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Classification
Scientific Name: Northern Rocky Mountain Lower Montane Riparian Woodland and Shrubland
Unique Identifier: CES306.804
Classification Confidence: 2 - Moderate

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Summary: This ecological system of the northern Rocky Mountains and the east slopes of the Cascades consists of deciduous, coniferous, and mixed conifer-deciduous forests that occur on streambanks and river floodplains of the lower montane and foothill zones. Riparian forest stands are maintained by annual flooding and hydric soils throughout the growing season. Riparian forests are often accompanied by riparian shrublands or open areas dominated by wet meadows. Populus balsamifera is the key indicator species. Several other tree species can be mixed in the canopy, including Populus tremuloides, Betula papyrifera, Betula occidentalis, Picea mariana, and Picea glauca. Abies grandis, Thuja plicata, and Tsuga heterophylla are commonly dominant canopy species in British Columbia, western Montana and northern Idaho occurrences, in lower montane riparian zones. Shrub understory components include Cornus sericea, Acer glabrum, Alnus incana, Betula papyrifera, Oplopanax horridus, and Symphoricarpos albus. Ferns and forbs of mesic sites are commonly present in many occurrences, including such species as Athyrium filix-femina, Gymnocarpium dryopteris, and Senecio triangularis.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: This system is from the Canadian Rockies ecoregion project and represents lower montane riparian in Montana north into Canada. In the Okanagan, this is defined as all the cottonwood-dominated or -codominated riparian systems below subalpine and above the Ponderosa pine zone. This system occurs in fire-dominated landscapes, which distinguishes it from North Pacific and subalpine/alpine landscapes that have significantly different fire regimes. This system is distinguished from the similar Rocky Mountain Subalpine-Montane Riparian Woodland (CES306.833) by the floristic component of northern Rocky Mountain species, both in the woody layers and in the herbaceous taxa. This system may occur in northwestern Wyoming where Populus balsamifera dominates or codominates some woodlands, but those woodlands may be better placed into Rocky Mountain Lower Montane-Foothill Riparian Woodland and Shrubland (CES306.821), which lists Populus balsamifera as a possible dominant.

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES304.768 Columbia Basin Foothill Riparian Woodland and Shrubland
CES306.833 Rocky Mountain Subalpine-Montane Riparian Woodland


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL000270 Abies grandis / Athyrium filix-femina Riparian Forest
CEGL000280 Abies grandis / Senecio triangularis Riparian Forest
CEGL000476 Thuja plicata / Gymnocarpium dryopteris Forest
CEGL000479 Thuja plicata - Tsuga heterophylla / Oplopanax horridus Rocky Mountain Swamp Forest
CEGL000482 Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa / Oplopanax horridus - Acer glabrum Riparian Forest
CEGL000491 Tsuga heterophylla / Athyrium filix-femina Forest
CEGL000494 Tsuga heterophylla / Gymnocarpium dryopteris Forest
CEGL000542 Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa - (Populus tremuloides) / Heracleum maximum Riparian Forest
CEGL000667 Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa / Alnus incana Riparian Forest
CEGL000668 Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa - Alnus rhombifolia Riparian Forest
CEGL000670 Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa / Betula papyrifera Riparian Forest
CEGL000672 Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa / Cornus sericea Riparian Forest
CEGL000677 Populus balsamifera (ssp. trichocarpa, ssp. balsamifera) / Symphoricarpos (albus, oreophilus, occidentalis) Riparian Forest
CEGL005845 Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa / Calamagrostis canadensis Riparian Forest



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 Lower Montane
Riverine / Alluvial  
Short (<5 yrs) Flooding Interval Short interval, Spring Flooding

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Forest and Woodland (Treed)  
Shrubland (Shrub-dominated)  
Temperate Temperate Continental
Unconsolidated  
Circumneutral Water  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Delphinium viridescens
  (Wenatchee Larkspur)
G2  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Betula occidentalis G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Populus balsamifera G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Abies grandis G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Thuja plicata G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Tsuga heterophylla G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Alnus incana G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Cornus sericea G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Delphinium viridescens G2 Flowering 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
Bucephala albeola
  (Bufflehead)
G5      
Bucephala islandica
  (Barrow's Goldeneye)
G5      
Coluber constrictor
  (North American Racer)
G5      
Empidonax traillii
  (Willow Flycatcher)
G5      
Pituophis catenifer
  (Gophersnake)
G5      
Thamnophis sirtalis
  (Common Gartersnake)
G5      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: ID, MT, ORpotentially occurs, WA, WY
Nation: Canada
Canadian Province Distribution: AB, BC
Global Range: This system is found in the northern Rocky Mountains.

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

The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Ecoregions
Code Name Occurrence Status
68 Okanagan Confident or certain
7 Canadian Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
8 Middle Rockies - Blue Mountains Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
8 Grande Coulee Basin of the Columbia Plateau Confident or certain
9 Blue Mountain Region Confident or certain
10 Northwestern Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
18 Snake River Plain Possible
19 Northern Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
20 Missouri River Plateau Confident or certain
21 Middle Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
22 Wyoming Basin Predicted or probable

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 9155

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: No

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 14Jan2014
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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