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Conserve Communities and Species
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Conserve Communities and Species

Here we will take a look at the ecological communities that scientist identified as in greatest need of conservation, along with the associated fish and wildlife species that reside there.

 
Grassland Complexes
 

Grassland communities occur in broad western mountain valleys, high mountain meadows, and on the plains of eastern Montana. Very low to high cover grasses are characteristic of these areas. This array of grass types is found in open lands and often interspersed among shrubs. This community type is essentially associated with more terrestrial species in greatest need of conservation than any other community type in Montana.

Grassland Complexes comprise 31,551,627 acres or about 34% of Montana.

Grassland Complexes
Click map to see detailed report
from Montana's CFWCS
  Fauna Associations
  Total Essentialists (species that depend on this habitat for breeding and survival)
 
Long-billed Curlew
Amphibians: 7 Tier One Species: 23
  Reptiles: 12    
  Birds: 121    
  Mammals: 62    
  Total Generalists (species that thrive in this and other habitats and benefit from its conservation)
 
Canada Goose
Amphibians: 3 Tier One Species: 9
  Reptiles: 5    
  Birds: 134    
  Mammals: 20    
   
Mixed Broadleaf Forests:  Woody Draws and Aspen Galleries
 

Woody draws are drier, upland streambed-type 2,018,789 acres areas, characterized by a great diversity and density of vegetation similar to wetlands. These ribbons of life throughout eastern Montana provide essential cover, food and water for high concentrations of wildlife.

Aspen galleries often occur within grassland openings or along the border between grassland openings and coniferous forests. From native tall-grass or mixed-grass prairie plants to wet meadow species, mature aspen galleries promote understory growth of a rich variety of grasses, wildflowers and shrubs. They provide unique foods including seeds, berries or nuts for an equally diverse array of wildlife.

Mixed Broadleaf Forests comprise 883,498 acres or about 1% of Montana.

Mixed Broadleaf Forests
Click map to see detailed report
from Montana's CFWCS
  Fauna Associations
  Total Essentialists (species that depend on this habitat for breeding and survival)
 
Elk
Birds: 2 Tier Two Species: 1
  Mammals: 3    
         
 
  Total Generalists (species that thrive in this and other habitats and benefit from its conservation)
 
Bohemian Waxwing
Reptiles: 2 Tier Two Species: 4
  Birds: 15    
  Mammals: 6    
         
   
Mixed Shrub/Grass Associations
 

The mixed shrub community types are shrub-dominated areas that also support grass. These types can be either moist (mesic, found mostly in east Montana) or dry (xeric, found mostly in western Montana). They usually occur at low elevation and often along lower slopes. These communities are the transition between pure shrub and grass communities. They support a very unique assembly of species.

Mixed Shrub/Grass Associations comprise 4,159,693 acres or about 5% of Montana.

Mixed Shrub/Grass Associations
Click map to see detailed report
from Montana's CFWCS
  Fauna Associations
  Total Essentialists (species that depend on this habitat for breeding and survival)
 
Black-tailed Prairie Dog
Reptiles: 2 Tier One Species: 3
  Birds: 3    
  Birds: 121    
  Mammals: 5    
  Total Generalists (species that thrive in this and other habitats and benefit from its conservation)
 
Ferruginous Hawk
Reptiles: 2 Tier One Species: 9
  Birds: 17    
  Mammals: 6    
         
   
Riparian and Wetland
 

Montana’s riparian and wetland communities vary widely depending on the area of the state and elevation where they are located. Generally they represent the green zones along rivers, streams, lakes and reservoirs and include potholes, wet meadows, marshes and bogs. As a result of the adjacent water, these communities support the greatest concentration of plants and animals in Montana, serving as a unique transition zone between the aquatic and the terrestrial environments.

Riparian & Wetland comprise 3,724,224 acres or about 4% of Montana.

Riparian and Wetland
Click map to see detailed report
from Montana's CFWCS
  Fauna Associations
  Total Essentialists (species that depend on this habitat for breeding and survival)
 
Wood Duck
Amphibians: 16 Tier One Species: 17
  Reptiles: 6    
  Birds: 149    
  Mammals: 22    
  Total Generalists (species that thrive in this and other habitats and benefit from its conservation)
 
Striped Skunk
Reptiles: 5 Tier One Species: 3
  Birds: 32    
  Mammals: 35    
   
   
Sagebrush and Salt Flats
 

The sagebrush community includes all sagebrush and their associated grass and shrub. Specific attention is focused on the “shrub steppe,” which is a transitional zone between arid shrubland, semiarid grassland, and salt flats occurring in southeast Montana. The communities can be visualized as a mosaic of sagebrush species that occur in discontinuous pockets throughout Montana, but mostly in the eastern two thirds.

Sagebrush & Salt Flats comprise 5,625,886 acres or about 6% of Montana.

Sagebrush and Salt Flats
Click map to see detailed report
from Montana's CFWCS
  Fauna Associations
  Total Essentialists (species that depend on this habitat for breeding and survival)
 
Greater Sage-Grouse
Amphibians: 1 Tier One Species: 7
  Reptiles: 1    
  Birds: 8    
  Mammals: 13    
  Total Generalists (species that thrive in this and other habitats and benefit from its conservation)
 
Red Fox
Amphibians: 3 Tier One Species: 5
  Reptiles: 7    
  Birds: 32    
  Mammals: 16    
   
Mountain Streams
 

Mountain streams of western Montana are typically cold and clear. They serve as the headwaters for all major river systems in Montana. Mountain streams often flow through montane conifer forests beginning at the highest elevations and are home to abundant native fish species. Many of these fish are imperiled and represent the remaining stocks of Montana’s westslope cutthroat and bull trout.

Mountain Streams comprise 59,364 Stream Miles in Montana.

Mountain Streams
Click map to see detailed report
from Montana's CFWCS
  Fauna Associations
  Total Essentialists (species that depend on this habitat for breeding and survival)
 
Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout
Mussels: 1 Tier One Species: 7
  Crayfish: 1    
  Fish: 15    
         
  Total Generalists (species that thrive in this and other habitats and benefit from its conservation)
 
Bull Trout
Species found in this Community Type typically have essential associations.
 
         
         
  Stream Types
  Mountain Stream types:
 
Valley Stream
Alpine Headwaters Stream    
  Forested Stream    
  Glacial Stream    
  Valley Stream    
   
Prairie Streams
 

There are at least 18,000 miles of prairie streams in Montana that have water either intermittently or permanently flowing through them in an otherwise dry region. These low elevation streams east of the Rocky Mountains are warmer than their counterparts in western Montana. They support an equally rich, but different, variety of fish. Many of these streams are slow moving, sometimes turbid and weedy. They offer good rearing habitat for associated fish species and support many amphibians and reptiles. They are also crucial for populations of terrestrial wildlife.

Prairie Streams comprise 91,189 Stream Miles in Montana.

Prairie Streams
Click map to see detailed report
from Montana's CFWCS
  Fauna Associations
  Total Essentialists (species that depend on this habitat for breeding and survival)
 
Pearl Dace
Mussels: 2 Tier One Species: 1
  Crayfish: 2    
  Fish: 21    
         
  Total Generalists (species that thrive in this and other habitats and benefit from its conservation)
 
Emerald Shiner
Species found in this Community Type typically have essential associations.
 
         
         
  Stream Types
  Prairie Stream types:
 
Northern Glaciated Plains Prairie Stream
Great Plains Intermittent  
  Great Plains Prairie  
  Northern Glaciated Intermittent  
  Northern Glaciated Plains