Great Basin Naturalist


Climates of fescue grasslands were described by summarizing USDC Weather Bureau records of representative sites. Mean temperatures of the warmest month declined from 18 to 14 C, average annual precipitation increased from 40–50 to 170 cm, and the number of arid months in an arbitrarily defined dry year declined from 3 to 1–2 as one moves from Festuca arizonica (14 stations) to F. scabrella (15) to F. idahoensis (17) to F. thurberi (6) to F. viridula (9). Climates of the grasslands are sufficiently like those of the Pseudotsuga menziesii and Abies lasiocarpa zones of the northern Rocky Mountains to make one ask what factors—wind, snow duration, soil characteristics, or fire—allow the fescue grasslands to persist in a conifer climatic zone.