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Ramsey's DraftAugusta County, Virginia
February, 2001; updated August, 2003
Ramsey's Draft is a branch of the Calfpasture River and thus a part of the James System. In its upper reaches it flows southwest, bisecting massive Shenandoah Mountain along the axis of that Mountain's synclinal structure. Rocks underlying much of the watershed are Devonian Hampshire Formation, but Mississippian Pocono caps some of the highest elevations. These rocks are dominantly erosion-resistant sandstone, but also include beds of mudstone, siltstone, shale and even thin beds of coal (Rader and Evans, 1993). Because of the large amounts of exposed rock and stony soils in the upper watershed, Ramsey's Draft is prone to low water in dry seasons as well as catastrophic flash floods. Consequently debris dams, bank and bed erosion and shifting channels characterize its hydrologic regime. Six miles (10 km) southwest of its headwaters the Draft makes a right angle bend to the southeast and occupies a wider flood plain to its confluence with the Calfpasture. Most of the watershed above this bend, the most mountainous part, is now included within the federally- designated Ramsey's Draft Wilderness of the George Washington National Forest. A point of reference is the Mountain House Recreation Site, which is located at the bend and just off US Route 250. The elevation here is near 2200 feet (671 m) asl., while the highest point in the watershed is Hardscrabble Knob at 4282 feet (1307 m), approximately 5 miles (8 km) to the northeast.
Located in the highest part of the watershed and within the wilderness, is a designated research natural area (RNA). Within the RNA the Virginia Division of Natural Heritage has established ten test plots, 400 square meters each in area. Each of these plots was inventoried by Natural Heritage investigators throughout the growing season for vascular plants, community types and ecological and physical characteristics (Rawinski et al, 1994). These inventories provide a highly informative comparison with those done by us in the lower watershed as reported on here.
Fansler (1984) identified 255 species of vascular plants in his study of both the lower and upper watershed, including the RNA. However he did not record a number of common species (Rawinski et al, 1994)
Conditions within the RNA are almost universally severe by most mountain forest standards. However these conditions are greatly ameliorated in the lower watershed in which there appears to be a diverse mesic flora. Rawinski et al identified a total of 123 vascular plants in the RNA test plots, and our inventories in the same general area identified a few additional northern/high elevation species outside their plots (see our Ascent of Big Bald and Hardscrabble Knobs), Six rapid inventories conducted by us during parts of five days in the lower watershed disclosed a total of at least 122 vascular plants, and this despite three of our inventories occurring in October and November. In what follows both scientific and common names of species are given on first mention but, with a few exceptions, only common names thereafter.
The flora of the RNA test plots, and that of the upper watershed in general, is dominated by dry, ericaceous oak forest in which species such as Northern Red and Chestnut Oaks (Quercus rubra and Q prinus), Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia), Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens) and other acidiphiles play important roles. However, in a few test plots that were located in the vicinity of the stream, the canopy contains old growth (in excess of 300 years) Canada Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) to 3.9 feet (1.18 m) dbh and White Pine almost as large. Even the richest of these plots are acid-mesic and exhibit low plant diversity. For example, only 16 species of vascular plants were found in the plot with the largest Hemlock and White Pine (Pinus strobus ). The most diverse of the plots, with 44 vascular plants, is not old growth and occurs in a high (3460 feet/ 1055 m) cove. At the highest elevations northern and montane species such as Mountain Ash (Pyrus americana ), Red Raspberry (Rubus strigosus), Mountain Holly ( Ilex montana) and Early Low Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) are found. The region as a whole exhibits a "mirror effect" (Mueller, 1998) in which a number of these cold-climate species are also found in the valley flats at the lowest elevations studied, but generally not at intermediate elevations. Thus Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis ) is practically confined to the highest elevations and the lowest valley flats, but only Black Birch (Betula lenta) occurs at intermediate elevations. We shall see this effect apparent in other species found in our inventory of the lower watershed.
Ramsey's Draft Wilderness is part of as yet unprotected national forest wildland that is a promise of a greater eastern wilderness resource and concept. In 1986 this de facto wildland was given the name 'Shenandoah Wilderness" (Mueller, 1991) in a proposal that would encompass Ramsey's Draft and its immediate surroundings and extend northeast over two major watersheds, those of the North and Little Rivers, for a total of 65,000 acres (26,000 ha). It would be the largest national forest wilderness east of the Mississippi and Ramsey's Draft would be its primary portal. This location is one of the very few in the eastern US where such a large wilderness could be designated. It is an area and a vision of geographic and ecological coherence, a place where politics will hopefully yield eventually to nature and science. Recently this propose wilderness has been renamed the "Ernie Dickerman Wilderness" (Mueller, 1999) in honor of one of our most prominent deceased wilderness activists.
