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Classification
Scientific Name: Inter-Mountain Basins Greasewood Flat
Unique Identifier: CES304.780
Classification Confidence: 2 - Moderate
Image 22123
© James Morefield
Summary: This ecological system occurs throughout much of the western U.S. in Intermountain basins and extends onto the western Great Plains and into central Montana. It typically occurs near drainages on stream terraces and flats or may form rings around more sparsely vegetated playas. Sites typically have saline soils, a shallow water table and flood intermittently, but remain dry for most growing seasons. The water table remains high enough to maintain vegetation, despite salt accumulations. This system usually occurs as a mosaic of multiple communities, with open to moderately dense shrublands dominated or codominated by Sarcobatus vermiculatus. In high salinity areas, greasewood often grows in nearly pure stands, and on less saline sites, it commonly grows with a number of other shrub species and typically has a grass understory. Other shrubs that may be present to codominant in some occurrences include Atriplex canescens, Atriplex confertifolia, Atriplex gardneri, Atriplex parryi, Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis, Artemisia tridentata ssp. tridentata, Artemisia cana ssp. cana, or Krascheninnikovia lanata. Occurrences are often surrounded by mixed salt desert scrub or big sagebrush shrublands. The herbaceous layer, if present, is usually dominated by graminoids. There may be inclusions of Sporobolus airoides, Pascopyrum smithii, Distichlis spicata (where water remains ponded the longest), Calamovilfa longifolia, Eleocharis palustris, Elymus elymoides, Hordeum jubatum, Leymus cinereus, Poa pratensis, Puccinellia nuttalliana, or herbaceous types. In more saline environments, Allenrolfea occidentalis, Nitrophila occidentalis, and Suaeda moquinii may be present.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: Most Sarcobatus vermiculatus stands occur in lowland sites; however, some Sarcobatus vermiculatus stands occur in uplands as well as within sandsheet systems. In both situations, stands are usually associated with a seep or shallow water table. According to DeVelice and Lesica (1993) and DeVelice et al. (1995), the Sarcobatus vermiculatus - Atriplex gardneri community type is restricted to moderate to steep slopes of "badlands" characterized by acidic shale, bentonite or other highly erodible clayey substrate. These shrublands may be located near seeps and have seasonally saturated soils, but are not intermittently flooded and would more appropriately be classified in Western Great Plains Badlands (CES303.663) (DeVelice and Lesica 1993, Knight 1994, DeVelice et al. 1995).

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES304.781 Inter-Mountain Basins Wash


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL001313 Atriplex confertifolia - Sarcobatus vermiculatus Shrubland
CEGL001357 Sarcobatus vermiculatus Disturbed Wet Shrubland
CEGL001359 Sarcobatus vermiculatus / Artemisia tridentata Wet Shrubland
CEGL001360 Sarcobatus vermiculatus / Atriplex gardneri Wet Shrubland
CEGL001361 Sarcobatus vermiculatus / Bouteloua gracilis Wet Shrubland
CEGL001363 Sarcobatus vermiculatus / Distichlis spicata Wet Shrubland
CEGL001365 Sarcobatus vermiculatus / Elymus elymoides - Pascopyrum smithii Wet Shrubland
CEGL001366 Sarcobatus vermiculatus / Leymus cinereus Wet Shrubland
CEGL001367 Sarcobatus vermiculatus / Pseudoroegneria spicata Shrubland
CEGL001368 Sarcobatus vermiculatus / Sporobolus airoides Wet Shrubland
CEGL001369 Sarcobatus vermiculatus / Nitrophila occidentalis - Suaeda moquinii Wet Shrubland
CEGL001370 Sarcobatus vermiculatus / Suaeda moquinii Wet Shrubland
CEGL001371 Sarcobatus vermiculatus / Atriplex confertifolia - (Picrothamnus desertorum, Suaeda moquinii) Wet Shrubland
CEGL001372 Sarcobatus vermiculatus / Elymus elymoides Wet Shrubland
CEGL001373 Sarcobatus vermiculatus / Achnatherum hymenoides Wet Shrubland
CEGL001479 Leymus cinereus Alkaline Wet Meadow
CEGL001480 Leymus cinereus Bottomland Wet Meadow
CEGL001481 Leymus cinereus - Distichlis spicata Alkaline Wet Meadow
CEGL001508 Sarcobatus vermiculatus / Pascopyrum smithii - (Elymus lanceolatus) Shrub Wet Meadow
CEGL001685 Sporobolus airoides Southern Plains Wet Meadow
CEGL001687 Sporobolus airoides - Distichlis spicata Wet Meadow
CEGL001770 Distichlis spicata Alkaline Wet Meadow
CEGL001771 Distichlis spicata - Mixed Herb Wet Meadow
CEGL001772 Distichlis spicata - Lepidium perfoliatum Wet Meadow
CEGL001773 Distichlis spicata - (Scirpus nevadensis) Alkaline Wet Meadow
CEGL001799 Puccinellia nuttalliana Salt Marsh
CEGL001833 Eleocharis palustris Marsh
CEGL001999 Salicornia rubra Salt Flat
CEGL002763 Sarcobatus vermiculatus - Psorothamnus polydenius Wet Shrubland
CEGL002764 Sarcobatus vermiculatus - Atriplex parryi / Distichlis spicata Wet Shrubland
CEGL002918 Ericameria nauseosa / Sporobolus airoides Shrubland
CEGL002919 Sarcobatus vermiculatus / Juncus balticus Sparse Vegetation



