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Classification
Scientific Name: Rocky Mountain Lower Montane-Foothill Shrubland
Unique Identifier: CES306.822
Classification Confidence: 2 - Moderate

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Summary: This ecological system is found in the foothills, canyon slopes and lower mountains of the Rocky Mountains and on outcrops and canyon slopes in the western Great Plains. It ranges from southern New Mexico, extending north into Wyoming, and west into the Intermountain West region. These shrublands occur between 1500 and 2900 m elevation and are usually associated with exposed sites, rocky substrates, and dry conditions, which limit tree growth. It is common where Quercus gambelii is absent, such as the northern Colorado Front Range and in drier foothills and prairie hills. This system is generally drier than Rocky Mountain Gambel Oak-Mixed Montane Shrubland (CES306.818) but may include mesic montane shrublands where Quercus gambelii does not occur. Cercocarpus montanus dominates pure stands in parts of Wyoming and Colorado. Scattered trees or inclusions of grassland patches or steppe may be present, but the vegetation is typically dominated by a variety of shrubs, including Amelanchier utahensis, Cercocarpus montanus, Purshia tridentata, Rhus trilobata, Ribes cereum, Symphoricarpos oreophilus, or Yucca glauca. Grasses are represented as species of Muhlenbergia, Bouteloua, Hesperostipa, and Pseudoroegneria spicata. Fires play an important role in this system as the dominant shrubs usually have a severe die-back, although some plants will stump sprout. Cercocarpus montanus requires a disturbance such as fire to reproduce, either by seed sprout or root-crown sprouting. Fire suppression may have allowed an invasion of trees into some of these shrublands, but in many cases sites are too xeric for tree growth. In Wyoming, stands where Cercocarpus montanus is a component of mixed shrublands are placed in Northern Rocky Mountain Montane-Foothill Deciduous Shrubland (CES306.994).

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: Some reviewers have requested that this system be renamed in such a way as to more strongly indicate that it is dominated primarily by Cercocarpus montanus. However, while Cercocarpus montanus is an important shrub in this system, it is not the only dominant, and in many occurrences is not found at all.

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES306.818 Rocky Mountain Gambel Oak-Mixed Montane Shrubland
CES306.994 Northern Rocky Mountain Montane-Foothill Deciduous Shrubland


