Warm Desert Lowland Riparian Shrubland
Warm Desert Lowland Freshwater Shrubland, Meadow & Marsh
SWAP General Vegetation Type
RIPARIAN WOODLANDS and WETLANDS
Warm Desert Lowland Riparian Shrubland [M076] occurs primarily in the Chihuahuan Desert, High Plains and Tablelands, and Madrean Archipelago ecoregions. This habitat type is characterized by a mix of phreatophyte species including Emory’s baccharis (Baccharis emoryi), mule-fat (B. salicifolia), silver buffaloberry (Shepherdia argentea), and coyote willow (Salix exigua). On drier sites, honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa) or velvet mesquite (P. velutina) may dominate. As phreatophytes, the shrubs tap into groundwater below the streambed. Vegetation is dependent upon annual rise in the water table or annual/periodic flooding and associated sediment scour for growth and reproduction. A dense understory layer of graminoids and forbs can be present on moist-mesic sites and can include woolly sedge (Carex laevivaginata), Torrey rush (Juncus torreyi), slender rush (Juncus dudleyi), hairy willowherb (Epilobium ciliatum), smooth horsetail (Equisetum laevigatum), rough bugleweed (Lycopus asper), threesquare bulrush (Scirpus pungens), and field horsetail (Equisetum arvense). This habitat occurs along perennial and intermittent streams, lake or playa edges, and alkaline seeps and springs in lowland floodplains of wide valleys, but may extend into montane reaches up to 2,140 m (7,020 ft) in elevation. Stands are generally found on depositional side or island bars that are frequently flooded. As stands mature and bars accumulate additional sediments, bars are flooded less often, even as little as every 25 years. Occasionally, stands develop in backwater channels and around ponds. Soils are typically poorly developed in recent sediments. This habitat is often an early successional stage to Southwest Riparian Forest [M036] and Great Plains Floodplain Forest [M028].