Lower Ramsey's DraftSource Walks: 4-30-94, 5-3-94, 5-10-94, 10-19-98 and 11-10-98
We here present the results of our six inventories. We first report on a traverse that extended perhaps 1/5 mile (0.32 km) downstream from the bend in Ramsey's Draft at Mountain House, along the southeast trending reach of the Draft. The other five reports cover traverses upstream from the bend for a maximum of perhaps 3/4 mile (1.2 km), although most of these were much shorter.
Our traverse downstream began at 10:00 AM on 10-19-98 under overcast and a sprinkle of rain that gave way in the afternoon to almost clear skies. As is usual for this time of year, low water prevailed, and visible water occurred only at intervals where holes in the bed were deepest. However, springbrooks, some perhaps from diverted subsurface stream water in the thick boulder and cobble deposits of the bed, were common. Soils were generally sandy, reddish in color, and confined to favorably-located bars and banks. These soils were clearly of recent alluvial origin and quite rich in organic matter near the surface. Unlike that of mor soils, this organic matter had the appearance of incorporation into the mineral component by soil organisms.
The canopy in this section of a flood plain perhaps 300 feet (91.5 m) in width, appeared to be dominated by Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) up to at least 27 inches (0.69 m) dbh. Associated with the Sycamore were White Pine to 26 inches (0.66 m) dbh, Canada Hemlock to 38 inches (0.97 m), Tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera ) to 35 inches (o.89 m) and one grand old Northern Red Oak veteran, leaning and hollow, with pronounced bark thickening on the underside. This tree had a measured diameter of 49 inches (1.24 m). Accompanying these large trees were abundant smaller Red and Sugar Maples (Acer rubrum and A. saccharum), Black and Yellow Birches, Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata ), White Ash (Fraxinus americana ), and scattered Black Gum (Nyssa sylvatica), basswood intermediate between the American and White species (Tilia americana and T. heterophylla), Pignut Hickory (Carya glabra and/or C. ovalis), Chestnut Oak, Sassafras (Sassafras albidum), Cucumbertree (Magnolia acuminata ), Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) and a few small Black Cherry (Prunus serotina). Muscletree (Carpinus caroliniana ) was common in the understory, as were Striped Maple (Acer pensylvanicum) and serviceberry, likely Downy (Amelanchier arborea). The most common seedlings and saplings appeared to be those of Sugar Maple, with less of Red Maple, Northern Red Oak and Pignut Hickory. Hemlock saplings, mostly small, were common, and there were some seedlings as well. Little sign of the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid (Adelges tsugae) was seen [ this was found, in all likelihood, to be an inaccurate observation-see later ], and Hemlock was not much browsed by Deer. This appeared to be a very un-even-aged forest, with abundant large dead snags, and thus resembled old growth despite its proximity to the highway.
The most common large shrubs were Spice Bush ( Lindera benzoin) and Witch Hazel ( Hamamelis virginiana ), but Mountain Laurel was also frequent in places. Black Raspberry ( Rubus occidentalis ), the alien but unobtrusive Wine Berry (R. phoenicolasius ), as well as Coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus ) were scattered throughout, but apparently confined to patches of fertile soil. Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia ) and Poison Ivy (Rhus radicans) were the most common vines, followed by Common Greenbrier (Smilax rotundifolia ), occasional Summer Grape (Vitis aestivalis ), Dutchman's Pipe vine (Aristolochia macrophylla ) and a Dewberry (Rubus sp).
Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) was almost omnipresent, but thinly distributed. Hay-scented Fern (Dennstaedtia punctilobula ) was common, and there were scattered Intermediate and Marginal Shield Ferns (Dryopteris intermedia and D. marginalis ). White Snakeroot (Eupatorium rugosum) and Curtis Goldenrod (Solidago curtisii ) appeared, at this season, to be the most conspicuous herbs and Partridge Berry (Mitchella repens ) occurred frequently at shaded tree bases. A little Spotted Wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata ) and Rattlesnake Plantain, likely Downy ( Goodyera pubescens), occurred in similar but perhaps dryer locations. Other herbs, some in a poor state of preservation, were an oat grass, likely Poverty (Danthonia spicata), White Wood Aster (Aster divaricatus), Calico Aster (A. lateriflorus), Black Cohosh ( Cimicifuga racemosa), Deer-tongue Grass (Panicum clandestinum ), the forest grass Brachyelytrum erectum, unidentified violets (Viola spp), Canada Bromegrass (Bromus purgans ), the broad-leaved, glaucus forest sedge Carex platyphylla, Foam Flower (Tiarella cordifolia), Clearweed (Pilea pumila ), Sweet-scented Bedstraw (Galium triflorum), Wide-leaved Joe-pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum ), a jewelweed (Impatiens sp) and Creeping Five-leaf (Potentilla simplex/canadensis ). It is likely that these relative herb abundances would be different during the growing season, when many more species should be present.
