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Classification
Scientific Name: North Pacific Alpine and Subalpine Bedrock and Scree
Unique Identifier: CES204.853
Classification Confidence: 2 - Moderate

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Summary: This ecological system includes all the exposed rock and rubble above the forest line (subalpine parkland and above) in the North Pacific mountain ranges and is restricted to the highest elevations in the Cascade Range, from southwestern British Columbia south into northern California, and also north into southeastern Alaska. It is composed of barren and sparsely vegetated alpine substrates, typically including both bedrock outcrops and scree slopes, upper mountain slopes, summits and nunataks. Nonvascular- (lichen-) dominated communities are common. Exposure to desiccating winds, rocky and sometimes unstable substrates, and a short growing season limit plant growth. In Alaska, this system usually occurs above alpine dwarf-shrub, herbaceous meadow, and dwarf-shrub-herbaceous systems typically at elevations higher than 915 m (3000 feet) (possibly higher in southeastern Alaska). There can be sparse cover of forbs, grasses, lichens, shrubs and small trees, but the total vascular plant cover is typically less than 25% due to the high cover of exposed rock. Species composition is variable and may include Artemisia arctica, Astragalus alpinus, Carex microchaeta, Minuartia arctica, Salix rotundifolia, Saxifraga sibirica (= Saxifraga bracteata), Saxifraga bronchialis, Sibbaldia procumbens, and Silene acaulis. Common nonvascular genera include Racomitrium and Stereocaulon.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: This system now includes the type known as Maritime High Alpine Herbaceous by the Alaska Natural Heritage Program.



Classifiers

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

Diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Alpine/AltiAndino  
Talus (Substrate)  
Rock Outcrops/Barrens/Glades  
Oligotrophic Soil  
Very Shallow Soil  
Alpine Slopes  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Temperate Temperate Continental
Glaciated  
Unconsolidated  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Arabis suffrutescens var. horizontalis
  (Crater Lake Rockcress)
G5T1  
Astragalus cottonii
  (Cotton's Milkvetch)
G2Q  
Brachydontium olympicum
  (Olympic Brachydontium Moss)
G2G3  
Geum rossii var. depressum
  (Ross' Avens)
G5T1  
Micranthes tischii
  (Olympic Saxifrage)
G2  
Nisquallia olympica
  (Olympic Grasshopper)
G1G2  
Taricha granulosa mazamae
  (Crater Lake Newt)
G5T1Q  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Artemisia arctica G5 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Salix rotundifolia G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Antennaria alpina G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Arabis suffrutescens var. horizontalis T1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Astragalus cottonii G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Geum rossii var. depressum T1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Micranthes tischii G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Minuartia arctica G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Saxifraga bronchialis G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Saxifraga sibirica G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Sibbaldia procumbens G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Silene acaulis G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex microchaeta G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Poa alpina G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Brachydontium olympicum G2 Moss Nonvascular      
 
 


Animal Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status Charact-
eristic
Exotic
Corvus corax
  (Common Raven)
G5      
Leucosticte tephrocotis
  (Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch)
G5      
Marmota caligata
  (Hoary Marmot)
G5      
Neotoma cinerea
  (Bushy-tailed Woodrat)
G5      
Nisquallia olympica
  (Olympic Grasshopper)
G1G2      
Ochotona princeps
  (American Pika)
G5      
Taricha granulosa mazamae
  (Crater Lake Newt)
G5T1Q      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: AK, CA, OR, WA
Nation: Canada
Canadian Province Distribution: BC
Global Range: This ecological system is restricted to the highest elevations in the North Pacific ranges, from southeastern Alaska south into northern California.

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

The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Ecoregions
Code Name Occurrence Status
1 Pacific Northwest Coast Confident or certain
2 Puget Trough - Willamette Valley - Georgia Basin Confident or certain
3 North Cascades Confident or certain
4 Modoc Plateau and East Cascades Predicted or probable
69 S.E. Alaska - B.C. Coastal Forest and Mountains Confident or certain
70 Gulf of Alaska Mountains and Fjordlands Confident or certain
81 West Cascades Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
1 Northern Cascades Confident or certain
7 Cascade Mountain Range Confident or certain
77 Prince William Confident or certain
78 Southeast Alaska Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 3118
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1734
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2734

West Landfire Legend: Yes
East Landfire Legend: No

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 10Dec2008
Element Description Author(s): R. Crawford, M.S. Reid, C. Chappell and T. Boucher

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.

  • Ecosystems Working Group. 1998. Standards for broad terrestrial ecosystem classification and mapping for British Columbia. Prepared by the Ecosystems Working Group, Terrestrial Ecosystem Task Force, Resources Inventory Committee, for the Province of British Columbia. 174 pp. plus appendices. [http://srmwww.gov.bc.ca/risc/pubs/teecolo/tem/indextem.htm]

  • Meidinger, D., and J. Pojar, editors. 1991. Ecosystems of British Columbia. British Columbia Ministry of Forests Special Report Series No. 6. Victoria, BC. 330 pp.

  • Viereck, L. A., C. T. Dyrness, A. R. Batten, and K. J. Wenzlick. 1992. The Alaska vegetation classification. General Technical Report PNW-GTR286. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, OR. 278 pp.

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


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Data last updated: March 2019