Invalid Unit Specified
M171 Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus - Coleogyne ramosissima / Achnatherum hymenoides Dry Shrubland & Grassland Macrogroup

The U.S. National
Vegetation Classification
Type Concept Sentence: This diverse semi-arid macrogroup is found throughout the Intermountain West, including mid-elevation sites in eastern and central Mojave Desert, the Great Basin, Colorado Plateau, Columbia Plateau, and lower elevation sites in the central Rocky Mountains extending east across Wyoming Basins into the western Great Plains. It can occur as open shrubland, dwarf-shrub, shrub herbaceous, or grassland communities. Characteristic species include shrubs Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus, Coleogyne ramosissima, Ephedra spp., Ericameria nauseosa, Gutierrezia sarothrae, Krascheninnikovia lanata, and dry grasses such as Achnatherum hymenoides, Achnatherum lettermanii, Aristida purpurea, Bouteloua gracilis, Hesperostipa comata, Leymus salinus ssp. salinus, Muhlenbergia pungens, Pleuraphis jamesii, Poa fendleriana, Poa secunda, Pseudoroegneria spicata, Sporobolus cryptandrus, and Sporobolus airoides.
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Common (Translated Scientific) Name: Yellow Rabbitbrush - Blackbrush / Indian Ricegrass Dry Shrubland & Grassland Macrogroup
Colloquial Name: Great Basin-Intermountain Dry Shrubland & Grassland
Hierarchy Level: Macrogroup
Type Concept: This macrogroup is found throughout the Intermountain West, including mid-elevation sites in eastern and central Mojave Desert, the Great Basin, Colorado Plateau, Columbia Plateau, and lower elevation sites in the central Rocky Mountains extending east across Wyoming Basins into the western Great Plains. Stands can occur as open shrubland, dwarf-shrub, shrub herbaceous or grassland communities. Characteristic shrubs include Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus, Coleogyne ramosissima, Ephedra torreyana, Ephedra viridis, Ericameria nauseosa, Ericameria parryi, Gutierrezia sarothrae, and Krascheninnikovia lanata. Less frequent diagnostic shrubs include Artemisia filifolia, Chrysothamnus albidus, Ephedra cutleri, Ericameria teretifolia, Glossopetalon spinescens var. aridum, Opuntia spp., Parryella filifolia, Poliomintha incana, Psorothamnus fremontii, Purshia stansburiana, Quercus havardii var. tuckeri, Tetradymia canescens, Tetradymia tetrameres, and Vanclevea stylosa. In cooler canyon and foothill sites, deciduous shrubs such as Holodiscus discolor, Physocarpus malvaceus, Rhus glabra, Ribes spp., and Symphoricarpos spp. maybe present. Additional shrubs characteristic of mid-elevation Mojave Desert sites are Eriogonum fasciculatum, Ephedra californica, Ephedra nevadensis, Eriogonum corymbosum, Grayia spinosa, Lycium andersonii, Menodora spinescens, Nolina bigelovii, Nolina microcarpa, Nolina parryi, Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa, Purshia glandulosa, Purshia stansburiana, Salazaria mexicana, Thamnosma montana, Yucca brevifolia, or Yucca schidigera. Wide-ranging shrubs Atriplex canescens, Artemisia tridentata, and Sarcobatus vermiculatus may be present, but do not dominate, as they are diagnostic of other macrogroups. The herbaceous layer is sparse to moderately dense and is characterized by perennial graminoids Achnatherum hymenoides, Achnatherum lettermanii, Aristida purpurea, Bouteloua gracilis, Hesperostipa comata, Leymus salinus ssp. salinus, Muhlenbergia pungens, Pleuraphis jamesii, Poa fendleriana, Poa secunda, Pseudoroegneria spicata, Sporobolus airoides, and Sporobolus cryptandrus. Forb cover is sparse but can be relatively diverse. These communities occur on a variety of landforms. Shrublands are common on windswept mesas, canyons, benchlands, colluvial slopes, alluvial fans and flats, broad basins and sandy plains. Grassland and steppe occur in both lowland and upland areas and may occupy swales, playas, mesatops, plateau parks, canyon bottoms and slopes, foothills, alluvial terraces, and plains. Sites range from gentle to steep slopes on all aspects. Soils are variable but are generally shallow, calcareous, and range from sandy to finer-textured (clays to silt-loams) that are often derived from limestone, sandstone or shale.
