Invalid Unit Specified
Subclass Detail Report: S18
Temperate & Boreal Grassland & Shrubland Subclass

The U.S. National
Vegetation Classification
Temperate & Boreal Grassland & Shrubland is dominated by mesomorphic grasses and shrubs, with or without scattered trees (and trees typically <10% cover), ranging from temperate coastal to inland lowland and montane grasslands and shrublands, with a strongly seasonal climate and at least some frost to extended cold seasons.
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Translated Name:Temperate & Boreal Grassland & Shrubland Subclass
Colloquial Name:Temperate & Boreal Grassland & Shrubland
Temperate & Boreal Grassland & Shrubland occurs in areas of moderately dry to wet, continental, coastal and Mediterranean climates, and is most abundant in North America, Eurasia (the steppes), South America, and parts of Southern Africa and Australia. The vegetation varies from grasslands of open to dense bunch or sod grasses, often with scattered shrubs or trees, to low (<2 m) open to dense shrublands and sclerophyllous or soft chaparral scrub, and trees absent to scattered (<10% cover). Xeromorphic growth forms are largely absent; the surface layer has a thin to thick litter and duff layer, posed in contrast to desert grassland and scrub, where the surface layer may be bare or contain a biological crust. Structure is a single, major grass or shrub stratum, or a mix of the two, typically exceeding 10-20% cover. There are a number of drivers that can preclude establishment of forest vegetation in these climates; including climatic characteristics, water regime (droughty habitats), and fire and flooding disturbances.
Temperate & Boreal Grassland & Shrubland is dominated by mesomorphic grasses or grasses and shrubs, with or without scattered trees (and trees typically <10% cover), ranging from temperate to coastal and inland lowland and montane grasslands and shrublands, with a strongly seasonal climate, with at least some frost and with extended strong cold seasons.
Vegetation Hierarchy
Name:Database Code:Classification Code:
Class 2 Shrub & Herb Vegetation C02 2
Subclass 2.B Temperate & Boreal Grassland & Shrubland S18 2.B
Formation 2.B.4 Temperate to Polar Scrub & Herb Coastal Vegetation F005 2.B.4
Formation 2.B.2 Temperate Grassland & Shrubland F012 2.B.2
Formation 2.B.3 Boreal Grassland & Shrubland F028 2.B.3
Formation 2.B.1 Mediterranean Scrub & Grassland F038 2.B.1
Desert grasslands are treated in 3. Desert & Semi-Desert Class (C03) based on the typical presence or abundance of xerophytic woody growth forms and, less commonly, the presence/abundance of ephemeral plants. Review of herbaceous growth forms is needed to determine if there are forms that more clearly distinguish desert grasslands from temperate grasslands. As Dixon et al. (2014) and others suggest, there may be good ecological reasons to treat upland tropical tree savannas, with up to 40% tree cover, trees <8 m tall, and a substantial graminoid layer, as part of 2. Shrub & Herb Vegetation Class (C02), and we allow for that option here. By contrast, in non-tropical regions, we place tree savannas with woodland and forest.
Synonomy: = Temperate Grassland Biome (Woodward 2008)

Related Type Name:

Short Citation:
  • Faber-Langendoen et al. 2015c
  • MacKenzie and Moran 2004
  • Mitsch and Gosselink 2000
  • National Wetlands Working Group 1997
  • Whittaker 1975
  • Woodward 2008
States/Provinces:
Nations:CA, US
Range:This subclass occurs in the middle latitudes (between 25° and 60° to -0°N and S latitude) of both hemispheres, and is most abundant in North America, Eurasia (the steppes), South America, and parts of Southern Africa and Australia. Specific latitudes depend upon the continent on which they are located.
US Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name:
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Province Code:   Occurrence Status:
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Section Code:     Occurrence Status:
The vegetation varies from grasslands of open to dense bunch or sod grasses, often with scattered shrubs, to low (<2 m) open to dense shrublands and sclerophyllous or soft chaparral and drought-deciduous scrub. Xeromorphic growth forms are largely absent, and the surface layer contains a thin to thick litter and duff layer in contrast to desert grassland and scrub, where the surface layer may be bare or contain a biological crust. Structure is a single, major grass or shrub stratum, or a mix of the two, with mesomorphic tree cover typically <10%, rarely with bare ground (Whittaker 1975). The range of variation in upland formations corresponds to Mediterranean, Temperate, Boreal, and Coastal climatic gradients.
The vegetation occurs in areas of moderately dry to wet, continental, coastal, and Mediterranean climates (moderately dry, warm-temperate, maritime climates with little or no summer rain). A number of drivers can preclude establishment of forest vegetation in these climates, including climatic characteristics, water regime (droughty soils), and fire and flooding disturbances.
High
No Data Available
Authors:
D. Faber-Langendoen      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.
  • MacKenzie, W. H., and J. R. Moran. 2004. Wetlands of British Columbia: A guide to identification. Land Management Handbook No. 52. Research Branch, British Columbia Ministry of Forests and Lands, Victoria, BC. 287 pp.
  • Mitsch, W. J., and J. G. Gosselink. 2000. Wetlands. Third edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York. 920 pp.
  • National Wetlands Working Group. 1997. Wetlands of Canada. C. D. A. Rubec, editor. Ecological Land Classification Series No. 24. Environment Canada, Ottawa, and Polyscience Publications, Inc., Montreal. 452 pp.
  • Whittaker, R. H. 1975. Communities and ecosystems. Second edition. Macmillan Publishing Co., New York. 387 pp.
  • Woodward, S. 2008. Grassland biomes. Greenwood Press, Westport, CT.


