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Scientific Name: Great Plains Wooded Draw and Ravine
Unique Identifier: CES303.680
Classification Confidence: 2 - Moderate

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Summary: This ecological system is typically found associated with permanent or ephemeral streams though it may occur on steep northern slopes or within canyon bottoms that do not experience periodic flooding. Soil moisture and topography allow greater moisture conditions compared to the surrounding areas. Occurrences can be either tree-dominated or predominantly shrubland. Fraxinus pennsylvanica with Ulmus rubra or Ulmus americana typically dominate this system, although Juniperus scopulorum can dominate the canopy in the western Great Plains and Juniperus virginiana in the east. Populus tremuloides, Betula papyrifera, or Acer negundo are commonly present in portions of the northwestern Great Plains, for example in areas of central and eastern Montana. In south-central and east-central portions of the Great Plains, Quercus macrocarpa can also be present. Wetter areas within this system can have significant amounts of Populus deltoides. Component shrubs can include Cornus sericea, Crataegus douglasii, Crataegus chrysocarpa, Crataegus succulenta, Elaeagnus commutata, Prunus virginiana, Rhus spp., Rosa woodsii, Shepherdia argentea, Symphoricarpos occidentalis, or Viburnum lentago. Common grasses can include Calamagrostis stricta, Carex spp., Pascopyrum smithii, Piptatherum micranthum, Pseudoroegneria spicata, or Schizachyrium scoparium. This system was often subjected to heavy grazing and trampling by both domestic animals and wildlife and can be heavily degraded in some areas. In addition, exotic species such as Ulmus pumila and Elaeagnus angustifolia can invade these systems.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: More information from the broader division and from the Rocky Mountain division will be needed to determine if those areas dominated by ash and elm should be separated from areas dominated by Juniperus scopulorum. Those areas dominated by Juniperus are typically found in the Badlands and the western portions of North Dakota and Nebraska, and should probably be described based on data from the Great Plains Steppe or Rocky Mountain division. However, Juniperus can occur in stands with elm and ash in Nebraska and North Dakota. Expanded range into the central Great Plains (parts of Provinces 332 and 251). Possibly consider splitting the western Great Plains stands from the central Great Plains stands but there are currently not enough floristic and environmental differences known between stands in the two areas to justify that. In Texas, examples of this system may also include Populus deltoides and Quercus fusiformis in the canopy with Fraxinus pennsylvanica, Ulmus americana, and Juniperus spp.

Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL000643 Fraxinus pennsylvanica - Ulmus americana / Prunus virginiana Woodland
CEGL000658 Populus deltoides - Fraxinus pennsylvanica Floodplain Forest
CEGL000660 Populus deltoides / Symphoricarpos occidentalis Floodplain Woodland
CEGL000746 Juniperus scopulorum / Cornus sericea Riparian Woodland
CEGL000747 Juniperus scopulorum / Piptatherum micranthum Woodland
CEGL000748 Juniperus scopulorum / Pseudoroegneria spicata Woodland
CEGL000750 Juniperus scopulorum / Schizachyrium scoparium Woodland
CEGL001093 Crataegus douglasii - (Crataegus chrysocarpa) Shrubland
CEGL001098 Elaeagnus commutata Wet Shrubland
CEGL001099 Elaeagnus commutata / Pascopyrum smithii Wet Shrubland
CEGL001108 Prunus virginiana - (Prunus americana) Wet Shrubland
CEGL001126 Rosa woodsii Wet Shrubland
CEGL001128 Shepherdia argentea Wet Shrubland
CEGL001131 Symphoricarpos occidentalis Shrubland
CEGL001165 Cornus sericea Rocky Mountain Wet Shrubland
CEGL001813 Carex nebrascensis Wet Meadow
CEGL002014 Fraxinus pennsylvanica - Ulmus spp. - Celtis occidentalis Floodplain Forest
CEGL002079 Betula papyrifera / Corylus cornuta Forest
CEGL002082 Fraxinus pennsylvanica - Ulmus americana / Symphoricarpos occidentalis Forest
CEGL002088 Fraxinus pennsylvanica - (Ulmus americana) / Symphoricarpos occidentalis Floodplain Forest
CEGL002138 Quercus macrocarpa / Prunus virginiana - Symphoricarpos occidentalis Woodland
CEGL002187 Cornus sericea - Salix (bebbiana, discolor, petiolaris) / Calamagrostis stricta Shrub Swamp
CEGL002649 Populus deltoides / Carex pellita Floodplain Woodland
CEGL002680 Populus deltoides (ssp. wislizeni, ssp. monilifera) / Pascopyrum smithii Riparian Woodland
CEGL003550 Juniperus scopulorum Woodland
CEGL005219 Cornus drummondii - (Rhus glabra, Prunus spp.) Shrubland
CEGL005220 Cornus drummondii - Amorpha fruticosa - Cornus sericea Wet Shrubland


