest Service, Forest and Range Experiment Station, Ogden, UT.

  • Padgett, W. G., A. P. Youngblood, and A. H. Winward. 1989. Riparian community type classification of Utah and southeastern Idaho. Research Paper R4-ECOL-89-0. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Ogden, UT.

  • Rondeau, R. 2001. Ecological system viability specifications for Southern Rocky Mountain ecoregion. First edition. Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO. 181 pp.

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

  • Tuhy, J., P. Comer, D. Dorfman, M. Lammert, B. Neely, L. Whitham, S. Silbert, G. Bell, J. Humke, B. Baker, and B. Cholvin. 2002. An ecoregional assessment of the Colorado Plateau. The Nature Conservancy, Moab Project Office. 112 pp. plus maps and appendices.


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