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Classification
Scientific Name: North American Warm Desert Active and Stabilized Dune
Unique Identifier: CES302.744
Classification Confidence: 2 - Moderate

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Summary: This ecological system occurs across the warm deserts of North America and is composed of unvegetated to sparsely vegetated (generally <10% plant cover) active dunes and sandsheets derived from quartz or gypsum sands. Common vegetation includes Ambrosia dumosa, Abronia villosa, Artemisia filifolia, Atriplex canescens, Eriogonum deserticola, Larrea tridentata, Pleuraphis rigida, Poliomintha spp., Prosopis spp., Psorothamnus spp., Rhus microphylla, and Sporobolus flexuosus. Dune "blowouts" and subsequent stabilization through succession are characteristic processes. Species composition shifts across the range of this system. Texas examples are characterized by species such as Amsonia tomentosa var. stenophylla, Aristida purpurea, Artemisia filifolia, Bouteloua eriopoda, Croton dioicus, Dimorphocarpa wislizeni, Eriogonum annuum, Helianthus petiolaris, Heliotropium convolvulaceum, Ipomopsis wrightii, Palafoxia sphacelata, Proboscidea althaeifolia, Prosopis glandulosa, Psorothamnus scoparius, Schizachyrium scoparium, Sporobolus contractus, Sporobolus cryptandrus, Sporobolus flexuosus, Sporobolus giganteus, Tripterocalyx carneus, and Yucca elata.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: In the Texas ecological systems map, sparsely vegetated gypsum dunes are included in Chihuahuan Gypsophilous Grassland and Steppe (CES302.732) and not here. Further investigation is needed to determine the correct classification of these sparsely vegetated gypsum dunes.

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES302.732 Chihuahuan Gypsophilous Grassland and Steppe


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL001078 Artemisia filifolia / Sporobolus giganteus Shrubland
CEGL001353 Psorothamnus polydenius var. polydenius / Achnatherum hymenoides Shrubland
CEGL001382 Prosopis glandulosa / Atriplex canescens Ruderal Shrubland
CEGL001386 Prosopis glandulosa / Sporobolus flexuosus Ruderal Shrubland
CEGL001547 Artemisia filifolia / Sporobolus flexuosus Shrubland
CEGL001693 Sporobolus flexuosus - Dasyochloa pulchella Grassland
CEGL001694 Sporobolus flexuosus - Paspalum setaceum Grassland
CEGL001696 Sporobolus flexuosus - Sporobolus contractus Grassland
CEGL001962 Eriogonum deserticola Sand Dune Sparse Vegetation
CEGL002354 Ephedra viridis / (Achnatherum hymenoides, Hesperostipa comata) Shrubland
CEGL002356 Ephedra viridis / Pleuraphis jamesii Shrubland
CEGL002672 Poliomintha incana / Muhlenbergia pungens Shrubland
CEGL002701 Psorothamnus spinosus Shrubland
CEGL003001 Abronia villosa Sparse Vegetation
CEGL003056 Cleome isomeris - Ephedra californica - Ericameria linearifolia Shrubland
CEGL004559 Artemisia filifolia / Andropogon hallii - Achnatherum hymenoides Gypsum Dune Shrubland
CEGL004561 Artemisia filifolia - Psorothamnus scoparius - Dalea lanata Gypsum Dune Shrubland
CEGL004581 Heliotropium convolvulaceum - Psoralidium lanceolatum - Polanisia jamesii Sparse Vegetation
CEGL004582 Heliotropium racemosum - Chamaesyce sp. Sparse Vegetation
CEGL005468 Swallenia alexandrae Sparse Vegetation
CEGL005747 Dicoria canescens Dune Sparse Vegetation



Classifiers

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

Diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Dune (Landform)  
Dune field  
Dune (Substrate)  
Temperate Temperate Xeric
Sand Soil Texture  
W-Landscape/High Intensity  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Lowland Lowland
Shrubland (Shrub-dominated)  
Herbaceous  
Dune (undifferentiated)  
Tropical/Subtropical Tropical Xeric
Gypsiferous  
Aridic  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Uma notata
  (Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard)
G3  
Uma scoparia
  (Mohave Fringe-toed Lizard)
G3G4  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Prosopis glandulosa G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Rhus microphylla G4 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Atriplex canescens G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Larrea tridentata G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Ambrosia dumosa G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Artemisia filifolia G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Eriogonum deserticola G4 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Poliomintha incana G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Abronia villosa G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Heliotropium convolvulaceum G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Polanisia jamesii G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Psoralidium lanceolatum G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Psorothamnus emoryi G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Pleuraphis rigida G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Sporobolus flexuosus 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
Callisaurus draconoides
  (Zebra-tailed Lizard)
G5      
Crotalus cerastes
  (Sidewinder)
G5      
Dipodomys deserti
  (Desert Kangaroo Rat)
G5      
Uma notata
  (Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard)
G3      
Uma scoparia
  (Mohave Fringe-toed Lizard)
G3G4      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: AZ, CA, NM, NV
Distribution Outside Canada and the United States: Mexico
Global Range: This system occurs across the warm deserts of North America. In Texas, it is found on deep sands adjacent to the Salt Basin west of the Guadalupe Mountains, and the Hueco Basin along the Rio Grande.

