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Classification
Scientific Name: Southern Appalachian Montane Pine Forest and Woodland
Unique Identifier: CES202.331

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Summary: This system consists of predominantly evergreen woodlands (or more rarely forests) occupying very exposed, convex, often rocky south- and west-facing slopes, ridge spurs, crests, and clifftops in the Central Appalachians, Southern Ridge and Valley and Southern Blue Ridge. They occur at moderate to upper elevations (450-1200 m [1500-4000 feet]), with the more southerly examples at the higher elevations. In the Southern Blue Ridge, this system is best developed above 700 m (2300 feet) in elevation. The underlying rock is acidic and sedimentary or metasedimentary (e.g., quartzites, sandstones and shales). The soils are very infertile, shallow and droughty. A thick, poorly decomposed duff layer, along with dead wood and highly volatile ericaceous shrubs, creates a strongly fire-prone habitat. Most examples are dominated by Pinus pungens, often with Pinus rigida and/or Pinus virginiana, and occasionally Tsuga caroliniana. The canopy is usually patchy to open, but areas of closed canopy may be present, especially where Tsuga caroliniana is prominent. Fire is a very important ecological process in this system. Pines may be able to maintain dominance due to edaphic conditions, such as very shallow soil or extreme exposure in some areas which can produce sustained drought conditions, but most sites appear eventually to succeed to oak dominance in the absence of fire. Fire is also presumably a strong influence on vegetation structure, producing a more open woodland canopy structure and more herbaceous ground cover.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: This system is related to Central Appalachian Pine-Oak Rocky Woodland (CES202.600), which is distinguished by a mixed or deciduous canopy and absence of Pinus pungens. Stands with Pinus echinata present are generally accommodated by Southern Appalachian Low-Elevation Pine Forest (CES202.332). The relationship between these two systems may need further clarification. This system is distinguished by occurrence as small patches on the most extreme topography, as well as by the species of pines dominating. However, Pinus echinata may codominate in Southern Appalachian Low-Elevation Pine Forest (CES202.332) at times. Sites that would support this system under a natural fire regime, but which have lost the pines by logging, southern pine beetle or senescence in the absence of fire, should probably be regarded as degraded examples of this system. However, they become virtually indistinguishable from Southern Appalachian Oak Forest (CES202.886) and Central Appalachian Pine-Oak Rocky Woodland (CES202.600) over time.

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES202.297 Southern Appalachian Granitic Dome
CES202.332 Southern Appalachian Low-Elevation Pine Forest
CES202.339 Southern Piedmont Dry Oak-(Pine) Forest and Woodland
CES202.600 Central Appalachian Pine-Oak Rocky Woodland
CES202.886 Southern Appalachian Oak Forest


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL003617 Pinus rigida / Schizachyrium scoparium - Sorghastrum nutans - Baptisia tinctoria Woodland
CEGL004985 Pinus rigida - (Pinus pungens) / Rhododendron catawbiense - Kalmia latifolia / Galax urceolata Woodland
CEGL006178 Tsuga caroliniana - Pinus (rigida, pungens, virginiana) Forest
CEGL007097 Pinus pungens - Pinus rigida - (Quercus montana) / Kalmia latifolia - Vaccinium pallidum Woodland
CEGL007119 Pinus virginiana - Pinus (rigida, echinata) - (Quercus montana) / Vaccinium pallidum Forest
CEGL007138 Tsuga caroliniana - (Tsuga canadensis) / Rhododendron maximum Forest
CEGL007139 Tsuga caroliniana / Kalmia latifolia - Rhododendron catawbiense 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
Montane  
Forest and Woodland (Treed)  
Needle-Leaved Tree  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Canis rufus
  (Red Wolf)
G1Q LE, XN: Listed endangered, nonessential experimental population
Carex polymorpha
  (Variable Sedge)
G3  
Catocala herodias gerhardi
  (Herodias or Pine Barrens Underwing)
G3T3  
Cicindela patruela
  (Northern Barrens Tiger Beetle)
G3  
Erynnis martialis
  (Mottled Duskywing)
G3  
Gaylussacia brachycera
  (Box Huckleberry)
G3  
Microtus chrotorrhinus carolinensis
  (Southern Rock Vole)
G4T3  
Neotoma magister
  (Allegheny Woodrat)
G3G4  
Plethodon punctatus
  (White-spotted Salamander)
G3  
Puma concolor couguar
  (Eastern Cougar)
G5TXQ  
Pyrgus wyandot
  (Appalachian Grizzled Skipper)
G1G2Q  
Tsuga caroliniana
  (Carolina Hemlock)
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
%
Quercus prinus G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Pinus pungens G4 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Pinus rigida G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Pinus strobus G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Pinus virginiana G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Tsuga canadensis G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Kalmia latifolia G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Rhododendron maximum G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Galax urceolata G5 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      
Callophrys polios
  (Hoary Elfin)
G5      
Canis rufus
  (Red Wolf)
G1Q LE, XN: Listed endangered, nonessential experimental population    
Catocala herodias gerhardi
  (Herodias or Pine Barrens Underwing)
G3T3      
Cicindela patruela
  (Northern Barrens Tiger Beetle)
G3      
Coluber constrictor
  (North American Racer)
G5      
Crotalus horridus
  (Timber Rattlesnake)
G4      
Erynnis martialis
  (Mottled Duskywing)
G3      
Lampropeltis elapsoides
  (Scarlet Kingsnake)
G5      
Microtus chrotorrhinus carolinensis
  (Southern Rock Vole)
G4T3      
Mustela nivalis
  (Least Weasel)
G5      
Neotoma floridana haematoreia
  (Southern Appalachian Woodrat)
G5T4Q      
Neotoma magister
  (Allegheny Woodrat)
G3G4      
Pantherophis guttatus
  (Red Cornsnake)
G5      
Pantherophis obsoletus
  (Eastern Ratsnake)
G5      
Pituophis melanoleucus melanoleucus
  (Northern Pinesnake)
G4T4      
Plestiodon anthracinus anthracinus
  (Northern Coal Skink)
G5T5      
Plestiodon inexpectatus
  (Southeastern Five-lined Skink)
G5      
Plethodon punctatus
  (White-spotted Salamander)
G3      
Pseudacris brachyphona
  (Mountain Chorus Frog)
G5      
Puma concolor couguar
  (Eastern Cougar)
G5TXQ      
Pyrgus wyandot
  (Appalachian Grizzled Skipper)
G1G2Q      
Tantilla coronata
  (Southeastern Crowned Snake)
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: GA, KY, MD, NC, OH, PA, SC, TN, VA, WV
Global Range: This system is centered on the Southern Blue Ridge, from northern Georgia and South Carolina north through Virginia, with outlying occurrences north through the Central Appalachians to a small incursion in the northern Blue Ridge of south-central Pennsylvania.

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
49 Western Allegheny 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
59 Central Appalachian Forest Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
48 Cumberland Highlands Never was there
53 Appalachia Confident or certain
54 Southern Piedmont Confident or certain
57 Southern Appalachia 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): 4255
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1352
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2352

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: Yes

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 29Apr2016
Element Description Author(s): M. Schafale, R. Evans, M. Pyne, R. White, 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).


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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.


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