Top Navigation

Ecological Communities

Appalachian Oak Hickory Forest

 A hardwood forest that occurs on well-drained sites, usually on flat hilltops, upper slopes, or south and west facing slopes. Dominant trees include one or more of red oak, white oak, and black oak. Mixed with oaks, are one or more of pignut, shagbark, and sweet pignut hickory. Common associates are white ash, red maple, and hop hornbeam. Small trees include flowering dogwood, witch hazel, shadbush, and choke cherry. Shrubs and groundlayer flora are diverse. Shrubs include maple-leaf viburnum, blueberries, red raspberry, gray dogwood, and beaked hazelnut.

Hemlock Northern Hardwood Forest

 A forest that typically occurs on lower slopes of ravines, on cool, mid-elevation slopes, and at the edges of drainage divide swamps. Hemlock is a codominant species with one to three others: beech, sugar maple, red maple, black cherry, white pine, yellow birch, black birch, red oak, and basswood. Shrubs have low abundance, but striped maple may be present. Herbs characteristic of northern and montane areas are common.

Successional northern hardwoods

A forest that occurs on sites that have been cleared or otherwise disturbed. Dominant trees are usually two or more of the following; red maple, white pine, white ash, gray birch, quaking aspen, big-tooth aspen, and, less frequently, sugar maple. Tree seedling and saplings may be of more shade tolerant species. Shrubs and ground cover species may be those of old-fields. In abandoned pasturelands apples and hawthorns may be present in the understory.

Beech-maple mesic forest

 A hardwood forest with sugar maple and beech codominant. Found on moist, well-drained soils, on north and east facing slopes, and on gently sloping hilltops of any aspect, this type rarely occurs in ravines. Common associates are basswood, American elm, white ash, yellow birch, hop hornbeam, and red maple. Characteristic species in the sub- canopy are musclewood, striped maple, witch hazel, hobblebush, and alternate-leaved dogwood. There typically are few herbs and shrubs, but tree seedlings may be abundant. There are many spring ephemerals.

Shallow emergent marsh

 A marsh that is better drained than a deep emergent marsh; water depths may range from 15 cm to 1 m during flood stages, but the water level usually drops by mid to late summer and the substrate is exposed. Characteristic plants include bluejoint grass, reed canary grass, rice cutgrass, mannagrass, three-way sedge, bulrushes, sweetflag, wild iris, and water smartweed.

Sedge meadow

A wet meadow with permanently saturated and seasonally flooded organic soils in wetlands that receives mineral nutrients via groundwater or streams. There is usually little peat accumulation and floating mats are not formed. Sedge meadows typically occur along streams and near the inlet and outlets of lakes and ponds. The dominant species is a tussock-sedge, Carex stricta, usually with about 50% cover. Other characteristic herbs include sedges (C. lacustris and C. rostrata), bluejoint grass, sweetflag, spotted joe-pye weed, tall meadow rue, and bulrushes.

Rocky headwater stream

The aquatic community of a small to moderate sized rocky stream with a moderate to steep gradient. The cold water stream flows over eroded bedrock near the stream origin and contains alternating riffle and pool sections. These streams typically have mosses and algae present, but few larger rooted plants.