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Community Field Guide

Scientific Name:
Salix boothii / Calamagrostis canadensis Shrubland

Common Name:
Booth's willow / bluejoint reedgrass Shrubland

Community Description

The Salix boothii / Calamagrostis canadensis association can be found in montane habitats in western Montana (from valley bottoms to mid-elevations in the mountains) and in the mountains of central and eastern Montana. It is frequently found on alluvial terraces where beaver activity has created a series of dams that raise the local water table, along streams, and near seeps or springs. It is also found on streamside sites of major drainages and their tributaries, as well as springs and seeps. Soils are usually deep silt or sand overlying more sand, gravel, or cobbles. This community almost invariably floods during spring and the groundwater level remains within 1m of the surface the rest of the year. Adjacent wetter plant associations could include Carex utriculata, Carex aquatilis, Salix geyeriana / Carex utriculata, and Typha latifolia. Open water, and nearby drier communities could include Populus balsamifera ssp. Populus trichocarpa / Cornus sericea / Cornus sericea, Calamagrostis canadensis, Deschampsia cespitosa, or Juncus balticus. A variety of adjacent uplands could occur nearby, ranging from conifer dominated communities to dry shrublands such as Artemisia tridentata associations (Hansen et al. 1988, Hansen et al. 1995).

The Salix boothii / Calamagrostis canadensis association has no typical canopy structure. It ranges from predominantly open- to dense-canopy (90% plus cover) clearly dominated by Salix boothii (24% average cover). Other shrubs with at least 20% constancy include Salix geyeriana, Salix drummondiana, Salix bebbiana, Salix geyeriana, Ribes spp. and Pentaphylloides floribunda. In the Montana representation of this association the undergrowth is dominated by Calamagrostis canadensis or Calamagrostis stricta, though apparently they do not co-occur (Hansen et al. 1995; personal observation from members MTNHP ecology staff). In contrast to Salix geyeriana - dominated communities, these stands are more often closed and less easily accessible by large ungulates, while Salix geyeriana stands have a more open corridor aspect (Padgett et al. 1989). Commonly associated graminoids (at least 20% constant) are Carex utriculata, Carex microptera, Deschampsia cespitosa, Glyceria striata and Juncus balticus and virtually the complete panoply of exotic grasses. Aster occidentalis, Fragaria virginiana, Epilobium angustifolium, Geum macrophyllum, Heracleum lanatum, Maianthemum stellatum, Solidago canadensis, and Equisetum arvense comprise the native forbs with greater than 20% constancy (Hansen et al. 1995).

The Salix boothii / Calamagrostis canadensis association is found in Colorado, Montana, Utah, Idaho, Nevada and western Wyoming.

Calamagrostis canadensis is moderately to highly palatable and with high grazing pressure, the vigor, reproductive success, and competitive ability of this grass will decrease. Exotic pasture grasses such as Poa pratensis or Agrostis stolonifera (=Agrostis alba) may then increase. Livestock grazing in this association should be avoided when the soils are wet to avoid churning of the soil surface. Salix boothii / Calamagrostis canadensis stands exposed to heavy browsing pressure usually show reduced vigor of the willow species, such as highlining, clubbing, or dead clumps, with eventual decrease in willow coverage (Hansen et al. 1995).

Global Rank: G3G4Q State Rank: SR

Community References


99-10-18 / J. Greenlee, MTNHP

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This information is from the:
Montana Natural Heritage Program
Montana State Library--Natural Resource Information System
1515 East Sixth Ave., Helena, MT 59620-1800
406 444-5354