Invalid Unit Specified
CEGL006029 Picea rubens - Tsuga canadensis - Fagus grandifolia / Dryopteris intermedia Forest

The U.S. National
Vegetation Classification
Type Concept Sentence:
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Common (Translated Scientific) Name: Red Spruce - Eastern Hemlock - American Beech / Intermediate Woodfern Forest
Colloquial Name:
Hierarchy Level: Association
Type Concept: This community is the transitional red spruce - northern hardwood forest of the Central Appalachians. It occupies cool, moist midslopes and ridges on well-drained to somewhat poorly drained acidic soils at elevations above 850 m (2800 feet). It generally occurs at lower elevations within the Central Appalachian red spruce zone, and is transitional to Central Appalachian northern hardwood forest. However, this forest type may also dominate at higher elevations, especially where organic soils and red spruce seedbanks have been removed by severe or repeated burning. While most stands occur on acidic substrates, a variant of this type extends into the middle and upper elevations of the red spruce zone along slightly richer substrates underlain by shale and limestone. The community is a closed-canopy mixed forest dominated by Picea rubens, Tsuga canadensis, Betula alleghaniensis, and Acer rubrum. Picea rubens comprises at least 15% of the canopy and may be dominant or codominant in the stand. Common associates include Fagus grandifolia, Prunus serotina, Betula lenta, Acer saccharum, and Acer pensylvanicum. Slightly less common are Magnolia fraseri, Acer spicatum, Liriodendron tulipifera, Magnolia acuminata, Fraxinus americana, Amelanchier laevis, and Tilia americana. The variable and often sparse shrub layer generally contains regenerating tree saplings and may also include Ilex montana, Rhododendron maximum, Kalmia latifolia, Viburnum lantanoides, Vaccinium erythrocarpum, Smilax rotundifolia, Menziesia pilosa, and Sambucus racemosa. The herb layer is strongly dominated by Dryopteris intermedia. Other common herbaceous species include Maianthemum canadense, Oxalis montana, Mitchella repens, Dennstaedtia punctilobula, Trillium undulatum, Medeola virginiana, Oclemena acuminata, Dryopteris campyloptera, Anemone quinquefolia, Lycopodium dendroideum, Arisaema triphyllum, Carex debilis var. rudgei, Clintonia borealis, Dryopteris carthusiana, Danthonia compressa, Galium triflorum, Huperzia lucidula, Lycopodium clavatum, Lycopodium obscurum, Platanthera orbiculata, Polypodium appalachianum, and Tiarella cordifolia. The dominant bryophytes are Bazzania trilobata and Hypnum imponens.
Diagnostic Characteristics: No Data Available
Rationale for Nominal Species or Physiognomic Features:
Classification Comments: Classification of this community is supported by 37 plots, representing the range of the community in West Virginia. At the lower elevation margin of this forest type, it grades into adjacent northern hardwood forests, with a steadily decreasing spruce component.
Similar NVC Types:
Tsuga canadensis - Betula alleghaniensis - Prunus serotina / Rhododendron maximum Forest, note: lower-elevation forest without strong red spruce component.
Picea rubens / Betula alleghaniensis / Bazzania trilobata Forest, note: higher-elevation forest on acidic substrate with clear dominance by red spruce.
Acer saccharum - Betula alleghaniensis - Prunus serotina Forest, note: lower-elevation forest without strong red spruce component.
Picea rubens - (Tsuga canadensis) / Rhododendron maximum Forest, note: clear dominance by rhododendron in the shrub layer.
Physiognomy and Structure: No Data Available
Floristics: This community is the transitional red spruce - northern hardwood forest of the Central Appalachians. It is a closed-canopy mixed forest dominated by Picea rubens, Tsuga canadensis, Betula alleghaniensis, and Acer rubrum. Picea rubens comprises at least 15% of the canopy and may be dominant or codominant in the stand. Common associates include Fagus grandifolia, Prunus serotina, Betula lenta, Acer saccharum, and Acer pensylvanicum. Slightly less common are Magnolia fraseri, Acer spicatum, Liriodendron tulipifera, Magnolia acuminata, Fraxinus americana, Amelanchier laevis, and Tilia americana. The variable and often sparse shrub layer generally contains regenerating tree saplings and may also include Ilex montana, Rhododendron maximum, Kalmia latifolia, Viburnum lantanoides, Vaccinium erythrocarpum, Smilax rotundifolia, Menziesia pilosa, and Sambucus racemosa. The herb layer is strongly dominated by Dryopteris intermedia. Other common herbaceous species include Maianthemum canadense, Oxalis montana, Mitchella repens, Dennstaedtia punctilobula, Trillium undulatum, Medeola virginiana, Oclemena acuminata, Dryopteris campyloptera, Anemone quinquefolia, Lycopodium dendroideum, Arisaema triphyllum, Carex debilis var. rudgei, Clintonia borealis, Dryopteris carthusiana, Danthonia compressa, Galium triflorum, Huperzia lucidula, Lycopodium clavatum, Lycopodium obscurum, Platanthera orbiculata, Polypodium appalachianum, and Tiarella cordifolia. In contrast to other Central Appalachian red spruce forest types, the nonvascular stratum is relatively sparse, averaging only 20% cover. Bazzania trilobata and Hypnum imponens are the dominant bryophyte species, followed by Dicranum scoparium, Thuidium delicatulum, Brotherella recurvans, and Dicranodontium denudatum. Species richness is relatively high for the Central Appalachian red spruce system, averaging 23 taxa per 400-m2 plot, with the highest values on shale and limestone substrates.
