Approved. An approved ecological site description has undergone quality control and quality assurance review. It contains a working state and transition model, enough information to identify the ecological site, and full documentation for all ecosystem states contained in the state and transition model.
Figure 1. Mapped extent
Areas shown in blue indicate the maximum mapped extent of this ecological site. Other ecological sites likely occur within the highlighted areas. It is also possible for this ecological site to occur outside of highlighted areas if detailed soil survey has not been completed or recently updated.
Major Land Resource Area (MLRA): 127X–Eastern Allegheny Plateau and Mountains
The Acidic Shale Upland Oak/Heath site occupies the Allegheny Mountain Section of the Appalachian Highlands of the Appalachian Plateau Province. The deeply dissected plateau in this area terminates in a high escarpment, the Allegheny Front, in the eastern part of the area. Steep slopes are dominant, but level to gently rolling plateau remnants are conspicuous in the northern part of the area. The area is dominantly forest, containing large blocks of state forest, game lands, and national forest. Less than one-tenth of the MLRA consists of urban areas.
Natureserve system: Alleghany-Cumberland Dry Oak Forest and Woodland (CES202.359)
This site correlates to Natureserve/USNVC association CEGL005023
Quercus prinus - Quercus (alba, coccinea, velutina) / Viburnum acerifolium - (Kalmia latifolia) Forest
Ecological site concept
This chestnut oak - mixed oak forest community is found in the Allegheny Plateau region of West Virginia. Stands occur on upper slopes and narrow ridgetops. Soils are shallow to moderately deep and occur over non-calcareous bedrock of sandstone, or shale. Tree species commonly include Quercus prinus and Quercus coccinea, along with Quercus alba, Quercus rubra, and Quercus velutina. Castanea dentata was a major component in the past and may be evident as root sprouts and/or decaying stumps and logs. Other associates can include Acer rubrum var. rubrum, Carya alba, Nyssa sylvatica, Oxydendrum arboreum, and occasional Pinus spp. (Pinus echinata, Pinus rigida, Pinus virginiana). Tall shrubs and small trees can include Cornus florida, Sassafras albidum, and Viburnum acerifolium. Characteristic dwarf-shrubs and vines include Gaylussacia baccata, Gaultheria procumbens, Smilax glauca, Smilax rotundifolia, Vaccinium pallidum, Vaccinium stamineum, and, more locally, Kalmia latifolia. The herbaceous layer includes Antennaria plantaginifolia, Symphyotrichum cordifolium (= Aster cordifolius), Carex pensylvanica, Cypripedium acaule, Danthonia spicata, Epigaea repens, Helianthus divaricatus, Helianthus hirsutus, Dichanthelium dichotomum (= Panicum dichotomum), Polystichum acrostichoides, and others. Lichens (Cladina spp. and Cladonia spp.) and mosses can form a prominent layer.
Table 1. Dominant plant species
(1) Quercus montana
(1) Gaultheria procumbens
This area is generally composed of mountain ranges oriented in a northeast-southwest direction, with deep valleys intervening. The area of the site terminates in the eastern part in a high escarpment known as the Allegheny Front. Steep slopes are dominant but level to gently rolling plateau remnants are present. Water table at this site is deeper than 60 inches and the site both receives and generates runoff.
Table 2. Representative physiographic features
(2) Mountain slope
|Elevation||1,800 – 3,400 ft|
|Slope||15 – 65%|
|Water table depth||60 – 99 in|
|Aspect||Aspect is not a significant factor|
On many days in a normal winter there is no snow cover, but some years the ground is snow covered all winter. Cloudiness is more common than clear skies. About 81 days per year have clear skies, 196 days are cloudy, and the rest partly cloudy. In valleys, fog is prevalent in summer and fall. Rainfall is heaviest in summer and lowest in the fall. Westerly winds prevail in all months of the year except August when southwesterly winds prevail. Damaging windstorms are rare.
Table 3. Representative climatic features
|Frost-free period (average)||140 days|
|Freeze-free period (average)||161 days|
|Precipitation total (average)||48 in|
Figure 2. Monthly precipitation range
Figure 3. Monthly average minimum and maximum temperature
Figure 4. Annual precipitation pattern
Figure 5. Annual average temperature pattern
Climate stations used
(1) ELKINS RANDOLPH CO AP [USW00013729], Elkins, WV
Influencing water features
This site is not directly influenced by water from wetland or stream
The soils of this site are dark grayish brown, shallow to moderately deep silt loams and loams and are represented by the Inceptisol soil order. Sandstone and shale fragments and rocks occur in the profile in quantities high enough to classify as skeletal. Rock fragments and bedrock outcrop occur on the soil surface, but not to the extent that they impair the production of native vegetation. Plant-soil moisture relationships are adequate for adapted plants. In healthy condition, rills, gullies, wind scoured areas, pedestals, and soil compaction layers are not present on the site.
