NatureServe Explorer logo.An Online Encyclopedia of Life
Search
Ecological Association Comprehensive Report: Record 1 of 1 selected.
See All Search Results    View Glossary
<< Previous | Next >>

Pinus rigida / Osmunda cinnamomea - Carex stricta - Eriophorum virginicum / Sphagnum spp. Swamp Woodland
Translated Name: Pitch Pine / Cinnamon Fern - Upright Sedge - Tawny Cottongrass / Peatmoss species Swamp Woodland
Common Name: Ridge and Valley Pitch Pine Peat Woodland
Unique Identifier: CEGL007056
Classification Approach: International Vegetation Classification (IVC)
Summary: This association occurs in saturated, acidic wetlands of valley floors and headwaters basins in the Ridge and Valley region of Virginia and West Virginia. Sites lie in an elevational range from about 600 to 950 m (2000-3100 feet), and are underlain by Devonian, Silurian, or Mississippian sandstones or acidic shales. Stands occur along the borders of large montane stream valleys and in headwater drainages, where abundant nutrient-poor groundwater is discharged from the base of adjacent slopes and peat has accumulated. Sites typically have complex microtopography, with numerous hummocks, hollows, and braided channels, and typically have high surface cover of sphagnum mosses. Peat deposits vary from superficial to deep (about 1 m), quaking mats that overlie large groundwater pores. Soils are usually poorly drained, organic or organic-rich sandy loams with very low base status. Vegetation physiognomy is variable, ranging from herbaceous with a sparse tree layer, to shrubland, to open savanna-like woodland, to nearly closed-canopy forest along upland edges. Pinus rigida is the typical overstory dominant (5-60% cover), but occasional trees of Acer rubrum, Nyssa sylvatica, and a few other species also occur. Shrub cover and density often vary greatly within sites, and shrubs often form a patch-mosaic with herb-dominated areas. Alnus serrulata, Gaylussacia baccata, Hypericum densiflorum, Ilex verticillata, Kalmia latifolia, Lyonia ligustrina var. ligustrina, Menziesia pilosa, Photinia spp., Rhododendron maximum, and Spiraea tomentosa are characteristic shrubs that occur in various aggregations. Except under dense shrubs, the herb layer is well-developed and dense, containing running vines of Rubus hispidus, high graminoid and fern cover, and moderate cover of forbs. Characteristic herbs, in rough decreasing order of constancy, include Osmunda cinnamomea, Carex stricta, Gaultheria procumbens, Eriophorum virginicum, Carex atlantica ssp. atlantica, Drosera rotundifolia, Dulichium arundinaceum, Thelypteris noveboracensis, Parnassia asarifolia, Carex folliculata, Maianthemum canadense, Viola macloskeyi ssp. pallens, Glyceria canadensis, Glyceria laxa, Juncus brevicaudatus, Rhynchospora capitellata, Triadenum fraseri, and Calamagrostis coarctata.



Classification

Classification Confidence: Low - Poorly Documented
Classification Comments: Classification of this type is based on quantitative statistical analysis of 17 plots (10 Virginia, 7 West Virginia) representing all known stands of this vegetation. Virginia plots representing this type have also been analyzed in a regional dataset of all montane Virginia wetlands, and proved to be a distinct group in that analysis.

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.Na - Eastern North American-Great Plains Flooded & Swamp Forest
Macrogroup Laurentian-Acadian-North Atlantic Coastal Flooded & Swamp Forest
Group Laurentian-Acadian-Appalachian Acidic Swamp
Alliance Central Appalachian Red Spruce Swamp Forest

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

Similar Associations
Unique Identifier Name
CEGL003667 Pinus rigida / Toxicodendron vernix / Gaylussacia baccata / Symplocarpus foetidus Seep Woodland
CEGL006022 Pinus rigida / Vaccinium myrtilloides / Sphagnum spp. Swamp Woodland
CEGL006194 Pinus rigida / Chamaedaphne calyculata / Sphagnum spp. Swamp Woodland
CEGL006219 Nyssa sylvatica - Magnolia virginiana / Rhododendron viscosum - Toxicodendron vernix / Smilax pseudochina Swamp Woodland
CEGL006387 Pinus rigida / Gaylussacia baccata - Kalmia angustifolia Swamp Woodland
CEGL006587 Pinus rigida - Picea rubens / Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides / Sphagnum spp. Swamp Woodland



