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Classification
Scientific Name: Great Lakes Wooded Dune and Swale
Unique Identifier: CES201.726
Classification Confidence: 1 - Strong

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Summary: This system is found in nearly 100 occurrences throughout the Great Lakes shorelines of the United States and Canada. It consists of a foredune, followed by a series of low to high dunes (uplands) and swales (wetlands). The system is often best developed where post-glacial streams entered an embayment and provide a dependable sand source. The combination of along-shore currents, waves, and winds form foredunes along the shoreline. The foredunes of most dune-and-swale complexes are commonly 1-2 m high, with Ammophila breviligulata, Calamovilfa longifolia, Salix serissima, Salix cordata, and Populus balsamifera most common. The swale immediately behind the foredune is influenced by short-term variation in lake levels and can be partially or occasionally completely filled by dune sands following major storm events. Species common to this first swale include Juncus arcticus ssp. littoralis, Juncus pelocarpus, Juncus nodosus, Eleocharis acicularis, and Schoenoplectus americanus. Occasionally, such swales may contain lake-influenced, calcareous sands and may contain moderately alkaline indicators.

A low dune field with more advanced plant succession often follows the first open dunes and swales. Pinus banksiana, Pinus strobus, and Pinus resinosa often form a scattered overstory canopy, while Juniperus communis, Juniperus horizontalis, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, and Koeleria macrantha form a scattered ground layer. Following the dune-field zone, both dunes and swales are typically forested. Moist swales are often forested, and soil organic material has often begun to accumulate. Thuja occidentalis, Alnus incana, Salix spp., and Acer rubrum dominate the partial overstory canopy and understory. In contrast to the dry or moist swales, wetter swales (where standing water is present through most of the year) may be dominated by Carices, such as Carex aquatilis and Carex stricta. Forested beach ridges, with soils of medium to course sand, tend to be dominated by species common to dry-mesic and mesic northern forest. Complexes located in embayments protected from prevailing winds tend to be formed entirely of low, water-lain beach ridges. As a result, even the beach ridges within these complexes support wetland vegetation.

Six major subtypes of Great Lakes Dune and Swale were described for Michigan, including the Lake Superior high dune type, the Lake Superior low dune type, the North Lake Michigan high dune type, Northern Lake Huron-Lake Michigan low dune type, the Southern Lake Huron type, and the Northern Great Lakes low dune type. These subtypes represent patterns of floristic variation resulting from latitude and sand dune/beach ridge characteristics that constrain floristic and structural attributes. High dune types may support predominantly upland vegetation, while low dune types may support predominantly wetland vegetation.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: Six major subtypes of Great Lakes Dune and Swale were described for Michigan, including the Lake Superior high dune type, the Lake Superior low dune type, the North Lake Michigan high dune type, Northern Lake Huron-Lake Michigan low dune type, the Southern Lake Huron type, and the Northern Great Lakes low dune type. These subtypes represent patterns of floristic variation resulting from latitude and sand dune/beach ridge characteristics that constrain floristic and structural attributes.

This system has rather strong variation between northern and southern Great Lakes examples (north and south of Bailey's 210-220 division line). Those occurring along the southern Lake Michigan shoreline of Indiana and Illinois have been altered significantly, but likely reflect a distinct ecological system type with oak woodland and savanna on beach ridges and wet prairie in swales.


Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES201.026 Great Lakes Dune
CES201.034 Northern Great Lakes Interdunal Wetland
CES201.149 Great Lakes Sand Beach


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL002456 Thuja occidentalis - (Picea mariana, Abies balsamea) / Alnus incana Swamp Forest
CEGL002589 Pinus banksiana - Pinus resinosa - Pinus strobus Dune Forest
CEGL004024 Hudsonia tomentosa Dune Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL005064 Juniperus horizontalis - Arctostaphylos uva-ursi - Juniperus communis Dune Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL005075 Prunus pumila - (Ptelea trifoliata) Dune Shrubland
CEGL005098 Ammophila breviligulata - (Schizachyrium scoparium) Grassland
CEGL005105 Dasiphora fruticosa / Cladium mariscoides - Juncus arcticus ssp. littoralis - (Rhynchospora capillacea) Fen
CEGL005119 Populus deltoides - (Juniperus virginiana) Dune Woodland
CEGL005125 Pinus banksiana - (Pinus resinosa) - Pinus strobus / Juniperus horizontalis Wooded Grassland
CEGL005165 Thuja occidentalis - Fraxinus nigra Swamp Forest
CEGL005228 Chamaedaphne calyculata - Myrica gale / Carex lasiocarpa Fen



