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Classification
Scientific Name: Western Great Plains Saline Depression Wetland
Unique Identifier: CES303.669
Classification Confidence: 2 - Moderate
Image 21973
© Don Faber-Langendoen
Summary: This ecological system is very similar to Western Great Plains Open Freshwater Depression Wetland (CES303.675) and Western Great Plains Closed Depression Wetland & Playa (CES303.666). However, strongly saline soils cause both the shallow lakes and depressions and the surrounding areas to be more brackish. Salt encrustations can occur on the surface in some examples of this system, and the soils are severely affected and have poor structure. Species that typify this system are salt-tolerant and halophytic species such as Distichlis spicata, Sporobolus airoides, and Hordeum jubatum. Other commonly occurring taxa include Puccinellia nuttalliana, Salicornia rubra, Schoenoplectus maritimus, Schoenoplectus americanus, Suaeda calceoliformis, Spartina spp., Triglochin maritima, and shrubs such as Sarcobatus vermiculatus and Krascheninnikovia lanata. During exceptionally wet years, an increase in precipitation can dilute the salt concentration in the soils of some examples of this system which may allow for less salt-tolerant species to occur. Communities found within this system may also occur in floodplains (i.e., more open depressions) but probably should not be considered a separate system unless they transition to areas outside the immediate floodplain. In Texas, these less saline Sporobolus cryptandrus, Aristida purpurea, and Ziziphus obtusifolia communities found within this system may also occur in floodplains (i.e., more open depressions) but probably should not be considered a separate system unless they transition to areas outside the immediate floodplain.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: Open and emergent saline marshes may be a separate system from saline wet meadows and prairies. This system is often intimately associated (in space) with greasewood flats, and there is some overlap in the associations between the two. This system tends to be more of an herbaceous wetlands, whereas Inter-Mountain Basins Greasewood Flat (CES304.780) is more strongly shrub-dominated with patches of herb-dominance.

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES300.729 North American Arid West Emergent Marsh
CES303.666 Western Great Plains Closed Depression Wetland & Playa
CES303.675 Western Great Plains Open Freshwater Depression Wetland


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL001478 Spartina pectinata - Schoenoplectus pungens Wet Meadow
CEGL001508 Sarcobatus vermiculatus / Pascopyrum smithii - (Elymus lanceolatus) Shrub Wet Meadow
CEGL001580 Pascopyrum smithii - Distichlis spicata Wet Meadow
CEGL001582 Pascopyrum smithii - Hordeum jubatum Wet Meadow
CEGL001587 Schoenoplectus pungens Marsh
CEGL001685 Sporobolus airoides Southern Plains Wet Meadow
CEGL001688 Sporobolus airoides Monotype Wet Meadow
CEGL001770 Distichlis spicata Alkaline Wet Meadow
CEGL001799 Puccinellia nuttalliana Salt Marsh
CEGL001843 Schoenoplectus maritimus Marsh
CEGL001999 Salicornia rubra Salt Flat
CEGL002004 Stuckenia pectinata - Ruppia maritima Aquatic Vegetation
CEGL002005 Stuckenia pectinata - Zannichellia palustris Aquatic Vegetation
CEGL002031 Distichlis spicata - Hordeum jubatum - (Poa arida, Iva annua) Wet Meadow
CEGL002040 Schoenoplectus pungens - Suaeda calceoliformis Alkaline Marsh
CEGL002042 Distichlis spicata - (Hordeum jubatum, Poa arida, Sporobolus airoides) Wet Meadow
CEGL002043 Distichlis spicata - Schoenoplectus maritimus - Salicornia rubra Wet Meadow
CEGL002146 Sarcobatus vermiculatus / Distichlis spicata - (Puccinellia nuttalliana) Shrub Wet Meadow
CEGL002226 Schoenoplectus americanus Great Plains Marsh
CEGL002227 Schoenoplectus maritimus - Schoenoplectus acutus - (Triglochin maritima) Marsh
CEGL002228 Typha spp. - Schoenoplectus spp. - Mixed Herbs Great Plains Marsh
CEGL002255 Calamagrostis stricta - Carex sartwellii - Carex praegracilis - Plantago eriopoda Saline Wet Meadow
CEGL002260 Scolochloa festucacea Marsh
CEGL002273 Distichlis spicata - Hordeum jubatum - Puccinellia nuttalliana - Suaeda calceoliformis Wet Meadow
CEGL002274 Sporobolus airoides Northern Plains Marsh
CEGL002275 Distichlis spicata - Spartina spp. Wet Meadow
CEGL002389 Typha spp. Great Plains Marsh
CEGL004144 Schoenoplectus americanus - Carex spp. Marsh
CEGL005286 Hordeum jubatum Great Plains Wet Meadow



