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Mounded spring, Sycan Marsh, Lake County

Mounded spring, Sycan Marsh, Lake County
(John A. Christy, Oregon Biodiversity Information Center)

Springs are unique wetlands where groundwater emerges in small to large quantities, sometimes under pressure, with a variety of temperatures and chemistries. If flows are strong enough, springs usually hydrate small to extensive wetlands around them and often form the headwaters of streams and rivers. Springs usually are located on hillslopes or at the base of slopes, but subaqueous springs discharge their waters beneath the surface of lakes and ponds. Most springs are cold, and help regulate cool stream temperatures needed by invertebrates and fish. Hot springs occur in geothermal areas and support unique communities of microbes, plants, and animals adapted to high temperatures and altered chemistries. Near settled areas, springs often have been tapped for domestic water supplies or farm and ranch uses. At these sites, their waters may be piped, diverted, or polluted, or the wetlands created by the springs may be altered or degraded.

Springs Map

Springs Map

Habitat: Slopes, basins, and flats
Water regime: Perennially to seasonally flooded
Water chemistry: Fresh


There is very limited information on plant associations occurring in springs in Oregon. The associations below have been sampled in the Blue Mountains and East Cascades eciregions. Vegetation in these habitats is usually the same as that found in nearby or adjoining aquatic beds and freshwater marshes, often as part of the same wetland system. These habitats have been botanized, and species lists can be found for some sites.

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 Alnus incana - Betula occidentalis / Carex amplifolia Wet Shrubland [Provisional]
Mountain alder - water birch / big-leaf sedge (Crowe et al. 2004: 193; Wells 2006: 120)
wetland type image Carex scirpoidea - Micranthes odontoloma Wet Herbaceous Spring [Provisional]
Northern singlespike sedge - stream saxifrage (Wells 2006: 140)

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