Vermont Natural Community Field Link Index

This Journal post is for the Natural Community field per use in Vermont. In this journal post I will slowly accumulate links to all natural communities I add in said form. These are primarily classified using Wetland Woodland Wildland/Heritage Methology. If others use the form I encourage to use these same units so the data gets sorted together. For consistency I am also using this form to track these 'unnatural' habitats: http://www.inaturalist.org/journal/charlie/11257-unnatural-community-tracking-update-and-list

Natural Community index:

Standardized Fields from W.W.W.:

Alder Swamp
Alluvial Shrub Swamp
Alpine Meadow
Beaver Wetland - includes both herb and shrub successional stages as well as open ponds.
Black Spruce Swamp
Black Spruce Woodland Bog
Boreal Outcrop
Boreal Talus Woodland
Buttonbush Basin Swamp
Buttonbush Swamp
Calcareous Red Maple-Tamarack Swamp
Cattail Marsh
Deep Broadleaf Marsh
Deep Bulrush Marsh
Dry Oak Forest
Dry Oak-Hickory-Hophornbeam Forest
Dry Red Oak-White Pine Forest
Dwarf Shrub Bog
Hemlock-Balsam Fir-Black Ash Seepage Swamp
Hemlock Forest
Hemlock-Northern Hardwood Forest
Hemlock-Red Spruce Forest - a variant of Hemlock Forest
Hemlock-Sphagnum Acidic Basin Swamp
High Elevation Seep
High Gradient Floodplain Forest
Int
Intermediate Fen
Lake Sand Beach
Lake Shale Beach
Lake Shale or Cobble Beach
Lakeside Floodplain Forest
Limestone Bluff Cedar-Pine Forest
Lowland Spruce-Fir Forest
Mesic Maple-Ash-Hickory-Oak Forest
Mesic Red Oak-Northern Hardwood Forest
Montane Spruce-Fir Forest
Montane Yellow Birch-Red Spruce Forest
Northern Conifer Floodplain Forest
Northern Hardwood Forest
Northern Hardwood Talus Woodland
Northern White Cedar Swamp
Pine-Oak-Heath Sandplain Forest
Pitch Pine-Oak-Heath Rocky Summit
Pitch Pine Woodland Bog
Poor Fen
Red Cedar Woodland
Red Maple-Black Ash Seepage Swamp
Red Maple-Northern White Cedar Swamp
Red Maple-Sphagnum Acidic Basin Swamp
Red or Silver Maple-Green Ash Swamp
Red Pine Forest or Woodland
Red Spruce-Cinnamon Fern Swamp
Red Spruce-Heath Rocky Ridge Forest
Red Spruce-Northern Hardwood Forest
Rich Fen
Rich Northern Hardwood Forest
River Cobble Shore
River Mud Shore
Sand Dune
Sedge Meadow - relationship between this and beaver wetland uncertain. may want to subclassify beaver wetlands.
Seep
Shallow Emergent Marsh
Silver Maple-Ostrich Fern Riverine Floodplain Forest
Silver Maple-Sensitive Fern Riverine Floodplain Forest
Slow Winder Stream
Spruce-Fir-Tamarack Swamp
Sugar Maple-Ostrich Fern Riverine Floodplain Forest
Sweet Gale Shoreline Swamp
Temperate Acidic Outcrop
Temperate Calcareous Cliff
Temperate Calcareous Outcrop
Temperate Hemlock Forest
Transition Hardwood Limestone Forest
Transition Hardwood Limestone Talus Woodland
Vernal Pool
Wet Sand-Over-Clay Forest
White Pine-Northern Hardwood Forest
White Pine-Red Oak-Black Oak Forest

Nonstandard Placeholders or Types Not Yet Described:
Types to be described or informal ones I made up as placeholders. Many of these are for shrub swamps that Heritage hasn't classified in detail (yet).

Black Ash Sponge Forest - was used to describe some areas of seepage forest, these will be described in new edition but probably not under this name

Lakeside Mixed Swamp - this is a placeholder... swamp on side of Lake Ninevah with open canopy of red maple, tamarack, balsam fir, black cherry, winterberry holly, alder, some yellow birch, etc. Seems kind of a mix between spruce-fir-tamarack swamp and high-gradient floodplain forest (also not defined). If limited to this lake, should eventually lump into something else. Also consider doing a plot.

