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Quercus prinus / Quercus ilicifolia / Danthonia spicata Woodland
Translated Name: Chestnut Oak / Bear Oak / Poverty Oatgrass Woodland
Common Name: Central Appalachian Xeric Shale Woodland (Chestnut Oak / Mixed Herbs Type)
Unique Identifier: CEGL008526
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: The known range of this vegetation type includes the extreme northern end of the Southern Blue Ridge, the western flank of the Northern Blue Ridge, and the Ridge and Valley region of Virginia and Maryland. The likely global range encompasses the entire Central Appalachian extent of these provinces in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Stands are generally confined to low elevations, up to about 840 m (2760 feet), but exceptionally to 1100 m (3600 feet). Habitats are mostly steep, south- to west-facing, middle to upper slopes with abundant shale outcrops, loose stones, and exposed mineral soils. However, substrates appear to be relatively stable and lack the ongoing erosional processes of shale barrens, which these habitats often border on the landscape. Slope shape is typically convex in at least one direction. Site moisture potential is very low. This community is an open to very open woodland dominated by Quercus prinus. Overstory trees are often stunted and gnarled. Quercus rubra and Carya glabra are constant, usually minor canopy associates that attain codominance with Quercus prinus locally. Pinus virginiana is an important canopy associate in some situations, but is entirely absent from other stands of the type. Understory tree layers are sparse, consisting mostly of younger reproduction of the canopy species. Quercus ilicifolia, Vaccinium stamineum, and Vaccinium pallidum are the chief species of a patchy shrub layer, which may also include Rosa carolina, Amelanchier arborea, and Viburnum rafinesquianum. Quercus ilicifolia usually forms open colonies in this community type, rather than the dense thickets characteristic in pyrophytic pine-oak/heath vegetation. The herb layer is typically quite patchy and sparse but contains a surprising diversity of xerophytic graminoids and forbs.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: This community type is floristically similar to Pinus virginiana - Quercus prinus / Quercus ilicifolia / (Hieracium greenii, Viola pedata) Woodland (CEGL008525) but differs in the dominance of hardwoods (versus Pinus virginiana) and in its much greater herbaceous diversity and overall species richness (n = 33 versus 15 per 400 square meters). Edaphic stresses are probably the most important ecological factor maintaining this woodland, but many stands have undoubtedly been influenced by periodic fires as well, which may account for some of the compositional differences with CEGL008525. Although soil samples collected from plots of both community types were similar in pH and base status, we suspect that differences in soil fertility, texture, and/or stability may also distinguish these types. More intensive study of the environmental differences between the two units is warranted. In a regional analysis (1134 plots from Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia) for the Southern Appalachian portion of the Appalachian Trail, a small group of nine plots was classified as this association (Fleming and Patterson 2009a). This association is represented by a total of 18 plots (12 Virginia, 6 Maryland).

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 1 - Forest & Woodland
Subclass 1.B - Temperate & Boreal Forest & Woodland
Formation 1.B.2 - Cool Temperate Forest & Woodland
Division 1.B.2.Na - Eastern North American Forest & Woodland
Macrogroup Appalachian-Northeastern Oak - Hardwood - Pine Forest & Woodland
Group Appalachian Oak / Chestnut Forest
Alliance Northern Red Oak - Chestnut Oak Woodland

This is the revised vegetation hierarchy. For more information see Classification Sources and usnvc.org.

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL003624 Pinus virginiana / Vaccinium pallidum / Schizachyrium scoparium - Carex pensylvanica Woodland
CEGL004821 Pinus rigida - Quercus prinus / Gaylussacia baccata / Carex pensylvanica Woodland
CEGL008525 Pinus virginiana - Quercus prinus / Quercus ilicifolia / (Hieracium greenii, Viola pedata) Woodland
CEGL008540 Quercus prinus - Pinus virginiana - (Pinus pungens) / Schizachyrium scoparium - Dichanthelium depauperatum Woodland



Related Concepts from Other Classifications

Related Subnational Community Units
These data are subject to substantial ongoing revision and may be out of date for some states.
In the U.S., contact the state Heritage Program for the most complete and up-to-date information at: http://www.natureserve.org/natureserve-network.
Information from programs in other jurisdictions will be posted when they are made available.
Subnation Concept Name Relationship to Standard Confidence Reference
Maryland Quercus prinus / Quercus ilicifolia / Danthonia spicata - Solidago bicolor Woodland Equivalent Certain Harrison 2011


