SPECIES: Danthonia intermedia


Danthonia intermedia: INTRODUCTORY

INTRODUCTORY

SPECIES: Danthonia intermedia
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION:

Tirmenstein, D. 1999. Danthonia intermedia. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [].



ABBREVIATION:

DANINT

SYNONYMS:

No entry

NRCS PLANT CODE:

DAIN

COMMON NAMES:

timber oatgrass
intermediate oatgrass
wild oat grass

TAXONOMY:

The scientific name of timber oatgrass is Danthonia intermedia Vasey (Poaceae) [17,20,48,68,69]. The genus Danthonia is described as "among the most variable" of the grass family in terms of morphology, cytology, and anatomical characteristics [11]. According to Koterba and Habeck [30] "the ecological versatility exhibited by Danthonia intermedia supports the idea that this species is composed of ecotypes."

LIFE FORM:

graminoid

FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS:

No special status

OTHER STATUS:

no entry


DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Danthonia intermedia
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION:

Timber oatgrass is widely distributed in North America from Alaska eastward to Newfoundland and south to northern California, Arizona, and New Mexico [10,22,30]. It occurs in northern Michigan and the Black Hills of South Dakota [21,58,69].

ECOSYSTEMS:

FRES20 Douglas-fir
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES23 Fir-spruce
FRES26 Lodgepole pine
FRES28 Western hardwoods
FRES29 Sagebrush
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES37 Mountain meadows
FRES38 Plains grasslands
FRES44 Alpine

STATES:
AK  AZ  CA  CO  ID 
ME  MI  MT  NV  NH
NM  NY  NC  OR  SD  
UT  VT  WA  WY  

AB  BC  MB  NF  ON
PQ  SK
BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS:

2 Cascade Mountains
4 Sierra Mountains
5 Columbia Plateau
6 Upper Basin and Range
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
15 Black Hills Uplift
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands

KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS:

K011 Western ponderosa forest
K012 Douglas-fir forest
K015 Western spruce-fir forest
K017 Black Hills pine forest
K018 Pine-Douglas-fir forest
K019 Arizona pine forest
K021 Southwestern spruce-fir forest
K024 Juniper steppe woodland
K050 Fescue-wheatgrass
K052 Alpine meadows and barren
K055 Sagebrush steppe
K063 Foothills prairie

SAF COVER TYPES:

206 Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir
210 Interior Douglas-fir
211 White fir
216 Blue spruce
217 Aspen
218 Lodgepole pine
237 Interior ponderosa pine
238 Western juniper
243 Sierra Nevada mixed conifer
244 Pacific ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir

SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES:

102 Idaho fescue
107 Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass
110 Ponderosa pine-grassland
213 Alpine grassland
216 Montane meadows
305 Idaho fescue-Richardson needlegrass
306 Idaho fescue-slender wheatgrass
312 Rough fescue-Idaho fescue
313 Tufted hairgrass-sedge
323 Shrubby cinquefoil-rough fescue
410 Alpine rangeland
411 Aspen woodland
613 Fescue grassland
902 Alpine herb
909 Freshwater marsh

HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES:

Timber oatgrass is an indicator of climax in a number of grassland and forest habitat types or plant communities, including ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), lodgepole pine (P. contorta), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa), sagebrush (Artemisia spp.)-grass, silver sagebrush (A. cana), western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis), quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), and some white fir (Abies concolor) types.

Timber oatgrass commonly occurs in small, isolated grasslands of northwestern Montana that are considered mixtures of palouse and Alberta fescue (Festuca spp.) grasslands with species such as bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata), Idaho fescue (F. idahoensis), and rough fescue (F. altaica) [9,30]. It is rarely found in the Palouse prairie [30]. Timber oatgrass grows in small openings surrounded by lodgepole pine and in groves of quaking aspen [30]. Timber oatgrass occurs as a dominant in fescue-oatgrass (Danthonia spp.) associations in Alberta and Saskatchewan [6,30]. In subalpine meadow communities of the northern Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest, timber oatgrass commonly grows with species such as wedge-leaf cinquefoil (Potentilla diversifolia), reedgrass (Calamagrostis spp.), and sedges (Carex spp.) [13,42]. In quaking aspen and ponderosa pine communities of South Dakota, common associates include bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), and bluegrass (Poa spp.) [59]. Timber oatgrass occurs with shrubby cinquefoil (P. fruticosa) in riparian shrub communities of Montana and Nevada [38,46,60].

