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Scientific Name: North Pacific Hypermaritime Shrub and Herbaceous Headland
Unique Identifier: CES204.088

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Summary: This system consists of herbaceous- and shrub-dominated areas directly adjacent to the outer Pacific Coast from central Oregon north to Vancouver Island. These are very windy sites where wind and salt spray combine to limit tree growth. The climate is very wet, relatively warm in winter, and cool and foggy. In Oregon, fires apparently set by Native Americans also contributed to the open character of many of these sites. The relative prevalence of grasslands versus shrublands increases to the south. Steep slopes on coastal bluffs, headlands, or small islands are typical, though sometimes this system occurs on relatively level tops of headlands or islands. Soils can be shallow to bedrock or of glacial or marine sediment origin. Vegetation is dominated by perennial bunchgrasses or shrubs. Dominant species include Vaccinium ovatum, Gaultheria shallon, Rubus spectabilis, Calamagrostis nutkaensis, and Festuca rubra. Scattered stunted trees, especially Picea sitchensis, are often present.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: California Northern Coastal Grassland (CES206.941) is somewhat similar to the grassland part of this but is more extensive (larger patches) and extends further inland and higher in elevation. In southern Oregon, the climate gets warmer and drier and the grasslands start climbing well up into the hills, picking up some southern elements of vegetation. Probably corresponds with where Northern California Coastal Scrub (CES206.932) starts also, somewhere south of Coos Bay.

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES206.941 California Northern Coastal Grassland

Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL000971 Empetrum nigrum - Gaultheria shallon Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL001564 Calamagrostis nutkaensis - Elymus glaucus Grassland
CEGL001567 Festuca rubra Coastal Headland Grassland
CEGL001597 Danthonia californica - Festuca rubra Grassland
CEGL001972 Lomatium martindalei Grassland


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

Diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Ridge/Summit/Upper Slope  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Sidalcea hirtipes
  (Bristly-stem Sidalcea)
Triquetrella californica
  (California Triquetrella Moss)

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Rubus spectabilis G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
Gaultheria shallon G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling    
Vaccinium ovatum G4 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling    
Sidalcea hirtipes G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
Calamagrostis nutkaensis G5 Graminoid Herb (field)  
Festuca rubra G5 Graminoid Herb (field)  
Triquetrella californica G2 Moss Nonvascular      

Animal Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status Charact-
Microtus oregoni
  (Creeping Vole)
Sorex trowbridgii
  (Trowbridge's Shrew)
Sorex vagrans
  (Vagrant Shrew)
Thamnophis ordinoides
  (Northwestern Gartersnake)

Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: OR, WA
Nation: Canada
Canadian Province Distribution: BC
Global Range: This system occurs from the southern Oregon coast north to Vancouver Island.

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

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
1 Northern Cascades Confident or certain
2 Oregon Coastal Range Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 7161

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: No

Element Description Edition Date: 04Apr2005
Element Description Author(s): C. Chappell, K. Boggs, 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).

  • Chappell, C., and J. Christy. 2004. Willamette Valley-Puget Trough-Georgia Basin Ecoregion Terrestrial Ecological System EO Specs and EO Rank Specs. Appendix 11 in: J. Floberg, M. Goering, G. Wilhere, C. MacDonald, C. Chappell, C. Rumsey, Z. Ferdana, A. Holt, P. Skidmore, T. Horsman, E. Alverson, C. Tanner, M. Bryer, P. Lachetti, A. Harcombe, B. McDonald, T. Cook, M. Summers, and D. Rolph. Willamette Valley-Puget Trough-Georgia Basin Ecoregional Assessment, Volume One: Report prepared by The Nature Conservancy with support from The Nature Conservancy of Canada, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Washington Department of Natural Resources (Natural Heritage and Nearshore Habitat programs), Oregon State Natural Heritage Information Center and the British Columbia Conservation Data Centre.

  • 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.

  • Franklin, J. F., and C. T. Dyrness. 1973. Natural vegetation of Oregon and Washington. General Technical Report PNW-8. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station, Portland, OR. 417 pp.

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

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

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Version 7.1 (2 February 2009)
Data last updated: March 2019