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL001055 Purshia tridentata / Artemisia frigida / Hesperostipa comata Shrubland
CEGL001057 Purshia tridentata / Muhlenbergia montana Shrubland
CEGL001067 Amelanchier utahensis Shrubland
CEGL001069 Amelanchier utahensis / Pseudoroegneria spicata Shrubland
CEGL001070 Amelanchier (utahensis, alnifolia) - Cercocarpus montanus Shrubland
CEGL001086 Cercocarpus montanus / Bouteloua curtipendula Shrubland
CEGL001087 Cercocarpus montanus / Elymus lanceolatus ssp. lanceolatus Shrubland
CEGL001088 Cercocarpus montanus / Garrya flavescens Shrubland
CEGL001089 Cercocarpus montanus / Muhlenbergia pauciflora Shrubland
CEGL001090 Cercocarpus montanus / Pseudoroegneria spicata Shrubland
CEGL001091 Cercocarpus montanus / Rhus trilobata var. trilobata Shrubland
CEGL001092 Cercocarpus montanus / Hesperostipa comata Shrubland
CEGL001108 Prunus virginiana - (Prunus americana) Wet Shrubland
CEGL001118 Quercus x pauciloba / Cercocarpus montanus Shrubland
CEGL001120 Rhus trilobata / Pseudoroegneria spicata Shrub Grassland
CEGL001124 Ribes cereum / Leymus ambiguus Shrubland
CEGL001131 Symphoricarpos occidentalis Shrubland
CEGL001421 Artemisia nova / Leymus salinus Shrub Grassland
CEGL001500 Cercocarpus montanus / Muhlenbergia emersleyi Scrub
CEGL001505 Rhus trilobata / Festuca idahoensis Shrub Grassland
CEGL002222 Fallugia paradoxa - Rhus trilobata Shrubland
CEGL002330 Fallugia paradoxa / Rockland Shrubland
CEGL002333 Rhus trilobata - Ribes cereum Shrubland
CEGL002782 Artemisia frigida / Bouteloua gracilis Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL002798 Cercocarpus montanus Shale Shrubland
CEGL002910 Rhus trilobata Rocky Mountain Shrubland
CEGL002911 Cercocarpus montanus / Hesperostipa neomexicana Shrubland
CEGL002912 Cercocarpus montanus - Rhus trilobata / Andropogon gerardii Shrubland
CEGL002913 Cercocarpus montanus / Achnatherum scribneri Shrubland
CEGL002914 Cercocarpus montanus / Muhlenbergia montana Shrubland
CEGL002951 Symphoricarpos oreophilus Shrubland
CEGL003496 Fallugia paradoxa - Brickellia spp. - (Holodiscus dumosus) Scree Shrubland
CEGL004589 Cercocarpus montanus var. paucidentatus / Petrophyton caespitosum Shrubland
CEGL005264 Bromus inermis - (Pascopyrum smithii) Ruderal Grassland
CEGL005376 Ceanothus fendleri / Muhlenbergia montana Shrubland
CEGL005378 Quercus x pauciloba / Bouteloua curtipendula Shrubland
CEGL005393 Cercocarpus intricatus - (Quercus turbinella) Mixed Shrubland
CEGL005805 Cercocarpus montanus - Artemisia tridentata Shrubland
CEGL005835 Spiraea betulifolia Shrubland



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
Montane Lower Montane
Lowland Foothill
Shrubland (Shrub-dominated)  
Very Shallow Soil  
Aridic  
Intermediate Disturbance Interval Periodicity/Polycyclic Disturbance

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Canyon  
Colluvial slope  
Foothill(s)  
Gulch  
Midslope  
Ridge  
Temperate Temperate Continental
Mineral: W/ A-Horizon <10 cm  
Short (50-100 yrs) Persistence  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Astragalus anisus
  (Gunnison's Milkvetch)
G2G3  
Astragalus ripleyi
  (Ripley's Milkvetch)
G3  
Centrocercus minimus
  (Gunnison Sage-Grouse)
G2G3 LT: Listed threatened
Centrocercus urophasianus
  (Greater Sage-Grouse)
G3G4  
Lepidium huberi
  (Huber's Pepperwort)
G1G2  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Amelanchier utahensis G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)  
 
 
Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Rhus trilobata G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Ribes cereum G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Symphoricarpos oreophilus G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)  
 
 
Cercocarpus montanus G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Purshia tridentata G4 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Yucca glauca G5 Succulent shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)  
 
 
Artemisia frigida G5 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Astragalus anisus G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Astragalus ripleyi G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Lepidium huberi G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Bouteloua gracilis G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Muhlenbergia montana 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
Centrocercus minimus
  (Gunnison Sage-Grouse)
G2G3 LT: Listed threatened    
Centrocercus urophasianus
  (Greater Sage-Grouse)
G3G4      
Crotalus viridis
  (Prairie Rattlesnake)
G5      
Oreoscoptes montanus
  (Sage Thrasher)
G4      
Peromyscus boylii
  (Brush Deermouse)
G5      
Pipilo chlorurus
  (Green-tailed Towhee)
G5      
Pituophis catenifer
  (Gophersnake)
G5      
Sceloporus graciosus
  (Sagebrush Lizard)
G5      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: AZ, CO, MT, NEpotentially occurs, NM, SD, WY
Global Range: This system is found in the foothills, canyon slopes and lower mountains of the Rocky Mountains and on outcrops and canyon slopes in the western Great Plains. It ranges from southern New Mexico, extending north into Wyoming, and west into the Intermountain West region.

