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Classification
Scientific Name: Columbia Plateau Scabland Shrubland
Unique Identifier: CES304.770
Classification Confidence: 2 - Moderate

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Summary: This ecological system is found in the Columbia Plateau region and consists of extensive low shrublands. These xeric shrublands occur under relatively extreme soil-moisture conditions. Substrates are typically shallow lithic soils with limited water-holding capacity over fractured basalt. Because of poor drainage through basalt, these soils are often saturated from fall to spring by winter precipitation but typically dry out completely to bedrock by midsummer. Vegetation cover is typically low, generally less than 50% and often much less than that. Vegetation is characterized by an open dwarf-shrub canopy dominated by Artemisia rigida along with other shrub and dwarf-shrub species, particularly Eriogonum compositum, Eriogonum douglasii, Eriogonum microthecum, Eriogonum niveum, Eriogonum sphaerocephalum, Eriogonum strictum, Eriogonum thymoides, and/or Salvia dorrii. Other shrubs are uncommon in this system; mixes of Artemisia rigida and other Artemisia species typically belong to different ecological systems than this. Low cover of perennial bunchgrasses, such as Danthonia unispicata, Elymus elymoides, Festuca idahoensis, or primarily Poa secunda, as well as scattered forbs, including species of Allium, Antennaria, Balsamorhiza, Lomatium, Phlox, and Sedum, characterize these sites. Individual sites can be dominated by grasses and semi-woody forbs, such as Nestotus stenophyllus. Annuals may be seasonally abundant, and cover of moss and lichen is often high in undisturbed areas (1-60% cover).

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: Sometimes scattered Artemisia rigida may occur in non-scabland grassland system stands. Also, mixes of Artemisia rigida and other Artemisia species typically belong to different ecological systems than this.

Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL001448 Eriogonum sphaerocephalum / Poa secunda Dwarf-shrub Grassland
CEGL001449 Eriogonum thymoides / Poa secunda Dwarf-shrub Grassland
CEGL001528 Artemisia rigida / Poa secunda Shrub Grassland
CEGL001529 Artemisia rigida / Pseudoroegneria spicata Shrub Grassland
CEGL001607 Danthonia californica - Festuca idahoensis Wet Meadow
CEGL001737 Eriogonum microthecum - Physaria oregona Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001782 (Balsamorhiza serrata) - Poa secunda Grassland
CEGL001783 Danthonia unispicata - Poa secunda Wet Meadow
CEGL001784 Eriogonum compositum / Poa secunda Dwarf-shrub Grassland
CEGL001785 Eriogonum douglasii / Poa secunda Dwarf-shrub Grassland
CEGL001786 Eriogonum niveum / Poa secunda Dwarf-shrub Grassland
CEGL001788 Eriogonum strictum / Poa secunda Dwarf-shrub Grassland
CEGL001790 Lomatium cous - Poa secunda Grassland
CEGL002995 Artemisia rigida / Festuca idahoensis Shrub Grassland



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)  
Basalt  
Shallow Soil  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Plain  
Plateau  
Toeslope/Valley Bottom  
Temperate Temperate Continental
Aridic  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Allium constrictum
  (Constricted Douglas' Onion)
G2G3  
Meconella oregana
  (White Meconella)
G2G3  
Ranunculus glaberrimus var. reconditus
  (Obscure Buttercup)
G5T2  
Tauschia hooveri
  (Hoover's Tauschia)
G2G3  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Artemisia rigida G5 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Allium acuminatum G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Allium constrictum G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Epilobium brachycarpum G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Eriogonum thymoides G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Meconella oregana G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Polygonum douglasii G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Ranunculus glaberrimus var. reconditus T2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Stenotus stenophyllus G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Tauschia hooveri G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Bromus tectorum GNR 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
Crotalus oreganus
  (Western Rattlesnake)
G5      
Lepus townsendii
  (White-tailed Jackrabbit)
G5      
Neotoma cinerea
  (Bushy-tailed Woodrat)
G5      
Phrynosoma douglasii
  (Pygmy Horned Lizard)
G5      
Uta stansburiana
  (Common Side-blotched Lizard)
G5      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: ID, NV, OR, WA
Global Range: This system occurs in the Columbia Plateau region of southern Idaho, eastern Oregon and eastern Washington, and extreme northern Nevada.

