For more information on species & ecosystem science:

Wildlife Science

Fish Science

Habitat Science

Ecosystem Facts

North Pacific Alpine and Subalpine Dry Grassland

This high-elevation, grassland system is dominated by perennial grasses and forbs found on dry sites, particularly south-facing slopes, typically imbedded in or above subalpine forests and woodlands. Disturbance such as fire also plays a role in maintaining these open grassy areas, although drought and exposed site locations are primary characteristics limiting tree growth. It is most extensive in the eastern Cascades, although it also occurs in the Olympic Mountains. Alpine and subalpine dry grasslands are small openings to large open ridges above or drier than high-elevation conifer trees. In general, soil textures are much finer, and soils are often deeper under grasslands than in the neighboring forests. These grasslands, although composed primarily of tussock-forming species, do exhibit a dense sod that makes root penetration difficult for tree species. Typical dominant species include Festuca idahoensis, Festuca viridula, and Festuca roemeri (the latter species occurring only in the Olympic Mountains). This system is similar to Northern Rocky Mountain Subalpine-Upper Montane Grassland (CES306.806), differing in its including dry alpine habitats, more North Pacific floristic elements, greater snowpack, and higher precipitation.

Information Source: