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Picea mariana / Ledum groenlandicum - Empetrum nigrum / Cladina spp. Dwarf-shrubland
Translated Name: Black Spruce / Bog Labrador-tea - Black Crowberry / Reindeer Lichen species Dwarf-shrubland
Common Name: Cold Air Talus Heathland
Unique Identifier: CEGL006268
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This boreal heathland community develops at the base of some talus slopes in the northeastern United States and (possibly) adjacent Canada. Cold air draining to the base of the slope allows ice to persist in crevices through most of the growing season, even at these moderate elevations (215-670 m [700-2200 feet]). This creates a cold microclimate, and the vegetation features many species with affinities to boreal or higher-elevation settings. As with talus slopes in general, soil development is extremely limited, although in this type there may be some patches of peaty soils developing among the boulders. The vegetation is predominantly dwarf-shrubs and stunted shrub-like conifers, in patches among the talus, with a scattered and broken tree canopy. Herbs are sparse. The bryoid layer is typically very well-developed, with mats of reindeer lichens undulating across the talus and higher bryophyte cover than in other talus settings. The scattered trees are typically Picea mariana, Picea rubens, and Betula papyrifera. Abies balsamea and (in relatively southern examples) Tsuga canadensis are occasional. Sorbus americana or Sorbus decora may occur as scattered shrubs. Dwarf-shrubs characteristically include Ledum groenlandicum, Gaultheria hispidula, Vaccinium angustifolium, Vaccinium myrtilloides, Vaccinium vitis-idaea, Kalmia angustifolia, and, in the more northerly occurrences, Vaccinium uliginosum and Empetrum nigrum. Herbs may include Polypodium virginianum and/or Polypodium appalachianum and Mitella nuda. Typical bryoids are Cladina spp., Cladonia spp., Hylocomium splendens, Pleurozium schreberi, Sphagnum capillifolium, Polytrichum strictum, and Bazzania trilobata. The combination of setting and flora make this type distinctive.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 4 - Polar & High Montane Scrub, Grassland & Barrens
Subclass 4.B - Temperate to Polar Alpine & Tundra Vegetation
Formation 4.B.1 - Temperate & Boreal Alpine Tundra
Division 4.B.1.Na - Eastern North American Alpine Tundra
Macrogroup Eastern North American Alpine Tundra
Group Eastern Alpine Tundra
Alliance Black Spruce Krummholz

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL005243 Boreal Glaciere Talus Sparse 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
Maine Labrador tea talus dwarf-shrubland Equivalent   Gawler 2002
New Hampshire Subalpine cold-air talus shrubland Equivalent   Sperduto and Nichols 2004
New York Ice cave talus community Broader   Edinger et al. 2002
Vermont Cold-Air Talus Woodland Equivalent   Thompson and Sorenson 2000


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Black Spruce (eastern type): 12
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Eyre, F. H., editor. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Society of American Foresters, Washington, DC. 148 pp.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES201.568 Acadian-Appalachian Subalpine Woodland and Heath-Krummholz
CES201.569 Laurentian-Acadian Acidic Cliff and Talus


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G3G5 (01Dec1997)
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: ME, NH, NY, VT
Canadian Province Distribution: NBpotentially occurs, NSpotentially occurs, QCpotentially occurs
Global Distribution: Canada, United States

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Humid Temperate Domain
Division Name: Hot Continental Division
Province Name: Eastern Broadleaf Forest (Oceanic) Province
Province Code: 221 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Hudson Valley Section
Section Code: 221B Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Division Name: Warm Continental Regime Mountains
Province Name: Adirondack-New England Mixed Forest - Coniferous Forest - Alpine Meadow Province
Province Code: M212 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: White Mountain Section
Section Code: M212A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Vermont-New Hampshire Upland Section
Section Code: M212B Occurrence Status: Predicted or probable
Section Name: Green, Taconic, Berkshire Mountain Section
Section Code: M212C Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Adirondack Mountain Section
Section Code: M212D Occurrence Status: Predicted or probable
Section Name: Catskill Mountain Section
Section Code: M212E Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Division Name: Hot Continental Regime Mountains
Province Name: Central Appalachian Broadleaf Forest - Coniferous Forest - Meadow Province
Province Code: M221 Occurrence Status: Predicted or probable
Section Name: Northern Ridge and Valley Section
Section Code: M221A Occurrence Status: Predicted or probable


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: The vegetation is predominantly dwarf-shrubs and stunted shrub-like conifers, in patches among the talus, with a scattered and broken tree canopy. Herbs are sparse. The bryoid layer is typically very well-developed, with mats of reindeer lichens undulating across the talus and higher bryophyte cover than in other talus settings. The scattered trees are typically Picea mariana, Picea rubens, and Betula papyrifera. Abies balsamea and (in relatively southern examples) Tsuga canadensis are occasional. Sorbus americana or Sorbus decora may occur as scattered shrubs. Dwarf-shrubs characteristically include Ledum groenlandicum, Gaultheria hispidula, Vaccinium angustifolium, Vaccinium myrtilloides, Vaccinium vitis-idaea, Kalmia angustifolia, and, in the more northerly occurrences, Vaccinium uliginosum and Empetrum nigrum. Herbs may include Polypodium virginianum and/or Polypodium appalachianum and Mitella nuda. Typical bryoids are Cladina spp., Cladonia spp., Hylocomium splendens, Pleurozium schreberi, Sphagnum capillifolium, Polytrichum strictum, and Bazzania trilobata.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Betula papyrifera G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Picea mariana G4 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Picea rubens G4 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Empetrum nigrum G4 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling  
 
 
Ledum groenlandicum G4 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling  
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This boreal heathland community develops at the base of some talus slopes in the northeastern United States and (possibly) adjacent Canada. Cold air draining to the base of the slope allows ice to persist in crevices through most of the growing season, even at these moderate elevations (215-670 m [700-2200 feet]). This creates a cold microclimate, and the vegetation features many species with affinities to boreal or higher-elevation settings. As with talus slopes in general, soil development is extremely limited, although in this type there may be some patches of peaty soils developing among the boulders.


Dynamic Processes


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): Northern Appalachian Planning Team
Element Description Edition Date: 28Jan2003
Element Description Author(s): S.C. Gawler

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


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

  • 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.

  • Eyre, F. H., editor. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Society of American Foresters, Washington, DC. 148 pp.

  • 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.

  • Gawler, S. C., and A. Cutko. 2010. Natural landscapes of Maine: A classification of vegetated natural communities and ecosystems. Maine Natural Areas Program, Department of Conservation, Augusta.

  • Hunt, D. M. 1999. Natural community descriptions and specifications: Communities known or suspected from Adirondack Nature Conservancy. Unpublished report. New York Natural Heritage Program, Albany, NY. 272 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.

  • Thompson, E. H., and E. R. Sorenson. 2005. Wetland, woodland, wildland: A guide to the natural communities of Vermont. The Nature Conservancy and the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. University Press of New England, Hanover, NH. 456 pp.


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