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Ascophyllum nodosum - Fucus vesiculosus Tidal Algal Nonvascular Vegetation
Translated Name: Yellow Tang - Black Tang Tidal Algal Nonvascular Vegetation
Common Name: New England Rocky Intertidal Rocky Shore
Unique Identifier: CEGL006341
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This algal vegetation occurs on rocky intertidal habitats of the north Atlantic Coast. It spans the littoral zone between mean high tide and mean low tide and can locally extend into the upper sublittoral. This habitat is characterized by alternating submergence by tidal flooding and exposure to air. Substrate is composed of rocks, boulders, and cobbles. Ascophyllum nodosum and Fucus spp. are the most characteristic algae, with other associates including Enteromorpha spp., Ulva lactuca, Porphyra laciniata, Phyllitis fascia, and Cladophora spp. There is seasonal and geographic variability in species composition between areas north versus south of Cape Cod, which forms a major boundary between colder waters to the north fed by arctic currents and warmer waters to the south fed by the Gulf Stream. Distinct species zonation can reflect upper littoral, lower littoral and sublittoral zones, but species often intergrade. Invertebrates are important members of this community, including Mytilus edulis (blue mussel), Semibalanus balanoides (barnacles), Littorina spp., (periwinkles), and Tectura testudinalis (limpets), as well as species of Asterias (starfish).



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low - Poorly Documented
Classification Comments: Invertebrates are important members of this community, including Mytilus edulis (blue mussel), Semibalanus balanoides (barnacles), Littorina spp., (periwinkles), and Tectura testudinalis (limpets), as well as species of Asterias (starfish).

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 5 - Aquatic Vegetation
Subclass 5.A - Saltwater Aquatic Vegetation
Formation 5.A.2 - Benthic Macroalgae Saltwater Vegetation
Division 5.A.2.Wb - Temperate Intertidal Shore
Macrogroup Temperate Atlantic Intertidal Shore
Group North American North Atlantic Intertidal Shore
Alliance North Atlantic Tidal Rocky Shore

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL006344 Laminaria agardhii Tidal Algal Nonvascular Vegetation



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
Massachusetts Marine Intertidal Rocky Shore Community Broader   Swain and Kearsley 2001
New Hampshire Intertidal rocky shore Intersects   Sperduto 2000
New York Marine rocky intertidal Equivalent   Edinger et al. 2002
Rhode Island Marine Intertidal Rocky Shore Intersects   Enser 1999
Rhode Island Marine Subtidal Community Intersects   Enser 1999


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Fucus - Ascophyllum community
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Metzler, K., and J. Barrett. 2006. The vegetation of Connecticut: A preliminary classification. State Geological and Natural History Survey, Report of Investigations No. 12. Connecticut Natural Diversity Database, Hartford, CT.
Related Concept Name: Brown algae zone
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Berrill, M., and D. Berrill. 1981. A Sierra Club naturalists' guide, the North Atlantic Coast: Cape Cod to Newfoundland. Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, CA.
Related Concept Name: Rockweed-barnacle community
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Godfrey, P. J., M. Benedict, and M. Soukup. 1978. A guide to the ecology of Cape Cod National Seashore (Mary 1978 draft). National Park Service Cooperative Research Unit, Institute for Man and Environment, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Related Concept Name: Rocky shore
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Godfrey, P. J., M. Benedict, and M. Soukup. 1978. A guide to the ecology of Cape Cod National Seashore (Mary 1978 draft). National Park Service Cooperative Research Unit, Institute for Man and Environment, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES201.048 North Atlantic Rocky Intertidal
CES201.578 Acadian Coastal Salt Marsh


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, RI
Canadian Province Distribution: NBpotentially occurs, ONpotentially occurs, QCpotentially occurs
Global Distribution: Canada, United States
Global Range: This association occurs along the northern Atlantic Coast from New York to Labrador.

