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Picea rubens - Abies balsamea / Gaultheria hispidula / Osmunda cinnamomea / Sphagnum spp. Swamp Forest
Translated Name: Red Spruce - Balsam Fir / Creeping Snowberry / Cinnamon Fern / Peatmoss species Swamp Forest
Common Name: Northern Appalachian Spruce - Fir Swamp Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL006312
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: These red spruce - balsam fir swamps occur on wetland flats and basins across the Northern Appalachians. They are typically found in small basins, or along the margins of larger drainage basins or lowland slopes, usually in areas with some surface seepage. The substrate is saturated mineral soils, sometimes with a shallow peat layer. Shrubs and herbs of boreal affinity reflect the cool environmental conditions. The canopy ranges from partial (50%) to dense, with shrub and herb layers sparse to well-developed depending on available light. Canopy gaps are common, and shrubs may be locally dense. The canopy is dominated by Picea rubens and Abies balsamea, with smaller amounts of Picea mariana, Picea glauca, or Larix laricina. Abies balsamea drops out at the southern end of the range. Characteristic shrubs are Ilex mucronata, Sorbus americana, Alnus viridis, and Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides. Heath shrubs such as Gaultheria hispidula, Vaccinium angustifolium, and Kalmia angustifolia are occasional, but not abundant. The most characteristic herb layer species are Osmunda cinnamomea and Carex trisperma; common associates include Dalibarda repens, Coptis trifolia, and Clintonia borealis. In coastal settings, Symplocarpus foetidus may be locally abundant. The bryophytes are dominated by Sphagnum spp. (typically including Sphagnum girgensohnii), but also include Bazzania trilobata, Pleurozium schreberi, and Aulacomnium palustre. This association is distinguished by the dominance of red spruce rather than black spruce, the mineral soil setting, and the low abundance of heath shrubs. Picea mariana - Picea rubens / Pleurozium schreberi Swamp Forest (CEGL006361) is similar, but has black spruce abundant and occurs in more boreal settings, on poorly drained but not usually saturated soils.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: A continuum of Northern Appalachian acidic swamps, with very similar floristics, is expressed through three associations: the present type (coniferous), the mixed Picea rubens - Acer rubrum / Ilex mucronata Swamp Forest (CEGL006198), and the deciduous Acer rubrum / Ilex mucronata - Vaccinium corymbosum Swamp Forest (CEGL006220), with all gradations possible.

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 1 - Forest & Woodland
Subclass 1.B - Temperate & Boreal Forest & Woodland
Formation 1.B.3 - Temperate Flooded & Swamp Forest
Division 1.B.3.Na - Eastern North American-Great Plains Flooded & Swamp Forest
Macrogroup Laurentian-Acadian Flooded & Swamp Forest
Group Laurentian-Acadian Acidic Swamp
Alliance Northern Appalachian Red Spruce Swamp Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL006198 Picea rubens - Acer rubrum / Ilex mucronata Swamp Forest
CEGL006277 Picea rubens - (Tsuga canadensis) / Rhododendron maximum Swamp Forest
CEGL006361 Picea mariana - Picea rubens / Pleurozium schreberi Swamp Forest
CEGL006590 Picea rubens / Carex trisperma / Sphagnum spp. - Polytrichum spp. Swamp Forest



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
Maine Spruce - fir - cinnamon fern forest Equivalent   Gawler 2002
Massachusetts Red Spruce Swamp Intersects   Swain and Kearsley 2011
Massachusetts Spruce-Fir Swamp Broader   Swain and Kearsley 2001
New Hampshire Red spruce swamp Equivalent   Sperduto and Nichols 2004
New York Spruce-fir swamp Broader   Edinger et al. 2002
Pennsylvania Red Spruce Palustrine Forest Broader   Fike 1999
Vermont Spruce-Fir-Tamarack Swamp Equivalent   Thompson and Sorenson 2000


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: NNE Acidic Seepage Swamp
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Rawinski, T. 1984a. Natural community description abstract - southern New England calcareous seepage swamp. Unpublished report. The Nature Conservancy, Boston, MA. 6 pp.
Related Concept Name: Red Spruce - Balsam Fir: 33
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Eyre, F. H., editor. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Society of American Foresters, Washington, DC. 148 pp.
Related Concept Name: Spruce - fir - cinnamon fern forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Gawler, S. C., and A. Cutko. 2010. Natural landscapes of Maine: A classification of vegetated natural communities and ecosystems. Maine Natural Areas Program, Department of Conservation, Augusta.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES201.574 Northern Appalachian-Acadian Conifer-Hardwood Acidic Swamp


