Appendix 1: Descriptions of Vegetation Communities at Big Muddy Fish and Wildlife Refuge, Missouri Table of Contents



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Appendix 1: Descriptions of Vegetation Communities at Big Muddy Fish and Wildlife Refuge, Missouri
Table of Contents

Overview of Vegetation Descriptions 4

Overview of Vegetation Descriptions 4

I. Upland Forests 8

I. Upland Forests 8

White Oak / Dogwood Dry-Mesic Forest 9

White Oak - Red Oak - Sugar Maple Mesic Forest 14

White Oak - Mixed Oak Dry-Mesic Alkaline Forest 20

Midwest Post Oak - Blackjack Oak Forest 28

Ozark Red-cedar - Hardwood Forest 36

Black Oak - White Oak - Hickory Forest 42

II. Bottomland Forests/Woodlands 53

II. Bottomland Forests/Woodlands 53

Box-elder Floodplain Forest 54

Silver Maple – Elm Forest 62

Midwestern Cottonwood - Black Willow Forest 70

Cottonwood Floodplain Woodland 79

Central Green Ash - Elm - Hackberry Forest 85

Ash - Oak - Sycamore Mesic Bottomland Forest 91

III. Shrublands 95

III. Shrublands 95

Sandbar Willow Shrubland 96

Black Willow Riparian Forest 102

IV. Herbaceous Communities 108

IV. Herbaceous Communities 108

Central Wet-Mesic Tallgrass Prairie 109

Midwest Ephemeral Pond 117

Riverine Sand Flats 122

V. Ruderal Communities and Other Features 128

V. Ruderal Communities and Other Features 128

Upland Woody Old Field 129

Fescue Field 131

Herbaceous Old Field 133

Bottomland Woody Old Field 136

Johnson Grass Old Field 140

Plantation 142

Levee 144

Bibliography 146

Bibliography 146



Overview of Vegetation Descriptions


The overview that follows is modified from Appendix 1: Plant Community (Association) Descriptions: in Plant Communities of the Midwest (Faber-Langendoen, 2001).
Each community description includes both global and local elements. Global elements are compined from regularly updated community descriptions available from NatureServe (2009), which maintains descriptions for all past, currently recognized, and provisionally identified natural vegetation associations of the National Vegetation Classification System (NVCS; The Nature Conservancy, 1994). Local elements are based upon data collected and observations made during this project. Occasionally, local elements are augmented from data and observations from other research in or near the study area. Communities not encountered during this study (see Table 1 of report) are not described here, even if they may be extant within the study area. Current global descriptions of these communities, as well as communities encountered during this study can be found at NatureServe (www.natureserve.org).
Each description begins with nomenclature information for the association:

  • Common Name

  • Global Scientific Name

  • Translated Scientific Name

  • USNVCS Identification Code

The Element Concept summarizes the environmental parameters and vegetation structure and composition common to the type throughout its range. This description is much more general than both the local (Big Muddy FWR) description components and the global descriptions components that will follow. Photos taken by the authors are included where available.


The Classification section begins with a statement concerning the global Status of the association indicating whether the type is a recognized “standard” or a “provisional” community type. The Classification Confidence field first gives the confidence in the association at the global level, ranked from 1 (highest confidence) to 3 (lowest):

  1. = STRONG. Classification based on recent field data. Information is based on Element Occurrences or other data based on occurrences that can be relocated. Classification considers information collected across the entire range or potential range of the Element. Classification may be based on quantitative or qualitative data.

  2. = MODERATE. Classification is based on data that is of questionable quality, limited numbers of sample points, or data from a limited range.

  3. = WEAK. Classification is based on secondary or anecdotal information or a new type for which data has only been collected at a very small number of sites.

The Classification section includes Big Muddy FWR Comments and Global Comments relating to classification issues of the association. Then here is a description of the location of the association within the full USNVCS hierarchy, beginning with higher, more inclusive levels:



  • Physiognomic Class

  • Physiognomic Subclass

  • Physiognomic Group

  • Physiognomic Subgroup

  • Formation

  • Alliance

Other similar or related associations are referred to in the next segment of the Classification section; these are referenced by global name or a common name followed by the USNVCS global identification code. Related concepts may also be included. The Classification section ends with a list of ecological systems to which the association belongs. Ecological systems are groups of vegetation associations that tend to co-occur and which share important attributes, especially the ecological processes that support them.


