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Classification
Scientific Name: Southern Appalachian Montane Cliff and Talus
Unique Identifier: CES202.330

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Summary: This system consists of steep to vertical or overhanging rock outcrops (and related steep talus slopes) of the Southern Blue Ridge and adjacent parts of other ecoregions. It occurs on lower slopes, usually in river gorges or bluffs. The sparse vegetation is limited to plants growing on bare rock, small ledges, and crevices. Vegetation is primarily bryophytes, lichens, and herbs, with sparse trees and shrubs rooted in deeper soil pockets and crevices.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: This system is distinguished from other rock outcrops by a combination of low topographic position, vertical orientation, large amount of bare rock, and absence of specialized environments such as exfoliated granite, limestone or dolomite, and spray from waterfalls. In contrast, Southern Appalachian Rocky Summit (CES202.327) occurs in high topographic positions; they have more horizontal rock but may have some substantial vertical surfaces. Southern and Central Appalachian Mafic Glade and Barrens (CES202.348) are more horizontally oriented and have much more vegetation cover. Southern Appalachian Granitic Dome (CES202.297) may have steep portions but has smooth, unfractured rock surfaces with soil largely confined to mats adhering to the rock surface. The division of rock outcrop systems may be too fine and warrant combining some; however, each system has distinctive characteristics of structure and some distinctive flora.

The primary variation within this system, which could be the basis for further subdivision, is the distinction between mafic and felsic rock. The distribution north and west needs review. See also Cumberland Acidic Cliff and Rockhouse (CES202.309).


Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES202.288 Southern Appalachian Spray Cliff
CES202.297 Southern Appalachian Granitic Dome
CES202.309 Cumberland Acidic Cliff and Rockhouse
CES202.327 Southern Appalachian Rocky Summit
CES202.348 Southern and Central Appalachian Mafic Glade and Barrens
CES202.386 Southern Piedmont Cliff
CES202.598 Appalachian Shale Barrens


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL004387 Umbilicaria mammulata Cliff Nonvascular Vegetation
CEGL004395 (Hydrangea arborescens, Toxicodendron radicans) / Heuchera americana - (Dichanthelium depauperatum, Woodsia obtusa) Cliff Shrubland
CEGL004454 Parthenocissus quinquefolia / (Dicentra eximia) Sparse Vegetation
CEGL004759 Physocarpus opulifolius / Campanula divaricata - Tradescantia subaspera - (Packera plattensis) Cliff Sparse Vegetation
CEGL004980 Asplenium montanum - Heuchera villosa Felsic Cliff Sparse Vegetation
CEGL008435 (Hydrangea arborescens) / Heuchera villosa - Asplenium trichomanes - Thalictrum clavatum / Conocephalum salebrosum Cliff Shrubland
CEGL008546 (Hydrangea arborescens) / Heuchera villosa - Dicentra eximia - Campanula divaricata Cliff Shrubland



Classifiers

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

Diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Moss/Lichen (Nonvascular)  
Cliff (Substrate)  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Aneides aeneus
  (Green Salamander)
G3G4  
Canis rufus
  (Red Wolf)
G1Q LE, XN: Listed endangered, nonessential experimental population
Carex misera
  (Wretched Sedge)
G3  
Heuchera alba
  (White Alumroot)
G2Q  
Krigia montana
  (False Dandelion)
G3  
Liatris helleri
  (Heller's Blazingstar)
G2Q LT: Listed threatened
Liatris microcephala
  (Small-head Gayfeather)
G3G4  
Mannia californica
  (a liverwort)
G3?  
Microtus chrotorrhinus carolinensis
  (Southern Rock Vole)
G4T3  
Neotoma magister
  (Allegheny Woodrat)
G3G4  
Scutellaria arguta
  (Hairy Skullcap)
G1?Q  
Sedum nevii
  (Nevius' Stonecrop)
G3  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Hydrangea arborescens G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Adlumia fungosa G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Heuchera parviflora G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Heuchera villosa G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Liatris helleri G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Scutellaria arguta G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Asplenium montanum G5 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)    
 
 
Parthenocissus quinquefolia G5 Liana Herb (field)    
 
 
Toxicodendron radicans G5 Liana 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      
Aneides aeneus
  (Green Salamander)
G3G4      
Aquila chrysaetos
  (Golden Eagle)
G5      
Canis rufus
  (Red Wolf)
G1Q LE, XN: Listed endangered, nonessential experimental population    
Coluber constrictor
  (North American Racer)
G5      
Corvus corax
  (Common Raven)
G5      
Crotalus horridus
  (Timber Rattlesnake)
G4      
Falco peregrinus anatum
  (American Peregrine Falcon)
G4T4      
Microtus chrotorrhinus carolinensis
  (Southern Rock Vole)
G4T3      
Neotoma floridana haematoreia
  (Southern Appalachian Woodrat)
G5T4Q      
Neotoma magister
  (Allegheny Woodrat)
G3G4      
Sorex dispar
  (Long-tailed Shrew)
G4      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, VA
Global Range: Scattered throughout the Southern Appalachians and incidentally into adjacent ecoregions, from northern Alabama and Georgia through Virginia.

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 Possible
51 Southern Blue Ridge Confident or certain
52 Piedmont Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
48 Cumberland Highlands Possible
53 Appalachia Predicted or probable
54 Southern Piedmont Confident or certain
57 Southern Appalachia Confident or certain
59 Northeastern Piedmont Confident or certain
60 Chesapeake Bay Never was there
61 Northern Appalachia Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 3186

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: No

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

  • DuMond, D. M. 1970. Floristic and vegetational survey of the Chattooga River Gorge. Castanea 35:201-244.

  • Evans, M. 1991. Kentucky ecological communities. Draft report to the Kentucky Nature Preserves Commission. 19 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.

  • 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. 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]


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