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: GNR (01Dec1997)
Rounded Global Status: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, PA, VT
Canadian Province Distribution: NB, QCpotentially occurs
Global Distribution: Canada, United States
Global Range: This community occurs in New England and adjacent Canada south to Pennsylvania.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Humid Temperate Domain
Division Name: Warm Continental Division
Province Name: Laurentian Mixed Forest Province
Province Code: 212 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Aroostook Hills and Lowlands Section
Section Code: 212A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Maine-New Brunswick Foothills and Lowlands Section
Section Code: 212B Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Fundy Coastal and Interior Section
Section Code: 212C Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Central Maine Coastal and Embayment Section
Section Code: 212D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Northern Glaciated Allegheny Plateau Section
Section Code: 212F Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Northern Unglaciated Allegheny Plateau Section
Section Code: 212G Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Division Name: Warm Continental Regime Mountains
Province Name: Adirondack-New England Mixed Forest - Coniferous Forest - Alpine Meadow Province
Province Code: M212 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: White Mountain Section
Section Code: M212A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Vermont-New Hampshire Upland Section
Section Code: M212B Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Green, Taconic, Berkshire Mountain Section
Section Code: M212C Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Adirondack Mountain Section
Section Code: M212D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Catskill Mountain Section
Section Code: M212E Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Tug Hill Plateau Section
Section Code: M212F Occurrence Status: Predicted or probable


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: The canopy ranges from partial (50%) to dense, with shrub and herb layers sparse to well-developed depending on available light. Canopy gaps are common, and shrubs may be locally dense. The canopy is dominated by Picea rubens and Abies balsamea, with smaller amounts of Picea mariana, Picea glauca, or Larix laricina. Characteristic shrubs are Ilex mucronata (= Nemopanthus mucronatus), Sorbus americana, Alnus viridis, and Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides. Heath shrubs such as Gaultheria hispidula, Vaccinium angustifolium, and Kalmia angustifolia are occasional, but not abundant. The most characteristic herb layer species are Osmunda cinnamomea and Carex trisperma; common associates include Dalibarda repens, Coptis trifolia, and Clintonia borealis. In coastal settings, Symplocarpus foetidus may be locally abundant. The bryophytes are dominated by Sphagnum spp. (typically including Sphagnum girgensohnii), but also include Bazzania trilobata, Pleurozium schreberi, and Aulacomnium palustre.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Abies balsamea GNR Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Picea rubens GNR Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Sorbus americana GNR Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Viburnum lantanoides GNR Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides GNR Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Gaultheria hispidula GNR Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Coptis trifolia GNR Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Cornus canadensis GNR Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Oclemena acuminata GNR Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Osmunda cinnamomea GNR Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)  
 
 
Carex disperma GNR Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Carex trisperma GNR Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: These red spruce - balsam fir swamps occur on wetland flats and basins across the Northern Appalachians. They are typically found in small basins, or along the margins of larger drainage basins or lowland slopes, usually in areas with some surface seepage. The substrate is saturated mineral soils, sometimes with a shallow peat layer. Shrubs and herbs of boreal affinity reflect the cool environmental conditions.


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): S.C. Gawler and A. Cutko (2010)
Element Description Edition Date: 27Jan2003
Element Description Author(s): S.C. Gawler

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


References
  • CDPNQ [Centre de données sur le patrimoine naturel du Québec]. No date. Unpublished data. Centre de données sur le patrimoine naturel du Québec, Québec.

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

  • Edinger, G. J., D. J. Evans, S. Gebauer, T. G. Howard, D. M. Hunt, and A. M. Olivero, editors. 2014a. Ecological communities of New York state. Second edition. A revised and expanded edition of Carol Reschke's ecological communities of New York state. New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY.

  • Eyre, F. H., editor. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Society of American Foresters, Washington, DC. 148 pp.

  • Fike, J. 1999. Terrestrial and palustrine plant communities of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory. Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Recreation, Bureau of Forestry, Harrisburg, PA. 86 pp.

  • Gawler, S. C. 2002. Natural landscapes of Maine: A guide to vegetated natural communities and ecosystems. Maine Natural Areas Program, Department of Conservation, Augusta, ME.

  • Gawler, S. C., and A. Cutko. 2010. Natural landscapes of Maine: A classification of vegetated natural communities and ecosystems. Maine Natural Areas Program, Department of Conservation, Augusta.

  • Rawinski, T. 1984a. Natural community description abstract - southern New England calcareous seepage swamp. Unpublished report. The Nature Conservancy, Boston, MA. 6 pp.

  • Reschke, C. 1990. Ecological communities of New York State. New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Latham, NY. 96 pp.

  • Sperduto, D. D., and W. F. Nichols. 2004. Natural communities of New Hampshire: A guide and classification. New Hampshire Natural Heritage Bureau, DRED Division of Forests and Lands, Concord. 242 pp.

  • Swain, P. C., and J. B. Kearsley. 2014. Classification of the natural communities of Massachusetts. Version 2.0. Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Westborough, MA. [http://www.mass.gov/nhesp/http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/dfw/natural-heritage/natural-communities/classification-of-natural-communities.html]

  • Thompson, E. H., and E. R. Sorenson. 2005. Wetland, woodland, wildland: A guide to the natural communities of Vermont. The Nature Conservancy and the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. University Press of New England, Hanover, NH. 456 pp.


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