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Acer rubrum - Quercus spp. / Smilax spp. Serpentine Forest
Translated Name: Red Maple - Oak species / Greenbrier species Serpentine Forest
Common Name: Red Maple - Oak / Greenbrier Serpentine Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL006438
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This serpentine plant community is associated with soils derived from weathered serpentine bedrock and typically occurs on upper slopes and interfluves with a southerly aspect. Soils are typically silt loams, greater than 30 cm deep. In Pennsylvania serpentine barrens, the forest or woodland canopy is dominated by Acer rubrum and Quercus alba, as well as other oak species, including Quercus falcata, Quercus rubra, and Quercus velutina. On Staten Island, New York, the canopy includes Betula populifolia and Populus tremuloides in addition to Quercus velutina and Sassafras albidum. The subcanopy is characterized by Acer rubrum, Quercus alba, Nyssa sylvatica, and Prunus serotina. The shrub layer is dominated by Smilax rotundifolia and/or Smilax glauca. Vaccinium pallidum, Rubus allegheniensis, Gaylussacia baccata, Prunus serotina, Morella pensylvanica, Rhus copallinum, and/or Viburnum recognitum may also be present in the shrub layer. The herbaceous layer under the canopy cover is depauperate and typically dominated by Smilax rotundifolia, Smilax glauca, and Microstegium vimineum. Other typical herbaceous species include Danthonia spicata, Carex glaucodea, and Lonicera japonica.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low - Poorly Documented
Classification Comments: This and a number of other serpentine vegetation community types were described by Podniesinski et al. (unpubl. data 1999); subsequently, former Pinus rigida / Schizachyrium scoparium - Scleria pauciflora Wooded Herbaceous Vegetation (CEGL006159) was archived as the type was too broad given the recent data describing more specific community types occurring within the eastern serpentine barrens. This type has 40% or more tree cover in comparison to the open grassland types that have less than 40% tree cover.

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 1 - Forest & Woodland
Subclass 1.B - Temperate & Boreal Forest & Woodland
Formation 1.B.2 - Cool Temperate Forest & Woodland
Division 1.B.2.Na - Eastern North American Forest & Woodland
Macrogroup Appalachian-Northeastern Oak - Hardwood - Pine Forest & Woodland
Group Appalachian Oak / Chestnut Forest
Alliance Eastern Black Oak - White Oak Dry Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL006266 Pinus virginiana / Quercus marilandica Serpentine Ruderal Forest
CEGL006290 Pinus rigida - Quercus (velutina, montana) Forest
CEGL006316 Deschampsia cespitosa - Vernonia noveboracensis Serpentine Seep
CEGL006439 Acer rubrum - Pinus virginiana - Pinus rigida / Smilax spp. Serpentine Forest
CEGL006440 Juniperus virginiana - Pinus virginiana / Smilax rotundifolia Serpentine Forest
CEGL006441 Sorghastrum nutans - Schizachyrium scoparium Serpentine Grassland
CEGL006442 Schizachyrium scoparium - Sporobolus heterolepis Serpentine Grassland



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
New York Serpentine Barrens Intersects   Edinger et al. 2002
Pennsylvania Serpentine Virginia pine - oak forest Intersects   Fike 1999
Pennsylvania Serpentine pitch pine - oak forest Intersects   Fike 1999


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Smith's Eastern Serpentine Barren
Relationship: B - Broader
Reference: Podniesinski, G., A. Leimanis, and J. Ebert. 1999. Serpentine plant community classification. Unpublished data. Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Pittsburgh, PA. 14 pp.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.347 Eastern Serpentine Woodland


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G1G2 (20Sep2005)
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: New ranking will need to be developed for each Pennsylvania serpentine association

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: NY, PA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community occurs in serpentine barrens located within Chester and Lancaster counties in Pennsylvania and on Staten Island, New York.

