Invalid Unit Specified
M897 Pinus edulis - Juniperus monosperma Southern Rocky Mountain Woodland Macrogroup

The U.S. National
Vegetation Classification
Type Concept Sentence: This southern Rocky Mountain and Colorado Plateau pinyon and juniper savanna and woodland macrogroup is characterized by an open to closed evergreen, conifer tree canopy composed of diagnostic species Juniperus monosperma and/or Pinus edulis with an understory dominated by shrubs or grasses that lacks Madrean understory species. It occurs in dry mountains and foothills in southern Colorado south into northern and central New Mexico, and extends west across the Colorado Plateau and east to the plains on breaks in the southwestern Great Plains.
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Common (Translated Scientific) Name: Two-needle Pinyon - One-seed Juniper Southern Rocky Mountain Woodland Macrogroup
Colloquial Name: Southern Rocky Mountain Two-needle Pinyon - Juniper Woodland
Hierarchy Level: Macrogroup
Type Concept: Vegetation in this southern Rocky Mountain and Colorado Plateau pinyon and juniper savanna and woodland macrogroup is characterized by a short to medium-tall (3-20 m), open to closed (5-60% cover) tree canopy composed of diagnostic tree species Juniperus monosperma and/or Pinus edulis. The understory is dominated by shrubs or grasses. Juniperus osteosperma may replace Juniperus monosperma and codominate the tree canopy with Pinus edulis in the Colorado Plateau and western slope of the southern Rocky Mountains. Juniperus scopulorum may replace Juniperus monosperma and dominate or codominate the canopy at higher elevations. Savannas have widely spaced mature trees with lush perennial grasses and sometimes scattered shrubs and dwarf-shrubs in between trees. Woodlands are typically open-canopied (10-30% cover), but closed-canopy stands with a sparse understory are not uncommon. Understory layers are variable and may be dominated by shrubs, graminoids, or be absent, especially on rocky substrates. Common shrub species include Arctostaphylos patula, Artemisia bigelovii, Artemisia tridentata, Atriplex canescens, Cercocarpus intricatus, Cercocarpus montanus, Coleogyne ramosissima, Ericameria nauseosa, Fallugia paradoxa, Gutierrezia sarothrae, Purshia stansburiana, Purshia tridentata, Quercus gambelii, Quercus x pauciloba, Ribes cereum, Rhus trilobata, Yucca baccata, and Yucca glauca. The most frequent succulents are Cylindropuntia imbricata, Opuntia phaeacantha, and Opuntia polyacantha. The herbaceous layer ranges from moderately dense to sparse and is typically dominated by perennial grasses. Bouteloua curtipendula, Bouteloua gracilis, Hesperostipa comata, and Pleuraphis jamesii are most common with Achnatherum nelsonii, Achnatherum scribneri, Festuca arizonica, Hesperostipa neomexicana, Koeleria macrantha, Lycurus phleoides, Muhlenbergia torreyi, Poa fendleriana, Poa secunda, and Pseudoroegneria spicata less abundant. Forbs may be diverse but