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
West Virginia Pinus rigida / Osmunda cinnamomea - Carex stricta - Eriophorum virginicum / Sphagnum spp. Woodland Equivalent Certain WVNHP unpubl. data


Other Related Concepts
Related Concept Name: Pinus rigida / Acer rubrum / Gaylussacia baccata / Carex stricta Forest
Relationship: = - Equivalent
Reference: Hall, M. E. 2005a. Classification and gradient analysis of plant communities at Short Mountain Wildlife Management Area, Hampshire County, West Virginia. M.S. thesis, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC. 108 pp.

Ecological Systems Placement

Ecological Systems Placement
Ecological System Unique ID Ecological System Name
CES202.300 Southern and Central Appalachian Bog and Fen
CES202.609 Central Appalachian Stream and Riparian


NatureServe Conservation Status
Global Status: G1 (14Dec2011)
Rounded Global Status: G1 - Critically Imperiled
Reasons: This pitch pine peat woodland has very high environmental specificity and appears limited to a small part of the Central Appalachian Ridge and Valley province where requisite conditions can occasionally be found. Globally, less than 40 hectares (100 acres) of this vegetation is likely to be extant. Ten patches of this vegetation totaling 6 hectares (15 acres) are known from six sites in Virginia, and it is known from three headwater basins on two ridges in West Virginia. Additional occurrences are possible but, owing to the small-patch nature of stands, would not add appreciably to the total acreage. This is clearly a very rare vegetation type vulnerable to multiple disturbances, including beavers, hydrological alterations, grazing, and exotics. It may be favored by periodic fires, which have been recently excluded or suppressed in much of the Ridge and Valley landscape. However, there is evidence that the community can persist for long periods in the absence of fire (Howard 2010).

Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
United States Distribution: VA, WV
Global Distribution: United States
Global Range: This community type is known from nine sites in five counties of western Virginia and northeastern West Virginia. These occurrences are limited to a small area in the Ridge and Valley province that extends from Giles and Craig counties, Virginia, on the south to Hardy and Hampshire counties, West Virginia, on the north. Additional occurrences should be sought in this area, as well as in the Ridge and Valley regions of Maryland and Pennsylvania.

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: Northern Ridge and Valley Section
Section Code: M221A Occurrence Status: Confident or certain


Vegetation

Vegetation Summary: Physiognomy is variable, ranging from herbaceous with a sparse tree layer, to shrubland, to open savanna-like woodland, to nearly closed-canopy forest along upland edges. Pinus rigida is the typical overstory dominant (5-60% cover), but occasional trees of Acer rubrum, Nyssa sylvatica, and a few other species also occur. Trees are often somewhat stunted and usually <20 m tall. Shrub cover and density often vary within sites and can be locally dense, locally sparse, or form a patch-mosaic with herb-dominated areas. Alnus serrulata, Gaylussacia baccata, Hypericum densiflorum, Ilex verticillata, Kalmia latifolia, Lyonia ligustrina var. ligustrina, Menziesia pilosa, Photinia spp., Rhododendron maximum, and Spiraea tomentosa are characteristic shrubs that occur in various aggregations. Both Alnus serrulata and Hypericum densiflorum may spread into very low (<0.5 m tall) colonies where fire has killed back larger shrubs of these species. Except under dense shrubs, the herb layer is well-developed and dense, containing running vines of Rubus hispidus, high graminoid and fern cover, and moderate cover of forbs. The most frequent herbs among 17 plot samples are Osmunda cinnamomea, Carex stricta, Gaultheria procumbens, Eriophorum virginicum, Carex atlantica ssp. atlantica, and Drosera rotundifolia. Less constant herbaceous species that can be important at some sites include Calamagrostis coarctata, Carex folliculata, Dulichium arundinaceum, Glyceria canadensis, Glyceria laxa, Juncus brevicaudatus, Juncus subcaudatus, Maianthemum canadense, Parnassia asarifolia, Rhynchospora capitellata, Thelypteris noveboracensis, Triadenum fraseri, Vaccinium macrocarpon, and Viola macloskeyi ssp. pallens. Several Sphagnum spp. contribute to a dense surficial bryophyte layer. Overall species richness ranges from 20 to 46 taxa per 400 sqm (mean = 31 taxa).


