Abstract Detail


Szakacs, Alexandria [1], Wentworth, Thomas [2], Krings, Alexander [3].

In Search of the “Piedmont prairies”: Multivariate Analyses of Heliophilic Plant Communities of the Eastern Piedmont of North America.

Although vegetation succession in the eastern Piedmont of North America favors closed-canopy forest in the absence of disturbance, historical evidence suggests upland vegetation of the region was once characterized by areas of heliophilic vegetation such as prairies, savannas, and/or woodlands. At present, native heliophilic flora persists in areas where primarily anthropogenic disturbances (such as mowing) maintain open conditions, and the semi-natural state of these remnant patches creates a challenge for community classification, conservation, and restoration efforts that rely on an understanding of natural reference dynamics and community structure. While much work has been done to characterize individual or small groups of these heliophilic vegetation communities, there has been no comprehensive and quantitative study to characterize the full breadth of the heterogeneous heliophilic vegetation in the eastern Piedmont. We seek to partially address this issue using plot data from the Carolina Vegetation Survey (CVS) to quantitatively characterize the non-forest, upland communities of the Piedmont region of the Carolinas and Virginia (a well-surveyed portion of the eastern Piedmont) and address the following objectives: 1) identify and characterize the major types of extant Piedmont, upland, heliophilic vegetation; 2) offer a definition and characterization of extant vegetation colloquially known as “Piedmont prairie” and discuss how it relates to other types of heliophilic vegetation. Our final dataset consisted of 195 plots obtained from the CVS database and representing non-forest, upland vegetation of the Carolina and Virginia Piedmont. Through hierarchical clustering (flexible-β) and stride analysis (plotting the PARTANA ratio and silhouette width) we determined the optimal number of partitions for our dataset to be 12 clusters. The r-package optpart was used to move plots between clusters to further ensure plots are members of their best-fit cluster. Nonmetric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) ordination was used to visualize compositional trends in the dataset. Through primarily quantitative means, we identified 12 major types of heliophilic vegetation that can be roughly lumped into five larger groupings: Piedmont Oak-Hickory and Red Cedar Woodlands, Piedmont Glades, Piedmont Pine Woodlands, Piedmont Savannas and Grasslands, and Piedmont River Terrace Glades.

1 - North Carolina State University, Department Of Plant And Microbial Biology, 100 Derieux Pl., Campus Box 7612, Gardner Hall 2115, Raleigh, NC, 27695, United States
2 - Department Of Botany, Campus Box 7612, Raleigh, NC, 27695, United States
3 - Department Of Plant And Microbial Biology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, 27695, United States

heliophilic vegetation
Eastern Piedmont
Plant Community.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: ECO4, Ecology 4: Vegetation and Community Ecology
Location: Virtual/Virtual
Date: Thursday, July 30th, 2020
Time: 10:15 AM
Number: ECO4002
Abstract ID:465
Candidate for Awards:None

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