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Classification
Scientific Name: Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain Tidal Swamp
Unique Identifier: CES203.282

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Summary: This system encompasses freshwater to oligohaline tidally-flooded deciduous forests and shrublands in lower river floodplains and edges of estuaries of the North Atlantic Coastal Plain. This system is restricted to narrow zones along upper tidal reaches of Inner Coastal Plain rivers and tributaries which have sufficient volumes of freshwater and short flooding to support tree canopies. These areas are influenced by lunar tides up to 1 m (3 feet), but diluting freshwater flows from upstream, keeping salinity levels below 0.5 ppt. Deciduous hardwood species predominate, especially Nyssa biflora and/or Fraxinus profunda or Fraxinus pennsylvanica. In Maryland and Virginia, Taxodium distichum may be locally dominant.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: The range of this system is generally conceived as Chesapeake Bay and northward (e.g., in the Coastal Plain from the James River, Virginia, northward to New Jersey and Massachusetts). Examples of tidal swamp forests south of this region are treated under Southern Atlantic Coastal Plain Tidal Wooded Swamp (CES203.240); the boundaries may overlap somewhere in Virginia.

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES203.240 Southern Atlantic Coastal Plain Tidal Wooded Swamp


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL004651 Pinus taeda - Nyssa biflora - Taxodium distichum / Morella cerifera / Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis Tidal Forest
CEGL004654 Taxodium distichum / Carex hyalinolepis Tidal Woodland
CEGL006165 Acer rubrum - Fraxinus pennsylvanica / Polygonum spp. Floodplain Forest
CEGL006287 Fraxinus profunda - Nyssa biflora - (Fraxinus pennsylvanica) / Ilex verticillata / Polygonum arifolium Tidal Forest
CEGL006337 Alnus (incana ssp. rugosa, serrulata) - Cornus amomum Tidal Shrub Swamp
CEGL006850 Taxodium distichum - Nyssa biflora - Fraxinus profunda / Peltandra virginica - (Bignonia capreolata) Tidal Forest



Classifiers

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

Diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Forest and Woodland (Treed)  
Tidal / Estuarine  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Ludwigia brevipes
  (Long Beach Seedbox)
G2  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Fraxinus pennsylvanica G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree (canopy & subcanopy)    
 
 
Acer rubrum G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Fraxinus profunda G4 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Nyssa biflora G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy  
 
 
Taxodium distichum G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Alnus serrulata G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Clethra alnifolia G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Cornus amomum G5 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Tall shrub/sapling    
 
 
Peltandra virginica G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Zizania aquatica G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 


Animal Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status Charact-
eristic
Exotic
Chelydra serpentina
  (Snapping Turtle)
G5      
Chrysemys picta
  (Northern Painted Turtle)
G5      
Nerodia sipedon
  (Northern Watersnake)
G5      
Thamnophis sauritus
  (Eastern Ribbonsnake)
G5      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: DE, MA, MD, NJ, NY, PApotentially occurs, VA
Global Range: This system ranges from the James River, Virginia, northward to the New Jersey Coastal Plain. Possible occurrence of this system in Pennsylvania requires additional study. Examples are probably most common in the Chesapeake Bay region.

Biogeographic Divisions
Division Code and Name Primary Occurrence Status
203-Gulf and Atlantic Coastal Plain C: Confident or certain

The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Ecoregions
Code Name Occurrence Status
58 Chesapeake Bay Lowlands Confident or certain
62 North Atlantic Coast Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
60 Chesapeake Bay Confident or certain
61 Northern Appalachia Never was there
65 Connecticut River Basin and Highlands Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 9303

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: No

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 14Jan2014
Element Description Author(s): R. Evans, P. Coulling, L.A. Sneddon

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.

  • Edinger, G. J., D. J. Evans, S. Gebauer, T. G. Howard, D. M. Hunt, and A. M. Olivero, editors. 2014a. Ecological communities of New York state. Second edition. A revised and expanded edition of Carol Reschke's ecological communities of New York state. New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY.

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

  • Faber-Langendoen, D., C. Hedge, M. Kost, S. Thomas, L. Smart, R. Smyth, J. Drake, and S. Menard. 2011. Assessment of wetland ecosystem condition across landscape regions: A multi-metric approach. NatureServe, Arlington VA. plus appendices.

  • NYNHP [New York Natural Heritage Program]. 2013d. Online conservation guide for Freshwater Tidal Swamp. New York Natural Heritage Program, Albany, NY. [http://www.acris.nynhp.org/guide.php?id=9868] (accessed September 25, 2013).

  • Rheinhardt, R. D., and C. Hershner. 1992. The relationship of below-ground hydrology to canopy composition in five tidal freshwater swamps. Wetlands 12:208-216.


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Data last updated: March 2019