Invalid Unit Specified
D008 Acer saccharum - Fagus grandifolia - Quercus rubra Forest & Woodland Division

The U.S. National
Vegetation Classification
Type Concept Sentence: These eastern North American forests and woodlands are dominated by cold-deciduous broadleaf trees, sometimes mixed with conifers, with strong diagnostic tree species, including Acer rubrum, Acer saccharum, Carya spp. (especially Carya cordiformis, Carya glabra, Carya ovata), Fagus grandifolia, Fraxinus americana, Liriodendron tulipifera, Quercus spp. (especially Quercus alba, Quercus rubra, Quercus velutina), and Tilia americana.
Collapse All::Expand All
Common (Translated Scientific) Name: Sugar Maple - American Beech - Northern Red Oak Forest & Woodland Division
Colloquial Name: Eastern North American Forest & Woodland
Hierarchy Level: Division
Type Concept: These eastern North American forests and woodlands are dominated by cold-deciduous broadleaf trees, sometimes mixed with conifers. A number of strong diagnostic and dominant tree taxa include Acer rubrum, Acer saccharum, Carya spp. (especially Carya cordiformis, Carya glabra, Carya ovata), Fagus grandifolia, Fraxinus americana, Liriodendron tulipifera, Quercus spp. (especially Quercus alba, Quercus rubra, Quercus velutina), and Tilia americana. Widespread ruderal species found on human-disturbed sites and typically lacking the above species include the native species Acer rubrum, Juglans nigra, Juniperus virginiana, Prunus serotina, and Robinia pseudoacacia. Generally, the division is limited northward by the lack of tolerance of temperatures below -40°C, westward by increasingly dry conditions (roughly corresponding to precipitation/evapotranspiration ratio are <1 and annual rainfall is <60 to <100 cm, north to south, respectively) in combination with increasing fires, and southward by increasing warm conditions, when temperatures rarely fall below -10°C. The vegetation responds to a variety of site factors, along gradients of soil moisture, aspect and elevation, as these interact with disturbances of wind, fire and human land use. Many fertile sites have been cleared and plowed (then sometimes abandoned, providing a relatively novel biophysical template for ruderal forests), or repeatedly harvested over the last 200+ years.
Diagnostic Characteristics: This division contains a number of strong diagnostic tree taxa that broadly distinguish it from other divisions (key taxa are entirely or largely restricted to the division (diagnostic), widespread (constant), and frequently dominant). These include Acer rubrum, Acer saccharum, Carya spp. (especially Carya cordiformis, Carya glabra, Carya ovata), Fagus grandifolia, Fraxinus americana, Liriodendron tulipifera, Quercus spp. (especially Quercus alba, Quercus rubra, Quercus velutina), and Tilia americana (adapted from Delcourt and Delcourt 2000). The Great Plains woodlands are typified by Populus tremuloides and Quercus macrocarpa. Widespread ruderal species found on human-disturbed sites and typically lacking the above species include the native species Acer rubrum, Juglans nigra, Juniperus virginiana, Prunus serotina, and Robinia pseudoacacia. These taxa are entirely lacking from other North American cool-temperate forest divisions.
Rationale for Nominal Species or Physiognomic Features:
Classification Comments: The core concept of this division largely follows that of Braun (1950) and Greller (1989). Key differences are that Braun's (1950) Southeastern Evergreen Forest Region is excluded, as does Greller (1989) (Braun noted that "on a floristic basis, the Southeastern Evergreen Forest Region might well be excluded from the Deciduous Forest (p. 282)). But unlike Greller (1989), we follow Braun in retaining the "Hemlock-White Pine-Northern Hardwoods Region" within this division. Delcourt and Delcourt (2000) largely follow Lucy Braun's treatment.