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Pinus pungens - Pinus rigida / Quercus ilicifolia / Gaylussacia baccata Association: Andropogon scoparius - Coreopsis verticillata - Dichanthelium depauperatum Subassociation, pro parte
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Rawinski, T. J., K. N. Hickman, J. Waller-Eling, G. P. Fleming, C. S. Austin, S. D. Helmick, C. Huber, G. Kappesser, F. C. Huber, Jr., T. Bailey, and T. K. Collins. 1996. Plant communities and ecological land units of the Glenwood Ranger District, George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage. Natural Heritage Technical Report 96-20. Richmond. 65 pp. plus appendices.
Related Concept Name: Quercus montana / Quercus ilicifolia / Danthonia spicata Woodland
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, K. D. Patterson, and K. Taverna. 2006. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Version 2.2. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/ncTIV.shtml]
Related Concept Name: Quercus prinus / Quercus ilicifolia / Danthonia spicata - Solidago bicolor Woodland
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, K. D. Patterson, and K. M. McCoy. 2004. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Natural Heritage Technical Report 04-01. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/dnh/ncintro.htm]
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P., and P. P. Coulling. 2001. Ecological communities of the George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Preliminary classification and description of vegetation types. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 317 pp.
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Harrison, J. W., compiler. 2004. Classification of vegetation communities of Maryland: First iteration. A subset of the International Classification of Ecological Communities: Terrestrial Vegetation of the United States, NatureServe. Maryland Natural Heritage Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis. 243 pp.
Related Concept Name: Central Appalachian Shale Barren
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, D. P. Walton, K. M. McCoy, and M. R. Parrish. 2001. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. First approximation. Natural Heritage Technical Report 01-1. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 76 pp.
Related Concept Name: Chestnut Oak Forest
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Harrison, J. W., compiler. 2004. Classification of vegetation communities of Maryland: First iteration. A subset of the International Classification of Ecological Communities: Terrestrial Vegetation of the United States, NatureServe. Maryland Natural Heritage Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis. 243 pp.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.598 Appalachian Shale Barrens
CES202.600 Central Appalachian Pine-Oak Rocky Woodland


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3? (24Feb2010)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: The known range of this shale woodland includes the extreme northern end of the Southern Blue Ridge, the western flank of the Northern Blue Ridge, and the Ridge and Valley region of Virginia and Maryland. This community is probably more widespread than documented, although still fairly range-limited, and forms large patches in some shale landscapes. It is of likely occurrence in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: MD, PApotentially occurs, VA, WVpotentially occurs
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: The known range of this community includes the extreme northern end of the Southern Blue Ridge, the western flank of the Northern Blue Ridge, and the Ridge and Valley region of Virginia and Maryland. The likely global range encompasses the entire Central Appalachians extent of these provinces in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Humid Temperate Domain
Division Name: Hot Continental Regime Mountains
Province Name: Central Appalachian Broadleaf Forest - Coniferous Forest - Meadow Province
Province Code: M221 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Northern Ridge and Valley Section
Section Code: M221A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Blue Ridge Mountains Section
Section Code: M221D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: This community is an open to very open woodland dominated by Quercus prinus. Overstory trees are often stunted and gnarled. Quercus rubra and Carya glabra are constant, usually minor canopy associates that attain codominance with Quercus prinus locally. Pinus virginiana is an important canopy associate in some situations, but is entirely absent from other stands of the type. Understory tree layers are sparse, consisting mostly of younger reproduction of the canopy species. Quercus ilicifolia, Vaccinium stamineum, and Vaccinium pallidum are the chief species of a patchy shrub layer, which may also include Rosa carolina, Amelanchier arborea, and Viburnum rafinesquianum. Quercus ilicifolia usually forms open colonies in this community type, rather than the dense thickets characteristic in pyrophytic pine-oak/heath vegetation. The herb layer is typically quite patchy and sparse, but contains a surprising diversity of xerophytic graminoids and forbs. The most characteristic herbs are Danthonia spicata, Carex pensylvanica, Solidago bicolor, Houstonia longifolia, Hieracium greenii, Symphyotrichum undulatum (= Aster undulatus), Potentilla canadensis, Penstemon canescens, and Polygonatum biflorum. Species that are less constant but locally important include Paronychia montana, Parthenium integrifolium, Silene caroliniana ssp. pensylvanica, Aureolaria laevigata, Coreopsis major, Campanula divaricata, Solidago erecta, Cunila origanoides, Antennaria virginica, Phlox latifolia, Helianthus laevigatus, and Liatris pilosa (= Liatris graminifolia). Scattered individuals of shale barren endemics such as Packera antennariifolia (= Senecio antennariifolius) and Clematis albicoma occasionally occur in this community, particularly where stands border well-developed shale barrens, but are not characteristic. Species richness of plot-sampled stands ranges from 16 to 64 taxa per 400 square meters (mean = 33).

