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Classification
Scientific Name: Southern Appalachian Oak Forest
Unique Identifier: CES202.886
Classification Confidence: 1 - Strong

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Summary: This system consists of predominantly dry-mesic (to dry) forests occurring on open and exposed topography at lower to mid elevations in the Southern Blue Ridge and Southern Ridge and Valley ecoregions. This is the upland forest that characterizes much of the lower elevations of these areas. The geology and soils can range from acidic to circumneutral or basic, and the vegetation varies accordingly. Soils are usually deep residual soils but are often rocky. Some shallow soils and colluvium may be present locally, but shallow soil environments are more extreme and have more pine. These forests are typically dominated by oaks, especially Quercus montana (= Quercus prinus), Quercus alba, Quercus rubra, Quercus velutina, and Quercus coccinea, with varying amounts of Carya spp., Nyssa sylvatica, Acer rubrum, and other species such as Pinus strobus and Fraxinus americana. Historically, Castanea dentata was a dominant or codominant in many of these communities until its virtual elimination by the chestnut blight fungus (Cryphonectria parasitica) during the early 1900s. Some areas (usually on drier sites) now have dense evergreen heath shrub layers of Kalmia latifolia, with Rhododendron maximum on more mesic sites. Some other areas have deciduous heath-dominated layers, sometimes consisting of Vaccinium spp. or Gaylussacia spp. This system concept also includes many successional communities that have been impacted by logging or agriculture, such as types dominated by Liriodendron tulipifera, Pinus spp., and Robinia pseudoacacia. This system is naturally dominated by stable, uneven-aged forests, with canopy dynamics dominated by gap-phase regeneration. Most oaks are long-lived with typical age of mortality ranging from 200 to 400 years. Scarlet and black oaks are shorter lived with typical ages being approximately 50 to 100 years, while white oaks can live as long as 600 years.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: This system is distinguished from the oak forests of the Piedmont by substantial floristic differences that probably are determined by biogeography as well as climate and topography. Compositional differences were more pronounced in the past, when Castanea dentata was a major species in this system and not in Piedmont oak forests. This system is distinguished from most other systems in its primary range by the canopy dominance of oaks (other than strong dominance by red oak) without a large component of yellow pines (Pinus echinata, Pinus virginiana, Pinus pungens) in the canopy. It shares those characteristics with Allegheny-Cumberland Dry Oak Forest and Woodland (CES202.359), which might be thought of as a subtype of this system on the more exposed and acidic substrates. The environment is intermediate within the region in topography and moisture. Northward this system grades into Northeastern Interior Dry-Mesic Oak Forest (CES202.592), which occurs in similar environmental conditions. This southern Appalachian system is characterized by the presence, in most occurrences, of plant species of southern Appalachian affinity, such as Magnolia fraseri, Gaylussacia ursina, Rhododendron calendulaceum, etc.

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES202.029 Southern Appalachian Northern Hardwood Forest
CES202.331 Southern Appalachian Montane Pine Forest and Woodland
CES202.359 Allegheny-Cumberland Dry Oak Forest and Woodland
CES202.591 Central Appalachian Dry Oak-Pine Forest
CES202.592 Northeastern Interior Dry-Mesic Oak Forest
CES202.596 Central and Southern Appalachian Montane Oak Forest