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
6 Columbia Plateau Confident or certain
68 Okanagan Confident or certain
7 Canadian Rocky Mountains Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
1 Northern Cascades Confident or certain
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
12 Western Great Basin Possible
17 Eastern Great Basin Possible
18 Snake River Plain Predicted or probable

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 5202
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1065
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2065

West Landfire Legend: Yes
East Landfire Legend: No

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 26Jan2016
Element Description Author(s): M.S. Reid 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
  • 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.

  • Bunting, S. C., B. M. Kilgore, and C. L. Bushey. 1987. Guidelines for prescribed burning sagebrush-grass rangelands in the northern Great Basin. General Technical Report INT-231. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Ogden, UT. 33 pp.

  • 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.

  • Copeland, W. N. 1980a. The Lawrence Memorial Grassland Preserve, a biophysical inventory with management recommendations. June 1980. Unpublished report prepared by The Nature Conservancy Field Office, Portland, Oregon. 161 pp.

  • Daubenmire, R. F. 1970. Steppe vegetation of Washington. Washington State University Agricultural Experiment Station Technical Bulletin No. 62. 131 pp.

  • Daubenmire, R. F. 1992. Palouse prairie. Pages 297-312 in: R. T. Coupland, editor. Natural grasslands introduction and Western Hemisphere. Ecosystems of the world, Volume 8A. Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam.

  • Ganskopp, D. C. 1979. Plant communities and habitat types of the Meadow Creek Experimental Watershed. Unpublished thesis, Oregon State University, Corvallis. 162 pp.

  • Hall, F. C. 1973. Plant communities of the Blue Mountains in eastern Oregon and southeastern Washington. R6 Area Guide 3-1. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR. 62 pp.

  • Hironaka, M., M. A. Fosberg, and A. H. Winward. 1983. Sagebrush-grass habitat types of southern Idaho. Forestry, Wildlife, and Range Experiment Station Bulletin No. 15, University of Idaho, Moscow. 44 pp.

  • Johnson, C. G., Jr., and S. A. Simon. 1987. Plant associations of the Wallowa-Snake Province Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. Technical Paper R6-ECOL-TP-255A-86. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. 399 pp. plus appendices.

  • Johnson, C. G., and R. R. Clausnitzer. 1992. Plant associations of the Blue and Ochoco mountains. R6-ERW-TP-036-92. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. 163 pp. plus appendices.

  • Johnson, C. G., and S. A. Simon. 1985. Plant associations of the Wallowa Valley Ranger District, Part II: Steppe. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. 258 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).

  • McWilliams, J. 2003b. Artemisia rigida. 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 10 November 2015).

  • Poulton, C. E. 1955. Ecology of the non-forested vegetation in Umatilla and Morrow counties, Oregon. Unpublished dissertation. State College of Washington, Pullman. 166 pp.

  • 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.

  • Tisdale, E. W. 1986. Canyon grasslands and associated shrublands of west-central Idaho and adjacent areas. Bulletin No. 40. Forest, Wildlife and Range Experiment Station, University of Idaho, Moscow. 42 pp.

  • Tyler, K. J. 2006. Biological crusts: Analysis of monitoring techniques at the Yakima Training Center, Washington. M.S. thesis, Central Washington University, Ellensberg. 117 pp.

  • WNHP [Washington Natural Heritage Program]. 2011. Ecological integrity assessments for the ecological systems of Washington. Version: 2.22.2011. Washington Natural Heritage Program, Department of Natural Resources, Olympia. [http://www1.dnr.wa.gov/nhp/refdesk/communities/eia_list.html] (accessed September 9, 2013).

  • WNHP [Washington Natural Heritage Program]. 2018. Unpublished data files. Washington Natural Heritage Program, Department of Natural Resources, Olympia, WA.


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