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Lasallia papulosa - Stereocaulon glaucescens - Chrysothrix chlorina Nonvascular Vegetation
Translated Name: Toadskin Lichen - Snow Lichen - Sulphur Dust Lichen Nonvascular Vegetation
Common Name: Central Appalachian Mafic Boulderfield
Unique Identifier: CEGL004143
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association is known only from four counties on the northern Virginia Blue Ridge, where it occurs on fully exposed, minimally weathered metabasalt boulderfields at elevations from about 670 to 1160 m (2200-3800 feet). Vascular plants are generally absent and lichens dominate these habitats. Lasallia papulosa and Stereocaulon glaucescens are generally abundant and conspicuous in variable combinations. Although not abundant, Chrysothrix chlorina is scattered on sheltered boulder faces and in grottoes and is a good diagnostic species as it appears to be absent from siliciclastic boulderfields in this region. A variety of other foliose, crustose and fruticose lichen species are associated, including several characteristic arctic-boreal species at higher elevations.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low
Classification Comments: Classification of this association is based on geographically limited lichen inventories in Shenandoah National Park. In the park inventory, lichens were mass-collected from boulderfield and outcrop habitats on different geologic substrates and specimens were identified by Richard Harris (New York Botanical Garden), Don Flenniken (author of Macrolichens of West Virginia), and James Lawry (George Mason University). Classification of lichen communities in eastern North America is currently difficult and tentative because inventory and data are generally lacking. Because Stereocaulon glaucescens and many other species in this association have northern or arctic-boreal ranges, related boulderfield communities are most likely to be found north of Virginia.

Vegetation Hierarchy
Class 6 - Open Rock Vegetation
Subclass 6.B - Temperate & Boreal Open Rock Vegetation
Formation 6.B.1 - Temperate & Boreal Cliff, Scree & Other Rock Vegetation
Division 6.B.1.Na - Eastern North American Temperate & Boreal Cliff, Scree & Rock Vegetation
Macrogroup Eastern North American Cliff & Rock Vegetation
Group Appalachian Cliff & Rock Vegetation
Alliance Appalachian Lichen Boulderfield

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL004142 Lasallia (papulosa, pensylvanica) - Dimelaena oreina - (Melanelia culbersonii) Nonvascular Vegetation
CEGL004389 Umbilicaria muehlenbergii - Lasallia papulosa - (Melanelia stygia) Nonvascular Vegetation



Related Concepts from Other Classifications

Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Lichen / Bryophyte Boulderfield
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.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.601 North-Central Appalachian Acidic Cliff and Talus


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G1? (07Dec2006)
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: As currently defined, this association has an extremely narrow geographic range, with fewer than 20 known discrete patches covering an aggregate area of less than 10 acres. Although well-weathered, forested talus of metabasalt and similar mafic rocks are locally common in the Central Appalachians, fully exposed, minimally weathered boulderfields of these substrates are extremely rare in the region.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: VA
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This association is known only from metabasalt districts in four counties on the northern Virginia Blue Ridge. The potential range is larger, but suitable habitat (i.e., mafic substrates at higher elevations) are not known to occur elsewhere in the Central Appalachians.

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: Vascular plants are generally absent and lichens dominate. Maximum patch size is about one acre, and many patches are much smaller. Lasallia papulosa and Stereocaulon glaucescens are generally abundant and conspicuous in variable combinations. Although not abundant, Chrysothrix chlorina is a good diagnostic species as it appears to be absent from siliciclastic and granitic boulderfields in this region; it is scattered on sheltered boulder faces and in grottoes, often with Psilolechia lucida, Usnea halei, and Ramalina intermedia. Other minor umbilicate and foliose species include Flavoparmelia baltimorensis, Parmelia sulcata, and Umbilicaria muehlenbergii. Many crustose species occur, including Aspicilia cinerea, Diploschistes scruposus, Fuscidea recensa, Lepraria spp., Porpidia spp., Rhizocarpon rubescens, and Trapeliopsis granulosa. Flat surfaces and interstices that have thin deposits of organic matter often support a variety of fruticose lichens, including Cladina rangiferina, Cladina stellaris, Cladonia crispata, Cladonia furcata, Cladonia pleurota, and Cladonia squamosa. At higher elevations, a number of characteristic arctic-boreal lichens occur, including Cladonia coccifera, Melanelia stygia, Microcalicium arenarium, Parmelia omphalodes, Porpidia tuberculosa, Rhizocarpon geographicum, and Umbilicaria caroliniana. Along the edges of the boulderfields, scattered individuals or patches of Polypodium appalachianum, Hylotelephium telephioides, and other vascular plants may occur in transition zones with forests or woodlands.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Chrysothrix chlorina G1 Lichen Nonvascular    
 
 
Cladonia coccifera G1 Lichen Nonvascular      
 
 
Lasallia papulosa G1 Lichen Nonvascular  
 
 
Melanelia stygia G1 Lichen Nonvascular      
 
 
Parmelia omphalodes G1 Lichen Nonvascular      
 
 
Porpidia lowiana G1 Lichen Nonvascular      
 
 
Porpidia tuberculosa G1 Lichen Nonvascular      
 
 
Stereocaulon glaucescens G1 Lichen Nonvascular  
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Porpidia lowiana
  (Boulder Lichen)
G2G3  
Porpidia tuberculosa
  (Boulder Lichen)
G2G4  
Stereocaulon glaucescens
  (Snow Lichen)
G3  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This association occurs on fully exposed, minimally weathered metabasalt boulderfields at middle and high elevations of the northern Blue Ridge. The known elevation range is from about 670 to 1160 m (2200-3800 feet), with the majority of acreage located above 915 m (3000 feet). Aspect is variable among sites, but slopes are typically steep to very steep (often >30). Block size is typically <1 m, with the surficial boulders in the field somewhat loose. Although this association is most extensive on boulder deposits, it may also occur on fully exposed outcrops associated with the boulderfields.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: The exposed rock surfaces supporting this community are subject to fluctuating, daily extremes of temperature, humidity, and moisture saturation during the growing season, as well as to low temperatures, high winds, and frequent ice during the winter. Boulderfield habitats have resulted from periglacial phenomena and the collapse of resistant strata from weathering and erosion of weaker underlying rocks. Most Central Appalachian boulderfields are well-weathered and now support woodland or forest vegetation. In this region, metabasalt underlies much less acreage than quartzite and sandstone and is less resistant to weathering. Consequently, exposed metabasalt boulderfields are quite rare.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): G.P. Fleming
Element Description Edition Date: 07Dec2006
Element Description Author(s): G.P. Fleming
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 07Dec2006
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author(s): G.P. Fleming

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


References
  • Fleming, G. P., A. Belden, Jr., K. E. Heffernan, A. C. Chazal, N. E. Van Alstine, and E. M. Butler. 2007a. A natural heritage inventory of the rock outcrops of Shenandoah National Park. Unpublished report submitted to the National Park Service. Natural Heritage Technical Report 07-01. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond. 433 pp. plus appendixes.

  • 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.

  • Flenniken, D. G. 1999. The macrolichens in West Virginia. Carlisle Printing, Walnut Creek. 231 pp. plus 26 color plates.

  • Southeastern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Durham, NC.

  • 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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