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Spiraea alba var. latifolia - Cornus racemosa / Calamagrostis canadensis - Sanguisorba canadensis - Carex scoparia Seepage Shrubland
Translated Name: Broadleaf Meadowsweet - Gray Dogwood / Bluejoint - Canadian Burnet - Broom Sedge Seepage Shrubland
Common Name: Northern Blue Ridge Mafic Fen
Unique Identifier: CEGL006249
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This saturated wetland occurs on soils weathered from Catoctin metabasalt (greenstone), a mafic metamorphic rock. The type is associated with sublevel headwater seepages on a broad summit of the northern Blue Ridge in Page and Madison counties, Virginia (vicinity of Big Meadows, Shenandoah National Park). Microtopography is typically irregular, and soils are strongly to slightly acidic, with high magnesium and iron levels and moderately low calcium content. The physiognomy of this vegetation type ranges from dense to open shrublands to wholly herbaceous but is usually a patch-mosaic of shrub thickets and herbaceous openings. Spiraea alba var. latifolia and Cornus racemosa are the typical woody dominants. In some areas, Betula populifolia forms a sparse tree layer 6-10 m tall. Other shrubs documented in the type are Ilex verticillata, Lyonia ligustrina var. ligustrina, Photinia melanocarpa, and sapling-sized Acer rubrum. Calamagrostis canadensis, Sanguisorba canadensis, and Carex scoparia are patch-dominant herbs common to all known occurrences of the type. Other characteristic herbaceous species are Carex buxbaumii, Carex lurida, Epilobium leptophyllum, Glyceria striata, Iris versicolor, Isoetes valida, Juncus effusus var. solutus, Juncus subcaudatus var. subcaudatus, Lycopus virginicus, Oxypolis rigidior, Packera aurea (= Senecio aureus), Scirpus cyperinus, Solidago rugosa, and Thelypteris palustris var. pubescens. Herbs that are inconstant but locally abundant in the type include Caltha palustris, Carex conoidea, Carex echinata ssp. echinata, Carex gynandra, and Menyanthes trifoliata. The processes that maintain this vegetation in open condition are poorly understood. All of the documented occurrences are small and have been disturbed to some degree by grazing and/or adjacent clearing. Ditching and groundwater alterations from a large well serving the Big Meadows Campground, deer grazing, non-native weeds, woody succession, and probably fire exclusion are continuing threats to this naturally rare wetland.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low
Classification Comments: Data have been collected from four plots.

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 Cool Temperate Seep
Group Central & Southern Appalachian Seep
Alliance Southern Appalachian Rich Seep

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL003917 Alnus serrulata / Sanguisorba canadensis - Parnassia grandifolia - Helenium brevifolium Seepage Shrubland
CEGL004252 Alnus serrulata / Sanguisorba canadensis - Calamagrostis canadensis Seepage Shrubland
CEGL007048 Physocarpus opulifolius - Alnus serrulata / Osmunda regalis - Parnassia grandifolia - Eryngium integrifolium Seepage Shrubland



Related Concepts from Other Classifications

Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Spiraea alba var. latifolia - Cornus racemosa / Calamagrostis canadensis - Sanguisorba canadensis - Carex scoparia Shrub Herbaceous Vegetation
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, K. D. Patterson, and K. M. McCoy. 2004. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Natural Heritage Technical Report 04-01. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/dnh/ncintro.htm]
Related Concept Name: Mafic Fen / Seep
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.
Related Concept Name: Northern Blue Ridge Mafic Fen
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, K. D. Patterson, and K. M. McCoy. 2004. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Natural Heritage Technical Report 04-01. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/dnh/ncintro.htm]

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.300 Southern and Central Appalachian Bog and Fen


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G1 (09Aug2004)
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: This type appears to be endemic to a single portion of the northern Virginia Blue Ridge (vicinity of Big Meadows, Shenandoah National Park), where it occurs in several discrete patches totaling less than 25 acres in aggregate. Some of these occurrences have been degraded by hydrologic alterations (wells, drainage ditches), and shrubs have increased dramatically over the past 25 years, possibly because of fire exclusion.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: VA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community is known only from the vicinity of Big Meadows (Shenandoah National Park) on the northern Blue Ridge, in Page and Madison counties, Virginia.

