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Panicum virgatum - Spartina patens - Carex silicea Salt Marsh
Translated Name: Switchgrass - Saltmeadow Cordgrass - Beach Sedge Salt Marsh
Common Name: Brackish Meadow
Unique Identifier: CEGL006150
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This brackish meadow of the Atlantic coast from New Hampshire to North Carolina occurs at the upland border of high salt marshes. It occurs on freely drained, shallow, sandy peat that is moist from upland seepage and brackish from irregular tidal flooding. Vegetation is dominated by Panicum virgatum and occasionally codominated by Spartina patens. Common associates can include Schoenoplectus americanus, Solidago sempervirens, Teucrium canadense, Distichlis spicata, Carex silicea, and Juncus spp. (Juncus gerardii in the north, Juncus roemerianus in the south). Additional species can include Kosteletzkya virginica, Hibiscus moscheutos, Amaranthus cannabinus, and Typha spp., especially in oligohaline situations. Shrubs may occur sporadically, especially Baccharis halimifolia, Morella pensylvanica, Prunus maritima, and Iva frutescens. Vegetation can be quite diverse and is a mixture of freshwater and brackish species. This association is best developed in salt marshes with a gradual elevation gradient that lends itself to vegetation zonation. The diagnostic species of this association is Panicum virgatum in brackish settings near upland-marsh borders.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: This association is similar in species composition to the herbaceous component of Baccharis halimifolia - Iva frutescens / Panicum virgatum Saline Shrubland (CEGL003921). This association is less developed in the northern edge of its range (New Hampshire).

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 2 - Shrub & Herb Vegetation
Subclass 2.C - Shrub & Herb Wetland
Formation 2.C.5 - Salt Marsh
Division 2.C.5.Nb - North American Atlantic & Gulf Coastal Salt Marsh
Macrogroup North American Atlantic & Gulf Coastal Salt Marsh
Group Atlantic & Gulf Coastal High Salt Marsh
Alliance Eastern Saltmeadow Cordgrass High Salt Marsh

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL003921 Baccharis halimifolia - Iva frutescens / Panicum virgatum Saline Shrubland
CEGL004129 (Morella cerifera) / Panicum virgatum - Spartina patens Wet Meadow
CEGL006368 Spartina patens - Festuca rubra - (Spartina pectinata) Salt Marsh
CEGL006398 Schoenoplectus pungens - Eleocharis parvula Salt Marsh
CEGL006848 Iva frutescens / Spartina patens Saline Shrubland



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
Delaware Brackish Meadow Equivalent Certain Coxe 2009
Massachusetts Brackish Tidal Marsh Intersects   Swain and Kearsley 2001
Massachusetts Salt Marsh Intersects   Swain and Kearsley 2001
New Jersey Panicum virgatum - Carex silicea Herbaceous Vegetation Equivalent Certain Breden et al. 2001
New Jersey Salt marsh complex Undetermined   Breden 1989
New York Brackish meadow Equivalent   Edinger et al. 2002
North Carolina Brackish Marsh (Transitional Subtype) Equivalent Certain Schafale 2011
Rhode Island Brackish Tidal Marsh Broader   Enser 1999


