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Acer rubrum - Fraxinus pennsylvanica / Packera aurea - Carex bromoides - Pilea fontana Swamp Forest
Translated Name: Red Maple - Green Ash / Golden Ragwort - Bromelike Sedge - Lesser Clearweed Swamp Forest
Common Name: Coastal Plain Calcareous Seepage Swamp Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL006413
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This calcareous seepage swamp occurs on the Virginia Coastal Plain on groundwater-saturated stream bottoms in ravines that have cut into Tertiary shell deposits or limesands. Braided streams and hummock-and-hollow microtopography are characteristic of the environmental setting. Soils are highly calcareous with pH values up to 7.4 and calcium levels that range up to 6000 ppm. The tree canopy is consistently codominated by Fraxinus pennsylvanica and Acer rubrum with a few other species locally important. The shrub layer is typically open and contains Lindera benzoin, Morella cerifera (= Myrica cerifera), Carpinus caroliniana, and Cornus foemina. Vines are often abundant, especially Decumaria barbara. The herb layer is dense, lush, and clearly divisible into two relatively discrete assemblages that occupy hummocks and mucky hollows, respectively. The most constant patch-dominants of the relatively well-drained hummocks are Packera aurea (= Senecio aureus) and Carex bromoides. Characteristic patch-dominants of the wet, mucky hollows are Pilea fontana, Bidens laevis, Saururus cernuus, Cicuta maculata var. maculata, Impatiens capensis, and Glyceria striata. Other common or noteworthy herbs include Caltha palustris, Thelypteris palustris var. pubescens, Carex granularis, Scirpus lineatus, Orontium aquaticum, Pedicularis lanceolata, Liparis loeselii, and Carex tetanica.



Classification

Classification Confidence: High
Classification Comments: Classification of this type is supported by analysis of a 1250-plot regional dataset assembled for the NCR and Mid-Atlantic national parks vegetation mapping projects. In that analysis, this association was represented by 15 plots.

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-North Atlantic Coastal Flooded & Swamp Forest
Group Laurentian-Acadian-Appalachian Acidic Swamp
Alliance Northeastern Red Maple - Green Ash 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: Acer rubrum - Fraxinus pennsylvanica / Bidens laevis - Pilea fontana - (Scirpus lineatus) Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P. 2002a. Ecological communities of the Bull Run Mountains, Virginia: Baseline vegetation and floristic data for conservation planning and natural area stewardship. Natural Heritage Technical Report 02-12. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 274 pp. plus appendices.
Related Concept Name: Acer rubrum - Fraxinus pennsylvanica / Bidens laevis - Pilea fontana - (Scirpus lineatus) Saturated Forest [Provisional]
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: 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.
Related Concept Name: Acer rubrum - Fraxinus pennsylvanica / Pilea fontana - Packera aurea - (Scirpus lineatus) Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P., and K. D. Patterson. 2003. Preliminary vegetation classification for the National Capitol Region parks. Regional (VA-WVA-MD-DC) analysis prepared for NatureServe and USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program, March 2003. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: VDNH [Virginia Division of Natural Heritage]. 2003. The natural communities of Virginia: Hierarchical classification of community types. Unpublished document, working list of November 2003. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Ecology Group, Richmond.
Related Concept Name: Coastal Plain / Piedmont Basic Seepage Swamp
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
CES203.069 Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain Calcareous Ravine


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G2 (16Feb2007)
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: Despite considerable efforts to inventory this community over the years, fewer than 50 patches of this vegetation are known covering an aggregate area of perhaps 300 acres. It is likely that quite a few additional patches have yet to be located, but patch-size is small (<10 acres), the habitat is rare, and the region of potential habitat is limited.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: NJ, VA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This calcareous seepage swamp occurs in dissected terrain in the central Virginia Coastal Plain. It is known only from calcareous ravines in the James and York river drainages, in James City, Surry, and York counties.