Environmental Setting

Wetland Indicator: Y
Environmental Summary: This association occurs in saturated, acidic wetlands of valley floors and headwaters basins in the Ridge and Valley region of Virginia and West Virginia. Stands are generally embedded in landscapes underlain by highly acidic rocks and that have a forest matrix of dry oak/ericad vegetation. Sites lie in an elevational range from about 600 to 950 m (2000-3100 feet), and are underlain by Devonian, Silurian, or Mississippian sandstones or acidic shales. Stands occur along the borders of large montane stream valleys and in headwaters drainages, where abundant nutrient-poor groundwater is discharged from the base of adjacent slopes and peat has accumulated. Sites typically have complex microtopography, with numerous hummocks, hollows, and braided channels, and typically have high surface cover of sphagnum mosses. Peat deposits vary from superficial to deep (about 1 m), quaking mats that overlie large groundwater pores. Soils are usually poorly drained, organic or organic-rich sandy loams. Samples collected from plots that had accessible mineral soil had pH values ranging from 3.5 to 4.6, with consistently low levels of calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and total base saturation, and moderately high to high iron and aluminum.


Dynamic Processes

Dynamics: The development of this community appears to require a very specific set of environmental conditions, which accounts for its rarity in the region. Its ecological dynamics are also complex and require additional study. Charcoal, charred wood and snags, and other evidence of fire are found at most sites. Adjacent upland forests are typically dry oak/heath forests that are susceptible to fires which in some cases have spread into the adjacent valleys. At one of the Virginia sites, extensive sapling pitch pine recruitment had clearly followed one such recent fire event. Pitch pine recruitment has also been documented in West Virginia stands without recent fires. Hydrologic stress from variable inundation levels over time may also play a role in keeping the vegetation open. At sites with deep, quaking peat mats, trees appear to grow extremely slowly and eventually fall or die when their roots can no longer support the trunk and crown weight. Most stands of this vegetation occur in drainages where beavers are (or have been) active, but the relationship is unclear. The possibility that the community could develop on old, reclaimed beaver clearings cannot be discounted. However, the best examples in Virginia occur well away from active beaver clearings, and examples that have suffered recent beaver incursions exhibit a loss of many fastidious herbaceous species and replacement by dense shrub thickets and/or coarse weedy herbs such as Scirpus cyperinus and Leersia oryzoides, possibly indicative of eutrophication. Other disturbances noted at plot-sampling sites include herbivory by white-tailed deer, encroachments by exotics spreading from adjacent clearings or roads, and adjacent logging.


Plot Sampling & Classification Analysis

Plots stored in VegBank


Authors/Contributors
Concept Author(s): G.P. Fleming, J.P. Vanderhorst, and K.D. Patterson after Hall (2005a)
Element Description Edition Date: 14Dec2011
Element Description Author(s): G.P. Fleming, J.P. Vanderhorst, and K.D. Patterson
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 14Dec2011
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
  • Eastern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Boston, MA.

  • Fleming, G. P., and K. D. Patterson. 2012. Natural communities of Virginia: Ecological groups and community types. Natural Heritage Technical Report 12-04. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. 36 pp.

  • Hall, M. E. 2005a. Classification and gradient analysis of plant communities at Short Mountain Wildlife Management Area, Hampshire County, West Virginia. M.S. thesis, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC. 108 pp.

  • Howard, L. F. 2010. Community composition and fire dynamics of high elevation pitch pine woodlands in northeastern West Virginia. Report to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Arcadia University, Glenside, PA. 31 pp. plus appendices.

  • VDNH [Virginia Division of Natural Heritage]. No date. Unpublished data. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond.

  • WVNHP [West Virginia Natural Heritage Program]. No date (b). Unpublished data. West Virginia Natural Heritage Program, Elkins.