USNVC Credits: Detailed Description of the National Vegetation Classification Types

Date Accessed:

To cite a description:
Author(s). publicationYear. Description Title [last revised revisionDate]. United States National Vegetation Classification. Federal Geographic Data Committee, Washington, D.C.

About spatial standards:
The United States Federal Geographic Data Committee (hereafter called the FGDC) is tasked to develop geospatial data standards that will enable sharing of spatial data among producers and users and support the growing National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), acting under the Office of Management Budget (OMB) Circular A-16 (OMB 1990, 2000) and Executive Order #12906 (Clinton 1994) as amended by Executive Order #13286 (Bush 2003). FGDC subcommittees and working groups, in consultation and cooperation with state, local, tribal, private, academic, and international communities, develop standards for the content, quality, and transferability of geospatial data. FGDC standards are developed through a structured process, integrated with one another to the extent possible, supportable by the current vendor community (but are independent of specific technologies), and publicly available.

About this document
This document contains type descriptions at the Subclass level of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification. These descriptions were primarily written by NatureServe ecologists in collaboration with Federal Geographic Data Committee Vegetation Subcommittee and a wide variety of state, federal and private partners as a part of the implementation of the National Vegetation Classification. Formation descriptions were written by the Hierarchy Revisions Working Group. The descriptions are based on consultation with natural resource professionals, published literature, and other vegetation classification systems. The Ecological Society of America's Panel on Vegetation Classification is responsible for managing the review and formal adoption of these types into the National Vegetation Classification. Partners involved in the implementation of the USNVC include:

U.S. Government
  • Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Department of Commerce (DOC)
  • Department of Defense (DOD)
  • Department of the Interior (USDI)
  • Forest Service (FS) - Chair
  • National Agriculture Statistical Service (NASS)
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
  • U.S. Navy (NAVY)
  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  • Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
  • National Park Service (NPS)
  • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Non U.S. Government
  • NatureServe (NS)
  • Ecological Society of America (ESA)

Disclaimer:
Given the dynamic nature of the standard, it is possible a type description is incomplete or in revision at the time of download; therefore, users of the data should track the date of access and read the revisions section of the USNVC.org website to understand the current status of the classification. While USNVC data have undergone substantial review prior to posting, it is possible that some errors or inaccuracies have remained undetected.

For information on the process used to develop these descriptions see:

Faber-Langendoen, D., T. Keeler-Wolf, D. Meidinger, D. Tart, B. Hoagland, C. Josse, G. Navarro, S. Ponomarenko, J.-P. Saucier, A. Weakley, P. Comer. 2014. EcoVeg: A new approach to vegetation description and classification. Ecological Monographs 84:533-561 (erratum 85:473).

Franklin, S., D. Faber-Langendoen, M. Jennings, T. Keeler-Wolf, O. Loucks, A. McKerrow, R.K. Peet, and D. Roberts. 2012. Building the United States National Vegetation Classification. Annali di Botanica 2: 1-9.

Jennings, M. D., D. Faber-Langendoen, O. L. Louckes, R. K. Peet, and D. Roberts. 2009. Standards for associations and alliances of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification. Ecological Monographs 79(2):173-199.

FGDC [Federal Geographic Data Committee]. 2008. Vegetation Classification Standard, FGDC-STD-005, Version 2. Washington, DC., USA. [http://www.fgdc.gov/standards/projects/FGDC-standards-projects/vegetation/NVCS_V2_FINAL_2008-02.pdf]

For additional information contact:

  • Implementation of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification Standard - Alexa McKerrow (amckerrow@usgs.gov)
  • NatureServe's Development of NVC Type Descriptions - Don Faber-Langendoen (don_faber- langendoen@natureserve.org)
  • Ecological Society of America's Review of the Type Descriptions Scott.Franklin@unco.edu
  • Federal Geographic Data Committee - Vegetation Subcommittee's Activities - Marianne Burke (mburke@fs.fed.us)