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Classification
Scientific Name: Western Great Plains Sandhill Steppe
Unique Identifier: CES303.671
Classification Confidence: 1 - Strong

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Summary: This shrubland system is found mostly in south-central areas of the Western Great Plains Division ranging from southwestern Wyoming and southwestern Nebraska up into the Nebraska Sandhill region, south through eastern Colorado, and New Mexico to central Texas, although some examples may reach as far north as the Badlands of South Dakota. The climate is semi-arid to arid for much of the region in which this system occurs. This system is found on somewhat excessively to excessively well-drained, deep sandy soils that are often associated with dune systems and ancient floodplains. In some areas, this system may actually occur as a result of overgrazing in Western Great Plains Tallgrass Prairie (CES303.673) or Western Great Plains Sand Prairie (CES303.670). Typically, this system is characterized by a sparse to moderately dense woody layer dominated or codominated by Artemisia filifolia, but other characteristic species may be present, including Amorpha canescens, Prosopis glandulosa (southern stands), Prunus angustifolia, Prunus pumila var. besseyi (northern stands), Quercus havardii (Texas), Rhus trilobata, and Yucca glauca. Associated herbaceous species can vary with geography, amount and season of precipitation, disturbance, and soil texture. The herbaceous layer typically has a moderate to dense canopy but may include stands with sparse understory. Several mid- to tallgrass species characteristic of sand substrates are usually present to dominant, such as Andropogon hallii, Calamovilfa gigantea, Calamovilfa longifolia, Schizachyrium scoparium, Sporobolus cryptandrus, Sporobolus giganteus, or Hesperostipa comata.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: This system is minor in the sandhills region of western Nebraska which is dominated by sand prairie. It may overlap in concept with East-Central Texas Plains Xeric Sandyland (CES205.897). This system was modeled Monahans and Mescalero Sands of Texas and New Mexico during Landfire workshops, but probably needs significant review because of the complexity of the relationship among tallgrass, shin oak, and sandsage types. This type is probably best represented in mapzone 34.

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES205.897 East-Central Texas Plains Xeric Sandyland
CES303.670 Western Great Plains Sand Prairie
CES303.673 Western Great Plains Tallgrass Prairie


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL001459 Artemisia filifolia / Andropogon hallii Shrubland
CEGL002171 Quercus havardii / Sporobolus cryptandrus - Schizachyrium scoparium Shrubland
CEGL002176 Artemisia filifolia / Bouteloua (curtipendula, gracilis) Shrubland
CEGL002177 Artemisia filifolia / Calamovilfa longifolia Shrubland
CEGL002178 Artemisia filifolia / Schizachyrium scoparium - Andropogon hallii Shrubland
CEGL002179 Artemisia filifolia / Sporobolus cryptandrus Shrubland



Classifiers

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

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Shrubland (Shrub-dominated)  
Sand Soil Texture  
Ustic  
F-Landscape/Medium Intensity  
G-Landscape/Medium Intensity  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Yucca glauca G5 Succulent shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Artemisia filifolia G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Aristida purpurea G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Bouteloua gracilis G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Calamovilfa longifolia G5 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Schizachyrium scoparium G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Sporobolus cryptandrus G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Sporobolus giganteus G5 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: CO, KS, NE, NM, OK, SDpotentially occurs, TX
Global Range: This system is found primarily within the south-central areas of the Western Great Plains Division ranging from the Nebraska Sandhills south into central Texas. However, examples of this system can be found as far north as the Badlands in South Dakota.

Biogeographic Divisions
Division Code and Name Primary Occurrence Status
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

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
25 Rio Grande Basin Possible
26 Chihuahuan Desert Confident or certain
27 Great Plains Tablelands Confident or certain
28 Southern Rocky Mountains Possible
31 Sandhills Confident or certain
33 Western Great Plains Confident or certain
34 Southern Great Plains Confident or certain
38 Eastern Great Plains Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 5271
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1094
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2094

West Landfire Legend: Yes
East Landfire Legend: Yes

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 02Oct2014
Element Description Author(s): S. Menard, K. Kindscher, K.A. Schulz and L. Elliott

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


References
  • 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. [http://www.usgs.gov/core_science_systems/csas/vip/parks/lamr_alfl.html]

  • 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. 2011. Draft descriptions of systems, mapping subsystems, and vegetation types for Phases I, II, III, and IV. 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. 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.

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

  • Ramaley, F. 1939b. Sand-hill vegetation of northeastern Colorado. Ecological Monographs 9:1-51.

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

  • Sims, P. L., B. E. Dahl, and A. H. Denham. 1976. Vegetation and livestock response at three grazing intensities on sandhill rangeland in eastern Colorado. Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station. Technical Bulletin 130. 48 pp.

  • Tolstead, W. L. 1942. Vegetation of the northern part of Cherry County, Nebraska. Ecological Monographs 12(3):257-292.


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