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Classification
Scientific Name: Atlantic Coastal Plain Blackwater Stream Floodplain Forest
Unique Identifier: CES203.247

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Summary: This Atlantic Coastal Plain system, which is most abundant in the Carolinas and Georgia, occurs in floodplains of small streams that carry little mineral sediment (blackwater streams). These streams occur in low areas within sandy portions of the Coastal Plain. The water is usually strongly stained by tannins and other dissolved organics and has little suspended mineral sediment. Depositional landforms may be absent or present in limited variety and of small size. Soils are usually strongly acidic. The duration of flooding is long (semipermanent) in the wettest areas, and shorter in slightly higher gradient small streams. Some small blackwater streams near the Fall-line Sandhills have most of their flow from sandhill seepage and have limited fluctuation in water levels. But other blackwater stream channels may dry out during the late summer. In these cases, water tables are not far below the channel, and are high enough that the deeper depressions may still hold water. Vegetation varies from north to south, but generally consists almost entirely of forests of wetland trees, but occasional, small shrub-dominated sloughs may also be present. A variety of tree species may be present; wetter examples (especially toward the northern range limits of this system) are often strongly dominated by Taxodium distichum and Nyssa biflora. Other examples have mixtures of these species with Quercus spp. and other bottomland hardwoods tolerant of blackwater conditions. Species richness ranges from low to moderate, but is lower than in comparable brownwater systems. Flooding is an important ecological factor in this system and may be the most important factor separating it from adjacent systems. However, the high water table supported by inflow from adjacent areas also maintains these areas as wetlands. Flooding excludes non-flood-tolerant species. Unlike river systems, flooding tends to be variable and of shorter duration.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: The distinction between brownwater and blackwater streams is sometimes problematic. A number of plant species are characteristic of brownwater floodplains and not blackwater. Well-developed blackwater streams may be confined to areas with primarily sandy soils. The boundary between systems based on river/stream size is necessarily somewhat arbitrary, but is based on significant differences which correspond with river size. Small streams have small watersheds, which tend to lead to more irregular flooding. Depositional landforms are small enough that they do not differentiate communities well, and communities tend to have more of a mixture of species that are segregated on the larger floodplains. The boundary between this system and Atlantic Coastal Plain Streamhead Seepage Swamp, Pocosin and Baygall (CES203.252) may be somewhat gradual. It should be based on the predominance of seepage influence over flooding influence, but vegetational differences may also be partly determined by fire regime. Southern Coastal Plain Spring-run Stream Aquatic Vegetation (CES203.275) shares many characteristics with this system, but differs in having calcareous water and more steady flows.

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES203.066 Southern Atlantic Coastal Plain Large River Floodplain Forest
CES203.070 Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain Riparian and Floodplain
CES203.252 Atlantic Coastal Plain Streamhead Seepage Swamp, Pocosin and Baygall
CES203.275 Southern Coastal Plain Spring-run Stream Aquatic Vegetation


