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Zostera marina Atlantic Aquatic Vegetation
Translated Name: Seawrack Atlantic Aquatic Vegetation
Common Name: North Atlantic Seawrack Bed
Unique Identifier: CEGL004336
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: These aquatic beds occur in the subtidal zone along the north Atlantic Coast, south to North Carolina. Zostera marina is dominant and occurs most often in nearly pure stands. Ruppia maritima can occur sporadically in this association, especially as waters become less saline. Additional associated species include macroalgae, especially Ulva lactuca, Enteromorpha spp., Cladophora spp., and Polysiphonia spp. Where water is less saline, Enteromorpha, Chaetomorpha, Gracilaria, Agardhiella, Ectocarpus, and Pilayella can occur. Elevation/depth of the beds is determined by low tide level at the upper end and light penetration at the lower end, the latter being a function of water depth and turbidity. The beds generally occur in areas with only moderate wave action where salinity fluctuations are minor. Eel-grass beds tend to stabilize and enrich substrate and provide habitat for epiphytes and other marine organisms.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low - Poorly Documented
Classification Comments: According to Thayer et al. (1984) Zostera marina has a range of approximately 3090 km along the North American Atlantic Coast which may be represented as 4 smaller subregions. The bulk of the southern range corresponds with the Virginian Zone of Cowardin et al. (1979). Zostera marina is extirpated from Delaware.

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class
Subclass
Formation
Division
Macrogroup
Group
Alliance

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL006167 Ruppia maritima Acadian/Virginian Zone Temperate Aquatic 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These data are subject to substantial ongoing revision and may be out of date for some states.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
Connecticut Eelgrass (Zostera marina) permanently flooded vegetation Equivalent Certain Metzler and Barrett 2006
Maryland Zostera marina Atlantic Herbaceous Vegetation Equivalent Certain Harrison 2011
Massachusetts Coastal Salt Pond Community Intersects   Swain and Kearsley 2001
Massachusetts Seagrass Community Intersects   MNHESP
New Hampshire Eelgrass Bed Equivalent   Sperduto 2000
New Jersey Zostera marina Herbaceous Vegetation [Placeholder] Equivalent Certain Breden et al. 2001
New York Marine Eelgrass Meadow Equivalent   Edinger et al. 2002
Rhode Island Brackish Subtidal Aquatic Bed Intersects   Enser 1999
Rhode Island Marine Subtidal Aquatic Bed Intersects   Enser 1999


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Zostera marina 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: Zostera marina hydromorphic vegetation
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Metzler, K. J., and J. P. Barrett. 2004. Vegetation classification for Connecticut. Draft. State Geological and Natural History Survey of Connecticut, Department of Environmental Protection, Hartford, CT.
Related Concept Name: Zostera Community
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Moore, K. A., D. J. Wilcox, and R. J. Orth. 2000. Analysis of the abundance of submersed aquatic vegetation communities in the Chesapeake Bay. Estuaries 23:115-127.
Related Concept Name: Coastal Salt Pond
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: Polyhaline subtidal aquatic bed
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Breden, T. F. 1989. A preliminary natural community classification for New Jersey. Pages 157-191 in: E. F. Karlin, editor. New Jersey's rare and endangered plants and animals. Institute for Environmental Studies, Ramapo College, Mahwah, NJ. 280 pp.
Related Concept Name: Southern New England & Gulf of Maine Saline/ Brackish Subtidal Estuarine Community
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: Tidal Mesohaline - Polyhaline Aquatic Bed
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: Tidal Mesohaline / Polyhaline Aquatic Bed
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
CES201.049 North Atlantic Tidal Sand Flat
CES201.050 North Atlantic Intertidal Mudflat
CES203.243 Atlantic Coastal Plain Embayed Region Seagrass Bed
CES203.246 Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain Seagrass Bed


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G4G5 (19Jan2006)
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: This vegetation has a wide distribution, in coastal waters from Maine to North Carolina. It occurs in large patches in sheltered near-shore estuarine waters. This vegetation is vulnerable to pollution from coastal run-off as well as oil spills off the coast.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: CT, MA, MD, ME, NC, NH, NJ, NY, RI, VA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community occurs in subtidal habitat along the north and mid-Atlantic Coast.