Figure 6. Berks scale centimeters
Table 4. Representative soil features
sandstone and shale
(1) Channery silt loam
(2) Very channery loam
|Family particle size||
|Drainage class||Well drained|
|Permeability class||Moderate to moderately rapid|
|Soil depth||10 – 40 in|
|Surface fragment cover <=3"||5%|
|Surface fragment cover >3"||3%|
|Available water capacity
|0.9 – 3.7 in|
|Soil reaction (1:1 water)
|3.3 – 5.2|
|Subsurface fragment volume <=3"
(Depth not specified)
|15 – 60%|
|Subsurface fragment volume >3"
(Depth not specified)
|5 – 40%|
The information contained in the State and Transition Model (STM) and the Ecological Site Description was developed using historical data, professional experience, and scientific studies. The information presented is representative of a very complex set of plant communities. Not all scenarios or plants are included. Key indicator plants, animals and ecological processes are described to inform land management decisions.
The Acidic Shale Upland Oak/Heath is a chestnut oak - mixed oak forest community is found in the Allegheny Plateau and mountains region of West Virginia. Stands currently occur on dry upper slopes with southerly aspects and narrow ridgetops. Soils are shallow to moderately deep and occur over non-calcareous bedrock of sandstone or shale. Tree species commonly include Quercus montana, and Quercus coccinea, along with Quercus alba, Quercus rubra, and Quercus velutina. Castanea dentata was a major component in the past and may be evident as root sprouts and/or decaying stumps and logs.
This oak-dominated forests is currently prominent on xeric, infertile upland sites. In some cases, these communities have replaced former mixed oak - American chestnut (Castanea dentata) forests following the decimation of chestnut overstory trees by an introduced fungal blight (Cryphonectria parasitica) early in the twentieth century. All have soils with a distinctly oligotrophic nutrient regime, i.e. strongly acidic, with low base cation levels and relatively high levels of iron. Accumulations of duff (Oi horizons) and high biomass of inflammable shrubs in these forests make them susceptible to periodic fires, which in turn favors recruitment of oaks.
Fire was widespread and frequent throughout much of the eastern United States before European settlement (Pyne 1982, Abrams 1992). Widespread burning created a mismatch between the physiological limits set by climate and the actual expression of vegetation, a common phenomenon throughout the world (Bond et al. 2005). In the eastern United States, specifically the area of this ESD, presettlement vegetation types were principally pyrogenic; that is, they formed systems assembling under and maintained by recurrent fire (Frost 1998, Wade et al. 2000). Thomas-Van Gundy and Nowacki (2013) mapped fire-adapted traits across a landscape by categorizing trees into two classes, pyrophiles and pyrophobes, and applying this classification to a geospatial layer of witness-tree points centered on the Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia. The location of this ESD is mapped as pyrophitic.
Presettlement fire regimes produced low- to mixed-severity surface burns, which maintained the vast expanses of oak and pine forests that dominated much of the eastern United States, often in open “park-like” conditions (Wright and Bailey 1982, Frost 1998). Native Americans were the primary ignition source in many locations, given the moist and humid conditions of the East (Whitney 1994). Historical documents indicate that Native American ignitions far outnumbered natural causes (principally lightning) in most locations (Gleason 1913, DeVivo 1991). Native Americans actively managing the environment with fire over millennia (Sauer 1975, Guyette et al. 2006).
Fire regimes began to reduce with the onset of fire-suppression policies in the 1920s. As a result of these policies, fire declined through effective wildfire detection and universal containment. This wholesale shift in fire regimes had unforeseen ecological consequences across the United States. A cascade of compositional and structural changes took place whereby open lands (grasslands, savannas, and woodlands) succeeded to closed-canopy forests, followed by the eventual replacement of fire-dependent plants by shade-tolerant, fire-sensitive vegetation. This trend continues today with ongoing fire suppression (Nowacki and Abrams 2008).
In eastern Kentucky, Delcourt et al. (1998) linked Native American use of fire to the dominance of oak–hickory forests starting 3000 yr ago (also see Ison 2000). White's (2007) recent analysis of pollen and charcoal deposits in a West Virginia cave suggests an increase in fire in that location beginning 4000 yr BP and lasting until the arrival of Europeans. Here too, Native Americans were implicated (see also Springer 2010 and 2012). In the only additional soil charcoal study in the southern portion of the Eastern Deciduous Biome, Hart et al. (2008) describe a comparable range of fire occurrence (five fire events spanning 6785 to 174 yr BP) in a hardwood deciduous forest on the Cumberland Plateau of middle Tennessee.
