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Ecological Sections: Mono

Subsection 341Dj
White Mountains

This subsection comprises the White Mountains, the highest mountain range in the Great Basin.  It has a temperate to very cold, arid to semi-arid climate.  MLRA 26f.

Lithology and Stratigraphy.  Mesozoic granitic, Cambrian marine sedimentary, Precambrian sedimentary and Pre-Cretaceous metamorphic rocks predominate in this subsection.  There is Quaternary glacial till in many of the canyons on the east side of the mountains, but it is not extensive.

Geomorphology.   The landforms are steep to very steep mountains with narrow to broad ridge tops.  They are aligned toward the north-northeast.  The elevation range is  from about 5000 feet up to 14,246 feet on White Mountain Peak.  Much of the main ridge is above 12,000 feet.  Mass wasting, fluvial erosion, and freeze-thaw are the main geomorphic processes.

Soils.  The soils are mostly shallow in Typic subgroups of Torriorthents, Cryopsamments, and Haplargids, shallow Entic Haploxerolls, and Dystric Xeropsamments on granitic rocks and Lithic Torriorthents, Lithic Xerollic Haplargids, and Typic and Aridic Argixerolls on other kinds of rocks.  The soils are well drained.  Soil temperature regimes are mesic, frigid, and cryic.  Soil moisture regimes are mostly aridic, and some xeric.

Vegetation.   The predominant natural plant communities are Shadscale series at lower elevations; Big sagebrush, Utah juniper, and Singleleaf pinyon series at intermediate elevations; Five-leaved pine forest alliances at higher elevations; and communities of Alpine habitats at the highest elevations.  At intermediate elevations, Low sagebrush series is common on shallow soils and Black sagebrush series is common on limestone and dolomite.  At higher elevations, the five-leaved pine forests are Limber pine series on granitic rocks and Bristlecone pine series on limestone and dolomite.  Curlleaf mountain mahogany is another common series.   Aspen series occurs on the east slopes of the mountain range.  Lodgepole pine series is less common.

Characteristic series by lifeform include:

Grasslands: Alpine habitat, Beaked sedge series, Creeping ryegrass series, Indian ricegrass series, Nebraska sedge series, Needle-and-thread series, Rocky Mountain series, Short sedge series, Tufted hairgrass series.

Shrublands: Allscale series, Big sagebrush series, Black sagebrush series, Bittlebrush series, Fourwing saltbush series, Low sagebrush series, Mixed saltbush series, Shadscale series,

Forests and woodlands: Aspen series, Bristlecone pine series, Curlleaf mountain-mahogany series, Limber pine series, Lodgepole pine series,  Singleleaf pinyon series, Singleleaf pinyon  Utah juniper series, Utah juniper series.
Climate.  The mean annual precipitation is about 8 to 20 inches.  Much of the precipitation is snow.  Mean annual temperature is about 30 to 50 F.  The mean freeze-free period is in the range from < 25 to 150 days.

Surface Water.  Runoff is rapid.  Steams are dry most of each year. 

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