Classification of Vegetation Communities of Maryland: First Iteration
A Subset of the International Classification of Ecological
V. HERBACEOUS VEGETATION
Concept: This alliance includes upland dune grassland of barrier islands of the Mid-Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Spartina patens and Schoenoplectus pungens (= Scirpus pungens) are characteristically dominant, though other graminoids such as Schoenoplectus pungens, Sporobolus virginicus, Cenchrus spinifex (= Cenchrus incertus), Cenchrus tribuloides, and Paspalum distichum may be codominant or prominent within their respective ranges. In parts of the range of this alliance, Spartina patens is dominant and Schoenoplectus pungens may be absent. This community characteristically occupies overwash terraces or low dunes, less well-developed than those dominated by Uniola paniculata (from North Carolina south and west to Texas and Tamaulipas, Mexico) or by Ammophila breviligulata (from North Carolina northwards). Total vegetation cover is variable, ranging from quite sparse (25% cover) to dense. Bare sand is often visible through the vegetation, and there is no soil profile development. Species diversity is variable; although it may be quite low and confined to the nominal species in the northern part of the range, it may be of greater diversity. Other components of this vegetation include Strophostyles helvula, Solidago sempervirens, Cenchrus tribuloides, Setaria parviflora, Distichlis spicata, Sabatia stellaris, Ammophila breviligulata, Suaeda linearis, Bassia hirsuta (an exotic), Atriplex patula, Polygonum glaucum, Spergularia salina (= Spergularia marina), Salicornia bigelovii, Salicornia virginica, Fimbristylis castanea, and Cakile edentula ssp. edentula. Woody species may include scattered individuals of Toxicodendron radicans, Solidago sempervirens, Lythrum lineare, Kosteletzkya virginica, and seedlings of Baccharis halimifolia. The plants of this community are influenced by sand deposited by storm surges. Storm overwash is a prevalent natural disturbance to this community. This community appears to be successional between interdunal herbaceous wetlands and interdunal herbaceous/shrub uplands.
Range: This alliance is reported from coastal areas from New York on the Atlantic Coast around to Tamaulipas, Mexico, on the Gulf Coast.
States/Provinces: AL DE FL LA MA? MD MS? MXTM? NC NJ NY TX VA
TNC Ecoregions: 31:C, 53:C, 55:C, 57:C, 58:C, 62:C
USFS Ecoregions: 221Ab:CCC, 231Fb:PPP, 232Aa:CCC, 232Ab:CCC, 232Ac:CCC, 232Bz:CCC, 232Ch:CCP, 232Ci:CC?, 232Dc:CCC, 232Dd:CCC, 232De:CCC, 232Eb:CC?, 232Ed:CCC, 232Ee:CCC, 255Dc:CCC
Federal Lands: NPS (Assateague Island, Fire Island, Padre Island?); USFWS (Bon Secour, Laguna Atascosa, Matagorda Island)
Synonymy: Maritime Dry Grassland (Schafale and Weakley 1990); Wash (Hill 1986); wash (Higgins et al. 1971); grassland community (Baumann 1978b); low dune community (Boule 1979); dunegrass community, in part (Higgins et al. 1971); Dry community of barrier flats (Travis and Godfrey 1976); secondary dunes (Klotz 1986)
References: Baumann 1978b, Boule 1979, Higgins et al. 1971, Hill 1986, Klotz 1986, Schafale and Weakley 1990, Travis and Godfrey 1976
Authors: ECS, JT, East Identifier: A.1274
SPARTINA PATENS - SCHOENOPLECTUS PUNGENS - SOLIDAGO SEMPERVIRENS HERBACEOUS VEGETATION
Saltmeadow Cordgrass - Threesquare - Seaside Goldenrod Herbaceous Vegetation
Overwash Dune Grassland G2G3 (98-11-04)
Ecological Group (SCS;MCS): Atlantic and Gulf Coast Dune and Coastal Grasslands (240-25; n/a)
Concept: This community is an upland dune grassland of mid-Atlantic barrier islands on embryo dunes forming from overwash terraces from Delaware to North Carolina. It forms a drier, later successional phase beginning from water-deposited sand of storm overwash. Sand movement, plant burial, and dune formation rates are not so high as to form Ammophila breviligulata-dominated primary dunes, but can be found as a fringe around the outer edge of those dunes. Spartina patens is dominant, ranging from quite sparse (25% cover) to dense, and can be monotypic in early successional expressions. As the vegetation develops, common associated species can include Schoenoplectus pungens (= Scirpus pungens) or Solidago sempervirens. Less common associates can include Cyperus grayi, Cenchrus tribuloides, Setaria parviflora, Festuca rubra, and occasional scattered individuals of Toxicodendron radicans and seedlings of Baccharis halimifolia. Bare sand is often visible through the vegetation, and there is no soil profile development. Ammophila breviligulata or Uniola paniculata may invade from the surrounding dunes. This community appears to be a successional step between interdunal herbaceous wetlands and interdunal herbaceous/shrub uplands.
Comments: This community differs ecologically from dune grasslands dominated by Ammophila breviligulata or Uniola paniculata, which are primarily impacted by wind-deposited sand. This community is impacted by wave-deposited sand. It is drier than brackish swales and vegetation that immediately colonizes water-borne sand from storm overwash, like Spartina patens - Eleocharis parvula Herbaceous Vegetation (CEGL006342). Spartina patens - Schizachyrium maritimum - Solidago sempervirens Herbaceous Vegetation (CEGL008445) is a southern analog of this association that occurs along the Gulf Coast.
Range: This community is an upland dune grassland of mid-Atlantic barrier islands from Delaware to North Carolina.
States/Provinces: DE:S2S3?, MA?, MD:S?, NC:S2, NJ:S?, NY:S5, VA:S?
TNC Ecoregions: 57:C, 58:C, 62:C
USFS Ecoregions: 221Ab:CCC, 232Aa:CCC, 232Ab:CCC, 232Ac:CCC, 232Bz:CCC, 232Ci:C??
Federal Lands: NPS (Assateague Island, Fire Island)
Synonymy: Maritime Dry Grassland (Typic Subtype) (Schafale 2000), Wash (Hill 1986) =. Assateague Island., Wash (Higgins et al. 1971) =. Assateague Island., Dunegrass community (Higgins et al. 1971) B. Assateague Island., Grassland community (Baumann 1978b) =. Virginia., Low dune community (Boule 1979) =. Virginia., Dry community of barrier flats (Travis and Godfrey 1976) B. North Carolina., Secondary dunes (Klotz 1986) B. Virginia., Dry maritime grassland (Lea 2002b). Assateague Island.
References: Baumann 1978b, Berdine 1998, Boule 1979, Bowman 2000, Breden et al. 2001, Edinger et al. 2002, Fleming et al. 2001, Higgins et al. 1971, Hill 1986, Klotz 1986, Lea 2002b, Reschke 1990, Schafale 2000, Schafale and Weakley 1990, TNC 1995c, Travis and Godfrey 1976, Zaremba and Leatherman 1984
Authors: L.A. Sneddon, ECS Confidence: 2 Identifier: CEGL004097
- Maryland Vegetation Classification Subset Report V.A. Perennial graminoid vegetation
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