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: 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
Section Name: Hudson Valley Section
Section Code: 221B 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
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: Zostera marina is dominant and occurs in nearly pure stands. Ruppia maritima can occur sporadically in this association, especially as waters become less saline. Additional associated species are macroalgae, especially Ulva lactuca, Enteromorpha spp., Cladophora spp., and Polysiphonia spp. Where water is less saline, Enteromorpha, Chaetomorpha, Gracilaria, Agardhiella, Ectocarpus, and Pilayella can occur.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Zostera marina G4 Aquatic herb Submerged aquatic  
 
 


Environmental Setting

Environmental Summary: These aquatic beds occur in the subtidal zone of coastal habitats on substrate ranging from soft mud to coarse sand. Elevation/depth of the beds is determined by low tide level at the upper end and light penetration at the lower end, the latter being a function of water depth and turbidity. The beds generally occur in areas with only moderate wave action where salinity fluctuations are minor, and salinity levels are in the mid to high range (Thayer et al. 1984).


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: Eel-grass beds tend to stabilize and enrich substrate and provide habitat for epiphytes and other marine organisms.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): S.L. Neid
Element Description Edition Date: 13May2002
Element Description Author(s): S.L. Neid
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. 1989. A preliminary natural community classification for New Jersey. Pages 157-191 in: E. F. Karlin, editor. New Jersey's rare and endangered plants and animals. Institute for Environmental Studies, Ramapo College, Mahwah, NJ. 280 pp.

  • 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.

  • Cowardin, L. M., V. Carter, F. C. Golet, and E. T. LaRoe. 1979. Classification of wetlands and deepwater habitats of the United States. FWS/OBS-79/31. USDI Fish & Wildlife Service, Office of Biological Services, Washington, DC. 103 pp.

  • 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. 2002. Ecological communities of New York state. Second edition. A revised and expanded edition of Carol Reschke's ecological communities of New York state. (Draft for review). New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY.

  • Enser, R. 1999. Natural communities of Rhode Island. Unpublished draft, December 1999. 22 pp.

  • 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]

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Metzler, K. J., and J. P. Barrett. 2004. Vegetation classification for Connecticut. Draft. State Geological and Natural History Survey of Connecticut, Department of Environmental Protection, Hartford, CT.

  • 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.

  • Moore, K. A., D. J. Wilcox, and R. J. Orth. 2000. Analysis of the abundance of submersed aquatic vegetation communities in the Chesapeake Bay. Estuaries 23:115-127.

  • Orth, R. J., and K. A. Moore. 1988. Distribution of Zostera marina L. and Ruppia maritima L. sensu lato along depth gradients in the lower Chesapeake Bay, USA. Aquatic Botany 32:291-305.

  • 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. 2000a. Natural communities of New Hampshire: A guide and classification. Near final unformatted draft without pictures and illustrations; includes upland classification. New Hampshire Natural Heritage Inventory, DRED Division of Forests and Lands, Concord, NH. 127 pp.

  • Sperduto, D. D. 2000b. A classification of wetland natural communities in New Hampshire. New Hampshire Natural Heritage Inventory, Department of Resources and Economic Development, Division of Forests and Lands, Concord, NH. 156 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. 2001. Classification of natural communities of Massachusetts. September 2001 draft. Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Westborough, MA.

  • Thayer, G. W., W. J. Kenworthy, and M. S. Fonseca. 1984. The ecology of eelgrass meadows of the Atlantic Coast: A community profile. USDI Fish & Wildlife Service, Office of Biological Service. FWS/OBS-84/02. 147 pp.


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