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Classification
Scientific Name: Inter-Mountain Basins Semi-Desert Shrub-Steppe
Unique Identifier: CES304.788
Classification Confidence: 2 - Moderate

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Summary: This ecological system occurs throughout the intermountain western U.S., typically at lower elevations on alluvial fans and flats with moderate to deep soils, and extends into south-central Montana between the Pryor and Beartooth ranges where a distinct rainshadow effect occurs. This semi-arid shrub-steppe is typically dominated by graminoids (>25% cover) with an open shrub to moderately dense woody layer with a typically strong graminoid layer. The most widespread (but not dominant) species is Pseudoroegneria spicata, which occurs from the Columbia Basin to the Northern Rockies. Characteristic grasses include Achnatherum hymenoides, Bouteloua gracilis, Distichlis spicata, Poa secunda, Poa fendleriana, Sporobolus airoides, Hesperostipa comata, Pleuraphis jamesii, and Leymus salinus. The woody layer is often a mixture of shrubs and dwarf-shrubs, although it may be dominated by a single species. Characteristic species include Atriplex canescens, Artemisia tridentata, Chrysothamnus greenei, Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus, Ephedra spp., Ericameria nauseosa, Gutierrezia sarothrae, and Krascheninnikovia lanata. Artemisia tridentata or Atriplex canescens may be present but does not dominate. Annual grasses, especially the exotics Bromus arvensis and Bromus tectorum, may be present to abundant. Forbs are generally of low importance and are highly variable across the range but may be diverse in some occurrences. The general aspect of occurrences may be either open shrubland with patchy grasses or patchy open herbaceous layers. Disturbance may be important in maintaining the woody component. Microphytic crust is very important in some stands.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL000993 Artemisia tridentata - Atriplex confertifolia Shrubland
CEGL001288 Atriplex canescens / Pleuraphis jamesii Shrubland
CEGL001320 Krascheninnikovia lanata Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001321 Krascheninnikovia lanata / Bouteloua gracilis Dwarf-shrub Grassland
CEGL001322 Krascheninnikovia lanata / Pleuraphis jamesii Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001324 Krascheninnikovia lanata / Pascopyrum smithii - Bouteloua gracilis Dwarf-shrub Grassland
CEGL001326 Krascheninnikovia lanata / Poa secunda Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001331 Ericameria parryi / Pleuraphis jamesii - Bouteloua gracilis Shrubland
CEGL001501 Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus / Leymus salinus ssp. salinus Shrub Grassland
CEGL001543 Gutierrezia sarothrae / Pleuraphis rigida - Sphaeralcea ambigua Shrub Grassland
CEGL001648 Ephedra viridis / Achnatherum hymenoides - Bouteloua gracilis Shrub Grassland
CEGL001649 Ephedra viridis / Achnatherum hymenoides - Sporobolus cryptandrus Shrub Grassland
CEGL001733 Gutierrezia sarothrae - Krascheninnikovia lanata - Atriplex canescens / Bouteloua eriopoda Shrub Grassland
CEGL001742 Artemisia bigelovii / Bouteloua gracilis Dwarf-shrub Grassland
CEGL001775 Atriplex obovata / Sporobolus airoides - Pleuraphis jamesii Shrub Grassland
CEGL001776 Gutierrezia sarothrae / Sporobolus airoides - Pleuraphis jamesii Shrub Grassland
CEGL002299 Opuntia polyacantha / Pleuraphis jamesii Shrubland
CEGL002350 Ephedra torreyana - Artemisia bigelovii Sparse Vegetation
CEGL002352 Ephedra torreyana / Achnatherum hymenoides - Pleuraphis jamesii Shrubland
CEGL002355 Ephedra viridis / Bromus tectorum Ruderal Shrubland
CEGL002530 Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus Shrub Grassland
CEGL002690 Gutierrezia sarothrae - (Opuntia spp.) / Pleuraphis jamesii Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL002699 Artemisia tridentata - (Ericameria nauseosa) / Bromus tectorum Ruderal Shrubland
CEGL002781 Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus - Ericameria parryi Shrub Grassland
CEGL002787 Bouteloua eriopoda Coconino Plateau Shrub Grassland
CEGL002799 Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus / Hesperostipa comata Shrubland
CEGL002813 Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis / Leymus salinus Shrubland
CEGL002921 Ericameria nauseosa / Muhlenbergia pungens - Achnatherum hymenoides Shrub Grassland
CEGL002930 Poliomintha incana / (Pleuraphis jamesii) Shrubland
CEGL002932 Bouteloua gracilis - Hesperostipa comata Grassland
CEGL002933 Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus / Poa pratensis Ruderal Shrub Grassland
CEGL002936 Ephedra nevadensis Basalt Shrubland
CEGL002937 Ericameria nauseosa / Bromus tectorum Ruderal Shrubland
CEGL002996 Ericameria nauseosa / Pleuraphis jamesii - (Hesperostipa comata) Shrub Grassland
CEGL003113 Achnatherum speciosum Shrub Grassland
CEGL003495 Ericameria nauseosa / Bouteloua gracilis Shrub Grassland
CEGL003751 Ericameria parryi / Achnatherum hymenoides Shrubland



