Invalid Unit Specified
M170 Artemisia arbuscula - Artemisia nova - Artemisia rigida Steppe & Shrubland Macrogroup

The U.S. National
Vegetation Classification
Type Concept Sentence: This semi-arid intermountain western U.S. macrogroup is characterized by short sagebrush taxa that form an open to moderately dense dwarf-shrub layer on shallow, rocky, calcareous or alkaline soils. Stands are dominated by one of several diagnostic Artemisia taxa depending on location and habitat, including Artemisia arbuscula ssp. arbuscula, Artemisia arbuscula ssp. longiloba, Artemisia arbuscula ssp. longicaulis, Artemisia arbuscula ssp. thermopola, Artemisia bigelovii, Artemisia frigida, Artemisia nova, Artemisia rigida, or Artemisia tripartita ssp. rupicola.
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Common (Translated Scientific) Name: Little Sagebrush - Black Sagebrush - Scabland Sagebrush Steppe & Shrubland Macrogroup
Colloquial Name: Great Basin-Intermountain Dwarf Sagebrush Steppe & Shrubland
Hierarchy Level: Macrogroup
Type Concept: This broadly defined semi-arid dwarf-shrubland and steppe occurs throughout much of the intermountain western U.S. The vegetation is characterized by an open to moderately dense shrub or dwarf-shrub layer with a sparse to moderately dense herbaceous layer. Several different short sagebrush taxa may dominate depending on location and habitat. Artemisia nova is most widespread, occurring throughout most of the region on mid- to low-elevation, gravelly, calcareous soils. Artemisia arbuscula ssp. arbuscula occurs on low- to high-elevation sites often on shallow, fine-textured soils with a dense clay layer that impedes drainage in spring. Artemisia arbuscula ssp. longiloba is widespread in the Columbia Basin, Great Basin, southwestern Montana, southwestern Wyoming, and badlands in the western Great Plains. It occurs on shallow, alkaline, calcareous soils derived from shale. Artemisia bigelovii occurs throughout much of the Colorado Plateau and extends across northern New Mexico into southeastern Colorado on shallow soils on limestone hills and shale outcrops. Artemisia rigida is restricted to the Columbia Plateau scablands with shallow, poorly drained, lithic soil over fractured basalt that is often saturated in winter, but typically dries out completely to bedrock by midsummer. These stands are typically codominated by diagnostic Eriogonum species: Eriogonum compositum, Eriogonum douglasii, Eriogonum microthecum, Eriogonum niveum, Eriogonum sphaerocephalum, Eriogonum strictum, and/or Eriogonum thymoides. These same Eriogonum species may be dominant without Artemisia rigida. Another local diagnostic/dominant species is Artemisia papposa that is restricted to poorly drained, mesic sites in southern Idaho and southeastern Oregon. Several other more restricted taxa include Artemisia tripartita ssp. rupicola, Artemisia arbuscula ssp. longicaulis, Artemisia arbuscula ssp. thermopola, and Artemisia frigida. Other shrub associates may be present such as Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis, Artemisia tridentata ssp. vaseyana, Ephedra torreyana, Ephedra viridis, Grayia spinosa, or Purshia tridentata, depending on habitat. The herbaceous layer, if present, ranges from sparse cushion plants, such as Arenaria hookeri, Eriogonum brevicaule, and Phlox hoodii, to moderate to dense cover of perennial grasses. Characteristic grasses include Achnatherum hymenoides, Bouteloua gracilis, Danthonia unispicata, Elymus elymoides, Elymus lanceolatus, Festuca idahoensis, Hesperostipa comata, Pascopyrum smithii, Pleuraphis jamesii, Poa fendleriana, Poa secunda, and Pseudoroegneria spicata. Scattered forbs may include species of Allium, Antennaria, Balsamorhiza, Lomatium, Phlox, and Sedum. Some stands have significant biological crust formation on the soil surface. Sites are generally xeric and may be wind-blown ridges and benches, gravelly alluvial fans, hilltops, canyons, gravelly draws, and dry flats. Most stands occur from 1000 to 3000 m elevation with some extending up to 3800 m in subalpine and alpine habitats of the Sierra Nevada. Substrates are variable, but are typically alluvium derived from limestone, shale, basalt, rhyolite or volcanics.
Diagnostic Characteristics: This semi-arid macrogroup of the Intermountain West is characterized by an open to moderately dense dwarf-shrub layer with >10% shrub cover and a sparse to dense herbaceous layer. Several different taxa of sagebrush are strong diagnostic species and vary depending on geographic location and by habitat, including Artemisia arbuscula ssp. arbuscula, Artemisia arbuscula ssp. longicaulis, Artemisia arbuscula ssp. longiloba, Artemisia arbuscula ssp. thermopola, Artemisia bigelovii, Artemisia frigida, Artemisia nova, Artemisia rigida, and Artemisia tripartita ssp. rupicola. Associated herbaceous taxa are semi-desert perennial grasses and forbs. Stands characterized by Artemisia rigida are typically codominated by one of several species of Eriogonum which may also be dominant without Artemisia rigida. Another local diagnostic/dominant dwarf-shrub is Artemisia papposa. Other sagebrush taxa such as Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis and Artemisia tridentata ssp. vaseyana may be present to codominant, but not dominant. The composition of the herbaceous layer is important in separating shrublands from steppe communities within the macrogroup, but not among other macrogroups.
Rationale for Nominal Species or Physiognomic Features: The nominal species Artemisia arbuscula and Artemisia nova are the two most common and widespread dominant and diagnostic species of this dwarf-shrubland and steppe macrogroup, and Artemisia rigida is the main differential species of ~Columbia Plateau Scabland Shrubland Group (G307)$$ in this macrogroup.
Classification Comments: Groups in this macrogroup are distinguished largely by the predominant shrub species. Other shrubs, especially shrubby Artemisia species such as Artemisia tridentata or Artemisia tripartita, are absent or uncommon in this dwarf-shrubland macrogroup.
Similar NVC Types:
M169 Great Basin-Intermountain Tall Sagebrush Steppe & Shrubland, note:
Physiognomy and Structure: The vegetation in this broadly defined macrogroup includes an open to moderately dense (10-25% cover) dwarf-shrub layer dominated by microphyllous evergreen shrubs with a sparse to dense herbaceous layer usually dominated by perennial graminoids (often bunchgrasses).
Floristics: This broadly defined dwarf-shrubland and steppe macrogroup includes an open to moderately dense dwarf-shrub layer with a sparse to dense herbaceous layer. Several different taxa of sagebrush may dominate depending on geographic location and habitat. Artemisia nova is most widespread, occurring throughout most of the region on mid- to low-elevation, gravelly, calcareous well-drained soils. Artemisia arbuscula ssp. arbuscula occurs on low- to high-elevation sites often on shallow, fine-textured soils with a dense clay layer that impedes drainage in spring. Artemisia arbuscula ssp. longiloba is widespread in the Columbia Basin, Great Basin, southwestern Wyoming, and badlands in the western Great Plains (Zamora and Tueller 1973, Knight 1994). It occurs on shallow, alkaline, calcareous soils derived from shale. Artemisia bigelovii occurs throughout much of the Colorado Plateau and extends across northern New Mexico into southeastern Colorado on shallow soils on limestone hill and shale outcrops (Francis 1986, Shaw et al. 1989). Several other more restricted taxa may dominate, including Artemisia tripartita ssp. rupicola (central Wyoming), Artemisia arbuscula ssp. longicaulis (Lahontan Basin of northwestern Nevada, southeastern Oregon, and northeastern California), Artemisia arbuscula ssp. thermopola (ridgetops and benches in mountains at 1830 to 2690 m in southern Idaho), and Artemisia frigida (described from sites in the Rocky Mountains) (Zamora and Tueller 1973, Hironaka 1978, Knight 1994). Artemisia rigida is restricted to the scablands in the Columbia Basin and portions of the Snake River plain with shallow, poorly drained, lithic soils over fractured basalt that are often saturated from fall to spring by winter precipitation but typically dry out completely to bedrock by midsummer (Daubenmire 1970, Franklin and Dyrness 1973). Stands are typically codominated by diagnostic species of Eriogonum that include Eriogonum compositum, Eriogonum douglasii, Eriogonum microthecum, Eriogonum niveum, Eriogonum sphaerocephalum, Eriogonum strictum, and/or Eriogonum thymoides (Daubenmire 1970). These same Eriogonum species are also diagnostic species that may be dominant without Artemisia rigida (Daubenmire 1970). Another local diagnostic/dominant dwarf-shrub is Artemisia papposa that is restricted to poorly drained, mesic to wet sites in southern foothill basins of the Smokey Mountains of south-central Idaho and on the high plateaus of the Owyhee Plateau of southwestern Idaho and southeastern Oregon (Jankovsky-Jones et al. 2001). Other shrubs present to codominant may include Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis, Artemisia tridentata ssp. vaseyana, Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus, Ephedra torreyana, Ephedra viridis, Grayia spinosa, or Purshia tridentata, depending on habitat. The herbaceous layer is variable. If present, it ranges from sparse cushion plants, such as Arenaria hookeri, Astragalus bisulcatus, Astragalus jejunus, Eriogonum brevicaule, Minuartia nuttallii (= Arenaria nuttallii), Phlox hoodii, Stenotus acaulis, and Trifolium gymnocarpon, to moderate to dense cover of perennial grasses. Characteristic graminoids may include Achnatherum hymenoides, Achnatherum thurberianum, Bouteloua gracilis, Carex filifolia, Danthonia unispicata, Elymus elymoides, Elymus lanceolatus, Festuca idahoensis, Hesperostipa comata, Koeleria macrantha, Leymus salinus, Pascopyrum smithii, Pleuraphis jamesii, Poa fendleriana, Poa secunda, and Pseudoroegneria spicata. Scattered forbs are common and include species of Allium, Antennaria, Astragalus, Balsamorhiza, Calochortus, Lomatium, Phlox, Sedum, and Stenotus. Individual sites can be dominated by grasses and semi-woody forbs, such as Nestotus stenophyllus (= Stenotus stenophyllus). Annuals may be seasonally abundant, and cover of moss and lichen is often high in undisturbed areas (1-60% cover).