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL003890 Vitis aestivalis Vine-Scrub
CEGL004096 Sassafras albidum - Quercus spp. Ruderal Forest
CEGL004793 Quercus muehlenbergii - Quercus (alba, rubra) - Carya cordiformis / Viburnum prunifolium Forest
CEGL006192 Quercus rubra - Acer rubrum / Pyrularia pubera / Thelypteris noveboracensis Forest
CEGL006271 Quercus (montana, coccinea) / Kalmia latifolia / (Galax urceolata, Gaultheria procumbens) Forest
CEGL006286 Quercus montana - Quercus rubra / Rhododendron maximum / Galax urceolata Forest
CEGL007215 Quercus rubra - Quercus muehlenbergii / Hamamelis virginiana / Polymnia canadensis Forest
CEGL007230 Quercus alba - Quercus (rubra, montana) / Rhododendron calendulaceum - (Gaylussacia ursina) Forest
CEGL007240 Quercus alba - Quercus rubra - Carya ovata / Cercis canadensis - Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana Forest
CEGL007267 Quercus montana - (Quercus rubra) - Carya spp. / Oxydendrum arboreum - Cornus florida Forest
CEGL007268 Quercus montana - Carya ovata - Quercus rubra / Acer saccharum Forest
CEGL007295 Quercus alba / Kalmia latifolia Forest
CEGL007517 Pinus strobus - Quercus alba - (Carya tomentosa) / Gaylussacia ursina Forest
CEGL007519 Pinus strobus - Quercus (coccinea, montana) / (Gaylussacia ursina, Vaccinium stamineum) Forest
CEGL007691 Quercus alba - Quercus coccinea - Quercus falcata / Kalmia latifolia - Vaccinium pallidum Forest
CEGL007692 Quercus alba - Quercus rubra - Quercus montana / Collinsonia canadensis - Podophyllum peltatum Forest
CEGL008431 Quercus montana - (Quercus coccinea) / Carya pallida / Vaccinium arboreum - Vaccinium pallidum Forest
CEGL008549 Quercus montana - Quercus rubra - Carya spp. - Fraxinus americana / Solidago sphacelata Forest
CEGL008558 Acer rubrum var. rubrum - Betula lenta - Magnolia fraseri / (Rhododendron maximum, Kalmia latifolia) Ruderal Forest
CEGL008567 Quercus alba - Quercus falcata / Vaccinium (arboreum, hirsutum, pallidum) Forest



Classifiers

Land Cover Class: Forest and Woodland
Spatial Pattern: Large patch
Natural/Seminatural: No
Vegetated ( > 10% vascular cover):
Upland: Yes
Wetland: No
Isolated Wetland: No

Diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Forest and Woodland (Treed)  
Ridge/Summit/Upper Slope  
Unglaciated  
Broad-Leaved Deciduous Tree  
Quercus - Carya  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Aconitum reclinatum
  (White Monkshood)
G3  
Arabis patens
  (Spreading Rockcress)
G3  
Buckleya distichophylla
  (Piratebush)
G3  
Callophrys irus
  (Frosted Elfin)
G3  
Calystegia catesbeiana
  (Catesby's False Bindweed)
G3  
Canis rufus
  (Red Wolf)
G1Q LE, XN: Listed endangered, nonessential experimental population
Cardamine flagellifera
  (Blue Ridge Bittercress)
G3  
Carex communis var. amplisquama
  (Fort Mountain Sedge)
G5T3  
Carex manhartii
  (Manhart's Sedge)
G3G4  
Carex polymorpha
  (Variable Sedge)
G3  
Catocala herodias gerhardi
  (Herodias or Pine Barrens Underwing)
G3T3  
Collinsonia verticillata
  (Whorled Horsebalm)
G3G4  
Coreopsis delphiniifolia
  (Larkspur Tickseed)
G3?Q  
Coreopsis latifolia
  (Broadleaf Tickseed)
G3  
Desmognathus imitator
  (Imitator Salamander)
G3G4  
Desmognathus santeetlah
  (Santeetlah Dusky Salamander)
G3G4Q  
Euphorbia purpurea
  (Glade Spurge)
G3  
Fothergilla major
  (Mountain Witch-alder)
G3  
Gaylussacia brachycera
  (Box Huckleberry)
G3  
Helianthus smithii
  (Smith's Sunflower)
G2Q  
Hexastylis contracta
  (Southern Heartleaf)
G3  
Hexastylis naniflora
  (Dwarf-flower Heartleaf)
G3 LT: Listed threatened
Hexastylis rhombiformis
  (French Broad Heartleaf)
G3  
Hydrastis canadensis
  (Goldenseal)
G3G4  
Hypochilus coylei
  (a lampshade weaver)
G3?  
Hypochilus sheari
  (a lampshade weaver)
G2G3  
Isotria medeoloides
  (Small Whorled Pogonia)
G2? LT: Listed threatened
Lysimachia fraseri
  (Fraser's Loosestrife)
G3  
Lytrosis permagnaria
  (a geometrid moth)
G3G4  
Melanoplus acrophilus acrophilus
  (a spur-throat grasshopper)
G2G3T2T3  
Melanoplus cherokee
  (Cherokee Melanoplus)
G1G3  
Melanoplus divergens
  (Divergent Melanoplus)
G2G3  
Melanoplus serrulatus
  (Serrulate Melanoplus)
G1G3  
Microtus chrotorrhinus carolinensis
  (Southern Rock Vole)
G4T3  
Monotropsis odorata
  (Sweet Pinesap)
G3  
Panax quinquefolius
  (American Ginseng)
G3G4  
Plagiochila virginica var. virginica
  (a liverwort)
G3T3  
Plethodon aureolus
  (Tellico Salamander)
G2G3  
Plethodon hubrichti
  (Peaks of Otter Salamander)
G2G3  
Plethodon punctatus
  (White-spotted Salamander)
G3  
Plethodon shenandoah
  (Shenandoah Salamander)
G1 LE: Listed endangered
Plethodon welleri
  (Weller's Salamander)
G3  
Prosartes maculata
  (Nodding Mandarin)
G3G4  
Puma concolor couguar
  (Eastern Cougar)
G5TXQ  
Pycnanthemum beadlei
  (Beadle's Mountainmint)
G2G4  
Pycnanthemum torrei
  (Torrey's Mountainmint)
G2  
Ruellia purshiana
  (Pursh's Wild Petunia)
G3  
Sabatia capitata
  (Appalachian Rose-gentian)
G2  
Sedum nevii
  (Nevius' Stonecrop)
G3  
Silene ovata
  (Ovate Catchfly)
G3  
Sisyrinchium dichotomum
  (Reflexed Blue-eyed-grass)
G2 LE: Listed endangered
Sorex palustris punctulatus
  (Southern Water Shrew)
G5T3  
Speyeria diana
  (Diana Fritillary)
G3G4  
Stygobromus sp. 17
  (Massanutten Spring Amphipod)
G2  
Taenidia montana
  (Mountain Parsley)
G3  
Thermopsis fraxinifolia
  (Ashleaf Bush-pea)
G3?  
Thermopsis mollis
  (Allegheny Mountain Golden-banner)
G3G4  
Tortula ammonsiana
  (Ammons' Tortula Moss)
G1G3  
Trillium rugelii
  (Southern Nodding Trillium)
G3  
Trillium simile
  (Jeweled Wakerobin)
G3  
Vaccinium hirsutum
  (Hairy Blueberry)
G3  
Virginia valeriae pulchra
  (Mountain Earthsnake)
G5T3T4  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Acer rubrum G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Nyssa sylvatica G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Oxydendrum arboreum G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Quercus alba G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Quercus coccinea G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Quercus prinus G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Quercus rubra G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Quercus velutina G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Buckleya distichophylla G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Castanea dentata G4 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Helianthus smithii G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Hexastylis naniflora G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Hexastylis rhombiformis G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Isotria medeoloides G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Pycnanthemum torrei G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Sabatia capitata G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Sisyrinchium dichotomum G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Tortula ammonsiana G2 Moss Nonvascular      
 
 


