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Classification
Scientific Name: Northwestern Great Plains Riparian
Unique Identifier: CES303.677
Classification Confidence: 3 - Weak

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Summary: This system is found in the riparian areas of medium and small rivers and streams throughout the northwestern Great Plains. It is likely most common in the Northern Great Plains Steppe. This system occurs in the Upper Missouri and tributaries starting at the Niobrara, White, Cheyenne, Belle Fourche, Moreau, Grand, Heart, Little Missouri, Yellowstone, Powder, Tongue, Bighorn, Wind, Milk, Musselshell, Marias, and Teton rivers; and in Canada, the Southern Saskatchewan, Red Deer and Old Man rivers to where they extend into Rocky Mountain Lower Montane-Foothill Riparian Woodland and Shrubland (CES306.821) or Northern Rocky Mountain Lower Montane Riparian Woodland and Shrubland (CES306.804). These are found on alluvial soils in highly variable landscape settings, from deep cut ravines to wide, braided streambeds. Hydrologically, these tend to be more flashy with less developed floodplain than on larger rivers, and typically dry down completely for some portion of the year. Dominant vegetation shares much with generally drier portions of larger floodplain systems downstream, but overall abundance of vegetation is generally lower. Communities within this system range from riparian forests and shrublands to gravel/sand flats. Dominant species include Populus deltoides, Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa, Salix spp., Artemisia cana ssp. cana, and Pascopyrum smithii. These areas are often subjected to heavy grazing and/or agriculture and can be heavily degraded. Another factor is that groundwater depletion and lack of fire have created additional species changes.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: This system needs to be more clearly delineated from Northwestern Great Plains Floodplain (CES303.676). The component plant association list is incomplete. All the riparian/floodplain/alluvial systems of the Great Plains region need to be revisited for naming conventions, along with better definitions of conceptual boundaries. There is much apparent overlap in their concepts and distribution, and the names add to the confusion. In particular, the difference between "riparian" and "floodplain" usage in the names needs revisiting and possible changing. These systems include Northwestern Great Plains Floodplain (CES303.676), Northwestern Great Plains Riparian (CES303.677), Western Great Plains Floodplain (CES303.678), and Western Great Plains Riparian (CES303.956).

Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL000657 Populus deltoides / Cornus sericea Floodplain Forest
CEGL000658 Populus deltoides - Fraxinus pennsylvanica Floodplain Forest
CEGL000660 Populus deltoides / Symphoricarpos occidentalis Floodplain Woodland
CEGL001072 Artemisia cana / Pascopyrum smithii Wet Shrubland
CEGL002239 Pascopyrum smithii - (Elymus trachycaulus) Clay Pan Wet Meadow



Classifiers

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)  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Fraxinus pennsylvanica G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa T5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Populus deltoides G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Cornus sericea G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Artemisia cana ssp. cana T5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Elymus trachycaulus G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Pascopyrum smithii G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: MT, ND, NE, SD, WY
Nation: Canada
Canadian Province Distribution: AB, MB, SK
Global Range: This system occurs throughout the northwestern Great Plains, north of the North Platte River basin in eastern Wyoming. It is found in eastern Wyoming and eastern Montana along the upper Missouri, Yellowstone, Powder, Tongue, Bighorn, Wind, Milk, Musselshell, Marias, and Teton rivers; in northern Nebraska and the Dakotas on the Niobrara, upper Missouri, White, Cheyenne, Belle Fourche, Moreau, Grand, Heart, Little Missouri rivers; and in Canada the Southern Saskatchewan, Red Deer and Old Man rivers.

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
10 Wyoming Basins Confident or certain
26 Northern Great Plains Steppe Confident or certain
34 Dakota Mixed-Grass Prairie Confident or certain
66 Aspen Parkland Predicted or probable
67 Fescue-Mixed Grass Prairie Predicted or probable

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
20 Missouri River Plateau Confident or certain
22 Wyoming Basin Predicted or probable
29 Wyoming Highlands Confident or certain
30 Northwestern Great Plains Confident or certain
31 Sandhills Confident or certain
39 Prairie Coteau Lands Confident or certain
40 Northern Great Plains Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 9326

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: No

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 01Oct2007
Element Description Author(s): NatureServe Western Ecology Team

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


References
  • 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.

  • 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.

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


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