Abrams( 2005) documented what he believes are stands representative of oak forests throughout much of the eastern oak forests. Fire history and dendroecology (tree ring) were investigated for two stands in an old-growth, mixed-oak stands in western Maryland (see Shumway et al. 2001). "Basal cross-sections were obtained from a partial timber cut in 1986, which provided evidence of 42 fires from 1615 to 1958. Fires occurred on average every 8 years during the presettlement (1600 –1780) and early postsettlement (1780 –1900) periods. These included seven major fires year in which 25% of the sample trees were scarred in a given year. No major fire years occurred after 1900, and no fires were recorded after 1960. The South Savage stand had a larger component of older trees, including a 409-year-old white oak, and exhibited continuous recruitment of oaks from the late 1500s until 1900. White oak and chestnut oak dominated recruitment from 1650 to 1800, whereas red oak and black oak dominated recruitment from 1800 to 1900. The lack of red oak and black oak recruitment prior to 1800 may be due to their relatively short longevity at the site. However, the large reduction in white oak and chestnut oak recruitment after 1800 is difficult to explain, although they might have been out-competed by the other oaks. After 1900, the only oak species to recruit in significant numbers was red oak, and this was associated with the loss of overstory chestnut from the blight" (from Abrams 2005).
State and transition model
Figure 7. Acidic Shale Upland Oak/Heath
Figure 8. Acidic Shale Upland Oak/Heath Legend
More interactive model formats are also available.
View Interactive Models
More interactive model formats are also available.
View Interactive Models
Click on state and transition labels to scroll to the respective text
State 1 submodel, plant communities
State 3 submodel, plant communities
State 4 submodel, plant communities
Reference State Oak-Heath
The reference state for this ecological site is characterized by a closed-canopy hardwood forest dominated by oaks. Maintenance of this state requires that oak species occur in multiple age classes. In many situations red maple, sugar maple and American beech are colonizing the midstory and understory. A species composition shift toward these more mesophytic species is widely recognized throughout the eastern United States (McEwan et al. 2011). The reference state described represents a condition dependent on complex, multiple disturbances. In order to get oak to succeed and recruit into the next stand, advanced oak regeneration must be present before a major canopy disturbance. Oaks must be able to reach a size that is competitive via canopy disturbance (through smaller-scale clear cuts or fire or herbicide of midstory, and/or tree planting with vigorous seedlings/saplings). There may need to be multiple disturbances to eliminate competition.
Chestnut oak-red oak /blueberry-laurel/ teaberry-poverty grass
Without management, stands may succeed to a more mesophytic forest type dominated by shade tolerant species (i.e. maples and American beech) (Nowacki and Abrams, 2008). Dendroecology studies in old-growth forest stands indicate that oak species have dominated stands for the past 300 years. Researchers speculate that the recent proliferation of maples in the understory will inhibit regeneration of oak under the current disturbance regime (Hart et al. 2012). Oak can regenerate in canopy gaps formed by uprooted trees, but only on very dry sites, indicating that gap-phase dynamics will favor maple overall (Hart and Kupfer 2011). The American chestnut was an important part of this ecological site prior to decimation by the chestnut blight but it is unclear how abundant it would have been. Colloquial estimates based on local names like "Chestnut Ridge" indicate that it may have been prolific.
Forest overstory. Tree species commonly include Quercus prinus and Quercus coccinea, along with Quercus alba, Quercus rubra, and Quercus velutina. Other associates can include Acer rubrum , Carya alba, Nyssa sylvatica. Tall shrubs and small trees can include Cornus florida, Sassafras albidum, and Viburnum acerifolium.
Forest understory. Characteristic dwarf-shrubs and vines include Gaylussacia baccata, Gaultheria procumbens, Smilax glauca, Smilax rotundifolia, Vaccinium pallidum, Vaccinium stamineum, and, more locally, Kalmia latifolia. The herbaceous layer includes Antennaria plantaginifolia, Symphyotrichum cordifolium (= Aster cordifolius), Carex pensylvanica, Cypripedium acaule, Danthonia spicata, Epigaea repens, Helianthus divaricatus, Helianthus hirsutus, Dichanthelium dichotomum (= Panicum dichotomum), Polystichum acrostichoides, and others. Lichens (Cladina spp. and Cladonia spp.) and mosses can form a prominent layer.