Animal Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status Charact-
eristic
Exotic
Accipiter cooperii
  (Cooper's Hawk)
G5      
Ambystoma talpoideum
  (Mole Salamander)
G5      
Anolis carolinensis
  (Green Anole)
G5      
Autochton cellus
  (Gold-banded Skipper)
G4      
Callophrys irus
  (Frosted Elfin)
G3      
Canis rufus
  (Red Wolf)
G1Q LE, XN: Listed endangered, nonessential experimental population    
Catocala herodias gerhardi
  (Herodias or Pine Barrens Underwing)
G3T3      
Cemophora coccinea copei
  (Northern Scarletsnake)
G5T5      
Coccyzus americanus
  (Yellow-billed Cuckoo)
G5      
Coccyzus erythropthalmus
  (Black-billed Cuckoo)
G5      
Contopus virens
  (Eastern Wood-Pewee)
G5      
Crotalus horridus
  (Timber Rattlesnake)
G4      
Desmognathus carolinensis
  (Carolina Mountain Dusky Salamander)
G4      
Desmognathus imitator
  (Imitator Salamander)
G3G4      
Desmognathus santeetlah
  (Santeetlah Dusky Salamander)
G3G4Q      
Empidonax minimus
  (Least Flycatcher)
G5      
Helmitheros vermivorum
  (Worm-eating Warbler)
G5      
Hypochilus coylei
  (a lampshade weaver)
G3?      
Hypochilus sheari
  (a lampshade weaver)
G2G3      
Lytrosis permagnaria
  (a geometrid moth)
G3G4      
Melanoplus acrophilus acrophilus
  (a spur-throat grasshopper)
G2G3T2T3      
Melanoplus cherokee
  (Cherokee Melanoplus)
G1G3      
Melanoplus divergens
  (Divergent Melanoplus)
G2G3      
Melanoplus serrulatus
  (Serrulate Melanoplus)
G1G3      
Microtus chrotorrhinus carolinensis
  (Southern Rock Vole)
G4T3      
Mustela nivalis
  (Least Weasel)
G5      
Myiarchus crinitus
  (Great Crested Flycatcher)
G5      
Neotoma floridana haematoreia
  (Southern Appalachian Woodrat)
G5T4Q      
Oreothlypis ruficapilla
  (Nashville Warbler)
G5      
Pantherophis obsoletus
  (Eastern Ratsnake)
G5      
Parascalops breweri
  (Hairy-tailed Mole)
G5      
Plestiodon anthracinus anthracinus
  (Northern Coal Skink)
G5T5      
Plestiodon fasciatus
  (Five-lined Skink)
G5      
Plestiodon inexpectatus
  (Southeastern Five-lined Skink)
G5      
Plethodon aureolus
  (Tellico Salamander)
G2G3      
Plethodon dorsalis
  (Northern Zigzag Salamander)
G5      
Plethodon hubrichti
  (Peaks of Otter Salamander)
G2G3      
Plethodon punctatus
  (White-spotted Salamander)
G3      
Plethodon shenandoah
  (Shenandoah Salamander)
G1 LE: Listed endangered    
Plethodon teyahalee
  (Southern Appalachian Salamander)
G4      
Plethodon ventralis
  (Southern Zigzag Salamander)
G4      
Plethodon wehrlei
  (Wehrle's Salamander)
G4      
Plethodon welleri
  (Weller's Salamander)
G3      
Plethodon yonahlossee
  (Yonahlossee Salamander)
G4      
Psectrotarsia hebardi
  (Hebard's Noctuid Moth)
GU      
Pseudacris brachyphona
  (Mountain Chorus Frog)
G5      
Puma concolor couguar
  (Eastern Cougar)
G5TXQ      
Sceloporus undulatus
  (Eastern Fence Lizard)
G5      
Setophaga citrina
  (Hooded Warbler)
G5      
Sorex palustris punctulatus
  (Southern Water Shrew)
G5T3      
Speyeria diana
  (Diana Fritillary)
G3G4      
Stygobromus sp. 17
  (Massanutten Spring Amphipod)
G2      
Synanthedon castaneae
  (Chestnut Clearwing Moth)
G3G5      
Synaptomys cooperi
  (Southern Bog Lemming)
G5      
Tantilla coronata
  (Southeastern Crowned Snake)
G5      
Terrapene carolina
  (Eastern Box Turtle)
G5      
Virginia valeriae pulchra
  (Mountain Earthsnake)
G5T3T4      
Virginia valeriae valeriae
  (Eastern Earthsnake)
G5T5      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, VA, WV
Global Range: This system ranges throughout the southern Appalachians, from northern Georgia and South Carolina north into the Southern Blue Ridge of Virginia to the Roanoke River in the Blue Ridge, and slightly farther south in the Ridge and Valley. It occurs in very limited montane outliers in the Piedmont, and possibly on Pine/Black Mountain in Kentucky.

