Landscape scale analysis of the vegetation of the Pine Mountain Range of west-central Georgia revealed fourteen plant communities. This unique mountain chain at the southern border of the Piedmont has a plant composition with a mixture of Appalachian, Piedmont, and Coastal Plain species. Dry ridgetops supported Pinus palustris and Quercus laevis, while steep moist slopes have Kalmia latifolia and Rhododendron minus as a component. Communities on calcareous soils include ridgetops with an Aesculus pavia midstory and savannah-like areas with an overstory of P. palustris and understory of Gymnopogon brevifolius and Rhus aromatica. Quercus georgiana was common and widespread in the southern portions of the range, especially in FDR State Park. The moist valleys have provided a refuge for Appalachian and Coastal Plain species, while the uplands harbor P. palustris ecosystems and a Castanea dentata stand. Due to the unique species composition, conservation efforts should focus on returning fire as an ecosystem component and protecting the area from human development and fragmentation.
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Vol. 78 • No. 4