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Community Field Guide

Scientific Name:
Stuckenia pectinatus - Ruppia maritima Herbaceous Vegetation

Common Name:
Sago pondweed - Beaked Ditch-grass Herbaceous Vegetation

Community Description

Summary:
This community is found in the northern Great Plains and tallgrass prairie regions in brackish to saline shallow water wetlands or exposed alkali saltflats. These wetlands maintain surface water for a period of a few weeks or more during the growing season. A high evaporation-precipitation ratio contributes to the concentration of dissolved salts in these wetlands. The high salinity of these wetlands excludes many plant species. Stuckenia pectinata (= Potamogeton pectinatus) and Ruppia maritima frequently form dense beds of floating and submerged vegetation. Other species may include Zannichellia palustris, Stuckenia vaginata (= Potamogeton vaginatus), and Chara spp. Within some wetlands with extremely high salinity, Ruppia maritima may be the only species found.

Environment:
This community includes brackish, subsaline, or saline shallow water wetlands that may alternate with exposed alkali saltflats. These wetlands maintain surface water for a period of a few weeks or more during the growing season (Stewart and Kantrud 1971). These wetlands are commonly found in glacial outwash sediments in low elevations on the landscape, and serve as discharge wetlands, with no effective means for removal of accumulated salts (Dodd and Coupland 1966). Salts are principally sulfates and chlorides of sodium and magnesium (Stewart and Kantrud 1972). The high salinity of these wetlands excludes most aquatic and emergent plant species (Swanson and Springer 1972).

Vegetation:
Stuckenia pectinata (= Potamogeton pectinatus) and Ruppia maritima frequently form dense beds of floating and submerged vegetation. Other species may include Zannichellia palustris, Stuckenia vaginata (= Potamogeton vaginatus), and Chara spp. (Stewart and Kantrud 1971). Within wetlands with extremely high salinity, Ruppia maritima may be the only species found.

Range:
This community is found in the northern Great Plains and northern tallgrass prairie regions in brackish to saline shallow water wetlands or exposed alkali saltflats, extending from Iowa west to the Dakotas and Montana.

Global Rank: G2? State Rank: S2Q

Global Rank Comments:
There are probably fewer than 100 occurrences of this community rangewide. This community is reported from Iowa (SU), Montana (S2Q), North Dakota (S3), and South Dakota (S?). Currently there are 28 occurrences documented in North Dakota. This community is restricted to brackish, subsaline, or saline shallow water wetlands in the northern Great Plains. These wetlands may alternate with exposed alkali saltflats. Historical acreage and trends are unknown, but this community was probably always uncommon.

Community References

Identifier:
CEGL002004

Author:
D. Lenz, mod. D. Faber-Langendoen

Citations:
Bourgeron and Engelking 1994, Dodd and Coupland 1966, Driscoll et al. 1984, MTNHP n.d., Steinauer and Rolfsmeier 2000, Stewart and Kantrud 1971, Stewart and Kantrud 1972, Swanson and Springer 1972

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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