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TEMPERATE DECIDUOUS FOREST BIOME

 

This loblolly pine plantation in north Georgia is in its fourth growing season.  It will likely be harvested in 18-20 years after several fertilizer applications, and - depending on objectives - thinnings.

 

 

 

 

Several "subregions" of the southern pine region can be defined on the basis of the dominant species. The Virginia pine subregion occupies the northern Piedmont and Appalachian foothills. Virginia pine, the most drought-resistant of the southern pines, is a pioneer species on impoverished soils. It is often found in association with pitch pine (P. rigida). The shortleaf-loblolly pine subregion occupies the Piedmont south of the oak-pine region. The climate is humid, with long hot summers and mild winters; soils are predominantly sandy. 

Pure stands of loblolly pine are commonly found where drainage is poor; by contrast, shortleaf pine is found on soils which are better drained and of lower nutrient content. The longleaf-slash pine subregion is found along the Gulf Coastal Plains and into central Florida. Over 50 percent of the forest stands in the subregion are comprised of these two species, generally with slash pine on the wet sites and long leaf pine on the drier sites.

 

Fire plays an important role in maintaining this seral pine stage, primarily by reducing hardwood competition and by controlling plant diseases. This is particularly evident in longleaf pine, which may be held in the grass stage for prolonged periods in the absence of fire. 

 

 

 

The scrubland subregion is situated on white sands near the coast where soils are acidic, highly leached, very low in nutrients, and extremely droughty. On undisturbed sites a scrub oak community, composed primarily of live, turkey, and blackjack oaks (Quercus virginia, Q. laevis, and Q. marilandica, respectively) forms the natural vegetation. Spanish bayonet (Yucca spp.), a monocot, is also common here.

 

In areas undisturbed by fire, lie thick forests of saw-palmetto (Serenoa repens), the most abundant of the native palms and a monocot. Pine stands of sand pine (Pinus clausa) are often found on sites extremely low in nutrients. This species closely resembles jack pine of the Lake States, with one of its varieties having serotinous cones typical of "fire species." Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) is likely to be found on moist, well-drained sites in association with nearly all the southern oaks, tulip-poplar, sweetgum, the ashes, and the hickories. 

 

 


These same vegetation zones are progressively lower in elevation at higher latitudes, and some vegetation types (e.g. oak-hickory) virtually drop out. 

The Appalachian Mountains, trending roughly north-south, traverse the eastern part of the biome. The relatively high altitudes allow northern species to penetrate far more deeply into the South than would normally be possible. There is also somewhat of an altitudinal zonation of plant associations in the southern Appalachians, with oak-hickory-pine occupying lower elevations and dry sites; mixed mesophytic forests occurring in moist, sheltered coves; northern hardwoods dominating the 3500-4500 ft. elevational range; and northern coniferous forests occupying the highest areas. 

 

Source: College of Agriculture, Department of Forestry, University of Illinois, Urbana, 1974.

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