Present-day vegetation in the northern Rocky Mountains
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): J. R. Habeck
Publication Year: 1987

Cataloging Information

  • Abies grandis
  • Abies lasiocarpa
  • agriculture
  • Agropyron spicatum
  • air quality
  • Artemisia tridentata
  • biogeography
  • bogs
  • British Columbia
  • Canada
  • Colorado
  • community ecology
  • coniferous forests
  • cover
  • distribution
  • disturbance
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • Festuca idahoensis
  • fire adaptations (plants)
  • fire regimes
  • fire suppression
  • geology
  • glaciers
  • grasslands
  • grazing
  • histories
  • Idaho
  • introduced species
  • invasive species
  • Larix occidentalis
  • logging
  • marshes
  • mining
  • Montana
  • montane forests
  • mosses
  • mountains
  • national forests
  • national parks
  • old growth forests
  • Picea engelmannii
  • pine forests
  • Pinus albicaulis
  • Pinus contorta
  • Pinus flexilis
  • Pinus monticola
  • Pinus ponderosa
  • plant communities
  • Populus tremuloides
  • prairies
  • riparian habitats
  • shrublands
  • subalpine forests
  • swamps
  • Thuja plicata
  • topography
  • Tsuga heterophylla
  • tundra
  • Utah
  • vegetation surveys
  • water
  • water quality
  • wetlands
  • wind
  • Wyoming
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 33731
Tall Timbers Record Number: 7903
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Fire File
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


The present-day northern Rocky Mountain vegetation is the product of a long history of geologic and climatic events that have interacted with the species populations composing the regional flora. General concepts relating to the organization, classification, and dynamic nature of vegetation are reviewed. Distributional and structural features of the vegetation cover between the Colorado Rockies and the Southern Canadian Rockies are discussed. Alpine, upper timberline, subalpine, montane, lower timberline, and grassland/steppe zones are treated. Climatic, physiographic, edaphic, and geologic factors operate interactively as complex local and regional gradients in patterning Rocky Mountain vegetation. It is likely that members of the modern Rocky Mountain flora are not in equilibrium with present-day environments but are shifting and adjusting to geographic dislocations associated with post-Pleistocene climatic alterations. Fire supperssion, agriculture, domestic grazing, construction activities, timber harvesting, strip mining, species introductions, and air, soil, and water quality are having major impacts on Rocky Mountain vegetation. Present plant communities feature altered structures and compositions that may represent new ecosystem equilibria which could be irreversible under present-day climates.

Habeck, J. R. 1987. Present-day vegetation in the northern Rocky Mountains. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, v. 74, no. 4, p. 804-840.