Common (Translated Scientific) Name: Northern Vancouverian Lowland-Montane Grassland & Shrubland Macrogroup
Colloquial Name: Northern Vancouverian Lowland-Montane Grassland & Shrubland
Hierarchy Level: Macrogroup
Type Concept: This macrogroup consists of low to tall shrublands, meadows, and mosaics of the two in the Pacific Northwest region. Shrublands dominate and characteristic species include Alnus viridis, Rubus spectabilis, Salix alaxensis, Salix barclayi, Salix glauca, Sambucus racemosa, Spiraea stevenii, and Vaccinium ovalifolium. Meadows and grassland vegetation also occur and may be dominated by forbs, graminoids, or ferns. Dominant species include Athyrium filix-femina, Calamagrostis canadensis, Chamerion angustifolium, Heracleum maximum, Veratrum viride, and Valeriana sitchensis. Shrublands occur on flat to steep slopes at low to mid elevations (1-1000 m) in valleys, hills and mountains of the Aleutians; in southeastern Alaska and British Columbia they occur on mountain sideslopes from sea level to treeline where slopes are steep enough to produce frequent snowslides preventing forest development. Herbaceous stands include a wide variety meadows and grasslands that occur on all slopes and aspects with a mesic moisture regime, including windswept coastal headlands, coastal bluffs, old beach ridges, hillside slopes, stabilized talus, alluvial fans, rolling hills, alluvial slopes, below subalpine shrublands, ravine sideslopes and avalanche tracks. The macrogroup includes areas that are a mosaic of meadows with alder patches.
Diagnostic Characteristics: This type is either shrubland, grassland or meadow where characteristic shrubs include Alnus viridis, Elliottia pyroliflora, Rubus spectabilis, Salix alaxensis, Salix barclayi, Salix glauca, and Vaccinium ovalifolium; characteristic herbs include Athyrium filix-femina, Heracleum maximum, Veratrum viride, or a variety of other herbaceous species, and Leymus mollis cover is <25%.
Rationale for Nominal Species or Physiognomic Features:
Classification Comments: This is a mesic to moist upland macrogroup, but does not include wetland or swamp type shrublands, so the presence of willows is confusing. The moist stands overlap in composition with stands in Vancouverian Lowland Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland Macrogroup (M073) (i.e., Vancouverian Wet Shrubland Group (G322) which also has Alnus viridis, Rubus spectabilis, Salix spp., and Vaccinium spp.). Also, the herbaceous species are wide-ranging and are not diagnostic to this macrogroup. Subalpine meadows are in Rocky Mountain-Vancouverian Subalpine-High Montane Mesic Meadow Macrogroup (M168), whether coastal or interior. Some types within this macrogroup may be subalpine, but higher elevation species, such as Senecio triangularis or Valeriana sitchensis, would be found under a shrub cover, likely alder. If in an open meadow, they would presumably be in M168. How to distinguish northern moist meadows from subalpine meadows? There are, no doubt, species differences as well as overlap.
Similar NVC Types:
M168 Rocky Mountain-Vancouverian Subalpine-High Montane Mesic Meadow, note:
M073 Vancouverian Lowland Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland, note: "including G322, significantly overlap on floristics and environmental dynamics."
Physiognomy and Structure: Tall to short deciduous shrubs and/or herbaceous perennial grasslands or meadows dominated by perennial forbs.
Floristics: Shrublands dominate and characteristic species include Alnus viridis, Oplopanax horridus (usually in the understory of other shrubs), Rubus spectabilis, Salix alaxensis, Salix barclayi, Salix glauca (willows, if present, are usually not dominant but companion shrubs, as indicators of wet conditions, but not swamp or wetland conditions), Sambucus racemosa, Shepherdia canadensis, Spiraea stevenii, Vaccinium cespitosum, Vaccinium uliginosum, and Vaccinium ovalifolium. Herbaceous stands may have one or more of the following species, which can also be dominant: Athyrium filix-femina, Calamagrostis canadensis, Chamerion angustifolium, Heracleum maximum, or Veratrum viride, or a combination of any of these. Additional forb species may include Achillea millefolium var. borealis, Aconitum delphiniifolium, Angelica lucida, Antennaria dioica, Arnica unalaschcensis, Cardamine oligosperma var. kamtschatica, Castilleja unalaschcensis, Claytonia sibirica, Chrysanthemum arcticum ssp. arcticum (= Dendranthema arcticum ssp. arcticum), Dryopteris expansa, Geum calthifolium, Lupinus nootkatensis, Nephrophyllidium crista-galli, Polemonium acutiflorum, Ranunculus occidentalis, Sanguisorba canadensis, Senecio triangularis, Solidago canadensis var. lepida, and Valeriana capitata or Valeriana sitchensis. Graminoids include Agrostis exarata, Agrostis scabra, Carex macrochaeta, Deschampsia beringensis, and Festuca rubra. The low subshrub Empetrum nigrum may also be common.
Dynamics: Alder can often dominate new ash deposits on the Alaska Peninsula. It also tolerates frequent disturbance from snowslides so dominates these sites. Dynamics of the herbaceous stands is unknown.
Environmental Description: This macrogroup occurs on flat to steep slopes (0-50°) at low to mid elevations (1-1000 m) in valleys, hills and mountains of the Aleutians; in southeastern Alaska and British Columbia it occurs on mountain sideslopes from sea level to treeline where slopes are steep enough to produce frequent snowslides preventing forest development. It is also found just above treeline and below the alpine throughout the maritime region of Alaska. Precipitation is abundant, and these shrublands are mesic to wet. Herbaceous stands occur on all slopes and aspects with a mesic to moist moisture regime, including windswept coastal headlands, coastal bluffs, old beach ridges, hillside slopes, stabilized talus, alluvial fans, rolling hills, alluvial slopes, montane shrublands, and ravine sideslopes. Soils are typically mesic to moist, well-drained, shallow, and stony, can be ash-covered, and underlain by colluvium, alluvium, glacial drift or till or residuum.
Geographic Range: This macrogroup occurs on the Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak Island, south and east throughout the maritime regions of Alaska and British Columbia. It diminishes moving west, and is absent by Dutch Harbor in the Aleutians.
Nations: CA, US
States/Provinces: AK, BC
|US Forest Service Ecoregions (2007)|
Confidence Level: Moderate
Confidence Level Comments:
Concept Author(s): G. Kittel, in Faber-Langendoen et al. (2014)
Author of Description: G. Kittel and D. Meidinger
Version Date: 29Mar2017
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