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Aspen Stand

aspen

Click on each section to find out about species found in Aspen Stands 


Aspen stands occur in moist areas of the cooler middle and upper grasslands, often in association with small ponds and wetlands, but also in swales and depressions where moisture accumulates. Shrubs, grasses, and a wide variety of forbs grow underneath the trembling aspen trees, providing habitat for many animals. Broken trees and cavities in trunks add to the diversity of habitats found in these small deciduous patches.

Aspen occasionally grows from seed, but most often grows from suckers after a disturbance. This life cycle results in dense patches of trees that share similar genetics. This close genetic relationship is demonstrated by the similar shades of bright yellow leaves in some stands in the fall.

Aspen provide habitat for many important grasslands species. Cavity-nesting birds such as Red-naped Sapsucker, Mountain Bluebird, and Tree Swallow are common in the aspen stands. Red-naped Sapsuckers also feed on the sap of the trees, leaving their characteristic horizontal line of small holes. Tree Swallows feed on flying insects, while House Wrens glean for insects, spiders and millipedes.

White-tailed and Mule deer browse on the shoots and leaves of the many shrubs and Black Bears eat Saskatoon berries and dig up plants; all use these cooler shady areas to bed down at night. Ruffed Grouse and Blue Grouse are found in aspen stands year round, while Sharp-tailed Grouse use them mainly in the fall and winter. Many snakes, such as the Common Terrestrial Garter Snake, use these areas to get out of the hot summer sun; they may be found near water sources in aspen stands during the spring and summer; however, they migrate to rocky talus and rock outcrop areas to hibernate during the cooler months.

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Photos by:

Don Blumenauer (Aspen Stand)