Observations of bryophytes on this traverse was cursory. Apparently most common was Delicate Fern Moss (Thuidium delicatulum ), which occurred widely on soil, dead wood and tree bases. Also frequent on soil was false haircap moss (Atrichum sp), while unidentified species of Mnium occurred on a variety of sites, including soil, dead wood and tree bases. One or more species of the genus Hypnum appeared to be subordinate, but accompanied Delicate Fern Moss on rotting down boles and other mosses on soil. In dryer locations, such as the edges of high banks, there were cushions of the mosses Dicranum, including Dicranum scoparium and Leucobryum on soil. In one place a Hypnum and Dicranum scoparium formed discontinuous patches on an 18 inch (0.46 m) diameter down bole of Hemlock. However few down boles completely or nearly completely covered by bryophytes were seen here, perhaps reflecting the relatively dry air conditions in this dominantly deciduous forest.
Yellow Birch observed in this forest were all small, usually not over 8 inches (o.2 m) dbh, and were virtually restricted to the stream bank, possibly indicating that this species could find its requisite cool root temperatures only in this zone.
Katydids (subfamily Pseudophyllinae) called slowly and a very belligerent 2 foot (o.6 m) Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon ) was encountered on the stream bank.
After the survey downstream from the bend, a short traverse was also made upstream during the afternoon. First noted was a vigorous vine of Summer Grape that bore large clusters of slightly glaucous blue grapes that exceeded one centimeter in diameter and which were quite sweet and flavorful. Also noted here, in colorful tall ranks along the stream, was Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina), along with a little Wild Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens). Within the adjacent forest Blunt-lobe Hepatica (Hepatica americana ) and Calico Aster were common, and there was a number of small White Oak (Quercus alba) saplings, the first of this oak seen. A spot inventory also yielded Tuliptree, White Pine, Hemlock, Sugar Maple, including a 36 inch (0.91 m) dbh veteran, Black Birch, Shagbark Hickory, Northern Red Oak, a very little White Oak, Muscletree, Mountain Laurel and Thuidium and Hypnum mosses.
A little farther upstream, near the east bank, in a canopy gap, was a group of small, vigorous Hemlock saplings that, even after careful examination, showed no sign of the Adelgid. Nearby, also in the opening, were Mountain Laurel, Teaberry, Carrion Flower (Smilax herbacea), Christmas Fern, Ground Pine (Lycopodium flabelliforme ), Leucobryum moss and Cladina lichen. Also seen in the vicinity was a single shrub of Mountain Holly, a small Black Oak (Quercus velutina) sapling, Slender-flowered Muhly grass (Muhlenbergia tenuiflora ), possible Woodland Muhly (M. sylvatica ), a 32 inch (0.82 m) dbh Northern Red Oak with abundant acorns and Marginal Shield Fern. Here also Katydids called with the slow cadence of cool weather.
Still farther upstream on the flood plain were Intermediate Shield Fern, basswood, and on soil, a small isolated patch of Tree Moss (Climacium americanum), Then crossing the Wilderness boundary, Yellow Birch and more of the intermediate basswood were seen near the stream's west bank. These were followed by more Intermediate Shield Fern, Yellow Birch and Wild Hydrangea.
Noted on the return traverse near here were abundant White Snakeroot, Common Greenbrier and a single Black Haw Viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium). Farther along the return traverse, and again outside the Wilderness boundary, the trail passed close to the western edge of the flood plain, where there is an extensive exposure and a low cliff of red sandstone. Here active seeps resulted in a more luxuriant flora than elsewhere in the vicinity, with Flowering Raspberry ( Rubus odoratus), Wild Hydrangea and diverse tall herbs including Slender-flowered and Woodland Muhlies, as well as many others that were unrecognizable at this season. Here also were several small Yellow Birch growing at the cliff top, precisely where a seep persisted during the dry conditions prevailing at the time. The location of these Yellow Birch again confirmed the close dependence of this tree on cool, moist conditions- which in this valley only persist in certain microhabitats.
Also noted on the return traverse were Indian Turnip (Arisaema triphyllum), Crooked -stem Aster (Aster prenanthoides), Saw Brier ( Smilax glauca ) and the call of a Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus ). In one place, in a deep stream-eroded pit, not far from the trail, there was, in association with lush Intermediate Shield Fern, a single bush of Red Elderberry (Sambucus pubens) amidst large woody debris. We will have occasion to refer to this location again in our report on other traverses.
An impression gained by comparing the foregoing traverse with that which extended downstream, is the relative scarcity of Sycamore and Coralberry upstream from the bend. If real, this feature may indicate that more available nutrients, perhaps in part originating from limestone gravels in the bed of Route 250, may have influenced the flora below the bend.