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL003804 Taxodium distichum - Nyssa biflora - Acer rubrum - Magnolia virginiana Swamp Forest
CEGL003841 Taxodium distichum - Nyssa ogeche Floodplain Forest
CEGL004282 Betula nigra - Quercus laurifolia - Taxodium (distichum, ascendens) / Crataegus aestivalis Riparian Forest
CEGL004328 Nuphar sagittifolia Aquatic Vegetation
CEGL004722 Magnolia virginiana - Nyssa biflora / Carpinus caroliniana / Thelypteris noveboracensis - Athyrium filix-femina Swamp Forest
CEGL004733 Taxodium distichum - Nyssa biflora / Fraxinus caroliniana / Lyonia lucida Floodplain Forest
CEGL004734 Nyssa biflora - Liriodendron tulipifera - Pinus (serotina, taeda) / Lyonia lucida Swamp Forest
CEGL004800 Nyssa biflora - Alnus serrulata / Carex (mitchelliana, atlantica ssp. capillacea) - Glyceria obtusa Floodplain Scrub
CEGL007039 Quercus virginiana - (Pinus taeda) / (Sabal minor, Serenoa repens) Swamp Forest
CEGL007054 Nyssa biflora - (Taxodium distichum) / Clethra alnifolia - Viburnum nudum / Woodwardia areolata Floodplain Forest
CEGL007348 Quercus laurifolia / Carpinus caroliniana / Justicia ovata Riparian Forest
CEGL007350 Nyssa biflora - Quercus nigra - Quercus laurifolia - Pinus taeda / Carpinus caroliniana Riparian Forest
CEGL007420 Taxodium ascendens / (Nyssa biflora) / Eubotrys racemosa - Lyonia lucida - Morella cerifera Swamp Forest
CEGL007432 Taxodium distichum - Nyssa aquatica - Nyssa biflora / Fraxinus caroliniana / Itea virginica Floodplain Forest
CEGL007563 Chamaecyparis thyoides - (Liriodendron tulipifera) / Lyonia lucida Swamp Forest
CEGL007846 Quercus phellos - Quercus laurifolia - Nyssa biflora / Arundinaria tecta - Sabal minor Floodplain Forest
CEGL007860 Orontium aquaticum - Schoenoplectus (etuberculatus, subterminalis) - Eriocaulon decangulare - Juncus trigonocarpus Marsh



Classifiers

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

Diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Riverine / Alluvial Blackwater

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Forest and Woodland (Treed)  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Allium sp. 1
  (Savanna Onion)
G1G2  
Ambystoma cingulatum
  (Frosted Flatwoods Salamander)
G2 LT: Listed threatened
Amorpha georgiana var. georgiana
  (Georgia Leadplant)
G3T2  
Anzia ornata
  (Ornate Anzia Lichen)
G1G3  
Balduina atropurpurea
  (Purple Balduina)
G2  
Calydorea coelestina
  (Bartram's Ixia)
G2G3  
Carex chapmanii
  (Chapman's Sedge)
G3  
Carex decomposita
  (Cypress-knee Sedge)
G3G4  
Carex impressinervia
  (Impressed-nerved Sedge)
G2  
Chasmanthium nitidum
  (Shiny Spikegrass)
G3G4  
Condylura cristata pop. 1
  (Star-nosed Mole - Eastern North Carolina)
G5T2Q  
Cordulegaster sayi
  (Say's Spiketail)
G3  
Coreopsis integrifolia
  (Ciliate-leaf Tickseed)
G1G2  
Coreopsis rosea
  (Rose Coreopsis)
G3  
Croton elliottii
  (Elliott's Croton)
G3  
Cyprinella sp. 1
  (Thinlip Chub)
G2Q  
Elassoma boehlkei
  (Carolina Pygmy Sunfish)
G2  
Elassoma okatie
  (Bluebarred Pygmy Sunfish)
G2G3  
Elliottia racemosa
  (Georgia Plume)
G2?  
Elliptio lanceolata
  (Yellow Lance)
G2 LT: Listed threatened
Eurybia mirabilis
  (Dwarf Aster)
G3  
Eustachys floridana
  (Two-spike Finger Grass)
G2?  
Fimbristylis perpusilla
  (Harper's Fimbry)
G2  
Fuscocephaloziopsis connivens var. bifida
  (a liverwort)
G5T1Q  
Hartwrightia floridana
  (Florida Hartwrightia)
G2  
Hymenocallis pygmaea
  (Waccamaw River Spider-lily)
G2Q  
Isoetes boomii
  (Boom's Quillwort)
G1  
Isoetes hyemalis
  (Winter Quillwort)
G2G3  
Isoetes microvela
  (Thin-wall Quillwort)
G1  
Lasmigona decorata
  (Carolina Heelsplitter)
G1 LE: Listed endangered
Lilium pyrophilum
  (Sandhills Lily)
G2  
Lilium sp. 1
  (Blackwater Turk's-cap Lily)
G1G3Q  
Lindera melissifolia
  (Pondberry)
G3 LE: Listed endangered
Lithacodia sp. 2
  (a bird-dropping moth)
G1G3  
Ludwigia brevipes
  (Long Beach Seedbox)
G2  
Ludwigia spathulata
  (Spathulate Seedbox)
G2  
Macbridea caroliniana
  (Carolina Birds-in-a-nest)
G2G3  
Myriophyllum laxum
  (Loose Water-milfoil)
G3  
Noturus furiosus
  (Carolina Madtom)
G2  
Parnassia caroliniana
  (Carolina Grass-of-Parnassus)
G3  
Pieris phillyreifolia
  (Climbing Fetterbush)
G3  
Protodeltote sp. 1
  (a bird-dropping moth)
G1G3  
Pseudobranchus striatus striatus
  (Broad-striped Dwarf Siren)
G5T1T3  
Ptilimnium ahlesii
  (Carolina Bishopweed)
G1  
Ptilimnium nodosum
  (Harperella)
G2 LE: Listed endangered
Rhexia aristosa
  (Awned Meadowbeauty)
G3G4  
Rhynchospora crinipes
  (Hairy-peduncled Beakrush)
G2G3  
Rudbeckia heliopsidis
  (Sun-facing Coneflower)
G2  
Sagittaria fasciculata
  (Bunched Arrowhead)
G2 LE: Listed endangered
Sagittaria graminea ssp. weatherbiana
  (Grassleaf Arrowhead)
G5T3T4  
Scutellaria ocmulgee
  (Ocmulgee Skullcap)
G2  
Sida inflexa
  (Virginia Pine Sida)
G1Q  
Sphaerocarpos donnellii
  (a liverwort)
G2G3  
Sporobolus teretifolius
  (Wireleaf Dropseed)
G2  
Thalictrum cooleyi
  (Cooley's Meadowrue)
G1 LE: Listed endangered
Trillium pusillum
  (Least Trillium)
G3  
Trillium pusillum var. pusillum
  (Least Trillium)
G3T2Q  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Nyssa biflora G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Magnolia virginiana G5 Broad-leaved evergreen tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Quercus laurifolia G5 Broad-leaved evergreen tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Taxodium distichum G5 Needle-leaved tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Elliottia racemosa G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Lindera melissifolia G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Lyonia lucida G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Serenoa repens G4 Palm shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Amorpha georgiana var. georgiana T2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Short shrub/sapling      
 
