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Quercus rubra - Quercus prinus - Magnolia (acuminata, fraseri) / Acer pensylvanicum Forest
Translated Name: Northern Red Oak - Chestnut Oak - (Cucumber-tree, Mountain Magnolia) / Striped Maple Forest
Common Name: Southern Appalachian Montane Northern Red Oak - Chestnut Oak Forest
Unique Identifier: CEGL004817
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This mixed northern red oak - chestnut oak forest is known from the northern part of the Southern Appalachians and extreme southern part of the Central Appalachians in southwestern Virginia and adjacent parts of West Virginia and Tennessee. It occurs on submesic slopes at various topographic positions and aspects from 600 to 1200 m (2000-4000 feet) elevation. Geologic substrate includes various sedimentary rocks, quartzite, granitic rocks, biotite gneiss, and feldspathic metagraywacke. Soils are deep, extremely acidic, and infertile. Vegetation is a mixed oak forest with a well-developed canopy 30 m or more tall in mature stands. Quercus rubra and Quercus prinus are the most characteristic canopy dominants, usually occurring in mixed stands with minor associates of Magnolia acuminata, Magnolia fraseri, Quercus alba, Betula lenta, Acer rubrum, Carya spp., Fagus grandifolia, Tsuga canadensis, and Liriodendron tulipifera. Acer pensylvanicum is the leading small tree/shrub dominant, with frequent associates of Oxydendrum arboreum, Pinus strobus, Amelanchier arborea, Amelanchier laevis, Castanea dentata (sprouts), Hamamelis virginiana, Rhododendron maximum, Ilex montana, Viburnum acerifolium, and Vaccinium pallidum. The herb layer is typically patchy to sparse, with Medeola virginiana, Galax urceolata, Convallaria majuscula, Thelypteris noveboracensis, and Dennstaedtia punctilobula occasionally attaining 5% cover in a plot; at higher elevations, the ferns may dominate strongly and cover more substantial areas. Other relatively constant but low-cover herbs include Dioscorea quaternata, Eurybia divaricata, Solidago curtisii, Polygonatum biflorum, Polystichum acrostichoides, Conopholis americana, Clintonia umbellulata, Viola hastata, Uvularia puberula, Chamaelirium luteum, Zizia trifoliata, and Carex appalachica.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Moderate
Classification Comments: Classification of this type is supported by analysis of an 1100-plot Southern Appalachian dataset compiled for the Appalachian Trail vegetation mapping project (Fleming and Patterson 2009a). This community is represented by 27 plots and was intensively compared with similar types using cluster analysis, statistical analysis, and NMS ordinations, and found to be distinctive, both compositionally and environmentally. Additional data were collected in southwest Virginia after the Appalachian Trail analysis. The 33 Virginia plots of this type were also included in a statewide analysis of montane oak and oak-hickory vegetation in Virginia, and again formed a distinctive group (Fleming and Patterson 2009b).

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 Mesic Chestnut Oak - Northern Red Oak Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL006057 Quercus prinus - Quercus rubra / Hamamelis virginiana Forest
CEGL006192 Quercus rubra - Acer rubrum / Pyrularia pubera / Thelypteris noveboracensis Forest
CEGL007230 Quercus alba - Quercus (rubra, prinus) / Rhododendron calendulaceum - (Gaylussacia ursina) Forest
CEGL007267 Quercus prinus - (Quercus rubra) - Carya spp. / Oxydendrum arboreum - Cornus florida Forest



Related Concepts from Other Classifications

Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Quercus rubra - Quercus montana - Magnolia (acuminata, fraseri) / Acer pensylvanicum Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Fleming, G. P., and K. D. Patterson. 2009a. A vegetation classification for the Appalachian Trail: Virginia south to Georgia. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage. In-house analysis, March 2009.
Related Concept Name: Montane Mixed Oak / Oak - Hickory Forest
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
CES202.596 Central and Southern Appalachian Montane Oak Forest


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G4? (24Feb2010)
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: Although this association is known from a fairly limited geographic area, data suggest that over much of that area, it is an extensive and secure type.

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: NC, TN, VA, WV
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This association is known from the northern part of the Southern Appalachians and extreme southern part of the Central Appalachians in southwestern Virginia and adjacent parts of West Virginia and Tennessee. The full range south and west of Virginia is not known and needs additional investigation. The type should be sought in northern North Carolina, as it is a major type in Virginia within a few miles of the border. Within the known range, it is a large-patch type that covers extensive areas on the Southern Blue Ridge. It is more localized in the Ridge and Valley and Cumberland Mountains, where it favors the higher ridges.

