Description and Ecology: The shrubs that form dominant stands in mountain shrubland are
mountain mahogany, serviceberry, and/or Gambel oak. This habitat occurs from the upper limit
of grasslands and pinyon-juniper up into the lower transition zone forests of mountain shrubland,
Douglas-fir, and aspen, roughly 1700 to 2600 m (5,500-8,500 ft) in elevation. Other plants
associated with mountain shrublands include snowberry, common chokecherry, skunkbrush,
sumac, Ceanothus spp., elk sedge, and numerous grass and forb species. Big and silver sagebrush
stands form mosaics with these other shrubs, especially on deeper, more level soils.
Gambel oak vigorously re-sprouts from stem bases or from underground tubers and rhizomes
following fire. It is extremely fire tolerant. Gambel oak can recover to original heights from a fire
in 30 to 40 years. A healthy stand of Gambel oak contains shrubs of varying heights and has
robust native bunchgrasses and forbs growing between them and relatively little bare ground.
Importance and Conservation Status: This is an often-overlooked habitat type, perhaps because
of its limited utilization by humans. Mountain shrubland is occasionally cleared to increase forage
for livestock or big game, to the detriment of shrub-nesting bird species. Housing and associated
development consume and fragment this habitat.
Priority Species Accounts: Two species are identified as high priority in mountain shrubland habitats
in Physiographic Area 87: Common Poorwill and Virginia's Warbler.