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Classification
Scientific Name: Rocky Mountain Poor-Site Lodgepole Pine Forest
Unique Identifier: CES306.960
Classification Confidence: 2 - Moderate

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Summary: This ecological system is widespread but patchy in distribution in upper montane to subalpine elevations of the Rocky Mountains and Intermountain region. These are subalpine forests, occasionally found in the montane zone, where the dominance of Pinus contorta is related to topo-edaphic conditions and nutrient-poor soils. These include excessively well-drained pumice deposits, glacial till and alluvium on valley floors where there is cold-air accumulation, warm and droughty shallow soils over fractured quartzite bedrock, and shallow moisture-deficient soils with a significant component of volcanic ash. Pumice soils at lower elevations of the pumice zone of Oregon support this system. Soils on these sites are typically well-drained, gravelly, coarse-textured, acidic, and rarely formed from calcareous parent materials. Following stand-replacing fires, Pinus contorta will rapidly colonize and develop into dense, even-aged stands and then persist on these sites that are too extreme for other conifers to establish. In some cases, stands are open to dense and may be multi-aged, not just even-aged. These forests are dominated by Pinus contorta with shrub, grass, or barren understories. Sometimes there are intermingled mixed conifer/Populus tremuloides stands, with the latter occurring with inclusions of deeper, typically fine-textured soils. In central Oregon, Pseudotsuga menziesii, Pinus ponderosa, and Abies concolor may be present, and Populus tremuloides may be present as small patches. The shrub stratum may be conspicuous to absent; common species include Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, Artemisia tridentata, Juniperus communis, Ceanothus velutinus, Linnaea borealis, Mahonia repens, Purshia tridentata, Spiraea betulifolia, Shepherdia canadensis, Vaccinium scoparium, Symphoricarpos albus, and Ribes spp. Some open stands with very sparse understories can experience a form of mixed-severity burning via cigarette burning along downed logs (insufficient fuels between logs to carry fire). Depending on the arrangement and loading of logs to living trees, either mortality or fire-scarring may occur.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: The higher elevation Pinus contorta forests of the southern Cascades are included in Sierra Nevada Subalpine Lodgepole Pine Forest and Woodland (CES206.912).

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES206.912 Sierra Nevada Subalpine Lodgepole Pine Forest and Woodland


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL000136 Pinus contorta / Artemisia tridentata / Festuca idahoensis Woodland
CEGL000137 Pinus contorta / Artemisia tridentata / Elymus elymoides Woodland
CEGL000139 Pinus contorta / Calamagrostis rubescens Forest
CEGL000141 Pinus contorta / Carex geyeri Forest
CEGL000143 Pinus contorta / Carex inops ssp. inops Forest
CEGL000144 Pinus contorta / Carex rossii Forest
CEGL000146 Pinus contorta / Danthonia californica Forest
CEGL000149 Pinus contorta / Festuca idahoensis Woodland
CEGL000154 Pinus contorta / Mahonia repens Forest
CEGL000159 Pinus contorta / Purshia tridentata / Carex inops ssp. inops Forest
CEGL000160 Pinus contorta / Purshia tridentata / Festuca idahoensis Woodland
CEGL000161 Pinus contorta / Purshia tridentata - Ribes cereum Woodland
CEGL000162 Pinus contorta / Purshia tridentata / Achnatherum occidentale ssp. occidentale Woodland
CEGL000165 Pinus contorta / Achnatherum occidentale Woodland
CEGL000172 Pinus contorta / Vaccinium scoparium Forest
CEGL000764 Pinus contorta / Juniperus communis Woodland
CEGL000765 Pinus contorta / Purshia tridentata Woodland
CEGL001033 Artemisia tridentata ssp. vaseyana / Achnatherum occidentale Shrubland



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
Acidic Soil  
Very Shallow Soil  
Mineral: W/ A-Horizon <10 cm  
Ustic  
Long Disturbance Interval  
F-Patch/High Intensity Seasonality/Fall Fire
F-Landscape/High Intensity  
Needle-Leaved Tree  
Pinus contorta  
Moderate (100-500 yrs) Persistence  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Pinus contorta G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Ribes cereum G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Purshia tridentata G4 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Vaccinium scoparium G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Stenanthium occidentale G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Calamagrostis rubescens G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex garberi G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex rossii G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: COpotentially occurs, ID, MT, NVpotentially occurs, OR, UT, WA, WY
Nation: Canada
Canadian Province Distribution: AB, BCpotentially occurs
Global Range: This system is found in the upper montane to subalpine elevations of the Rocky Mountains from north-central Colorado north and west into Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, as well as the Intermountain region (northeastern Nevada and north-central Utah). In north-central Montana (mapzone 20), it may occur on appropriate habitats (intrusive volcanics, very nutrient-poor) within "island" mountain ranges (Big Snowy and Highwood mountains). In central Wyoming, it may occur in the Ferris Mountains and possibly north into the Bighorns.

