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Discover Montana's Ecosystems

Shrub Grassland

 
  • Vesper Sparrow

    Photograph by Bob Martinka

  • Say's Phoebe

    Photograph by Kristi DuBois

  • Small Footed Myotis

    Photograph by Kristi DuBois

  • Vesper Sparrow

    Photograph by Bob Martinka

  • Pronhorn

    Photograph by Bernie Smith

  • Mule Deer

    Photograph by FWP Staf

  • Olive Backed Pocket Mouse

    Photograph by Adam Messer

  • Plains Spadefoot Toad

    Photograph by Adam Messer

  • Short-horned Lizard

    Photograph by Bernie Smith

  • Common Sagebrush Lizard

    Photograph by Kristi DuBois

 

Description

The shrub grassland ecosystem occurs in widely separated segments across most of the eastern half of the state in high- elevation valleys and along non-forested slopes. The junipers and sagebrushes that characterize these generally dry slopes only make up 8 percent of Montana's land. They are interspersed with low cover grasslands and offer a unique transitional area habitat that supports many of Montana's species of greatest conservation need. Over half of this limited ecosystem is privately owned.

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Fish & Wildlife

The shrub grassland is home to a variety of wildlife species such as mule deer, western meadowlarks, and prairie rattlesnakes. The sagebrush found here is a necessary part of the habitats for sage grouse, common sagebrush lizard, sage thrasher, and pygmy rabbit.

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Vegetation

Plants of this ecosystem are dominated by sagebrush - giant and silver sage - and grasses. Sagebrush have specialized leaves that prevent evaporation and a root structure that spreads out to collect as much available moisture as possible.

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Shrub Grassland areas of Montana

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Shrub Grassland Statistics

Shrub Grassland:

7.7% of the state

Precipitation:

10" to 16"

Soils:

Most of the major soil catergories found in Montana, except for those of alpine and subalpine situations, are represented in this ecosystem

Topography:

Flat plains to steep sloped valleys

For more details see the CFWCS