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Classification
Scientific Name: Southern Appalachian Rocky Summit
Unique Identifier: CES202.327

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Summary: This system represents treeless rock outcrops of the southern Appalachian Mountains, primarily in western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. Outcrops may be vertical to horizontal, rugged or fractured rock outcrops of peaks, ridgetops, upper slopes, and other topographically exposed locations. Higher elevation examples occur from 1200 to 2030 m in elevation; other examples may be found at elevations of 305 m (1000 feet) or lower on foothills. These outcrops occur on felsic to mafic rocks and are distinguished from surrounding systems by the prevalence of bare or lichen-encrusted rocks. The vegetation component of this system is generally characterized by a mixture of low-growing lifeforms, especially lichens, mosses, and short-statured forbs. Less commonly, graminoids and low shrubs are encountered. Species common to all outcrop vegetation types include Carex misera, Saxifraga michauxii, and Vaccinium corymbosum.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: The primary variation within this system, which could be the basis for further subdivision, is the distinction between low and high elevation. High-elevation rocky summits may have a unique biogeographic history of having been adjacent to alpine tundra that existed in the region during the Pleistocene and of now providing a refugium for some of its flora. Their climate is substantially different from the lower elevation examples. However, their structure and the dynamics that results from it are probably similar.

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES202.297 Southern Appalachian Granitic Dome
CES202.328 Southern Piedmont Glade and Barrens
CES202.329 Southern Piedmont Granite Flatrock and Outcrop
CES202.330 Southern Appalachian Montane Cliff and Talus
CES202.348 Southern and Central Appalachian Mafic Glade and Barrens
CES202.386 Southern Piedmont Cliff


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL004074 Schizachyrium scoparium - Saxifraga michauxii - Coreopsis major Grassland
CEGL004277 Saxifraga michauxii - Carex misera - Oclemena acuminata - Solidago glomerata Grassland
CEGL004278 Saxifraga michauxii - Carex misera - Calamagrostis cainii Grassland
CEGL004279 Saxifraga michauxii - Carex misera - Danthonia spicata - Krigia montana Grassland
CEGL004524 Saxifraga michauxii Meadow
CEGL004989 Saxifraga michauxii - Cheilanthes lanosa - Hylotelephium telephioides Grassland
CEGL007010 Leiophyllum buxifolium - (Hudsonia montana) / Selaginella tortipila - Carex umbellata Quartzite Outcrop Dwarf-shrubland
CEGL008509 Minuartia groenlandica - Paronychia argyrocoma - Saxifraga michauxii Grassland



Classifiers

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

Diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Rock Outcrops/Barrens/Glades  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Anastrophyllum saxicola
  (Curled Notchwort)
G3G4  
Aneides aeneus
  (Green Salamander)
G3G4  
Calamagrostis cainii
  (Cain's Reedgrass)
G1  
Canis rufus
  (Red Wolf)
G1Q LE, XN: Listed endangered, nonessential experimental population
Carex biltmoreana
  (Biltmore's Sedge)
G3  
Carex misera
  (Wretched Sedge)
G3  
Diervilla rivularis
  (Mountain Bush-honeysuckle)
G3  
Diplophyllum apiculatum var. taxifolioides
  (a liverwort)
G5T2Q  
Diplophyllum obtusatum
  (Blunted Earwort)
G2?  
Ephebe americana
  (American Thread Lichen)
G2G3  
Geum radiatum
  (Spreading Avens)
G2 LE: Listed endangered
Gymnocarpium appalachianum
  (Appalachian Oak Fern)
G3  
Gymnoderma lineare
  (Rock Gnome Lichen)
G3 LE: Listed endangered
Houstonia purpurea var. montana
  (Mountain Bluet)
G5T2 LE: Listed endangered
Hudsonia montana
  (Mountain Golden-heather)
G1 LT: Listed threatened
Krigia montana
  (False Dandelion)
G3  
Liatris helleri
  (Heller's Blazingstar)
G2Q LT: Listed threatened
Marsupella emarginata var. latiloba
  (a liverwort)
G5T1T2  
Metzgeria fruticulosa
  (Bluish Veilwort)
G2Q  
Metzgeria furcata var. setigera
  (a liverwort)
G5T1  
Microtus chrotorrhinus carolinensis
  (Southern Rock Vole)
G4T3  
Neotoma magister
  (Allegheny Woodrat)
G3G4  
Nesticus cooperi
  (Lost Nantahala Cave Spider)
G1  
Nesticus crosbyi
  (a cave cobweb spider)
G1?  
Nesticus mimus
  (a cave cobweb spider)
G2  
Nesticus sp. 1
  (a cave cobweb spider)
G2?  
Packera millefolia
  (Blue Ridge Ragwort)
G3  
Penstemon smallii
  (Small's Beardtongue)
G3  
Plagiochila austinii
  (a liverwort)
G3  
Plagiochila sullivantii var. sullivantii
  (a liverwort)
G2T2  
Polytrichum appalachianum
  (Appalachian Polytrichum Moss)
G3  
Porpidia diversa
  (Diverse Porpidia Lichen)
G2G3  
Porpidia herteliana
  (Hertel's Porpidia Lichen)
G2G3  
Prenanthes roanensis
  (Roan Mountain Rattlesnake-root)
G3  
Rhododendron vaseyi
  (Pink-shell Azalea)
G3  
Solidago spithamaea
  (Blue Ridge Goldenrod)
G2 LT: Listed threatened
Xanthoparmelia monticola
  (Xanthoparmelia Lichen)
G2?  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Prunus pensylvanica G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Hudsonia montana G1 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Short shrub/sapling      
 
