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Classification
Scientific Name: Southern Atlantic Coastal Plain Mesic Hardwood Forest
Unique Identifier: CES203.242
Classification Confidence: 2 - Moderate

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Summary: This upland system of the Atlantic Coastal Plain ranges from Delaware south to interior Georgia in a variety of moist but non-wetland sites that are naturally sheltered from frequent fire. Such sites include lower slopes and bluffs along streams and rivers in dissected terrain, mesic flats between drier pine-dominated uplands and floodplains, and local topographic high areas within bottomland terraces or nonriverine wet flats. Soil textures are variable in both texture and pH. The vegetation consists of forests dominated by combinations of trees that include a significant component of mesophytic deciduous hardwood species, such as Fagus grandifolia or Acer floridanum. Its southern limit is generally exclusive of the natural range of Pinus glabra and Magnolia grandiflora. Upland and bottomland oaks at the mid range of moisture tolerance are usually also present, particularly Quercus alba, but sometimes also Quercus pagoda, Quercus falcata, Quercus michauxii, Quercus shumardii, or Quercus nigra. Pinus taeda is sometimes present, but it is unclear if it is a natural component or has entered only as a result of past cutting. Analogous systems on the Gulf Coastal Plain have pine as a natural component, and this may be true for some examples of this system. Understories are usually well-developed. Shrub and herb layers may be sparse or moderately dense. Within its range, Sabal minor may be a prominent shrub. Species richness may be fairly high in basic sites but is fairly low otherwise.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: There remains some uncertainty how this system and other mesic hardwood systems should be divided. There is a broad gradient in climate and species composition from north to south and west. The boundaries at the northern edge of its range (the Chesapeake Bay Lowlands TNC ecoregion) and at the break between the South Atlantic Coastal Plain and East Gulf Coastal Plain ecoregions are boundaries of convenience to create breaks in this broad gradient. At the southern end, the boundary has been better determined (April 2006) to exclude areas within the combined ranges of Pinus glabra and Magnolia grandiflora, making this system deciduous rather than mixed evergreen-deciduous. Differences from mesic forests of the Piedmont are sometimes fairly subtle, and species that differentiate them in one part of the range many not work in other parts. In particular, some species that are excluded from the Coastal Plain farther south are common components farther north. In MD and DC, this system can extend into the Piedmont (this area is part of TNC Ecoregion 52, but USFS 221C [2005 version]), straddling the fall zone where the Coastal Plain and Piedmont meet. Besides the variation across the range of this system, there are two sets of distinctions within it that may be worthy of consideration for defining separate systems. Acidic and basic substrates have substantial floristic differences. Variants on upland slopes, nonriverine swamp islands, and high ridges in bottomlands could be recognized as separate systems, or the latter two could be treated as part of the systems that surround them. However, the difference between ecological processes in uplands and wetlands separates those surrounded by wetland systems from the surrounding systems. This is especially true in the case of floodplains, which have flood-carried nutrient input as well as wetness as a difference. Floristic differences may exist between these variants, but they are subtle and do not appear to be definitive.

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES202.342 Southern Piedmont Mesic Forest
CES203.248 Atlantic Coastal Plain Brownwater Stream Floodplain Forest
CES203.475 Northern Atlantic Coastal Plain Dry Oak-Hardwood Forest
CES203.476 Southern Coastal Plain Mesic Slope Forest


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL004092 Quercus pagoda - Carya cordiformis / Chasmanthium sessiliflorum - Verbesina virginica Forest
CEGL004269 Aquilegia canadensis - Asplenium x heteroresiliens Grassland
CEGL004304 Pinus taeda - Quercus alba - Chamaecyparis thyoides / Kalmia latifolia - Lyonia lucida Forest
CEGL004936 Quercus alba / Sabal palmetto - Ilex vomitoria Forest
CEGL006055 Fagus grandifolia - Liriodendron tulipifera - Carya cordiformis / Lindera benzoin / Podophyllum peltatum Forest
CEGL006075 Fagus grandifolia - Quercus (alba, rubra) - Liriodendron tulipifera / (Ilex opaca) Forest
CEGL006390 Quercus falcata - Quercus michauxii / Ilex opaca Forest
CEGL007181 Fagus grandifolia - Acer floridanum - Quercus muehlenbergii / Sanguinaria canadensis Forest
CEGL007206 Fagus grandifolia - Quercus alba - (Acer floridanum) / Mixed Herbs Forest
CEGL007211 Fagus grandifolia - Quercus (alba, nigra) / Symplocos tinctoria - (Stewartia malacodendron) Forest
CEGL007220 Liriodendron tulipifera / (Cercis canadensis) / (Lindera benzoin) Ruderal Forest
CEGL007225 Quercus alba - Carya glabra - Carya tomentosa / Aesculus pavia Forest
CEGL007278 Quercus alba - Quercus velutina - Carya tomentosa / Cornus florida / Chimaphila maculata Forest
CEGL007282 Quercus virginiana - Celtis laevigata - Tilia americana var. caroliniana / Aesculus pavia - Ilex vomitoria Forest
CEGL007470 Quercus hemisphaerica - Tilia americana var. caroliniana - Magnolia grandiflora / Aesculus pavia - Ilex vomitoria Forest
CEGL007748 Quercus muehlenbergii / Cercis canadensis / Bromus pubescens - Erigeron pulchellus var. pulchellus - Aquilegia canadensis Forest
CEGL007845 Quercus alba - Quercus (michauxii, nigra) / Ilex opaca / Chasmanthium laxum Forest
CEGL007850 Quercus virginiana - Quercus pagoda - Magnolia grandiflora - Carya glabra / Ilex opaca Forest
CEGL007863 Fagus grandifolia - Quercus alba - Quercus laurifolia / Galax urceolata Forest
CEGL008465 Fagus grandifolia - Quercus rubra / Cornus florida / Polystichum acrostichoides - Hexastylis virginica 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
Forest and Woodland (Treed)  
Long Disturbance Interval  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Ambystoma cingulatum
  (Frosted Flatwoods Salamander)
G2 LT: Listed threatened
Anzia ornata
  (Ornate Anzia Lichen)
G1G3  
Baptisia megacarpa
  (Apalachicola Wild Indigo)
G2  
Campephilus principalis
  (Ivory-billed Woodpecker)
G1 LE: Listed endangered
Carex acidicola
  (Acid-loving Sedge)
G2G3  
Carex chapmanii
  (Chapman's Sedge)
G3  
Carex impressinervia
  (Impressed-nerved Sedge)
G2  
Eurybia mirabilis
  (Dwarf Aster)
G3  
Fissidens scalaris
  (Neon Fissidens Moss)
G2?  
Forestiera godfreyi
  (Godfrey's Swamp-privet)
G2  
Graptemys barbouri
  (Barbour's Map Turtle)
G2  
Ilex cuthbertii
  (Cuthbert's Holly)
G1?  
Lindera subcoriacea
  (Bog Spicebush)
G3  
Plethodon savannah
  (Savannah Slimy Salamander)
G2G3  
Pycnanthemum clinopodioides
  (Basil Mountainmint)
G1G2  
Rhododendron eastmanii
  (Eastman's Rhododendron)
G3  
Salix floridana
  (Florida Willow)
G2  
Schisandra glabra
  (Bay Starvine)
G3  
Scutellaria ocmulgee
  (Ocmulgee Skullcap)
G2  
Sideroxylon alachuense
  (Alachua Sink Buckthorn)
G1  
Silene ovata
  (Ovate Catchfly)
G3  
Silene polypetala
  (Fringed Campion)
G2 LE: Listed endangered
Thalictrum macrostylum
  (Small-leaf Meadowrue)
G3G4  
Thelypteris ovata var. ovata
  (Ovate Marsh Fern)
G3G5T3T4  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Fagus grandifolia G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Liquidambar styraciflua G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Nyssa sylvatica G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Quercus alba G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Quercus falcata G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Quercus nigra G5 Broad-leaved deciduous tree Tree canopy    
 
