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CEGL006623 (Betula nigra, Ilex verticillata) / Andropogon gerardii - Solidago simplex var. racemosa Riverscour Wet Meadow

The U.S. National
Vegetation Classification
Type Concept Sentence:
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Common (Translated Scientific) Name: (River Birch, Common Winterberry) / Big Bluestem - Sticky Goldenrod Riverscour Wet Meadow
Colloquial Name: Appalachian Acidic Sandstone Rivershore Prairie
Hierarchy Level: Association
Type Concept: This rivershore prairie occurs along the high-energy reaches of the Gauley, Tygart's Valley, Middle Fork, and Cheat rivers in West Virginia, and possibly elsewhere in the region. It occurs in small patches and linear zones subject to very frequent, high-energy flooding. The most well-developed occurrences are located along rapids created by constrictions in the river channel (bedrock outcrops, point bars, bends, islands, alluvial fans). Substrates are primarily sandstone bedrock and boulders. There is often an elevation range of a few meters within stands which creates wet and dry microsites and provides elevated rooting substrate. Bedrock and boulders also provide structure which protects vegetation from high-energy flows. Unvegetated ground cover in most plots is dominated by bedrock and large rocks, but a few areas have higher cover of small rocks and sand, and some have some standing water. The physiognomy is mixed shrub and herbaceous cover, with herbs dominating the general aspect; in places, it may include a few taller individuals of Betula nigra and Platanus occidentalis (0-30% cover, trees less than 10 m tall). Cover in the tall-shrub layer ranges from 0 to 30%, and cover in the short-shrub layer ranges from 0 to 60%. Common species in the shrub layers include Betula nigra, Platanus occidentalis, Ilex verticillata, Cornus amomum, Physocarpus opulifolius var. opulifolius, Rhododendron arborescens, Hypericum prolificum, Alnus serrulata, Diospyros virginiana, Nyssa sylvatica, Xanthorhiza simplicissima, Rosa palustris, Cephalanthus occidentalis, and Salix caroliniana. The federally listed threatened shrub Spiraea virginiana occurs in a few locations. Cover in the herb layer of plots ranges from 5 to 60%, and this stratum usually has the highest cover. Common herbs include Andropogon gerardii, Solidago simplex var. racemosa, Packera paupercula, Eupatorium fistulosum, Dichanthelium clandestinum, Symphyotrichum laeve var. concinnum, Sorghastrum nutans, Schizachyrium scoparium var. scoparium, Euphorbia corollata, Clematis virginiana, Physostegia virginiana ssp. virginiana, Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis, Viola pedata, Hypoxis hirsuta, and Lysimachia lanceolata. Additional characteristic herbs include Ionactis linariifolius, Linum virginianum, Zizia aptera, Dichanthelium sphaerocarpon var. isophyllum (= Dichanthelium polyanthes), Marshallia grandiflora, Liatris scariosa var. scariosa, and Baptisia tinctoria. Vascular plant species richness in sampled plots ranges from 18 to 70 taxa (mean = 36.4). Nonvascular cover can be high, consisting mostly of bryophytes and lichens on rock
Diagnostic Characteristics: No Data Available
Rationale for Nominal Species or Physiognomic Features:
Classification Comments: In an analysis of riverscour communities throughout West Virginia, plots of this association at Gauley River clustered strongly together as a group distinct from riverscour prairie plots that are classified as Andropogon gerardii - Panicum virgatum - Baptisia australis Riverscour Wet Meadow (CEGL006283) from New River Gorge National River (Vanderhorst et al. 2007) and the Greenbrier River. They clustered together with plots of shrubby prairies from high-energy reaches of the Tygart's Valley, Middle Fork, and Cheat rivers in north-central West Virginia. These river reaches share acidic sandstone bedrock and boulder substrate and extremely high-energy flows. The "prairie-like situation" described by Bush (1976) describes this vegetation at Arden along the Tygart's Valley River. Similar vegetation may also occur along the Youghiogheny in Pennsylvania. A regional review of similar vegetation from the Potomac to western Pennsylvania and south to the Cumberlands would be instructive to clarify the differences and confirm the correct circumscription of associations.
Similar NVC Types:
Platanus occidentalis - Betula nigra / Cornus amomum / (Andropogon gerardii, Chasmanthium latifolium) Floodplain Forest, note: is woodier overall and differs somewhat floristically.
(Salix caroliniana, Rhododendron arborescens) / Andropogon gerardii - Baptisia australis - (Solidago simplex ssp. randii) Riverscour Wet Meadow, note: is described from somewhat south of here and includes both sandstone and limestone variants.
Andropogon gerardii - Panicum virgatum - Baptisia australis Riverscour Wet Meadow, note: occurs on cobble/boulder bars with higher base status; the present association lacks Baptisia australis, has higher cover by vines such as Vitis rupestris and Campsis radicans, and includes a large number of cushion-forming herbs such as Marshallia grandiflora, Solidago simplex var. racemosa, and Packera paupercula.
Physiognomy and Structure: No Data Available
Floristics: This association has mixed shrub and herbaceous physiognomy and may include a few taller trees. Trees are less than 10 m tall and canopy cover ranges from 0 to 30%. Common trees include Betula nigra and Platanus occidentalis. Cover in the tall-shrub layer ranges from 0 to 30%, and cover in the short-shrub layer ranges from 0 to 60%. Common shrubs include Betula nigra, Platanus occidentalis, Ilex verticillata, Cornus amomum, Physocarpus opulifolius var. opulifolius, Rhododendron arborescens, Hypericum prolificum, Alnus serrulata, Diospyros virginiana, Nyssa sylvatica, Xanthorhiza simplicissima, Rosa palustris, Cephalanthus occidentalis, and Salix caroliniana. The federally listed threatened shrub Spiraea virginiana and the state-rare shrub Prunus pumila both have been occasionally found in this association. Cover in the herb layer ranges from 5 to 60%, and this stratum usually has the highest cover. Common herbs include Andropogon gerardii, Solidago simplex var. racemosa, Packera paupercula, Eupatorium fistulosum, Dichanthelium clandestinum, Symphyotrichum laeve var. concinnum, Sorghastrum nutans, Schizachyrium scoparium var. scoparium, Euphorbia corollata, Clematis virginiana, Physostegia virginiana ssp. virginiana, Osmunda regalis var. spectabilis, Viola pedata, Hypoxis hirsuta, and Lysimachia lanceolata. Additional characteristic herbs include Ionactis linariifolius, Linum virginianum, Zizia aptera, Dichanthelium sphaerocarpon var. isophyllum (= Dichanthelium polyanthes), Marshallia grandiflora, Liatris scariosa var. scariosa, and Baptisia tinctoria. Vascular plant species richness in sampled plots ranges from 18 to 70 taxa (mean = 36.4, N=27). Nonvascular cover can be high, consisting mostly of bryophytes and lichens on rock. Bryophytes include Porella pinnata, Hedwigia ciliata, Climacium americanum, Sematophyllum demissum, Grimmia laevigata, Campylopus tallulensis, and Fissidens osmundioides. Lichens include Xanthoparmelia conspersa and a distinctive "whitewash" growth on the downstream side of boulders, possibly Phlyctis petraea or a related species.
Dynamics: This association occurs in riparian zones subject to very frequent, high-energy flooding. Flooding maintains an open physiognomy by removing or damaging trees before they become large enough to provide significant shade.
Environmental Description: This association occurs in small patches and linear zones in positions along rivershores subject to very frequent, high-energy flooding. Flooding disturbance maintains an open physiognomy by removing or damaging trees before they become large enough to provide significant shade. The largest, best developed occurrences are located along rapids created by constrictions in the river channel (bedrock outcrops, point bars, bends, islands, alluvial fans). Slopes in mapped polygons (Gauley River) range from 0-34° (mean = 12°). Elevations in mapped polygons (Gauley River) range from 207 to 512 m (mean = 315 m). Substrates are primarily sandstone bedrock and boulders. There is often an elevation range of a few meters within stands which creates wet and dry microsites and provides elevated rooting substrate. Bedrock and boulders also provide structure which protects vegetation from high-energy flows. Unvegetated ground cover is dominated by bedrock and large rocks, but some areas have higher cover of small rocks and sand, and some areas have patches of standing water. Soils are temporarily flooded, moderately well- to rapidly-drained sand and sandy loam. Soils test strongly to very slightly acidic (mean pH = 5.75) with relatively high levels of Mg, Mn, Na, and Zn, and relatively low levels of total exchange capacity, organic matter, estimated N release, S, Al, K, and P.
Geographic Range: This association is known from the Gauley, Tygart's Valley, Middle Fork, and Cheat rivers on the west slope of the Eastern Continental Divide in West Virginia. Whether it extends to other similar rivers in the region has not been conclusively determined.
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: Cumberland Mountains Section
Section Code: M221C     Occurrence Status: Confident or certain
Omernik Ecoregions:
Confidence Level: High
Confidence Level Comments:
Grank: G2
Greasons: This association is only known from four rivers in West Virginia. Each river constitutes a single Element Occurrence.
Concept Lineage:
Predecessors:
Obsolete Names:
Obsolete Parents:
Synonomy: = Andropogon gerardii - Sorghastrum nutans - Euphorbia corollata cobble grassland (Walton and Anderson 1997)
Concept Author(s): J.P. Vanderhorst
Author of Description: S.C. Gawler
Acknowledgements:
Version Date: 02Apr2010
References:
  • Bush, E. M. 1976. Vascular flora along the Tygart Valley River near Arden, West Virginia. Castanea 41:283-308.
  • Eastern Ecology Working Group of NatureServe. No date. International Ecological Classification Standard: International Vegetation Classification. Terrestrial Vegetation. NatureServe, Boston, MA.
  • Vanderhorst, J. P., B. P. Streets, Z. Arcaro, and S. C. Gawler. 2010. Vegetation classification and mapping at Gauley River National Recreation Area. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR--2010/148. National Park Service, Philadelphia, PA.
  • Vanderhorst, J. P., J. Jeuck, and S. C. Gawler. 2007. Vegetation classification and mapping of New River Gorge National River, West Virginia. Technical Report NPS/NER/NRTR-2007/092. National Park Service, Philadelphia, PA. 396 pp.
  • Walton, D., and M. Anderson. 1997. Critical habitats and associated communities in the riparian zone of the Gauley River. West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Natural Heritage Program, Elkins.