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Algific talus slope This rare community of southwestern Wisconsin’s Driftless Area consists of steep slopes of fractured limestone (dolomite) rock that retains ice and emits cold air throughout the growing season. The cold microhabitats enable the persistence of northern species and "periglacial relicts" such as northern monkshood (Aconitum noveboracense) and rare terrestrial snails. The woody overstory is often sparse, with scattered small black ash (Fraxinus nigra) and white birch (Betula papyrifera). Mountain maple (Acer spicatum), a northern shrub, may be frequent and extensive beds of bulblet fern (Cystopteris bulbifera) and mosses are characteristic.
Bedrock glade These are xeric, sparsely vegetated non-vertical bedrock exposures with very thin, often discontinous soils. The rock types vary from quartzite (Baraboo Hills, McCaslin Mountain), to basalt (lower St. Croix River valley), to granite (northeastern Wisconsin). The flora can include prairie, savanna, or barrens components, some at their northern range limits. Trees and shrubs are sparse and may include pines, oaks, and cherries. Xerophytic pteridophytes such as rusty woodsia (Woodsia ilvensis) and rock spikemoss (Selaginella rupestris) are characteristic, as are lichens and mosses.
Felsenmeer Quartzite or other metamorphic or igneous rock talus slope or “felsenmeer” communities characterized by all-summer upwellings of cool, moist air near or at their bases. It is not certain whether year-round ice deposits are responsible for the upwelling. Glacière talus forms as the result of periglacial frost and ice-wedging; quartzite, in particular, is a brittle rock that is susceptible to frost-wedging. The talus slopes themselves consist of lichened boulders ranging from 0.25-1 m in diameter. Nearly all sites (except the one at Devils Lake, Wisconsin) occur in areas that were glaciated during the Pleistocene. At the best-developed examples (Ouimet and Cavern Lake Canyons in Ontario, the Blue Hills Felsenmeer in Wisconsin), a double talus slope embracing a V-shaped valley may be present.