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Classification
Scientific Name: Southern Piedmont Mesic Forest
Unique Identifier: CES202.342

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Summary: This system encompasses mixed deciduous hardwood or occasionally hardwood-pine forests of mesic sites in the Piedmont of the southeastern United States. Most examples occur on lower or north-facing slopes where topography creates mesic moisture conditions. A mix of a small number of mesophytic trees is usually dominant, with Fagus grandifolia most prominent. Both acidic and basic substrates are currently included in this concept, as are certain heath bluffs, where dense shrub layers of mesophytic ericaceous shrubs may occur beneath an open tree canopy. Fire is naturally infrequent in this system, due to the slopes and moist conditions. If fire does penetrate, it is likely to be low in intensity and may not have significant ecological effects. Vegetation consists of forests dominated by combinations of trees that include a significant component of mesophytic species. Fagus grandifolia is almost always abundant and is often strongly dominant. Quercus rubra, Liriodendron tulipifera, and Acer rubrum may be abundant. In basic soil examples, Fraxinus americana and Acer floridanum are also abundant. A well-developed understory is usually present. Herbs range from fairly dense in basic examples to sparse in acidic examples, and may be nearly absent in a few. The composition of all lower strata varies substantially with soil acidity.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: This system is distinguished from Southern Piedmont Dry Oak-(Pine) Forest and Woodland (CES202.339) by the significant component of mesophytic tree species, particularly Fagus grandifolia, as well as by occurrence on mesic topographic sites. Some oaks may also be present. It is distinguished from Southern Piedmont Small Floodplain and Riparian Forest (CES202.323) and Southern Piedmont Large Floodplain Forest (CES202.324) by the absence of characteristic alluvial or bottomland species, along with upland position. This boundary can be somewhat difficult to place, as some alluvial species will occur upslope in basic soils, and some mesic forests will extend onto higher terraces in bottomlands. This system is closely related to Southern Atlantic Coastal Plain Mesic Hardwood Forest (CES203.242) and in the northern part of the range may be very similar except for the geologic substrate. Farther south, there is a greater floristic difference between the two. This system is related to the cove forest systems of the southern Appalachians but lacks a number of species characteristic of those regions. These species are present in increasing numbers as one goes west in the Piedmont. The westernmost Piedmont has some examples of well-developed Southern and Central Appalachian Cove Forest (CES202.373) in the more mountainous portions. Distinct subsets of this system, which could be recognized as different systems, are the basic/circumneutral and acidic examples, and also the shrubby heath bluffs.

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES202.323 Southern Piedmont Small Floodplain and Riparian Forest
CES202.324 Southern Piedmont Large Floodplain Forest
CES202.339 Southern Piedmont Dry Oak-(Pine) Forest and Woodland
CES202.373 Southern and Central Appalachian Cove Forest
CES203.242 Southern Atlantic Coastal Plain Mesic Hardwood Forest


