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Aspen (Populus tremuloides), willows (Salix spp.), and other deciduous shrubs and trees occupied a relatively small portion of the primeval Northern Yellowstone Range (hereafter referred to as the Northern Range1). However, these plant communities provided critical habitat for diverse flora and fauna. Consequently, aspen, willows, and cottonwoods were vitally important for biodiversity across the landscape, and these plant communities played a pivotal role in how the primeval ecosystem functioned sustainably since the last Ice Age.
Charles E. Kay, The Condition and Trend of Aspen, Willows, and Associated Species on the Northern Yellowstone Range, Rangelands, 40(6), 2018, 202-211, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rala.2018.10.005.