Table 5. Soil surface cover
|Tree basal cover||2-4%|
|Shrub/vine/liana basal cover||0-1%|
|Grass/grasslike basal cover||0-1%|
|Forb basal cover||0-1%|
|Surface fragments >0.25" and <=3"||2-15%|
|Surface fragments >3"||2-10%|
Table 6. Woody ground cover
|Downed wood, fine-small (<0.40" diameter; 1-hour fuels)||1-2%|
|Downed wood, fine-medium (0.40-0.99" diameter; 10-hour fuels)||1-3%|
|Downed wood, fine-large (1.00-2.99" diameter; 100-hour fuels)||1-3%|
|Downed wood, coarse-small (3.00-8.99" diameter; 1,000-hour fuels)||1-4%|
|Downed wood, coarse-large (>9.00" diameter; 10,000-hour fuels)||1-6%|
|Tree snags** (hard***)||–|
|Tree snags** (soft***)||–|
|Tree snag count** (hard***)||1-40 per acre|
|Tree snag count** (hard***)||0-20 per acre|
* Decomposition Classes: N - no or little integration with the soil surface; I - partial to nearly full integration with the soil surface.
** >10.16cm diameter at 1.3716m above ground and >1.8288m height--if less diameter OR height use applicable down wood type; for pinyon and juniper, use 0.3048m above ground.
*** Hard - tree is dead with most or all of bark intact; Soft - most of bark has sloughed off.
Table 7. Canopy structure (% cover)
|Height Above Ground (ft)||Tree||Shrub/Vine||Grass/
|>0.5 <= 1||0-1%||1-20%||0-1%||0-2%|
|>1 <= 2||0-1%||1-20%||0-1%||0-1%|
|>2 <= 4.5||0-1%||1-10%||0-1%||0-1%|
|>4.5 <= 13||5-10%||0-2%||–||–|
|>13 <= 40||5-20%||–||–||–|
|>40 <= 80||25-75%||–||–||–|
|>80 <= 120||0-20%||–||–||–|
This site is resultant of micro environmental conditions (cool, damp, and shaded conditions; less flammable fuel beds) continually improving for shade-tolerant mesophytic species (i.e. maples) and deteriorate for shade-intolerant, fire-adapted species (i.e. oaks). As a result of abandonment of extensive woodland grazing, and the industrialization of timber harvest in the 1880's, the use of fire to maintain woodland pasture was largely abandoned. Fire-suppression policies in the 1920s resulted in additional compositional and structural changes and these sites are on a trajectory towards the eventual replacement of fire-dependent plants by shade-tolerant, fire-sensitive vegetation. This trend continues today with ongoing fire suppression. Historic oak forests in MLRA 127 have had “multiple interacting ecosystem drivers” (McEwan and others 2011) including decades of fire suppression and increasing deer herbivory that have facilitated the proliferation of shade-tolerant, fire-intolerant species into historically oak-dominated stands (Abrams 1992). In many stands red maple dominates the seedling and sapling pool beneath the oak overstory (Abrams 1998). Oak seedlings, which have relatively high light requirements and a conservative growth strategy, require periodic disturbances to open the canopy and promote height growth (Abrams 1992). In an undisturbed understory, shade-tolerant, fast-growing species like red maple outcompete oaks (Lorimer 1984). Although overstory oaks still dominate stands in eastern forests, many researchers predict a compositional shift following mortality of the current canopy dominants in the absence of successful restoration attempts (Goins et al. 2013). Numerous attempts have been made to restore fire to these forests and halt compositional changes, but results are highly site-specific and largely inconclusive (Arthur et al. 2012). Brose et al. (2014) provides and synthesis of the fire oak literature and guidelines for using fire in oak ecosystems.
Chestnut oak- red maple /service berry-dogwood/blueberry-poverty grass
This phase is characterized by canopy dominance of chestnut oak, but has a major canopy component of red maple. The shrub layer shows a mix of xerotropic and mesotrophic species. This phase is maintained in the absence of fire by being located on shallower soil on steep convex south aspects. Extended periods of drought may favor this phase. Red maple can influence its surrounding environment via a suite of mechanisms: Decreased fuel loads and higher fuel moisture associated with increased red maple cover could decrease forest flammability, whereas decreased N availability could hinder growth of plants with higher N requirements than red maples. All these changes could feed back to exacerbate red maple proliferation and the mesophication of this phase. (Alexander and Arthur 2014)
Red maple-chestnut oak /stripped maple/ blueberry-poverty grass
This phase is characterized by canopy domminance of red maple, but has a major canopy component of chestnut oak. The shrub layer shows mesotrophic species. This phase is maintained in the absence of fire by being located on moderately deep soil on steep linear south aspects and north aspect slopes. Red maple can influence its surrounding environment via a suite of mechanisms: Decreased fuel loads and higher fuel moisture associated with increased red maple cover could decrease forest flammability, whereas decreased N availability could hinder growth of plants with higher N requirements than red maples. All these changes could feed back to exacerbate red maple proliferation and the mesophication of this phase. (Alexander and Arthur 2014) As red maple grows to maturity and dominates the canopy, this phase may reach a tipping point, where restoration via prescribed fire or other stand management techniques is impossible (Abrams 2005; Nowacki and Abrams 2008).