U.S. Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name: Humid Temperate Domain
Division Name: Hot Continental Regime Mountains
Province Name: Central Appalachian Broadleaf Forest - Coniferous Forest - Meadow Province
Province Code: M221 Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Blue Ridge Mountains Section
Section Code: M221D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: The physiognomy of this vegetation type ranges from dense to open shrublands to wholly herbaceous but is usually a patch-mosaic of shrub thickets and herbaceous openings. Based on observations made over a 25-year period, shrub densities have increased greatly, probably because of fire exclusion (G. Fleming pers. obs.). Spiraea alba var. latifolia and Cornus racemosa are the typical woody dominants. In some areas, Betula populifolia forms a sparse tree layer 6-10 m tall. Other shrubs documented in the type are Ilex verticillata, Lyonia ligustrina var. ligustrina, Photinia melanocarpa, and sapling Acer rubrum. Calamagrostis canadensis, Sanguisorba canadensis, and Carex scoparia are patch-dominant herbs common to all known patches of the type. Other characteristic herbaceous species are Carex buxbaumii, Carex lurida, Epilobium leptophyllum, Glyceria striata, Iris versicolor, Isoetes valida, Juncus effusus var. solutus, Juncus subcaudatus var. subcaudatus, Lycopus virginicus, Oxypolis rigidior, Packera aurea (= Senecio aureus), Scirpus cyperinus, Solidago rugosa, and Thelypteris palustris var. pubescens. Herbs that are inconstant but locally abundant in the type include Caltha palustris, Carex conoidea, Carex echinata ssp. echinata, Carex gynandra, and Menyanthes trifoliata. The introduced weeds Agrostis capillaris, Holcus lanatus, and Poa pratensis are well-established in this community but have not become highly invasive to date.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Betula populifolia G1 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Cornus racemosa G1 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Spiraea alba var. latifolia G1 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)  
 
 
Epilobium leptophyllum G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Lycopus uniflorus G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Menyanthes trifoliata G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Sanguisorba canadensis G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Solidago rugosa G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Calamagrostis canadensis G1 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Carex buxbaumii G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex conoidea G1 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Carex echinata ssp. echinata G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex scoparia G1 Graminoid Herb (field)  
 
 
Glyceria striata G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Juncus effusus G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: This saturated wetland is similar to a calcareous fen but occurs on soils weathered from Catoctin metabasalt (greenstone), a mafic metamorphic rock. This small-patch vegetation type is associated with sublevel headwater seepages on a broad summit of the northern Blue Ridge in Page and Madison counties, Virginia. Microtopography is typically irregular, with hummock-and-hollow development, braided streams, areas of coarse gravel and cobble deposition, muck-filled depressions, and superficial to substantial peat accumulations. Soils, derived from underlying metabasalt, are strongly to slightly acidic, with high magnesium and iron levels and moderately low calcium content.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: The processes that maintain this vegetation in open condition are poorly understood. All of the documented occurrences are small and have been disturbed to some degree by grazing and/or adjacent clearing. Ditching and groundwater alterations from a large well serving the Big Meadows Campground, deer grazing, non-native weeds, woody succession, and probably fire exclusion are continuing threats to this naturally rare wetland. The National Park Service has recently mitigated some of the historical alterations to hydrology and initiated a program of prescribed burning in order to control increases in shrub density. However, excessive grazing from greatly overpopulous deer in the park continues to have major impacts to Sanguisorba canadensis, Epilobium leptophyllum, and other characteristic herbs.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): G. Fleming
Element Description Edition Date: 09Aug2004
Element Description Author(s): G. Fleming
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 09Aug2004
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): G.P. Fleming and K.D. Patterson

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., 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. M. McCoy. 2004. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Natural Heritage Technical Report 04-01. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/dnh/ncintro.htm]

  • 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.

  • Young, J., G. Fleming, P. Townsend, and J. Foster. 2006. Vegetation of Shenandoah National Park in relation to environmental gradients. Final Report (v.1.1). Research technical report prepared for USDI, National Park Service. USGS/NPS Vegetation Mapping Program. 92 pp. plus appendices.

  • Young, J., G. Fleming, W. Cass, and C. Lea. 2009. Vegetation of Shenandoah National Park in relation to environmental gradients, Version 2.0. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2009/142. National Park Service, Philadelphia, PA. 389 pp.


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