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For information on Wisconsin's natural communities, contact:
Ryan O'Connor
Natural Heritage Inventory Ecologist

Glaciere Talus (Felsenmeer)

State Rank: S2     Global Rank: G2G3   what are these ranks?


Detailed Community Description from Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin

General natural community overview

Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for Glaciere Talus (Felsenmeer) in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database.

Glaciere talus, felsenmeer, is a rare open primary community that consists of steep slopes of quartzite or other metamorphic rock boulders (0.25-1 meter in diameter) formed by periglacial frost and ice-wedging, and is characterize by cool, moist air drainage at or near the base. The vegetation is fairly sparse but may be structurally variable. Lichens (Lasallia spp.) are the dominant cover on the boulders. Scattered soil pockets may occur and support scattered white and red pines (Pinus strobus and P. resinosa) often in association with mossy beds of common polypody (Polypodium virginianum) or marginal shield fern (Dryopteris marginalis). The slope base in the zone of cool air drainage is typically shrub dominated and may include a number of species somewhat disjunct from their more northern ranges, such as squash-berry (Viburnum edule) and Canada gooseberry (Ribes oxyacanthoides). Other frequently occurring shrub or small tree species are Labrador-tea (Rhododendron groenlandicum), mountain maple (Acer spicatum), mountain ash (Sorbus spp.), and red-berried elder (Sambucus pubens). The vine, purple clematis (Clematis occidentalis) and tree, balsam fir (Abies balsamea) may also be present. This community type has been incompletely surveyed and occurrences should be carefully examined for rare bryophytes, lichens, and terrestrial snails.

Rare animals

Species of Greatest Conservation Need

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

The following Species of Greatest Conservation Need are listed according to their level of association with the Glaciere Talus (Felsenmeer) natural community type, based on the findings in Wisconsin's 2015 Wildlife Action Plan.

Scores: 3 = high association, 2 = moderate association, and 1 = low association. See the key to association scores for complete definitions.

Big Brown BatEptesicus fuscus1
Little Brown BatMyotis lucifugus1
Northern Long-eared BatMyotis septentrionalis1
Tricolored BatPerimyotis subflavus1

Gray RatsnakePantherophis spiloides1
Timber RattlesnakeCrotalus horridus1

Please see Section 2. Approach and Methods of the Wildlife Action Plan to learn how this information was developed.

Rare plants

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

Scores: 3 = "significantly associated," 2 = "moderately associated," and 1 = "minimally associated."
Scientific Name Common Name Score
Ribes oxyacanthoides ssp. oxyacanthoides Canadian Gooseberry 3
Viburnum edule Squashberry 3


The following Ecological Landscapes have the best opportunities to manage for Glaciere Talus (Felsenmeer), based on the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin Handbook.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Ecological LandscapeOpportunity
North Central ForestMajor
Forest TransitionImportant
Northeast SandsImportant
Western Coulee and RidgesImportant

Major (3 on map)
A major opportunity for sustaining the natural community in the Ecological Landscape exists, either because many significant occurrences of the natural community have been recorded in the landscape or major restoration activities are likely to be successful maintaining the community's composition, structure, and ecological function over a longer period of time.

Important (2 on map)
Although the natural community does not occur extensively or commonly in the Ecological Landscape, one to several occurrences do occur and are important in sustaining the community in the state. In some cases, important opportunities may exist because the natural community may be restricted to just one or a few Ecological Landscapes within the state and there may be a lack of opportunities elsewhere.

Present (1 on map)
The natural community occurs in the Ecological Landscape, but better management opportunities appear to exist in other parts of the state.


Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

What are conservation actions?

Conservation actions respond to issues or threats, which adversely affect species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) or their habitats. Besides actions such as restoring wetlands or planting resilient tree species in northern communities, research, surveys and monitoring are also among conservation actions described in the WWAP because lack of information can threaten our ability to successfully preserve and care for natural resources.

Threats/issues and conservations actions for natural communities


Glaciere Talus (Felsenmeer) Photos

Glaciere Talus (Felsenmeer) Photo

This glaciere talus, also known as a felsenmeer ("Sea of Rocks"), consists of quartzite talus in the Blue Hills. The unusual flora includes rare lichens and vascular plants.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Glaciere Talus (Felsenmeer) Photo

Glaciere talus composed of large angular blocks of rocks such as quartzite. Normally pinkish in color, it appears gray due to lichens that cover the talus.

Photo by Ryan O'Connor.

Glaciere Talus (Felsenmeer) Photo

A broad slope of glaciere talus mixed with a sparse canopy of white pine can be seen in the background along East Bluff at Devil's Lake State Park.

Photo by Ryan O'Connor.

Note: photos are provided to illustrate various examples of natural community types. A single photograph cannot represent the range of variability inherent in a given community type. Some of these photos explicitly illustrate unusual and distinctive community variants. The community photo galleries are a work in progress that we will expand and improve in the future.

Last revised: Tuesday, August 30, 2022