Next reported on here is an inventory conducted on 4-30-94. Although this was during the early growing season, when many plants were emerging, our inventory was cursory. However identified immediately upstream from the bend were Dwarf Ginseng (Panax trifolius ), Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum), Smooth Yellow Violet (Viola pensylvanica) and Sweet White Violet (Viola blanda), all in bloom. Also seen were an unidentified Trillium, White Wood Aster and Miterwort (Mitella diphylla ), and farther upstream under Hemlock, Canada Mayflower (Maianthemum canadense), Common Speedwell (Veronica officinalis ), Gay Wings (Polygala paucifolia ) and Wood Anemone (Anemone quinqefolia ), with the last two also in bloom.
Of particular interest on this day were the fauna observed. These included the first Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea ) and Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceus ) of the year, but most particularly a close look at Blackburnian Warblers (Dendroica fusca ), which were active in low shrubbery. According to Robbins (1996), this warbler is frequently associated with old growth Hemlock, a forest type that occurs just upstream in the Draft. Also seen on this day were efts of the Eastern Newt ( Notophthalmus viridescens) emerging from small ponds in the woods.
Our inventory of 5-3-94 was again confined to the area extending upstream from the bend to the vicinity of the red sandstone outcrop on the west side of the flood plain. The weather was cool, somewhat windy and gradually clouded over. A high point of this inventory was discovering a few plants of blooming Star Flower (Trientalis borealis ) under Hemlock. On this day also the Red Elderberry mentioned previously was in bloom. Other species identified for the first time were Long-spurred Violet (Viola rostrata), also in bloom, Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense ), Interrupted Fern (Osmunda claytoniana ), Hairy Disporum ( Disporum lanuginosum), Golden Ragwort (Senecio aureus), Wild Liquorice ( Galium circaezans ), Dotted St. Johns-wort (Hypericum punctatum), the wood rush Luzula acuminata, Adam's Needle (Yucca filamentosa) the alien Corn Speedwell (Veronica arvensis) and White Wood Sorrel (Oxalis montana). The Woodland Strawberry (Fragaria vesca ) encountered here was not categorized as either native or alien. Similarly, the profusely-blooming bluets could have been either Spring (Houstonia caerulea ) or Thyme-leaved (H. serpyllifolia ).
Fauna seen on this day included large (1.5 cm) mayflies (Family Heptageniidae) on vegetation near the stream, a Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon), as well as Scarlet Tanagers.
On a brief return to the same area on 5-10-94, the following were added to our tally: Wild Pink (Silene pensylvanica), with flowers very light pink to white in color, Kidney-leaf Crowfoot (Ranunculus abortivus ), Smooth Rockcress (Arabis laevigata), possible Goldie's Shield Fern (Dryopteris goldiana) and, under Hemlock, Round-leaf Violet (Viola rotundifolia).
Accompaning fauna included Swallowtail ( Papilio sp) butterflies, a high-flying Buteo, Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura), Scarlet Tanagers, vireos and unidentified warblers.
Our inventory of 11-10-98 consisted of a traverse upstream from the bend for approximately 3/4 mile (1.21 km) and terminated in relatively undisturbed old growth forest on the east side of the flood plain. One objective of this inventory was to characterize the distribution of bryophytes in various microhabitats. To this end specimens were examined with the microscope by R. Hunsucker.
The weather during the traverse was cool, with an initially heavy mist draping the mountains. The stream was as low or lower than it was on the 10-19-98 visit, and a pH determination of water from one of the deep holes yielded a value of 5.3. In one place, just above the bend, a large berry-laden Poke (Phytolacca americana) plant grew in the rocky stream bed, while nearby the bracket fungus Ganoderma tsugae was found on a down Hemlock. Here also, in what proved to be one of the few bird sightings of the day, a small flock of Juncos (Junco hyemalis) foraged among the undergrowth.
Continuing along the trail on the west side of the flood plain, we came upon the dried remains of Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), a species frequently associated with limestone and fertile soils. Here it occurred in dark, organic loam very near the trail. In close proximity we also found Sweet Cicely, likely Hairy ( Osmorhiza claytoni), Blue Wood Aster (Aster cordifoius) and a fungus of the genus Pholiota. We then encountered a large down bole on which we identified the following mosses: Campylium chrysophyllum, Delicate Fern Moss, Mnium affine var ciliare, Entodon cladorrhizans, Anomodon minor and A. attenuatus. Associated with these was the liverwort Porella platyphylla. On an adjacent down bole was the moss Platygyrium repens and on a live standing Shagbark Hickory Ulota crispa and Anomodon attenuatus.
We had now arrived at the Red Elderberry bush seen on our previous traverses and which stood in the midst of a number of rotting, moss-covered down boles. Identified here were Platygyrium repens, Hypnum curvifolium, H. cupressiforme, Entodon cladorrhizans, Mnium affine var ciliare and Brachythecium salebrosum.