generally have low cover and include Astragalus spp., Castilleja integra, Cryptantha cinerea var. jamesii, Eriogonum jamesii, Erigeron divergens, Hymenopappus filifolius, Ipomopsis multiflora, Mentzelia spp., and Penstemon spp. Stands occur in dry mountains and foothills in southern Colorado south into northern and central New Mexico, and extending east into the plains on breaks in the southwestern Great Plains, and west across the Colorado Plateau, including the Wasatch Range and southern slope of the Uinta Range, south to the Mogollon Rim. They are found in dry sites in lower slopes of mountains, plateaus and foothills and on limestone and shale breaks in the plains. Elevation ranges from near 1370 to 2900 m. Climate is cold-temperate. Severe weather events occurring during the growing season, such as frosts and drought, are thought to limit the distribution of pinyon-juniper woodlands to relatively narrow altitudinal belts on a given mountainside. Substrates range from deep loams to shallow, skeletal soils on rocky sites.
Diagnostic Characteristics: This savanna and woodland macrogroup has a relatively short (3-10 m tall), open to moderately dense canopy of trees (10-60% cover) characterized by diagnostic and dominant trees Juniperus monosperma and/or Pinus edulis. Juniperus scopulorum may replace Juniperus monosperma and dominate or codominate the canopy at higher elevations. Although Juniperus osteosperma may replace Juniperus monosperma and codominate the tree canopy with Pinus edulis in the Colorado Plateau and western slope of the southern Rocky Mountains, it is not a diagnostic species of this macrogroup. The absence of Madrean species is also diagnostic of this macrogroup, separating it from stands in ~Madrean Lowland Evergreen Woodland Macrogroup (M010)$$. Stands of ~Intermountain Singleleaf Pinyon - Utah Juniper - Western Juniper Woodland Macrogroup (M026)$$ may be similar as they may also occur in the Colorado Plateau, but they lack Pinus edulis. Understory layers are variable and may be dominated by shrubs, graminoids, or be absent.
Rationale for Nominal Species or Physiognomic Features: Pinus edulis and Juniperus monosperma are diagnostic of this savanna and woodland macrogroup and typically dominate the tree canopy.
Classification Comments: This macrogroup occurs over a very broad transition zone with Madrean Lowland Evergreen Woodland Macrogroup (M010) to the south, which is distinguished by the presence of other Madrean tree species, such as Juniperus coahuilensis, Juniperus deppeana, Juniperus pinchotii, Pinus cembroides, Pinus discolor, or evergreen oaks such as Quercus grisea or Quercus mohriana along with Madrean grasses and forbs. Classifying open juniper savanna stands from grasslands with scattered trees is challenging, especially where juniper trees are invading grasslands. The invasive juniper savanna stands are typically characterized by younger, shorter (<3 m tall), pointed-crown trees of lower density.