Community 2.1 to 2.2
When average precipitation is greater than normal during several growing seasons red maple can gain canopy dominance. Under reduced light conditions, fire-adapted species perform poorly in the understory and increasingly give way to shade-tolerant species.
Community 2.2 to 2.1
Harvest of red maple and a fire could set this community on a differennt trajectory.
Recent Logged State (<75yrs)
Forests in this state have often been logged using diameter-limit cut methods multiple times in most cases. This results in a stand with mesophytic species (i.e. maple and tulip poplar)composition, low vigor and poor health. The genetic quality of the forest has been depleted due to the best trees being taken out over time. While oak species may be present in this state, microenvironmental conditions (cool, damp, and shaded conditions; less flammable fuel beds) continually improve for shade-tolerant mesophytic species and deteriorate for shade-intolerant, fire-adapted species. As a result of fire-suppression policies in the 1920s compositional and structural changes took place and sites succeeded to closed-canopy forests, followed by the eventual replacement of fire-dependent plants by shade-tolerant, fire-sensitive vegetation. This trend continues today with ongoing fire suppression.
Red maple-tulip poplar /greenbrier-blackberry/hay scented fern-poverty grass
Canopies in the logged state are generally thick enough to prevent adequate oak regeneration; more shade tolerant species such as red maple and tulip poplar will predominate. Oak species that remain are typically of low genetic quality in terms of timber. Stands that have had multiple entries have a conspicuous lack of oak.
Grazed Woodland State
Scattered, open-grown oaks with large, spreading branches are characteristic. Woodlands have a closed overstory of trees but maintain an open understory. This allows enough sunlight to reach the ground to favor a group of sedges, grasses, low shrubs and wildflowers that do best in a woodland environment. Fire was widespread and frequent throughout much of the eastern United States before European settlement (Pyne 1982, Abrams 1992). Widespread burning created a mismatch between the physiological limits set by climate and the actual expression of vegetation—a common phenomenon throughout the world (Bond et al. 2005). In the eastern United States, presettlement vegetation types were principally pyrogenic; that is, they formed systems assembling under and maintained by recurrent fire (Frost 1998, Wade et al. 2000). Fire frequency remained the same or even increased where settlers adopted Native burning practices. Here, frequent understory burning helped maintain the dominance of oak and of fire-adapted associates, especially grasses for pasturage.
Chestnut oak-red oak/black berry-greenbrier /sweet vernal-poverty grass
This phase may be a relict of the open “park-like” conditions (Wright and Bailey 1982, Frost 1998)established by Native burning practices. This is a xerotrophic plant community in an area of abundant precipitation. The shrub layer may be resultant of absent fire return intervals and/or absence of livestock browsers.
This state represents a once-forested area now cleared for pasture. Most pastures are very old and have been established for a long time. Management practices focus primarily on maintaining healthy pasture conditions; examples include balancing stocking rates to forage availability, grazing rotation, weed control and nutrient inputs. In general, pasture management recommendations focus on maximizing desirable forage species to outcompete undesirable/weedy species. Production practices that result in overgrazing and low fertility levels favor emergence, propagation, and growth of weeds (Green et al. 2006).
The dominance of orchardgrass (Dactylis glomerata), and tall fescue (Schedonorus arundinaceus) in this community phase indicate that nutrient levels are adequate and grazing management is adequate to allow pasture plants to recover. Overstocking and infrequent pasture rotation will allow weedier species to invade such as multiflora rose and brambles.
Multiflora rose-blackberry/sweet vernal-broomsedge
This community phase is a more degraded phase for livestock. While some utilization ofpasture plants will occur undesirable species are prolithic. Soil nutrient improvement through fertilization and liming is necessary. Control of multiflora rose (i.e. herbicide) is necessary.
Community 5.1 to 5.2
Lack of soil fertility management (N,P,K) and lack of lime application. Lack of herbicide treatment of invasive species and brambles.