A variety of forbs and grasses occur with timber oatgrass in grasslands and shrublands of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado, including slender cinquefoil (P. gracilis), oneflower fleabane (Erigeron simplex), alpine oreoxis (Oreoxis alpina ssp. puberulenta), sibbaldia (Sibbaldia procumbens), low goldenrod (Solidago multiradiata), tufted hairgrass (Deschampsia caespitosa), prairiesmoke avens (Geum triflorum), bearded wheatgrass (Elymus caninus), blue wildrye (E. glaucus ssp. glaucus), prairie Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha), needlegrass (Stipa spp.), and Parry oatgrass (D. parryi) [2,5,28,43,61]

Publications listing timber oatgrass as an indicator are listed below:

A preliminary classification of the natural vegetation of Colorado [2]
Summary flora of riparian shrub communities of the Intermountain region with emphasis on willows [16]
Grassland, shrubland, and forestland habitat types of the White River-Arapaho National Forest [19]
Plant associations of the Wallowa-Snake Province: Wallowa-Whitman National Forest [24]
Habitat types on selected parts of the Gunnison and Uncompahgre National Forests [28]
Preliminary riparian community type classification for Nevada [38]
The vegetation of Alberta [41]
Grassland and shrubland habitat types of western Montana [43]
Classification of deer habitat in the ponderosa pine forest of the Black Hills, South Dakota [59]
Riparian classification for the Upper Salmon/Middle Fork Salmon River drainages, Idaho [60]


MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Danthonia intermedia
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE:

Timber oatgrass provides some forage for all classes of livestock and wildlife. It is especially valued as spring forage because it greens up before many other plants begin growth [58]. During the summer months in Montana, mountain goats feed on timber oatgrass [51]. In western Alberta, it is used to at least some degree by feral horses during all months of the year [49]. In the Black Hills of South Dakota, timber oatgrass forms an important part of cattle diets during June through September [63].

PALATABILITY:

Timber oatgrass is palatable for all classes of livestock and wildlife. Utilization of timber oatgrass occurs mostly in the spring when palatability is considered good [57,65]. After spring, it is only moderately palatable and not highly productive [65]. In the northern Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming, Uresk and Paintner [63] reported that timber oatgrass was utilized by cattle throughout the grazing season (June through September). In the central Black Hills of South Dakota, the heaviest use of timber oatgrass by cattle occurred in June [62].

The palatability of timber oatgrass to livestock and wildlife species in several western states has been rated as follows [12,43]:

                       MT       SD       UT       WY
Cattle              Fair-Good  Good     Good     Fair
Domestic sheep      Fair-Good  ----     Fair     Fair
Horses                Good     ----     Good     Fair
Pronghorn             ----     ----     Poor     Poor  
Elk                   Good     ----     Good     Good 
Mule deer             Fair     ----     Good     Poor
White-tailed deer     Fair     ----     ----     Poor
Small mammals         ----     ----     Fair     Fair
Small nongame birds   ----     ----     Poor     Fair
Upland game birds     ----     ----     Fair     Poor 
Waterfowl             ----     ----     Poor     Poor
NUTRITIONAL VALUE:

Dittberner and Olson [12] rated timber oatgrass as fair in energy value and poor in protein value. In Utah, it is described as low in protein and phosphorus and high in crude fiber at all growth stages [65]. Nutritional composition (based on dry matter) of timber oatgrass is as follows [26]:

                 Leaf    Heading   Seed   Cured  Weathered
                 Stage             Ripe
Dry matter %     93.45   92.40     93.88  92.85   94.03
Protein (Nx6.25)  9.35    7.85      6.98   5.20    3.63 
Crude fat %       3.15    3.40      3.45   3.85    3.10 
Crude fiber %    28.50   28.25     28.32  31.05   33.97   
Ash  %            9.40    6.70      7.98   9.90    8.77
Calcium %         0.36    0.36      0.32   0.32    0.32   
Phosphorus %      0.13    0.14      0.11   0.08    0.08
Carotene mg/kg   26.45   55.70     35.18   8.60    0.87
Nutritional values from an Alberta study during various phenological stages are as follows [4]:
                      Leaf stage Heading Seed ripe Cured Weathered
Digestible protein(%)  3.9        2.8     2.4       1.8   1.3
Cellulose(%)          33.8       30.1    32.6      36.7  39.0 
Nutritional value of timber oatgrass can vary according to habitat as well as by phenology. Severson and Uresk [52] report the following values in the Black Hills of South Dakota:
                      pole stand   sapling
                          (%)        (%)
crude protein          5.3-8.4     5.6-7.2
acid detergent fiber  41.8-43.5   40.8-42.7
acid detergent lignin  5.4-7.2     5.1-6.9
ash                    4.75-6.22   5.06-5.77
calcium                0.25-0.29   0.25-0.29 
phosphorus             0.19-0.23   0.18-0.20
COVER VALUE:

The degree to which timber oatgrass provides cover has been rated as follows [12]:

                          UT       WY
Small mammals            Good     Fair
Small nongame birds      Fair     Fair  
Upland game birds        Fair     Fair
Waterfowl                Poor     Poor
VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES:

Timber oatgrass is rated as having low to moderate potential for erosion control and short-term revegetation, and moderate potential for long-term revegetation projects [12].

OTHER USES AND VALUES:

no entry

OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:

Timber oatgrass has basal meristems and is much more tolerant of grazing than many of its associates [36]. In California, it is able to withstand heavy grazing [50]. In fescue (Festuca spp.) grasslands of Alberta, timber oatgrass is a codominant only in grazed or mowed areas [9]. It often becomes common after grazing in these grasslands [42]. In a north-central Idaho study, timber oatgrass increased with cattle grazing [32].

In the mountain and southern Great Plains physiographic regions of New Mexico, and in the mountains of Wyoming, timber oatgrass decreased in response to grazing pressure [66]. Costello and Schwan [8] report that timber oatgrass is a common component of ponderosa pine ranges in excellent condition, but is scarcer on ranges in good condition.

Timber oatgrass is one of the more productive grasses on subalpine domestic sheep ranges of Wyoming. Herbage yields of oatgrass may reach 164 lbs/acre (green weight) on these sites [25]. Mueggler [44] reports that in western Montana, timber oatgrass produces 4 to 9 times more biomass during "best" years than during "poorest" years. In ponderosa pine stands of South Dakota, greatest understory production of timber oatgrass was observed in pole-sized stands within clearcuts [64].


BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Danthonia intermedia
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS:

Timber oatgrass is a native, strongly caespitose, perennial bunchgrass [23,67]. The erect culms are densely tufted and generally reach 4 to 20 inches (10-50 cm) in height [62]. Leaves are mainly basal, flat or involute [69]. The old sheaths and blades are often persistent and wither at the base of the plant [23]. The inflorescence is a narrow panicle, often 1-sided, with short mostly erect branches generally bearing 4 to 9 spikelets [10,23]. One- to 2-flowered spikelets occasionally occur in the axils of the lower leaves [69]. With age, the culms often separate at the nodes where these seed-bearing spikelets are borne. Timber oatgrass has a shallow and fibrous root system [58].

RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM:

Chamaephyte

REGENERATION PROCESSES:

Timber oatgrass reproduces by seed and tillering [57]. This grass also produces self-fertilized spikelets in the axils of the lower leaves [69]. These cleistogamous spikelets enable the plant to reproduce even if development of the flower stalks is retarded [50]. In the Intermountain region, timber oatgrass is apparently largely apomictic (setting seed without fertilization), as the anthers are mostly abortive [10].

Mean germination of seed collected in southeastern British Columbia was 22.2% under laboratory conditions [54].

SITE CHARACTERISTICS:

Timber oatgrass grows in a wide range of habitats including rock outcrops, sphagnum bogs, dry meadows, grassy balds, and on alluvial flats of river floodplains [3,29,30,53]. It occurs on dry to moist sites from the prairies and grasslands to rocky alpine ridges [22]. In parts of the northern Rocky Mountains timber oatgrass is locally common in subalpine meadows in the fir-spruce zone [40,47]. In British Columbia, it grows in alpine tundra zones [1] and in the Sierra Nevada of California, it occurs in mountain meadows [56]. In fescue grasslands, timber oatgrass occurs in small patches or as a "fairly constant scattering" across the stand [24].

At high elevations timber oatgrass is most abundant in subalpine and alpine parks and meadows but also occurs in openings in upper elevation coniferous types, including fir-spruce and lodgepole pine communities [58,65,69]. It is common in ponderosa pine forests of the Black Hills of South Dakota [59].

