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(Morella cerifera) / Panicum virgatum - Spartina patens Wet Meadow
Translated Name: (Wax-myrtle) / Switchgrass - Saltmeadow Cordgrass Wet Meadow
Common Name: Interdune Switchgrass Brackish Depression
Unique Identifier: CEGL004129
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association occurs in seasonally flooded basins, or interdunal swales, landward of maritime backdunes along the mid-Atlantic Coast. The water table is at or close to the surface in the spring. Freshwater maintains these depressions as saturated or seasonally flooded and somewhat poorly drained. The community is generally strongly dominated by Panicum virgatum but can be variable in its expression. Associated species include Spartina patens, Juncus canadensis, Solidago sempervirens, Eleocharis palustris, Eleocharis albida, Eleocharis quadrangulata, Schoenoplectus pungens, Saccharum giganteum, Cladium mariscoides, Triadenum virginicum, Diodia virginiana, Toxicodendron radicans, Linum medium, Carex longii, and Euthamia caroliniana (= Euthamia tenuifolia). This community is typically dominated by 40-85% cover of Panicum virgatum and occurs in larger interdunal depressions (up to one-half hectare). Variability occurs in the cover of Panicum virgatum and the richness of associated species. When Panicum virgatum is not as dense, it is most often associated with an even mixture of Schoenoplectus pungens (= Scirpus pungens) or Spartina patens. In some cases, Morella cerifera (= Myrica cerifera) or Baccharis halimifolia constitute less than 10% shrub cover, but shrub cover is usually much less or absent, and other herbs codominate. Soils are characterized by a shallow organic layer (usually a few centimeters in depth) overlying loamy sand or sand. The range of this vegetation is poorly known due to the low confidence of the classification. The vegetation is similar in total floristic composition to Morella (cerifera, pensylvanica) - Vaccinium corymbosum Wet Shrubland (CEGL003906), but shrubs are generally lacking or at very low cover, and grasses are much more abundant. The community apparently occurs in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and may extend to North Carolina, but the full range will require further study.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low
Classification Comments: In some cases, the vegetation is similar in total floristic composition to Morella (cerifera, pensylvanica) - Vaccinium corymbosum Wet Shrubland (CEGL003906), but shrubs are generally lacking or at very low cover and grasses are much more abundant. It is somewhat similar to Panicum virgatum - Spartina patens - Carex silicea Salt Marsh (CEGL006150), but that association is brackish, tidal, and occurs on the upper edges of salt marshes.

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 2 - Shrub & Herb Vegetation
Subclass 2.C - Shrub & Herb Wetland
Formation 2.C.4 - Temperate to Polar Freshwater Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Division 2.C.4.Ne - Atlantic & Gulf Coastal Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Macrogroup Atlantic & Gulf Coastal Plain Wet Prairie & Marsh
Group Northern & Mid-Atlantic Coastal Wetland
Alliance Coastal Switchgrass Wet Meadow

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL003839 Morella cerifera / Spartina patens Wet Shrubland
CEGL003906 Morella (cerifera, pensylvanica) - Vaccinium corymbosum Wet Shrubland
CEGL006150 Panicum virgatum - Spartina patens - Carex silicea Salt Marsh
CEGL006444 Morella pensylvanica - Toxicodendron radicans / Typha latifolia Wet Shrubland



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
Delaware Interdune Switchgrass Brackish Depression Equivalent Certain Coxe 2009
Maryland (Morella cerifera) - Panicum virgatum - Spartina patens Herbaceous Vegetation Equivalent Certain Harrison 2011
New Jersey Panicum virgatum - Spartina patens Herbaceous Vegetation Equivalent Certain Breden et al. 2001
North Carolina Maritime Wet Grassland (Switchgrass Subtype) Equivalent Certain Schafale 2012


