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Classification
Scientific Name: Inter-Mountain Basins Alkaline Closed Depression
Unique Identifier: CES304.998
Classification Confidence: 2 - Moderate
Image 22124
© James Morefield
Summary: This ecological system occurs on playas that are seasonally to semipermanently flooded, usually retaining water into the growing season and drying completely only in drought years. Many are associated with hot and cold springs, located in basins with internal drainage. Soils are alkaline to saline clays with hardpans. Seasonal drying exposes mudflats colonized by both annual and perennial wetland vegetation. 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, Puccinellia lemmonii, Poa secunda, Muhlenbergia spp., Leymus triticoides, Bolboschoenus maritimus, Schoenoplectus americanus, Triglochin maritima, and Salicornia spp. 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. Types often occur along the margins of perennial lakes, in alkaline closed basins, with extremely low-gradient shorelines. This system can occur throughout the Columbia Plateau and the northern Great Basin but is most common in eastern Oregon and northern Nevada. It occurs in the Wyoming basins (central Wyoming) where it is surrounded by sage steppe systems and in Colorado. This system is very similar to Western Great Plains Closed Depression Wetland & Playa (CES303.666).

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)


Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES303.666 Western Great Plains Closed Depression Wetland & Playa


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL001016 Artemisia tridentata ssp. tridentata / Leymus cinereus Shrubland
CEGL001571 Leymus triticoides Wet Meadow
CEGL001572 Leymus triticoides - Poa secunda Wet Meadow
CEGL001585 Schoenoplectus americanus - Eleocharis palustris Marsh
CEGL001658 Puccinellia lemmonii - Poa secunda Wet Meadow
CEGL001770 Distichlis spicata Alkaline Wet Meadow
CEGL001834 Eleocharis palustris - Distichlis spicata Marsh
CEGL001835 Eleocharis palustris - Juncus arcticus ssp. littoralis Marsh
CEGL002755 Poa secunda - Muhlenbergia richardsonis Moist 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 Mineral
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
Astragalus applegatei
  (Applegate's Milkvetch)
G1 LE: Listed endangered
Astragalus diversifolius
  (Mesic Milkvetch)
G2  
Astragalus lemmonii
  (Lemmon's Milkvetch)
G2  
Astragalus phoenix
  (Ash Meadows Milkvetch)
G2 LT: Listed threatened
Astragalus pterocarpus
  (Winged Milkvetch)
G3  
Calochortus striatus
  (Alkali Mariposa Lily)
G3  
Castilleja salsuginosa
  (Monte Neva Indian-paintbrush)
G1Q  
Centaurium namophilum
  (Spring-loving Centaury)
G2Q LT: Listed threatened
Charadrius nivosus nivosus
  (Snowy Plover)
G3T3  
Cirsium mohavense
  (Mojave Thistle)
G2G3  
Cordylanthus tecopensis
  (Tecopa Bird's-beak)
G2  
Downingia bicornuta
  (Double-horn Downingia)
G3G4  
Downingia bicornuta var. bicornuta
  (Double-horn Downingia)
G3G4T3T4  
Eriogonum ampullaceum
  (Mono Buckwheat)
G3  
Eriogonum argophyllum
  (Ruby Valley Buckwheat)
G1  
Goodmania luteola
  (Golden Goodmania)
G3  
Grindelia fraxinipratensis
  (Ash Meadows Gumweed)
G2 LT: Listed threatened
Juncus kelloggii
  (Kellogg's Rush)
G3?  
Juncus uncialis
  (Inch-high Rush)
G3G4  
Lepidium davisii
  (Davis' Peppercress)
G3  
Microtus californicus scirpensis
  (Amargosa Vole)
G5T1 LE: Listed endangered
Phacelia parishii
  (Parish's Phacelia)
G2G3  
Plagiobothrys salsus
  (Desert Allocarya)
G2G3  
Plagiobothrys stipitatus var. micranthus
  (Stalked Popcorn-flower)
G4T3T4  
Polygonum polygaloides ssp. confertiflorum
  (Dense-flower Knotweed)
G4G5T3T4  
Polygonum polygaloides ssp. esotericum
  (Modoc County Knotweed)
G4G5T3  
Potentilla basaltica
  (Soldier Meadows Cinquefoil)
G1  
Potentilla newberryi
  (Newberry's Cinquefoil)
G3G4  
Pseudocopaeodes eunus obscurus
  (Carson Wandering Skipper)
G3T1 LE: Listed endangered
Sisyrinchium funereum
  (Funeral Mountain Blue-eyed-grass)
G2  
Spiranthes infernalis
  (Ash Meadows Ladies'-tresses)
G2  
Thelypodium brachycarpum
  (Short-pod Thelypody)
G3  
Thelypodium howellii ssp. spectabilis
  (Howell's Spectacular Thelypody)
G1T1 LT: Listed threatened

