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Classification
Scientific Name: Appalachian Shale Barrens
Unique Identifier: CES202.598

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Summary: This system encompasses the distinctive shale barrens of the Central and Southern Appalachians at low to mid elevations. The exposure and lack of soil create extreme conditions for plant growth. Vegetation is mostly classified as woodland, overall, but may include large open areas of sparse vegetation. Dominant trees are primarily Quercus montana and Pinus virginiana, although on higher-pH substrates the common trees include Juniperus virginiana and Fraxinus americana. Shale barren endemics are diagnostic in the herb layer. The substrate includes areas of solid rock as well as unstable areas of shale scree, usually steeply sloped. The fully exposed areas are extremely dry. These barrens are high in endemic species.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: Examples of related barrens in the "Knobs" region of Kentucky are included in Central Interior Highlands Dry Acidic Glade and Barrens (CES202.692), not here. The southern range limit is not completely clear. "Central Appalachian Shale Barrens" (sensu VDNH) are the "core" concept. The bluestone shale barrens of West Virginia are placed in this system even though many of the endemics are not present there; the same is true at the northern periphery of this system in Pennsylvania.

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES202.330 Southern Appalachian Montane Cliff and Talus
CES202.348 Southern and Central Appalachian Mafic Glade and Barrens
CES202.600 Central Appalachian Pine-Oak Rocky Woodland
CES202.692 Central Interior Highlands Dry Acidic Glade and Barrens


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL003624 Pinus virginiana / Vaccinium pallidum / Schizachyrium scoparium - Carex pensylvanica Woodland
CEGL006037 Juniperus virginiana - Fraxinus americana / Carex pensylvanica - Cheilanthes lanosa Open Woodland
CEGL006288 Pinus virginiana - Juniperus virginiana - Quercus rubra / Solidago arguta var. harrisii - Opuntia humifusa Woodland
CEGL006562 Pinus virginiana - Quercus montana / Packera antennariifolia - Phlox subulata Woodland
CEGL007720 Quercus montana - Juniperus virginiana - (Pinus virginiana) / Philadelphus hirsutus - Celtis occidentalis Woodland
CEGL008525 Pinus virginiana - Quercus montana / Quercus ilicifolia / (Hieracium greenii, Viola pedata) Woodland
CEGL008526 Quercus montana / Quercus ilicifolia / Danthonia spicata Woodland
CEGL008530 (Pinus virginiana) / Schizachyrium scoparium - Eriogonum allenii Wooded Grassland



Classifiers

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

Diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Sideslope  
Talus (Substrate)  
Unglaciated  
Unconsolidated  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Lowland  
Ridge/Summit/Upper Slope  
Temperate  
Acidic Soil  
Very Shallow Soil  
Ustic  
Landslide  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Allium oxyphilum
  (Lillydale Onion)
G2  
Arabis serotina
  (Shale Barren Rockcress)
G2 LE: Listed endangered
Canis rufus
  (Red Wolf)
G1Q LE, XN: Listed endangered, nonessential experimental population
Carex juniperorum
  (Juniper Sedge)
G3  
Clematis coactilis
  (Virginia White-hair Leatherflower)
G3  
Clematis viticaulis
  (Millboro Leatherflower)
G1  
Malaxis bayardii
  (Bayard's Malaxis)
G1G2  
Melanoplus divergens
  (Divergent Melanoplus)
G2G3  
Oenothera argillicola
  (Shale Barren Evening-primrose)
G3G4  
Phlox buckleyi
  (Swordleaf Phlox)
G2  
Puma concolor couguar
  (Eastern Cougar)
G5TXQ  
Pyrgus wyandot
  (Appalachian Grizzled Skipper)
G1G2Q  
Taenidia montana
  (Mountain Parsley)
G3  
Thaspium pinnatifidum
  (Cutleaf Meadow-parsnip)
G2G3  
Trifolium virginicum
  (Kate's Mountain Clover)
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
%
Carya glabra G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Quercus prinus G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Juniperus virginiana G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Pinus virginiana G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Clematis albicoma G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Eriogonum allenii G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Malaxis bayardii G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Packera antennariifolia G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Solidago arguta var. harrisii T4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Thaspium pinnatifidum G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Cheilanthes lanosa G5 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 


Animal Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status Charact-
eristic
Exotic
Agkistrodon contortrix
  (Copperhead)
G5      
Anolis carolinensis
  (Green Anole)
G5      
Canis rufus
  (Red Wolf)
G1Q LE, XN: Listed endangered, nonessential experimental population    
Coluber constrictor
  (North American Racer)
G5      
Euchloe olympia
  (Olympia Marble)
G5      
Lampropeltis triangulum
  (Milksnake)
G5      
Melanoplus divergens
  (Divergent Melanoplus)
G2G3      
Mustela nivalis
  (Least Weasel)
G5      
Neotoma floridana haematoreia
  (Southern Appalachian Woodrat)
G5T4Q      
Pantherophis obsoletus
  (Eastern Ratsnake)
G5      
Phyciodes cocyta
  (Northern Crescent)
G5      
Plestiodon anthracinus anthracinus
  (Northern Coal Skink)
G5T5      
Plestiodon inexpectatus
  (Southeastern Five-lined Skink)
G5      
Puma concolor couguar
  (Eastern Cougar)
G5TXQ      
Pyrgus wyandot
  (Appalachian Grizzled Skipper)
G1G2Q      
Tantilla coronata
  (Southeastern Crowned Snake)
G5      
Thamnophis sirtalis
  (Common Gartersnake)
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: MD, NCpotentially occurs, PA, TN, VA, WV
Global Range: This system is found from southern Pennsylvania south to Virginia and extreme eastern Tennessee. Application of the concept south of Virginia is uncertain. It is not attributed to 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 Predicted or probable
51 Southern Blue Ridge Predicted or probable
59 Central Appalachian Forest Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
53 Appalachia Never was there
57 Southern Appalachia Confident or certain
59 Northeastern Piedmont Never was there
60 Chesapeake Bay Never was there
61 Northern Appalachia Confident or certain
62 Allegheny Plateau Never was there
64 Northeastern Highlands Never was there

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 4147
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1340
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2340

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: Yes

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 05May2008
Element Description Author(s): S.C. Gawler and M. Pyne

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.

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

  • Fleming, G. P., P. P. Coulling, K. D. Patterson, and K. M. McCoy. 2004. The natural communities of Virginia: Classification of ecological community groups. Second approximation. Natural Heritage Technical Report 04-01. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, Richmond, VA. [http://www.dcr.virginia.gov/dnh/ncintro.htm]

  • Keener, C. S. 1970. The natural history of the mid- Appalachian shale barren flora. Pages 215-248 in: P. C. Holt, editor. The distributional history of the biota of the Southern Appalachians. Part II. Research Division Monogram 2, Blacksburg, VA.

  • Platt, R. B. 1951. An ecological study of the mid-Appalachian shale barrens and of the plants endemic to them. Ecological Monographs 21:269-300.

  • 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.

  • TDNH [Tennessee Division of Natural Heritage]. 2018. Unpublished data. Tennessee Division of Natural Heritage, Nashville, TN.


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