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Panicum virgatum Tidal Herbaceous Vegetation
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Clancy, K. 1996. Natural communities of Delaware. Unpublished review draft. Delaware Natural Heritage Program, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Delaware Division of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Smyrna, DE. 52 pp.
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Harrison, J. W. 2001. Herbaceous tidal wetland communities of Maryland's eastern shore: Identification, assessment and monitoring. Report submitted to the U.S. EPA (Clean Water Act 1998 State Wetlands Protection Development Grant Program). Biodiversity Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife and Heritage Division. 30 June 2001. [U.S. EPA Reference Wetland Natural communities of Maryland's Herbaceous Tidal Wetlands Grant #CD993724].
Related Concept Name: Panicum virgatum Wetland Association
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Heckscher, C. M., W. A. McAvoy, and K. Clancy. 1995. Biological assessment of the Milford Neck Preserve. Division of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Delaware Natural Heritage Program, Smyrna, DE. 29 pp.
Related Concept Name: Panicum virgatum medium-tall grasslands
Relationship: B - Broader
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: Panicum virgatum upland border
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: Nixon, S. W. 1982. The ecology of New England high salt marshes: A community profile. FWS/OBS-81/55. USDI Fish & Wildlife Service, Office of Biological Services, Washington, DC. 70 pp.
Related Concept Name: Panicum virgatum upper border
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Miller, W. R., and F. E. Egler. 1950. Vegetation of the Wequetequock-Pawcatuck tidal-marshes, Connecticut. Ecological Monographs 20:143-172.
Related Concept Name: Brackish Tidal Marsh
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: Fresh marsh
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Hill, S. R. 1986. An annotated checklist of the vascular flora of Assateague Island (Maryland and Virginia). Castanea 5:265-305.
Related Concept Name: Freshwater marsh
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Fender, F. S. 1937. The flora of Seven Mile Beach, New Jersey. Bartonia 19:23-41.
Related Concept Name: Mesic shrub community
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Higgins, E. A. T., R. D. Rappleye, and R. G. Brown. 1971. The flora and ecology of Assateague Island. University of Maryland Experiment Station Bulletin A-172. 70 pp.
Related Concept Name: Salt Marsh
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.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES203.519 Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain Tidal Salt Marsh
CES203.892 Atlantic Coastal Plain Northern Salt Pond 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, DE, MA, MD, MEpotentially occurs, NC, NJ, NY, RI, VApotentially occurs
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This association occurs from New Hampshire to North Carolina.

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: 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
Section Name: Coastal Plains and Flatwoods, Lower Section
Section Code: 232B Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: This association is a tall grassland occupying brackish meadows at the upland border of high salt marshes. Vegetation is dominated by Panicum virgatum and occasionally codominated by Spartina patens. Common associates include Schoenoplectus americanus, Solidago sempervirens, Teucrium canadense, Distichlis spicata, Carex silicea, and Juncus spp. (Juncus gerardii in the north, Juncus roemerianus in the south). Shrubs may occur sporadically, especially Baccharis halimifolia, Morella pensylvanica (= Myrica pensylvanica), Prunus maritima, and Iva frutescens. Vegetation can be quite diverse and is a mixture of freshwater and brackish species. In addition to the common associates, other graminoids can include Setaria parviflora, Elymus virginicus, Panicum amarum, Cladium mariscoides, Cyperus polystachyos, Cyperus dentatus, Schoenoplectus pungens (= Scirpus pungens), and Fimbristylis castanea, and other forbs can include Polygala verticillata, Solidago sempervirens, Euthamia caroliniana (= Euthamia tenuifolia), Agalinis maritima, Artemisia campestris ssp. caudata, Sabatia stellaris, Sabatia dodecandra, and Asteraceae spp.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Panicum virgatum GNR Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Spartina patens GNR Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: This association occurs at the upland border of salt marshes on moist, sandy, shallow peat over glacial till. This is the highest elevation within the salt marsh; it is irregularly flooded by tides, high spring tides and storm tides, but is freely drained. It is also subject to salt spray. Soil salinity is low (oligohaline to mesohaline, 0.5-18 ppt). Similar vegetation can occur on anthropogenic dredge spoils where similar environmental conditions are created. Small patches of this association may also occur around coastal salt ponds.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: This association generally forms as a band of vegetation between high salt marsh and upland vegetation. It is best developed in salt marshes with a gradual elevation gradient that lend themselves to vegetation zonation. In the northern part of the geographic range, this band gets progressively narrower as the transition to the upland border is more abrupt. With more frequent flooding, the community likely transitions to high salt marsh. Where salt spray and salinity influence decreases, shrubs tend to invade or the community can transition to maritime grasslands. Where tidal flooding becomes ponded, vegetation is classified as an interdunal swale. Vegetation can be more sparse, grading into sand flats.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): D. Hunt, L.A. Sneddon, and S.L. Neid
Element Description Edition Date: 05Dec2012
Element Description Author(s): S.L. Neid after D. Hunt

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


References
  • 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.

  • Clancy, K. 1996. Natural communities of Delaware. Unpublished review draft. Delaware Natural Heritage Program, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Delaware Division of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Smyrna, DE. 52 pp.

  • Coxe, R. 2009. Guide to Delaware vegetation communities. Spring 2009 edition. State of Delaware, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Delaware Natural Heritage Program, Smyrna.

  • Dowhan, J. J., and R. Rozsa. 1989. Flora of Fire Island, Suffolk Country, New York. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 116:265-282.