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Downingia bicornuta G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Downingia bicornuta var. bicornuta T3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Bolboschoenus maritimus G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Distichlis spicata G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Puccinellia lemmonii G4 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Schoenoplectus americanus 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      
Microtus californicus scirpensis
  (Amargosa Vole)
G5T1 LE: Listed endangered    
Pseudocopaeodes eunus obscurus
  (Carson Wandering Skipper)
G3T1 LE: Listed endangered    
Spea intermontana
  (Great Basin Spadefoot)
G5      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: CA, CO, ID, NV, OR, UT, WApotentially occurs, WY
Global Range: This system can occur throughout the Columbia Plateau and the northern Great Basin but is most common in eastern Oregon and northern Nevada. It occurs in the Wyoming basins (central Wyoming) where it is surrounded by sage steppe systems and in Colorado.

Biogeographic Divisions
Division Code and Name Primary Occurrence Status
304-Inter-Mountain Basins C: Confident or certain

The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Ecoregions
Code Name Occurrence Status
6 Columbia Plateau Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
7 Cascade Mountain Range Predicted or probable
8 Grande Coulee Basin of the Columbia Plateau Predicted or probable
9 Blue Mountain Region Confident or certain
12 Western Great Basin Confident or certain
13 Death Valley Basin Possible
16 Utah High Plateaus Possible
17 Eastern Great Basin Predicted or probable
18 Snake River Plain Confident or certain
22 Wyoming Basin Confident or certain
23 Colorado Plateau Predicted or probable
24 Navajo Plateau Possible

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 9297

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: No

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 07Nov2018
Element Description Author(s): J. Kagan, P. Comer, K.A. Schulz

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


References
  • CNHP [Colorado Natural Heritage Program]. 2005-2010. Ecosystem descriptions and EIA specifications. Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Colorado State University, Fort Collins. [http://www.cnhp.colostate.edu/projects/eco_systems/] (accessed September 9, 2013).

  • 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.

  • Cooper, D. J., and C. Severn. 1992. Wetlands of the San Luis Valley, Colorado: An ecological study and analysis of the hydrologic regime, soil chemistry, vegetation and the potential effects of a water table drawdown. Report submitted to the State of Colorado Division of Wildlife, the USDI Fish & Wildlife Service and the Rio Grande Water Conservation District.

  • Dlugolecki, L. 2010. A characterization of seasonal pools in central Oregon's high desert. M.Sc. thesis, Oregon State University, Corvallis. 76 pp. [http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/handle/1957/15038]

  • Haukos, D. A., and L. M. Smith. 1994. The importance of playa wetlands to biodiversity of the Southern High Plains. Landscape and Urban Planning 28:83-98.

  • Johnson, L. A., D. A. Haukos, L. M. Smith, and S. T. McMurry. 2011. Loss of playa wetlands caused by reclassification and remapping of hydric soils on the southern High Plains. Wetlands 31:483-492.

  • Reuter, R., L. Dlugolecki, J. Doolittle, and P. Perdone. 2013. Using remotely sensed soil conductivity to monitor restoration activities on vernal pools, northern Great Basin, USA. Pages 237-248 in: S. A. Shahid, M. A. Abdelfattah, and K. Faisal. Developments in soil salinity assessment and reclamation. Springer Science+Business Media.

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

  • TNC [The Nature Conservancy]. 2013. Climate Wizard. The Nature Conservancy, University of Washington, and The University of Southern Mississippi. [http://www.climatewizard.org/] (accessed September 19, 2013).

  • WNHP [Washington Natural Heritage Program]. 2011. Ecological integrity assessments for the ecological systems of Washington. Version: 2.22.2011. Washington Natural Heritage Program, Department of Natural Resources, Olympia. [http://www1.dnr.wa.gov/nhp/refdesk/communities/eia_list.html] (accessed September 9, 2013).

  • WNHP [Washington Natural Heritage Program]. 2018. Unpublished data files. Washington Natural Heritage Program, Department of Natural Resources, Olympia, WA.


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