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Pine barrens

Pine barrens

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Pine barrens, pine plains, sand plains, or pinelands occur throughout the northeastern U.S. from New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

 to Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

 (see Atlantic coastal pine barrens
Atlantic coastal pine barrens
The Atlantic coastal pine barrens is a temperate coniferous forests ecoregion of the northeastern United States.-Setting:This ecoregion covers a disjunct area of 8,975 km² including the New Jersey Pine Barrens on the coastal plain of New Jersey, and smaller areas of southern Long Island in New...

) as well as the Midwest and Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

.

Pine barrens are plant communities that occur on dry, acidic, infertile soils dominated by grasses, forb
Forb
A forb is a herbaceous flowering plant that is not a graminoid . The term is used in biology and in vegetation ecology, especially in relation to grasslands and understory.-Etymology:...

s, low shrub
Shrub
A shrub or bush is distinguished from a tree by its multiple stems and shorter height, usually under 5–6 m tall. A large number of plants may become either shrubs or trees, depending on the growing conditions they experience...

s, and small to medium sized pine
Pine
Pines are trees in the genus Pinus ,in the family Pinaceae. They make up the monotypic subfamily Pinoideae. There are about 115 species of pine, although different authorities accept between 105 and 125 species.-Etymology:...

s.

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

Botany


The most common trees are the Jack Pine
Jack Pine
Jack pine is a North American pine with its native range in Canada east of the Rocky Mountains from Northwest Territories to Nova Scotia, and the northeast of the United States from Minnesota to Maine, with the southernmost part of the range just into northwest Indiana...

, Red Pine
Red Pine
Pinus resinosa, commonly known as the red pine or Norway pine, is pine native to North America. The Red Pine occurs from Newfoundland west to Manitoba, and south to Pennsylvania, with several smaller, disjunct populations occurring in the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia and West Virginia, as well...

, Pitch Pine
Pitch Pine
The Pitch Pine, Pinus rigida, is a small-to-medium sized pine, native to eastern North America. This species occasionally hybridizes with other pine species such as Loblolly Pine , Shortleaf Pine , and Pond Pine The Pitch Pine, Pinus rigida, is a small-to-medium sized (6-30 meters or 20-100 feet)...

, Blackjack Oak
Blackjack oak
Quercus marilandica is a small oak, one of the red oak group Quercus sect. Lobatae, but fairly isolated from the others...

, and Scrub Oak
Scrub Oak
Scrub Oak is a general name for several species of small, shrubby oaks, including the following species:*California Scrub Oak *Leather Oak *Coastal Scrub Oak...

; a scattering of larger oak
Oak
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus , of which about 600 species exist. "Oak" may also appear in the names of species in related genera, notably Lithocarpus...

s is not unusual. The understory
Understory
Understory is the term for the area of a forest which grows at the lowest height level below the forest canopy. Plants in the understory consist of a mixture of seedlings and saplings of canopy trees together with understory shrubs and herbs...

 is composed of grasses, sedge
Cyperaceae
Cyperaceae are a family of monocotyledonous graminoid flowering plants known as sedges, which superficially resemble grasses or rushes. The family is large, with some 5,500 species described in about 109 genera. These species are widely distributed, with the centers of diversity for the group...

s, and forbs, many of them common in dry prairies. Plants of the heath
Ericaceae
The Ericaceae, commonly known as the heath or heather family, is a group of mostly calcifuge flowering plants. The family is large, with roughly 4000 species spread across 126 genera, making it the 14th most speciose family of flowering plants...

 family, such as blueberries and bearberry
Bearberry
Bearberries are three species of dwarf shrubs in the genus Arctostaphylos. Unlike the other species of Arctostaphylos , they are adapted to Arctic and sub-Arctic climates, and have a circumpolar distribution in northern North America, Asia and Europe, one with a small highly disjunctive population...

, and shrubs such as prairie willow and hazelnut
Hazelnut
A hazelnut is the nut of the hazel and is also known as a cob nut or filbert nut according to species. A cob is roughly spherical to oval, about 15–25 mm long and 10–15 mm in diameter, with an outer fibrous husk surrounding a smooth shell. A filbert is more elongated, being about twice...

 are common. These species have adaptations that permit them to survive or regenerate well after fire.