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: Central Ridge and Valley Section
Section Code: 221J Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
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: Northern Ridge and Valley Section
Section Code: M221A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Cumberland Mountains Section
Section Code: M221C Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Blue Ridge Mountains Section
Section Code: M221D Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: Mature stands have a well-developed canopy of trees 30 m or more tall. Quercus rubra is the leading overstory dominant, with only slightly higher density and basal area than Quercus prinus. Most stands are mixed, although either species can dominate small areas. One or both of the magnolias, Magnolia acuminata or Magnolia fraseri, are usually important in the overstory or understory. Minor canopy associates vary and can include Quercus alba, Betula lenta, Acer rubrum, Carya spp., Fagus grandifolia, Tsuga canadensis, and Liriodendron tulipifera. Most of the preceding species may be present in the understory, along with Acer pensylvanicum, Oxydendrum arboreum, Pinus strobus, Amelanchier arborea and Amelanchier laevis, and sprouts of Castanea dentata. The most consistently important small tree / shrub is Acer pensylvanicum, attaining densities >500 stems/ha in some stands. Other shrubs that are less constant but sometimes important include Hamamelis virginiana, Rhododendron maximum, Ilex montana, Viburnum acerifolium, and Vaccinium pallidum. The herb layer is often patchy to sparse, with Medeola virginiana, Galax urceolata, Convallaria majuscula, Thelypteris noveboracensis, and Dennstaedtia punctilobula occasionally attaining 5% cover in a plot. In the higher part of the elevational range, however, the latter two ferns may greatly dominate the herb layer and cover more substantial areas. Other relatively constant but low-cover herbs include Dioscorea quaternata, Eurybia divaricata, Solidago curtisii, Polygonatum biflorum, Polystichum acrostichoides, Conopholis americana, Clintonia umbellulata, Viola hastata, Uvularia puberula, Chamaelirium luteum, Zizia trifoliata, and Carex appalachica.

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Charact-
eristic
Dominant Constant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Magnolia acuminata G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Magnolia fraseri G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Quercus prinus G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Quercus rubra G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Tsuga caroliniana G4 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy      
 
 
Acer pensylvanicum G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree subcanopy  
 
 
Convallaria majuscula G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Galax urceolata G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Gentiana austromontana G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Heuchera caroliniana G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Medeola virginiana G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Prenanthes roanensis G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Dennstaedtia punctilobula G4 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)  
 
 
Thelypteris noveboracensis G4 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)  
 
 


At-Risk Species Reported for this Association
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Gentiana austromontana
  (Appalachian Gentian)
G3  
Heuchera caroliniana
  (Carolina Alumroot)
G3  
Prenanthes roanensis
  (Roan Mountain Rattlesnake-root)
G3  
Tsuga caroliniana
  (Carolina Hemlock)
G3  


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: N
Environmental Summary: This community type occurs on submesic slopes at elevations from 600 to 1200 m (2000-4000 feet) in the northern part of the Southern Appalachians. It occurs on various topographic positions from lower to upper slopes and crests, in deep, infertile soils. Parent material at known sites includes Ordovician siltstones and shale, Devonian shale and sandstone, quartzite, conglomerate sandstone and shale, interbedded quartzite and dolomite, charnockite, layered pyroxene granulite, biotite gneiss, and feldspathic metagraywacke. Among 26 plot-sampling sites, slope profiles are usually convex in at least one direction while surface substrate averaged 8% boulders and small stones, 4% decaying wood, 1% mineral soil, and 87% leaf litter and duff. Aspect was variable among the plots, but eastern aspects are rare. Soil samples collected from plots are extremely acidic (mean pH = 4.2), with low calcium and magnesium, and high iron and aluminum levels.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: The frequency of Castanea dentata sprouts in this community type suggests that it was formerly an important tree in the overstory mix. Extensive logging during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, along with removal of Castanea by chestnut blight, no doubt favored the oaks in regenerated stands. Many mature, contemporary stands of this vegetation type are now exhibiting classic symptoms of oak decline, with very poor recruitment of the dominant oaks, along with abundant invasion of stand understories by shade-tolerant mesophytic trees. The latter vary from site to site but include Acer rubrum, Fagus grandifolia, Tsuga canadensis, Pinus strobus, and rarely, Acer saccharum var. saccharum. Exclusion of low-intensity fires and logging disturbances have contributed to these changes, which will likely continue barring the re-introduction of fire. A recently burned stand on Clinch Mountain in southwest Virginia exhibited atypically high cover by herbaceous species, suggesting that fires also benefit herbs by burning off litter/humus and increasing illumination though the elimination of shrubs.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): G.P. Fleming and K.D. Patterson (2009a)
Element Description Edition Date: 24Feb2010
Element Description Author(s): G.P. Fleming
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 24Feb2010
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., K. Taverna, and P. P. Coulling. 2007b. Vegetation classification for the National Capitol Region parks, eastern region. Regional (VA-MD-DC) analysis prepared for NatureServe and USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program, March 2007. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.

  • 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., and K. D. Patterson. 2009a. A vegetation classification for the Appalachian Trail: Virginia south to Georgia. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage. In-house analysis, March 2009.

  • Fleming, G. P., and K. D. Patterson. 2009b. Classification of selected Virginia montane wetland groups. In-house analysis, December 2009. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.

  • 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 K. Taverna. 2006. Vegetation classification for the National Capitol Region parks, western region. Regional (VA-WVA-MD-DC) analysis prepared for NatureServe and USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program, March 2006. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.

  • Fleming, G. P., and P. P. Coulling. 2001. Ecological communities of the George Washington and Jefferson national forests, Virginia. Preliminary classification and description of vegetation types. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 317 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]. No date. Unpublished data. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.


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