Classifiers

Land Cover Class: Mixed Upland and Wetland
Spatial Pattern: Large patch
Natural/Seminatural: No
Vegetated ( > 10% vascular cover):
Upland: Yes
Wetland: Yes
Isolated Wetland: Partially Isolated

Diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Lowland Lowland
Shrubland (Shrub-dominated)  
Toeslope/Valley Bottom  
Alkaline Soil  
Deep Soil  
Xeromorphic Shrub  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Alluvial flat  
Alluvial plain  
Alluvial terrace  
Temperate Temperate Continental
Depressional  
Isolated Wetland Partially Isolated
Saline Substrate Chemistry  
Sarcobatus vermiculatus  
Deep (>15 cm) Water  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Astragalus pterocarpus
  (Winged Milkvetch)
G3  
Atriplex bonnevillensis
  (Bonneville Saltbush)
G2G3Q  
Lepidium montanum var. nevadense
  (Mountain Pepper-grass)
G5?T1?  
Phacelia parishii
  (Parish's Phacelia)
G2G3  
Proatriplex pleiantha
  (Mancos Saltbush)
G3  
Pseudocopaeodes eunus
  (Alkali Skipper)
G3  
Puccinellia simplex
  (Little Alkali Grass)
G2G3  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Ericameria nauseosa G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Sarcobatus vermiculatus G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Artemisia tridentata ssp. tridentata T4 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis T5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Atriplex canescens G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)  
 
 
Atriplex confertifolia G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Atriplex gardneri G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Grayia spinosa G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Krascheninnikovia lanata G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Artemisia cana ssp. cana T5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Ephedra nevadensis G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Lepidium montanum var. nevadense T1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Proatriplex pleiantha G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Salicornia rubra G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Distichlis spicata G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Leymus cinereus G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Leymus triticoides G4 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Pascopyrum smithii G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Sporobolus airoides 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
Ammospermophilus leucurus
  (White-tailed Antelope Squirrel)
G5      
Artemisiospiza belli
  (Bell's Sparrow)
G5      
Crotalus oreganus concolor
  (Midget Faded Rattlesnake)
G5T4      
Lepus californicus
  (Black-tailed Jackrabbit)
G5      
Pituophis catenifer
  (Gophersnake)
G5      
Pseudocopaeodes eunus
  (Alkali Skipper)
G3      
Sylvilagus nuttallii
  (Mountain Cottontail)
G5      
Urocitellus mollis
  (Piute Ground Squirrel)
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 much of the western U.S. in Intermountain basins and extends onto the western Great Plains.

Biogeographic Divisions
Division Code and Name Primary Occurrence Status
303-Western Great Plains C: Confident or certain
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
19 Colorado Plateau Confident or certain
20 Southern Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
26 Northern Great Plains Steppe 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 Confident or certain
8 Grande Coulee Basin of the Columbia Plateau Confident or certain
9 Blue Mountain Region Confident or certain
10 Northwestern Rocky Mountains Possible
12 Western Great Basin Confident or certain
13 Death Valley Basin Confident or certain
15 Mogollon Rim Possible
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 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
29 Wyoming Highlands Confident or certain
30 Northwestern Great Plains Predicted or probable
33 Western Great Plains Possible

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 9103
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1153
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2153

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
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