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Ecological Sections: Mono

Subsection 341De
Bodie Hills - Excelsior Mountains

This subsection includes the Excelsior Mountains; the Bodie, Anchorite, and Adobe Hills; and the Alkali and Huntoon Valleys.  These hills and valleys are north and east of Mono lake.  The climate is cold and semi-arid.  MLRA 26f.

Lithology and Stratigraphy.  Pliocene and some Quaternary basalt and more silicic volcanic rocks predominate in this subsection.  There is some granitic and no other kinds of rock, except in the Excelsior Mountains.  In those mountains there are upper Paleozoic and lower Mesozoic volcanic and sedimentary, Mesozoic granitic, and Tertiary volcanic rocks.  Quaternary alluvium fills Alkali and Huntoon Valleys.

Geomorphology.   The landforms are mostly moderately steep to steep hills, steep mountains, and gently to moderately sloping volcanic flows.  The elevation range is from about 5200 feet up to 10,235 feet at Potato Peak on Bodie Mountain.  Volcanic craters and cones are common in the hills.  The hills lack definite elongation and orientation, except Anchorite Hills which are aligned toward the north-northeast.  The Excelsior Mountains are elongated and have three segments aligned north-northeast, northeast, and east-northeast.   Mass wasting, volcanism, fluvial erosion and deposition, and freeze-thaw are the main geomorphic processes.

Soils.  The soils on volcanic rocks are mostly Lithic Mollic Haploxeralfs, Lithic and Typic Argixerolls, shallow Xerollic Durargids, Abruptic Durixeralfs, Mollic Palexeralfs, and Typic, Vitrandic, and Argic Cryoborolls.  Soils in the Excelsior Mountains are mostly Lithic and Typic Xerorthents, Lithic and Typic Xeropsamments, Mollic Camborthids, Mollic Haplargids, and Mollic Durorthids.  The soils are well drained.  Soil temperature regimes are mostly frigid, and cryic at higher elevations.  Soil moisture regimes are aridic and xeric (nearly aridic).

Vegetation.   The predominant natural plant communities are Big sagebrush  series, Singleleaf pinyon series, and Utah juniper series.  Low sagebrush series occurs on shallow soils.

Characteristic series by lifeform include:

Grasslands: Indian ricegrass series, Needle-and-thread series.

Shrublands: Big sagebrush series, Bitterbrush series, Low sagebrush series, Rubber rabbitbrush series.

Forests and woodlands: Singleleaf pinyon series, Singleleaf pinyon - Utah juniper series, Utah juniper.
Climate.  The mean annual precipitation is about 12 to 25 inches.  Much of the precipitation is snow.  Mean annual temperature is about 32 to 48 F.  The mean freeze-free period is in the range from 25 to 100 days.

Surface Water.  Runoff is rapid.  Most of it drains to Mono Lake on the southwest or to Walker Lake.  Huntoon Valley is in the bottom of a closed basin.  Streams are dry most of each year.  There are some closed depression in volcanic terrain, but they are generally dry. 

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