Biogeographic Divisions
Division Code and Name Primary Occurrence Status
202-Central Interior and Appalachian C: Confident or certain

The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Ecoregions
Code Name Occurrence Status
50 Cumberlands and Southern Ridge and Valley Confident or certain
51 Southern Blue Ridge Confident or certain
52 Piedmont Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
53 Appalachia Confident or certain
57 Southern Appalachia Confident or certain
59 Northeastern Piedmont Confident or certain
60 Chesapeake Bay Never was there
61 Northern Appalachia Predicted or probable

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 4121
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1315
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2315

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: Yes

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 29Apr2016
Element Description Author(s): M. Schafale, R. Evans, M. Pyne, R. White, S.C. Gawler

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


References
  • Abrams, M. D. 1992. Fire and the development of oak forests. BioScience 42(5):346-353.

  • Comer, P., D. Faber-Langendoen, R. Evans, S. Gawler, C. Josse, G. Kittel, S. Menard, C. Nordman, M. Pyne, M. Reid, M. Russo, K. Schulz, K. Snow, J. Teague, and R. White. 2003-present. Ecological systems of the United States: A working classification of U.S. terrestrial systems. NatureServe, Arlington, VA.

  • Delcourt, H. R., and P. A. Delcourt. 1997. Pre-Columbian Native American use of fire on Southern Appalachian landscapes. Conservation Biology 11(4):1010-1014.

  • DuMond, D. M. 1970. Floristic and vegetational survey of the Chattooga River Gorge. Castanea 35:201-244.

  • Edwards, L., J. Ambrose, and K. Kirkman. 2013. The natural communities of Georgia. University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA. 675 pp.

  • Evans, M., B. Yahn, and M. Hines. 2009. Natural communities of Kentucky 2009. Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission, Frankfort, KY. 22 pp.

  • Eyre, F. H., editor. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Society of American Foresters, Washington, DC. 148 pp.

  • Gettman, R. W. 1974. A floristic survey of Sumter National Forest--The Andrew Pickens Division. M.S. thesis, Clemson University, Clemson, SC. 131 pp.

  • Nelson, J. B. 1986. The natural communities of South Carolina: Initial classification and description. South Carolina Wildlife and Marine Resources Department, Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, Columbia, SC. 55 pp.

  • Patterson, K. D. 1994. Classification of vegetation in Ellicott Rock Wilderness, Southeastern Blue Ridge Escarpment. M.S. thesis, North Carolina State University, Raleigh. 91 pp.

  • Schafale, M. P. 2012. Classification of the natural communities of North Carolina, 4th Approximation. North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.

  • Schafale, M. P., and A. S. Weakley. 1990. Classification of the natural communities of North Carolina. Third approximation. North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh. 325 pp.

  • Simon, S. A. 2011. Ecological zones in the Southern Blue Ridge: Third approximation. Unpublished report submitted to the National Forests in North Carolina, Asheville, NC. 77 pp.

  • Simon, S. A. 2015. Ecological zones in the Southern Blue Ridge escarpment: 4th approximation. Unpublished report. 53 pp. [https://www.conservationgateway.org/ConservationByGeography/NorthAmerica/UnitedStates/sbr/Documents/SBR_Escarpment_4thApprox_SteveSimon.pdf]

  • Simon, S., and L. Hayden. 2014. Ecological zones on the Sumter National Forest, Enoree and Long Cane Districts: 1st Approximation. Report to USDA Forest Service. 47 pp.

  • Tobe, J. D., J. E. Fairey, III, and L. L. Gaddy. 1992. Vascular flora of the Chauga River Gorge, Oconee County, South Carolina. Castanea 57:77-109.

  • Woods, A. J., J. M. Omernik, W. H. Martin, G. J. Pond, W. M. Andrews, S. M. Call, J. A. Comstock, and D. D. Taylor. 2002. Ecoregions of Kentucky (two-sided color poster with map, descriptive text, summary tables, and photographs). U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA. (map scale 1:1,000,000)


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