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Classification
Scientific Name: Southern Appalachian Low-Elevation Pine Forest
Unique Identifier: CES202.332

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Summary: This ecological system consists of Pinus echinata- and Pinus virginiana-dominated forests in the lower elevation Southern Appalachians and adjacent Piedmont and Cumberland Plateau, extending into the Interior Low Plateau of Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. Examples can occur on a variety of topographic and landscape positions, including ridgetops, upper and midslopes, as well as lower elevations (generally below 700 m [2300 feet]) in the Southern Appalachians such as mountain valleys. Examples occur on a variety of acidic bedrock types. Frequent, low-intensity fires coupled with severe fires may have been the sole factor favoring the occurrence of this system instead of hardwood forests in the absence of fire. Under current conditions, stands are dominated by Pinus echinata or Pinus virginiana. Pinus rigida may sometimes be present. Hardwoods are sometimes abundant, especially dry-site oaks such as Quercus falcata, Quercus montana (= Quercus prinus), and Quercus coccinea, but also Carya glabra, Acer rubrum, and others. The shrub layer may be well-developed, with Gaylussacia baccata, Kalmia latifolia, Rhododendron minus, Vaccinium pallidum, or other acid-tolerant species most characteristic. Herbs are usually sparse but may include Pityopsis graminifolia and Tephrosia virginiana.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: This system and its component associations are among the least studied in the Southern Appalachians (Harrod and White 1999). Settlement, universal logging, pine beetle outbreaks, and the lack of fire potentially have altered their character and blurred their boundaries more than most systems in the region. The situation is further complicated by the potential for pine-dominated forests to have been both created and destroyed in different places by these disturbances.

The relationship between this system and Southern Appalachian Montane Pine Forest and Woodland (CES202.331) may need further clarification. Southern Appalachian Low-Elevation Pine Forest (CES202.332) is distinguished by its occurrence as large patches on lower terrain (generally below 700 m [2300 feet]) and less extreme topography. The vegetation of the two systems may overlap due to the factors outlined above, but Pinus pungens, and to some extent Pinus rigida, are more typical of the former, while Pinus echinata and Pinus virginiana are more typical of the latter. Pine-dominated stands in the Piedmont portions of the Sumter National Forest are best affiliated with a pine-dominated "phase" of Southern Piedmont Dry Oak-(Pine) Forest and Woodland (CES202.339), rather than with this system. These stands would be dominated by Pinus echinata with hardwoods and possibly Pinus taeda. In contrast to more montane low-elevation stands, Pinus virginiana should be absent or present at very low cover.

Presently the shortleaf pine-dominated vegetation of the Interior Low Plateau (ILP), including examples in southern Indiana and the Tennessee portion of Land Between the Lakes, is included in this system. Frost (1998) treats the ILP region in a different fire-return-interval class than the core range of this system, although local variation may overwhelm the broad regional differences. If more detailed information becomes available to document important ecological differences between these areas, a new system may be required.

This system (CES202.332) at its western extent in central Tennessee and Kentucky would be distinguished from equivalent Ozarkian systems (e.g., Ozark-Ouachita Shortleaf Pine-Oak Forest and Woodland (CES202.313)) by the presence of Pinus virginiana and Quercus montana, which do not cross the Mississippi River.


Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES202.313 Ozark-Ouachita Shortleaf Pine-Oak Forest and Woodland
CES202.325 Ozark-Ouachita Shortleaf Pine-Bluestem Woodland
CES202.331 Southern Appalachian Montane Pine Forest and Woodland
CES202.339 Southern Piedmont Dry Oak-(Pine) Forest and Woodland
CES202.359 Allegheny-Cumberland Dry Oak Forest and Woodland
CES202.596 Central and Southern Appalachian Montane Oak Forest


