Invalid Unit Specified
G538 Distichlis spicata - Puccinellia lemmonii - Salicornia spp. Alkaline-Saline Marsh & Playa Group

The U.S. National
Vegetation Classification
Type Concept Sentence: This group contains alkaline-saline marshes found in non-coastal and non-tidal areas of the Intermountain West. Marshes can be densely vegetated emergent or barren and sparsely vegetated playas where soils and water (if present) are alkaline. Characteristic species may include Allenrolfea occidentalis, Atriplex spp., Distichlis spicata, Grayia spinosa, Leymus cinereus, Leymus triticoides, Muhlenbergia spp., Poa secunda, Puccinellia lemmonii, Salicornia spp., Sarcobatus vermiculatus, and Triglochin maritima.
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Common (Translated Scientific) Name: Saltgrass - Lemmon's Alkali Grass - Saltwort species Alkaline-Saline Marsh & Playa Group
Colloquial Name: North American Desert Alkaline-Saline Marsh & Playa
Hierarchy Level: Group
Type Concept: This group is found in the intermountain western U.S. Associations are composed of densely vegetated seasonal wetlands, saltwater emergent marshes to barren and sparsely vegetated playas (generally <10% plant cover). Characteristic species may include Allenrolfea occidentalis, Atriplex spp., Distichlis spicata, Grayia spinosa, Leymus cinereus, Leymus triticoides, Muhlenbergia spp., Poa secunda, Puccinellia lemmonii, Salicornia spp., Sarcobatus vermiculatus, and Triglochin maritima. Soils and standing water (if present) are alkaline. Salt crusts are common where there are actively drying ponds, that can have saltgrass beds in depressions and sparse shrubs around the margins. Playa flats are intermittently, seasonally to semipermanently flooded, usually retaining water into the growing season and drying completely only in drought years. Many are associated with hot and cold springs, located in basins with internal drainage. Soils are alkaline to saline clays with hardpans. Seasonal drying exposes mudflats colonized by annual wetland vegetation. Water is prevented from percolating through the soil by an impermeable soil subhorizon and is left to evaporate. Soil salinity varies greatly with soil moisture and greatly affects species composition. During exceptionally wet years, increased precipitation can dilute soil salt concentrations which may allow less salt-tolerant species to become established or more abundant. Some stands occur on floodplains, along the margins of perennial lakes, and in alkaline closed basins, with extremely low-gradient shorelines.
Diagnostic Characteristics: Salt-tolerant herbs that are seasonally or intermittently wet on barren to sparsely vegetated playas, lake margins, closed basins, and low-gradient shorelines.
Rationale for Nominal Species or Physiognomic Features:
Classification Comments: No Data Available
Similar NVC Types:
G531 Arid West Interior Freshwater Marsh, note:
G324 Great Plains Saline Wet Meadow & Marsh, note: "also includes salt-tolerant herbaceous wetlands, but occurs east of the Continental Divide on the Great Plains."
G537 North American Desert Alkaline-Saline Wet Scrub, note: also occurs in cold desert regions but is dominated by shrub species.
Physiognomy and Structure: Open shrub and/or herb vegetation.
Floristics: Characteristic species may include Allenrolfea occidentalis, Atriplex spp., Distichlis spicata, Grayia spinosa, Leymus cinereus, Leymus triticoides (= Elymus triticoides), Muhlenbergia spp., Poa secunda, Puccinellia lemmonii, Salicornia spp., Schoenoplectus americanus, Bolboschoenus maritimus (= Schoenoplectus maritimus), and Triglochin maritima.
Dynamics: Playas are shallow, seasonal wetlands that lie in the lowest point of a closed watershed. Their basins are lined with clay soils, which collect and hold water from rainfall and runoff events. Water evaporates, leaving high salt concentrations in the soils. Some playas will only flood with water during years with high precipitation, sometimes only once or twice in a decade. Others will have standing water every spring, except in the driest of years. During flooded years, some salt-tolerant marsh plant species may grow, such as cattails (Typha spp.) or bulrush (Scirpus and/or Schoenoplectus spp.) (Knight 1994).
Environmental Description: Climate: Cold desert. Soil/substrate/hydrology: This group is found on barren and sparsely vegetated playas (generally <10% plant cover). Salt crusts are common throughout, with small saltgrass beds in depressions and sparse shrubs around the margins. The flats are intermittently, seasonally to semipermanently flooded, usually retaining water into the growing season and drying completely only in drought years. Many are associated with hot and cold springs, located in basins with internal drainage. Soils are alkaline to saline clays with hardpans. Seasonal drying exposes mudflats colonized by annual wetland vegetation. Water is prevented from percolating through the soil by an impermeable soil subhorizon and is left to evaporate. Soil salinity varies greatly with soil moisture and greatly affects species composition. During exceptionally wet years, increased precipitation can dilute soil salt concentrations which may allow less salt-tolerant species to become established or more abundant. Some stands occur on floodplains, along the margins of perennial lakes, and in alkaline closed basins, with extremely low-gradient shorelines. Environmental information compiled from individual associations and Knight (1994).
Geographic Range: This group is found throughout the intermountain western U.S.
