Great Basin Naturalist


Arctomecon humilis Cov. is a narrow endemic, confined to gypsiferous substrates derived from the Shnabkaib Member of the Moenkopi Formation in southwestern Utah. The characteristics of seven A. humilis sites were studied to define habitat requirements of the species. Both physical and biotic aspects of the habitat were analyzed; geology, soil chemistry, and physical properties, as well as vascular and nonvascular plant communities, were studied. Chemical and physical properties of these soils vary considerably from those supporting adjacent desert-shrub communities. The dominant vascular species on A. humilis sites are shadscale and Mormon tea. It was found that A. humilis occurred in portions of the habitat where shrubs were relatively less dense. A soil-surface, cryptogamic community contributed 84% or more of the total living cover on sites that supported A. humilis. Species composition of the cryptogamic community was highly similar among sites. Likewise, composition of the cryptogamic cover was similar when random samples were compared with samples centered on A. humilis plants. The Purgatory Flat site, which does not support the poppy, seems inseparable from A. humilis sites, in respect to soil characteristics and composition of the associated plant cover. There is reason to believe an A. humilis population could be established at the Purgatory Flat site.