Great Basin Naturalist


Lewisia longipetala (Piper) Clay is a high-altitude endemic found in the northern Sierra Nevada. The characteristics of 12 sites with L. longipetala, which represent all known populations, were studied to define habitat requirements of the species. Meso- and microscale characteristics of the habitat were examined, including characteristics of the associated plant community. Average plant size and plant density of L. longipetala were also determined for each population. Similar measurements were made on 6 populations of Lewisia pygmaea (A. Gray) Robinson, a more common Lewisia. Populations of L. longipetala that had larger plants and higher plant density were associated with gently sloped, north-facing sites that were near large, persistent snowbanks and had low vegetative cover. Plant species associated with populations of L. longipetala were similar among the 12 sites and were indicative of mesic, rocky alpine sites. These types of plant communities found near persistent snowbanks are often termed snow-bed vegetation. In contrast, L. pygmaea was found to be less site specific. Lewisia pygmaea was found adjacent to or interspersed with L. longipetala at 5 sites, but was found in areas associated with a higher percentage of herbaceous cover and a wider variety of species. This integration of ecological community information for L. longipetala populations contributes to the interim management and long-term monitoring of this species by providing needed information concerning its habitat and environmental specificity.