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Carya glabra G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Quercus prinus G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Pinus virginiana G3 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Quercus ilicifolia G3 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Buckleya distichophylla G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Coreopsis verticillata G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Hieracium greenii G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Houstonia longifolia G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Parthenium integrifolium G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Solidago bicolor G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Viola pedata G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex pensylvanica G3 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Danthonia spicata G3 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Buckleya distichophylla
  (Piratebush)
G3  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: With the exception of one site underlain by Tuscarora quartzite, plot-sampling locations are underlain by Devonian and Ordovician shales or Cambrian metashale, metasiltstone, and phyllite of the Hampton and Harper's Formations. Stands are generally confined to low elevations, up to about 840 m (2760 feet), but exceptionally reach 1100 m (3600 feet). Habitats are mostly steep (mean in plots = 23), south to west-facing, middle to upper slopes with abundant outcrops, loose stones, and exposed mineral soils. However, substrates appear to be relatively stable and lack the ongoing erosional processes of shale barrens, which these habitats often border on the landscape. Slope shape is typically convex in at least one direction. Site moisture potential is very low. Soils are shallow, extremely acidic (mean pH = 4.4), with low calcium and magnesium levels, and high levels of iron and aluminum.


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): G. Fleming and P. Coulling
Element Description Edition Date: 24Feb2010
Element Description Author(s): G. Fleming and P. Coulling
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 24Feb2010
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): G.P. Fleming

Ecological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).


References
  • Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, D. P. Walton, K. M. McCoy, and M. R. Parrish. 2001. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. First approximation. Natural Heritage Technical Report 01-1. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 76 pp.

  • Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, K. D. Patterson, and K. M. McCoy. 2004. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Natural Heritage Technical Report 04-01. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/dnh/ncintro.htm]

  • Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, K. D. Patterson, and K. Taverna. 2006. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Version 2.2. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/ncTIV.shtml]

  • Fleming, G. P., and K. D. Patterson. 2009a. A vegetation classification for the Appalachian Trail: Virginia south to Georgia. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage. In-house analysis, March 2009.

  • Fleming, G. P., and K. D. Patterson. 2009b. Classification of selected Virginia montane wetland groups. In-house analysis, December 2009. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.

  • Fleming, G. P., and K. D. Patterson. 2011a. Natural communities of Virginia: Ecological groups and community types. Natural Heritage Technical Report 11-07. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 34 pp.

  • Fleming, G. P., and K. Taverna. 2006. Vegetation classification for the National Capitol Region parks, western region. Regional (VA-WVA-MD-DC) analysis prepared for NatureServe and USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program, March 2006. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.

  • Fleming, G. P., and P. P. Coulling. 2001. Ecological communities of the George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Preliminary classification and description of vegetation types. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 317 pp.

  • Harrison, J. W. 2011. The natural communities of Maryland: 2011 working list of ecological community groups and community types. Unpublished report. Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife and Heritage Service, Natural Heritage Program, Annapolis. 33 pp.

  • Harrison, J. W., compiler. 2004. Classification of vegetation communities of Maryland: First iteration. A subset of the International Classification of Ecological Communities: Terrestrial Vegetation of the United States, NatureServe. Maryland Natural Heritage Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis. 243 pp.

  • Rawinski, T. J., K. N. Hickman, J. Waller-Eling, G. P. Fleming, C. S. Austin, S. D. Helmick, C. Huber, G. Kappesser, F. C. Huber, Jr., T. Bailey, and T. K. Collins. 1996. Plant communities and ecological land units of the Glenwood Ranger District, George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage. Natural Heritage Technical Report 96-20. Richmond. 65 pp. plus appendices.


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