Similar NVC Types:
D060 Madrean-Balconian Forest & Woodland, note:
D014 North American Boreal Forest & Woodland, note:
D023 Central North American Grassland & Shrubland, note:
D326 North American Great Plains Forest & Woodland, note:
Physiognomy and Structure: Stands are dominated by cold-deciduous broadleaf trees, trending to mixed stands of hardwoods with evergreen conifers northward and southward, and with evergreen broadleaf trees, southward. The forest is typically multi-storied, with canopy trees commonly reaching heights of 25-40 m. The canopy may be shorter and contain a simple two-layer structure on drier sites or in drier climates of the Midwest and Great Plains, particularly where fire regimes play a larger role. Trees may live between 200 and 600 years. The shrub layer is typically cold-deciduous, at least for tall shrubs, with tall evergreen shrubs (such as Rhododendron maximum) increasing southward. The herb layer ranges from simple to diverse, often comprised of an array of spring ephemerals that are largely perennial (Delcourt and Delcourt 2000).
Floristics: A number of key tree taxa broadly distinguish this (key taxa are entirely or largely restricted to the division (diagnostic), widespread (constant), and frequently dominant). These include Acer rubrum, Acer saccharum, Carya spp. (especially Carya cordiformis, Carya glabra, Carya ovata), Fagus grandifolia, Fraxinus americana, Liriodendron tulipifera, Quercus spp. (especially Quercus alba, Quercus rubra, Quercus velutina), and Tilia americana (adapted from Delcourt and Delcourt 2000).

In addition to the above widespread species, the following species are moderately diagnostic of the division, and often strongly diagnostic within a component macrogroup (adapted from Greller 2013, Table 1). Laurentian-Acadian macrogroups (Hemlock-White Pine-Northern Hardwoods of Braun 1950): (hardwoods) Acer pensylvanicum, Acer spicatum, Betula alleghaniensis; also Betula papyrifera, Populus grandidentata, Populus tremuloides; (conifers) Tsuga canadensis, Pinus strobus, Pinus resinosa, Picea rubens. Appalachian macrogroups: Aesculus flava, Amelanchier laevis, Carpinus caroliniana, Castanea dentata (historically), Cladrastis kentukea, Cornus florida, Halesia tetraptera, Liriodendron tulipifera, Magnolia acuminata, Magnolia fraseri, Magnolia tripetala, Quercus coccinea, Ostrya virginiana, Quercus alba, Quercus rubra, Ulmus rubra. Midwest macrogroups: dominated by the division-level diagnostics, but rarely contain the moderate diagnostic species of other macrogroups. A moderate diagnostic includes Quercus macrocarpa. South-central macrogroup: Acer barbatum, Carpinus caroliniana, Cercis canadensis, Cornus florida, Juglans nigra, Liriodendron tulipifera, Magnolia acuminata, Ostrya virginiana, Ulmus rubra; (mesoxeric) Carya alba (= Carya tomentosa), Liquidambar styraciflua, Nyssa sylvatica, Oxydendrum arboreum, Pinus echinata, Pinus taeda, Pinus virginiana, Quercus falcata, Quercus marilandica, Quercus stellata. Widespread ruderal species found on human-disturbed sites and typically lacking the above species include the native species Acer rubrum, Juglans nigra, Juniperus virginiana, Prunus serotina, and Robinia pseudoacacia.
Dynamics: On mesic sites these forests and woodlands are characterized by long periods where large-scale catastrophic disturbances are rare to absent (500- to 1000-year intervals). Windthrow is the most common disturbance on these sites. Drier sites may experience greater fire disturbances. Native Americans influenced the vegetation, including through localized settlements, especially along riparian corridors and through fire over the last 10-15,000 years. Dynamics today are often shaped by land use and forest management practices. Many fertile sites have been cleared and plowed (then sometimes abandoned, providing a relatively novel biophysical template for ruderal forests), or repeatedly harvested over the last 200+ years (Delcourt and Delcourt 2000).

