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Red Maple – Black-gum Palustrine Forest

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System: Palustrine
Subsystem: Forest
PA Ecological Group(s): Basin Wetland

Global Rank: G4 rank interpretation
State Rank: S3S4

General Description

The canopy is dominated by red maple (Acer rubrum) and/or blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica). Other trees, including yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis), eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor), pin oak (Quercus palustris), or black willow (Salix nigra), may also occur. The shrub layer is variable and may include highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), winterberry (Ilex verticillata), alder (Alnus spp.), and dogwoods (Cornus spp.). Herbs include skunk-cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), violets (Viola spp.), cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), sedges (Carex spp.), and sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis).

Rank Justification

Uncommon but not rare; some cause for long-term concern due to declines or other factors.

Identification

  • Typically occurs on saturated or seasonally wet acidic soils in seepage areas, basins, hillsides, streamheads, and floodplain edges
  • Typically a shallow to deep peat layer on top of mineral soil
  • Canopy will be dominated by red maple (Acer rubrum) and blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica)
  • Hummock and hollow microtopography

International Vegetation Classification Associations:

Red Maple - Blackgum Basin Swamp (CEGL006014)

NatureServe Ecological Systems:

North-Central Appalachian Acidic Swamp (CES202.604)

Origin of Concept

Fike, J. 1999. Terrestrial and palustrine plant communities of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory. Harrisburg, PA. 86 pp., Leppo, B., Zimmerman, E., Ray, S., Podniesinski, G., and Furedi, M. 2009. Pennsylvania Statewide Seasonal Pool Ecosystem Classification: Description, mapping, and classification of seasonal pools, their associated plant and animal communities, and the surrounding landscape. Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Pittsburgh, PA.

Pennsylvania Community Code*

UG : Red Maple – Black Gum Palustrine Forest

*(DCNR 1999, Stone 2006)

Similar Ecological Communities

This type differs from Red Maple – Black Ash Palustrine Forest in that the Red Maple – Blackgum Palustrine Forest lacks the presence of caliciphilic species such as black ash (Fraxinus nigra) and is typically co-dominated by blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica). Red Maple – Blackgum Palustrine Forest is more acidic while the Red Maple – Black Ash Palustrine Forest is typically more circumneutral.

Red Maple – Blackgum Palustrine Forest may contain pin oak (Quercus palustris) and swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor) which dominate the Oak - Mixed Hardwood Palustrine Forest but the Red Maple – Blackgum Palustrine Forest is clearly dominated by red maple (Acer rubrum) and blackgum (Nyssa sylvatica).

Fike Crosswalk

Red Maple – Black-gum Palustrine Forest

Conservation Value

This community serves as a buffer for sediment and pollution runoff from adjacent developed lands by slowing the flow of surficial water causing sediment to settle within this wetland.

Threats

Red Maple – Blackgum Palustrine Forests are threatened by habitat alteration, deposition (sedimentation, agricultural runoff), and alterations to the hydrological regime (lowering of water tables). Clearing and development of adjacent land can lead to an accumulation of agricultural run-off and pollution, sedimentation, and insolation/thermal pollution. This community is susceptible to invasive plant species such as common reed (Phragmites australis ssp. australis) and mulitflora rose (Rosa multiflora).

Management

A natural buffer around the wetland should be maintained in order to minimize nutrient runoff, pollution, and sedimentation. The potential for soil erosion based on soil texture, condition of the adjacent vegetation (mature forests vs. clearcuts), and the topography of the surrounding area (i.e., degree of slope) should be considered when establishing buffers. The buffer size should be increased if soils are erodible, adjacent vegetation has been logged, and the topography is steep as such factors could contribute to increased sedimentation and nutrient pollution. Direct impacts and habitat alteration should be avoided (e.g., roads, trails, filling of wetlands) and low impact alternatives (e.g., elevated footpaths, boardwalks, bridges) should be utilized in situations where accessing the wetland can not be avoided. Care should also be taken to control and prevent the spread of invasive species within the wetland. Alterations to groundwater sources should be minimized.

Research Needs

Variations may occur at ecoregional levels. There is a need to collect plot data to characterize variations and guide further classification of this community.

Trends

Wetland protection has most likely stabilized the decline of these communities. The relative trend for this community is likely stable or may be declining slightly due to hydrological alterations.

Range Map

range map

Pennsylvania Range

Statewide

Global Distribution

Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Vermont

References

Breden, T. F., Y. R. Alger, K. S. Walz, and A. G. Windisch. 2001. Classification of vegetation communities of New Jersey: Second iteration. Association for Biodiversity Information and New Jersey Natural Heritage Program, Office of Natural Lands Management, Division of Parks and Forestry, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Trenton.