Use Guidelines and Citation

The Small Print: Trademark, Copyright, Citation Guidelines, Restrictions on Use, and Information Disclaimer.

Note: All species and ecological community data presented in NatureServe Explorer at http://explorer.natureserve.org were updated to be current with NatureServe's central databases as of November 2016.
Note: This report was printed on

Trademark Notice: "NatureServe", NatureServe Explorer, The NatureServe logo, and all other names of NatureServe programs referenced herein are trademarks of NatureServe. Any other product or company names mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.

Copyright Notice: Copyright © 2017 NatureServe, 4600 N. Fairfax Dr., 7th Floor, Arlington Virginia 22203, U.S.A. All Rights Reserved. Each document delivered from this server or web site may contain other proprietary notices and copyright information relating to that document. The following citation should be used in any published materials which reference the web site.

Citation for data on website including State Distribution, Watershed, and Reptile Range maps:
NatureServe. 2017. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available http://explorer.natureserve.org. (Accessed:

Citation for Bird Range Maps of North America:
Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Bird Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE."

Citation for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
Patterson, B.D., G. Ceballos, W. Sechrest, M.F. Tognelli, T. Brooks, L. Luna, P. Ortega, I. Salazar, and B.E. Young. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Mammals of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Bruce Patterson, Wes Sechrest, Marcelo Tognelli, Gerardo Ceballos, The Nature Conservancy-Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International-CABS, World Wildlife Fund-US, and Environment Canada-WILDSPACE."

Citation for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2004. Global Amphibian Assessment. IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe, Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
"Data developed as part of the Global Amphibian Assessment and provided by IUCN-World Conservation Union, Conservation International and NatureServe."

NOTE: Full metadata for the Bird Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/birdDistributionmapsmetadatav1.pdf.

Full metadata for the Mammal Range Maps of North America is available at:
http://www.natureserve.org/library/mammalsDistributionmetadatav1.pdf.

Restrictions on Use: Permission to use, copy and distribute documents delivered from this server is hereby granted under the following conditions:
  1. The above copyright notice must appear in all copies;
  2. Any use of the documents available from this server must be for informational purposes only and in no instance for commercial purposes;
  3. Some data may be downloaded to files and altered in format for analytical purposes, however the data should still be referenced using the citation above;
  4. No graphics available from this server can be used, copied or distributed separate from the accompanying text. Any rights not expressly granted herein are reserved by NatureServe. Nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring by implication, estoppel, or otherwise any license or right under any trademark of NatureServe. No trademark owned by NatureServe may be used in advertising or promotion pertaining to the distribution of documents delivered from this server without specific advance permission from NatureServe. Except as expressly provided above, nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring any license or right under any NatureServe copyright.
Information Warranty Disclaimer: All documents and related graphics provided by this server and any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server are provided "as is" without warranty as to the currentness, completeness, or accuracy of any specific data. NatureServe hereby disclaims all warranties and conditions with regard to any documents provided by this server or any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server, including but not limited to all implied warranties and conditions of merchantibility, fitness for a particular purpose, and non-infringement. NatureServe makes no representations about the suitability of the information delivered from this server or any other documents that are referenced to or linked to this server. In no event shall NatureServe be liable for any special, indirect, incidental, consequential damages, or for damages of any kind arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information contained in any documents provided by this server or in any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server, under any theory of liability used. NatureServe may update or make changes to the documents provided by this server at any time without notice; however, NatureServe makes no commitment to update the information contained herein. Since the data in the central databases are continually being updated, it is advisable to refresh data retrieved at least once a year after its receipt. The data provided is for planning, assessment, and informational purposes. Site specific projects or activities should be reviewed for potential environmental impacts with appropriate regulatory agencies. If ground-disturbing activities are proposed on a site, the appropriate state natural heritage program(s) or conservation data center can be contacted for a site-specific review of the project area (see Visit Local Programs).

Feedback Request: NatureServe encourages users to let us know of any errors or significant omissions that you find in the data through (see Contact Us). Your comments will be very valuable in improving the overall quality of our databases for the benefit of all users.

Copyright 2017
NatureServe
Version 7.1 (2 February 2009)
Data last updated: November 2016