 
Forestiera godfreyi G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Ilex cuthbertii G1 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Lindera subcoriacea G3 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Salix floridana G2 Broad-leaved deciduous shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Ilex opaca G5 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)    
 
 
Sideroxylon alachuense G1 Broad-leaved evergreen shrub Shrub/sapling (tall & short)      
 
 
Baptisia megacarpa G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Eurybia mirabilis G3 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Pycnanthemum clinopodioides G1 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Scutellaria ocmulgee G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Silene polypetala G2 Flowering forb Herb (field)      
 
 
Carex acidicola G2 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Carex impressinervia G2 Graminoid Herb (field)      
 
 
Vitis rotundifolia G5 Liana Herb (field)    
 
 
Fissidens scalaris G2 Moss 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
Ambystoma cingulatum
  (Frosted Flatwoods Salamander)
G2 LT: Listed threatened    
Campephilus principalis
  (Ivory-billed Woodpecker)
G1 LE: Listed endangered    
Graptemys barbouri
  (Barbour's Map Turtle)
G2      
Pantherophis obsoletus
  (Eastern Ratsnake)
G5      
Plestiodon fasciatus
  (Five-lined Skink)
G5      
Plethodon savannah
  (Savannah Slimy Salamander)
G2G3      
Terrapene carolina
  (Eastern Box Turtle)
G5      


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: GA, NC, SC, VA
Global Range: This system ranges from Delaware south to central Georgia in the Atlantic Coastal Plain. Its southern limit is generally exclusive of the natural range of Pinus glabra as mapped by Kossuth and Michael (1990) and Magnolia grandiflora as mapped by Outcalt (1990).

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
52 Piedmont Confident or certain
56 South Atlantic Coastal Plain Confident or certain
57 Mid-Atlantic Coastal Plain Confident or certain
58 Chesapeake Bay Lowlands Confident or certain
61 Lower New England / Northern Piedmont 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): 4150
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1343
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2343

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: Yes

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 14Jan2014
Element Description Author(s): R. Evans, M. Pyne and J. Teague

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


References
  • Batista, W. B., and W. J. Platt. 1997. An old-growth definition for southern mixed hardwood forests. General Technical Report SRS-9. USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station, Asheville, NC. 11 pp.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Flynn, J. 1994. The falling forest. Amicus Journal Winter:34-38.

  • Kossuth, S. V., and J. L. Michael. 1990. Pinus glabra Walt., spruce pine. Pages 355-358 in: R. M. Burns and B. H. Honkala, editors. Silvics of North America. Volume 1, Conifers. USDA Forest Service, Agriculture Handbook 654, Washington, DC.

  • 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.

  • Outcalt, K. W. 1990. Magnolia grandiflora L., southern magnolia. Pages 445-448 in: R. M. Burns and B. H. Honkala, editors. Silvics of North America. Volume 2, Hardwoods. USDA Forest Service, Agriculture Handbook 654, Washington, DC.

  • Quarterman, E., and C. Keever. 1962. Southern mixed hardwood forests: Climax in the southeastern Coastal Plain, USA. Ecological Monographs 32:167-185.

  • 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.

  • Ware, S., C. C. Frost, and P. D. Doerr. 1993. Southern mixed hardwood forest: The former longleaf pine forest. Pages 447-493 in: W. H. Martin, S. G. Boyce, and A. C. Echternacht, editors. Biotic communities of the southeastern United States: Lowland terrestrial communities. John Wiley & Sons, New York.


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