 
Geum radiatum G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Houstonia purpurea var. montana T2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Liatris helleri G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Micranthes petiolaris G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Packera millefolia G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Sedum glaucophyllum G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Sibbaldiopsis tridentata G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Solidago spithamaea G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Calamagrostis cainii G1 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Carex misera G3 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Plagiochila sullivantii var. sullivantii T2 Liverwort/hornwort Nonvascular      
 
 
Gymnoderma lineare G3 Lichen Nonvascular      
 
 
Porpidia diversa G2 Lichen Nonvascular      
 
 
Porpidia herteliana G2 Lichen Nonvascular      
 
 


Animal Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status Charact-
eristic
Exotic
Anaplectoides brunneomedia
  (Brown-lined Dart Moth)
G4      
Aneides aeneus
  (Green Salamander)
G3G4      
Aquila chrysaetos
  (Golden Eagle)
G5      
Canis rufus
  (Red Wolf)
G1Q LE, XN: Listed endangered, nonessential experimental population    
Colias interior
  (Pink-edged Sulphur)
G5      
Corvus corax
  (Common Raven)
G5      
Crotalus horridus
  (Timber Rattlesnake)
G4      
Microtus chrotorrhinus carolinensis
  (Southern Rock Vole)
G4T3      
Neotoma floridana haematoreia
  (Southern Appalachian Woodrat)
G5T4Q      
Neotoma magister
  (Allegheny Woodrat)
G3G4      
Nesticus cooperi
  (Lost Nantahala Cave Spider)
G1      
Nesticus crosbyi
  (a cave cobweb spider)
G1?      
Nesticus mimus
  (a cave cobweb spider)
G2      
Nesticus sp. 1
  (a cave cobweb spider)
G2?      
Phyciodes batesii
  (Tawny Crescent)
G4G5      
Polygonia progne
  (Gray Comma)
G5      
Sorex dispar
  (Long-tailed Shrew)
G4      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: GA, NC, SC, TN
Global Range: This system is found at a variety of elevations in the southern Appalachian Mountains, primarily in western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee.

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
51 Southern Blue Ridge Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
53 Appalachia Never was there
57 Southern Appalachia Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 3178

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: No

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 18Apr2006
Element Description Author(s): M. Schafale and 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.

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

  • Wiser, S. K., and P. S. White. 1999. High-elevation outcrops and barrens of the southern Appalachian Mountains. Pages 119-132 in: Anderson, R. C., J. S. Fralish, and J. M. Baskin, editors. Savannas, barrens and rock outcrop plant communities of North America. Cambridge University Press.


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