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

The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Ecoregions
Code Name Occurrence Status
11 Great Basin Confident or certain
18 Utah High Plateaus Confident or certain
20 Southern Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
26 Northern Great Plains Steppe Predicted or probable
68 Okanagan Confident or certain
7 Canadian Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
8 Middle Rockies - Blue Mountains Confident or certain
9 Utah-Wyoming Rocky Mountains Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
1 Northern Cascades Reported but false
7 Cascade Mountain Range Possible
8 Grande Coulee Basin of the Columbia Plateau Possible
9 Blue Mountain Region Confident or certain
10 Northwestern Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
16 Utah High Plateaus Predicted or probable
19 Northern Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
20 Missouri River Plateau Possible
21 Middle Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
22 Wyoming Basin Confident or certain
28 Southern Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
29 Wyoming Highlands Predicted or probable

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 4267
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1167
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2167

West Landfire Legend: Yes
East Landfire Legend: No

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 23Jan2006
Element Description Author(s): 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
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  • Alexander, R. M. 1986. Classification of the forest vegetation of Wyoming. Research Note RM-466. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, CO. 10 pp.

  • Anderson, M. G. 1999a. Viability and spatial assessment of ecological communities in the Northern Appalachian ecoregion. Ph.D. dissertation, University of New Hampshire, Durham.

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  • Hess, K., and R. R. Alexander. 1986. Forest vegetation of the Arapaho and Roosevelt national forests in northcentral Colorado: A habitat type classification. Research Paper RM-266. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, CO. 48 pp.

  • Hoffman, G. R., and R. R. Alexander. 1976. Forest vegetation of the Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming: A habitat type classification. Research Paper RM-170. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, CO. 38 pp.

  • Hoffman, G. R., and R. R. Alexander. 1980. Forest vegetation of the Routt National Forest in northwestern Colorado: A habitat type classification. General Technical Report RM-221. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, CO. 41 pp.

  • Hoffman, G. R., and R. R. Alexander. 1983. Forest vegetation of the White River National Forest in western Colorado: A habitat type classification. Research Paper RM-249. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, CO. 36 pp.

  • 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.

  • Johnston, B. C. 1997. Ecological types of the Upper Gunnison Basin. USDA Forest Service, Grand Mesa-Uncompahgre-Gunnison national forests. Review Draft. 539 pp.

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  • Mauk, R. L., and J. A. Henderson. 1984. Coniferous forest habitat types of northern Utah. General Technical Report INT-170. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Ogden, UT. 89 pp.

  • Mehl, M. S. 1992. Old-growth descriptions for the major forest cover types in the Rocky Mountain Region. Pages 106-120 in: M. R. Kaufmann, W. H. Moir, and R. L. Bassett. Old-growth forests in the southwest and Rocky Mountain regions. Proceedings of the old-growth forests in the Rocky Mountains and Southwest conference, Portal, AZ. March 9-13, 1992. General Technical Report RM-213. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, CO.

  • 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.

  • Moir, W. H. 1969a. The lodgepole pine zone in Colorado. The American Midland Naturalist 81(1):87-99.

  • NCC [The Nature Conservancy of Canada]. 2002. Canadian Rockies ecoregional plan. The Nature Conservancy of Canada, Victoria, BC.

  • Nachlinger, J., K. Sochi, P. Comer, G. Kittel, and D. Dorfman. 2001. Great Basin: An ecoregion-based conservation blueprint. The Nature Conservancy, Reno, NV. 160 pp. plus appendices.

  • Neely, B., P. Comer, C. Moritz, M. Lammerts, R. Rondeau, C. Prague, G. Bell, H. Copeland, J. Humke, S. Spakeman, T. Schulz, D. Theobald, and L. Valutis. 2001. Southern Rocky Mountains: An ecoregional assessment and conservation blueprint. Prepared by The Nature Conservancy with support from the U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region, Colorado Division of Wildlife, and Bureau of Land Management.

  • 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.

  • Whipple, S. A. 1975. The influence of environmental gradients on vegetational structure in the subalpine forest of the southern Rocky Mountains. Unpublished dissertation, Colorado State University, Fort Collins.

  • Williams, C. K., and B. G. Smith. 1990. Forested plant associations of the Wenatchee National Forest. Unpublished draft prepared by the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR. 217 pp.


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