Willow Shrub Swamp - shrub swamp with dense willow shrubs instead of alders. Species still TBD in some cases. Not sure if a coherent type. Almost always has bvr dams so could be a form of beaver wetland.

Winterberry Basin Swamp and Winterberry Shrub Swamp - need to standardize these. I think officially they will be merged in with the buttonbush basin swamp but i may want to retain a separate type here for tracking purposes.

Acidic Shrub Swamp - a division of what is currently Alder Swamp, these aren't dominated by alder but have acidic water/soil conditions and aren't quite bogs or fens. May be successional.

Calcareous Shrub Swamp

Floating-Leaf Marsh - being used to describe pond areas too deep for Deep Broadleaf Marsh, usually full of lily pads, eelgrass, potamogeton, etc. These natural communities aren't currently described by NHI

Rich Shrub Fen - Eshqua bog, even richer than 'Calcareous shrub Swamp' but not a typical rich fen.

Red Spruce Swamp - this is similar to Black Spruce Swamp but with red spruce instead.

Red Spruce Woodland Bog* - these are both places where red spruce replaces black spruce - mostly southern Greens.

Seral Floodplain Forest- not sure how best to deal with stuff like this.

A secondary field to categorize other things (currently being used to parse out beaver wetland types.)

Posted by charlie charlie, August 27, 2017 20:47

Comments

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Wonderful! I don't know any of these communities, and am not likely to, being in New Zealand, but I got hooked on getting to know more about my local Reserve/"stormwater drain"/rubbish tip-with-weeds-and regenerating-native-forest when an ecologist/botanist surveyed it with me, pointing out what he referred to as "plant communities". He described and recognised these from single specimens, ragged groups of plants hidden in weeds, the proximity of other native plants, elevation (all coastal lowland, but some low cliffs and some gullies), exposure to the wind, salinity towards the estuary...and looked for, and found, other fragments of the expected community. Since then I have always look for relationships between the plants I see, and the fauna when I see any, and I realise now that the concept underpins my interest and delight in my environment and its restoration.

His survey, accompanied by a very active volunteer group working fulltime on the publicly owned land along the stream (as I referred to it, though at that time many referred to it as a stormwater drain) saved the streamside / roadside from being concreted over, and part of the stream from being piped.

Posted by kaipatiki_naturew... about 1 year ago (Flag)
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very neat, and there are the results too! if people don't care, stuff gets ruined.

Posted by charlie about 1 year ago (Flag)
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Charlie, is there somewhere, a website perhaps, that explains this to people? Have you written stuff I can share? I talk and write my head off, and it does get across to some people at least, but it takes so much time and, as you say, so much gets ruined in the meantime...When I read things, eg even your comment above, I know I am not alone, which is great; but have you found a succinct paragraph or two to convey it to a busy professional or a Reserve user/local resident with different priorities entirely, perhaps not even interested in wild things?

Posted by kaipatiki_naturew... about 1 year ago (Flag)
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I mean the general idea, that wild growth is something in itself; not the specifics of your local plant communities.

Posted by kaipatiki_naturew... about 1 year ago (Flag)
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in terms of natural community/ecosystem type?
it's a hard concept to encapsulate well, you can vaguely say that ecosystem types are a little bit like species and repeatable and similar in different times and places, but they are even 'messier' than species so that isn't always the best way to describe it.

The book we use in Vermont is this:
https://www.amazon.com/Wetland-Woodland-Wildland-Bicentennial-Environmental/dp/158465077X
used to be a PDF online but I can't find one now... the fish and wildlife page seems broken! :( I think it's because they are releasing a new edition soon. It's probably too Vermont specific for that to be useful to you anyway, you are literally on the other side of the planet.

This California page may be better, it focuses on plants because those are the easiest to see and monitor, but of course other organisms like animals and fungi depend on these ecosystems too.

https://www.cnps.org/vegetation

Let me know if that was what you were thinking of or not

Posted by charlie about 1 year ago (Flag)
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The Vermont book,. from the Amazon ad anyway, looked too specific and detailed for my purposes.
but this from the front page of the Vegetatio Program website hit the nail!
"We don’t save individual plant species in isolation. Plants belong to communities, playing foundational roles in our ecosystems. Our understanding of those relationships are critical to both conservation and science."

I guess I'd like to extend that to say, we don't save either flora or fauna in isolation - the soil ispart of it.

