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North Pacific Montane Massive Bedrock, Cliff and Talus

This ecological system is found from foothill to subalpine elevations and includes barren and sparsely vegetated landscapes (generally <10% vascular plant cover) of steep cliff faces, narrow canyons, and larger rock outcrops of various igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic bedrock types. Also included are unstable scree and talus that typically occur below cliff faces. The dominant process is drought, especially farther south in its distribution, and other extreme growing conditions created by exposed rock or unstable slopes typically associated with steep slopes. Alaskan montane rock and talus probably has a significant component on nonvascular species, and is not drought-limited. Fractures in the rock surface and less steep or more stable slopes may be occupied by small patches of dense vegetation, typically scattered trees and/or shrubs. Characteristic trees includes Chamaecyparis nootkatensis, Tsuga spp., Thuja plicata, Pseudotsuga menziesii (not in Alaska), or Abies spp. There may be scattered shrubs present, such as Acer circinatum, Alnus viridis, and Ribes spp. Soil development is limited as is herbaceous cover. Mosses or lichens may be very dense, well-developed and display cover well over 10%.

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