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Snowbed Depressions

Snowbed depression with haircap moss, Lane County

Snowbed depression with haircap moss, Lane County
(John A. Christy, Oregon Biodiversity Information Center)

Snowbed depressions are poorly studied wetlands in montane to subalpine habitats. They occur where beds of snow persist well into the growing season, usually weeks or months after snow in the immediate vicinity has melted away. Meltwater from the snowbeds hydrates localized zones or may flood depressions to form seasonal pools. Snowbed vegetation is typically different from that of the immediate surroundings, and is usually comprised of mosses, liverworts, herbs, and dwarf shrubs. Soils are usually porous and well-drained, and surrounding vegetation may be sparse or quite different in composition. Threats are currently low, but a changing climate may have serious implications for these habitats.

Snowbed Depressions Map

Snowbed Depressions Map

Habitat: Late-lying snowbeds in montane and subalpine meadows
Water regime: Seasonally flooded to saturated
Water chemistry: Fresh

There is very limited information on plant associations occurring in snowbed depressions in Oregon. The associations below have been sampled in the Cascade Range. Snowbed habitats may also include portions of plant associations listed elsewhere in this classification (Wet meadows: Carex nigricans, Carex scopulorum; Shrub swamps and shrub riparian: Kalmia microphylla, Phyllodoce empetriformis).

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 Luetkea pectinata - Saxifraga tolmiei Herbaceous Vegetation
Partridgefoot - Tolmie saxifrage
wetland type image Polytrichum commune Nonvascular Vegetation [Provisional]
Haircap moss bed
G5S4 Nonvascular Vegetation [Provisional] EC, WC

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