Community 5.2 to 5.1
Addition of fertilizer and lime. Herbicide treatment of invasive palnts.
State 1 to 2
The absence of fire and/or disturbance (i.e. clearcutting) for over 100 years. Without the rejuvenating effects of recurrent fire, environmental conditions shifted incrementally to favor fire-sensitive, shade-tolerant competitors. Under reduced light conditions, fire-adapted species performed poorly in the understory and increasingly gave way to shade-tolerant species.
State 1 to 3
Selective harvesting and high grading multiple times results in degradation of forest stand quality in terms of altered species composition, forest structure, and genetic fitness. Diameter limit cuts, incorrectly implemented, remove the biggest and best trees and leave those of lowest quality in terms of both timber and ecology.
State 1 to 4
Long term (100+ years) access by livestock and subsequent browsing of woody understory and establishment/maintenance of grassy understory. Over the past 50 years sheep and goats have been removed from the grazing scenario and brambles have established.
State 1 to 5
Tree clearing and the establishment of pasture plants. A majority of pasture conversions occured many years ago.
Restoration pathway R2A
State 2 to 1
Harvest or elimination (i.e. herbicide)of red maple. Reintroduce fire according to recomendation made by a forester or fire ecologist.
State 3 to 2
mesophitic tree (i.e. maple) regeneration Harvest of tulip poplar
State 3 to 5
Eliminate woody species combined with pasture species planting/recruitment. This transition rarely occurs currently.
Restoration pathway R4A
State 4 to 1
Removal of grazing (browsing) livestock, herbicide treatment of undesirable shrubs and/or prescribed fire. Reintroduce fire according to recommendations made by a forester or fire ecologist.
State 4 to 3
logging and removal of trees in the abscence of advanced regeneration oak.
State 5 to 2
maple invasion of pasture livestock have been removed or stocked at a low rate.
Additional community tables
Table 8. Community 1.1 forest overstory composition
|Common name||Symbol||Scientific name||Nativity||Height (ft)||Canopy cover (%)||Diameter (in)||Basal area (square ft/acre)|
|chestnut oak||QUMO4||Quercus montana||Native||14–90||20–50||10–22||–|
|red maple||ACRU||Acer rubrum||Native||14–32||0–25||3–8||–|
|northern red oak||QURU||Quercus rubra||Native||14–90||5–20||3–17||–|
|scarlet oak||QUCO2||Quercus coccinea||Native||14–90||0–20||4–17||–|
|white oak||QUAL||Quercus alba||Native||35–80||5–10||7–28||–|
|black oak||QUVE||Quercus velutina||Native||35–90||0–10||10–17||–|
|mockernut hickory||CATO6||Carya tomentosa||Native||13–39||2–10||4–7||–|
|pignut hickory||CAGL8||Carya glabra||Native||13–24||0–5||3–6||–|
Table 9. Community 1.1 forest understory composition
|Common name||Symbol||Scientific name||Nativity||Height (ft)||Canopy cover (%)|
|poverty oatgrass||DASP2||Danthonia spicata||Native||0–3||0.1–0.5|
|cypress panicgrass||DIDI6||Dichanthelium dichotomum||Native||0.1–3||0–0.1|
|Willdenow's sedge||CAWI2||Carex willdenowii||Native||0–0.7||0–0.1|
|slender woodland sedge||CADI5||Carex digitalis||Native||0–0.5||0–0.1|
|early bluegrass||POCU4||Poa cuspidata||Native||0–0.5||0–0.1|
|ribbed sedge||CAVI4||Carex virescens||Native||0–0.5||0–0.1|
|variable panicgrass||DICO2||Dichanthelium commutatum||Native||0.1–3||0–0.1|
|broad looseflower sedge||CALA19||Carex laxiflora||Native||0–0.5||0–0.1|
|eastern teaberry||GAPR2||Gaultheria procumbens||Native||–||0.1–0.5|
|American lily-of-the-valley||COMA19||Convallaria majuscula||Native||0–0.6||0–0.5|
|smooth Solomon's seal||POBI2||Polygonatum biflorum||Native||0.5–2.5||0–0.1|
|downy rattlesnake plantain||GOPU||Goodyera pubescens||Native||0–2||0–0.1|
|narrowleaf cowwheat||MELI2||Melampyrum lineare||Native||0–1||0–0.1|
|dwarf cinquefoil||POCA17||Potentilla canadensis||Native||0–0.3||0–0.1|