Next seen along the trail was that familiar of acid trail banks, Wheat Moss (Diphyscium foliosum ), here on soil under Hemlock and Black Birch. Not far beyond however, we came upon a single small patch of Tree Moss, a species frequently associated with rich soils and the only occurrence of this species seen on the traverse. It is even possible that this was the same occurrence as that seen on the 10-19-98 traverse. Other mosses seen on rock and soil in the vicinity were Hedwigia ciliata, a species frequently seen on sandstone, Anomodon attenuatus, and Delicate Fern Moss. Also noted was the thallus liverwort Metzgeria furcata.
We now approached the aforementioned large outcrop of red sandstone, where we noted the strongly acidiphile Apple Moss (Bartramia pomiformis ) and, in the open on virtually bare rock, the only haircap moss (Polytrichum sp) seen during all our traverses in this valley. From the shape of its field-observed capsules, this may have been Polytrichum ohioense, Here also, in a small shaded ravine that cut the adjacent slope, we found a tiny red eft of the Eastern Newt, quite stiff from the cold.
Then crossing an open stretch of cobble, we saw scattered remains of Southern Bellflower ( Campanula divaricata ), Woodland Muhly and two species of Evening Primrose, namely Common (Oenothera biennis ) and possibly Narrow-leaved Sundrops (O. fruticosa). In company with these was the moss Rhynchostegium serrulatum.
We presently arrived at the sandstone cliff with active seeps and associated Yellow Birch and the mesic flora described previously. Mosses on this cliff appeared to be dominated by species of Amblystegium, (including A. tenax), Philonotus, (including P. marchia and P. fontana) and Delicate Fern Moss, with some Apple Moss.
Advancing along the trail, we came to a derelict Game Commission building under large White Pine, and under these grew Spotted Wintergreen and Roundlobe Hepatica. However, only a little beyond the Pines, we saw the uncommon Millet Grass (Milium effusum), that is usually found on fertile soils and/or at high elevations and is listed as rare by the Virginia Division of Natural Heritage. Here this grass grew under Hemlock, White Oak, White Pine, Black Birch and Red Maple at the edge of the trail-from which it may have derived nutrients. (We were to learn later that it is a common grass in this valley.)
Seen next in our progress upstream were Broad-glumed Brome Grass (Bromus latiglumis ), and on a down bole covered by a heavy growth of the mosses, Mnium, Thuidium and Anomodon. Also seen here was a large moss-covered Sugar Maple with the lower trunk occupied by Anomodon (likely A. attenuatus and/or A. minor) and, farther up the trunk, by Forsstroemia trichomitria. Growing with these mosses was the fungus Usttulina deusta, a species usually found on dead wood.
After entering the Wilderness, we crossed the virtually dry stream bed to the east side of the flood plain. Here the forest was less disturbed by stream action and human activities, and much of it is mature if not old growth. Also present was a small branch or springbrook flowing semi-parallel to and eventually joining Ramsey's Draft. The forest canopy here at first consisted of quite large but not huge Hemlock and Tuliptree and smaller Black Birch. There were few shrubs, but Intermediate Shield Fern was conspicuous and Delicate Fern Moss and species of Hypnum appeared to occur mostly on rocks and down boles respectively. Moving up-valley beside the springbrook, we encountered more large Hemlock, smaller Yellow Birch, and based on fallen leaves, a little White Basswood. Mosses found on the bark of a large leaning Yellow Birch included Ulota crispa, Brotherella recurvans and an unidentified Dicranum. A rotted down bole was covered by the liverwort Nowellia curvifolia. On a high bank close to the Draft a number of 10 foot (3 m) Beech saplings were conspicuous by virtue of the yellow leaves they retained.
Plants in the immediate vicinity of the springbrook were diverse, even at this sason. Carex scabrata dominated but was accompanied by Golden Saxifrage (Chrysosplenium americanum ), Turtle head (Chelone glabra ), tall, vigorous Blue Monkshood (Aconitum uncinatum) and Mad-dog Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora ). In a pool were unidentified species of the liverwort Scapania and the aquatic moss Fontinalis, while wet rocks bore the uncommon moss Racomitrium aciculare, a species said to be widespread in northern and montane regions of Europe and North America (Crum and Anderson,1981). Here Yellow Birch in association with large Hemlock and a lone White Ash appeared to have the greatest abundance seen by us thus far. Also showing its greatest abundance was Intermediate Shield Fern. Other still conspicuous herbs in dryer spots were browned Hay-scented Fern, White Snakeroot, Brachyelytrum erectum, the woodrush Luzula acuminata and a small patch of Shining Clubmoss ( Lycopodium lucidulum) under Hemlock. Here also was a patch of numerous separate dried culms of Slender-flowered Muhly. A Sugar Maple bore a community of the mosses Neckera pennata, Forsstroemia trichomitria and an unidentified Heterocladium.
