NatureServe Explorer logo.An Online Encyclopedia of Life
Ecological System Comprehensive Report: Record 1 of 1 selected. View Glossary
<< Previous | Next >>

Scientific Name: Acadian Low-Elevation Spruce-Fir-Hardwood Forest
Unique Identifier: CES201.565

Search for Images on Google
Summary: This system represents the Acadian and northern Appalachian red spruce-fir forest that extends to the southern boreal region of southeastern Canada. The low- to mid-elevation forests are dominated by Picea rubens and Abies balsamea. Picea mariana and Picea glauca may be present. Betula alleghaniensis is the most common codominant, and Acer rubrum, Acer saccharum, and Fagus grandifolia are sometimes present. The upland soils are acidic and usually rocky, mostly well- to moderately well-drained but with some somewhat poorly drained patches at the slope bottoms. This is the matrix forest type in the lower-elevation northern portions of this division. This system may include earlier successional patches in which Populus spp. and Betula spp. are dominant or mixed with Picea and Abies that will develop into spruce-fir forests. Blowdowns with subsequent gap regeneration are the most frequent form of natural disturbance, with large-scale fires important at longer return intervals.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: Differences between this and the seasonally flooded Acadian Sub-boreal Spruce Flat (CES201.562) are not well-defined; data from Canada may help to resolve this.

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES103.020 Laurentian-Acadian Sub-boreal Aspen-Birch Forest
CES201.562 Acadian Sub-boreal Spruce Flat
CES201.564 Laurentian-Acadian Northern Hardwood Forest

Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL006151 Picea rubens - Picea glauca Forest
CEGL006273 Picea rubens - Abies balsamea - Betula papyrifera Forest
CEGL006292 Picea mariana / Kalmia angustifolia Woodland
CEGL006361 Picea mariana - Picea rubens / Pleurozium schreberi Swamp Forest
CEGL006505 Picea rubens - Abies balsamea - Betula spp. - Acer rubrum Forest


Land Cover Class: Forest and Woodland
Spatial Pattern: Matrix, 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)  
Mesotrophic Soil  
Oligotrophic Soil  
Picea (glauca, mariana, rubens) - Abies  

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Toeslope/Valley Bottom  
Acidic Soil  
Mineral: W/ A-Horizon >10 cm  
Loam Soil Texture  
Sand Soil Texture  
Long Disturbance Interval  
W-Patch/Medium Intensity  
Needle-Leaved Tree  
Moderate (100-500 yrs) Persistence  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Betula papyrifera G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
Abies balsamea G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
Picea glauca G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
Picea rubens G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
Tsuga canadensis G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
Corylus cornuta G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
Maianthemum canadense G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
Oclemena acuminata G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    

Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: ME, NH, NY, PA, VT
Nation: Canada
Canadian Province Distribution: NB, QCpotentially occurs
Global Range: This system is found in northern New England, northern New York and adjacent Canada and is occasional southwards.

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
60 High Allegheny Plateau Confident or certain
61 Lower New England / Northern Piedmont Confident or certain
63 Northern Appalachian-Boreal Forest Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
64 Northeastern Highlands Confident or certain
65 Connecticut River Basin and Highlands Confident or certain
66 The North Woods Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 4316
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1373
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2373

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: Yes

Element Description Edition Date: 20Aug2007
Element Description Author(s): 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).

  • 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.

  • Edinger, G. J., D. J. Evans, S. Gebauer, T. G. Howard, D. M. Hunt, and A. M. Olivero, editors. 2014a. Ecological communities of New York state. Second edition. A revised and expanded edition of Carol Reschke's ecological communities of New York state. New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY.

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

  • Gawler, S. C., and A. Cutko. 2010. Natural landscapes of Maine: A classification of vegetated natural communities and ecosystems. Maine Natural Areas Program, Department of Conservation, Augusta.

  • Lorimer, C. G. 1977. The presettlement forest and natural disturbance cycle of northeastern Maine. Ecology 58:139-148.

  • Sperduto, D. D., and W. F. Nichols. 2004. Natural communities of New Hampshire: A guide and classification. New Hampshire Natural Heritage Bureau, DRED Division of Forests and Lands, Concord. 242 pp.

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 were updated to be current with NatureServe's central databases as of March 2019.
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 © 2019 NatureServe, 2511 Richmond (Jefferson Davis) Highway, Suite 930, Arlington, VA 22202, 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. 2019. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available (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:

Full metadata for the Mammal Range Maps of North America is available at:

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 2019
Version 7.1 (2 February 2009)
Data last updated: March 2019