Pine barrens

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This article is about a type of ecosystem. For the Pine Barrens of New Jersey, see Pine Barrens (New Jersey). For other uses, see Pine Barrens (disambiguation).
View north from a fire tower on Apple Pie Hill, the highest point in the New Jersey Pine Barrens.

Pine barrens, pine plains, sand plains, or pinelands occur throughout the northeastern U.S. from New Jersey to Maine (see Atlantic coastal pine barrens) as well as the Midwest and Canada.

Pine barrens are plant communities that occur on dry, acidic, infertile soils dominated by grasses, forbs, low shrubs, and small to medium sized pines.

The most extensive barrens occur in large areas of sandy glacial deposits, including outwash plains, lakebeds, and outwash terraces along rivers.

Description[edit]

Botany[edit]

The most common trees are the Jack Pine, Red Pine, Pitch Pine, Blackjack Oak, and Scrub Oak; a scattering of larger oaks is not unusual. The understory is composed of grasses, sedges, and forbs, many of them common in dry prairies. Plants of the heath family, such as blueberries and bearberry, and shrubs such as prairie willow and hazelnut are common. These species have adaptations that permit them to survive or regenerate well after fire.

Fauna[edit]

Pine barrens support a number of rare species, including lepidoptera such as the Karner Blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) and the barrens buck moth (Hemileuca maia), and plants such as the Sand-plain Gerardia (Agalinis acuta).

Fire ecology[edit]

Barrens are dependent on fire to prevent invasion by less fire tolerant species. In the absence of fire barrens will proceed through successional stages from pine forest to a larger climax forest, such as oak-hickory forest.

European settlers found extensive areas of open game habitat throughout the East, commonly called "barrens". The American Indians used fire to maintain such areas as rangeland.[1] Open barrens are now rare and imperiled globally, as suppression of wildfires has allowed larger climax forest vegetation to take over in most one-time barrens. In North America, barrens exist primarily in the American Midwest and along the east coast.

In literature[edit]

In 1968, John McPhee published a book, titled The Pine Barrens, exploring the history, ecology and geography of the New Jersey Pine Barrens, infused with his own personal memoirs.[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brown, Hutch (Summer 2000). "Wildland Burning by American Indians in Virginia". Fire Management Today (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service) 60 (3): 30. 
  2. ^ McPhee, John (1968). The Pine Barrens. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. ISBN 978-0-374-51442-6. 

Sources[edit]