In the cooler, moister mature and old growth forest, bryophytes appear to be more abundant than in the more deciduous forest downstream from the bend and unlike in their mode of occurrence as well. Here down boles are frequently enveloped by bryophytes, while downstream coverage is usually patchy. Here also, Hypnum appears to be more common, and ascends tree bases and lower trunks, whereas downstream it appears to be more restricted to down boles and soil.
While few fungi were seen in this late and dry season, our attention was drawn to a Pholiota aurivella that grew within a hollowed out Beech (Fagus grandifolia).
The following is a summary of bryophytes collected on this traverse and identified under the microscope by R. Hunsucker, with the assistance of Dana Griffin. Liverworts are explicitly indicated and mosses constitute the rest. *= species not found on the calcareous terrain at Blowing Springs (see our section on Blowing Springs). It should be kept in mind however, that these differences may be an artifact of our far from comprehensive studies.
Amblystegium tenax - on moist sandstone and decaying tree trunks
*A. varium - on moist decaying boles and rocks
Anomodon attenuatus - on rocks, bases of trees, downed dead trees, stumps
A. minor - on bases of trees, on sandstone and on fallen, rotting tree trunks
Bartramia pomiformis - on banks along stream
*Bazzania trilobata- leafy liverwort on rotting fallen tree trunks
Brachythecium acuminatum - on sandstone and bases of deciduous trees
*B. populeum - on sandstone
*B. salebrosum - on moist fallen rotting trees
B. sp-on tree bases, sandstone and fallen tree trunks
Brotherella recurvans - on soil over sandstone, rocks and tree bases
Bryum sp- on moist sandstone rock faces
Campylium chrysophyllum - on bases of deciduous trees, rocks and soil
Chilocyphus profundus (Syn. Lophocolea heterophylla) -leafy liverwort on sandstone and lower trunks of trees
Dicranum fuscescens - on soil over sandstone, on trunks of deciduous trees
D. sp- on soil, sandstone rocks in forest
*Diphyscium foliosum - on soil in forest
Entodon cladorrhizans - on rotting, fallen trees and bases of live trees
E. seductrix- on moist sandstone and bases of trees
Eurhynchium pulchellum - on rotting trunks of fallen deciduous trees
Fissidens osmundioides - on rotting fallen trees
F. sp- on sandstone
Forsstroemia trichomitria - on trunks of deciduous trees
Frullania inflata - leafy liverwort on sandstone and deciduous trees
Haplohymenium triste - on bases of trees
Homomallium adnatum - on sandstone and bases of deciduous trees; endemic to eastern North America
Hylocomium brevirostre - on sandstone boulders
*Hypnum cupressiforme - on decaying trunks of fallen trees
H. curvifolium- on sandstone, rotting fallen deciduous trees and bases of trees
*Isopterygiopsis (Isopterygium) muelleriana - on moist sandstone
*Isopterygium elegans- on soil, bases of trees and rotting down trees, a northern and montane species
Jugermannia sp-on sandstone
Lejenea sp-leafy liverwort on sandstone and bark of trees
* Leucodon brachypus-on sandstone and bases of trees
Metzgeria furcata - thallose liverwort on sandstone and bark of deciduous trees
Mnium affine var ciliare-on various substrates, soil, sandstone, bases of trees and rotting down trees
Orthotrichum sp-on sandstone
*Philonotus marchia - on moist sandstone boulder faces
*P. fontana-on moist sandstone rock faces
Porella platphylla - liverwort on sandstone and bases of trees
Pylaisiella sp-on bark of deciduous down trees
*Racomitrium aciculare-on wet sandstone and along spring brook in forest. cells of lower to middle part of leaf characteristically wavy-margined ("my best find in a while"- R. Hunsucker)
Radula complanata-leafy liverwort on soil over sandstone and on bases of trees
*Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus-on decaying tree trunks
Sematophyllum demissum-on moist sandstone
*Tetraphis pellucida-on moist sandstone rock faces
Thuidium delicatulum-on various substrates
Ulota crispa - on bark of deciduous trees
Ramsey's Draft 10-19-98
Ramsey's Draft 5-3-94
Star Flower in bloom
Ramsey's Draft 5-3-94
Long-spurred Violet in bloom
with Canada Mayflower
Ramsey's Draft 5-3-94
Gay Wings in bloom
with other acidiphiles
Ramsey's Draft 5-3-94
Red Elderberry in bloom
Return to Ramsey's DraftSource Walks: 5-16-99, 5-22-99, 6-7-99 and 8-2-00
Source Walk: 4-22-01
These inventories added 44 species to our tally and established further soil and phenological characteristics.