Across its wide range, timber oatgrass grows from sea level to more than 12,000 feet (3660 m) in elevation [30]. Generalized elevational ranges of timber oatgrass are as follows [12,61,58,69]:

7,500 to 12,800 feet (2286-3901 m) in CO
3,200 to  8,900 feet ( 975-2713 m) in MT
4,950 to  6,780 feet (1509-2067 m) in SD
8,000 to 12,000 feet (2440-3660 m) in UT
5,000 to 11,000 feet (1981-3353 m) in WY
Sites at high elevations are often rocky with permeable, well-drained, shallow to deep soils [22,27,34]. Often, soils are characterized by relatively high soil moisture derived from snowmelt above [13]. Soils are commonly derived from shale, limestone, and other sedimentary materials, or from granite or redeposited volcanics [25,27]. Timber oatgrass commonly grows on loam and silt-loam soils [30]. Growth is described as good on organic and andic soils [12].

SUCCESSIONAL STATUS:

Timber oatgrass is an indicator of climax in a number of subalpine and alpine grasslands, fescue grasslands, and forest communities. According to Beetle [3] timber oatgrass is "indicative of long-standing stability in the vegetation." In Nevada, it is often associated with "stable" riparian communities [38].

Depending on the type and severity of disturbance, timber oatgrass is also a constituent in some early seral communities. In lodgepole pine forests of Wyoming, timber oatgrass is most common in immature stands as compared with mature stands [3]. Similarly in ponderosa pine stands of South Dakota, it is more abundant and more productive in clearcut and heavily thinned sapling and pole stands (measured 8 to 15 years after treatment) than in unthinned stands [64].

SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT:

Timber oatgrasss begins growth early in the spring [57]. Flowering occurs from June to August, depending on the location [50]. The seed crop is disseminated during August and September [58].

At lower elevations in California, flowerstalks may appear in April, with the seed cast by June [50]. At higher elevations, these dates are correspondingly later. In Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming, flowering begins in July and ends in August [12].

In western Montana, seasonal development varies according to aspect as follows [44]:

          Southwest                   Northeast                
          range      mean  duration   range      mean  duration
                     date  (days)                date  (days)  
growth
starts    4/28-5/24  5/12  10.2       4/28-5/29  5/16  11.9

1st 
bloom     6/10-7/14  6/25   7.8       6/8-7/8    6/27  10.0

blooming 
over      6/29-7/20  7/9    6.2       7/1-7/21   7/13   6.2

dissemination 
starts    7/22-8/10  7/30   6.3       7/26-8/21 8/3    6.1

plant 
dried     8/18-10/15 9/25  17.4       9/10-11/2  10/6  13.6

FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Danthonia intermedia
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS:

In the Pacific Northwest, timber oatgrass is "moderately resistant" to fire [67]. Postfire regeneration occurs through seed and recovery is generally complete within 5 to 10 years [33,67].

For further information on fire regimes in forest and woodland communities, see the FEIS species summaries on dominant tree species including:

species                    fire return interval
interior ponderosa pine    2-45 years
western juniper            7-100 years
lodgepole pine             25-300 years
For further information on fire regimes in grassland and shrub communities, see the FEIS species summaries on species including:

basin big sagebrush
bluebunch wheatgrass
Idaho fescue
rough fescue

POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY:

Tussock graminoid
Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)


FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Danthonia intermedia
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT:

Timber oatgrass is often top-killed by fire. However, some individuals may survive [67].

DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT:

No entry

PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE:

Timber oatgrass is "moderate" in postfire regeneration response in the Pacific Northwest, (having a 35 to 64% chance that at least 50% of the population will survive or reestablish after fire). In the Pacific Northwest, it takes 5 to 10 years to approximate preburn frequency or coverage [67]. In Washington, levels of timber oatgrass and other grasses were not affected immediately after fire in a timbered area. However, several grasses, including timber oatgrass, began to increase 2 years after the burn. By the 5th year after fire, timber oatgrass was the dominant grass on burned plots [39].

Timber oatgrass increased after a mid-summer fire in the Pacific Northwest [67]. Two seasons after a May burn in northwestern Montana, timber oatgrass cover increased by 7.5% over preburn levels [7].

DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE:

The Research Project Summary Vegetation response to restoration treatments in ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir forests of western Montana provides information on prescribed fire and postfire response of plant community species, including timber oatgrass, that was not available when this species review was written.

FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:

No entry


Danthonia intermedia: References


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