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Alnus incana - Cornus (amomum, sericea) / Clematis virginiana Shrub Swamp
Translated Name: Gray Alder - (Silky Dogwood, Red-osier Dogwood) / Devil's Darning-needles Shrub Swamp
Common Name: Alluvial Alder Thicket
Unique Identifier: CEGL006062
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: These shrublands occur along large streams and rivers in New England, northern New York and western Pennsylvania. They are found on river-margin alluvial deposits of moderate-energy reaches, where the flooding regime prevents forests from developing. The setting can range from flats to moderately steep banks; soils are usually sandy or silty and have little organic matter. Most are temporarily flooded, and the soils may not remain saturated through the entire growing season. Tall shrubs (1.5-3 m in height) dominate the vegetation, usually forming at least 50% cover and often creating a dense thicket. The amount of lower shrub and herb vegetation varies inversely with the tall-shrub canopy. Bryophytes are usually sparse but may be locally abundant in some settings. Alnus incana is a constant and usually dominant shrub. In some cases, Alnus serrulata (in more temperate settings) or Alnus viridis (in more boreal settings) may occur with or in place of Alnus incana. The ability of alders to bend under strong currents and their nitrogen-fixing root nodules may give alders a competitive advantage over other shrubs in this setting. Cornus sericea or Cornus amomum, along with Salix spp., are frequent associates and may dominate in some areas. Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides is occasional but not abundant. Acer rubrum, Prunus serotina, Ulmus americana, and/or Acer saccharinum may be present, as sparse individuals; in more southerly examples of this type, Acer negundo and Salix nigra may occur. Spiraea alba is usually present and may be abundant as a lower shrub. Clematis virginiana is a typical vine, often clambering in tangles on the shrubs. This type is distinguished from other northeastern Alnus-dominated associations by its alluvial setting. Although common, this association is little studied and comprehensive surveys have yet to be undertaken.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low
Classification Comments: This type is currently broadly defined, as detailed studies of riparian shrublands in the Northeast are few. Stands dominated by Alnus versus those dominated by Salix and Cornus appear different and may be separable as distinct types with additional survey data. Likewise, higher-energy Alnus thickets close to the channel may be distinct from lower-energy thickets in alluvium that is further removed from the channel, but additional data are needed.

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 2 - Shrub & Herb Vegetation
Subclass 2.C - Shrub & Herb Wetland
Formation 2.C.4 - Temperate to Polar Freshwater Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Division 2.C.4.Nd - Eastern North American Temperate & Boreal Freshwater Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Macrogroup Eastern North American Marsh, Wet Meadow & Shrubland
Group Laurentian-Acadian Wet Meadow & Shrub Swamp
Alliance Alder Shrub Swamp

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL006158 Alnus incana ssp. rugosa - Ilex mucronata / Sphagnum spp. Acidic Peatland
CEGL006337 Alnus (incana ssp. rugosa, serrulata) - Cornus amomum Tidal Shrub Swamp
CEGL006546 Alnus incana - Viburnum recognitum / Calamagrostis canadensis Shrub Swamp
CEGL006576 Cornus (amomum, sericea) - Viburnum dentatum - Rosa multiflora Ruderal Shrub Swamp



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 Alder floodplain Equivalent   Gawler and Cutko 2010
Maine Dogwood - willow shoreline thicket Equivalent   Gawler 2002
Massachusetts Shrub Swamp Broader   Swain and Kearsley 2001
New Hampshire Alder - dogwood - arrowwood alluvial thicket Finer   Sperduto 2000
New Hampshire Alder alluvial shrubland Finer   Sperduto 2000
Rhode Island Alder Thicket Broader   Enser 1999
Vermont Alluvial Shrub Swamp Broader   Thompson and Sorenson 2000


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Alnus incana ssp. rugosa - Salix spp. community
Relationship: I - Intersecting
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.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES103.589 Boreal Ice-Scour Rivershore
CES201.587 Laurentian-Acadian Floodplain Forest


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G4G5 (01Dec1997)
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, PA, RI, VT, WV
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This shrub swamp of moderate- to high-energy floodplains occurs in New England and south to Pennsylvania.