Biogeographic Divisions
Division Code and Name Primary Occurrence Status
303-Western Great Plains C: Confident or certain
306-Rocky Mountain C: Confident or certain

The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Ecoregions
Code Name Occurrence Status
10 Wyoming Basins 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
26 Northern Great Plains Steppe Confident or certain
27 Central Shortgrass Prairie Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
1 Northern Cascades Confident or certain
15 Mogollon Rim Confident or certain
16 Utah High Plateaus Confident or certain
18 Snake River Plain Confident or certain
20 Missouri River Plateau Never was there
21 Middle Rocky Mountains Predicted or probable
22 Wyoming Basin Confident or certain
23 Colorado Plateau Confident or certain
25 Rio Grande Basin Confident or certain
26 Chihuahuan Desert Confident or certain
27 Great Plains Tablelands Confident or certain
28 Southern Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
29 Wyoming Highlands Confident or certain
30 Northwestern Great Plains Possible
31 Sandhills Predicted or probable
33 Western Great Plains Confident or certain
34 Southern Great Plains Predicted or probable

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 5263
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1086
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2086

West Landfire Legend: Yes
East Landfire Legend: Yes

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 26Jan2007
Element Description Author(s): NatureServe Western Ecology Team

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


References
  • 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.

  • Dick-Peddie, W. A. 1993. New Mexico vegetation: Past, present, and future. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque. 244 pp.

  • Hess, K. 1981. Phyto-edaphic study of habitat types of the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest, Colorado. Unpublished dissertation, Colorado State University, Fort Collins. 558 pp.

  • Hess, K., and C. H. Wasser. 1982. Grassland, shrubland, and forest habitat types of the White River-Arapaho National Forest. Unpublished final report 53-82 FT-1-19. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, CO. 335 pp.

  • Hoffman, G. R., and R. R. Alexander. 1987. Forest vegetation of the Black Hills National Forest of South Dakota and Wyoming: A habitat type classification. Research Paper RM-276. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, CO. 48 pp.

  • Knopf, F. L., J. A. Sedgwick, and D. B. Inkley. 1990. Regional correspondence among shrub-steppe bird habitats. Condor 92:45-53.

  • Marriott, H. J., and D. Faber-Langendoen. 2000. The Black Hills community inventory. Volume 2: Plant community descriptions. The Nature Conservancy, Midwest Conservation Science Center and Association for Biodiversity Information, Minneapolis, MN. 326 pp.

  • Mueggler, W. F., and W. L. Stewart. 1980. Grassland and shrubland habitat types of western Montana. General Technical Report INT-66. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Ogden, UT. 154 pp.

  • Muldavin, E. 1994. Organ Mountains sensitive species and plant community inventory. Unpublished report prepared by the New Mexico Natural Heritage Program, Albuquerque.

  • Muldavin, E., Y. Chauvin, and G. Harper. 2000b. The vegetation of White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico: Volume I. Handbook of vegetation communities. Final report to Environmental Directorate, White Sands Missile Range. New Mexico Natural Heritage Program, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. 195 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.

  • Rising, J. D. 1996. A guide to the identification and natural history of the sparrows of the United States and Canada. Academic Press, San Diego.

  • Roughton, R. D. 1972. Shrub age structures on a mule deer winter range in Colorado. Ecology 53(4):615-625.

  • Sedgwick, J. A. and F. L. Knopf. 1987. Breeding bird response to cattle grazing of a cottonwood bottomland. Journal of Wildlife Management 51:230-237.

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

  • Thilenius, J. F., G. R. Brown, and A. L. Medina. 1995. Vegetation on semi-arid rangelands, Cheyenne River Basin, Wyoming. General Technical Report RM-GTR-263. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, CO. 60 pp.

  • Welsh, S. L., N. D. Atwood, S. Goodrich and L. C. Higgins, editors. 2008. A Utah flora. Fourth edition revised. Brigham Young University, Provo, UT. 1019 pp.


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