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1 July 2006 Xeric Limestone Prairies of Eastern United States: Review and Synthesis
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Xeric limestone prairies (XLPs) are open, nonforested areas in which herbaceous plant communities occur on shallow, rocky soils derived from calcareous substrates. These grasslands are characterized by dominance of C4 perennial grasses (particularly Schizachyrium scoparium) and are distributed in eastern United States from Missouri and Pennsylvania south to Arkansas and Georgia. XLPs occur in the Ozark Plateaus, Central Lowland, Interior Low Plateaus, Appalachian Plateaus, Ridge and Valley, and Coastal Plain physiographic provinces, and they are developed on Alfisols, Ultisols, Mollisols, Inceptisols, and Vertisols derived from Paleozoic limestones (also Eocene), dolomites, and calcareous shales. The C4 perennial prairie grass S. scoparium is the characteristic dominant taxon in XLPs of eastern United States. However, C3 perennial forbs are dominant in some sites, and C4 annual grasses (Sporobolus spp.) may be locally dominant in shallow-soil-zone microsites. Thirteen taxa apparently are endemic, or nearly so, to this vegetation type, including eight in the Ridge and Valley in Alabama (Cahaba River valley), four in the Ozark Plateaus in Missouri and Arkansas, and one in the Ridge and Valley of West Virginia and Virginia. Various types of information are used to construct a conceptual model of the origin, maintenance, and successional dynamics of XLPs. Affinities of XLPs in eastern United States to other herbaceous vegetation types in eastern and western North America are discussed, and directions for future research are suggested.

Patrick J. Lawless, Jerry M. Baskin, and Carol C. Baskin "Xeric Limestone Prairies of Eastern United States: Review and Synthesis," The Botanical Review 72(3), (1 July 2006).[235:XLPOEU]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 July 2006

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