 
Allium sp. 1 G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Balduina atropurpurea G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Croton elliottii G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Eurybia mirabilis G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Hartwrightia floridana G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Lilium pyrophilum G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Lilium sp. 1 G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Ludwigia brevipes G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Ludwigia spathulata G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Macbridea caroliniana G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Ptilimnium ahlesii G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Ptilimnium nodosum G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Rudbeckia heliopsidis G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Sagittaria fasciculata G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Scutellaria ocmulgee G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Sida inflexa G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Thalictrum cooleyi G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Trillium pusillum var. pusillum T2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Isoetes boomii G1 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)      
 
 
Isoetes microvela G1 Fern (Spore-bearing forb) Herb (field)      
 
 
Carex impressinervia G2 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Eustachys floridana G2 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Rhynchospora crinipes G2 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Sporobolus teretifolius G2 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Fuscocephaloziopsis connivens var. bifida T1 Liverwort/hornwort Nonvascular      
 
 
Sphaerocarpos donnellii G2 Liverwort/hornwort Nonvascular      
 
 
Anzia ornata 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
Agkistrodon piscivorus
  (Cottonmouth)
G5      
Ambystoma cingulatum
  (Frosted Flatwoods Salamander)
G2 LT: Listed threatened    
Condylura cristata pop. 1
  (Star-nosed Mole - Eastern North Carolina)
G5T2Q      
Cordulegaster sayi
  (Say's Spiketail)
G3      
Cyprinella sp. 1
  (Thinlip Chub)
G2Q      
Desmognathus auriculatus
  (Southern Dusky Salamander)
G4      
Elassoma boehlkei
  (Carolina Pygmy Sunfish)
G2      
Elassoma okatie
  (Bluebarred Pygmy Sunfish)
G2G3      
Elliptio lanceolata
  (Yellow Lance)
G2 LT: Listed threatened    
Lasmigona decorata
  (Carolina Heelsplitter)
G1 LE: Listed endangered    
Lithacodia sp. 2
  (a bird-dropping moth)
G1G3      
Nerodia taxispilota
  (Brown Watersnake)
G5      
Noturus furiosus
  (Carolina Madtom)
G2      
Peromyscus gossypinus
  (Cotton Deermouse)
G5      
Protodeltote sp. 1
  (a bird-dropping moth)
G1G3      
Pseudobranchus striatus striatus
  (Broad-striped Dwarf Siren)
G5T1T3      
Pseudotriton montanus
  (Mud Salamander)
G5      
Thamnophis sauritus
  (Eastern Ribbonsnake)
G5      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: FL, GA, NC, SC, VA
Global Range: This system is potentially found throughout the Atlantic Coastal Plain north to about the James River in Virginia, but it is most abundant in the Carolinas and Georgia.

