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Formation Detail Report: F026
Temperate Flooded & Swamp Forest Formation

The U.S. National
Vegetation Classification
Temperate Flooded & Swamp Forest is a tree-dominated wetland influenced by minerotrophic groundwater, either on mineral or organic (peat) soil, found in mid-latitudes of the globe.
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Translated Name:Temperate Flooded & Swamp Forest Formation
Colloquial Name:Temperate Flooded & Swamp Forest
Temperate Flooded & Swamp Forest is a forested wetland and peatland. It is defined as a tree-dominated wetland in temperate climates that is influenced by minerotrophic groundwater, either on mineral or organic (peat) soils. The vegetation is dominated by broad-leaved or needle-leaved trees, generally over 10% cover, and either a wood-rich peat, more common in depressions, or a mineral soil on floodplains. In swamp forests, the water table is often below the major portion of the ground surface and the dominant ground surface is at the hummock ground surface, that is, 20 cm or more above the average summer groundwater level. It is the aerated (or partly aerated) zone of substrates above the water that is available for root growth of trees and/or tall shrubs. Flooded forests (sometimes called riverine or riparian swamps) have a more dynamic water table, with seasonal flooding inundating the vegetation for short (<7 days) to long (>1 month) periods. They are found along rivers, streams and lakes. They are subject to dramatic water fluctuations, seasonal flooding, and an influx of sediment and mineral enrichment during high water periods. Peat accumulation is usually shallow (<40 cm). The nutrient regime in swamps is highly variable, ranging from base-rich conditions with pH above 7.0, to base-poor conditions where pH can be in the range of 4.5 or lower.
Temperate Flooded & Swamp Forest is defined as a tree-dominated wetland in a temperate climate that is influenced by minerotrophic groundwater, either on mineral or organic soils. The vegetation is dominated by broad-leaved or needle-leaved trees, generally over 10% cover, and the substrate is either a wood-rich peat or a mineral soil on floodplains.
No distinction is made between warm- versus cool-temperate floodplain and swamp forests, because they do not have the same degree of change from broad-leaved evergreen to broad-leaved deciduous trees observed in uplands. Separation of temperate wetland from upland forests requires consideration of soils, vegetation and hydrology. At the wettest extremes, these forests are continuously flooded and aquatic vegetation growth forms may dominate the herb or field layer. Otherwise, these forests may be saturated and a peat layer may form. There are also practical user and ecological benefits to distinguishing wetland forests from upland forests at the formation level.
Synonomy: > Cold Temperate Swamp & Riparian Forest (Brown et al. 1998) [Cool- and warm-temperate forested wetlands are distinguished, based on climate.]
>< Swamp (National Wetlands Working Group 1997) [This type includes tree swamps with >30% cover, boreal and temperate swamps, and both tree and tall-shrub (>1 m) swamps.]
> Warm Temperate Swamp & Riparian Forest (Brown et al. 1998) [Cool- and warm-temperate forested wetlands are distinguished, based on climate.]

Related Type Name:

Short Citation:
  • Brady and Weil 2002
  • Brown et al. 1998
  • Faber-Langendoen et al. 2015c
  • National Wetlands Working Group 1997
States/Provinces:
Nations:CA, MX, US
Range:These forested wetlands are widely distributed throughout the mid-latitudes around the globe.
US Forest Service Ecoregions
Domain Name:
Division Name:
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Temperate Flooded & Swamp Forest is a forested wetland and peatland. These swamps are defined as tree-dominated wetlands that are influenced by minerotrophic groundwater. The vegetation is dominated by either broad-leaved or needle-leaved trees generally over 10% cover, and a wood-rich peat or a mineral soil on floodplains (National Wetlands Working Group 1997).

There are three general physiognomic variants of forested swamps: coniferous swamps, broad-leaved deciduous (hardwood) swamps, and broad-leaved evergreen (hardwood) swamps. Mixtures of the above can also be described. Shading of the understory tends to favor shade-tolerant species. In cool-temperate regions, hardwood swamps generally occur in somewhat richer conditions, giving way to shrub swamps and marshes in somewhat wetter locations. Coniferous swamps occur across a wider range of trophic levels from rich to poor (National Wetlands Working Group 1997).
Soil/substrate/hydrology: In swamp forests, the water table is often below the major portion of the ground surface, and the dominant ground surface is at the hummock ground surface, that is, 20 cm or more above the average summer groundwater level. It is the aerated (or partly aerated) zone of substrates above the water that is available for root growth of trees. These temperate swamps are not as wet as marshes, fens and the open bogs. The drier treed swamps grade into upland forest on mineral soil, and the wettest treed swamps grade into scrubby treed fen, which is wetter with less tree canopy cover. Scrubby tree fens may grade into tall-shrub swamps, but they are somewhat drier and have at least 10% tree canopy cover (National Wetlands Working Group 1997).

Flooded forests (sometimes called riverine or riparian swamps) have a more dynamic water table, with seasonal flooding inundating the vegetation for short (<7 days) to long (>1 month) periods. They are found along rivers, streams, and lakes. They are subject to dramatic water fluctuations, seasonal flooding, and an influx of sediment and mineral enrichment during high water periods. Peat accumulation is usually shallow, often <40 cm, but depths of 1 m can exist (National Wetlands Working Group 1997).

The temperate flooded and swamp forest occurs on mineral soils as well as on peat. In the cool-temperate regions, the texture of underlying mineral soils is variable, ranging from clays to sands, and they frequently are Gleysols. On sands, iron-rich ortsteins or fragipans are often present, acting as impermeable layers that impede water drainage. Swamps on mineral soils tend to accumulate peat by paludification. When organic soils develop, they are Histosols (U.S. system) or Mesisols or Humisols (Canadian system) that are rich in woody peat, at least in the surface layers [see Brady and Weil (2002) for a comparison of U.S. soil orders with Canadian and FAO systems]. Swamps on peat have developed either by a basin-filling process or by paludification of previously drier mineral soils. In the basin-filling process, the previous ecosystem was a marsh or fen, whereas in paludification the swamp has developed over an older, dry upland forest on mineral soil (National Wetlands Working Group 1997).