Biogeography: Floristically, eastern deciduous forests are most closely related to now widely disjunct temperate forests in Europe, Japan, and eastern China, with a common history that extends back to the Eocene Epoch of the Tertiary Period (65-35 M years ago). By the beginning of the late Miocene Epoch (10 M years ago), tectonic events disrupted the North Atlantic land bridge, isolating North America. Deciduous forests persisted in western North America until the Miocene (15-10 M years ago) (Delcourt and Delcourt 2000 and references therein). In the last 2 million years of the Quaternary Period, the glacial-interglacial cycles, with a periodicity of about 100,000 years, has led to a "disassembly" and "reassembly" of this division within Eastern North America. Delcourt and Delcourt (2000) estimate that the total area of this division has fluctuated from <600,000 km2 during glacial periods, to as much as 2,500,000 km2 in late interglacial periods, such as the current time.
Environmental Description: Climate: Generally, the division is limited northward by the lack of tolerance of temperatures below -40°C, westward by increasingly dry conditions (roughly corresponding to precipitation/evapotranspiration ratio are <1 and annual rainfall is <60 to <100 cm, north to south, respectively) in combination with increasing fires, and southward by increasing warm conditions, when temperatures rarely fall below -10°C. These factors reflect the major air masses that predominate across eastern North America: (1) polar or arctic air mass to the north, (2) the relatively dry Pacific air that loses moisture as it crosses the mountains and Great Plains, and (3) the moist, warm maritime tropical air mass originating over the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean seas. Soils: The vegetation responds to a variety of site factors, along gradients of soil moisture, aspect and elevation, as these interact with disturbances of wind, fire and human land use (Delcourt and Delcourt 2000).
Geographic Range: These cool-temperate forests and woodlands extend from the temperate regions of Atlantic Canada west to Minnesota, south to the Piedmont of Georgia, and west to Texas.
Nations: CA, US
States/Provinces: AL, AR, CT, DC, DE, FL?, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, NB, NC, ND, NE, NF, NH, NJ, NS, NY, OH, OK, ON, PA, PE, QC, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WI, WV
US Forest Service Ecoregions (2007)
Domain Name:
Division Name:
Province Name:
Province Code:     Occurrence Status:
Section Name:
Section Code:     Occurrence Status:
Omernik Ecoregions:
Plot Analysis Summary:
Confidence Level: Moderate
Confidence Level Comments:
Grank: GNR
Greasons:
Concept Lineage:
Predecessors:
Obsolete Names:
Obsolete Parents:
Synonomy: > Deciduous Forest (Greller 1989) [Greller excludes Braun's (1950) Hemlock-White Pine-Northern Hardwoods Forest, equivalent to the Laurentian-Acadian forest macrogroups (M014 and M159).]
= Eastern Deciduous Forests (Delcourt and Delcourt 2000) [Approximately equivalent, they include Braun's (1950) Southeastern Evergreen Forest Region Forest, which we treat as a separate division (D006).]
= Northeastern Deciduous Forest (Brown et al. 1998) [Brown extends mapped concept into Great Plains.]
Concept Author(s): H.R. Delcourt and P.A. Delcourt (2000)
Author of Description: D. Faber-Langendoen
Acknowledgements:
Version Date: 08Jan2016
References:
  • Braun, E. L. 1950. Deciduous forests of eastern North America. Hafner Press, New York. 596 pp.
  • 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.
  • Delcourt, H. R., and P. A. Delcourt. 2000. Eastern deciduous forests. Pages 357-395 in: Barbour, M. G., and W. D. Billings, editors. North American terrestrial vegetation. Second edition. Cambridge University Press, New York. 434 pp.
  • 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]
  • Greller, A. M. 1989. Correlation of warmth and temperateness with the distributional limits of zonal forests in eastern North America. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 116:145-163.
  • Greller, A. M. 2013. Climate and regional composition of deciduous forest in eastern North America and comparisons with some Asian forests. Botanica Pacifica 2:3-18.