Big plant losses occur here because people create paths, and paths suggest convenience that people then feel they are entitled to, and insist on it being "weeded" (which happens here with herbicide, and indiscriminately) and wide enough, and no trip hazards...so rotting logs, tree roots, habitat generally, alongside get destroyed...and the soil becomes compacted, and the tree roots suffer, and their immune system weakened by herbicide uptake from the soil...and get diseased and die.

So seeing paths as part of the ecosystem is important too. With regard to one of my inadequately-species specific and not-Community-identifiable observations, someone commented "iNat is not about paths".

In Auckland our most iconic NZ species, the kauri (Agathis something) is in decline, thought to be due to paths through the forests, and the entire path network and construction are being redesigned. We've lost a large percentage of kauri in recent years, apparently, and large areas of forest reserves are currently "Closed" (at least to anyone who reads the signs) to limit spread of the pathogen directly responsible for the disease.

But the above is a great summary re vegetation communities, thanks Charlie! Let me know if you come across anyone as doggedly insistent as me in observing and recording the presence and effects of humans in ecosystems:)

Posted by kaipatiki_naturew... about 1 year ago (Flag)
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where are you finding all these awful commenters? I don't encounter that stuff nearly as often as you do, it seems. Bummer.

Posted by charlie about 1 year ago (Flag)
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Well I push the limits you see, often posting obs of wild specimens as a group, as its their number/density/relative size/presence or absence of someother species or even - dare I say it - paths, that interests me.

By the way I would love to be observing pure wild native non-human-impacted communities, but to get to the small patches of these remaining I have to either travel for hours or walk past miles of desecrated stuff to get to certain patches too distant or steep for many people to use for general recreation eg dog-walking, jogging. And along the way I make observations because I am genuinely interested in the impacts, and possible solutions. There are actually easy, healthy and enjoyable solutions but they require widespread understanding by a coordinated management and appreciative users.

One of my most overpowering observations over the years has been that removing invasive weeds invites public attention, and as that spot is now appealing enough to access on foot or to look at instead of looking away, Reserve users, I'm told, ask the Council to "get rid of weeds" ie spray any plant that is not a large tree and doesn't look as if its been planted. some Reserve users even spray wild native vegetation themselves (herbicides of all kinds avail over the counter here, and I've been told the only training currently provided to volunteers is how to use various herbicides).

So the result of removing or reducing invasive exotics in a native plant community in a Reserve is very often, that a weedy area with some native regeneration amongst it and quite capable of growing up whole, healthy and continuing to diversify, becomes a dead compacted area, weakening adjacent trees by depriving them of their buffer, compacting the soil, and introducing chemical contamination.

After a few decades of reluctantly watching this cycle in numerous spots, I am tired of seeing new native vegetation get destroyed, and trying to communicate what I've observed to people with a shorter time-span of observation, or insufficient recognition of plants to interpret what they observe.

Posted by kaipatiki_naturew... about 1 year ago (Flag)
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So I think I've answered your question. I go on and on, which must be annoying, about things not generally considered part of naturalism perhaps?

I do explore species ID too...and as I think you saw on the forum, and suggested a website, I am looking for another means of collating and presenting less species-focused observations.

Posted by kaipatiki_naturew... about 1 year ago (Flag)
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yeah, i used to live in a totally ruined place. like there literally wasn't ANY intact habitat or even beat up habitat.
I guess you must be living in a densely populated area to have so much trouble with foot traffic.
The natives don't seem to be able to reproduce when the invasives get bad here. Interesting if it's different there.
Sorry for the brief response, i am falling asleep, more later :)

Posted by charlie about 1 year ago (Flag)
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Yes I think I looked at something by you recently about such a place, perhaps a post on the forum thread that starts with that priceless pic of a falcon eating a dove while perched on a sign saying "Early Birds $15".?

Yes, our entire Region, Auckland, is now classified Urban, as the largest city in NZ, Auckland, has spread about 70 miles around it. Used to be same size as LA, geographically, but now its much larger than it was; I don't now if LA has grown too.
The Region has rural remnants (exotic pasture and exotic ie weed trees mostly) and forest in it, and lots of beaches, mostly dead now ie no live shellfish and polluted by sewage and stormwater from roads. But some have a bit of native vegetation, and some have lots.

There is a huge (in modern day terms) forest on the West Coast of Auckland, the "Waitakere Ranges".
I live on the edge of the second largest area of forest in Auckland, I believe, on the North Shore.
Some bits are remnants of barely-touched forest not able to be logged due to be on almost vertical gully banks. Gorgeous. Unbelievable. Kauri is the backbone of many of these remnants.

