Pine barrens vernal ponds (PBVP) are intermittently flooded wetlands located in rare fire-prone pine barrens and sand plains supporting uniquely adapted biotic communities. In New York State, the PBVP are scarce, difficult to classify, and often threatened by human disturbance in the landscape. We analyzed existing vascular plant data from New York PBVP to quantify overall floristic condition and help clarify floristic identity of the system. Data sets included single year vegetation surveys of current known PBVP and an intensive single year survey of PBVP, red maple swamp, and shallow emergent marsh in one landscape. We found high variation in species conservatism among PBVP sites and complexes, and relatively high floristic quality because of few exotic species. Quantitative floristic classification improved the a priori field-based classification and suggested a previously overlooked PBVP occurrence. Potentially useful indicators of PBVP included buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis), steeplebush (Spiraea tomentosa), leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), and hoary sedge (Carex canescens). Our study provides an important starting point for developing a more detailed classification and monitoring scheme for PBVP around the state and the northeastern U.S.
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Vol. 136 • No. 1