Classifiers

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

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Herbaceous  
Depression  
Depressional  
Isolated Wetland Partially Isolated
Saline Water Chemistry  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Charadrius nivosus nivosus
  (Snowy Plover)
G3T3  
Schoenoplectus hallii
  (Hall's Bulrush)
G2G3  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Sarcobatus vermiculatus G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Suaeda calceoliformis G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Salicornia rubra G5 Succulent forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Distichlis spicata G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Hordeum jubatum G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Puccinellia nuttalliana G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Schoenoplectus maritimus G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Sporobolus airoides 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
Charadrius nivosus nivosus
  (Snowy Plover)
G3T3      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: CO, KS, MT, ND, NE, NM, OK, SD, TX, WY
Nation: Canada
Canadian Province Distribution: SK
Global Range: This system can occur throughout the western Great Plains but is likely more prevalent in the south-central portions of the division. Its distribution extends as far west as central Montana and eastern Wyoming where it occurs in the matrix of Northwestern Great Plains Mixedgrass Prairie (CES303.674).

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
34 Dakota Mixed-Grass Prairie Possible

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
20 Missouri River Plateau Confident or certain
25 Rio Grande Basin Possible
26 Chihuahuan Desert Confident or certain
27 Great Plains Tablelands Confident or certain
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 Possible
40 Northern Great Plains Possible

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 9256

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: No

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 02Oct2014
Element Description Author(s): S. Menard, K. Kindscher, M.S. Reid, J. Drake, L. Elliott, J. Teague

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.

  • Dodd, J. D., and R. T. Coupland. 1966. Vegetation of saline areas in Saskatchewan. Ecology 47(6):958-968.

  • 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.

  • Faber-Langendoen, D., C. Hedge, M. Kost, S. Thomas, L. Smart, R. Smyth, J. Drake, and S. Menard. 2011. Assessment of wetland ecosystem condition across landscape regions: A multi-metric approach. NatureServe, Arlington VA. plus appendices.

  • Hoagland, B. 2000. The vegetation of Oklahoma: A classification for landscape mapping and conservation planning. The Southwestern Naturalist 45(4):385-420.

  • Lauver, C. L., K. Kindscher, D. Faber-Langendoen, and R. Schneider. 1999. A classification of the natural vegetation of Kansas. The Southwestern Naturalist 44:421-443.

  • Rolfsmeier, S. B. 1993a. The saline wetland - meadow vegetation and flora of the North Platte River Valley in the Nebraska Panhandle. Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences 20:13-24.

  • 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.

  • Steinauer, G., and S. Rolfsmeier. 2000. Terrestrial natural communities of Nebraska. Unpublished report of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Lincoln, NE. 143 pp.

  • Stewart, R. E., and H. A. Kantrud. 1971. Classification of natural ponds and lakes in the glaciated prairie region. USDI Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife Resources, Publication 92. Washington, DC. 77 pp.

  • Ungar, I. A. 1967. Vegetation-soil relationships on saline soils in northern Kansas. The American Midland Naturalist 78(1):98-121.

  • Ungar, I. A. 1970. Species-soil relationships on sulfate dominated soils of South Dakota. The American Midland Naturalist 83(2):343-357.


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