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Classification
Scientific Name: Wyoming Basins Dwarf Sagebrush Shrubland and Steppe
Unique Identifier: CES304.794
Classification Confidence: 2 - Moderate

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Summary: This windswept ecological system is composed of dwarf sagebrush shrubland and shrub-steppe that forms matrix vegetation and large patches on the margins of high-elevation basins in central and southern Wyoming. Typical sites are gently rolling hills and long, gently sloping pediments and fans. These sites are very windy and have shallow, often rocky soils (Artemisia nova and Artemisia tripartita ssp. rupicola) or have shallow, poorly drained, fine-textured soils (Artemisia arbuscula). The distinguishing feature of this system is a short-shrub stratum in which dwarf-shrubs (<30 cm tall) contribute at least two-thirds of the woody canopy. Four sagebrush taxa may dominate the shrub stratum: Artemisia tripartita ssp. rupicola, Artemisia nova, Artemisia arbuscula ssp. longiloba, and wind-dwarfed Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis. Two or more of these sagebrushes often codominate, but any of them may occur alone. Where graminoids are common and tall, the vegetation often has the appearance of grassland without shrubs; the presence of shrubs is obvious only when the vegetation is viewed up close. Where graminoids contribute less cover, the vegetation is a compact shrubland. The herbaceous component of the vegetation includes both rhizomatous and bunch-form graminoids, cushion plants, and other low-growing forbs. Bouteloua gracilis, a common species of Inter-Mountain Basins Big Sagebrush Steppe (CES304.778) in Wyoming, is absent.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: Diagnostic species for this Wyoming Basins ecological system, Artemisia nova and Artemisia arbuscula, are shared with three other sagebrush dwarf-shrubland ecological systems from three other ecoregions: Columbia Plateau Low Sagebrush Steppe (CES304.794), Colorado Plateau Mixed Low Sagebrush Shrubland (CES304.762), and Great Basin Xeric Mixed Sagebrush Shrubland (CES304.774). Although there is overlap with two dominant species, regional differences in ecosystem processes, total species composition, and environmental variables support distinguishing four dwarf sagebrush ecological systems. Artemisia nova is restricted to shallow-soiled, rocky, wind-exposed ridges in this Wyoming Basins system. Low-growing, wind-dwarfed Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis is a common component in this system. Other diagnostic taxa such as Artemisia tripartita ssp. rupicola are restricted to this system only.

Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL001042 Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis / Carex filifolia Shrubland
CEGL001049 Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis / Poa secunda Shrubland
CEGL001416 Artemisia arbuscula ssp. longiloba / Pseudoroegneria spicata Shrub Grassland
CEGL001424 Artemisia nova / Pseudoroegneria spicata Shrubland
CEGL001523 Artemisia arbuscula ssp. longiloba / Poa secunda Shrub Grassland
CEGL001540 Artemisia tripartita ssp. rupicola / Festuca idahoensis Shrub Grassland
CEGL002585 Artemisia arbuscula ssp. longiloba / Elymus lanceolatus Shrubland
CEGL005996 Artemisia arbuscula ssp. longiloba / Cushion Plants Shrubland
CEGL005997 Artemisia arbuscula ssp. longiloba / Poa fendleriana 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
Lowland Foothill
Lowland Lowland
Shrubland (Shrub-dominated)  
Hill(s)  
Ridge/Summit/Upper Slope  
Sideslope  
Shallow Soil  
Silt Soil Texture  
Clay Soil Texture  
Aridic  
W-Landscape/High Intensity  
Low Artemisia spp.  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Temperate Temperate Continental
Alkaline Soil  
Dwarf-Shrub  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Artemisia tripartita ssp. rupicola
  (Wyoming Threetip Sagebrush)
G5T3  
Centrocercus urophasianus
  (Greater Sage-Grouse)
G3G4  
Lesquerella lesicii
  (Pryor Mountains Bladderpod)
G2  
Lesquerella prostrata
  (Prostrate Bladderpod)
G2G3  
Mustela nigripes
  (Black-footed Ferret)
G1 LE, XN: Listed endangered, nonessential experimental population
Penstemon acaulis
  (Stemless Beardtongue)
G2  
Penstemon acaulis
  (Stemless Beardtongue)
G3Q  
Sphaeromeria simplex
  (Laramie False Sagebrush)
G2  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis T5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Artemisia tripartita ssp. rupicola T3 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Artemisia arbuscula G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Artemisia arbuscula ssp. longiloba T4 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Artemisia nova G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Eremogone hookeri G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Lesquerella lesicii G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Lesquerella prostrata G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Penstemon acaulis G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Penstemon acaulis G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Phlox hoodii G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Sphaeromeria simplex G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Bouteloua gracilis G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex filifolia G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Festuca idahoensis G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Poa secunda G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Pseudoroegneria spicata 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
Artemisiospiza nevadensis
  (Sagebrush Sparrow)
G5      
Athene cunicularia
  (Burrowing Owl)
G4      
Centrocercus urophasianus
  (Greater Sage-Grouse)
G3G4      
Cynomys leucurus
  (White-tailed Prairie Dog)
G4      
Lanius ludovicianus
  (Loggerhead Shrike)
G4      
Mustela nigripes
  (Black-footed Ferret)
G1 LE, XN: Listed endangered, nonessential experimental population    
Numenius americanus
  (Long-billed Curlew)
G5      
Oreoscoptes montanus
  (Sage Thrasher)
G4      
Perognathus fasciatus
  (Olive-backed Pocket Mouse)
G5      
Pituophis catenifer
  (Gophersnake)
G5      
Sceloporus graciosus
  (Sagebrush Lizard)
G5      
Spizella breweri
  (Brewer's Sparrow)
G5      
Thomomys idahoensis
  (Idaho Pocket Gopher)
G4      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: CO, MT, WY
Global Range: This system occurs throughout the basins of central and southern Wyoming, extending south into adjacent portions of Colorado. It also occurs on the eastern side of the Continental Divide in Montana, where Artemisia nova shrublands are found on calcareous substrates.

Biogeographic Divisions
Division Code and Name Primary Occurrence Status
304-Inter-Mountain Basins C: Confident or certain

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

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
16 Utah High Plateaus Possible
20 Missouri River Plateau Never was there
21 Middle Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
22 Wyoming Basin Confident or certain
23 Colorado Plateau Confident or certain
29 Wyoming Highlands Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 5209
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1072
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2072

West Landfire Legend: Yes
East Landfire Legend: No

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 26Jan2016
Element Description Author(s): M.S. Reid, G.P. Jones and K.A. Schulz

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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  • Hamilton, H., et al. [2016]. Observed West-wide climate trends. NatureServe, Arlington, VA. [in preparation]

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  • Howard, J. L. 1999. Artemisia tridentata subsp. wyomingensis. In: Fire Effects Information System [Online]. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). [http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/] (accessed 13 July 2007).

  • Johnston, B. C. 2001. Ecological types of the Upper Gunnison Basin. Technical Report R2-RR-2001-01. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region. Denver, CO.

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  • Knight, D. H., G. P. Jones, Y. Akashi, and R. W. Myers. 1987. Vegetation ecology in the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area. Unpublished report prepared for the USDI National Park Service and University of Wyoming-National Park Service Research.

  • Landfire [Landfire National Vegetation Dynamics Database]. 2007a. Landfire National Vegetation Dynamics Models. Landfire Project, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Department of Interior. (January - last update) [http://www.LANDFIRE.gov/index.php] (accessed 8 February 2007).

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

  • Steinberg, P. D. 2002a. Artemisia arbuscula. In: Fire Effects Information System [Online]. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). [http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/] (accessed 30 May 2011).

  • Tirmenstein, D. 1999k. Artemisia tripartita. In: Fire Effects Information System [Online]. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). [http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/]

  • West, N. E. 1983a. Great Basin-Colorado Plateau sagebrush semi-desert. Pages 331-349 in: N. E. West, editor. Temperate deserts and semi-deserts. Ecosystems of the world, Volume 5. Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam.

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