Byers, E. A., J. P. Vanderhorst, and B. P. Streets. 2007. Classification and conservation assessment of high elevation wetland communities in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia. West Virginia Natural Heritage Program, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Elkins.

Cowardin, L. M., V. Carter, F. C. Golet, and E. T. LaRoe. 1979. Classification of wetlands and deepwater habitats of the United States. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Biological Service Program. FWS/OBS-79/31. Washington, DC. 103 pp.

Edinger, G. J., D. J. Evans, S. Gebauer, T. G. Howard, D. M. Hunt, and A. M. Olivero, editors. 2002. Ecological communities of New York state. Second edition. A revised and expanded edition of Carol Reschke's ecological communities of New York state. (Draft for review). New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY.

Fike, J. 1999. Terrestrial and palustrine plant communities of Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory. Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Recreation. Bureau of Forestry. Harrisburg, PA. 86 pp.

Gawler, S. C. 2002. Natural landscapes of Maine: A guide to vegetated natural communities and ecosystems. Maine Natural Areas Program, Department of Conservation, Augusta, ME.

Harrison, J. W., compiler. 2004. Classification of vegetation communities of Maryland: First iteration. A subset of the International Classification of Ecological Communities: Terrestrial Vegetation of the United States, NatureServe. Maryland Natural Heritage Program, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis. 243 pp.

Horvath, Jamie L., Timothy A. Block, and Ann F. Rhoads. 2008. Description of the population, canopy cover, and associated vegetation of the globally rare sedge Carex polymorpha (Cyperaceae) in Nescopeck State Park, Pennsylvania. In Sedges: Uses, Diversity, and Systematics of the Cyperaceae, eds. R. Naczi and B. Ford. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis, MO.

Metzler, K. J., and J. P. Barrett. 2001. Vegetation classification for Connecticut. Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, Natural Resources Center, Natural Diversity Database, Hartford.

NatureServe 2010. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, VA. Available http://www.natureserv.org/explorer (accessed: 23 November 2011).

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). 1999. Inventory Manual of Procedure. For the Fourth State Forest Management Plan. Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, Division of Forest Advisory Service.  Harrisburg, PA. 51 ppg.

Rhoads, Ann F. and Timothy A. Block. 1999. Natural Areas Inventory of Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Bucks County Commissioners, Doylestown, PA.

Rhoads, Ann F. and Timothy A. Block. 2002. Nescopeck State Park; Inventory of PNDI-listed Plants and Plant Communities. Report submitted to DCNR, Bureau of State Parks.

Rhoads, Ann F. and Timothy A. Block. 2002. Tobyhanna State Park Natural Areas Survey. Report submitted to DCNR, Bureau of State Parks.

Rhoads, Ann F. and Timothy A. Block. 2005. Varden Conservation Area Vegetation Inventory. Report submitted to DCNR, Bureauof State Parks.

Rhoads, Ann F. and Timothy A. Block. 2006. Vegetation Inventory of Gouldsboro State Park. Report submitted to DCNR, Bureau of State Parks.

Rhoads, Ann F. and Timothy A. Block. 2008. Natural Areas Inventory Update, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Montgomery County Planning Commission, Norristown, PA.

Rhoads, Ann F. and Timothy A. Block. 2008. Natural Resources Inventory of French Creek State Park. Report submitted to DCNR, Bureau of State Parks.

Sperduto, D. D. 2000b. A classification of wetland natural communities in New Hampshire. New Hampshire Natural Heritage Inventory, Department of Resources and Economic Development, Division of Forests and Lands. Concord, NH. 156 pp.

Stone, B., D. Gustafson, and B. Jones. 2006 (revised). Manual of Procedure for State Game Land Cover Typing.  Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Game Commission, Bureau of Wildlife Habitat Management, Forest Inventory and Analysis Section, Forestry Division.  Harrisburg, PA. 79 ppg.

Swain, P. C., and J. B. Kearsley. 2001. Classification of natural communities of Massachusetts. Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Westborough, MA.

Thompson, E. 1996. Natural communities of Vermont uplands and wetland. Nongame and Natural Heritage Program, Department of Fish and Wildlife in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy, Vermont chapter. 34 pp.

Thompson, E. H., and E. R. Sorenson. 2000. Wetland, woodland, wildland: A guide to the natural communities of Vermont. The Nature Conservancy and the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. University Press of New England, Hanover, NH. 456 pp.

Windisch, A. G. 1995c. Natural community inventory of Mashipacong Bogs site, New Jersey. New Jersey Natural Heritage Program, Office of Natural Lands Management, Division of Parks and Forestry. Trenton, NJ.

Cite as:
Eichelberger, B. 2011. Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program. Red Maple – Black-gum Palustrine Forest Factsheet. Available from: http://naturalheritage.state.pa.us/Community.aspx?=16023 Date Accessed: December 15, 2018