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Classification
Scientific Name: Rocky Mountain Aspen Forest and Woodland
Unique Identifier: CES306.813
Classification Confidence: 2 - Moderate

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Summary: This widespread ecological system is more common in the southern and central Rocky Mountains but occurs in the montane and subalpine zones throughout much of the western U.S. and north into Canada. An eastern extension occurs along the Rocky Mountains foothill front and in mountain "islands" in Montana (Big Snowy and Highwood mountains), and the Black Hills of South Dakota. In California, this system is only found on the east side of the Sierra Nevada adjacent to the Great Basin. Large stands are found in the Inyo and White mountains, while small stands occur on the Modoc Plateau. In western Alberta, it occurs only in the Upper Foothills subregion, and north of there transitions to Western North American Boreal Mesic Birch-Aspen Forest (CES105.108). Elevations generally range from 1525 to 3050 m (5000-10,000 feet), but occurrences can be found at lower elevations in some regions, especially in the Canadian Rockies. Distribution of this ecological system is primarily limited by adequate soil moisture required to meet its high evapotranspiration demand. Secondarily, it is limited by the length of the growing season or low temperatures. These are upland forests and woodlands dominated by Populus tremuloides without a significant conifer component (<25% relative tree cover). The understory structure may be complex with multiple shrub and herbaceous layers, or simple with just an herbaceous layer. The herbaceous layer may be dense or sparse, dominated by graminoids or forbs. In California, Symphyotrichum spathulatum (= Aster occidentalis) is a common forb. Associated shrub species include Symphoricarpos spp., Rubus parviflorus, Amelanchier alnifolia, and Arctostaphylos uva-ursi. Occurrences of this system originate and are maintained by stand-replacing disturbances such as avalanches, crown fire, insect outbreak, disease and windthrow, or clearcutting by man or beaver, within the matrix of conifer forests. It differs from Northwestern Great Plains Aspen Forest and Parkland (CES303.681), which is limited to plains environments. In Texas, this system occurs as small patches within the higher elevation conifer systems of the Guadalupe, Davis, and Chisos mountains. These patches are considered relictual remnants in this southwestern extension of this more commonly encountered type further north.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: The scattered occurrences in Trans-Pecos of Texas are of interest as they represent disjunct outliers of the type occurring under highly limited circumstances.

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES105.108 Western North American Boreal Mesic Birch-Aspen Forest
CES303.681 Northwestern Great Plains Aspen Forest and Parkland


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL000563 Populus tremuloides / Acer glabrum Forest
CEGL000564 Populus tremuloides / Amelanchier alnifolia Forest
CEGL000565 Populus tremuloides / Amelanchier alnifolia / Pteridium aquilinum Forest
CEGL000566 Populus tremuloides / Amelanchier alnifolia - Symphoricarpos oreophilus / Bromus carinatus Forest
CEGL000567 Populus tremuloides / Amelanchier alnifolia - Symphoricarpos oreophilus / Calamagrostis rubescens Forest
CEGL000568 Populus tremuloides / Amelanchier alnifolia - Symphoricarpos oreophilus / Tall Forbs Forest
CEGL000569 Populus tremuloides / Amelanchier alnifolia - Symphoricarpos oreophilus / Thalictrum fendleri Forest
CEGL000570 Populus tremuloides / Amelanchier alnifolia / Tall Forbs Forest
CEGL000571 Populus tremuloides / Amelanchier alnifolia / Thalictrum fendleri Forest
CEGL000572 Populus tremuloides / Artemisia tridentata Forest
CEGL000573 Populus tremuloides / Bromus carinatus Forest
CEGL000575 Populus tremuloides / Calamagrostis rubescens Forest
CEGL000578 Populus tremuloides / Carex siccata Forest
CEGL000579 Populus tremuloides / Carex geyeri Forest
CEGL000580 Populus tremuloides / Carex rossii Forest
CEGL000581 Populus tremuloides / Ceanothus velutinus Forest
CEGL000583 Populus tremuloides / Corylus cornuta Forest
CEGL000585 Populus tremuloides / Festuca thurberi Forest
CEGL000586 Populus tremuloides / Heracleum sphondylium Forest
CEGL000587 Populus tremuloides / Juniperus communis Forest
CEGL000588 Populus tremuloides / Juniperus communis / Carex geyeri Forest
CEGL000589 Populus tremuloides / Juniperus communis / Lupinus argenteus Forest
CEGL000591 Populus tremuloides / Ligusticum filicinum Forest
CEGL000592 Populus tremuloides / Lonicera involucrata Forest
CEGL000593 Populus tremuloides / Lupinus argenteus Forest
CEGL000594 Populus tremuloides / Mahonia repens Forest
CEGL000595 Populus tremuloides / Heracleum maximum Forest
CEGL000596 Populus tremuloides / Prunus virginiana Forest
CEGL000597 Populus tremuloides / Pteridium aquilinum Forest
CEGL000598 Populus tremuloides / Quercus gambelii / Symphoricarpos oreophilus Forest
CEGL000600 Populus tremuloides / Ribes montigenum Riparian Forest
CEGL000602 Populus tremuloides / Rubus parviflorus Forest
CEGL000603 Populus tremuloides / Rudbeckia occidentalis Forest
CEGL000604 Populus tremuloides / Salix scouleriana Forest
CEGL000605 Populus tremuloides / Sambucus racemosa Forest
CEGL000606 Populus tremuloides / Shepherdia canadensis Forest
CEGL000607 Populus tremuloides / Spiraea betulifolia Forest
CEGL000608 Populus tremuloides / Hesperostipa comata Forest
CEGL000609 Populus tremuloides / Symphoricarpos albus Forest
CEGL000610 Populus tremuloides / Symphoricarpos oreophilus Forest
CEGL000611 Populus tremuloides / Symphoricarpos oreophilus / Bromus carinatus Forest
CEGL000612 Populus tremuloides / Symphoricarpos oreophilus / Calamagrostis rubescens Forest
CEGL000613 Populus tremuloides / Symphoricarpos oreophilus / Carex rossii Forest
CEGL000614 Populus tremuloides / Symphoricarpos oreophilus / Festuca thurberi Forest
CEGL000615 Populus tremuloides / Symphoricarpos oreophilus / Tall Forbs Forest
CEGL000616 Populus tremuloides / Symphoricarpos oreophilus / Thalictrum fendleri Forest
CEGL000617 Populus tremuloides / Symphoricarpos oreophilus / Wyethia amplexicaulis Forest
CEGL000618 Populus tremuloides / Tall Forbs Forest
CEGL000619 Populus tremuloides / Thalictrum fendleri Forest
CEGL000620 Populus tremuloides / Vaccinium myrtillus Forest
CEGL000622 Populus tremuloides / Wyethia amplexicaulis Forest
CEGL000946 Populus tremuloides / Symphoricarpos albus / Elymus glaucus Woodland
CEGL002167 Ceanothus velutinus Shrubland
CEGL002816 Populus tremuloides / Amelanchier alnifolia - Symphoricarpos oreophilus / Mixed Graminoid Forest
CEGL003145 Populus tremuloides / Monardella odoratissima Forest
CEGL003146 Populus tremuloides / Artemisia tridentata / Monardella odoratissima - Kelloggia galioides Forest
CEGL003149 Populus tremuloides / Rosa woodsii Riparian Forest
CEGL003748 Populus tremuloides / Invasive Perennial Grasses Forest
CEGL005034 Populus tremuloides / Mixed Shrubs / Cinder Woodland
CEGL005503 Populus tremuloides / Robinia neomexicana Woodland
CEGL005504 Populus tremuloides - Ceanothus fendleri / Carex spp. Scrub
CEGL005849 Populus tremuloides / Urtica dioica Forest
CEGL005911 Populus tremuloides - Conifer / Spiraea betulifolia - Symphoricarpos albus 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)  
Long Disturbance Interval  
F-Patch/Medium Intensity  
F-Landscape/Medium Intensity  
Broad-Leaved Deciduous Tree  
Populus tremuloides  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Montane Upper Montane
Montane Montane
Temperate Temperate Continental
Mesotrophic Soil  
Shallow Soil  
Mineral: W/ A-Horizon <10 cm  
Ustic  

