Great Basin Naturalist


Vegetation patterns in relation to slope position were studied on four foothill knolls in the Castle Cliffs area of Washington County, Utah. Study plots were established at four different slope positions: ridge top, upper slope, lower slope, and floodplain. Exposed rock was highest on the ridge top; exposed soil was highest on the floodplain; soil depth increased downslope. Plant life form varied with respect to slope position. Grass, annuals, and cryptogamic crust cover was highest on the ridge top and shrubs were most prominent on the midslope. Forb cover gradually increased downslope. Succulents were restricted to the ridge top or floodplain. Species distribution was distinct and strongly correlated to slope position. Two sets of congeneric species showed strong patterns of niche separation. The vegetation of the slopes is highly distinct at the ridge top and floodplain and grades toward the midslope from both ends.