Dynamics: This community expanded greatly following the logging and fires that removed much of the Central Appalachian red spruce forest, including organic soils and red spruce seedbanks, between 1880 and 1920. Red spruce is currently regenerating well and on a trajectory to eventually regain dominance in many stands. In the absence of significant climate change, this red spruce - northern hardwood community would be expected to retreat to the lower elevations of the red spruce zone and to the richer limestone/shale bands, where the hardwood component is able to compete successfully with red spruce. A warming climate, however, is likely to drive succession in the opposite direction, and this community may again gain ground at the expense of red spruce-dominated forests.
Environmental Description: This forest occupies cool, moist midslopes and ridges of the Central Appalachians, on well-drained to somewhat poorly drained acidic soils at elevations above 850 m (2800 feet). It generally occurs at lower elevations within the Central Appalachian red spruce zone, and is transitional to Central Appalachian northern hardwood forest. However, this forest type may also dominate at higher elevations, especially where organic soils and red spruce seedbanks have been removed by severe or repeated burning. While most stands occur on acidic substrates, a variant of this type extends into the middle and upper elevations of the red spruce zone along slightly richer substrates underlain by shale and limestone. The richer substrates are more erodible than the typical sandstone bedrock underlying most red spruce communities, which results in slightly higher slopes and a higher topographic roughness index. Soils are typical of the Central Appalachian red spruce zone, with high organic matter and nitrogen, low pH, and generally low micronutrient status. Plots in this community exhibit high concentrations of the macronutrients sulphur and iron.
Geographic Range: This community occurs in the Allegheny Mountains at elevations above 850 m (2800 feet) and on the highest peaks (around 1200 m) in the Ridge and Valley of West Virginia.
Nations: US
States/Provinces: WV
US Forest Service Ecoregions (1994/1995)
Domain Name:
Division Name:
Province Name: Central Appalachian Broadleaf Forest - Coniferous Forest - Meadow Province
Province Code: M221    Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Allegheny Mountains Section
Section Code: M221B     Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
US Forest Service Ecoregions (2007)
Domain Name:
Division Name:
Province Name: Central Appalachian Broadleaf Forest - Coniferous Forest - Meadow Province
Province Code: M221    Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Section Name: Northern Ridge and Valley Section
Section Code: M221A     Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Omernik Ecoregions:
Confidence Level: High
Confidence Level Comments:
Grank: G3
Greasons: This community is restricted to the upper elevations of the Central Appalachians, and will be under stress to track a diminishing climate envelope up the mountaintops and ridges as the climate warms. Northward migration of the community is unlikely because of the low-elevation barrier in Pennsylvania. MaxEnt distribution modeling indicates that currently about 500,000 acres of suitable habitat exist, about half of which is currently occupied. Perhaps half of the existing acreage occurs on public land and is reasonably well-protected. Threats to the community on private land include second home development, industrial wind development, mining, utility corridors, and unsustainable logging practices (where the red spruce seed source is removed).
Concept Lineage:
Predecessors:
Obsolete Names:
Obsolete Parents:
Synonomy: = Picea rubens - Tsuga canadensis - Fagus grandifolia / Dryopteris intermedia Forest [Red Spruce - Hemlock - Beech Forest] (Vanderhorst 2015)
? Red spruce-yellow birch-black cherry forest (CAP pers. comm. 1998)
Concept Author(s): Eastern Ecology Group
Author of Description: E.A. Byers
Acknowledgements:
Version Date: 20Dec2018
References:
  • Adams, H. S., and S. L. Stephenson. 1989. Old growth red spruce communities in the mid-Appalachians. Vegetatio 85:45-56.
  • Byers, E. A., J. P. Vanderhorst, and B. P. Streets. 2010. Classification and conservation assessment of upland red spruce communities in West Virginia. West Virginia Natural Heritage Program, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Elkins.
  • CAP [Central Appalachian Forest Working Group]. 1998. Central Appalachian Working group discussions. The Nature Conservancy, Boston, MA.
  • Eastern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Boston, MA.
  • Harrison, J. W. 2011. The natural communities of Maryland: 2011 working list of ecological community groups and community types. Unpublished report. Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife and Heritage Service, Natural Heritage Program, Annapolis. 33 pp.
  • Harrison, J. W., compiler. 2004. Classification of vegetation communities of Maryland: First iteration. A subset of the International Classification of Ecological Communities: Terrestrial Vegetation of the United States, NatureServe. Maryland Natural Heritage Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis. 243 pp.
  • Rollins, A. W. 2005. Analysis of red spruce (Picea rubens) regeneration in Pocahontas, Randolph, and Tucker counties, West Virginia. Master's thesis, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV.
  • Vanderhorst, J. 2015. Wild vegetation of West Virginia: Upland red spruce forests and woodlands. West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Program. [http://wvdnr.gov/Wildlife/Factsheets/UplandRedSpruce.shtm]
  • WVNHP [West Virginia Natural Heritage Program]. No date. Unpublished data. West Virginia Natural Heritage Program, Elkins.