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  
Oreohelix sp. 1
  (Chelan Mountainsnail)
G2  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Populus tremuloides G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Symphoricarpos oreophilus G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Rosa woodsii G5 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Symphoricarpos albus G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Berberis repens G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Geranium viscosissimum G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Thalictrum fendleri G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Botrychium ascendens G3 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)      
 
 
Botrychium paradoxum G3 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)      
 
 
Poa pratensis 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
Accipiter striatus
  (Sharp-shinned Hawk)
G5      
Microtus longicaudus
  (Long-tailed Vole)
G5      
Microtus montanus
  (Montane Vole)
G5      
Oreohelix sp. 1
  (Chelan Mountainsnail)
G2      
Oreothlypis celata
  (Orange-crowned Warbler)
G5      
Sphyrapicus nuchalis
  (Red-naped Sapsucker)
G5      
Sphyrapicus ruber
  (Red-breasted Sapsucker)
G5      
Sphyrapicus thyroideus
  (Williamson's Sapsucker)
G5      
Tachycineta bicolor
  (Tree Swallow)
G5      
Vireo gilvus
  (Warbling Vireo)
G5      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: AZ, CA, CO, ID, MT, NM, NV, OR, SD, TX, UT, WA, WY
Nation: Canada
Canadian Province Distribution: AB, BC
Global Range: This system is more common in the central and southern Rocky Mountains extending south to the Sacramento Mountains, however, it occurs in the montane and subalpine zones throughout much of the western U.S. and north into Canada, as well as west into California. Elevations generally range from 1525 to 3050 m (5000-10,000 feet), but occurrences can be found at lower elevations in some regions. Very small occurrences may be found in a few scattered locations of the Trans-Pecos of Texas.

Biogeographic Divisions
Division Code and Name Primary Occurrence Status
204-North American Pacific Maritime C: Confident or certain
206-Mediterranean California 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
1 Pacific Northwest Coast Predicted or probable
11 Great Basin Confident or certain
12 Sierra Nevada Predicted or probable
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 Predicted or probable
25 Black Hills Confident or certain
26 Northern Great Plains Steppe Confident or certain
3 North Cascades Confident or certain
4 Modoc Plateau and East Cascades Predicted or probable
5 Klamath Mountains Predicted or probable
7 Canadian Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
8 Middle Rockies - Blue Mountains Confident or certain
81 West Cascades Predicted or probable
9 Utah-Wyoming Rocky Mountains Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
1 Northern Cascades Confident or certain
3 Northern California Coastal Range Confident or certain
6 Sierra Nevada Mountain Range Confident or certain
7 Cascade Mountain Range Confident or certain
8 Grande Coulee Basin of the Columbia Plateau Possible
9 Blue Mountain Region Confident or certain
10 Northwestern Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
12 Western Great Basin Confident or certain
13 Death Valley Basin Possible
15 Mogollon Rim Confident or certain
16 Utah High Plateaus Confident or certain
17 Eastern Great Basin Confident or certain
18 Snake River Plain Confident or certain
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 Predicted or probable
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

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 4104
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1011
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2011

West Landfire Legend: Yes
East Landfire Legend: Yes

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 02Oct2014
Element Description Author(s): M.S. Reid and G. Kittel

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


References
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