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: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: The overstory is consistently codominated by Fraxinus pennsylvanica and Acer rubrum. In near-tidal situations, Nyssa biflora and Taxodium distichum are locally codominant. Ulmus americana, Liquidambar styraciflua, Liriodendron tulipifera, and Pinus taeda are minor overstory trees throughout the range. The understory and shrub layers are typically very open and contain young specimens of the overstory trees, Carpinus caroliniana, Lindera benzoin, Cornus foemina, and Morella cerifera (= Myrica cerifera). Dirca palustris is a common shrub in a subset of ravines in the York River drainage. The climbing liana Decumaria barbara is common, along with Toxicodendron radicans. The herb layer is dense, lush, and clearly divisible into two relatively discrete assemblages that occupy hummocks and mucky hollows, respectively. The most constant patch-dominants of the relatively well-drained hummocks are Packera aurea (= Senecio aureus) and Carex bromoides, with Caltha palustris, Cinna arundinacea, Galium triflorum, Geum canadense, Thelypteris palustris var. pubescens, Carex granularis, Leersia virginica, Amphicarpaea bracteata, Arisaema triphyllum, Carex laevivaginata, Carex styloflexa, Carex gracillima, Rudbeckia laciniata, and Polygonum setaceum occurring at lower cover and/or constancy. Characteristic patch-dominants of the wet, mucky hollows are Pilea fontana, Bidens laevis, Saururus cernuus, Cicuta maculata var. maculata, Impatiens capensis, and Glyceria striata. Additional herbs associated with wetter microhabitats are Scirpus lineatus, Boehmeria cylindrica, Orontium aquaticum, Polygonum arifolium, Viola cucullata, and Cardamine pensylvanica. Stands of this community contain a number of species disjunct from primary ranges inland and farther west, including Caltha palustris, Pedicularis lanceolata, Liparis loeselii, and Carex tetanica.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Acer rubrum G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Fraxinus pennsylvanica G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Carpinus caroliniana G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Cornus foemina G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Lindera benzoin G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Morella cerifera G2 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Decumaria barbara G2 Liana Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Toxicodendron radicans G2 Liana Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Bidens laevis G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Cicuta maculata var. maculata G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Helonias bullata G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Impatiens capensis G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Packera aurea G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Pilea fontana G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Saururus cernuus G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex bromoides G2 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Glyceria striata G2 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Helonias bullata
  (Swamp-pink)
G3 LT: Listed threatened


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: This community type is confined to the groundwater-saturated bottoms of ravines that have cut into Tertiary shell deposits or limesands. Braided streams and pronounced hummock-and-hollow microtopography are characteristic of this habitat. Soil environments are somewhat heterogeneous, with deep organic muck in hollows and firm sandy substrates on hummocks. Samples collected from 15 plots were highly calcareous with pH values up to 7.4 and calcium levels up to 6000 ppm. Most sites for this community are in ravines that drain directly into tidal creeks.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: This community only develops in saturated ravine bottoms with calcareous soils and/or groundwater, a rare condition in the Coastal Plain of Virginia. The drier hummocks of this environment are extremely susceptible to invasion by Microstegium vimineum.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): Chesapeake Bay Ecology Group, mod. L.A. Sneddon
Element Description Edition Date: 16Feb2007
Element Description Author(s): L.A. Sneddon and G.P. Fleming
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 16Feb2007
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. 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. 2002a. Ecological communities of the Bull Run Mountains, Virginia: Baseline vegetation and floristic data for conservation planning and natural area stewardship. Natural Heritage Technical Report 02-12. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 274 pp. plus appendices.

  • Fleming, G. P. 2002b. Preliminary classification of Piedmont & Inner Coastal Plain vegetation types in Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 02-14. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 29 pp.

  • Fleming, G. P., K. Taverna, and P. P. Coulling. 2007b. Vegetation classification for the National Capitol Region parks, eastern region. Regional (VA-MD-DC) analysis prepared for NatureServe and USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program, March 2007. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.

  • 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. 2003. Preliminary vegetation classification for the National Capitol Region parks. Regional (VA-WVA-MD-DC) analysis prepared for NatureServe and USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program, March 2003. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.

  • 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.

  • Patterson, K. D. 2008c. Vegetation classification and mapping at Colonial National Historical Park, Virginia. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2008/129. National Park Service, Philadelphia, PA. 369 pp.

  • VDNH [Virginia Division of Natural Heritage]. 2003. The natural communities of Virginia: Hierarchical classification of community types. Unpublished document, working list of November 2003. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Ecology Group, Richmond.


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