The generally steep landscape of the Southern Blue Ridge is not conducive to the formation of extensive wetlands, but wetlands do occur. Wetlands in this region are mostly small in size ( < 10 ha), and are found in locations where topography is unusually gentle or where seepage is unusually strong or constant. Despite their rarity and small size, such wetlands show great species and community diversity, and are one of the most important habitats for rare (endemic and disjunct) plants and animals in the region. Community species composition seems to vary primarily in relation to elevation, topographic position, hydrology, underlying bedrock composition, recent land use, and biogeographic history. Based on differences in vegetation structure and composition, landscape position, and hydrology, we recognize nine groups of non-alluvial wetlands in the Southern Blue Ridge. An inventory of non-alluvial wetlands in the mountains of North Carolina revealed that the majority of these naturally rare communities are now destroyed or severely altered. Bogs and fens of the North Carolina mountains have been reduced nearly six-fold from an original extent of about 2000 ha, so that only about 300 ha remain in reasonably intact condition, and most of the remnants are compromised by hydrologic alteration and nutrient inputs. Because wetlands tend to be concentrated in valley bottoms and at low elevations where most land is privately owned, efforts to assure their long-term viability will require innovative protection and restoration tools.
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- Non-Alluvial Wetlands of the Southern Blue Ridge — Diversity in a Threatened Ecosystem
A. S. Weakley
M. P. Schafale
- Springer Netherlands
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