Common (Translated Scientific) Name: Inland Sedge - Shallow Sedge - Largeleaf Grass-of-Parnassus Seepage Fen Group
Colloquial Name: Central Interior Seepage Fen
Hierarchy Level: Group
Type Concept: The vegetation of this group ranges from the Ozarks region and Interior Plateau as far east as southern Ohio. Examples occur on the sideslopes of hills in narrow valleys, bases of bluffs, rock ledges, and terraces of streams and rivers, where the soil or substrate is saturated by calcareous groundwater seepage. Soils are moist to wet, mucky peat or mineral and are moderately deep to shallow. Some examples contain a thin organic layer over limestone gravel, over a less permeable layer of more solid rock and have exposed bedrock, especially in hanging fens with a slope greater than 35°. The parent material is a mixture of gravel, limestone, and dolomite with fragments of deeply weathered bedrock present, or colluvium over bedrock. Hydrophytic plants dominate the fen, which varies from mixed grass or sedge fen to more tallgrass prairie species mixed with calciphiles. Characteristic herbaceous species include Cardamine bulbosa, Carex interior, Carex leptalea, Carex lurida, Impatiens capensis, Osmunda spp., Parnassia grandifolia, Rudbeckia fulgida var. umbrosa, Scirpus atrovirens, Scirpus cyperinus, Spartina pectinata, and Thelypteris palustris var. pubescens. Mesic prairie grasses include Andropogon gerardii and Sorghastrum nutans. Shrubs such as Alnus serrulata and Salix spp. may occur on some examples of this group. Fires are possible in some of the larger prairie fens.
Diagnostic Characteristics: Small-scale seepage-fed herbaceous wetland with circumneutral soils. Dominated by hydrophytic calciphiles, in particular sedges and graminoids.
Rationale for Nominal Species or Physiognomic Features:
Classification Comments: Missouri now has a "glacial fen" type that covers northern Missouri and belongs within Midwest Prairie Alkaline Fen Group (G183). Missouri's "prairie fen" is entirely restricted to the Ozarks and belongs within this group. Extension of this group into southern Ohio may need to be confirmed.
Similar NVC Types:
Physiognomy and Structure: Typical examples of this small-scale group contain a well-developed herbaceous layer dominated by hydrophytic graminoid and sedge species. Some examples, especially those ranging into the eastern portions of the Interior Highlands, may contain a sparse to somewhat dense cover of shrubs 1-2 m tall. Trees are uncommon in these wetlands, although Acer rubrum may invade some examples.
Floristics: Primarily calciphilic species of sedges (Carex spp.) and graminoids such as Andropogon gerardii and Sorghastrum nutans dominate examples of this group. Other characteristic species include Cardamine bulbosa, Carex interior, Carex leptalea, Carex lurida, Impatiens capensis, Osmunda spp., Parnassia grandifolia, Rudbeckia fulgida var. umbrosa, Scirpus atrovirens, Scirpus cyperinus, Spartina pectinata, and Thelypteris palustris var. pubescens. Tall shrub such as Alnus serrulata, Cornus amomum, and Salix spp. may occur. Acer rubrum can invade examples of this group.
Dynamics: The primary environmental characteristic of stands of this group is the consistent presence of seepage flow. It is assumed that the vegetation would be affected by long-term drought cycles, but this has not been documented. The recruitment of tree and shrub seedlings will be limited by soil wetness to drier embedded microsites, thereby making canopy gaps persist longer than in adjacent forests, and creating and sustaining the openings in which this vegetation occurs. Fires may penetrate from adjacent forests, but only in the driest conditions are they likely to be intense enough to have much effect. Seeps are fairly permanent features of the landscape, but may potentially be created, destroyed, or altered in extent because of changes in groundwater flow, stream entrenchment or headward erosion, mass movement on slopes, or long-term climatic cycles. Examples are often left undisturbed when surrounding forests are logged. The effects of logging on water infiltration or surface flow may have significant indirect effects on the integrity of examples.
Environmental Description: Stands occur in patches on the sideslopes of hills in narrow valleys, bases of bluffs, rock ledges, and terraces, where the soil or substrate is saturated by calcareous groundwater seepage. Soils are mucky peat or mineral, with pH above 6.5, and shallow (0-100 cm), depending on natural disturbance and slope. The parent material is a mixture of gravel and dolomite with fragments of deeply weathered bedrock present. Some examples contain gravelly alluvium or colluvium over dolomite bedrock. The bedrock strata are often exposed, especially in hanging fens where the slope is greater than 35°.
Geographic Range: This group is found within the Interior Plateau region ranging from the Ozarks of Missouri and Arkansas east through Kentucky and Tennessee to southern Ohio.
States/Provinces: AR, KY, MO, OH, TN
|US Forest Service Ecoregions (2007)|
Central Interior Broadleaf Forest Province
Confident or certain
Ozark Highlands Section
Confident or certain
Confidence Level: Moderate
Confidence Level Comments:
Concept Author(s): S. Menard, D. Faber-Langendoen, and M. Pyne, in Faber-Langendoen et al. (2011)
Author of Description: S. Menard and M. Pyne
Version Date: 19May2015
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- Faber-Langendoen, D., J. Drake, S. Gawler, M. Hall, C. Josse, G. Kittel, S. Menard, C. Nordman, M. Pyne, M. Reid, L. Sneddon, K. Schulz, J. Teague, M. Russo, K. Snow, and P. Comer, editors. 2010-2017a. Divisions, Macrogroups and Groups for the Revised U.S. National Vegetation Classification. NatureServe, Arlington, VA. plus appendices. [in preparation]
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