Nations: CA, MX, US
States/Provinces: CA, CO, ID, MT, NM, NV, OR, TX, UT, WA?, WY
US Forest Service Ecoregions (2007)
Domain Name:
Division Name:
Province Name: Southern Rocky Mountain Steppe - Open Woodland - Coniferous Forest - Alpine Meadow Province
Province Code: M331    Occurrence Status: Possible
Section Name: White Mountains-San Francisco Peaks-Mogollon Rim Section
Section Code: M313A     Occurrence Status: Possible
Omernik Ecoregions: 5:P, 5f:P, 5j:P, 5o:P, 6:P, 6b:P, 6d:P, 6e:P, 6h:P, 6ac:P, 6ak:P, 6am:P, 6an:P, 7:P, 7a:P, 7b:P, 7c:P, 7d:P, 7g:P, 7h:P, 7j:P, 7m:P, 7n:P, 7o:P, 7p:P, 7q:P, 7r:P, 7s:P, 7t:P, 8:P, 8c:P, 8e:P, 9:P, 9a:P, 9e:P, 9g:P, 9h:P, 9j:P, 9k:P, 9l:P, 9m:P, 9p:P, 10:P, 10a:P, 10b:P, 10c:P, 10d:P, 10f:P, 10g:P, 11:P, 11a:P, 11i:P, 11k:P, 12:P, 12b:P, 12g:P, 12h:P, 13:P, 13a:P, 13b:P, 13c:P, 13d:P, 13f:P, 13g:P, 13h:P, 13j:P, 13k:P, 13l:P, 13m:P, 13p:P, 13q:P, 13r:P, 13s:P, 13t:P, 13u:P, 13v:P, 13w:P, 13x:P, 13z:P, 13aa:P, 13ac:P, 13ad:P, 13ae:P, 14:P, 14a:P, 14b:P, 14c:P, 14e:P, 14f:P, 14g:P, 14h:P, 14i:P, 14j:P, 14k:P, 14l:P, 14n:P, 14o:P, 14p:P, 16:P, 16j:P, 18:P, 18a:P, 18b:P, 18c:P, 18d:P, 18e:P, 18f:P, 18g:P, 19:P, 19f:P, 20:P, 20b:P, 20c:P, 20d:P, 20f:P, 20h:P, 20i:P, 22:P, 22a:P, 22c:P, 22d:P, 22e:P, 22f:P, 22g:P, 22i:P, 22j:P, 22m:P, 22o:P, 22p:P, 22q:P, 22r:P, 22s:P, 22t:P, 22u:P, 22v:P, 22w:P, 22x:P, 22z:P, 22aa:P, 23:P, 23b:P, 23c:P, 23e:P, 23h:P, 23j:P, 23l:P, 24:P, 24a:P, 24b:P, 24c:P, 24e:P, 24f:P, 24h:P, 77:P, 77e:P, 79:P, 79a:P, 79b:P, 79c:P, 79e:P, 80:P, 80a:P, 80b:P, 80d:P, 80e:P, 80f:P, 80g:P, 80h:P, 80j:P, 80k:P, 80l:P, 80m:P, 81:P, 81a:P, 81b:P, 81c:P, 81d:P, 81e:P, 81f:P, 81g:P, 81h:P, 81i:P, 81j:P, 81k:P, 81l:P, 81m:P, 81n:P, 81o:P, 85:P, 85b:P, 85c:P, 85d:P, 85e:P, 85f:P, 85k:P
Plot Analysis Summary:
Confidence Level: High
Confidence Level Comments:
Grank: GNR
Greasons:
Concept Lineage: G672 covered by G537 & G538 (GK 4-9-14).
Predecessors:
Obsolete Names:
Obsolete Parents:
Synonomy:
Concept Author(s): G. Kittel, in Faber-Langendoen et al.
Author of Description: G. Kittel
Acknowledgements: J. Kagan and P. Comer
Version Date: 02Dec2015
References:
  • Faber-Langendoen, D., J. Drake, S. Gawler, M. Hall, C. Josse, G. Kittel, S. Menard, C. Nordman, M. Pyne, M. Reid, L. Sneddon, K. Schulz, J. Teague, M. Russo, K. Snow, and P. Comer, editors. 2010-2019a. Divisions, Macrogroups and Groups for the Revised U.S. National Vegetation Classification. NatureServe, Arlington, VA. plus appendices. [in preparation]
  • Knight, D. H. 1994. Mountains and plains: Ecology of Wyoming landscapes. Yale University Press, New Haven, MA. 338 pp.
  • Rodriguez, D., K. G. Sikes, T. Keeler-Wolf, G. Kittel, J. Curtis, C. Curley, and J. Evens. 2017. Vegetation classification of Channel Islands National Park. Report to the National Park Service, Fort Collins, CO.
  • Shiflet, T. N., editor. 1994. Rangeland cover types of the United States. Society for Range Management. Denver, CO. 152 pp.
  • Stout, D., J. Buck-Diaz, S. Taylor, and J. M. Evens. 2013. Vegetation mapping and accuracy assessment report for Carrizo Plain National Monument. California Native Plant Society, Vegetation Program, Sacramento, CA. 71 pp.