Great Basin Naturalist


Alpine vegetation of Railroad Ridge in the White Cloud Peaks, Custer County, Idaho, was investigated to ascertain native communities and describe their distribution with respect to important environmental factors. Percent cover of all species and environmental information were recorded for 69 plots. Data were analyzed by TWINSPAN and CANOCO, which provided a classification and an ordination, respectively. Predominant communities are dominated by (1) Phlox pulvinata, (2) Carex elynoides, and (3) Geum rossii, and other communities of lesser importance are dominated by (4) Artemisia campestris, (5) Eriogonum ovalifolium and Silene acaulis, and (6) Ivesia gordonii. Although the Artemisia campestris community occupies a relatively small portion of the study area, it is noteworthy because it is a community type not previously known for Idaho. The community co-dominated by Eriogonum ovalifolium and Silene acaulis is also unique and has not been documented in other Idaho alpine studies. Community distribution showed the strongest correlation with exposure, substrate type, and slope. In general, the study area supports fellfield communities that are representative of alpine areas in Idaho and some Great Basin mountain ranges, and dense turflike communities similar to ones found throughout western North America's temperate alpine regions.