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Classification
Scientific Name: Northern Rocky Mountain Subalpine Deciduous Shrubland
Unique Identifier: CES306.961
Classification Confidence: 2 - Moderate

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Summary: This shrubland ecological system is found within the zone of continuous forest in the upper montane and lower subalpine zones of the northern Rocky Mountains. Soils tend to be moist to wet. Stands are typically initiated by fires and will persist on sites for long periods because of repeated burns and changes in the presence of volatile oils in the soil which impedes tree regeneration. Menziesia ferruginea, Rhamnus alnifolia, Ribes lacustre, Rubus parviflorus, Alnus viridis, Rhododendron albiflorum, Sorbus scopulina, Sorbus sitchensis, Vaccinium myrtillus, Vaccinium scoparium, and Vaccinium membranaceum are the most common dominant shrubs, occurring alone or in any combination. Other shrubs can include Shepherdia canadensis and Ceanothus velutinus, but these also commonly occur in Northern Rocky Mountain Montane-Foothill Deciduous Shrubland (CES306.994). Rubus parviflorus and Ceanothus velutinus are occasionally present, being more common in montane shrublands than in this subalpine system. Important forbs include Xerophyllum tenax, Chamerion angustifolium, and Pteridium aquilinum, reflecting the mesic nature of many of these shrublands.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: This system is floristically somewhat similar to Northern Rocky Mountain Avalanche Chute Shrubland (CES306.801), but the avalanche chutes originate from very different processes, tend to be more diverse within stands, and are wetter, being driven ecologically by snow-loading and concomitant snowmelt. Seral shrub fields of comparable composition that typically will develop into a seral stage with trees (within 50 years) are excluded from this shrub system and are included in their appropriate forest system.

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES306.994 Northern Rocky Mountain Montane-Foothill Deciduous Shrubland


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL001132 Rhamnus alnifolia Riparian Wet Shrubland
CEGL005888 Menziesia ferruginea / Xerophyllum tenax Shrubland
CEGL005891 Vaccinium membranaceum / Xerophyllum tenax Shrubland



Classifiers

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

Diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Montane Upper Montane
Shrubland (Shrub-dominated)  
Very Shallow Soil  
Broad-Leaved Deciduous Shrub  
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
%
Acer glabrum G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Alnus viridis G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Menziesia ferruginea G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Rhamnus alnifolia G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Rhododendron albiflorum G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Ribes lacustre G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Rubus parviflorus G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Shepherdia canadensis G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Sorbus scopulina G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)  
 
 
Sorbus sitchensis G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Vaccinium membranaceum G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Vaccinium myrtillus G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Vaccinium scoparium G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Paxistima myrsinites G4 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: ID, MT, OR, WA, WY
Nation: Canada
Canadian Province Distribution: AB, BC
Global Range: This system is found in the subalpine and upper montane zones in the northern Rockies, south and west around the Columbia Basin.

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
26 Northern Great Plains Steppe Confident or certain
6 Columbia Plateau Confident or certain
68 Okanagan Confident or certain
7 Canadian Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
8 Middle Rockies - Blue Mountains Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
1 Northern Cascades Confident or certain
8 Grande Coulee Basin of the Columbia Plateau Possible
9 Blue Mountain Region Confident or certain
10 Northwestern Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
18 Snake River Plain Predicted or probable
19 Northern Rocky Mountains Confident or certain
20 Missouri River Plateau Confident or certain
21 Middle Rocky Mountains Predicted or probable
22 Wyoming Basin Possible
29 Wyoming Highlands Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 5326
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1169
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2169

West Landfire Legend: Yes
East Landfire Legend: No

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 26Jan2007
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
  • 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]

  • 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.

  • Hall, F. C. 1973. Plant communities of the Blue Mountains in eastern Oregon and southeastern Washington. R6 Area Guide 3-1. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Portland, OR. 62 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.

  • Poulton, C. E. 1955. Ecology of the non-forested vegetation in Umatilla and Morrow counties, Oregon. Unpublished dissertation. State College of Washington, Pullman. 166 pp.

  • Tisdale, E. W. 1986. Canyon grasslands and associated shrublands of west-central Idaho and adjacent areas. Bulletin No. 40. Forest, Wildlife and Range Experiment Station, University of Idaho, Moscow. 42 pp.


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