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Classification
Scientific Name: Inter-Mountain Basins Mat Saltbush Shrubland
Unique Identifier: CES304.783
Classification Confidence: 3 - Weak

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Summary: This ecological system occurs on gentle slopes and rolling plains in the northern Colorado Plateau and Uinta Basin on Mancos shale and arid, windswept basins and plains across parts of Wyoming. It is also found in eastern Wyoming in Great Plains areas, and may extend north into Montana and Canada. These landscapes typically support dwarf-shrublands composed of relatively pure stands of Atriplex spp., such as Atriplex corrugata (in Colorado and Utah), Atriplex gardneri (Wyoming and Montana into Canada), or Atriplex falcata (Columbia Plateau and northern Great Basin). Other dominant or codominant dwarf-shrubs may include Artemisia longifolia, Artemisia pedatifida (very important in Wyoming, rare in Colorado stands), or Picrothamnus desertorum, sometimes with other low shrubs, such as Krascheninnikovia lanata or Tetradymia spinosa. Atriplex confertifolia or Atriplex canescens may be present but do not codominate. Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis can occur in local patches within this system. The herbaceous layer is typically sparse. Scattered perennial forbs occur, such as Oenothera spp., Phacelia spp., Sphaeralcea grossulariifolia, Stanleya pinnata, and Xylorhiza glabriuscula; perennial grasses Achnatherum hymenoides, Bouteloua gracilis (not in Wyoming), Distichlis spicata, Elymus elymoides, Elymus lanceolatus ssp. lanceolatus, Pascopyrum smithii, Pleuraphis jamesii, Poa secunda, or Sporobolus airoides may comprise the herbaceous layer. In less saline areas, there may be inclusions of grassland patches dominated by Hesperostipa comata, Leymus salinus, Pascopyrum smithii, or Pseudoroegneria spicata. Substrates are shallow, typically saline, alkaline, fine-textured soils developed from shale or alluvium and may be associated with shale badlands. Infiltration rate is typically low. In Wyoming and possibly elsewhere, inclusions of non-saline, gravelly barrens or rock outcrops dominated by cushion plants such as Arenaria hookeri and Phlox hoodii without dwarf-shrubs may be present (these are not restricted to this system). Annuals are seasonally present and may include Eriogonum inflatum, Monolepis nuttalliana, Plantago tweedyi, and the introduced annual grass Bromus tectorum. In Montana, Atriplex gardneri also occurs associated with Great Plains badlands, and determining which system it falls into may be difficult.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: Reviewers have proposed renaming this system to be more "broad" to include Gardner saltbush (Atriplex gardneri) in the name rather than just mat saltbush (Atriplex corrugata), but an alternative name has not yet been identified. Recent taxonomic changes need review as to the inclusion of Atriplex falcata, formerly a variety or subspecies of Atriplex nuttallii and Atriplex gardneri. Sparser stands of this system are similar to Inter-Mountain Basins Shale Badland (CES304.789) and Western Great Plains Badlands (CES303.663), especially when dominated by Atriplex gardneri.

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES303.663 Western Great Plains Badlands
CES304.789 Inter-Mountain Basins Shale Badland


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL001316 Atriplex cuneata - Frankenia jamesii / Sporobolus airoides Shrubland
CEGL001437 Atriplex corrugata Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001438 Atriplex gardneri Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001439 Atriplex gardneri - Picrothamnus desertorum Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001440 Atriplex gardneri / Artemisia tridentata Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001441 Atriplex gardneri / Pleuraphis jamesii Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001442 Atriplex gardneri / Leymus salinus Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001443 Atriplex gardneri / Monolepis nuttalliana Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001444 Atriplex gardneri / Achnatherum hymenoides Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001445 Atriplex gardneri / Pascopyrum smithii Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001446 Atriplex gardneri / Xylorhiza venusta Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001450 Artemisia pedatifida / Elymus elymoides Shrubland
CEGL001451 Artemisia pedatifida / Pascopyrum smithii Shrubland
CEGL001526 Artemisia pedatifida / Festuca idahoensis Shrubland
CEGL001527 Artemisia pedatifida / Pseudoroegneria spicata Shrubland



Classifiers

Land Cover Class: Shrubland
Spatial Pattern: Matrix
Natural/Seminatural: No
Vegetated ( > 10% vascular cover):
Upland: Yes
Wetland: No
Isolated Wetland: No

Diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Lowland Lowland
Shrubland (Shrub-dominated)  
Alluvial flat  
Alluvial plain  
Plain  
Alkaline Soil  
Saline Substrate Chemistry  
Calcareous  
Silt Soil Texture  
Clay Soil Texture  
Dwarf-Shrub  
Atriplex spp.  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Basin floor  
Temperate Temperate Continental
Oligotrophic Soil  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Artemisia longifolia G5 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Artemisia pedatifida G4 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Picrothamnus desertorum G5 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Atriplex confertifolia G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Atriplex corrugata G4 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Atriplex gardneri G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Krascheninnikovia lanata G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Tetradymia spinosa G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Eremogone hookeri G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Phlox hoodii G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Achnatherum hymenoides G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Elymus elymoides G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Elymus lanceolatus ssp. lanceolatus T5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Hesperostipa comata G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Leymus salinus G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Pascopyrum smithii G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Pleuraphis jamesii G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Poa secunda G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Pseudoroegneria spicata G5 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: AZ, CO, MT, NM, UT, WY
Global Range: This system occurs on gentle slopes and rolling plains in the northern Colorado Plateau and Uinta Basin on Mancos shale and arid, windswept basins and plains across parts of Wyoming, and possibly into Montana and Canada.

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
19 Colorado Plateau Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
7 Cascade Mountain Range Never was there
9 Blue Mountain Region Never was there
13 Death Valley Basin Possible
15 Mogollon Rim Possible
16 Utah High Plateaus Predicted or probable
20 Missouri River Plateau Confident or certain
22 Wyoming Basin Confident or certain
23 Colorado Plateau Confident or certain
24 Navajo Plateau Predicted or probable
28 Southern Rocky Mountains Predicted or probable
29 Wyoming Highlands Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 5203
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1066
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2066

West Landfire Legend: Yes
East Landfire Legend: No

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 26Jan2016
Element Description Author(s): 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
  • Belnap, J. 2001. Chapter 19: Factors influencing nitrogen fixation and nitrogen release in biological soil crusts. Pages 241-261 in: J. Belnap and O. L. Lange, editors. Biological soil crusts: Structure, function, and management. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

  • Belnap, J., J. Kaltenecker, R. Rosentreter, J. Williams, S. Leonard, and D. Eldridge. 2001. Biological soil crusts: Ecology and management. Technical Report 1730-2. USDI Bureau of Land Management. 110 pp.

  • Belnap, J., and O. L. Lange, editors. 2003. Biological soil crusts: Structure, function, and management. Second edition. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

  • Blaisdell, J. P., and R. C. Holmgren. 1984. Managing intermountain rangelands-salt-desert shrub ranges. General Technical Report INT-163. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Ogden, UT. 52 pp.

  • Branson, F. A., R. F. Miller, and I. S. McQueen. 1976. Moisture relationships in twelve northern desert shrub communities near Grand Junction, Colorado. Ecology 57:1104-1124.

  • CNHP [Colorado Natural Heritage Program]. 2005-2010b. Ecosystem descriptions and EIA specifications. Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University, Fort Collins. [http://www.cnhp.colostate.edu/projects/eco_systems/] (accessed September 9, 2013).

  • 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.

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

  • Knight, D. H. 1994. Mountains and plains: Ecology of Wyoming landscapes. Yale University Press, New Haven, MA. 338 pp.

  • 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).

  • Potter, L. D., R. C. Reynolds, Jr., and E. T. Louderbough. 1985. Mancos shale and plant community relationships: Analysis of shale, soil, and vegetation transects. Journal of Arid Environments 9:147-165.

  • Reed, W. R. 1993b. Atriplex gardneri. 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 9 October 2015).

  • Rosentreter, R., and J. Belnap. 2003. Biological soil crusts of North America. Chapter 2 in: J. Belnap and O. L. Lange, editors. Biological soil crusts: Structure, function, and management. Second edition. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

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

  • Welsh, S. L. 1957. An ecological survey of the vegetation of the Dinosaur National Monument, Utah. Unpublished thesis, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT. 86 pp.

  • Wright, H. A. 1980. The role and use of fire in the semi-desert grass-shrub type. General Technical Report INT-85. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Ogden, UT. 23 pp.


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