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Chamaecyparis thyoides / Persea palustris / Lyonia lucida - Ilex coriacea Swamp Forest
Translated Name: Atlantic White-cedar / Swamp Bay / Shining Fetterbush - Large Gallberry Swamp Forest
Common Name: Peatland Atlantic White-cedar Swamp Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL006146
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This Atlantic white-cedar forest is found in flat, non-alluvial peatlands, on organic soils that are permanently saturated. Its range is the Atlantic Coastal Plain in southern Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, and possibly South Carolina. Typical occurrences have a canopy strongly dominated by Chamaecyparis thyoides, with scattered Acer rubrum, Nyssa biflora, and Persea palustris in the canopy and subcanopy. An open to dense shrub stratum typically contains Persea palustris, Lyonia lucida, Clethra alnifolia, Ilex glabra, Ilex coriacea, Smilax laurifolia, Vaccinium formosum, Vaccinium corymbosum (in Maryland only), Magnolia virginiana, and Gaylussacia frondosa (= var. frondosa). The herb stratum is generally very sparse but may include Woodwardia areolata, Woodwardia virginica, and Osmunda cinnamomea. Sphagnum spp., other mosses, and lichens are common on exposed peat and rotting wood. Establishment follows fire with a return time of 25-100+ years.



Classification

Classification Confidence: High
Classification Comments: Classification is based on plot data from Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Virginia and North Carolina and Hickory Point Cypress Swamp in Maryland. Natural hydrologic regimes and fire-return times need to be maintained for successful regeneration and maintenance of this community. Some large stands of this type remain at Great Dismal Swamp NWR, but it was formerly much more extensive and may have been severely impacted by Hurricane Isabel (G.P. Fleming pers. comm. 2005). The Maryland stands represent a northern disjunction of this type that lacks the southern shrubs Lyonia lucida and Ilex coriacea, but is otherwise similar to stands in the main part of the range.

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.Nb - Southeastern North American Flooded & Swamp Forest
Macrogroup Southern Coastal Plain Evergreen Hardwood - Conifer Swamp
Group Coastal Plain Mixed Evergreen Swamp
Alliance Southeastern Coastal Plain Atlantic White-cedar Swamp Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL007563 Chamaecyparis thyoides - (Liriodendron tulipifera) / Lyonia lucida Swamp Forest



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 Peatland Atlantic White Cedar Forest Equivalent Certain Schafale 2012


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Chamaecyparis thyoides / Lyonia lucida - Ilex coriacea / Osmunda cinnamomea Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, K. D. Patterson, and K. Taverna. 2006. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Version 2.2. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/ncTIV.shtml]
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: Chamaecyparis thyoides / Lyonia lucida - Ilex coriacea / Osmunda cinnamomea Saturated Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P. 1998. Virginia natural community framework, version January 30, 1998. Unpublished document. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 6 pp.
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P., and W. H. Moorhead, III. 1998. Comparative wetlands ecology study of the Great Dismal Swamp, Northwest River, and North Landing River in Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 98-9. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. Unpublished report submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 181 pp. plus appendices.
Related Concept Name: Atlantic White Cedar Swamp
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
Reference: 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.
Related Concept Name: Atlantic White-Cedar: 97
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.
Related Concept Name: IIa2b. Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Forest
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Allard, D. J. 1990. Southeastern United States ecological community classification. Interim report, Version 1.2. The Nature Conservancy, Southeast Regional Office, Chapel Hill, NC. 96 pp.
Related Concept Name: Peatland Atlantic White Cedar Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Schafale, M. 2000. Fourth approximation guide. Coastal Plain. January 2000 draft. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.
Relationship: = - Equivalent
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.
Relationship: ? - Undetermined
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
CES203.304 Southern Atlantic Coastal Plain Nonriverine Swamp and Wet Hardwood Forest


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G2 (25Jun2012)
Rounded Global Status: G2 - Imperiled
Reasons: This saturated forest association is restricted to the Atlantic Coastal Plain of southeastern Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, and possibly South Carolina; it occurs in a highly specialized hydrologic and topographic situation. It has significantly declined from its original extent. While it is currently threatened by conversion to agriculture and residential/industrial development, logging is the biggest threat. Stand records from Maryland's Hickory Point Cypress Swamp indicate "white-cedar was cut in the 1950s and 1960s and areas allowed to revegetate" (Maryland DNR Forest Service 1995). Though small pockets of dense, mature white-cedar (40-60 cm dbh) still exists at Hickory Point, it is nowhere near its historical density as evident by the amount of Acer rubrum and Nyssa biflora. A similar observation was made by MDNHP ecologists in a headwater basin where white-cedar reportedly was "clear-cut in 1985." Except for a few scattered white-cedar near the margins, the basin is exclusively Acer rubrum and Nyssa biflora with no observed white-cedar regeneration.