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: (Morella cerifera) - Panicum virgatum - Spartina patens Herbaceous Vegetation
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: Panicum virgatum - Spartina patens Herbaceous Vegetation
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Bowman, P. 2000. Draft classification for Delaware. Unpublished draft. Delaware Natural Heritage Program.
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Harrison, J. W., and P. Stango, III. 2003. Shrubland tidal wetland communities of Maryland's Eastern Shore: Identification, assessment and monitoring. Maryland Natural Heritage Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis. 118 pp.
Related Concept Name: Panicum virgatum Wetland Association
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Heckscher, C. M., W. A. McAvoy, and K. Clancy. 1995. Biological assessment of the Milford Neck Preserve. Division of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Delaware Natural Heritage Program, Smyrna, DE. 29 pp.
Related Concept Name: Fresh marsh community
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Hill, S. R. 1986. An annotated checklist of the vascular flora of Assateague Island (Maryland and Virginia). Castanea 5:265-305.
Related Concept Name: Freshwater marsh
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Fender, F. S. 1937. The flora of Seven Mile Beach, New Jersey. Bartonia 19:23-41.
Related Concept Name: Interdunal Swale
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.
Related Concept Name: Interdune Pond
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: Maritime Wet Grassland
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Schafale, M. P., and A. S. Weakley. 1990. Classification of the natural communities of North Carolina. Third approximation. North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh. 325 pp.
Related Concept Name: Maritime Wet Grassland (Switchgrass Subtype)
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Schafale, M. 2000. Fourth approximation guide. Coastal Plain. January 2000 draft. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.
Related Concept Name: Mesic shrub community
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Higgins, E. A. T., R. D. Rappleye, and R. G. Brown. 1971. The flora and ecology of Assateague Island. University of Maryland Experiment Station Bulletin A-172. 70 pp.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES203.258 Southeastern Coastal Plain Interdunal Wetland
CES203.264 Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain Dune and Swale


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G2G4 (19Jan2006)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: This small-patch wetland community is restricted to the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: DE, MApotentially occurs, MD, NC, NJ, VA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: The community apparently occurs in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and may extend to North Carolina and north to Massachusetts, but the full range will require further study.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Humid Temperate Domain
Division Name: Subtropical Division
Province Name: Outer Coastal Plain Mixed Forest Province
Province Code: 232 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Middle Atlantic Coastal Plain Section
Section Code: 232A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Coastal Plains and Flatwoods, Lower Section
Section Code: 232B Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Atlantic Coastal Flatwoods Section
Section Code: 232C Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: This community is generally strongly dominated by Panicum virgatum but can be variable in its expression. Associated species include Spartina patens, Juncus canadensis, Solidago sempervirens, Eleocharis palustris, Eleocharis albida, Eleocharis quadrangulata, Schoenoplectus pungens, Saccharum giganteum, Cladium mariscoides, Triadenum virginicum, Diodia virginiana, Toxicodendron radicans, Linum medium, Carex longii, and Euthamia caroliniana (= Euthamia tenuifolia). This community is typically dominated by 40-85% cover of Panicum virgatum and occurs in larger interdunal depressions (up to one-half hectare). Variability occurs in the cover of Panicum virgatum and the richness of associated species. When Panicum virgatum is not as dense, it is most often associated with an even mixture of Schoenoplectus pungens (= Scirpus pungens) or Spartina patens. In some cases, Morella cerifera (= Myrica cerifera) or Baccharis halimifolia constitute less than 10% shrub cover, but shrub cover is usually much less or absent, and other herbs codominate.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Panicum virgatum G3 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Schoenoplectus pungens G3 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Spartina patens G3 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: This association occurs in interdunal swales, or seasonally flooded basins, landward of maritime backdunes. The water table is at or close to the surface in the spring. Freshwater maintains these depressions as saturated or seasonally flooded and somewhat poorly drained. Soils are characterized by a shallow organic layer (usually a few centimeters in depth) overlying loamy sand or sand.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: This association likely comprises an intermediate phase of interdunal swale vegetation succession; as sites become less wet, shrub invade and the community may succeed to Morella cerifera - Vaccinium corymbosum Wet Shrubland (CEGL003906). This association also has similarity to, and may be a southern analog of, Panicum virgatum - Spartina patens - Carex silicea Salt Marsh (CEGL006150) (formerly Panicum virgatum - Carex silicea Herbaceous Vegetation), a brackish meadow association occurring from New Jersey northward. Freshwater interdunal swale wetlands occur in large dune systems that develop freshwater aquifers. Interdunal swale wetlands develop where the freshwater lens intersects the dune surface. The water table is a balance between input from precipitation and output from evapotranspiration or from drainage outlets. Perpetual drawdown tends to invoke successional shifts in vegetation from open water with or without submerged or floating aquatic plants, to emergent herbaceous vegetation to a series of shrubland associations as the duration of soil saturation decreases. Salix spp. are early pioneer shrubs, which can be displaced by other shrub species like Morella spp. as peat and or sediments accumulate.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): A. Berdine and L.A. Sneddon, mod. S.L. Neid
Element Description Edition Date: 15Oct2014
Element Description Author(s): L.A. Sneddon, S.L. Neid and J. Teague
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 19Jan2006
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): L.A. Sneddon