Intermountain Pinyon - Juniper Woodland Macrogroup (M896) is closely related to this macrogroup (M897), and could be merged (T. Keeler-Wolf pers. comm. 2014), but M897 could also be split into two separate macrogroups because two life zones occur: pinyon-juniper woodland and juniper savanna (J. Triepke pers. comm. 2014). Jack Triepke notes that the USNVC in the West has good fidelity to life zonation with few exceptions, including M897 and M010. The juniper savanna component (G252) within M897, where pinyon is never codominant, could stand alone as its own macrogroup given the disparities in overstory dominants, dynamics, elevational position relative to pinyon-juniper communities above and grassland communities below, and the important ecology of juniper savanna relative to contiguous and integrating grassland communities and encroachment by junipers. In woodlands and savannas included in M896, Pinus edulis is generally absent or has very low cover and it is considered accidental in the Juniperus osteosperma stand.
Similar NVC Types:
M010 Madrean Lowland Evergreen Woodland, note:
M896 Intermountain Pinyon - Juniper Woodland, note:
Physiognomy and Structure: This broadly defined savanna and woodland macrogroup has a relatively short (3-10 m tall), open to moderately dense canopy of trees (10-60% cover) with an understory dominated by shrubs or grasses. It encompasses savanna that has widely spaced, short (2-10 m tall), mature (>150-year-old) trees with a moderately dense to dense herbaceous layer dominated by perennial graminoids. More recent invasive juniper savanna stands are characterized by younger, shorter (<3 m tall) pointed-crown trees of low density. Woodland stands have an open to closed tree layer 3-10 m tall with an understory characterized by a shrub and/or herbaceous layers, which are variable and may be sparse to dense or absent. Closed canopies with a sparse understory are not uncommon where fires are suppressed.
Floristics: Diagnostic and dominant trees are Juniperus monosperma and/or Pinus edulis. Juniperus scopulorum may replace Juniperus monosperma and dominate or codominate the canopy at higher elevations. Juniperus osteosperma may replace Juniperus monosperma and codominate the tree canopy with Pinus edulis in the Colorado Plateau and western slope of the southern Rocky Mountains. Juniperus osteosperma stands lacking Pinus edulis are included in ~Intermountain Singleleaf Pinyon - Utah Juniper - Western Juniper Woodland Macrogroup (M026)$$. Understory layers are variable and may be dominated by shrubs, graminoids, or be absent. Associated species include floristic elements from the western Great Plains, southern Rocky Mountains, and Colorado Plateau. Common shrub species include Arctostaphylos patula, Artemisia bigelovii, Artemisia tridentata, Atriplex canescens, Cercocarpus intricatus, Cercocarpus montanus, Coleogyne ramosissima, Ericameria nauseosa, Fallugia paradoxa, Gutierrezia sarothrae, Purshia stansburiana, Purshia tridentata, Quercus gambelii, Quercus x pauciloba, Ribes cereum, Rhus trilobata, Yucca baccata, Yucca glauca, and the ruderal subshrub Gutierrezia sarothrae. The most frequent succulents are Cylindropuntia imbricata, Opuntia phaeacantha, Opuntia polyacantha, Yucca baccata, and Yucca glauca. The herbaceous layer ranges from moderately dense to sparse depending on overstory and substrate and is typically dominated by perennial grasses. The herbaceous layer ranges from moderately dense to sparse and is typically dominated by perennial grasses. Bouteloua curtipendula, Bouteloua gracilis, Hesperostipa comata, and Pleuraphis jamesii are most common with Achnatherum nelsonii, Achnatherum scribneri, Festuca arizonica, Hesperostipa neomexicana, Koeleria macrantha, Lycurus phleoides, Muhlenbergia torreyi, Piptatheropsis micrantha, Poa fendleriana, Poa secunda, and Pseudoroegneria spicata often present to abundant. Bouteloua eriopoda is a more common grass in the southern extent, and Achnatherum hymenoides, Andropogon hallii, and Muhlenbergia pungens are characteristic of deep sandy sites. Festuca arizonica is restricted to higher elevation sites. Many different lower montane, foothill, and steppe forbs may be present, but generally occur with low cover. Associated species include Astragalus spp., Castilleja integra, Cryptantha cinerea var. jamesii (= Cryptantha jamesii), Eriogonum jamesii, Erigeron divergens, Hymenopappus filifolius, Ipomopsis multiflora, Mentzelia spp., Mirabilis multiflora, and Penstemon spp.
Dynamics: Pinus edulis is extremely drought-tolerant and slow-growing (Little 1987). It is also non-sprouting and may be killed by fire (Wright et al. 1979, Wright and Bailey 1982a). The effect of fire on a stand is largely dependent on tree height and density, fine-fuel load on the ground, weather conditions, and season (Dwyer and Pieper 1967, Wright et al. 1979, Wright and Bailey 1982a). Trees are more vulnerable in open stands where fires frequently occur in the spring, when the relative humidity is low, wind speeds are over 10-20 mph, and there are adequate fine fuels to carry fire (Wright et al. 1979, Wright and Bailey 1982a). Under other conditions, burns tend to be spotty with low tree mortality. Large trees are generally not killed unless fine fuels, such as tumbleweeds, have accumulated beneath the trees to provide ladder fuels for the fire to reach the crown (Jameson 1962). Closed-canopy stands burn infrequently because they typically do not have enough understory or wind to carry fire (Wright et al. 1979). The more open savanna types have a higher amount of herbaceous cover, commonly occur on less steep slopes and have lower erosion rates.

