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Salix nigra Swamp Forest
Translated Name: Black Willow Swamp Forest
Common Name: Late-Successional Willow Interdunal Swale
Unique Identifier: CEGL006348
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association comprises a late-successional stage of interdunal swale wetland vegetation occurring on larger barrier island systems along the Atlantic Coast of Virginia and possibly North Carolina. Interdunal swale wetlands form when the freshwater aquifer intersects the dune surface and substrate is saturated for durations of time that are long enough to support peat development and accumulation. Substrate is peat over sand. This later successional phase results when the length of soil saturation is shorter, favoring the invasion of woody species. This phase is dominated by Salix nigra, growing in association with Acer rubrum in a short-statured canopy. The shrub layer is characterized by Morella cerifera (= Myrica cerifera), and can be well-developed or sparse depending on the degree of peat development and variability in microtopography. The herb layer is characterized by Hydrocotyle umbellata, Polygonum punctatum, and Bidens laevis. Other herbaceous associates include Thelypteris palustris var. pubescens, Boehmeria cylindrica, Triadenum virginicum, Peltandra virginica, Leersia oryzoides, and others. Changes in the duration of soil saturation can invoke successional shifts in vegetation; decreased duration of soil saturation tends to maintain woody vegetation, whereas increased duration reverses succession and favors emergent herbaceous vegetation.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low

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.Nb - Southeastern North American Flooded & Swamp Forest
Macrogroup Southern Coastal Plain Floodplain Forest
Group Southern Ash - Elm - Willow Floodplain Forest
Alliance Coastal Plain Depression Willow Swamp Forest

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



Related Concepts from Other Classifications

Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Salix nigra Forest
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: Salix nigra Seasonally Flooded Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: 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.
Related Concept Name: Maritime Swamp Forest
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.

Ecological Systems Placement

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


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G2G3 (09Apr2002)
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Natural, non-tidal, maritime wetlands are uncommon on the Atlantic Coast (G. Fleming pers. comm. 2002).

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: NCpotentially occurs, VA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This association is currently described from the mid-Atlantic Coast, although its full geographic extent is not currently known.

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: 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: Predicted or probable


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: This interdunal swale wetland association is strongly dominated by Salix nigra. Associated shrubs occur with low cover and include Morella cerifera (= Myrica cerifera) and Acer rubrum. Herbaceous species commonly include Hydrocotyle umbellata, Polygonum punctatum, and Bidens laevis. Other herbaceous associates include Thelypteris palustris var. pubescens, Boehmeria cylindrica, Triadenum virginicum, Peltandra virginica, Leersia oryzoides, and others. This is a later successional phase of interdunal swale wetland vegetation. If drawdown conditions continue and the duration of soil saturation decreases, additional shrub species may invade and eventually displace Salix spp. If the duration of soil saturation increases, shrubs would tend to die back and emergent herbaceous vegetation prevail. Vegetation composition in these swales can vary considerably.


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: Interdunal swale wetlands are best developed on barrier island systems that are wide enough to support freshwater aquifers. Narrow islands will have saltwater input from salt spray or overwash. Interdunal swale wetlands form when the freshwater aquifer intersects the dune surface and substrate is saturated for durations of time that are long enough to support peat development and accumulation. Substrate is peat over sand.

The successional phase comprised in this association results when the length of soil saturation is the shortest; under more saturated conditions, open water or emergent herbaceous vegetation tends to prevail.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: 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 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): Eastern Ecology Group, mod. S.L. Neid
Element Description Edition Date: 09May2002
Element Description Author(s): S.L. Neid
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 09Apr2002
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
  • Eastern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Boston, MA.

  • 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. 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. 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, Gary P. Personal communication. Ecologist, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA.

  • Rheinhardt, R .D., and M. M. Brinson. 1997. Impact of water withdrawals on the vegetation of dune and swale communities of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina. Final report for Water Resources Division, Water Rights Branch, U.S. Department of the Interior. December 1997. 70 pp. + appendices.

  • Rheinhardt, R. D., and K. Faser. 2001. Relationship between hydrology and zonation of freshwater swale wetlands on lower Hatteras Island, North Carolina, USA. Wetlands 21:265-273.

  • 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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