Agriculture and development may have caused big losses in the past but are not extensive threats now. Given the wetness of these sites, logging with regeneration failure, combined with lack of fire, has probably caused most of the historic loss as well. A heart rot disease which causes early mortality may be a significant threat to remaining stands (though the use of disease to justify logging stands appears to be a much bigger threat). White-cedar is highly susceptible to windthrow in storms, and many remaining stands have been disrupted in recent years. Peat mining has been a threat in the past and may be so again in the future. Natural hydrologic regimes and fire-return times need to be maintained for successful regeneration and maintenance of this community. It is very susceptible to major disruptions in hydrology; rapid, prolonged change in water depth kills Chamaecyparis thyoides seedlings and stresses or kills mature specimens. Leaf litter and woody debris should not be too dense in order for the shade-intolerant Chamaecyparis thyoides seedlings to survive. In the absence of fire and adequate gap regeneration, Atlantic white-cedar forests may be replaced by bay forest dominated by Magnolia virginiana, Persea palustris, and Gordonia lasianthus. Literature suggests these forest succeed to bay forest, but many places are succeeding to forest dominated by Acer rubrum and Nyssa biflora. Persea sometimes is a major successional component, but Gordonia lasianthus almost never is present and Magnolia virginiana is scarce.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: MD, NC, SCpotentially occurs, VA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This type is found in the Atlantic Coastal Plain in southern Maryland, southeastern Virginia, North Carolina, and possibly South Carolina.

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: Typical occurrences have a canopy strongly dominated by Chamaecyparis thyoides, with scattered Acer rubrum, Nyssa biflora, and Persea palustris in the canopy and subcanopy. An open to dense shrub stratum typically contains Persea palustris, Lyonia lucida, Clethra alnifolia, Ilex glabra, Ilex coriacea, Smilax laurifolia, Vaccinium formosum, Vaccinium corymbosum (in Maryland only), Magnolia virginiana, and Gaylussacia frondosa (= var. frondosa).The evergreen shrubs Lyonia lucida and Ilex coriacea are characteristic and usually abundant species in the North Carolina and Virginia stands, but are absent from the outlying northern stands in Maryland. The herb stratum is generally very sparse but may include Woodwardia areolata, Woodwardia virginica, and Osmunda cinnamomea. Sphagnum recurvum, Sphagnum palustre, and other mosses, and lichens are common on exposed peat and rotting wood. Compositional summary statistics calculated from 8 sample plots in Maryland (5 plots from Hickory Point Cypress Swamp) and Virginia (3 plots from Great Dismal Swamp NWR) indicate a mean species richness of 19 taxa per 400 square meters. Homoteneity among 8 sample plots is 0.737. Most constant species (>75%) include Chamaecyparis thyoides, Acer rubrum, Clethra alnifolia, Vaccinium corymbosum, Magnolia virginiana, Smilax laurifolia, Woodwardia virginica, Nyssa biflora, Persea palustris, Osmunda cinnamomea, and Ilex opaca.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Chamaecyparis thyoides G2 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Acer rubrum G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree subcanopy    
 
 
Nyssa biflora G2 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree subcanopy    
 
 
Lyonia lucida G2 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Persea palustris G2 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Tall shrub/sapling  
 
 
Clethra alnifolia G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling  
 
 
Osmunda cinnamomea G2 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 
Woodwardia virginica G2 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: This Chamaecyparis thyoides-dominated forest is found in flat, non-alluvial peatlands, on organic soils that are permanently saturated. In Maryland, a northern outlier of this community type has been documented from Hickory Point Cypress Swamp, an ancient oxbow swamp of the Pocomoke River. Though degraded, small remnants of this community type are also believed to occur in headwater basins of tributaries of the Pocomoke River watershed.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: The establishment of this type follows fire events, with a return time of 25-100+ years.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): S. Landaal
Element Description Edition Date: 25Jun2012
Element Description Author(s): M. Pyne and J. Harrison
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 25Jun2012
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): M.P. Schafale, mod. J. Harrison

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


References
  • Allard, D. J. 1990. Southeastern United States ecological community classification. Interim report, Version 1.2. The Nature Conservancy, Southeast Regional Office, Chapel Hill, NC. 96 pp.

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

  • Fleming, G. P. 1998. Virginia natural community framework, version January 30, 1998. Unpublished document. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 6 pp.

  • 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., P. P. Coulling, K. D. Patterson, and K. Taverna. 2006. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Version 2.2. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/natural_heritage/ncTIV.shtml]

  • 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.

  • Fleming, G. P., and W. H. Moorhead, III. 1998. Comparative wetlands ecology study of the Great Dismal Swamp, Northwest River, and North Landing River in Virginia. Natural Heritage Technical Report 98-9. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. Unpublished report submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 181 pp. plus appendices.

  • Fleming, Gary P. Personal communication. Ecologist, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA.

  • 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.

  • Maryland DNR Forest Service. 1995. Cypress Swamp (Mahan Property) CO-OP property summary sheet. Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis, MD.

  • 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. 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.

  • 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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