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Pinyon-juniper woodlands in Zion National Park, Utah


Harper, Kimball T.; Sanderson, Stewart C.; McArthur, E. Durant. 2003. Pinyon-juniper woodlands in Zion National Park, Utah. Western North American Naturalist. 63(2): 189-202.

Juniperus osteosperma-Pinus monophylla or P. edulis (P-J) woodlands are the most widespread plant community in Zion National Park (ZNP), southwestern Utah. These woodlands dominate nearly half of the park's land area. Our study of this vegetational complex is based on a sample consisting of 115 macroplots (each 0.01 ha in area) objectively distributed across the entire area of ZNP. We recognize 3 subtypes within the P-J complex: juniperus osteosperma (Utah juniper) alone, juniper with P. monophylla (single-leaf pinyon), and juniper with P. edulis (two-leaf pinyon). The 2 pinyon pines rarely occur together, and thus the foregoing subtypes do not overlap geographically to a significant extent. The first 2 subtypes occur primarily below 1800 m elevation, while the latter is most commonly found above that elevation. Because of the scarcity of sizable expanses (over -10 ha) of well-developed soils in ZNP, the P-J complex occurs primarily on sites where exposed bedrock covers a large portion of the habitat. As a result, over 90% of stands assigned to the P-J complex support less than 50% tree canopy cover (64% have less than 25% tree cover). Shrub cover increases along the woodland successional gradient. Pinyon cover increases faster than juniper cover. Microbiotic soil crust cover is consistently greater in J. osteosperma-P. monophylla woodlands than in J. osteosperma-P. edulis woodlands, but total living cover increases significantly along the successional gradient in both communities. To enhance plant and animal biodiversity, we recommend that pinyon-juniper woodlands of Zion National Park be managed so that late seral stages do not dominate large tracts.

Keywords: habitat types, management woodland, Juniperus osteosperma, Pinus edulis, Pinus monophylla


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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Pinyon-juniper woodlands in Zion National Park, Utah
Electronic Publish Date: November 14, 2011
Last Update:
November 14, 2011

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