  • Eastern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Boston, MA.

  • Edinger, G. J., A. L. Feldmann, T. G. Howard, J. J. Schmid, E. Eastman, E. Largay, and L. A. Sneddon. 2008a. Vegetation classification and mapping at Gateway National Recreation Area. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2008/107. National Park Service, Philadelphia, PA. 283 pp.

  • 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]

  • Fender, F. S. 1937. The flora of Seven Mile Beach, New Jersey. Bartonia 19:23-41.

  • Harrison, J. W. 2001. Herbaceous tidal wetland communities of Maryland's eastern shore: Identification, assessment and monitoring. Report submitted to the U.S. EPA (Clean Water Act 1998 State Wetlands Protection Development Grant Program). Biodiversity Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife and Heritage Division. 30 June 2001. [U.S. EPA Reference Wetland Natural communities of Maryland's Herbaceous Tidal Wetlands Grant #CD993724].

  • 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., 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.

  • Heckscher, C. M., W. A. McAvoy, and K. Clancy. 1995. Biological assessment of the Milford Neck Preserve. Division of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Delaware Natural Heritage Program, Smyrna, DE. 29 pp.

  • Higgins, E. A. T., R. D. Rappleye, and R. G. Brown. 1971. The flora and ecology of Assateague Island. University of Maryland Experiment Station Bulletin A-172. 70 pp.

  • Hill, S. R. 1986. An annotated checklist of the vascular flora of Assateague Island (Maryland and Virginia). Castanea 5:265-305.

  • Hunt, D. M. 2000. Element global ranking form: Brackish Meadow. New York Natural Heritage Program, February 25, 2000.

  • Johnson, A. F. 1985b. A guide to the plant communities of the Napeague Dunes, Long Island, New York. Mad Printers, Mattituck, NY. 58 pp. plus plates.

  • Klopfer, S. D., A. Olivero, L. Sneddon, and J. Lundgren. 2002. Final report of the NPS Vegetation Mapping Project at Fire Island National Seashore. Conservation Management Institute, GIS & Remote Sensing Division, College of Natural Resources, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA. 193 pp.

  • Lundgren, J., B. Hammond, J. Stone, and L. Sneddon. 2000. Vegetation classification and mapping of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. Final Draft. The Nature Conservancy, March 2000. 59 pp.

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  • Miller, W. R., and F. E. Egler. 1950. Vegetation of the Wequetequock-Pawcatuck tidal-marshes, Connecticut. Ecological Monographs 20:143-172.

  • NRCS [Natural Resources Conservation Service]. 2001b. Soil survey of Gateway National Recreation Area, New York and New Jersey. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and USDI National Park Service, Gateway National Recreation Area in partnership with Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station and New York City Soil and Water Conservation District.

  • NatureServe. 2009. Vegetation of the E.B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. International Ecological Classification Standard: Terrestrial Ecological Classifications. NatureServe Central Databases. Arlington, VA. U.S.A. Data current as of 1 December 2009.

  • Nixon, S. W. 1982. The ecology of New England high salt marshes: A community profile. FWS/OBS-81/55. USDI Fish & Wildlife Service, Office of Biological Services, Washington, DC. 70 pp.

  • Rawinski, T. 1984a. Natural community description abstract - southern New England calcareous seepage swamp. Unpublished report. The Nature Conservancy, Boston, MA. 6 pp.

  • 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, Mike P. Personal communication. Ecologist, North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.

  • Sneddon, L. A., Zaremba, R. E., and M. Adams. 2010. Vegetation classification and mapping at Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts. Natural Resources Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2010/147. National Park Service, Philadelphia, PA. 481 pp. [http://biology.usgs.gov/npsveg/caco/cacorpt.pdf]

  • Sneddon, L., J. Menke, A. Berdine, E. Largay, and S. Gawler. 2017. Vegetation classification and mapping of Assateague Island National Seashore. Natural Resource Report NPS/ASIS/NRR--2017/1422. National Park Service, Fort Collins, CO. 512 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]

  • TNC [The Nature Conservancy]. 1995c. NBS/NPS Vegetation Mapping Program: Vegetation classification of Assateague Island National Seashore. Unpublished report. The Nature Conservancy, Eastern Regional Office, Boston, MA.


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