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Wetlands

Alkaline Wetlands

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Greasewood and saltgrass flat, Warner Valley, Lake County
(John A. Christy, PSU Oregon Biodiversity Information Center)

Alkaline wetlands are restricted to arid lands east of the Cascade Range. They include seasonally or intermittently flooded playas, marshes, and lakes, where alkaline soils and intense evaporation tend to concentrate salts in soils and water. They may support large populations of plants and animals found nowhere else in arid regions, and in Oregon they are particularly well known as breeding or foraging sites for vast quantities of migrating birds. Many of the same species of plants and animals occur in both interior alkaline wetlands and estuarine wetlands along the coast, and the term "brackish marsh" has been applied to both. Playas or "salt flats" occur in basins with interior drainage that lack any exit streams. During years of high precipitation, runoff and meltwater accumulate in valley bottoms or depressions. Small to large, shallow lakes may form, or existing lakes may expand to flood areas around their edges. Playas are dependent on regional climatic cycles, and their flooding is by definition intermittent and often fleeting. Water may persist into the growing season for a few weeks, a month, or rarely years, and sites may not flood at all for years at a time. Playas are typified by flat topography, highly alkaline or saline soils, and no or scant vegetation that is distinctive and adapted to saline or alkaline conditions. Animals are adapted to the intermittent hydrology and may emerge only every few years when conditions are right.

Alkaline Wetland Map

Alkaline Wetland

Habitat: Basins and flats, edges of alkaline lakes and ponds, playas
Water regime: Perennially to seasonally flooded
Water chemistry: Saline or alkaline

Ecoregion*: BM = Blue Mountains, BR = Northern Basin and Range, CB = Columbia Basin, CR = Coast Range, EC = East Cascades, KM = Klamath Mountains, WC = West Cascades, WV = Willamette Valley  
  Scientific & Common Name Global & State Rank Ecoregion
wetland type image Allenrolfea occidentalis Wet Shrubland
Iodine bush (NS)
G3S2 BR
wetland type image Artemisia cana ssp. bolanderi / Deschampsia cespitosa Wet Shrubland
Silver sagebrush / tufted hairgrass (Crowe et al. 2004: 232; NS)
G2S2 BM, BR, EC
wetland type image Artemisia cana ssp. bolanderi / Eleocharis palustris Wet Shrubland
Silver sagebrush / common spikerush (NS)
G3S2 BM, BR
wetland type image Artemisia cana (ssp. bolanderi, ssp. viscidula) / Leymus cinereus Wet Shrubland
Silver sagebrush / giant wildrye (NS)
G1S1 BR
wetland type image Artemisia cana ssp. bolanderi /Muhlenbergia richardsonis Wet Shrub Meadow
Silver sagebrush / mat muhly (NS)
G3S3 BR
wetland type image Artemisia cana ssp. bolanderi / Deschampsia cespitosa Wet Shrubland
Silver sagebrush / tufted hairgrass (Crowe et al. 2004: 232; NS)
G2S2 BM, BR, EC
wetland type image Artemisia cana (ssp. bolanderi, ssp. viscidula) / Poa secunda Wet Shrubland
Silver sagebrush / curly bluegrass (NS)
G2S BR
wetland type image Artemisia cana (ssp. bolanderi, ssp. viscidula) - Artemisia tridentata ssp. vaseyana / Poa cusickii Shrub Grassland
Silver sagebrush - Vasey sagebrush (Crowe et al. 2004: 236; NS)
G2S2 BM, BR, EC
wetland type image Atriplex confertifolia - Sarcobatus vermiculatus Shrubland
Shadscale - black greasewood
G5S3 BR
wetland type image Bolboschoenus maritimus Marsh (interior alkaline)
Alkali bulrush (NS)
G4S4 BR
wetland type image Distichlis spicata Alkaline Wet Meadow
Saltgrass (interior alkaline) (Christy 2014: 31; NS)
G5S4 CB, BM, BR
wetland type image Distichlis spicata - (Amphiscirpus nevadensis) Alkaline Wet Meadow
Saltgrass - (Nevada bulrush) (NS)
G4S4 BM, BR
wetland type image Eleocharis rostellata Marsh
Beaked spikerush (Christy 2016: 28; NS)
G3S3 BR
wetland type image Lepidium davisii Playa [Provisional]
Davis pepperweed (ODA species profile)
G3S1 BR
wetland type image Leymus cinereus Bottomland Wet Meadow
Giant wildrye (Crowe et al. 2004: 151; Wells 2006: 148; NS)
G1S1 BM, BR, CB, EC
wetland type image Leymus cinereus - Distichlis spicata Alkaline Wet Meadow
Giant wildrye - saltgrass (NS)
G3S3 CB, BR
wetland type image Leymus triticoides Wet Meadow
Sea-milkwort - Sandberg bluegrass (Christy 2016: 32; NS)
G2S2 BR
wetland type image Leymus triticoides - Poa secunda Wet Meadow
Creeping wildrye - alkali bluegrass (NS)
G2S2 BR
wetland type image Muhlenbergia asperifolia Wet Meadow
Alkali muhly (Christy 2014: 39; NS)
G3S2 BR
wetland type image Puccinellia lemmonii - Poa secunda Wet Meadow Vegetation
Lemmon's alkali grass - Curly bluegrass (NS)
G1S1 BM, BR, EC
wetland type image Sarcobatus vermiculatus / Achnatherum hymenoides Wet Shrubland
Greasewood /Indian ricegrass (NS)
G4S3 BR
wetland type image Sarcobatus vermiculatus / Atriplex confertifolia - (Picrothamnus desertorum, Suaeda nigra) Wet Shrubland
Greasewood / shadscale - (bud sagebrush, shrubby seepweed) (NS)
G5S3 BR
wetland type image Sarcobatus vermiculatus / Distichlis spicata Wet Shrubland
Greasewood / saltgrass (NS)
G4S4 BR
wetland type image Sarcobatus vermiculatus / Leymus cinereus Wet Shrubland
Black greasewood / giant wildrye playa (NS)
G3S2 BR
wetland type image Sarcobatus vermiculatus / Nitrophila occidentalis - Suaeda nigra Wet Shrubland
Black greasewood / borax weed - bushy seablite (NS)
G5S5 BR
wetland type image Sarcobatus vermiculatus / Suaeda nigra Wet Shrubland
Greasewood / seablite playa (NS)
G4S4 BR
wetland type image Schoenoplectus acutus Marsh
Hardstem bulrush (Christy 2004: 141; Crowe et al. 2004: 70; NS)
G5S5 BM, BR, CB
wetland type image Schoenoplectus americanus Western Marsh (interior alkaline)
Chairmaker's bulrush (interior alkaline) (Crowe et al. 2004: 133; NS)
G3S3 BM, BR, CB, EC
wetland type image Schoenoplectus maritimus (interior alkaline) Herbaceous Vegetation
Alkali bulrush
G4S4 BR
wetland type image Schoenoplectus pungens Marsh (interior alkaline)
Common three-square bulrush (interior alkaline) (NS)
G3S3 BR
wetland type image Spartina gracilis Wet Meadow
Alkali cordgrass (NS)
G3S2 BM, BR
wetland type image Spartina pectinata Western Wet Meadow
Prairie cordgrass (NS)
G3S2 BM, CB
wetland type image Sporobolus airoides - Distichlis spicata Wet Meadow
Alkali saltgrass - alkali sacaton (NS)
G4S3 BR

Authored by John A. Christy, Wetlands Ecologist, (ORBIC) Oregon Biodiversity Information Center (2012 rev. 2017)

randomness