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Carolina Backyard Naturalist (11/3/21)

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Natural Vegetation of North Carolina: Patterns, Processes, and Biodiversity

North Carolina is one of the most biologically rich and complex regions of North America. Using the U.S. National Vegetation Classification as an organizing theme, we will examine the range of vegetation composition and dynamics for natural communities across the state. Summary information on the environmental and ecological processes influencing vegetation composition and dynamics will provide a broad understanding of the spectrum of natural communities and the conservation challenges they present. In addition, for each of the four physiographic regions of the state (Mountains, Piedmont, Coastal Plain and Coastal Fringe) we will look in depth at factors influencing one particular set of related communities.

Presenter: Dr. Robert Peet

Research Professor, Department of Biology  UNC-Chapel Hill

Robert PeetRobert Peet joined the UNC-CH faculty in 1975 and is currently Research Professor of Biology. His research on the vegetation of the Southeastern United States includes the long-term dynamics of Southeastern forests, impacts of human-altered hydrology on floodplain ecosystems, compositional variation in fire-maintained Coastal Plain pinelands, and more generally factors influencing the composition and species diversity of terrestrial plant communities across the region. He is one of four primary coordinators of the Carolina Vegetation Survey, a 30-year effort to document and better understand vegetation of the Carolinas.

Presentation Slides

Additional Resources

General References

Blevins, D. & M.P. Schafale. Wild North Carolina: Discovering the Wonders of Our State’s Natural Communities. UNC Press.

Christensen, N.L. 2000. Vegetation of the Southeastern Coastal Plain. Pp 397-448 in M.G. Barbour & W.D. Billings. North American Terrestrial Vegetation. Second Edition. Cambridge Univ. Press

Jeffries, S.B. & T.R. Wentworth. 2014. Exploring Southern Appalachian Forests: An Ecological Guide to 30 Great Hikes in the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia. UNC Press.

Peet, R.K., K.A. Palmquist & S.M. Tessel. 2014. Herbaceous layer species richness of southeastern forests and woodlands: Patterns and causes. Chapter 10 in F.S. Gilliam.The herbaceous layer in forests of eastern North America, Second Edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. Pp. 255‐276.

Schafale, M.P. 2012. Guide to the Natural Communities of North Carolina, Fourth Approximation. N.C. Natural Heritage Program.

Sorrie, B.A. 2011. A Field Guide to Wildflowers of the Sandhills Region. UNC Press.

Spira, T.P. 2011. Wildflowers and Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont. UNC Press (See especially pages 8-27).

Wells, B.W. 1932. The Natural Gardens of North Carolina. UNC Press.

Case Studies

Graves, J.H., R.K. Peet & P.S. White. 2006. The influence of carbon ‐ nutrient balance on herb and woody plant abundance in temperate forest understories. Journal of Vegetation Science 17: 217‐226.

Hupp, C.R., E.R. Schenk, D.E. Kroes, D.A. Willard, P.A. Townsend, & R.K. Peet. 2015. Patterns of floodplain sediment deposition along the regulated lower Roanoke River, North Carolina: Annual, decadal, centennial scales. Geomorphology 228:666‐680.

Newell, C.L., R.K. Peet, C.J. Ulrey, T.R. Wentworth, K.D. Patterson & D.E. McLeod. 1999.Geographic variation in forest distribution across five landscapes in the Southern Appalachian Mountains of North and South Carolina. In R.P. Eckerlin. Proceedings of the Appalachian Biogeography Symposium. Pp 19‐34.

Peet, R.K., N.L. Christensen & F.S. Gilliam. 2014. Temporal patterns in herbaceous layer communities of the North Carolina Piedmont. Chapter 11 in F.S. Gilliam. The Herbaceous Layer in Forests of Eastern North America, Second Edition. Oxford University Press.

Peet, R.K., W.J. Platt & J.K. Costanza. 2018. Fire‐maintained pine savannas and woodlands of the southeastern US Coastal Plain. Chapter 3 in A. Barton & W. Keeton. Ecology and Recovery of Eastern Old‐Growth Forests. Island Press.

Spooner, J.K., R.K. Peet, M.P. Schafale, A.S. Weakley & T.R. Wentworth. In press. The role of fire in the dynamics of Piedmont vegetation. Chapter 2 in C.H. Greenberg and B. Collins. Fire Ecology and Management Across US Forests: Past, Present, and Future. Springer Nature.

Wiser, S.K., R.K. Peet & P.S. White. 1996. High‐elevation rock outcrop vegetation of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. Journal of Vegetation Science 7: 703‐722. 

Online Resources

U.S. National Vegetation Classification

Carolina Vegetation Survey: Vegetation of the Carolinas