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: Aroostook Hills and Lowlands Section
Section Code: 212A Occurrence Status: Predicted or probable
Section Name: Maine-New Brunswick Foothills and Lowlands Section
Section Code: 212B Occurrence Status: Predicted or probable
Section Name: Fundy Coastal and Interior Section
Section Code: 212C Occurrence Status: Predicted or probable
Section Name: Central Maine Coastal and Embayment Section
Section Code: 212D Occurrence Status: Predicted or probable
Section Name: St. Lawrence and Champlain Valley Section
Section Code: 212E Occurrence Status: Predicted or probable
Division Name: Hot Continental Division
Province Name: Eastern Broadleaf Forest (Oceanic) Province
Province Code: 221 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Western Unglaciated Allegheny Plateau Section
Section Code: 221F 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: Confident or certain
Section Name: Green, Taconic, Berkshire Mountain Section
Section Code: M212C Occurrence Status: Predicted or probable
Section Name: Adirondack Mountain Section
Section Code: M212D Occurrence Status: Predicted or probable


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: Tall shrubs (1.5-3 m in height) dominate the vegetation, usually forming at least 50% cover and often creating a dense thicket. The amount of lower shrub and herb vegetation varies inversely with the tall-shrub canopy. Bryophytes are usually sparse but may be locally abundant in some settings. Alnus incana is a constant and usually dominant shrub. In some cases, Alnus serrulata (in more temperate settings) or Alnus viridis (in more boreal settings) may occur with or in place of Alnus incana. The ability of alders to bend under strong currents and their nitrogen-fixing root nodules may give alders a competitive advantage over other shrubs in this setting. Cornus sericea or Cornus amomum, along with Salix spp., are frequent associates and may dominate in some areas. Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides is occasional but not abundant. Acer rubrum, Prunus serotina, Ulmus americana, and/or Acer saccharinum may be present as sparse individuals; in more southerly examples of this type, Acer negundo and Salix nigra may occur. Spiraea alba is usually present and may be abundant as a lower shrub. Clematis virginiana is a typical vine, often clambering in tangles on the shrubs. Common herbs include Doellingeria umbellata (= Aster umbellatus), Calamagrostis canadensis, Boehmeria cylindrica, Elymus riparius, Elymus virginicus, Eupatorium maculatum, Iris versicolor, Lycopus uniflorus, Lysimachia ciliata, Lysimachia terrestris, Osmunda claytoniana, Matteuccia struthiopteris, Muhlenbergia glomerata, Onoclea sensibilis, and Thalictrum pubescens.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Clematis virginiana G4 Liana Shrub/sapling (tall & short)  
 
 
Alnus incana G4 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 
Cornus amomum G4 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 
Cornus sericea G4 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 
Spiraea alba G4 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Boehmeria cylindrica G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Pedicularis furbishiae G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Onoclea sensibilis G4 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 
Calamagrostis canadensis G4 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Pedicularis furbishiae
  (Furbish's Lousewort)
G1G2 LE: Listed endangered


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: These shrublands occur along large streams and rivers in New England, northern New York and western Pennsylvania. They are found on river-margin alluvial deposits of moderate-energy reaches, where the flooding regime prevents forests from developing. The setting can range from flats to moderately steep banks; soils are usually sandy or silty. Most are temporarily flooded, and the soils may not remain saturated through the entire growing season.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: On river reaches subject to ice-scour, the shrubs may be regularly killed back almost to their roots and may be shorter than 1.5 m in at least the first year of regrowth.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): Northern Appalachian Planning Team
Element Description Edition Date: 08Dec2005
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
  • Eastern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Boston, MA.

  • 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]

  • 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.

  • Gawler, S. C., and P. S. Bowman. 2012. Vegetation classification and mapping at Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, New Hampshire. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2012/584.1. National Park Service, Fort Collins, CO.

  • Lubinski, S., K. Hop, and S. Gawler. 2003. Vegetation Mapping Program: Acadia National Park, Maine. Report produced by U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Upper Midwest Environmental Sciences Center, and Maine Natural Areas Program in conjunction with M. Story (NPS Vegetation Mapping Coordinator) NPS, Natural Resources Information Division, Inventory and Monitoring Program, and K. Brown (USGS Vegetation Mapping Coordinator), USGS, Center for Biological Informatics and NatureServe. [http://biology.usgs.gov/npsveg/ftp/vegmapping/acad/reports/acadrpt.pdf]

  • 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.

  • Nichols, W. F., J. M. Hoy, and D. D. Sperduto. 2001. Open riparian communities and riparian complexes in New Hampshire. New Hampshire Natural Heritage Inventory, DRED Division of Forests and Lands, Concord, NH. 82 pp. plus appendices.

  • 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. 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]

  • 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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