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL003949 Quercus rubra / Magnolia tripetala - Cercis canadensis / Actaea racemosa - Tiarella cordifolia Forest
CEGL004539 Fagus grandifolia - Quercus alba / Kalmia latifolia - (Rhododendron catawbiense) / Galax urceolata Forest
CEGL004542 Quercus alba - Quercus rubra - Quercus montana - Tilia americana var. caroliniana / Ostrya virginiana Forest
CEGL006055 Fagus grandifolia - Liriodendron tulipifera - Carya cordiformis / Lindera benzoin / Podophyllum peltatum Forest
CEGL006075 Fagus grandifolia - Quercus (alba, rubra) - Liriodendron tulipifera / (Ilex opaca) Forest
CEGL006227 Quercus alba - Carya tomentosa / Euonymus americanus / Hexastylis arifolia Forest
CEGL006919 Fagus grandifolia - Quercus (alba, velutina, montana) / Kalmia latifolia Forest
CEGL007201 Fagus grandifolia - Liriodendron tulipifera / Euonymus americanus / Athyrium filix-femina ssp. asplenioides Forest
CEGL007237 Quercus rubra - Quercus alba - Carya glabra / Geranium maculatum Forest
CEGL007291 Liriodendron tulipifera - Tilia americana var. heterophylla - (Aesculus flava) / Actaea racemosa Forest
CEGL007692 Quercus alba - Quercus rubra - Quercus montana / Collinsonia canadensis - Podophyllum peltatum Forest
CEGL007711 Tilia americana var. heterophylla - Fraxinus americana / Sanguinaria canadensis - (Aquilegia canadensis, Asplenium rhizophyllum) Forest
CEGL008465 Fagus grandifolia - Quercus rubra / Cornus florida / Polystichum acrostichoides - Hexastylis virginica Forest
CEGL008466 Fagus grandifolia - Quercus rubra / Aesculus sylvatica / Actaea racemosa - Adiantum pedatum 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)  
Very Long Disturbance Interval  
Broad-Leaved Deciduous Tree  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Collinsonia tuberosa
  (Deepwoods Horsebalm)
G3G4  
Collinsonia verticillata
  (Whorled Horsebalm)
G3G4  
Helianthus glaucophyllus
  (Whiteleaf Sunflower)
G3G4  
Hymenocallis coronaria
  (Shoals Spider-lily)
G3?  
Panax quinquefolius
  (American Ginseng)
G3G4  
Plethodon websteri
  (Webster's Salamander)
G3G4  
Rhododendron eastmanii
  (Eastman's Rhododendron)
G3  
Ribes echinellum
  (Miccosukee Gooseberry)
G1 LT: Listed threatened
Silene polypetala
  (Fringed Campion)
G2 LE: Listed endangered
Trillium reliquum
  (Relict Trillium)
G3 LE: Listed endangered
Trillium rugelii
  (Southern Nodding Trillium)
G3  
Waldsteinia lobata
  (Lobed Barren-strawberry)
G3  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Acer barbatum G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Acer rubrum G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Fagus grandifolia G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Fraxinus americana G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Liriodendron tulipifera G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Quercus alba G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Quercus rubra G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Pinus taeda G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Aesculus sylvatica G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Ribes echinellum G1 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Ilex opaca G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Geranium maculatum G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Trillium reliquum G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Waldsteinia lobata G3 Flowering 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
Anolis carolinensis
  (Green Anole)
G5      
Cemophora coccinea copei
  (Northern Scarletsnake)
G5T5      
Coccyzus americanus
  (Yellow-billed Cuckoo)
G5      
Myiarchus crinitus
  (Great Crested Flycatcher)
G5      
Pantherophis obsoletus
  (Eastern Ratsnake)
G5      
Plestiodon fasciatus
  (Five-lined Skink)
G5      
Plestiodon inexpectatus
  (Southeastern Five-lined Skink)
G5      
Plestiodon laticeps
  (Broad-headed Skink)
G5      
Plethodon websteri
  (Webster's Salamander)
G3G4      
Virginia valeriae valeriae
  (Eastern Earthsnake)
G5T5      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: AL, GA, NC, SC, VA
Global Range: This ecological system ranges throughout the southern Piedmont, from Virginia to Alabama.

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
52 Piedmont Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
54 Southern Piedmont Confident or certain
59 Northeastern Piedmont Confident or certain
60 Chesapeake Bay Confident or certain
61 Northern Appalachia Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 4122
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1316
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2316

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: Yes

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 02Oct2015
Element Description Author(s): M. Schafale, R. Evans, C.W. Nordman

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


References
  • Anderson, M. G. 1999a. Viability and spatial assessment of ecological communities in the Northern Appalachian ecoregion. Ph.D. dissertation, University of New Hampshire, Durham.

  • Batista, W. B., and W. J. Platt. 1997. An old-growth definition for southern mixed hardwood forests. General Technical Report SRS-9. USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Asheville, NC. 11 pp.

  • 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.

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

  • Engeman, R. M., A. Stevens, J. Allen, J. Dunlap, M. Daniel, D. Teague, and B. Constantin. 2007. Feral swine management for conservation of an imperiled wetland habitat: Florida's vanishing seepage slopes. Biological Conservation 134:440-446.

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

  • LANDFIRE [Landfire National Vegetation Dynamics Database]. 2007a. Landfire National Vegetation Dynamics Models. Landfire Project, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Department of Interior. (January - last update) [http://www.LANDFIRE.gov/index.php] (accessed 8 February 2007).

  • 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.

  • Peet, R. K., M. T. Lee, M. D. Jennings, and D. Faber-Langendoen, editors. 2013. VegBank: The vegetation plot archive of the Ecological Society of America. [http://vegbank.org]

  • 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., 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.

  • Simon, Steve. Personal communication. Ecologist. USDA Forest Service, National Forests in North Carolina, Asheville, NC.


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