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL002591 Pinus virginiana Ruderal Forest
CEGL003560 Pinus echinata / Schizachyrium scoparium Appalachian Woodland
CEGL003765 Pinus echinata - Quercus stellata - Quercus marilandica / Vaccinium pallidum Woodland
CEGL004445 Pinus echinata - Quercus montana - Quercus stellata / Vaccinium pallidum / Pityopsis graminifolia var. latifolia Woodland
CEGL006327 Pinus echinata Ruderal Forest
CEGL007078 Pinus echinata / Vaccinium (pallidum, stamineum) - Kalmia latifolia Forest
CEGL007100 Pinus strobus / Kalmia latifolia - (Vaccinium stamineum, Gaylussacia ursina) Forest
CEGL007119 Pinus virginiana - Pinus (rigida, echinata) - (Quercus montana) / Vaccinium pallidum Forest
CEGL007493 Pinus echinata - Quercus (montana, falcata) / Oxydendrum arboreum / Vaccinium pallidum Forest
CEGL007496 Pinus echinata - Quercus montana / Rhododendron minus / Vaccinium pallidum Forest
CEGL007500 Pinus echinata - Quercus stellata - Quercus montana / Danthonia spicata Forest
CEGL008427 Pinus echinata - Quercus alba / Vaccinium pallidum / Hexastylis arifolia - Chimaphila maculata Forest
CEGL008500 Pinus virginiana - (Pinus rigida, Pinus pungens) / Schizachyrium scoparium 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)  
Acidic Soil  
Short Disturbance Interval  
Needle-Leaved Tree  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Amorpha schwerinii
  (Schwerin Indigobush)
G3G4  
Arabis serotina
  (Shale Barren Rockcress)
G2 LE: Listed endangered
Botrychium jenmanii
  (Alabama Grapefern)
G3G4  
Canis rufus
  (Red Wolf)
G1Q LE, XN: Listed endangered, nonessential experimental population
Cicindela patruela
  (Northern Barrens Tiger Beetle)
G3  
Desmodium ochroleucum
  (Cream Tick-trefoil)
G2  
Gaylussacia brachycera
  (Box Huckleberry)
G3  
Isotria medeoloides
  (Small Whorled Pogonia)
G2? LT: Listed threatened
Malaxis bayardii
  (Bayard's Malaxis)
G1G2  
Packera millefolia
  (Blue Ridge Ragwort)
G3  
Plethodon hubrichti
  (Peaks of Otter Salamander)
G2G3  
Puma concolor couguar
  (Eastern Cougar)
G5TXQ  
Taenidia montana
  (Mountain Parsley)
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
%
Carya alba G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Oxydendrum arboreum G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Pinus echinata G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Pinus rigida G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Pinus virginiana G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Gaylussacia baccata G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Vaccinium pallidum G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Desmodium ochroleucum G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Isotria medeoloides G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Malaxis bayardii G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Packera millefolia G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Xerophyllum asphodeloides G4 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
Accipiter cooperii
  (Cooper's Hawk)
G5      
Anolis carolinensis
  (Green Anole)
G5      
Callophrys polios
  (Hoary Elfin)
G5      
Canis rufus
  (Red Wolf)
G1Q LE, XN: Listed endangered, nonessential experimental population    
Cemophora coccinea copei
  (Northern Scarletsnake)
G5T5      
Cicindela patruela
  (Northern Barrens Tiger Beetle)
G3      
Crotalus horridus
  (Timber Rattlesnake)
G4      
Euchloe olympia
  (Olympia Marble)
G5      
Heterodon platirhinos
  (Eastern Hog-nosed Snake)
G5      
Lampropeltis elapsoides
  (Scarlet Kingsnake)
G5      
Mustela nivalis
  (Least Weasel)
G5      
Pantherophis guttatus
  (Red Cornsnake)
G5      
Pituophis melanoleucus melanoleucus
  (Northern Pinesnake)
G4T4      
Plestiodon inexpectatus
  (Southeastern Five-lined Skink)
G5      
Plethodon hubrichti
  (Peaks of Otter Salamander)
G2G3      
Puma concolor couguar
  (Eastern Cougar)
G5TXQ      
Scincella lateralis
  (Little Brown Skink)
G5      
Setophaga discolor
  (Prairie Warbler)
G5      
Setophaga dominica
  (Yellow-throated Warbler)
G5      
Sitta canadensis
  (Red-breasted Nuthatch)
G5      
Sitta pusilla
  (Brown-headed Nuthatch)
G4      
Synanthedon castaneae
  (Chestnut Clearwing Moth)
G3G5      
Tantilla coronata
  (Southeastern Crowned Snake)
G5      
Virginia valeriae pulchra
  (Mountain Earthsnake)
G5T3T4      
Virginia valeriae valeriae
  (Eastern Earthsnake)
G5T5      
Zale confusa
  (Confused Zale Moth)
G4G5      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: AL, GA, IN, KY, NC, SC, TN, VA
Global Range: This system is found primarily in the Appalachian regions of Kentucky and the Southern Blue Ridge in northern Georgia, western North Carolina, southeastern Tennessee, the Cumberlands of Alabama, parts of the Interior Low Plateau (e.g., the Knobs Region of Kentucky and southern Indiana and the western Highland Rim of Tennessee), and southwestern Virginia. Any possible stands in the Piedmont would be found in the western foothills portions adjacent to the mountains.

