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S11 Cool Semi-Desert Scrub & Grassland Subclass

The U.S. National
Vegetation Classification
Type Concept Sentence: Cool Semi-Desert Scrub & Grassland occurs in dry, cool-temperate climates, at mid-latitudes (35° to 50°N), typically in the interior of continents, and varies from low shrublands to very open grassland and shrub-steppe, including open rocky or sandy semi-desert vegetation.
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Common (Translated Scientific) Name: Cool Semi-Desert Scrub & Grassland Subclass
Colloquial Name: Cool Semi-Desert Scrub & Grassland
Hierarchy Level: Subclass
Type Concept: Cool Semi-Desert Scrub & Grassland occurs in dry, cool-temperate climates. Vegetation is dominated by microphyllous-leaved xeromorphic shrubs. Structure consists of typically low shrubs or graminoids and varies from open grassland and shrub-steppe to shrubland. Vegetation is not as limited by substrates as by drought and fires.
Diagnostic Characteristics: Vegetation is dominated by microphyllous-leaved xeromorphic shrubs. Structure consists of typically low shrubs or graminoids and varies from very open grassland and shrub-steppe to shrubland.
Rationale for Nominal Species or Physiognomic Features:
Classification Comments: The gradation in growth forms between 2.B Temperate & Boreal Grassland & Shrubland Subclass (S18) and 3.B Cool Semi-Desert Scrub & Grassland Subclass (S11) makes delimiting the concept a challenge. For example, in North America, microphyllous sagebrush shrubs may be common in parts of the western Great Plains, comparable to sagebrush types in the Great Basin.

Also montane cool semi-desert, in which the temperatures are more strongly hot/cold, may resemble cryomorphic vegetation. For example, the Salar de Uyuni in southwestern Bolivia is the world's largest salt flat at 10,582 square kilometers (4086 square miles), near the crest of the Andes, at 3656 m (11,995 feet) elevation, and contains both xeromorphic and cryomorphic characteristics (C. Josse pers. comm. 2011).
Similar NVC Types:
S18 Temperate & Boreal Grassland & Shrubland, note: "Cool Semi-Desert Scrub & Grassland (S11) typically has small-leaved, xerophytic shrubs (e.g., sage) and more open bare ground, sometimes with biological crust."
Physiognomy and Structure: The vegetation is dominated by microphyllous-leaved xeromorphic shrubs. Structure consists of typically low shrubs or graminoids and varies from very open grassland and shrub-steppe to shrubland. Vegetation is not as much limited by substrates as by drought and fires (Whittaker 1975). Open rocky or sandy cool semi-desert vegetation is also placed here.
Floristics:
Dynamics: No Data Available
Environmental Description: Climate: Cool Semi-Desert Scrub & Grassland occurs in dry, cool-temperate climates, typically in the interior of continents (Quinn 2009).
Geographic Range: This type occupies extensive landscapes of the Great Basin of the western United States, central Asia and Iran, in South America (Patagonia and the Andes) and parts of Australia (Whittaker 1975).
Nations: CA, US
States/Provinces:
Omernik Ecoregions:
Plot Analysis Summary:
Confidence Level: Moderate
Confidence Level Comments:
Grank: GNR
Greasons:
Name:Database Code:Classification Code:
Class 3 Desert & Semi-Desert C03 3
Subclass 3.B Cool Semi-Desert Scrub & Grassland S11 3.B
Formation 3.B.1 Cool Semi-Desert Scrub & Grassland F033 3.B.1
Concept Lineage:
Predecessors:
Obsolete Names:
Obsolete Parents:
Synonomy: = Cold Deserts (Quinn 2009)
= Cool-temperate semidesert scrub: biome-type 18 (Whittaker 1975)
Concept Author(s): Hierarchy Revisions Working Group, Federal Geographic Data Committee (Faber-Langendoen et al. 2014)
Author of Description: D. Faber-Langendoen
Acknowledgements:
Version Date: 17Oct2014
References:
  • Faber-Langendoen, D., T. Keeler-Wolf, D. Meidinger, C. Josse, A. Weakley, D. Tart, G. Navarro, B. Hoagland, S. Ponomarenko, J.-P. Saucier, G. Fults, and E. Helmer. 2015c. Classification and description of world formation types. General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-000. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fort Collins, CO.
  • Josse, Carmen. Personal communication. Senior Ecologist, Latin America. NatureServe, Arlington, VA.
  • Quinn, J. A. 2009. Desert biomes. Greenwood Press, Westport, CT.
  • Whittaker, R. H. 1975. Communities and ecosystems. Second edition. Macmillan Publishing Co., New York. 387 pp.