Our inventory traverse of 5-16-99 began at 9:30 AM under clear cool conditions. It extended from the Wilderness parking lot up-valley on the Valley's west side and was centered between the stream and the edge of the flood plain. After noting that Ramsey's Draft flowed quite strongly, the following species were recorded sequentially in the up-valley direction: Alternate-leaf Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia), Thyme-leaved Bluets, Plantain-leaf Pussytoes ( Antennaria plantaginifolia), Carex laxiflora, C. pensylvanica, the aliens Orchard Grass (Dactylis glomerata) and Canada Bluegrass ( Poa compressa), White Wood Aster, Blunt-lobe Hepatica and Christmas Fern, the last six being located under a large White Pine. These Were followed by Black Raspberry, abundant Poison Ivy and Virginia Creeper, Partridge Berry in bloom, Rattlesnake Fern (Botrychium virginianum), Virginia Waterleaf ( Hydrophyllum virginianum), Wild Ginger, the call of a Red-eyed Vireo, Hispid Greenbrier (Smilax hispida), Choke Cherry ( Prunus virginiana ), a yellow swallowtail butterfly, Canada Mayflower in bloom, Hemlock with some sign of the Adelgid, a cluster of Red Elderberry bushes, Wood Nettle (Laportea canadensis ), seedlings and saplings of White Ash, Carex leptonervia (a sedge characteristic of "rich maple woods" according to Strausbaugh and Core, (1977), Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) in a rare appearance, common Woodland Strawberry, also in bloom, Black Cohosh and Intermediate Shield Fern in abundance. Encountered now was an area of microtopographic roughness with hummocks of a meter amplitude or so. A young but mature canopy consisted of Hemlock, White Pine, Sugar and Red Maples, American Basswood, Black Locust, White Ash and Sycamore. A sapling of Yellow Birch was also seen. Shrubs and vines were Red Elderberry, Flowering Raspberry, Virginia Creeper, Poison Ivy and Dutchman's Pipe vine. These were accompanied by a rich herb flora comprised of a number of vigorous tussocks of flowering Millet Grass, Intermediate Shield and Christmas Ferns, Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibiis), Sweet White Violet in bloom, a jewelweed (Impatiens sp), White Wood Sorrel, Potentilla simplex, Curtis Goldenrod, Cleavers (Galium aperine ), White Wood Aster, an avens (Geum sp), Allegheny Crowfoot (Ranunculus allegheniensis), Hispid Buttercup (R. hispidus) and Miterwort. A little up-Valley from this community there was Spice Bush, Nodding Fescue (Festuca obtusa),Enchanter's Nightshade (Circaea quadrisulcata) and Wild Geranium in bloom.
An area was now entered where the stream flowed close to the flood plain's western edge, so our traverse was along the base of the steep bounding slope.Noted here were Sweet-scented Bedstraw, Downy Many Knees (Polygonatum pubescens ), Early Saxifrage (Saxifraga virginiensis ), Long-spurred Violet, Dwarf Ginseng, Great Chickweed, One-flowered Broomrape (Orobanche uniflora), and the woodrush Luzula acuminata, with the last six all in bloom. A 1/3 inch (0.8 cm) metallic green wild bee patronized flowers of Wild Geranium. These were followed In close proximity to the stream by Hog Peanut, Deer-tongue Grass (Panicum cladestinum), Upright Yellow Wood Sorrel (Oxalis stricta ), blooming Smooth Yellow Violet, Muscletree and a single bush of Buffalonut (Pyrularia pubesens ). A tiny springbrook that entered the stream from a ravine contained small (~0.5 cm) black pollywogs, likely of a tree frog.
A brief foray on the morning of 5-22-99 again extended up-valley from the wilderness parking lot, but was confined to the trailside at the base of the steep western valley slope. Initially the weather was mostly sunny, but it soon clouded up and the traverse was terminated due to rain at about 1:30 PM.
Many birds appeared to be about. Calls of the Red-eyed Vireo were almost incessant and those of the Scarlet Tanager frequent, Numerous small unidentified birds, likely warblers, were in the canopy. The stream was markedly lower than a week earlier and the small springbrook observed then still contained small dark pollywogs, but had shrunk substantially in volume of flow. Spittlebugs were common on Poison Ivy, White Ash and Curtis Goldenrod and a number of large Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies (Papilio glaucus) were observed.
Plants identified were Hairy Sweet Cicely, Carex rosea, C. leptonervia, C. platyphylla and, on a large hummock, the mosses Atrichum undulatum and a species of Mnium ,with White Wood Sorrel coming into bloom. Also noted at the base of the steep slope were lush vines of Four-leaved Yam, Indian Cucumberroot (Medeola virginiana ), Wood Anemone and Canada Violet (Viola Canadensis) , with the latter more than a foot tall and in bloom.
