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Ecological Sections: Mono

Subsection 341Dh
Crowley Flowlands

This subsection includes the Benton Range, Blind Spring Hill, Granite Mountain, Mono Craters, Volcanic Tableland south of the Benton Range, Pumice Valley, Adobe Valley and Long Valley.  It is between the Sierra Nevada on the southwest, the White Mountains on the east, and Mono Lake and the Adobe Hills on the north, excluding subsection 341Dl.   It has a temperate to cold, semi-arid to subhumid climate.  MLRA 26f.

Lithology and Stratigraphy.  Quaternary volcanic, largely pyroclastic, and Mesozoic granitic rocks predominate in this subsection.  Bishop tuff, which emanated from the site of the Long Valley Caldera, blankets much of the area and is many yards thick on the Tablelands.  Also, in the Benton Range, there are Paleozoic marine and Pre-Cenozoic granitic and metamorphic rocks.  There is Quaternary alluvium in Adobe and Long Valleys and lacustrine deposits in Long Valley.  Long valley is in the eastern half of the Long Valley Caldera. There is some glacial till adjacent to the Sierra Nevada.

Geomorphology.   The landforms are mostly steep mountains and hills, gently to moderately sloping volcanic flows and tablelands, nearly level basin floors, and very gently to moderately sloping alluvial fans.  All elongated features, the Benton Range, Blindspring Hill, and the row of Mono craters, are oriented north-south.  The elevation range is from about 4200 feet up to 8121 in the Benton Range and 8920 feet on Granite Mountain.   Mass wasting, volcanism, fluvial erosion and deposition, and freeze-thaw are the main geomorphic processes.

Soils.  The soils on volcanic rocks are mostly Lithic Xeric Torriorthents, Lithic and Xeric Torripsamments, Xerollic Camborthids, Lithic Xerollic and Typic Argixerolls, Palexerollic Durixerolls, Xerollic and shallow Haploxerollic Durargids, Typic Durixeralfs, and Typic Chromoxererts.  Those on other kinds of rock are mostly shallow Typic Torriorthents and Torripsamments, shallow Entic Haploxerolls, Typic Argixerolls, and Lithic Xerollic Haplargids.  Soils on fans and basin floors are Typic Torriorthents; Xeric Torripsamments; Xerollic, Duric, and Durixerollic Haplargids; Haploxerollic Durorthids; and Aeric Haplaquepts.  The soils are well drained, except for somewhat poorly drained soils on basin floors.  Those on glacial till are mostly Xeric Torriorthents and Aridic Haploxerolls.  Soil temperature regimes are mostly mesic and frigid, but cryic at the  highest and thermic at the lowest elevations.  Soil moisture regimes are aridic and xeric.

Vegetation.   The predominant natural plant communities are Big sagebrush series and Singleleaf pinyon series.  Jeffrey pine series occurs at higher elevations, and Black bush series occurs on the Tablelands south of the Benton Range.  Other series in this subsection are Lodgepole pine at higher elevations, Aspen in areas where snow accumulates, Bitterbrush, and Curlleaf mountain mahogany.  Willow thicket alliances in wet areas.  Pumice forb habitats are present, but lack a description.  There is a minor amount of Shadscale series on the lower end of the Tablelands.

Characteristic series by lifeform include:

Grasslands: Alkali sacaton  series, Ashy ryegrass series, Creeping ryegrass series, Indian ricegrass series, Needle-and-thread series, Saltgrass series.

Shrublands: Allscale series, Big sagebrush series, Black bush series, Bitterbrush series, Low sagebrush series, Mixed saltbush series, Rarry rabbitbrush series, Rubber rabbitbrush  series, Shadscale series, Tobacco brush series.

Forests and woodlands: Jeffrey pine series,  Singleleaf pinyon series, Utah juniper series.
Climate.  The mean annual precipitation is about 12 to 25 inches.  Much of the precipitation is snow.  Mean annual temperature is about 35 to 54 F.  The mean freeze-free period is in the range from 100 to 150 days.

Surface Water.  Runoff is rapid from mountains, hills, and fans and slow on basin floors.  Most of it, even from formerly closed Long Valley, drains to the Owens River, but some drains to Mono Lake.   Most streams are dry most of each year.  Only the Owens River and streams from the Sierra Nevada run water through the summer. 

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