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Seepage Woodlands

Seepage forests are forested wetlands typically found in dissected or undulating landscapes on side slopes, stream-head swales, ravine bottoms, or around springs on hillslopes. They have saturated soil but standing water is generally absent. These woody wetlands are fed by subsurface or groundwater seepage and occur usually on low slopes where groundwater reaches an impervious restrictive layer and seeps laterally from hill slopes.There may be small rivulets arising from springs that surface in the seepage forest and these may coalesce downslope into first-order outlet streams. Seepage forests may be gravelly or peaty and may be calcareous, circumneutral, or acidic. They often have distintive microtopographic features with numerous hummocks. A few inches in elevation gain can mean the difference between sites that support typical upland species and those that support obligate wetland species. Most modern seepage forests are relatively thickly vegetated and often contain subcanopy and shrub layers. Ferns, herbs, and sedges are often abundant in the herb layer. Bryophyte mats are common as well. Seepage forests with alkaline groundwaters are classified by some as forested fens. Many seepage slope "forests" are dominated by species that are benefitted by fire and prefer open sunlit conditions. It is quite likely that most of the modern seepage "forests" would have had a more open woodland physiognomy during presettlement times. Most are embedded in otherwise dry to xeric oak or oak-pine dominated forests and woodlands that are fire-adapted. Fires would have likely moved from these adjacent dry woodlands into and across the relatively narrow seepage communities. Exceptions to this however include high-elevation seepage forest communities in the Blue Ridge Mountains between 2,500 and 5,000 ft elevation that are associated with mesic cove-hardwood or northern-hardwood forests. In such examples fire has likely not played a significant role.

MISSISSIPPI VALLEY LOESS PLAINS

BLUFF HILLS ECOREGION

LOESS PLAIN ECOREGION

SOUTHEASTERN PLAINS

NORTHERN HILLY GULF COASTAL PLAIN ECOREGION
  • Northern Hilly Gulf Coastal Plain Unconsolidated Sand Cliff

INTERIOR PLATEAUS

WESTERN HIGHLAND RIM ECOREGION

PENNYROYAL PLAIN ECOREGION

NASHVILLE BASIN ECOREGION

CUMBERLAND ENCLAVE ECOREGION

  • Cumberland Enclave Limestone Cliff
  • Cumberland Enclave Shaley-Limestone Cliff
EASTERN HIGHLAND RIM ECOREGION

SOUTHWESTERN APPALACHIANS

CUMBERLAND PLATEAU ESCARPMENT ECOREGION

CUMBERLAND PLATEAU ECOREGION

CRAB ORCHARD MOUNTAINS

SEQUATCHIE VALLEY ECOREGION

CENTRAL APPALACHIANS

CUMBERLAND MOUNTAINS

CUMBERLAND MOUNTAIN THRUSTBLOCK ECOREGION

RIDGE AND VALLEY

SOUTHERN CALCAREOUS VALLEYS ECOREGION

SHALE VALLEYS ECOREGION

DISSECTED RIDGES ECOREGION

SANDSTONE RIDGES ECOREGION

BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS 

SEDIMENTARY MOUNTAINS ECOREGION

METASEDIMENTARY MOUNTAINS ECOREGION

IGNEOUS MOUNTAINS ECOREGION

AMPHIBOLITE MOUNTAINS ECOREGION

DOLOMITE COVES ECOREGION