Coastal vegetation of Izembek National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), westernmost Alaska Peninsula, Alaska

Stephen S. TALBOT1 & Sandra L. TALBOT2
1 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, USA
2 U.S. Geological Survey, Anchorage, USA

A phytosociological analysis of the coastal vegetation of Izembek National Wildlife Refuge was carried out in the major beach and dune communities. Fifty-one relevés represent the range of structural and compositional variation in the matrix of vegetation and landform zonation at seven locations. Data are primarily analyzed using multivariate methods that include a numerical procedure that produces results similar to traditional phytosociological tabular classification. Six vegetation types are distinguished: 1) Honckenya peploides beach, 2) Leymus mollis-Senecio pseudoarnica beach meadow, 3) Lathyrus japonicus var. maritimus-Leymus mollis foredune meadow, 4) Aconitum maximum-Heracleum maximum meadow, 5) Fragaria chiloensis-Leymus mollis dune meadow, and 6) Empetrum nigrum-Festuca altaica dune heath. The structure, composition, and environmental features of these types are interpreted in response to a complex gradient primarily influenced by distance from the sea, pH, and elevation. The vascular flora is dominated by circumpolar species and also includes floristic elements with a strong eastern Asian and Eurasian distribution. Phytogeographic comparison of Izembek NWR plant communities with those of eastern Kamchatka and the central and western Aleutian Islands indicates a close relationship to beach and beach meadow types and a weaker relationship to meadow types. This is the first use of the relevé method in the western Alaska Peninsula and provides a basis for future comparison with other studies.

© 2012 Organizing Committee