The Environmental Description begins with the US Fish and Wildlife Service wetland classification for the type. It is followed by a description of the Big Muddy FWR Environment, which describes the ecological parameters for the type within the study area. The final component of the Environmental Description is the Global Environment, which describes the environmental parameters for the type throughout its range.
The Vegetation Description begins with a description of the Big Muddy FWR Vegetation. This includes information on the structure and composition of each vegetative stratum, usually beginning with the tallest stratum. Emphasis is placed on dominant species and those species that are considered diagnostic for the type within the mapping area. This same system is carried through to the subsequent Global Vegetation component, which describes the vegetative structure and composition for the type throughout its range. It may include species and expressions of the community not found within the Big Muddy FWR mapping area. Tables identifying the characteristic, dominant and constant species may be included for the local expression, the global expression, or both. Characteristic species are those that define a given community and distinguish it from others. Dominant species are those that are commonly abundant within a type, but may also be frequently encountered in other communities. Constant species nearly always occur within a given type, though abundance may be low.
A list of Other Noteworthy Species follows for both the Big Muddy FWR mapping area and for the association globally. This list may include other commonly abundant species not included in the above lists. It may also include rare or endangered species that are associated with the type, or conversely, non-native invasive species that could be or commonly are problematic when they occur in the type. This list often includes non-vascular plants, mosses and lichens, as well as invertebrates and vertebrate fauna for which the community type provides important habitat. Vascular plant nomenclature follows the nationally standardized list of Kartesz (1999), and is checked against the continually updated USDA PLANTS database (USDA, 2009).
The Conservation Status section gives the global Conservation Status of the association. The global rank is a numerical assessment of the rarity and imperilment of the association across its entire range of distribution. Ranks are primarily based on the number of occurrences, state Conservation Status(s), the geographic range of the type, and its long-term decline in abundance (e.g., pre-European settlement abundance versus current abundance). Other factors include permanence, intrinsic fragility and vulnerability, threats, and the number of occurrences that are protected (see Appendix D in Grossman and others, 1998). The regional ecologists, working with Natural Heritage Network ecologists, assign these ranks, which are defined as follows:

  • GH—PRESUMED ELIMINATED (HISTORIC) throughout its range, with no or virtually no likelihood that it will be rediscovered, but with the potential for restoration (e.g., Castanea dentata Forest).

  • G1—CRITICALLY IMPERILED. Generally 5 or fewer occurrences and/or very few remaining acres or very vulnerable to elimination throughout its range due to other factor(s). G2—IMPERILED. Generally 6-20 occurrences and/or few remaining acres or very vulnerable to elimination throughout its range due to other factor(s).

  • G3—VULNERABLE. Generally 21-100 occurrences. Either very rare and local throughout its range or found locally, even abundantly, within a restricted range or vulnerable to elimination throughout its range due to specific factors.

  • G4—APPARENTLY SECURE. Uncommon, but not rare (although it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery). Apparently not vulnerable in most of its range.

  • G5 SECURE. Common, widespread, and abundant (though it may be quite rare in parts of its range, especially at the periphery). Not vulnerable in most of its range.

  • GU—UNRANKABLE. Status cannot be determined at this time.

  • G?—UNRANKED. Status has not yet been assessed.

  • There are a number of modifiers to the Conservation Rank Status:

  • ?—A question mark added to a rank expresses an uncertainty about the rank in the range of 1 either way on the 1-5 scale. For example, a G2? rank indicates that the rank is thought to be a G2, but could be a G1 or a G3.

  • G#G#—Greater uncertainty about a rank is expressed by indicating the full range of ranks which may be appropriate. For example, a G1G3 rank indicates the rank could be a G1, G2, or a G3.

  • Q—A “Q” added to a rank denotes questionable taxonomy. It modifies the degree of imperilment and is only used in cases where the type would have a less imperiled rank if it were not recognized as a valid type (i.e., if it were combined with a more common type). A GUQ rank often indicates that the type is unrankable because of daunting taxonomic/definitional questions.

The Distribution fields present a variety of information on distribution. A general statement is provided on the Big Muddy FWR range and global range of the type. This is followed by lists of the States and/or Provinces where the type is known or believed to exist. Also included is a list of the USFS Ecoregions, which gives information on the presumed pre-European settlement distribution of the type using the province, section, and subsection levels of the U.S. Forest Service ECOMAP (Bailey and others, 1994; Keys and others, 1995). Each ecoregion is followed by a colon and one of four confidence level codes.



  • C = Confident: > 95% certain that the type occurs in the specified ecoregion

  • P = Probable: 80-95% certain that the type occurs in the specified ecoregion

  • ? = Questionable: 10-80% certain that the type occurs in the specified ecoregion

  • X = Extirpated/presumed extirpated from the specified ecoregion.

For example, 222A:C means that the association confidently occurs in the Ozark Highlands Section.
The description for each vegetation association ends with the Element Sources section. Included are notes from the Big Muddy FWR mapping area that may indicate how the community was treated during the mapping process, how the association relates to other type, or any other information critical to understanding how the type was classified. It is followed by a list of plots from the Big Muddy FWR mapping area from which data were used for quantitative analysis, as well as a list of other sample points where the community was identified but where no data were collected.. Also included are lists of authors for the local description and the global description, as well as any references that may have been used.

Because of the dynamic nature and dependence on site-specific environmental and management parameters of ruderal communities, their descriptions do not include global elements.




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