Fauna


Pine barrens support a number of rare species, including lepidoptera
Lepidoptera
Lepidoptera is a large order of insects that includes moths and butterflies . It is one of the most widespread and widely recognizable insect orders in the world, encompassing moths and the three superfamilies of butterflies, skipper butterflies, and moth-butterflies...

 such as the Karner Blue
Karner Blue
The Karner Blue, Lycaeides melissa samuelis, is a small, blue butterfly found in small areas of New Jersey, the Great Lakes region, southern New Hampshire, and the Capital District region of New York. The butterfly, whose lifecycle depends on the wild blue lupine flower , is classified as an...

 butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis) and the barrens buck moth
Buck Moth
The Buck Moth is a common insect found in oak forests stretching from the south east to the north east and as far west as Texas and Kansas . The larvae typically emerge in a single generation in the spring. The larvae are covered in hollow spines that are attached to a poison sac...

 (Hemileuca maia), and plants such as the Sand-plain Gerardia (Agalinis acuta
Agalinis acuta
Agalinis acuta is an annual hemiparasitic plant plant native to Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Long Island, New York. Common names include sandplain gerardia and sandplain false foxglove. It is one of about 70 species that comprise genus Agalinis...

).

Fire ecology


Barrens are dependent on fire to prevent invasion by less fire tolerant species. In the absence of fire barrens will proceed through successional stages
Ecological succession
Ecological succession, is the phenomenon or process by which a community progressively transforms itself until a stable community is formed. It is a fundamental concept in ecology, and refers to more or less predictable and orderly changes in the composition or structure of an ecological community...

 from pine forest to a larger climax forest, such as oak-hickory forest
Oak-hickory forest
The oak-hickory forest is a general type of North American forest ecosystem with a range extending from southern New England and New York, west to Iowa, and south to Northern Georgia. Smaller, isolated Oak-Hickory communities can also be found as far west as North Dakota, south to Florida and...

.

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. Open barrens are now rare and imperiled globally, as suppression of wildfire
Wildfire
A wildfire is any uncontrolled fire in combustible vegetation that occurs in the countryside or a wilderness area. Other names such as brush fire, bushfire, forest fire, desert fire, grass fire, hill fire, squirrel fire, vegetation fire, veldfire, and wilkjjofire may be used to describe the same...

s has allowed larger climax forest vegetation to take over in most one-time barrens. In North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

, barrens exist primarily in the American Midwest and along the east coast.

In literature


In 1968, John McPhee
John McPhee
John Angus McPhee is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning writer, widely considered one of the pioneers of creative nonfiction....

 published a book, titled The Pine Barrens
The Pine Barrens (book)
The Pine Barrens is a 1968 book by John McPhee about the history, people and biology of the New Jersey Pine Barrens that originally appeared in The New Yorker in 1967.The book is an early example of McPhee's acclaimed literary nonfiction style...

, exploring the history, ecology and geography of the New Jersey Pine Barrens
Pine Barrens (New Jersey)
The Pine Barrens, also known as the Pinelands, is a heavily forested area of coastal plain stretching across southern New Jersey. The name "pine barrens" refers to the area's sandy, acidic, nutrient-poor soil, to which the crops originally imported by European settlers didn't take well...

, infused with his own personal memoirs.

See also

  • Atlantic coastal pine barrens
    Atlantic coastal pine barrens
    The Atlantic coastal pine barrens is a temperate coniferous forests ecoregion of the northeastern United States.-Setting:This ecoregion covers a disjunct area of 8,975 km² including the New Jersey Pine Barrens on the coastal plain of New Jersey, and smaller areas of southern Long Island in New...

  • Eastern savannas of the United States
    Eastern savannas of the United States
    The eastern savannas of the United States covered large portions of the east side of the continent until the early 20th century. These were in a fire ecology of open grassland and forests with low ground cover of herbs and grasses....

  • List of pine barrens
  • Pine Barrens (New Jersey)
    Pine Barrens (New Jersey)
    The Pine Barrens, also known as the Pinelands, is a heavily forested area of coastal plain stretching across southern New Jersey. The name "pine barrens" refers to the area's sandy, acidic, nutrient-poor soil, to which the crops originally imported by European settlers didn't take well...

  • Serpentine barrens

Sources