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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Sagebrush Steppe

Authors
item Young, James
item Clements, Darin
item Jansen, C - UNIV. CALIFORNIA CHICO

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: April 12, 2005
Publication Date: August 20, 2007
Citation: Young, J.A., Clements, C.D, Jansen, C.H. 2007. Sagebrush Steppe. In: Barbour, M.G., Keeler-Wolf, T., and Schoenherr, A.A., editors. Terrestial Vegetation of California, 3rd Edition. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. p. 587-608.

Interpretive Summary: The sagebrush steppe consists of a series of generally treeless, shrub dominated communities along the eastern and northeastern boundary of California. The Artemisia steppe of the Intermountain Area of North America is often completely treeless, but the California Artemisia steppe is unique in its proximity to Pinus/Juniperus woodlands. Species and subspecies of Artemisia are often the dominate shrubs, with perennial bunchgrasses characterizing the understory. The sagebrush steppe represents the most extensive vegetation type in the Intermountain Area between the Sierra-Cascades and the Rocky Mountains. Compared to the entire range of this vegetation type, the extension of sagebrush steppe into California is relatively minor, but it represents a unique aspect of the vegetation of California. Characteristics of the vegetation along with soils, topography, environmental relations, climate, animals and succession are described.

Technical Abstract: The sagebrush steppe of California is unique with its proximity to the Pinus/Juniperus woodlands. The sagebrush steppe of the Intermountain Area of North America is often completely treeless. The sagebrush steppe of California consists of a series of generally treeless, shrub dominated communities along the eastern and northeastern boundary of California. Species and subspecies of Artemisia are often the dominate shrub with perennial bunchgrasses characterizing the understory. In California, the sagebrush steppe is an elongated, discontinuous strip of land from the upper Owens River Valley north along the eastern flanks of the Sierra Nevada (trans Sierra) to Honey Lake. North of Honey Lake the sagebrush steppe extends generally east of the Cascade Mountains across the volcanic uplands of the Modoc Plateau into central Oregon. The most extensive areas of the Artemisia steppe in California are on the Modoc Plateau. The sagebrush steppe vegetation is characterized by species of Artemisia and other important shrub species such as Prunus, Purshia, Ribes, and Symphoricarpus. Most Artemisia dominated communities contain Chrysothamnus and Tetradymia. These sagebrush steppe environments are critical to a number of wildlife such as mule deer, sage grouse, and pigmy rabbit.

Last Modified: 12/20/2014
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