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Uniola paniculata - Schizachyrium littorale - Panicum amarum Grassland
Translated Name: Sea-oats - Shore Little Bluestem - Bitter Panicgrass Grassland
Common Name: South Atlantic Loamy Coastal Dune Grassland
Unique Identifier: CEGL004039
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This dunegrass association occurs on ocean front dunes on barrier islands and barrier spits in the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain, from southeastern Virginia to South Carolina and possibly Georgia. Uniola paniculata is the dominant species, with Schizachyrium littorale and Panicum amarum also common and characteristic. Ammophila breviligulata may be common in Dare and Currituck counties of northeastern North Carolina, and in southeastern Virginia. Other typical species include Croton punctatus, Oenothera humifusa, Physalis walteri, Hydrocotyle bonariensis, Heterotheca subaxillaris, and Chrysopsis gossypina. This is the characteristic foredune vegetation immediately south and north of the Outer Banks of North Carolina, perhaps associated with slightly loamier soils with more influence of riverine sediments.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: At the northern range limit, this vegetation shares many species with dune grasslands characterized by Ammophila breviligulata and Panicum amarum var. amarum. Where the two grasslands overlap geographically, dominance by Uniola paniculata may be the only means of distinguishing this type from northern dune grasslands. Scattered clumps of Uniola paniculata have been recently discovered at Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and Wallops Island in Virginia, where they were previously unknown, suggesting that this species may be migrating northward.

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 2 - Shrub & Herb Vegetation
Subclass 2.B - Temperate & Boreal Grassland & Shrubland
Formation 2.B.4 - Temperate to Polar Scrub & Herb Coastal Vegetation
Division 2.B.4.Na - Eastern North American Coastal Scrub & Herb Vegetation
Macrogroup Eastern North American Coastal Dune & Grassland
Group South Atlantic & Gulf Coastal Dune & Grassland
Alliance Sea-oats Dune Grassland

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



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These data are subject to substantial ongoing revision and may be out of date for some states.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
North Carolina Dune Grass (Bluestem Subtype) Equivalent Certain Schafale 2012
South Carolina Maritime grassland Broader   Nelson 1986


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Dune Grass
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: Dune Grass (Southern Subtype)
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Schafale, M. 2000. Fourth approximation guide. Coastal Plain. January 2000 draft. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.
Related Concept Name: Maritime Dune Grassland
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
CES203.273 Southern Atlantic Coastal Plain Dune and Maritime Grassland


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3 (30Jan2001)
Rounded Global Status: G3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: This association is limited to dynamic coastal dunes of the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain. It is fairly restricted geographically, and many occurrences have been destroyed or altered by coastal development. Beach driving also impacts these communities.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: GApotentially occurs, NC, SC, VA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This association is limited edaphically to dynamic coastal dunes of the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain, from southeastern Virginia to South Carolina and possibly Georgia.

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: Atlantic Coastal Flatwoods Section
Section Code: 232C Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: Vegetation is a sparse to dense (30-80% cover), relatively tall (0.5-2 m) herbaceous layer dominated by native grasses Uniola paniculata, Schizachyrium littorale, and less often Panicum amarum and Spartina patens. Forbs always include Hydrocotyle bonariensis and may include Gaillardia pulchella, Heterotheca subaxillaris, and Smilax smallii. This community supports many North Carolina state-rare species, including Chamaesyce bombensis, Chamaesyce polygonifolia, Iva imbricata, and Physalis walteri.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Amaranthus pumilus G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Chamaesyce bombensis G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Chamaesyce polygonifolia G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Iva imbricata G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Physalis walteri G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Panicum amarum G3 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Schizachyrium scoparium ssp. littorale G3 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Uniola paniculata G3 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Amaranthus pumilus
  (Seabeach Amaranth)
G2 LT: Listed threatened


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This dunegrass association occurs on gently to moderately sloping dunes. Soils range from excessively drained to well-drained sand. The unvegetated surface is dominated by bare sand (85-97% cover) with some leaf litter (2-14%), large rocks (0-1%), and shells (0-3%).


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): A.S. Weakley
Element Description Edition Date: 26Nov2007
Element Description Author(s): A.S. Weakley, M.J. Russo and C.W. Nordman
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 30Jan2001
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): A.S. Weakley

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


References
  • 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.

  • Nelson, J. B. 1986. The natural communities of South Carolina: Initial classification and description. South Carolina Wildlife and Marine Resources Department, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Columbia, SC. 55 pp.

  • Peet, R. K., T. R. Wentworth, M. P. Schafale, and A.S. Weakley. No date. Unpublished data of the North Carolina Vegetation Survey. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

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

  • Schafale, M. 2003b. Fourth approximation guide. Coastal Plain communities. March 2003 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.

  • Southeastern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Durham, NC.


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