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
44 Interior Low Plateau Confident or certain
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
47 Appalachia Bluegrass Hills Confident or certain
48 Cumberland Highlands Confident or certain
53 Appalachia Confident or certain
54 Southern Piedmont Confident or certain
57 Southern Appalachia Confident or certain
59 Northeastern Piedmont Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 4256
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1353
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2353

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: Yes

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 28Apr2016
Element Description Author(s): M. Schafale, R. Evans, R. White, M. Pyne and C. Nordman

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.

  • 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.

  • Elliott, K. J., C. A. Harper, and B. Collins. 2011. Herbaceous response to type and severity of disturbance. Pages 97-119 in: C. H. Greenberg, B. S. Collins, and F. R. Thompson, editors. Sustaining young forest communities. Springer Books.

  • Elliott, K. J., and J. M. Vose. 2005. Effects of understory prescribed burning on shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata Mill.) / mixed-hardwood forests. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 132(2):236-251.

  • 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.

  • Fesenmyer, K. A., and N. L. Christensen. 2010. Reconstructing Holocene fire history in a Southern Appalachian forest using soil charcoal. Ecology 91(3):662-670.

  • Frost, C. C. 1998. Presettlement fire frequency regimes of the United States: A first approximation. Pages 70-81 in: T. L. Pruden and L. A. Brennan, editors. Fire in ecosystem management: Shifting the paradigm from suppression to prescription. Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference Proceedings, No. 20. Tall Timbers Research Station, Tallahassee, FL.

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

  • Harper, R. M. 1943. Forests of Alabama. Geological Survey of Alabama Monograph 10. University of Alabama. 230 pp.

  • Harrod, J. C., and R. D. White. 1999. Age structure and radial growth in xeric pine-oak forests in western Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 126(2):139-146.

  • Murphy, P. A., and G. J. Nowacki. 1997. An old-growth definition for xeric pine and pine-oak woodlands. General Technical Report SRS-007. USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Asheville, NC. 7 pp.

  • NatureServe. 2002. Notes on shortleaf pine ecosystems and restoration efforts in the Southern Appalachians. Report prepared for USDA Forest Service, Cherokee National Forest, Cleveland, TN. 39 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]

  • 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.

  • Wendel, G. W., and H. C. Smith. 1990. Pinus strobus L. White pine. Pages 476-488 in: R. M. Burns and B. H. Honkala, technical coordinators. Silvics of North America: Volume 1. Conifers. Agriculture Handbook 654. USDA Forest Service, Washington, DC. 675 pp.

  • Whittaker, R. H. 1956. Vegetation of the Great Smoky Mountains. Ecological Monographs 26:1-80.


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