The nutrient regime in swamps is highly variable, ranging from base-rich conditions with pH above 7.0, to base-poor conditions where pH can be in the range of 4.5 or lower. Temperate swamp forms may be recognized based on the base-rich/pH gradient, i.e., calcareous rich (eutrophic), intermediate (mesotrophic), and poor (oligotrophic) (National Wetlands Working Group 1997).
Moderate
No Data Available
Authors:
D. Faber-Langendoen, after National Wetlands Working Group (1997)      Version Date: 02Aug2016


References:
  • Brady, N. C., and R. R. Weil. 2002. The nature and properties of soils. Thirteenth edition. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.
  • Brown, D. E., F. Reichenbacher, and S. E. Franson. 1998. A classification of North American biotic communities. The University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City. 141 pp.
  • Faber-Langendoen, D., T. Keeler-Wolf, D. Meidinger, C. Josse, A. Weakley, D. Tart, G. Navarro, B. Hoagland, S. Ponomarenko, J.-P. Saucier, G. Fults, and E. Helmer. 2015c. Classification and description of world formation types. General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-000. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fort Collins, CO.
  • National Wetlands Working Group. 1997. Wetlands of Canada. C. D. A. Rubec, editor. Ecological Land Classification Series No. 24. Environment Canada, Ottawa, and Polyscience Publications, Inc., Montreal. 452 pp.


USNVC Credits: Detailed Description of the National Vegetation Classification Types

Date Accessed:

To cite a description:
Author(s). publicationYear. Description Title [last revised revisionDate]. United States National Vegetation Classification. Federal Geographic Data Committee, Washington, D.C.

About spatial standards:
The United States Federal Geographic Data Committee (hereafter called the FGDC) is tasked to develop geospatial data standards that will enable sharing of spatial data among producers and users and support the growing National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), acting under the Office of Management Budget (OMB) Circular A-16 (OMB 1990, 2000) and Executive Order #12906 (Clinton 1994) as amended by Executive Order #13286 (Bush 2003). FGDC subcommittees and working groups, in consultation and cooperation with state, local, tribal, private, academic, and international communities, develop standards for the content, quality, and transferability of geospatial data. FGDC standards are developed through a structured process, integrated with one another to the extent possible, supportable by the current vendor community (but are independent of specific technologies), and publicly available.

About this document
This document contains type descriptions at the Formation level of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification. These descriptions were primarily written by NatureServe ecologists in collaboration with Federal Geographic Data Committee Vegetation Subcommittee and a wide variety of state, federal and private partners as a part of the implementation of the National Vegetation Classification. Formation descriptions were written by the Hierarchy Revisions Working Group. The descriptions are based on consultation with natural resource professionals, published literature, and other vegetation classification systems. The Ecological Society of America's Panel on Vegetation Classification is responsible for managing the review and formal adoption of these types into the National Vegetation Classification. Partners involved in the implementation of the USNVC include:

U.S. Government
  • Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Department of Commerce (DOC)
  • Department of Defense (DOD)
  • Department of the Interior (USDI)
  • Forest Service (FS) - Chair
  • National Agriculture Statistical Service (NASS)
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
  • U.S. Navy (NAVY)
  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  • Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
  • National Park Service (NPS)
  • U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Non U.S. Government
  • NatureServe (NS)
  • Ecological Society of America (ESA)

Disclaimer:
Given the dynamic nature of the standard, it is possible a type description is incomplete or in revision at the time of download; therefore, users of the data should track the date of access and read the revisions section of the USNVC.org website to understand the current status of the classification. While USNVC data have undergone substantial review prior to posting, it is possible that some errors or inaccuracies have remained undetected.

For information on the process used to develop these descriptions see:

Faber-Langendoen, D., T. Keeler-Wolf, D. Meidinger, D. Tart, B. Hoagland, C. Josse, G. Navarro, S. Ponomarenko, J.-P. Saucier, A. Weakley, P. Comer. 2014. EcoVeg: A new approach to vegetation description and classification. Ecological Monographs 84:533-561 (erratum 85:473).

Franklin, S., D. Faber-Langendoen, M. Jennings, T. Keeler-Wolf, O. Loucks, A. McKerrow, R.K. Peet, and D. Roberts. 2012. Building the United States National Vegetation Classification. Annali di Botanica 2: 1-9.

Jennings, M. D., D. Faber-Langendoen, O. L. Louckes, R. K. Peet, and D. Roberts. 2009. Standards for associations and alliances of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification. Ecological Monographs 79(2):173-199.

FGDC [Federal Geographic Data Committee]. 2008. Vegetation Classification Standard, FGDC-STD-005, Version 2. Washington, DC., USA. [http://www.fgdc.gov/standards/projects/FGDC-standards-projects/vegetation/NVCS_V2_FINAL_2008-02.pdf]

For additional information contact:

  • Implementation of the U.S. National Vegetation Classification Standard - Alexa McKerrow (amckerrow@usgs.gov)
  • NatureServe's Development of NVC Type Descriptions - Don Faber-Langendoen (don_faber- langendoen@natureserve.org)
  • Ecological Society of America's Review of the Type Descriptions Scott.Franklin@unco.edu
  • Federal Geographic Data Committee - Vegetation Subcommittee's Activities - Marianne Burke (mburke@fs.fed.us)