Diagnostic Characteristics: This diverse semi-arid macrogroup occurs as open shrub, dwarf-shrub, shrub herbaceous, grassland, or sparse vegetation communities (on sand deposits). Stands typically range from 5-50% total vegetation cover. Rock outcrop, shale badlands and deep sand sites are typically sparse. If present, the shrub layer is characterized by wide-ranging diagnostic shrubs Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus, Coleogyne ramosissima, Ephedra torreyana, Ephedra viridis, Ericameria nauseosa, Ericameria parryi, Gutierrezia sarothrae, and Krascheninnikovia lanata. Less frequent diagnostic shrubs include Chrysothamnus albidus, Ericameria teretifolia, Glossopetalon spinescens var. aridum, Opuntia spp., Purshia stansburiana, and Tetradymia canescens. Additional diagnostic shrubs characteristic of sand deposits are Artemisia filifolia, Ephedra cutleri, Eriogonum leptocladon, Parryella filifolia, Poliomintha incana, Psorothamnus fremontii, Quercus havardii var. tuckeri, Tetradymia tetrameres, or Vanclevea stylosa. Other shrubs characteristic of mid-elevation Mojave Desert sites are Eriogonum fasciculatum, Ephedra californica, Ephedra nevadensis, Eriogonum corymbosum, Grayia spinosa, Lycium andersonii, Menodora spinescens, Nolina bigelovii, Nolina microcarpa, Nolina parryi, Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa, Purshia glandulosa, Purshia stansburiana, Salazaria mexicana, Thamnosma montana, Yucca brevifolia, or Yucca schidigera. The herbaceous layer is sparse to moderately dense and is characterized by perennial graminoids Achnatherum hymenoides, Achnatherum lettermanii, Aristida purpurea, Bouteloua gracilis, Hesperostipa comata, Leymus salinus ssp. salinus, Muhlenbergia pungens, Pleuraphis jamesii, Poa fendleriana, Poa secunda, Pseudoroegneria spicata, Sporobolus airoides, and Sporobolus cryptandrus. Forb cover is sparse but can be relatively diverse.
Rationale for Nominal Species or Physiognomic Features: Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus and Achnatherum hymenoides were chosen as nominal species because they are wide-ranging character species. Coleogyne ramosissima is a more restricted species, but is diagnostic of ~Colorado Plateau Blackbrush - Mormon-tea Shrubland Group (G312)$$.
Classification Comments: This macrogroup encompasses a somewhat broad range of semi-desert shrublands in the Intermountain West. Many of these communities are somewhat disturbance-maintained, early-seral types. Additional data and analysis are needed to clarify the associations that should be placed here. Shrub communities occurring over talus included in this macrogroup are part of a continuum and can be highly variable, and some dwarf-shrub communities can technically be defined as herbaceous types. It's possible that Colorado Plateau Blackbrush - Mormon-tea Shrubland Group (G312) could be merged in this macrogroup with Mojave Mid-Elevation Mixed Desert Scrub Group (G296), as they both are found in higher elevations that are wetter and cooler and they overlap significantly in floristics.
Similar NVC Types:
M118 Intermountain Basins Cliff, Scree & Badland Sparse Vegetation, note:
M093 Great Basin Saltbush Scrub, note:
M088 Mojave-Sonoran Semi-Desert Scrub, note:
M048 Central Rocky Mountain Montane-Foothill Grassland & Shrubland, note: "is a similar western macrogroup that includes higher elevation, more relatively mesic grasslands and shrublands. There is some species overlap in foothill zones."
Physiognomy and Structure: This macrogroup is variable, being composed of grasslands, shrublands and steppe. The shrub layer, if present, is open to moderately dense and composed of evergreen, microphyllous semi-desert scrubs and/or cold-deciduous, broad-leaved shrubs with succulents and dwarf-shrubs. Herbaceous species may form a sparse to moderately dense layer composed of perennial graminoids. Forb cover is sparse but can be relatively diverse.