Classifiers

Land Cover Class: Steppe/Savanna
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
Woody-Herbaceous  
Temperate Temperate Xeric
Alkaline Soil  
Aridic  
Very Short Disturbance Interval  
G-Landscape/High Intensity  
Graminoid  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Mechanical Disturbance  
Broad-Leaved Evergreen Shrub  
Xeromorphic Shrub  
Thorn Shrub  
Evergreen Sclerophyllous Shrub  
Succulent Shrub  
Dwarf-Shrub  
Forb  
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
Asclepias uncialis ssp. ruthiae
  (Ruth's Milkweed)
G3G4T3?  
Astragalus peckii
  (Peck's Milkvetch)
G3  
Astragalus tyghensis
  (Tygh Valley Milkvetch)
G2  
Centrocercus urophasianus
  (Greater Sage-Grouse)
G3G4  
Charadrius montanus
  (Mountain Plover)
G3  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Chrysothamnus greenei G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)  
 
 
Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Ericameria nauseosa G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Artemisia tridentata G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Krascheninnikovia lanata G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Atriplex canescens G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Ephedra viridis G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Asclepias uncialis ssp. ruthiae T3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Astragalus peckii G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Astragalus tyghensis G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Townsendia strigosa G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Achnatherum hymenoides G5 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Bouteloua gracilis G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Distichlis spicata G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Elymus elymoides G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Elymus lanceolatus G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Festuca idahoensis G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Hesperostipa comata G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Koeleria macrantha G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Leymus cinereus G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Leymus salinus G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Muhlenbergia richardsonis G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Pascopyrum smithii G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Pleuraphis jamesii G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Poa fendleriana G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Poa secunda G5 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Pseudoroegneria spicata G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Sporobolus airoides G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Sporobolus cryptandrus 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
Ammodramus savannarum
  (Grasshopper Sparrow)
G5      
Amphispiza bilineata
  (Black-throated Sparrow)
G5      
Artemisiospiza belli
  (Bell's Sparrow)
G5      
Athene cunicularia hypugaea
  (Western Burrowing Owl)
G4T4      
Centrocercus urophasianus
  (Greater Sage-Grouse)
G3G4      
Charadrius montanus
  (Mountain Plover)
G3      
Dipodomys ordii
  (Ord's Kangaroo Rat)
G5      
Dipodomys spectabilis
  (Banner-tailed Kangaroo Rat)
G5      
Perognathus mollipilosus
  (Great Basin Pocket Mouse)
G5      
Pituophis catenifer
  (Gophersnake)
G5      
Rhinocheilus lecontei
  (Long-nosed Snake)
G5      
Thomomys talpoides
  (Northern Pocket Gopher)
G5      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: AZ, CA, CO, ID, MT, NM, NV, OR, UT, WA, WY
Global Range: This system occurs throughout the intermountain western U.S., typically at lower elevations, and extends into Wyoming and Montana across the Great Divide Basin. It barely gets as far north into north-central Montana (mapzone 20) but is unlikely to be mapped.

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
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
4 Modoc Plateau and East Cascades Confident or certain
6 Columbia Plateau 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
6 Sierra Nevada Mountain Range Predicted or probable
7 Cascade Mountain Range Predicted or probable
8 Grande Coulee Basin of the Columbia Plateau Confident or certain
9 Blue Mountain Region Confident or certain
12 Western Great Basin Confident or certain
13 Death Valley Basin Confident or certain
14 Sonoran Desert Confident or certain
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 Possible
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 Never was there
27 Great Plains Tablelands Confident or certain
28 Southern Rocky Mountains Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 5456
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1127
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2127

West Landfire Legend: Yes
East Landfire Legend: No

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 02Apr2014
Element Description Author(s): G. Kittel, M.S. Reid, 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).


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