|American cancer-root||COAM||Conopholis americana||Native||0–0.5||0–0.1|
|fourleaf yam||DIQU||Dioscorea quaternata||Native||0–0.5||0–0.1|
|wreath goldenrod||SOCA4||Solidago caesia||Native||0–2||0–0.1|
|marginal woodfern||DRMA4||Dryopteris marginalis||Native||0–1||0–0.1|
|Christmas fern||POAC4||Polystichum acrostichoides||Native||0–1.3||0–0.1|
|New York fern||THNO||Thelypteris noveboracensis||Native||0–1.2||0–0.1|
|Blue Ridge blueberry||VAPA4||Vaccinium pallidum||Native||0.1–2||5–10|
|mountain laurel||KALA||Kalmia latifolia||Native||0.5–5||2–10|
|common serviceberry||AMAR3||Amelanchier arborea||Native||2–12||0.1–5|
|flowering dogwood||COFL2||Cornus florida||Native||3–9||0.1–3|
|smooth azalea||RHAR3||Rhododendron arborescens||Native||0.5–2||0–1|
|mapleleaf viburnum||VIAC||Viburnum acerifolium||Native||1–4||0–0.1|
|chestnut oak||QUMO4||Quercus montana||Native||0.5–4||0.1–3|
|chestnut oak||QUMO4||Quercus montana||Native||4–13||0.1–2|
|pignut hickory||CAGL8||Carya glabra||Native||4–13||0.1–1|
|red maple||ACRU||Acer rubrum||Native||1.5–4||0.1–1|
|red maple||ACRU||Acer rubrum||Native||4–13||0.1–1|
|northern red oak||QURU||Quercus rubra||Native||0.5–4||0.1–0.5|
|northern red oak||QURU||Quercus rubra||Native||4–13||0–0.5|
|American beech||FAGR||Fagus grandifolia||Native||1.5–4||0–0.1|
|red maple||ACRU||Acer rubrum||Native||0.1–0.3||0–0.1|
|red maple||ACRU||Acer rubrum||Native||0.3–1.5||0–0.1|
|scarlet oak||QUCO2||Quercus coccinea||Native||4–13||0–0.1|
|scarlet oak||QUCO2||Quercus coccinea||Native||0.5–4||0–0.1|
|pignut hickory||CAGL8||Carya glabra||Native||0.1–1.5||0–0.1|
|sweet birch||BELE||Betula lenta||Native||0.5–1.5||0–0.1|
|American beech||FAGR||Fagus grandifolia||Native||0.5–1.5||0–0.1|
|roundleaf greenbrier||SMRO||Smilax rotundifolia||Native||0.1–4||0–1|
|dicranum moss||DISC71||Dicranum scoparium||Native||0–0.2||0.1–5|
|leucobryum moss||LEGL19||Leucobryum glaucum||Native||0–0.3||0–2|
Inventory data references
5 high intensity plots
10 low intensity traverses
Abrams MD. 1992. Fire and the development of oak forests. BioScience 42:
Abrams MD. 2005. Prescribing fire in eastern oak forests: is time running out? North J Appl For 22:190–6.
Alexander HD, Arthur MA. 2014.Increasing Red Maple Leaf Litter Alters Decomposition Rates and Nitrogen Cycling in Historically Oak-Dominated Forests of the Eastern U.S. Ecosystem 2014 (published online 09/09/14)
Bond W.J., Keeley J.E. 2005. Fire as a global 'herbivore': The ecology and evolution of flammable ecosystems 20 (7): 387-394.
Bond WJ, Woodward FI, Midgley GF. 2005. The global distribution of ecosystems in a world without fire.New Phytologist 165: 525–538.
Brose, Patrick H., Daniel C. Dey, and Thomas A. Waldrop. "The fire—oak literature of eastern North America: synthesis and guidelines." (2014): 1-98.
DeVivo MS. 1991. Indian use of fire and land clearance in the . Pages 306–310 in Nodvin SC, Waldrop TA, eds. Fire and the Environment: Ecological and Cultural Perspectives: Proceedings of an International Symposium, Knoxville, Tennessee, March 20–24, 1990. Asheville (NC): US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Forest Experiment Station. General Technical Report SE-69.
Frost CC. 1998. Presettlement fire frequency regimes of the United States: A first approximation. Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference Proceedings 20: 70–81.
GleasonHA. 1913.The relation of forest distribution and prairie fires in the Middle West. Torreya 13: 173–181.
Guyette RP, Dey DC, Stambaugh MC,Muzika R-M. 2006. Fire scars reveal variability and dynamics of eastern fire regimes. Pages 20–39 in Dickinson MB, ed. Fire in Eastern Oak Forests: Delivering Science to Land Managers: Proceedings of a Conference, November 15–17, 2005, Fawcett Center, the Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. Newtown Square (PA): US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. General Technical Report NRS-P-1.
