Flatwoods

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Description:
Flatwoods, Pineywoods, Longleaf Pine-Wiregrass Ecosystem refers to an ecological community in the Southeastern coastal plain of North America. Flatwoods are an ecosystem maintained by wildfire or prescribed fire and are dominated by Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris), and Slash Pine (Pinus elliotii) in the tree canopy and Saw Palmetto (Serenoa repens), Gallberry (Ilex glabra), and other flamable evergreen shrubs in the understory, along with a high diversity of herb species.

A number of rare and endangered animals are typical of this habitat including Red-cockaded Woodpeckers (Picoides borealis), Gopher Tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus), Frosted Flatwoods Salamanders (Ambystoma cingulatum), and Striped newts (Notophthalmus perstriatus).

Pineywoods are characterized by low basal area and large widely spaced mature pine. Historically, the flatwoods were dominated by Longleaf Pine, which can live to 500 years old. Large scale overharvesting in conjunction with detrimental silvicultural practices like replacement with faster growing Loblolly Pine has drastically reduced the range of the Longleaf Pine ecosystem. Longleaf requires frequent fires, ideally every 1-3 years, to outcompete more shade resistant species, and decades of fire exclusion in the Southeast have contributed to the decline of this community type. The pineywoods have high understory diversity with numerous nitrogen fixing legumes, other forbs, and grasses.

External links

  • Guide to the Natural Communities of......
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