Common (Translated Scientific) Name: Northeastern Forest Vernal Pool Group
Colloquial Name: Northeastern Forest Vernal Pool
Hierarchy Level: Group
Type Concept: This broadly defined group comprises sparsely vegetated northeastern vernal woodland pools that are important breeding habitats for amphibians and invertebrates; vegetation is widely variable. The association in this group is characterized by seasonally fluctuating water levels; the substrate may dry out completely in the summer. Hydrology may be affected by impermeable soils, seasonally high water tables, seasonal flooding in nearby streams and drainages, and/or impervious bedrock at or near the surface. The substrate is mineral soil with or without a layer of muck. The species composition is variable among sites, as well as annually and seasonally. Larger examples of this community type may exhibit strong zonation. Many smaller, shaded vernal ponds are unvegetated, their bottoms consisting of dead leaves and algae.
Diagnostic Characteristics: Small, shallow, basin wetland, generally ephemeral, widely variable in species composition and vegetation cover, within a forested, or previously forested, matrix.
Rationale for Nominal Species or Physiognomic Features:
Classification Comments: The group distribution extends into the Laurentian-Acadian region (Laurentian-Acadian-North Atlantic Coastal Flooded & Swamp Forest Macrogroup (M504)) and the group may need to be split between that macrogroup and Central Hardwood Swamp Forest Macrogroup (M503). This group does not include vernal pool vegetation already included in other groups, such as nonforested vegetation occurring in coastal plain ponds, nor that of deeper basins within forested wetlands. It is restricted to sparse vegetation occurring under an upland tree canopy that is not otherwise classified in the IVC. Recognition of vernal pool associations is complicated not only by the lack of good data but by the seasonal and spatial variability in composition. The largest factor, however, is that vernal pools are generally defined by their invertebrate and amphibian communities and often do not have characteristic suites of plant species. This type should be considered tentative pending more data. Omernik ecoregion attribution and state attribution require review.
Similar NVC Types:
G044 Central Interior-Appalachian Seepage Swamp, note:
G597 Central Hardwood Flatwoods & Swamp Forest, note:
G803 Southeastern Granite Outcrop Pool, note:
Physiognomy and Structure: Vegetation structure is widely variable; tree canopy is usually closed to partially open and overhanging from adjacent upland forest. The understory ranges from high cover of shrubs and herbs, to vegetation essentially absent. Mosses and liverworts may be present.
Floristics: This group ranges widely throughout the Northeast and Midwest, and varies widely in floristics. Shrubs, ferns, grasses, sedges, forbs, and mosses occur in many combinations. Common shrubs include Alnus spp., Cephalanthus occidentalis, Clethra alnifolia, Decodon verticillatus, Ilex verticillata, Lyonia ligustrina, Salix spp., and Vaccinium corymbosum. Common ferns include Onoclea sensibilis, Osmunda spp., and Thelypteris palustris; common graminoids include Calamagrostis canadensis, Carex stricta, Dulichium arundinaceum, Glyceria spp., Juncus canadensis, Scirpus cyperinus, and others. Forbs such as Polygonum spp., Ludwigia palustris, and Bidens spp. are often present. Sphagnum mosses may be present at varying cover; two liverwort species are associated with vernal pools in the Northeast: Ricciocarpos natans and Riccia fluitans (Colburn 2004).
Dynamics: These pools are usually isolated, with rainwater and groundwater the sources of inundation. Water levels decrease through the growing season and are often lacking standing water by late summer.
Environmental Description: This group occurs in small isolated depressions that flood in the early spring from groundwater or rainwater; some pools also occur on floodplain backswamps. The substrate is variable, ranging from sand to loam to bedrock, with or without a significant organic layer. Stands occur in shallow basins that flood in the spring and draw down later in the season, or in alluvial backswamps that are also dry late in the growing season.
Geographic Range: This group ranges broadly in the northeastern and midwestern United States and adjacent Canada.
Nations: CA, US
States/Provinces: CT, DE, LB, MA, MD, ME, NB, NH, NJ, NS, NY, ON, PA, RI, VA, VT, WV
|US Forest Service Ecoregions (2007)|
Omernik Ecoregions: 45:C, 50:C, 55:C, 56:C, 57:C, 58:C, 60:C, 61:C, 62:C, 63:C, 65:C, 66:C, 70:C, 71:C, 82:C, 83:C, 84:C
Confidence Level: Moderate
Confidence Level Comments:
Synonomy: >< Northeastern Vernal Pool (Cutko and Rawinski 2008)
>< Vernal Pool (Colburn 2004)
= Woodland Vernal Pool (Swain and Kearsley 2011)
Concept Author(s): E.A. Colburn (2004); A. Cutko and T.J. Rawinski (2008)
Author of Description: L.A. Sneddon
Version Date: 19May2015
- Colburn, E. A. 2004. Vernal pools: Natural history and conservation. McDonald and Woodward Publishing, Blacksburg, VA. 426 pp.
- Cutko, A., and T. J. Rawinski. 2008. Flora of northeastern vernal pools. Pages 71-104 in: A. J. K. Calhoun and P. G. deMaynadier, editors. Science and Conservation of Vernal Pools in Northeastern North America. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.
- 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]
- Swain, P. C., and J. B. Kearsley. 2011. Classification of the natural communities of Massachusetts. Version 1.4. Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Westborough, MA. [http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/dfw/natural-heritage/natural-communities/classification-of-natural-communities.html]