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: 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
Division Name: Hot Continental Division
Province Name: Eastern Broadleaf Forest (Oceanic) Province
Province Code: 221 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Lower New England Section
Section Code: 221A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
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


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: This association encompasses algal vegetation of the littoral and upper sublittoral zones of rocky coasts. Vegetation is a compilation of both cold-water and warm-water species that do not necessarily occur together throughout the year; there is seasonal variability in species occurrence. Generalist species common throughout the year and in both warm and cold water include Ascophyllum nodosum and Fucus vesiculosus, which are dominant and tend to grow profusely. Other conspicuous species can include Fucus spiralis and Fucus distichus, and, depending on local wave energy, other algal species like Enteromorpha clathrata, Enteromorpha intestinalis, Ulva lactuca, Porphyra laciniata, and Phyllitis fascia. Distinct species zonation can reflect upper littoral, lower littoral and sublittoral zones, but species often intergrade. In the upper littoral zone, species such as Enteromorpha minima, Enteromorpha prolifera, Urospora penicilliformis, Rhizoclonium spp., and Ulothrix spp. occur. In the lower littoral region, in deeper water, additional species can include Ectocarpus spp., Hildenbrandtia prototypus, Nemalion multifidum, Bryopsis plumosa, and Cladophora spp. (Nichols 1920). Species diversity fluctuates seasonally based on water temperature affiliations of individual species. Several additional algal species can occur as epiphytes.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Ascophyllum nodosum GNR Alga Nonvascular  
 
 
Fucus vesiculosus GNR Alga Nonvascular  
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This association occurs most commonly along rocky coastal shorelines spanning the littoral zone between mean high tide and mean low tide. The littoral zone is characterized by alternating submergence by tidal flooding and exposure to air. It is roughly subdivided into two zones on either side of average neap tide level; organisms that can tolerate a greater degree of exposure occur in the upper littoral zone. Substrate is rocky, stony, or cobbly reflecting relatively high wave energy and erosion-resistant bedrock. Artificial jetties and dikes also provide appropriate habitat for this vegetation. This association spans geographically across Cape Cod, which forms a major boundary between colder waters to the north fed by arctic currents and warmer waters to the south fed by the Gulf Stream.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: This association occurs in mid-intertidal zones where organisms are both inundated by tides and exposed in varying proportions. Stresses of exposure include wide seasonal temperature fluctuations, desiccation by air, and dilution of salinity by precipitation. At higher elevations, the degree of exposure favors blue-green algae and barnacles. At lower elevations, red and brown algae begin to occur in greater diversity and abundance. Species diversity fluctuates seasonally based on water temperature affiliations of individual species; species that prefer warmer water tend to occur in greater abundance south of Cape Cod. Although these species are found in colder waters, they tend to occur later in the season than they do in warmer waters. Likewise, species that prefer colder water occur in greater abundance north of Cape Cod, but also occur in warmer waters to the south earlier in the season (Coleman and Mathieson 1975).


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): L.A. Sneddon
Element Description Edition Date: 13May2002
Element Description Author(s): S.L. Neid

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


References
  • Bell, R., M. Chandler, R. Buchsbaum, and C. Roman. 2002. Inventory of intertidal habitats: Boston Harbor Islands, a National Park area. Technical Report NPS/NERBOST/NRTR-2004/1. National Park Service, Northeast Region, Boston, MA. 13 pp.

  • Berrill, M., and D. Berrill. 1981. A Sierra Club naturalists' guide, the North Atlantic Coast: Cape Cod to Newfoundland. Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, CA.

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

  • Coleman, D. C., and A. C. Mathieson. 1975. Investigations of New England marine algae. VII: Seasonal occurrence and reproduction of marine algae near Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Rhodora 77:76-104.

  • 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.

  • Enser, R. W., and J. A. Lundgren. 2006. Natural communities of Rhode Island. A joint project of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Natural Heritage Program and The Nature Conservancy of Rhode Island. Rhode Island Natural History Survey, Kingston. 40 pp. [www.rinhs.org]

  • Gawler, S. C. 1991. Natural landscapes of Maine: A classification of ecosystems and natural communities. Provisional edition. Maine Natural Heritage Program, Office of Comprehensive Planning, DECD, Augusta, ME.

  • 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.

  • Godfrey, P. J., M. Benedict, and M. Soukup. 1978. A guide to the ecology of Cape Cod National Seashore (Mary 1978 draft). National Park Service Cooperative Research Unit, Institute for Man and Environment, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

  • Largay, E. F., and L. A. Sneddon. 2017. Vegetation mapping and classification of Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2017/1529. National Park Service, Fort Collins, CO.

  • Metzler, K., and J. Barrett. 2006. The vegetation of Connecticut: A preliminary classification. State Geological and Natural History Survey, Report of Investigations No. 12. Connecticut Natural Diversity Database, Hartford, CT.

  • Nichols, G. E. 1920. The vegetation of Connecticut: III. The associations of depositing areas along the seacoast. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 47:511-548.

  • 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]


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