Hart, Justin L., S.L. Clark, S.J. Torreano, and M.L. Buchanan. 2012. Composition, structure, and dendroecology of an old-growth Quercus forest on the tablelands of the Cumberland Plateau, USA. Forest Ecology and Management 266: 11-24.
Hart, Justin L. and J.A. Kupfer. 2011. Sapling richness and composition in canopy gaps of a southern Appalachian mixed Quercus forest. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 138(2): 207-219.
McEwan, Ryan W., J.M. Dyer, and N. Pederson. 2011. Multiple interacting ecosystem drivers: Toward an encompassing hypothesis of oak forest dynamics across eastern North America. Ecography 34: 244-256.
Nowacki, Gregory J. and M.D. Abrams. 2008. The demise of fire and ‘‘mesophication’’ of forests in the eastern United States. BioScience 58: 123–138.
Pyne SJ. 1982. Fire in America:A Cultural History of Wildland and Rural Fire. Princeton (NJ): Princeton University Press.
Sauer CO. 1975.Man’s dominance by use of fire. Geoscience and Man 10: 1–13.
Springer, G. S., White, D. M., Rowe, H. D., Hardt, B., Mihimdukulasooriya, L. N., Cheng, H., & Edwards, R. L. (2010). Multiproxy evidence from caves of Native Americans altering the overlying landscape during the late Holocene of east-central North America. The Holocene 20:275.
G.S. Springer, L.N. Mihindukulasooriya, D.M. White, and H.D. Rowe – Micro-charcoal abundances in stream sediments from Buckeye Creek Cave, West Virginia, USA. Journal of Cave and Karst Studies, v. 74, no. 1, p. 58–64
WadeDD,Brock BL,Brose PH,Grace JB,HochGA, PattersonWA III. 2000. Fire in eastern ecosystems. Pages 53–96 in Brown JK, Smith JK, eds. Wildland Fire in Ecosystems: Effects of Fire on Flora. Ogden (UT): US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-42, vol. 2.
Whitney GG. 1994. From coastal wilderness to fruited plain: A history of environmental change in temperate North America from 1500 to the present. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Wright HA, Bailey AW. 1982. Fire Ecology: United States and Southern Canada.New York:Wiley.
Rangeland health reference sheet
Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health is a qualitative assessment protocol used to determine ecosystem condition based on benchmark characteristics described in the Reference Sheet. A suite of 17 (or more) indicators are typically considered in an assessment. The ecological site(s) representative of an assessment location must be known prior to applying the protocol and must be verified based on soils and climate. Current plant community cannot be used to identify the ecological site.
|Contact for lead author|
|Composition (Indicators 10 and 12) based on||Annual Production|
Number and extent of rills:
Presence of water flow patterns:
Number and height of erosional pedestals or terracettes:
Bare ground from Ecological Site Description or other studies (rock, litter, lichen, moss, plant canopy are not bare ground):
Number of gullies and erosion associated with gullies:
Extent of wind scoured, blowouts and/or depositional areas:
Amount of litter movement (describe size and distance expected to travel):
Soil surface (top few mm) resistance to erosion (stability values are averages - most sites will show a range of values):
Soil surface structure and SOM content (include type of structure and A-horizon color and thickness):
Effect of community phase composition (relative proportion of different functional groups) and spatial distribution on infiltration and runoff:
Presence and thickness of compaction layer (usually none; describe soil profile features which may be mistaken for compaction on this site):
Functional/Structural Groups (list in order of descending dominance by above-ground annual-production or live foliar cover using symbols: >>, >, = to indicate much greater than, greater than, and equal to):
Amount of plant mortality and decadence (include which functional groups are expected to show mortality or decadence):
Average percent litter cover (%) and depth ( in):
Expected annual annual-production (this is TOTAL above-ground annual-production, not just forage annual-production):
Potential invasive (including noxious) species (native and non-native). List species which BOTH characterize degraded states and have the potential to become a dominant or co-dominant species on the ecological site if their future establishment and growth is not actively controlled by management interventions. Species that become dominant for only one to several years (e.g., short-term response to drought or wildfire) are not invasive plants. Note that unlike other indicators, we are describing what is NOT expected in the reference state for the ecological site:
Perennial plant reproductive capability:
The Ecosystem Dynamics Interpretive Tool is an information system framework developed by the USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, and New Mexico State University.
Click on box and path labels to scroll to the respective text.