Dynamics: No Data Available
Environmental Description: This broadly defined semi-arid dwarf-shrubland and steppe macrogroup occurs throughout much of the intermountain western U.S. Sites are generally xeric on wind-blown, shallow, gravelly or finer-textured alkaline soils. In the channeled scablands of the Columbia Basin and portions of the Snake River plain at 190-1830 m elevation, it forms extensive low xeric shrublands that occur under a relatively extreme range of seasonally wet to dry soil-moisture conditions (Daubenmire 1970, Franklin and Dyrness 1973). Here substrates are typically shallow lithic soils with limited water-holding capacity over fractured basalt. Because of poor drainage through basalt, these soils are often saturated from fall to spring by winter precipitation but typically dry out completely to bedrock by midsummer (Daubenmire 1970). Throughout eastern Oregon, northern Nevada, southern Idaho, western Montana, western Wyoming, and western Colorado, stands typically occur on mountain ridges and flanks and broad terraces, ranging from 1000 to 3000 m in elevation with stands extending to 3800 m elevation in subalpine and alpine habitats of the Sierra Nevada (Franklin and Dyrness 1973, Zamora and Tueller 1973, Hironaka 1979, Baker and Kennedy 1985, Francis 1986, Knight 1994). Substrates are shallow, fine-textured soils, poorly drained clays, shallow-soiled areas, almost always very stony, characterized by recent rhyolite or basalt or are alkaline soils derived from shale (Zamora and Tueller 1973, Baker and Kennedy 1985). These clay soils inhibit root depth and may create a perched water table. In central and southern Wyoming, sites are typically very windy, gently rolling hills and long, gently sloping pediments and fans with shallow, rocky soils (Knight 1994). This macrogroup forms the matrix vegetation and large patches on the margins of high-elevation basins. At higher elevations this type forms a mosaic with ~Great Basin-Intermountain Tall Sagebrush Steppe & Shrubland Macrogroup (M169)$$ and is restricted to wind-blown ridges. In the Colorado Plateau, Tavaputs Plateau and Uinta Basin, stands occur in canyons, gravelly draws, hilltops, and dry flats at elevations generally below 1800 m. Soils are often rocky, shallow, and alkaline. This macrogroup also extends across northern New Mexico and Wyoming into the western Great Plains on limestone hills and shale outcrops (Francis 1986, Shaw et al. 1989).
Geographic Range: This semi-arid dwarf-shrubland and steppe macrogroup occurs throughout the intermountain western U.S. from eastern Washington, southern Idaho, southeast and southwestern Montana to northern Arizona and New Mexico, including the Columbia Plateau, Great Basin, Colorado Plateau, and Wyoming Basins regions.
Nations: 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: > Artemisia arbuscula Communities (Young et al. 2007a)
> Artemisia arbuscula habitat types (Zamora and Tueller 1973)
> Artemisia longiloba habitat types (Zamora and Tueller 1973)
> Artemisia nova Communities (Young et al. 2007a)
> Artemisia nova habitat types (Zamora and Tueller 1973)
> Artemisia rigida/Poa sandbergia Association (Franklin and Dyrness 1973)
> Artemisia rigida/Poa sandbergia Habitat Type (Daubenmire 1970)
? Eriogono nivei-Artemisietum tridentatae (Rivas-Martínez 1997)
> Black Sagebrush (405) (Shiflet 1994)
> Black Sagebrush - Bluebunch Wheatgrass (320) (Shiflet 1994)
> Black Sagebrush - Idaho Fescue (321) (Shiflet 1994)
? Black sage community (Artemisia nova-Atriplex-Neotoma Faciation) (Fautin 1946)
> Bluegrass Scabland (106) (Shiflet 1994)
< Great Basin Desertscrub, Sagebrush Series - 152.11 (Brown et al. 1979)
> Great Basin Desertscrub, Sagebrush Series, Artemisia nova Association - 152.113 (Brown et al. 1979)
>< Great Basin Sagebrush (West and Young 2000)
> Great Basin-Colorado Plateau sagebrush semi-desert (West 1983a)
> Low Sagebrush (406) (Shiflet 1994)
> Other Sagebrush Types (408) (Shiflet 1994) [Artemisia bigelovii shrublands are included in this macrogroup.]
< Sagebrush Series (Brown et al. 1998)
>< Sagebrush Steppe (West and Young 2000)
> Stiff Sagebrush (407) (Shiflet 1994)
> Threetip Sagebrush (404) (Shiflet 1994) [Artemisia tripartita ssp. rupicola shrublands are included in this macrogroup in the Wyoming Basins.]
>< Western Intermountain sagebrush steppe (West 1983c) [Range overlaps.]
Concept Author(s): Faber-Langendoen et al. (2014)
Author of Description: K.A. Schulz and M. Jennings
Acknowledgements:
Version Date: 15Oct2014
References:
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