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Ecological Communities

Beech-maple mesic forest

A hardwood forest with sugar maple and beech co-dominant. Found on moist, well-drained soils, on north and east facing slopes, and on gently sloping hilltops of any aspect, this ecological community 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.

Deep emergent marsh

Deep marshes have a water depth ranging from 15 cm to 2 m. The substrate is almost always wet and there is usually standing water in autumn. Characteristic vegetation includes emergent aquatics such as yellow pond lily, white waterlily, cattails, bulrushes, burreed, and arrow arum. Disturbed marshes may have purple loosestrife, reedgrass, or reed canary grass. Marsh communities occur on mineral soils or fine-grained organic soils that are permanently saturated. They are often found near the Finger Lakes or in wetlands near a drainage divide. Because water levels may fluctuate, exposing substrate and aerating the soil, there is little or no accumulation of peat.

Hickory-white ash-oak type

The forest occurs on flat uplands and gentle to moderate slopes. Soil is of moderate pH and well to moderately well drained. Shagbark hickory as a dominant is an indicator of this ecological community type. Mesophytes of fertile soils such as white ash, basswood, tulip poplar, sugar and red maples are among the dominant species or abundant as a group in this type. Shrubs and herbs often have a weedy component.

Maple-basswood rich mesic forest

A hardwood forest that typically occurs on fertile, moist, well-drained soils. It is often associated with limestone or deep glacial gravels. Dominant trees are sugar maple, basswood, and white ash. Common associates are bitternut hickory, tulip tree, musclewood, alternate-leaved dogwood, and witch hazel. The shrub layer is sparse. Spring wildflowers are usually abundant. Characteristic species are trillium, white baneberry, spring beauty, toothwort, trout lily, and bloodroot.

Midreach stream

The aquatic community of a stream that has a well-defined pattern of alternating pool, riffle, and run sections. Waterfalls and springs may be present. Typical aquatic macrophytes include waterweed and pondweeds. Persistent emergent vegetation is lacking.

Mixed oak forest

A forest dominated by oaks found on steep south and west facing slopes. Soils may have calcareous materials at depth. Dominants are red, black, and white oak, and white pine. Black oak is an indicator of this ecological community type. Pignut hickory and red maple are usually present. Flowering dogwood and choke cherry are often abundant in the understory.

Sedge meadow

A wet meadow with permanently saturated and seasonally flooded organic soils in wetlands that receive 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, joe-pye weed, tall meadow rue, and bulrushes.

Successional old field

A meadow on sites cleared, plowed, and then abandoned. The ragweed type occurs on fields 1 to 3 years after last cultivation; ragweed, daisy, Queen Anne's lace, crab grass, golden foxtail, and chickweed are common. The goldenrod subtype occurs 3 - 15 years after last cultivation. Dominant species are perennial composites: goldenrods and asters. Other herbs include timothy, orchard grass, smooth brome, bluegrasses, quackgrass, sweet vernal grass, evening primrose, old-field cinquefoil, wild strawberry, and hawkweeds. Shrubs and trees represent less than 50% cover but include gray dogwood, arrowwood, raspberries, blackberries, sumac, red maple and white pine.