The Rocky Mountains subalpine zone is the biotic zone immediately below tree line in the Rocky Mountains of North America. In northern New Mexico, the subalpine zone occupies elevations approximately from 9,000 to 12,000 feet (2,700 to 3,700 m); while in northern Alberta, the subalpine zone extends from 1,350 to 2,300 metres (4,400 to 7,500 ft).
The climate of the Rocky Mountains subalpine zone is never warm, with summer highs reaching 75 °F (24 °C) on only the warmest days near the montane zone, and commonly failing to reach 60 °F (16 °C) near tree line; Frost may occur any day of the year. Although winter low temperatures may be warmer than those in nearby lower valleys, typically staying above −10 °F (−23 °C), prodigious snows blanket the region well into spring. Some drifts may linger into summer. Convectional precipitation, typically thunderstorms, often forms rapidly and frequently includes graupel or hail. Although uncommon, hurricane-force winds may develop and cause massive destruction such as the Routt Divide Blowdown.
In the North American Rocky Mountains, the region is characterized by a concentration of subalpine fir and Engelmann spruce and generally the exclusion of trees found more commonly at lower elevations such as aspen, ponderosa pine and lodgepole pine. In other areas, Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir mix with or give way to various pines, such as limber pine, whitebark pine and bristlecone pine, other firs such as Douglas-fir and silver fir, and various junipers and other hardy species. Previously burned areas may contain varying amounts, or even almost pure stands, of lodgepole pine. Ground cover in a previously burned forest area often includes two species of huckleberry.
On exposed, dry slopes at high elevations, subalpine white pine forests replace spruce-fir forests. Common species of the white pine forests include whitebark pine in the northern Rocky Mountains, limber pine in the central and north-central Rocky Mountains, and bristlecone pine in the southern Rocky Mountains. Typical intervals between fires range from 50 to 300 years. White pines are tolerant of extreme environmental conditions and can be important postfire successional species.In high, windblown areas, trees often grow into grotesque shapes.
The whitebark pine is a keystone species in upper subalpine forests of the northern Rocky Mountains.However, the whitebark pine has been in decline due to White Pine Blister Rust: whitebark pine mortality in some areas exceeds 90%. Entire forest vistas, like that at Avalanche Ridge near Yellowstone National Park’s east gate, are expanses of dead, gray whitebarks.
Due to harsh winters and a relative dearth of food sources, the subalpine harbors limited native animal species. While bears and the cougar visit the subalpine, lynx, the snowshoe hare, the American marten and various squirrels are among the few important native mammals. A few birds, such as the mountain chickadee and Steller's jay are commonly seen and heard in Rocky Mountain subalpine regions, with others such as owls, nuthatches and certain finches less obvious.
Pinus albicaulis, known by the common names whitebark pine, white bark pine, white pine, pitch pine, scrub pine, and creeping pine, is a conifer tree native to the mountains of the western United States and Canada, specifically subalpine areas of the Sierra Nevada, Cascade Range, Pacific Coast Ranges, and Rocky Mountains from Wyoming northwards. It shares the common name "creeping pine" with several other plants.
Pinus flexilis, the limber pine, is a species of pine tree-the family Pinaceae that occurs in the mountains of the Western United States, Mexico, and Canada. It is also called Rocky Mountain white pine.
The San Francisco Peaks are a volcanic mountain range in San Francisco volcanic field in north central Arizona, just north of Flagstaff and a remnant of the former San Francisco Mountain. The highest summit in the range, Humphreys Peak, is the highest point in the state of Arizona at 12,633 feet (3,851 m) in elevation. The San Francisco Peaks are the remains of an eroded stratovolcano. An aquifer within the caldera supplies much of Flagstaff's water while the mountain itself is in the Coconino National Forest, a popular recreation site. The Arizona Snowbowl ski area is on the western slopes of Humphreys Peak, and has been the subject of major controversy involving several tribes and environmental groups.
The Sierra Nevada subalpine zone refers to a biotic zone below treeline in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California, United States. This subalpine zone is positioned between the upper montane zone at its lower limit, and tree line at its upper limit.
Krummholz — also called knieholz — is a type of stunted, deformed vegetation encountered in the subarctic and subalpine tree line landscapes, shaped by continual exposure to fierce, freezing winds. Under these conditions, trees can only survive where they are sheltered by rock formations or snow cover. As the lower portion of these trees continues to grow, the coverage becomes extremely dense near the ground. In Newfoundland and Labrador, the formation is known as tuckamore. Krummholz trees are also found on beaches such as the Oregon coast, where trees can become much taller than their subalpine cousins.
Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness is a 50,232-acre (203.28 km2) wilderness area located in the Dixie National Forest in the U.S. state of Utah. It is the fourth-largest wilderness area located entirely within the state. The wilderness designation protects the Pine Valley Mountain range, a large rock outcrop surrounded by desert. The Pine Valley Mountains form the Pine Valley Laccolith, one of the largest laccoliths in the United States. Elevations in the wilderness range from 6,000 feet (1,800 m) to 10,365 feet (3,159 m) at the summit of Signal Peak.
The Cascades ecoregion is a Level III ecoregion designated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the U.S. states of Washington, Oregon, and California. Somewhat smaller than the Cascade mountain range for which it is named, the ecoregion extends north to Snoqualmie Pass, near Seattle, and south to Hayden Pass, near the Oregon-California border, including the peaks and western slopes of most of the High Cascades. A discontiguous section is located on Mount Shasta in California.
The Blue Mountains ecoregion is a Level III ecoregion designated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the Pacific Northwest, mainly in the state of Oregon, with small areas over the state border in Idaho and southeastern Washington. It is also contiguous with the World Wildlife Fund's Blue Mountain forests ecoregion.
The Russian Wilderness is a wilderness area of 12,000 acres (49 km2) located approximately 65 miles (105 km) northeast of Eureka in northern California. It is within the Klamath National Forest in Siskiyou County and is managed by the US Forest Service. It was added to the National Wilderness Preservation System when the US Congress passed the California Wilderness Act of 1984.
The biogeoclimatic zones of British Columbia are units of a classification system used by the British Columbia Ministry of Forests for the Canadian province's fourteen different broad, climatic ecosystems. The classification system, termed Biogeoclimatic Ecosystem Classification, exists independently of other ecoregion systems, one created by the World Wildlife Fund and the other in use by Environment Canada, which is based on one created by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) and also in use by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The system of biogeoclimatic ecosystem classification was partly created for the purpose of managing forestry resources, but is also in use by the British Columbia Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy and other provincial agencies. A biogeoclimatic zone is defined as "a geographic area having similar patterns of energy flow, vegetation and soils as a result of a broadly homogenous macroclimate."
The Ecology of the North Cascades is heavily influenced by the high elevation and rain shadow effects of the mountain range. The North Cascades is a section of the Cascade Range from the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River in Washington, United States, to the confluence of the Thompson and Fraser Rivers in British Columbia, Canada, where the range is officially called the Cascade Mountains but is usually referred to as the Canadian Cascades. The North Cascades Ecoregion is a Level III ecoregion in the Commission for Environmental Cooperation's classification system.
The Northwoods are the boreal forest of North America, covering about half of Canada and parts of Minnesota, Maine, Montana, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont.
The ecology of the Rocky Mountains is diverse due to the effects of a variety of environmental factors. The Rocky Mountains are the major mountain range in western North America, running from the far north of British Columbia in Canada to New Mexico in the southwestern United States, climbing from the Great Plains at or below 1,800 feet (550 m) to peaks of over 14,000 feet (4,300 m). Temperature and rainfall varies greatly also and thus the Rockies are home to a mixture of habitats including the alpine, subalpine and boreal habitats of the Northern Rocky Mountains in British Columbia and Alberta, the coniferous forests of Montana and Idaho, the wetlands and prairie where the Rockies meet the plains, a different mix of conifers on the Yellowstone Plateau in Wyoming and in the high Rockies of Colorado and New Mexico, and finally the alpine tundra of the highest elevations.
The South Central Rockies forests is a temperate coniferous forest ecoregion of the United States located mainly in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. It has a considerably drier climate than the North Central Rockies forest.
The Colorado Rockies forests is a temperate coniferous forest ecoregion of the United States.
The North Central Rockies forests is a temperate coniferous forest ecoregion of Canada and the United States. This region overlaps in large part with the North American inland temperate rainforest and gets more rain on average than the South Central Rockies forests and is notable for containing the only inland populations of many species from the Pacific coast.
The Great Basin montane forests is an ecoregion of the Temperate coniferous forests biome, as designated by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
A snowbank fungus is any one of a number of diverse species of fungi that occur adjacent to or within melting snow. They are most commonly found in the mountains of western North America where a deep snowpack accumulates during the winter and slowly melts through the spring and summer, often shaded by coniferous forest. They may be saprotrophic, mycorrhizal, or in the case of Caloscypha fulgens, pathogenic.
Waterton Biosphere Reserve is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve encompassing Waterton Lakes National Park in the extreme south-west of the Province of Alberta, Canada. The reserve includes a section of the east slopes of the Rocky Mountains extending from the Continental Divide to the edge of the Canadian Great Plains to the east. The Glacier Biosphere Reserve and National Park in Montana, USA is located to the south of the area. The reserve is administered by Waterton Lakes National Park and the Waterton Biosphere Association.