Floristics: Vegetation in this semi-arid macrogroup is highly variable, ranging from open to dense shrublands, grasslands and steppe, including sparse vegetation on sand deposits. High-frequency dominant shrubs that characterize this macrogroup are Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus, Coleogyne ramosissima, Ephedra torreyana, Ephedra viridis, Ericameria nauseosa, Ericameria parryi, Gutierrezia sarothrae, Krascheninnikovia lanata, and Poliomintha incana. Less frequent but sometimes dominant shrubs include Chrysothamnus albidus, Ericameria teretifolia, Glossopetalon spinescens var. aridum, Opuntia fragilis, Opuntia polyacantha, Opuntia phaeacantha, Purshia stansburiana, and Tetradymia canescens. Sand communities are characterized by Artemisia filifolia, Ephedra cutleri, Ephedra torreyana, Ephedra viridis, Eriogonum leptocladon, Parryella filifolia, Poliomintha incana, Psorothamnus fremontii, Quercus havardii var. tuckeri, Tetradymia tetrameres, or Vanclevea stylosa. In cooler canyon and foothill sites, deciduous shrubs such as Holodiscus discolor, Physocarpus malvaceus, Rhus glabra, Ribes spp., and Symphoricarpos spp. maybe present. Shrubs diagnostic of other macrogroups such as Atriplex canescens, Artemisia tridentata, shrubby Juniperus osteosperma, and Sarcobatus vermiculatus may be present to codominant. In the southern Great Basin and mid-elevation sites in the Mojave Desert, Yucca brevifolia and several other desert shrubs, such as Eriogonum fasciculatum, Ephedra californica, Ephedra nevadensis, Eriogonum corymbosum, Grayia spinosa, Lycium andersonii, Menodora spinescens, Nolina bigelovii, Nolina microcarpa, Nolina parryi, Cylindropuntia acanthocarpa (= Opuntia acanthocarpa), Purshia glandulosa, Purshia stansburiana, Salazaria mexicana, Thamnosma montana, or Yucca schidigera, may also be present. Other associated shrubs include Eriogonum spp., Fallugia paradoxa, Grayia spinosa, Isocoma drummondii, and Lycium pallidum. The herbaceous layer is sparse to moderately dense and composed of drought-resistant perennial graminoids such as Achnatherum lettermanii, Aristida purpurea, Bouteloua gracilis, Hesperostipa comata, Leymus salinus ssp. salinus, Pleuraphis jamesii, Poa fendleriana, Poa secunda, Pseudoroegneria spicata, and Sporobolus airoides. On sandy sites Achnatherum hymenoides, Leymus flavescens, Muhlenbergia pungens, Psoralidium lanceolatum and Sporobolus cryptandrus are prominent. Festuca idahoensis may codominate in cooler canyon slopes and higher elevation stands. Forb cover is sparse but can be relatively diverse. Associated forbs include Astragalus purshii, Balsamorhiza sagittata, Calochortus macrocarpus, Chamaesyce spp., Erigeron spp., Hymenopappus filifolius, Lupinus pusillus, Machaeranthera canescens, Phlox hoodii, Sphaeralcea coccinea, Sphaeralcea munroana, Vicia americana, and species of Antennaria, Astragalus, Cryptantha, Eriogonum, Gilia, and Lappula. Annuals may be seasonally present to abundant depending on precipitation and disturbance. Cryptogams are important in some stands with up to 40% ground cover on sites in the Colorado Plateau. Exotic species such as Bassia scoparia (= Kochia scoparia), Bromus tectorum, Draba verna, Lactuca serriola, Poa pratensis, Salsola tragus, Sisymbrium altissimum, and Tragopogon dubius are present in many of these stands.
Dynamics: Fire dynamics are variable depending on dominant species. Many grasslands and shrublands are fire-adapted, while others, such as blackbrush, are fire-intolerant (Loope and West 1979). Following fires, these communities are often colonized by non-native grasses, which create abundant fine fuels that facilitate recurrent fires and delay shrub regeneration (Reid et al. 1999).

In shallow regolith situations, secondary succession, in the sense of site preparation by seral plants, may not occur at all (Loope and West 1979). When this vegetation (especially Artemisia filifolia-dominated stands) occurs on deeper loessal soils, some consider this shrub invasion of semi-desert shrub-steppe (Loope 1977).
Environmental Description: This macrogroup is found throughout the Intermountain West from the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau and Wyoming Basins north to the Columbia Plateau, central Rocky Mountains and extends east into the western Great Plains. Elevations ranging from 90 m along the Columbia River up to 2500 m in high plateaus and mountains.

Climate: The climate is semi-arid and is generally hot in summers and cold in winters with low annual precipitation, ranging from 4-40 cm and high inter-annual variation, although annual precipitation in canyon bottoms can be <10 cm. Temperatures are continental with large annual and diurnal variations. In the southern and eastern range extent, significant portion of the precipitation falls in July through October during the summer monsoon storms, with the rest falling as snow during the winter and early spring months. In the northern and western extent, much of the precipitation falls as snow in winter and spring, and summer drought is common.

Physiography/landform: Stands occur on a variety of landforms. Shrublands are common on windswept mesas, canyons, benchlands, colluvial slopes, alluvial fans and flats, broad basins and plains. Grassland and steppe occur in both lowland and upland areas and may occupy swales, playas, mesatops, plateau parks, canyon bottoms and slopes, foothills, alluvial terraces, valleys, and plains. Sites range from gentle to steep slopes on all aspects.

Soil/substrate/hydrology: Soils are variable but are generally shallow, calcareous, and range from sandy to finer-textured (clays to silt-loams) that are often derived from limestone, sandstone or shale. Some sites can be flat, poorly drained and intermittently flooded with a shallow or perched water table often within 1 m depth (West 1983e). Other sites are alluvial or eolian sand or deposits including extensive sandy plains and stabilized sandsheets that may form small hummocks or small coppice dunes. Eolian processes are evident on these sites, such as pediceled plants, occasional blowouts or small dunes, but the generally higher vegetative cover and less prominent geomorphic features distinguish this macrogroup from active and stabilized dune complexes. Dark-colored cryptogamic soil crusts composed of lichens, mosses, fungi, and algae are often present in fairly undisturbed areas. Sandy soils may have more cryptogamic crusts than clayish or silty soil surfaces. These cryptogams tend to increase the stability of the highly erodible sandy soils during torrential summer rains and heavy wind storms (Kleiner and Harper 1977).
Geographic Range: This broadly defined semi-arid grassland, shrubland and steppe macrogroup occurs throughout the intermountain western U.S. from eastern Washington, southern Idaho and southwestern and south-central Montana south to southeastern California, northern Arizona and New Mexico, including mid-elevation sites in eastern and central Mojave Desert, the Columbia Plateau, Great Basin, Colorado Plateau, central Rocky Mountains, and Wyoming Basins region, extending into the western Great Plains.
Nations: CA?, MX?, US
States/Provinces: AZ, CA, CO, ID, MT, NM, NV, OR, UT, WA, WY
US Forest Service Ecoregions (2007)
Domain Name:
Division Name:
Province Name: Southwest Plateau and Plains Dry Steppe and Shrub Province
Province Code: 315    Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Yellowstone Highlands Section
Section Code: M331A     Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Omernik Ecoregions:
Plot Analysis Summary:
Confidence Level: Moderate
Confidence Level Comments:
Grank: GNR
Greasons:
Concept Lineage:
Predecessors:
Obsolete Names:
Obsolete Parents:
Synonomy: > Blackbush (212) (Shiflet 1994)
>< Bluebunch Wheatgrass (101) (Shiflet 1994)
> Colorado Plateau - Mohavian Blackbush Semi-Desert (West 1983d)
> Grama - Galleta (502) (Shiflet 1994)
>< Idaho Fescue (102) (Shiflet 1994)
> Mohave Desertscrub, Blackbrush Series - 153.12 (Brown et al. 1979)
> Mohave Desertscrub, Blackbrush Series, Blackbrush Series, Coleogyne ramosissima-Yucca spp. Association - 153.122 (Brown et al. 1979)
> Mohave Desertscrub, Blackbrush Series, Blackbrush Series, Coleogyne ramosissima Association - 153.121 (Brown et al. 1979)
> Mohave Desertscrub, Joshuatree Series - 153.15 (Brown et al. 1979)
> Mohave Desertscrub, Joshuatree Series, Yucca brevifolia-Acamptopappus sphaerocephalus-Larrea divaricata-Mixed Scrub Association - 153.151 (Brown et al. 1979)
> Mohave Desertscrub, Joshuatree Series, Yucca brevifolia-Coleogyne ramosissima Association - 153.152 (Brown et al. 1979)
> Mohave Desertscrub, Joshuatree Series, Yucca brevifolia-Larrea divaricata Association - 153.153 (Brown et al. 1979)
> Southwestern Utah Galleta-Threeawn Shrub Steppe. (West 1983e)
Concept Author(s): Faber-Langendoen et al. (2014)
Author of Description: K.A. Schulz and P. Comer
Acknowledgements:
Version Date: 26Jan2016
References:
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