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Classification
Scientific Name: Northern Rocky Mountain Western Larch Savanna
Unique Identifier: CES306.837
Classification Confidence: 2 - Moderate

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Summary: This ecological system is restricted to the interior montane zone of the Pacific Northwest in northern Idaho and adjacent Montana, Washington, Oregon, and in southeastern interior British Columbia. It also appears in the east Cascades of Washington. Winter snowpacks typically melt off in early spring at lower elevations. Elevations range from 680 to 2195 m (2230-7200 feet), and sites include drier, lower montane settings of toeslopes and ash deposits. This system is composed of open-canopied "savannas" of the deciduous conifer Larix occidentalis, which may have been initiated following stand-replacing crownfires of other conifer systems, but are maintained by a higher frequency, surface-fire regime. These savannas are found in settings where low-intensity, high-frequency fires create open larch woodlands, often with the undergrowth dominated by low-growing Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, Calamagrostis rubescens, Linnaea borealis, Spiraea betulifolia, Vaccinium cespitosum, or Xerophyllum tenax. Less frequent or absence of fire creates mixed-dominance stands with often shrubby undergrowth; Vaccinium cespitosum is common, and taller shrubs can include Acer glabrum, Ceanothus velutinus, Shepherdia canadensis, Physocarpus malvaceus, Rubus parviflorus, or Vaccinium membranaceum. Fire suppression has led to invasion of the more shade-tolerant tree species Abies grandis, Abies lasiocarpa, Picea engelmannii, or Tsuga spp. and loss of much of the single-story canopy woodlands.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: Stands initiated following crownfires in areas with stand-replacing fire frequencies greater than 150 years are included in the more mesic adjacent forest systems (Northern Rocky Mountain Mesic Montane Mixed Conifer Forest (CES306.802) and Northern Rocky Mountain Dry-Mesic Montane Mixed Conifer Forest (CES306.805)). This is a fire-dependent system and was much more extensive in the past; it is now very patchy in distribution. Most Larix occidentalis is a seral component of the dry-mesic mixed montane forest.

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES306.805 Northern Rocky Mountain Dry-Mesic Montane Mixed Conifer Forest


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL005880 Larix occidentalis / Clintonia uniflora Forest
CEGL005881 Larix occidentalis / Clintonia uniflora - Xerophyllum tenax Forest
CEGL005882 Larix occidentalis / Vaccinium cespitosum Forest
CEGL005883 Larix occidentalis / Vaccinium cespitosum / Clintonia uniflora Forest



Classifiers

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

Diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Forest and Woodland (Treed)  
Udic  
Very Long Disturbance Interval  
F-Landscape/Medium Intensity  
Other Floristics/Dominants User-defined
Moderate (100-500 yrs) Persistence  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Montane Montane
Montane Lower Montane
Lowland Foothill
Sideslope  
Toeslope/Valley Bottom  
Temperate Temperate Continental
Mesotrophic Soil  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Chaenactis thompsonii
  (Thompson's Pincushion)
G3  
Silene seelyi
  (Seely's Silene)
G3  
Valeriana columbiana
  (Wenatchee Valerian)
G2G3  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Larix occidentalis G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Shepherdia canadensis G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Spiraea betulifolia G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)  
 
 
Vaccinium caespitosum G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Ceanothus velutinus G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Linnaea borealis G5 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Chaenactis thompsonii G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Silene seelyi G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Valeriana columbiana G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Xerophyllum tenax G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Calamagrostis rubescens 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
Lepus americanus
  (Snowshoe Hare)
G5      
Marmota flaviventris
  (Yellow-bellied Marmot)
G5      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: ID, MT, OR, WA
Nation: Canada
Canadian Province Distribution: BCpotentially occurs
Global Range: This ecological system is restricted to the interior montane zone of the Pacific Northwest in northern Idaho and adjacent Montana, Washington, Oregon, and in southeastern interior British Columbia. It also appears in the east Cascades of Washington.

Biogeographic Divisions
Division Code and Name Primary Occurrence Status
204-North American Pacific Maritime C: Confident or certain
306-Rocky Mountain C: Confident or certain

The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Ecoregions
Code Name Occurrence Status
3 North Cascades Confident or certain
4 Modoc Plateau and East Cascades Confident or certain
6 Columbia Plateau Predicted or probable
68 Okanagan Confident or certain
7 Canadian Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
8 Middle Rockies - Blue Mountains Predicted or probable

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
1 Northern Cascades Confident or certain
7 Cascade Mountain Range Confident or certain
8 Grande Coulee Basin of the Columbia Plateau Predicted or probable
9 Blue Mountain Region Predicted or probable
10 Northwestern Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
19 Northern Rocky Mountains Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 4103
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1010
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2010

West Landfire Legend: Yes
East Landfire Legend: No

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 01Sep2005
Element Description Author(s): R.C. Crawford and M.S. Reid

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


References
  • Agee, J. K. 1993. Fire ecology of Pacific Northwest forests. Island Press, Washington, DC. 493 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.

  • Cooper, S. V., K. E. Neiman, R. Steele, and D. W. Roberts. 1987. Forest habitat types of northern Idaho: A second approximation. General Technical Report INT-236.USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Ogden, UT. 135 pp. [reprinted in 1991]

  • Daubenmire, R. F., and J. B. Daubenmire. 1968. Forest vegetation of eastern Washington and northern Idaho. Washington State University Agricultural Experiment Station Technical Bulletin No. 60. 104 pp.

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

  • Hessburg, P. F., B. G. Smith, R. B. Salter, R. D. Ottmar, and E. Alvarado. 2000. Recent changes (1930s-1990s) in spatial patterns of interior northwest forests, USA. Forest Ecology and Management 136(1-3):53-83.

  • Hessburg, P. F., B. G. Smith, S. C. Kreiter, C. A. Miller, R. B. Salter, C. H. McNicoll, and W. J. Hann. 1999. Historical and current forest and range landscapes in the interior Columbia River Basin and portions of the Klamath and Great Basins. Part 1: Linking vegetation patterns and landscape vulnerability to potential insect and pathogen disturbances. General Technical Report TNW-GTR-458. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, OR. 357 pp.

  • Johnson, C. G., Jr., and S. A. Simon. 1987. Plant associations of the Wallowa-Snake Province Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. Technical Paper R6-ECOL-TP-255A-86. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. 399 pp. plus appendices.

  • Johnson, C. G., and R. R. Clausnitzer. 1992. Plant associations of the Blue and Ochoco mountains. R6-ERW-TP-036-92. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. 163 pp. plus appendices.

  • Leavell, D. 2000. Vegetation and process of the Kootenai National Forest. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Montana, Missoula. 508 pp.

  • Lillybridge, T. R., B. L. Kovalchik, C. K. Williams, and B. G. Smith. 1995. Field guide for forested plant associations of the Wenatchee National Forest. General Technical Report PNW-GTR-359. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, OR. 335 pp.

  • Pfister, R. D., B. L. Kovalchik, S. F. Arno, and R. C. Presby. 1977. Forest habitat types of Montana. General Technical Report INT-34. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Ogden, UT. 174 pp.

  • Steele, R., R. D. Pfister, R. A. Ryker, and J. A. Kittams. 1981. Forest habitat types of central Idaho. General Technical Report INT-114. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Ogden, UT. 138 pp.

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

  • Williams, C. K., B. F. Kelly, B. G. Smith, and T. R. Lillybridge. 1995. Forest plant associations of the Colville National Forest. General Technical Report PNW-GTR-360. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR. 140 pp.


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