Common (Translated Scientific) Name: Warm & Cool Desert Alkali-Saline Marsh, Playa & Shrubland Macrogroup
Colloquial Name: Warm & Cool Desert Alkali-Saline Marsh, Playa & Shrubland
Hierarchy Level: Macrogroup
Type Concept: This macrogroup consists of alkaline and saline wetlands dominated by salt-tolerant shrubs or herbs (or both) such as Allenrolfea occidentalis, Artemisia tridentata, Atriplex spp., Distichlis spicata, Eleocharis spp., Juncus spp., Isocoma acradenia, Grayia spinosa, Krascheninnikovia lanata, Leymus cinereus, Leymus triticoides, Salicornia spp., Sarcobatus vermiculatus, Sesuvium verrucosum, Sporobolus airoides, Suaeda moquinii, and/or Triglochin maritima. These wetlands occur near drainages, on stream terraces or flats and may form rings around drying ponds or playas. Soils are alkaline to saline that varies greatly with soil moisture and greatly affects species composition. Sites also experience intermittent, seasonal or semipermanent flooding and/or raised water tables. Sites may retain water into the growing season and dry completely only in drought years, while others dry out for the growing season. Some sites have seasonal drying that exposes mudflats which are colonized by annual wetland vegetation. Sites are found throughout the western U.S. and southwestern Canada.
Diagnostic Characteristics: Salt-tolerant shrublands or herbaceous vegetation with a shallow water table.
Rationale for Nominal Species or Physiognomic Features:
Classification Comments: All interior alkaline/saline wetlands are together in one macrogroup. Andropogon glomeratus, Distichlis spicata, Eleocharis rostellata, Muhlenbergia utilis, Schoenus nigricans, Solidago spectabilis var. confinis, and Solidago spectabilis var. spectabilis along with a variety of other forbs occur in sites with alkaline springs in eastern California (Evens et al. 2014). These stands are placed in this macrogroup until further data compilation and analysis occur.
Similar NVC Types:
M077 Great Plains Saline Wet Meadow & Marsh, note:
M081 North American Pacific Coastal Salt Marsh, note:
M888 Arid West Interior Freshwater Marsh, note:
Physiognomy and Structure: Open shrub and/or herbaceous vegetation.
Floristics: Shrublands are dominated by Allenrolfea occidentalis, Atriplex canescens, Atriplex confertifolia, Atriplex gardneri, Atriplex parryi, Grayia spinosa, Isocoma acradenia, Krascheninnikovia lanata, Sarcobatus vermiculatus, and/or Suaeda moquinii. Herbaceous stands may be dominated by Calamovilfa longifolia, Distichlis spicata (= Distichlis stricta), Eleocharis palustris, Leymus cinereus, Leymus triticoides (= Elymus triticoides), Eleocharis palustris, Juncus cooperi, Juncus mexicanus, Muhlenbergia spp., Poa secunda, Puccinellia lemmonii, Puccinellia nuttalliana, Sarcocornia utahensis, Sporobolus airoides, Suaeda moquinii (= Suaeda nigra), and/or Triglochin maritima (West 1983b, Knight 1994). During exceptionally wet years, increased precipitation can dilute soil salt concentrations which may allow less salt-tolerant species to become established or more abundant.
Dynamics: During exceptionally wet years, the salt concentration drops, allowing less salt-tolerant species to appear, such as cattails (Typha spp.) or bulrushes (Scirpus and/or Schoenoplectus spp.) (Knight 1994). Water evaporation leaves high salt concentrations in the soils. Some areas only flood during wet years, sometimes only once or twice in a decade. Others will have standing water every spring, except in the driest of years.
Environmental Description: Climate: Cold or warm basins and desert. Soil/substrate/hydrology: Sites typically have saline/alkaline soils, a shallow water table and flood or high water table intermittently, seasonally to semipermanently. Sites may remain dry for most growing seasons, or remain wet due to poor drainage. The water table generally remains high enough to maintain vegetation, despite salt accumulations (West 1983b, Knight 1994). Some stands occur on floodplains, along the margins of perennial lakes, and in alkaline closed basins, with extremely low-gradient shorelines, and slopes with alkaline springs. Environmental information compiled from individual associations and Knight (1994).
Geographic Range: This macrogroup is found throughout much of the western U.S. in intermountain basins and in southwestern Canada.
Nations: CA, MX, US
States/Provinces: AZ, CA, CO, ID, MT, NM, NV, OR, UT, WA, WY
|US Forest Service Ecoregions (2007)|
Southwest Plateau and Plains Dry Steppe and Shrub Province
Confident or certain
Yellowstone Highlands Section
Confident or certain
Confidence Level: High
Confidence Level Comments:
Synonomy: < Salt Desert Shrub (414) (Shiflet 1994)
>< Saltbush - Greasewood (501) (Shiflet 1994)
Concept Author(s): Faber-Langendoen et al. (2014)
Author of Description: G. Kittel
Version Date: 15Oct2014
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