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


References
  • Berdine, M. A. 1998. Maryland vegetation classification. Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis, MD.

  • Bowman, P. 2000. Draft classification for Delaware. Unpublished draft. Delaware Natural Heritage Program.

  • Breden, T. F., Y. R. Alger, K. S. Walz, and A. G. Windisch. 2001. Classification of vegetation communities of New Jersey: Second iteration. Association for Biodiversity Information and New Jersey Natural Heritage Program, Office of Natural Lands Management, Division of Parks and Forestry, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Trenton.

  • Brock, J. C., C. W. Wright, M. Patterson, A. Naeghandi, and L. J. Travers. 2007. EAARL bare earth topography - Assateague Island National Seashore. U.S. Geological Survey Open File Report 2007-1176. [http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1176/start.html]

  • Coxe, R. 2009. Guide to Delaware vegetation communities. Spring 2009 edition. State of Delaware, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Delaware Natural Heritage Program, Smyrna.

  • Eastern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Boston, MA.

  • Fender, F. S. 1937. The flora of Seven Mile Beach, New Jersey. Bartonia 19:23-41.

  • Fleming, G. P. 2001a. Community types of Coastal Plain calcareous ravines in Virginia. Preliminary analysis and classification. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 4 pp.

  • 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., 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.

  • 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., and P. Stango, III. 2003. Shrubland tidal wetland communities of Maryland's Eastern Shore: Identification, assessment and monitoring. Maryland Natural Heritage Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis. 118 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.

  • Heckscher, C. M., W. A. McAvoy, and K. Clancy. 1995. Biological assessment of the Milford Neck Preserve. Division of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Delaware Natural Heritage Program, Smyrna, DE. 29 pp.

  • Higgins, E. A. T., R. D. Rappleye, and R. G. Brown. 1971. The flora and ecology of Assateague Island. University of Maryland Experiment Station Bulletin A-172. 70 pp.

  • Hill, S. R. 1986. An annotated checklist of the vascular flora of Assateague Island (Maryland and Virginia). Castanea 5:265-305.

  • Metzler, K. J., and J. P. Barrett. 2001. Vegetation classification for Connecticut. Draft 5/21/2001. Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, Natural Resources Center, Natural Diversity Database, Hartford.

  • Schafale, M. 2000. Fourth approximation guide. Coastal Plain. January 2000 draft. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.

  • Schafale, M. P. 2012. Classification of the natural communities of North Carolina, 4th Approximation. North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.

  • Schafale, M. P., and A. S. Weakley. 1990. Classification of the natural communities of North Carolina. Third approximation. North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh. 325 pp.

  • TNC [The Nature Conservancy]. 1997a. Vegetation classification of Assateague Island National Seashore and Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. Report to the NBS/NPS Vegetation Mapping Program. The Nature Conservancy. Eastern Regional Office, Boston, MA.


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