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Community Field Guide

Scientific Name:
Juncus parryi - Erigeron ursinus Herbaceous Vegetation

Common Name:
Parry's rush - Bear River fleabane Herbaceous Vegetation

Community Description

Summary:
This alpine association has been reported from 2900-2990 m (9500-9800 feet) only in southwestern Montana, specifically within the Gravelly Range. This is a small-patch type locally common at the base of gentle to steep slopes with warm aspects (generally southerly to westerly). These are snow-accumulation sites that experience early meltoff. Sites are open, having in excess of 50% exposed substrate. Festuca idahoensis - Potentilla diversifolia Herbaceous Vegetation (CEGL001623) was most commonly the adjacent plant community. These sites lack a shrub component, and the graminoid component averages 35% cover with the forb cover more scarce at 20%. The dominant graminoids are the diagnostic Juncus parryi and Festuca idahoensis. Poa glauca is consistently present. Dominance of the forb component is shared among Erigeron ursinus, Erigeron peregrinus, Erigeron simplex, Antennaria umbrinella, and Lewisia pygmaea. Juncus parryi - Erigeron ursinus Herbaceous Vegetation (CEGL001906) is similar in physiognomy and habitat to Juncus drummondii - Antennaria lanata Herbaceous Vegetation (CEGL001904) and even occurs in the same landscapes, but the former is associated with terrain supporting alpine grassland, and the latter is embedded in terrain supporting turf communities.

Environment:
Examples of Juncus parryi / Erigeron ursinus were locally common near the base of gentle slopes with warm aspects. Both of our stands were between 9,500 and 9,800 feet in the Gravelly Range. Although snow is expected to accumulate on these sites, this type of all the snowbed communities is perhaps least affected by late melt-off. Festuca idahoensis / Potentilla diversifolia grassland was the common adjacent plant community. Juncus parryi / Erigeron ursinus is similar in physiognomy and habitat to Juncus drummondii / Antennaria lanata.

Vegetation:
Mean graminoid cover was 35%. Dominant graminoids were Juncus parryi and Festuca idahoensis, and Poa glauca was consistently present with low coverages. Mean cover of forbs was 25%. Common species included Erigeron ursinus, Erigeron peregrinus, Erigeron simplex, Antennaria umbrinella and Lewisia pygmaea. Mean cover of mosses and lichens was 2%.

Global Rank: G2? State Rank: S2?

Global Rank Comments:
This type has been described on the basis of few plots from a very circumscribed area thus occasioning its high and questionable rank. Though these are fragile sites there is no threat to them except by domestic sheep grazing. The type's documented area of occurrence has been thoroughly explored by mining geologists and found wanting. Both diagnostic species are broadly distributed and the appropriate habitat is quite common, which leads one to wonder about the seeming uniqueness of the type. Until much more extensive inventory is conducted this association should remain classed as an uncommon type.

Community References

Identifier:
CEGL001906

Author:
97/10 / S. V. Cooper et al.

Citations:
Bourgeron and Engelking 1994, Cooper and Lesica 1992, Cooper et al. 1997, Driscoll et al. 1984, Holway and Ward 1963, Komarkova 1976, Willard 1979

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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
http://mtnhp.org
mtnhp@mt.gov