Click on each section to find out about species found in gullies
When seen from overhead, gullies appear to flow like ribbons through the grassland landscape. They were formed by ancient rivers that flowed across the landscape after the ice retreated 10,000 years ago. Today the water is largely gone but the narrow, sometimes deep, ravines remain to provide special growing conditions for plants and habitats for animals.
Gullies are often sheltered from the hot sun, making them cooler and moister than the surrounding grasslands and allowing shrubs and trees to grow, such as ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir. Many have water flowing through them in the spring from melting snow, but by summer they are usually dry. Trembling aspen are common in gullies, as are common snowberry and false Solomon’s seal.
Gullies act as corridors when they connect higher and lower elevation grasslands, allowing some animals to move from one part of their habitat to another. California Bighorn Sheep use gullies to move between grassland benches or to escape from predators. Gullies are also important feeding grounds for some animals during particular times of the year. Black Bears move into moist gullies in early fall in search of the abundant Saskatoon berries; songbirds nest and raise young there in spring and summer; Sharp-tailed, Blue and Ruffed grouse eat buds of shrubs and distribute seeds during the fall and winter.
Want to find out more about the retreat of ice at the end of the Ice Age?
Go to Grasslands Geology
Want to find out more about open grasslands?
Click here to go back to Communities and Habitats
Other communities in cross section
Rocky Talus Slopes/Rock Outcrop
Open Coniferous Forest
Closed Coniferous Patch
Nichole Prichard (Gully)