Classifiers

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

Diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Forest and Woodland (Treed)  
Dune (Substrate)  
Glaciated  
Sand Soil Texture  
30-180-day hydroperiod  
Coastal Dune Mosaic  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Lowland Lowland
Shrubland (Shrub-dominated)  
Herbaceous  
Temperate Temperate Continental
Depressional Lakeshore
Isolated Wetland Partially Isolated
Intermediate Disturbance Interval  
W-Patch/High Intensity  
Shallow (<15 cm) Water  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Botrychium michiganense
  (Michigan Moonwort)
G3  
Brychius hungerfordi
  (Hungerford's Crawling Water Beetle)
G1 LE: Listed endangered
Charadrius melodus
  (Piping Plover)
G3 LE, LT: Listed endangered, listed threatened
Copablepharon michiganensis
  (Michigan Dune Dart Moth)
G1G2  
Iris lacustris
  (Dwarf Lake Iris)
G3 LT: Listed threatened
Lycopodiella margueritiae
  (Northern Prostrate Clubmoss)
G1G2  
Lycopodiella subappressa
  (Northern Appressed Clubmoss)
G2  
Oligoneuron houghtonii
  (Houghton's Goldenrod)
G3 LT: Listed threatened
Somatochlora hineana
  (Hine's Emerald)
G2G3 LE: Listed endangered
Trimerotropis huroniana
  (Lake Huron Locust)
G2G3  

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    
 
 
Betula papyrifera G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Populus balsamifera G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Quercus rubra G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Juniperus communis G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Pinus banksiana G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Pinus resinosa G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Pinus strobus G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Thuja occidentalis G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Alnus incana G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Salix cordata G4 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Juniperus horizontalis G5 Dwarf-shrub Short shrub/sapling    
 
 
Botrychium michiganense G3 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)      
 
 
Ammophila breviligulata G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex aquatilis G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex stricta G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Juncus balticus var. littoralis T5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 


Animal Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status Charact-
eristic
Exotic
Anaxyrus fowleri
  (Fowler's Toad)
G5      
Brychius hungerfordi
  (Hungerford's Crawling Water Beetle)
G1 LE: Listed endangered    
Cardinalis cardinalis
  (Northern Cardinal)
G5      
Charadrius melodus
  (Piping Plover)
G3 LE, LT: Listed endangered, listed threatened    
Coluber constrictor
  (North American Racer)
G5      
Copablepharon michiganensis
  (Michigan Dune Dart Moth)
G1G2      
Dryobates pubescens
  (Downy Woodpecker)
G5      
Euxoa pleuritica
  (Fawn Brown Dart Moth)
G4      
Heterodon platirhinos
  (Eastern Hog-nosed Snake)
G5      
Melanerpes erythrocephalus
  (Red-headed Woodpecker)
G5      
Sitta carolinensis
  (White-breasted Nuthatch)
G5    
Somatochlora hineana
  (Hine's Emerald)
G2G3 LE: Listed endangered    
Trimerotropis huroniana
  (Lake Huron Locust)
G2G3      
Trimerotropis maritima
  (Seaside Grasshopper)
G5      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: IL, IN, MI, MN, NY, OHpotentially occurs, PA, WI
Nation: Canada
Canadian Province Distribution: ON
Global Range: This system occurs throughout the Great Lakes shorelines of the United States and Canada. In Pennsylvania, this is only on Presque Isle.

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

The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Ecoregions
Code Name Occurrence Status
48 Great Lakes Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
41 Northern Lake Country Confident or certain
49 Central Till Plains Confident or certain
50 Central Great Lakes Uplands Confident or certain
51 Great Lakes Plains Confident or certain
52 Eastern Till Plains Confident or certain
62 Allegheny Plateau Confident or certain
63 Finger Lakes Confident or certain
64 Northeastern Highlands Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 9135
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1466
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2466

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: Yes

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 11Apr2007
Element Description Author(s): P. Comer and D. Albert

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


References
  • 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.

  • Comer, P., and D. Albert. 1993. A survey of wooded dune and swale complexes in Michigan. Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Natural Heritage Program. Lansing, MI. 158 pp.

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

  • Kost, M. A., D. A. Albert, J. G. Cohen, B. S. Slaughter, R. K. Schillo, C. R. Weber, and K. A. Chapman. 2007. Natural communities of Michigan: Classification and description. Report No. 2007-21, Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Lansing. 314 pp. [http://web4.msue.msu.edu/mnfi/reports/2007-21_Natural_Communites_of_Michigan_Classification_and_Description.pdf]

  • Lichter, J. 1998. Primary succession and forest development on coastal Lake Michigan sand dunes. Ecological Monographs 68(4):487-510.

  • MNFI [Michigan Natural Features Inventory]. 1999. Natural community abstract for wooded dune and swale complex. Lansing, MI. 6 pp. Compiled by D. A. Albert and P. J. Comer.

  • ONHD [Ohio Natural Heritage Database]. No date. Vegetation classification of Ohio and unpublished data. Ohio Natural Heritage Database, Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Columbus.

  • WDNR [Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources]. 2015. The ecological landscapes of Wisconsin: An assessment of ecological resources and a guide to planning sustainable management. PUB-SS-1131 2015. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison. [http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/landscapes/Book.html]


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