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

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Forest and Woodland (Treed)  
G-Patch/Medium Intensity  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Fraxinus pennsylvanica G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
Prunus virginiana G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
Ulmus americana G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
Ulmus rubra G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
Juniperus scopulorum G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
Amelanchier alnifolia G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
Symphoricarpos occidentalis G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
Nassella viridula G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
Pascopyrum smithii G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    

Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: CO, IA, KS, MO, MT, ND, NE, OK, SD, TX, WY
Global Range: This system is found throughout the Western Great Plains Division and east into the western tallgrass prairie zone of the central United States. In Wyoming, it occurs in the northeastern foothills of the Bighorns and across far-northeastern Wyoming into the northern fringes of the Black Hills. It has also been identified in the High Plains of Texas.

Biogeographic Divisions
Division Code and Name Primary Occurrence Status
205-Eastern Great Plains P: Predicted or probable
303-Western Great Plains C: Confident or certain

The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Ecoregions
Code Name Occurrence Status
26 Northern Great Plains Steppe Confident or certain
27 Central Shortgrass Prairie Confident or certain
28 Southern Shortgrass Prairie Confident or certain
33 Central Mixed-Grass Prairie Confident or certain
34 Dakota Mixed-Grass Prairie Confident or certain
36 Central Tallgrass Prairie Confident or certain
37 Osage Plains/Flint Hills Prairie Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
20 Missouri River Plateau Confident or certain
22 Wyoming Basin Never was there
27 Great Plains Tablelands Predicted or probable
28 Southern Rocky Mountains Predicted or probable
29 Wyoming Highlands Confident or certain
30 Northwestern Great Plains Confident or certain
31 Sandhills Confident or certain
33 Western Great Plains Confident or certain
34 Southern Great Plains Confident or certain
35 Edwards Plateau Possible
38 Eastern Great Plains Confident or certain
39 Prairie Coteau Lands Confident or certain
40 Northern Great Plains Confident or certain
43 Till Plains Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 4328
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1385
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2385

West Landfire Legend: Yes
East Landfire Legend: Yes

Element Description Edition Date: 02Oct2014
Element Description Author(s): S. Menard, K. Kindscher, M.S. Reid and J. Drake

Ecological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

  • Bell, J. R. 2005. Vegetation classification at Lake Meredith NRA and Alibates Flint Quarries NM. A report for the USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program prepared by NatureServe, Arlington, VA. 172 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.

  • 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.

  • Eyre, F. H., editor. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Society of American Foresters, Washington, DC. 148 pp.

  • Rice, P. M., E. W. Schweiger, W. Gustafson, C. Lea, D. Manier, D. Shorrock, B. Frakes, and L. O'Gan. 2012b. Vegetation classification and mapping project report: Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. Natural Resource Report NPS/ROMN/NRR--2012/590. National Park Service, Fort Collins, CO. 147 pp.

  • Rolfsmeier, S. B., and G. Steinauer. 2010. Terrestrial ecological systems and natural communities of Nebraska (Version IV - March 9, 2010). Nebraska Natural Heritage Program, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Lincoln, NE. 228 pp.

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Citation for Bird Range Maps of North America:
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Version 7.1 (2 February 2009)
Data last updated: November 2016