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Scientific Name: Edwards Plateau Limestone Savanna and Woodland
Unique Identifier: CES303.660
Classification Confidence: 2 - Moderate

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Summary: This upland system occurs primarily on soils derived from chalk or limestone of Cretaceous or Pennsylvanian origin in the Edwards Plateau; it forms the matrix within this ecoregion. It can also occur on limestone in the shortgrass regions of Texas and north into Oklahoma in areas such as the Arbuckle Mountains. This system is typified by a mosaic of evergreen oak forests, woodlands and savannas over shallow soils of rolling uplands and upper slopes within the Edwards Plateau and Lampasas Cutplain. Quercus fusiformis or Juniperus ashei typically dominate the canopy of this system. Other species may include Quercus buckleyi, Quercus laceyi, Quercus stellata, Ulmus crassifolia, Fraxinus albicans, Quercus sinuata, Quercus vaseyana, Sophora secundiflora, Mahonia trifoliolata, and Diospyros texana. Physiographic expression of this system varies from dense mottes (patches of forest where canopy cover approaches 100%) interspersed with grasslands to open savannalike woodlands with scattered individual or small groups of trees. Understories can contain various shrubs and graminoids, including Cercis canadensis var. texensis, Forestiera pubescens, Sideroxylon lanuginosum, Diospyros texana, Rhus trilobata, Bouteloua spp., Schizachyrium scoparium, Nassella leucotricha, Carex planostachys, Aristida purpurea, Aristida oligantha, Liatris punctata var. mucronata, Stillingia texana, Symphyotrichum ericoides, Stenaria nigricans, Monarda citriodora, and Salvia texana. Grasslands dominated by Schizachyrium scoparium occur in small patches within more closed woodlands and in larger patches between mottes or in open savannalike woodlands with scattered trees. Grasslands in this system tend to grade from shortgrass communities in the west to mixedgrass communities to the east. Substrate (limestone) determines the range of this system within given examples. Some disturbed areas of the western plateau are now dominated by mesquite woodland. Natural mesquite woodlands are believed to have occurred on the deeper soils of adjacent riparian systems.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: Distribution in Oklahoma needs to be reviewed. This system is described as a mosaic of grassland and woodland or forest communities. Southern mixedgrass grassland associations of M051 are found in the open savannas of this system.

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES303.041 Edwards Plateau Limestone Shrubland
CES303.656 Edwards Plateau Dry-Mesic Slope Forest and Woodland
CES303.657 Llano Uplift Acidic Forest, Woodland and Glade

Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL002115 Quercus fusiformis / Schizachyrium scoparium Woodland
CEGL002116 Quercus fusiformis / Hilaria belangeri Woodland
CEGL002124 Pinus remota - Juniperus ashei - Quercus spp. Woodland
CEGL002125 Juniperus ashei / Bouteloua (curtipendula, hirsuta) Woodland
CEGL002238 Hilaria belangeri - Bouteloua curtipendula Grassland
CEGL004070 Schizachyrium scoparium - Bouteloua curtipendula - Nassella leucotricha Grassland
CEGL004168 Quercus fusiformis - Quercus buckleyi - Ulmus crassifolia / Schizachyrium scoparium Woodland
CEGL004170 Juniperus ashei - Quercus sinuata var. breviloba Woodland
CEGL004172 Juniperus ashei - Quercus buckleyi Woodland
CEGL004176 Quercus stellata - (Quercus marilandica, Ulmus crassifolia) / Schizachyrium scoparium Woodland
CEGL004211 Schizachyrium scoparium - (Sorghastrum nutans) - Sporobolus compositus var. compositus - Liatris punctata var. mucronata Grassland
CEGL004215 Quercus fusiformis - Quercus buckleyi / Quercus sinuata - (Juniperus ashei) Woodland
CEGL004221 Juniperus ashei - Quercus vaseyana Woodland
CEGL004453 Quercus sinuata var. breviloba Scrub
CEGL004520 Muhlenbergia reverchonii - Bouteloua hirsuta var. pectinata - Carex microdonta Grassland


Land Cover Class: Forest and Woodland
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
Forest and Woodland (Treed)  
Ridge/Summit/Upper Slope  
Sedimentary Rock  
Temperate Temperate Continental
Alkaline Soil  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Tridens buckleyanus
  (Buckley's Fluffgrass)

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Fraxinus texensis G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
Quercus laceyi G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
Quercus stellata G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
Ulmus crassifolia G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
Quercus fusiformis G5 Broad-leaved evergreen tree Tree canopy    
Quercus vaseyana G4 Broad-leaved evergreen tree Tree canopy    
Juniperus ashei G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
Pinus remota G4 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
Cercis canadensis var. texensis TNR Broad-leaved deciduous tree Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
Desmanthus velutinus G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
Phlox roemeriana G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
Salvia texana G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
Stillingia texana G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
Bothriochloa ischaemum var. songarica TNR Graminoid Herb (field)    
Carex planostachys G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
Schizachyrium scoparium G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
Tridens buckleyanus G3 Graminoid Herb (field)    

Animal Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status Charact-
Dasypus novemcinctus
  (Nine-banded Armadillo)
Peromyscus attwateri
  (Texas Deermouse)
Peromyscus pectoralis
  (White-ankled Deermouse)
Sceloporus olivaceus
  (Texas Spiny Lizard)
Urocyon cinereoargenteus
  (Gray Fox)

Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: OK, TX
Global Range: This system is found primarily within the Edwards Plateau ecoregion but can extend north into Oklahoma and into portions of the Southern Shortgrass region of Texas.

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
28 Southern Shortgrass Prairie Predicted or probable
29 Edwards Plateau Confident or certain
33 Central Mixed-Grass Prairie Possible

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
26 Chihuahuan Desert Confident or certain
34 Southern Great Plains Possible
35 Edwards Plateau Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 4326
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1383
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2383

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: Yes

Element Description Edition Date: 24Feb2011
Element Description Author(s): S. Menard, K. Kindscher, J. Teague, M. Pyne 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).

  • Barbour, M. G., and W. D. Billings, editors. 1988. North American terrestrial vegetation. Cambridge University Press, New York. 434 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. 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.

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

  • Ricketts, T. H., E. Dinerstein, D. M. Olson, C. J. Loucks, and W. Eichbaum. 1999. Terrestrial ecoregions of North America: A conservation assessment. Island Press, Washington, DC. 485 pp.

  • TNC [The Nature Conservancy]. 2004b. A biodiversity and conservation assessment of the Edwards Plateau Ecoregion. Edwards Plateau Ecoregional Planning Team, The Nature Conservancy, San Antonio, TX.

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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: March 2019