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
55 Florida Peninsula Confident or certain
56 South Atlantic Coastal Plain Confident or certain
57 Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain Confident or certain

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
55 Southeastern Coastal Plain Confident or certain
58 Eastern Coastal Plain Confident or certain
60 Chesapeake Bay Confident or certain
61 Northern Appalachia Never was there

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 9322

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: No

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 23Apr2015
Element Description Author(s): M. Schafale, R. Evans, M. Pyne and C.W. Nordman

Ecological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).


References
  • Burke, M. K., S. L. King, D. Gartner, and M. H. Eisenbies. 2003. Vegetation, soil, and flooding relationships in a blackwater floodplain forest. Wetlands 23(4):988-1002.

  • 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.

  • Devall, M. S. 1998. An interim old-growth definition for cypress-tupelo communities in the Southeast. General Technical Report SRS-19. USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Asheville, NC.

  • Engeman, R. M., A. Stevens, J. Allen, J. Dunlap, M. Daniel, D. Teague, and B. Constantin. 2007. Feral swine management for conservation of an imperiled wetland habitat: Florida's vanishing seepage slopes. Biological Conservation 134:440-446.

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

  • Harris, L. D. 1989. The faunal significance of fragmentation in southeastern bottomland forests. Pages 126-134 in: D. D. Hook and R. Lea, editors. Proceedings of the symposium: The forested wetlands of the southern United States. General Technical Report SE-50. USDA Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station, Asheville, NC. 168 pp.

  • LANDFIRE [Landfire National Vegetation Dynamics Database]. 2007a. Landfire National Vegetation Dynamics Models. Landfire Project, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Department of Interior. (January - last update) [http://www.LANDFIRE.gov/index.php] (accessed 8 February 2007).

  • 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.

  • Rosen, D. J., R. Carter, and C. T. Bryson. 2006. The spread of Cyperus entrerianus (Cyperaceae) in the southeastern United States and its invasive potential in bottomland hardwood forests. Southeastern Naturalist 5:333-344. [http://www.valdosta.edu/~rcarter/bibliography.htm]

  • 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, Mike P. Personal communication. Ecologist, North Carolina Department of Environment, Health, and Natural Resources, Division of Parks and Recreation, Natural Heritage Program, Raleigh.

  • Schuster, R. M. 1974. The Hepaticae and Anthocerotae of North America east of the Hundredth Meridian. Volume III. Columbia University, New York.

  • Sharitz, R. R., and W. J. Mitsch. 1993. Southern floodplain forests. Pages 311-372 in: W. H. Martin, S. G. Boyce, and A. C. Echternacht, editors. Biodiversity of the southeastern United States: Lowland terrestrial communities. John Wiley and Sons, New York.

  • Smock, L. A., and E. Gilinsky. 1992. Coastal Plain blackwater streams. Pages 271-313 in: C. T. Hackney, S. M. Adams, and W. H. Martin, editors. Biodiversity of the southeastern United States: Aquatic communities. John Wiley and Sons, New York.

  • Todd, M. J., R. R. Lowrance, P. Goovaerts, G. Vellidis, and C. M. Pringle. 2010. Geostatistical modeling of the spatial distribution of sediment oxygen demand within a coastal plain blackwater watershed. Geoderma 159(1-2):53-62.


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