Biogeographic Divisions
Division Code and Name Primary Occurrence Status
302-North American Warm Desert C: Confident or certain

The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Ecoregions
Code Name Occurrence Status
17 Mojave Desert Confident or certain
22 Apache Highlands Confident or certain
23 Sonoran Desert Confident or certain
24 Chihuahuan Desert Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
13 Death Valley Basin Confident or certain
14 Sonoran Desert Confident or certain
15 Mogollon Rim Possible
24 Navajo Plateau Possible
25 Rio Grande Basin Confident or certain
26 Chihuahuan Desert Confident or certain
27 Great Plains Tablelands Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 3121

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: No

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 02Oct2014
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
  • Bowers, J. E. 1982. The plant ecology of inland dunes in western North America. Journal of Arid Environments 5:199-220.

  • Bowers, J. E. 1984. Plant geography of southwestern sand dunes. Desert Plants 6(1):31-42, 51-54.

  • 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.

  • Elliott, L. 2012. Draft descriptions of systems, mapping subsystems, and vegetation types for Phases V. Unpublished documents. Texas Parks and Wildlife Ecological Systems Classification and Mapping Project. Texas Natural History Survey, The Nature Conservancy of Texas, San Antonio.

  • Elliott, L. 2013. Draft descriptions of systems, mapping subsystems, and vegetation types for Phases VI. Unpublished documents. Texas Parks and Wildlife Ecological Systems Classification and Mapping Project. Texas Natural History Survey, The Nature Conservancy of Texas, San Antonio.

  • Felger, R. S. 1980. Vegetation and flora of the Gran Desierto, Sonora, Mexico. Desert Plants 2(2):87-114.

  • Holland, V. L., and D. J. Keil. 1995. California vegetation. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, Dubuque, IA. 516 pp.

  • Keeler-Wolf, T. 2007. Mojave Desert scrub vegetation. Pages 609-656 in: M. G. Barbour, T. Keeler-Wolf, and A. A. Schoenherr, editors. Terrestrial vegetation of California. Third edition. University of California Press, Berkeley.

  • MacMahon, J. A. 1988. Warm deserts. Pages 232-264 in: M. G. Barbour and W. D. Billings, editors. North American terrestrial vegetation. Cambridge University Press, New York.

  • Muldavin, E., M. P. Moreno, J. Thomson, and P. Mehlhop. 1994b. A vegetation map for White Sands National Monument. Final report prepared for White Sands National Monument: Alamogordo, NM, by New Mexico Natural Heritage Program.

  • NatureServe Explorer. 2011. Descriptions of ecological systems. Data current as of April 02, 2011. NatureServe, Arlington, VA. [http://www.natureserve.org/explorer/index.htm]

  • Powell, A. M., and B. L. Turner. 1974. Aspects of the plant biology of the gypsum outcrops of the Chihuahuan Desert. Pages 315-325 in: R. H. Wauer and D. H. Riskind, editors. Transactions of the Symposium on the Biological Resources of the Chihuahuan Desert region, United States and Mexico. USDI National Park Service, Washington, DC.

  • Reid, M. S., K. A. Schulz, P. J. Comer, M. H. Schindel, D. R. Culver, D. A. Sarr, and M. C. Damm. 1999. An alliance level classification of vegetation of the coterminous western United States. Unpublished final report to the University of Idaho Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and National Gap Analysis Program, in fulfillment of Cooperative Agreement 1434-HQ-97-AG-01779. The Nature Conservancy, Western Conservation Science Department, Boulder, CO.

  • Reid, W. H. 1980. Vegetative structure, physical environment and disturbance in White Sands National Monument, New Mexico. Pages 71-85 in: Proceedings of the Second Conference on Scientific Research in the National Parks, Volume 9. Human Impact on Natural Resources.

  • Sawyer, J. O., T. Keeler-Wolf, and J. Evens. 2009. A manual of California vegetation. Second edition. California Native Plant Society, Sacramento CA. 1300 pp.

  • Schoenherr, A. A., and J. H. Burk. 2007. Colorado Desert vegetation. Pages 657-682 in: M. G. Barbour, T. Keeler-Wolf, and A. A. Schoenherr, editors. 2007. Terrestrial vegetation of California. Third edition. University of California Press, Berkeley.

  • Thomas, K. A., T. Keeler-Wolf, J. Franklin, and P. Stine. 2004. Mojave Desert Ecosystem Program: Central Mojave vegetation mapping database. U.S. Geological Survey, Western Regional Science Center. 251 pp.


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