Most are much younger regeneration. The one I know best, along the Kaipatiki Creek, is only about 60-80 years old, but its amazing how it is building up its diversity and those wonderful patterns of intertwined species. Never a gap wasted, everything finds its place. Its very dense, sub-tropical rainforest I believe is the term, not like Eastern USA, or British, forest at all.

V. interested in your comment about invasives suppressing reproduction. Haven't heard anything about that but have wondered what's going on in some places here. I tend to blame soil health (contamination) texture (compaction and dessication (ground-clearing and herbicides limit humus build-up, soil no longer holds much water)

I must do some work...see you.

Posted by kaipatiki_naturew... about 1 year ago (Flag)
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LA has sprawled horribly too. One of those suburbsis where i grew up.

Just about anywhere i've been the invasive species get so dense that the native species can't regenerate and get crowded out. That's more or less what the definition of invasive species is so i'm not understanding what you are even seeing, maybe people are mixing 'non-native' with invasive as they arent the same thing.

Posted by charlie about 1 year ago (Flag)
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oh you mean preventing reproduction, sure, that's the case, in the end there is nowhere for the native species to grow. I thought you meant they had some other, invisible, effect on the reproduction process...

Posted by kaipatiki_naturew... about 1 year ago (Flag)
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and i agree invasive and non-native are not the same thing. I nurture what I refer to as "benign exotic herbs" in my restoration plot on forest margin, the kind that snurse native seedlings and sporelings in their shade and are easy to remove or reduce if needed when native seedlings arise.

Posted by kaipatiki_naturew... about 1 year ago (Flag)
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well, some invasives (and some native plants for that matter) are allelopathic meaning they do chemically restrict other plants from growing...

Things definitely get fuzzy in highly urbanized areas. I guess my point is, it's hard because removing the invasives is causing problems... but if you leave them you lose the native ecosystem anyway.

Posted by charlie about 1 year ago (Flag)
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Yes, i thought you meant allelopathic i suppose, anc actually of course we do have a number of allelopathic invasives as well as some natives....

Yes to the 2nd bit...i guess a lot of us are wondering how to move on from the nice simple strategy of good plant-bad plant. That issue is the focus of a lot of my obs too.
And as you say urbanization challenges the survival of life so that whatever life there is becomes essential

Posted by kaipatiki_naturew... about 1 year ago (Flag)
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I dunno. labeling a plant as bad because it is invasive is problematic for sure, but i don't have a problem saying they degrade ecosystem condition. I personally don't think there's much argument for intentionally leaving invasives around in urban areas just to take up space, though on the other hand it isn't a high priority to spend resources removing them...

Posted by charlie about 1 year ago (Flag)
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We have contractors now, for our urban natural reserves, who are trained in conservation and stage the control or removal of some species where they are the dominant provider of habitat, which is great. Unfortunately the budget is nof great enough to save all the presently threatened native vegetation, and volunteers are encouraged to work in reserves but it is sk far mostly one-off working bees with little or no training,

Posted by kaipatiki_naturew... about 1 year ago (Flag)
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Awareness of habitat and plant species is very low generally, so a lot gets damaged or lost as people enjoy a rare day outside targeting a single species , with varying degrees of accuracy

Posted by kaipatiki_naturew... about 1 year ago (Flag)
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but I'm changing the subject and must do some work. It sounds likethe same principles you're talking about apply here Charlie, but the problem may be even more urgent here as our climate is very kind to species accustomed to frosts, which we rarely get here, and to herbivory, since we only have the invasive opossum, which we are controlling as it eats birds as well as native trees. I'm told NZ is the weediest country - Darwin accurately predicted the speed of likely plant replacement on his 2nd visit to NZ - and Auckland is the weediest city in NZ....warm and wet. Feel free to put me right if that is just a local "boast":)

Posted by kaipatiki_naturew... about 1 year ago (Flag)
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yep, the volunteer thing has some serious downsides... and, sounds like a bad scene with invasives. Invasive opossoms though, i had no idea

Posted by charlie about 1 year ago (Flag)
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The possums were brought from Australia by settlers for fur and, i expect, meat.
Australia is about 1000 miles away by sea I think, and NZ is a group of islands so we do have the possibility of ending this invasion if invasion is the right word...I guess its not. Sorry! Introduced species that invaded new territory is what they are.

Posted by kaipatiki_naturew... about 1 year ago (Flag)

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