Although Pinus edulis is drought-tolerant, prolonged droughts will weaken trees and promote mortality by secondary agents. Periodic die-offs of pinyon pine caused by insects, such as the pinyon ips beetle (Ips confusus), or fungal agents, such as blackstain root-rot (Leptographium wageneri), tend to be correlated with droughts (Anhold 2005). These mortality events may be localized or widespread but can result in 50 to 90% mortality of Pinus edulis in affected areas (Harrington and Cobb 1988).

In addition, altered fire regimes, cutting trees for fencing or firewood, and improper grazing practices have significant impacts on the quality of sites. Grazing by livestock can modify the fire regime by removing the fine fuels that carry fire. Most pinyon-juniper woodlands in the Southwest have high soil erosion potential. Several studies have measured present-day erosion rates in pinyon-juniper woodlands, highlighting the importance of herbaceous cover and biological soil crusts (Belnap et al. 2001) in minimizing precipitation runoff and soil loss in these woodlands. Fire, livestock grazing, and trampling by recreationalists and vehicles disturb biological soil crusts that help maintain soil structure, reduce soil erosion, provide habitat for plants and preserve biological diversity (Ladyman and Muldavin 1996). More study is needed to understand and manage these woodlands ecologically.

The disturbance type is classified as "High Sun Cold" (summer precipitation and cold climate) distinct from the High Sun Mild of ~Madrean Lowland Evergreen Woodland Macrogroup (M010)$$.
Environmental Description: Stands in this southern Rocky Mountain pinyon and juniper savanna and woodland macrogroup occur in dry sites in lower slopes of mountains, plateaus and foothills in southern Colorado east of the Continental Divide, south into northern and central New Mexico, and extend east into the southwestern Great Plains on limestone and shale breaks. Elevation ranges from near 1370 to 2900 m. Lower elevation stands are often restricted to cooler north- and east-facing slopes.

Climate: Climate is cold temperate. Severe weather events occurring during the growing season, such as frosts and drought, are thought to limit the distribution of pinyon-juniper woodlands to relatively narrow altitudinal belts on a given mountainside, and particularly influence the proportion of pinyon trees relative to juniper.

Physiography/landform: Stands occur on all aspects on lower hillslopes, alluvial terraces, plains, canyon sides, and on and near escarpments and outcrops where soil is thin. Lower elevation stands are often juniper-dominated. Savannas tend to occur on gentle to moderate slopes and terraces where soil is deeper and grasses are abundant, whereas the woodland phase is often found on steeper, colluvial slopes of escarpments. At the highest elevations, stands are restricted to relatively warm, dry ridges on south- and west-facing aspects. The upper elevation woodlands are dominated by pinyon.

Soil/substrate/hydrology: Substrates range from deep loams to shallow, skeletal soils on rocky sites. Soil texture varies from stony, cobbly, gravelly or sandy loams to clay loams or clays. Parent materials are variable.
Geographic Range: Stands in this southern Rocky Mountain and Colorado Plateau pinyon and juniper savanna and woodland macrogroup occur in dry mountains and foothills in southern Colorado, in mountains and plateaus of northern and central New Mexico, and in the plains of southeastern Colorado in southern Colorado south into northern and central New Mexico, south to the east side of the Sacramento Mountains and the Tularosa Basin, and extending east into the panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas and on breaks in the southwestern Great Plains. Stands are found in west across the Colorado Plateau, including the Wasatch Range and south slope of the Uinta Range, south to the Mogollon Rim.
Nations: US
States/Provinces: AZ, CO, NM, OK, TX, UT
US Forest Service Ecoregions (2007)
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Plot Analysis Summary:
Confidence Level: Moderate
Confidence Level Comments:
Grank: GNR
Greasons:
Concept Lineage:
Predecessors:
Southern Rocky Mountain-Colorado Plateau Two-needle Pinyon - Juniper Woodland, note: M027 replaced by M897
Obsolete Names:
Obsolete Parents:
Synonomy: > Juniperus monosperma/Bouteloua eriopoda Plant Community (Shaw et al. 1989)
> Colorado Pinyon-One-seed Juniper Series (Dick-Peddie 1993)
> Colorado Pinyon-Rocky Mountain Juniper Series (Dick-Peddie 1993)
>< Juniper - Pinyon Pine Woodland (504) (Shiflet 1994)
= One-seed Juniper Series (Dick-Peddie 1993)
= One-seed Juniper-Rocky Mountain Juniper Series (Dick-Peddie 1993)
>< Pinyon - Juniper: 239 (Eyre 1980)
> Pinyon Juniper Series, Pinus edulis-Juniperus scopulorum Association - 122.411 (Brown et al. 1979)
>< Pinyon Juniper Series, Pinus edulis Association - 122.412 (Brown et al. 1979)
>< Sideoats Grama - Sumac - Juniper (735) (Shiflet 1994)
Concept Author(s): W.A. Dick-Peddie (1993)
Author of Description: K.A. Schulz and E. Muldavin
Acknowledgements:
Version Date: 29Aug2015
References:
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