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: Northern Appalachian Piedmont Section
Section Code: 221D 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


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: In Pennsylvania serpentine barrens, the forest or woodland canopy is dominated by Acer rubrum and Quercus alba, as well as other oak species, including Quercus falcata, Quercus rubra, and Quercus velutina. On Staten Island, New York, the canopy includes Betula populifolia and Populus tremuloides in addition to Quercus velutina and Sassafras albidum. The subcanopy is characterized by Acer rubrum, Quercus alba, Nyssa sylvatica, and Prunus serotina. The shrub layer is dominated by Smilax rotundifolia and/or Smilax glauca. Vaccinium pallidum, Rubus allegheniensis, Gaylussacia baccata, Prunus serotina, Morella pensylvanica (= Myrica pensylvanica), Rhus copallinum, and/or Viburnum recognitum may also be present in the shrub layer. The herbaceous layer under the canopy cover is depauperate and typically dominated by Smilax rotundifolia, Smilax glauca, and Microstegium vimineum. Other typical herbaceous species include Danthonia spicata, Carex glaucodea, and Lonicera japonica.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Acer rubrum G1 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Vaccinium pallidum G1 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Danthonia spicata G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Atrytone arogos
  (Arogos Skipper)
G3  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This serpentine plant community is associated with soils derived from weathered serpentine bedrock. It typically occurs on upper slopes and interfluves with a southerly aspect. Soils are silt loams, greater than 30 cm deep.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: This plant community is adapted to the weathering of serpentine bedrock. It was once thought that the lack of canopy cover was maintained by the unique edaphic features of the chrome series soils, but in the last 20 years, many sites have been invaded by dense Pinus virginiana (Tyndall 1992a). In Pennsylvania, red maple and white oak are the canopy dominants of this type; while in New York, dominant canopy species include black oak, sassafras, and gray birch. This phenomenon dramatically alters the light regime and promotes substantial soil development (up to 10 cm in 20 years). Under these conditions, an entirely different community develops as the influence of the bedrock is buffered by the soil/litter accumulation. This closed-canopy serpentine forest typically exhibits a dense understory of Smilax rotundifolia. Some of the characteristic herbaceous serpentine species apparently persist in the ground layer as scattered non-flowering individuals; other populations appear to die out but may persist in the seed bank. Selective cutting has been effective in restoring degraded sites to their previous composition and structure, but most researchers believe that without regular burning to prevent soil development the serpentine plant communities will not persist. There is substantial evidence that most of the existing areas were regularly burned by Native Americans (Marye 1920, 1955a, 1955b, 1955c) and perhaps maintained by grazing after European settlement.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): G. Podniesinski, A. Leimanis, and J. Ebert (1999)
Element Description Edition Date: 20Sep2005
Element Description Author(s): G. Podniesinski, A. Leimanis, J. Ebert, G. Edinger, M. Anderson
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 20Sep2005
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): L.A. Sneddon and E.F. Largay

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.

  • 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.

  • Fike, J. 1999. Terrestrial and palustrine plant communities of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory. Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Recreation, Bureau of Forestry, Harrisburg, PA. 86 pp.

  • Marye, W. B. 1920. The old Indian road. Maryland Historical Magazine 15:107-124, 208-229, 345-395.

  • Marye, W. B. 1955a. The great Maryland barrens I. Maryland Historical Magazine 50:11-23.

  • Marye, W. B. 1955b. The great Maryland barrens II. Maryland Historical Magazine 50:124-142.

  • Marye, W. B. 1955c. The great Maryland barrens III. Maryland Historical Magazine 50:234-253.

  • Podniesinski, G., A. Leimanis, and J. Ebert. 1999. Serpentine plant community classification. Unpublished data. Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Pittsburgh, PA. 14 pp.

  • Smith, T. L. No date (a). Natural ecological communities of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory, East, Harrisburg, PA. 97 pp.

  • Tyndall, R. W. 1992a. Historical considerations of conifer expansion in Maryland serpentine "barrens." Castanea 57:123-131.


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