The inventory of 6-7-99 consisted of two traverses, one each in the morning and afternoon. Both were along the flood plain's western edge adjacent to the familiar trail to the sandstone cliff and beyond. Only the second extended into the designated wilderness and then only for a short distance. The weather was mostly clear with more clouds in the afternoon. Temperatures were uncomfortably high even among Hemlock, and conditions were quite dry. The stream flow was a good bit lower than on our May visit.
When we left the Shenandoah Valley on this day the periodic cicada (Magicicada septendecium) filled the forest with their calls. However, here we heard what appeared to be of the order of only ten calls all day. No doubt this was a consequence at least in part of the stony and relatively infertile soils in this valley. Those heard to call were of the dominant high-pitched calling race.
Noted successively as we moved up-valley on the morning traverse were Canada Brome Grass, the call of a Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus), Allegheny Blackberry, the generally dense ground flora that included Nodding Fescue, Black Cohosh with flower buds forming, abundant Poke Milkweed (Asclepias exaltata), as well as other unidentified milkweeds, Hairy Disporum coming into bloom, Carex leptonervia and the calls of unidentified birds.
On arriving at the red sandstone outcrop, a more ample flow of the stream than downstream was apparent, a result no doubt of the solid bedrock forcing the water to the surface. Here also the call of a Red-eyed Vireo was heard, while exhibited on the steep bank were the flamboyant purple blooms of Gray Beardtongue (Penstemon canescens), and, on the adjacent flat, as first noted on our 11-10-98 traverse, Common Evening Primrose, now also in full bloom.
At the sandstone cliff our continuing tally of the flora included Sycamore, Black Locust, abundant Staghorn Sumac, Wild Hydrangea, Flowering Raspberry and Allegheny Blackberry (Rubus allegheniensis), both in bloom, Black Raspberry in fruit, Poison Ivy, Summer Grape with numerous clusters of blossoms, Poke Milkweed, possible White Milkweed (Asclepias varigata), Millet Grass, Wide-leaved Joe-pye Weed, a jewelweed (Impatiens sp), Nodding Fescue, Cleavers, Hog Peanut (Amphicarpa bracteata), Canada Brome Grass, White Wood Aster, Goat's Beard (Aruncus dioicus) and Columbine, with the last two in bloom. Also present was Virginia Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) with fruit, but of an inferior quality to that from limestone terrain. Carex scabrata grew at the stream's edge and an Ovenbird ( Seiurus aurocapillus) called.
The springbrook reported on earlier still contained pollywogs, as did the adjacent stream pools, and those in the latter were now of the order of 0.5 inch (1.3 cm) in length, although those in the springbrook were smaller.
The afternoon traverse extended our inventory beyond the red sandstone cliff, on which a brief glimpse was caught of what appeared to be a Fence Lizard ( Scleoporus undulatus). Not far beyond the outcrop there was Woodland Sunflower (Helianthus divaricatus) not yet in bloom, Wine Berry and an unidentified milkweed.
Following the trail/woods road, the derelict State Game Commission building encountered on our 11-10-98 traverse was again passed. A short distance along the trail the exciting discovery was made of brightly-blooming Golden-knees (Chrysogonum virginianum), a monotypic species endemic to the Appalachians and a few adjacent areas. Accompanying scattered plants of this species were abundant Woodland Strawberry and Potentilla simplex, both in bloom, common Millet Grass and a little Virginia Waterleaf with fading flowers that were being patronized by a metallic green hymenopteran similar to that observed earlier on Wild Geranium. These were followed farther along the trail by the blue-eyed grass Sisyrinchium mucronatum, abundant seedlings of Sugar Maple, patches of Carex pensylivanica around tree bases, Carex sparganioides, C. squarrosa and the call of a Scarlet Tanager.
As the trail ran close to the stream once more, a flow strong enough to prevent easy fording was again apparent. Here also the designated Wilderness was entered as a few individual cicadas called. Of particular interest was the subsequent observation of a single foot (0.3 m) -high seedling or sapling of Mountain Ash, the first of this species ever seen by us below the highland summits in this region of the forest. In association were still vigorous but Adelgid-infested Hemlock, Yellow Birch, Wild Hydrangea and Marginal and Intermediate Shield Ferns. As the traverse was terminated, a Scarlet Tanager again called.
Our 8-2-00 visit began under cloudy skies and spitting rain. The major objective this day was to better characterize the soils of the lower Draft, but was confined to the area a little upstream from the Wilderness parking lot. It was initiated by sampling the stream water, for which a pH of 5.6 was obtained.
The first soil sample (no 1) was taken not far from the trail in the vicinity of a concentration of Millet Grass from a three inch (8 cm) depth. Other species in the immediate vicinity were Sugar and Red Maples, White Ash, Adelgid infested Hemlock, Spice Bush, White Wood Aster and a patch of unidentified Atrichum moss. This soil, a brown sandy loam with well incorporated organic matter, had a pH of 5.4 both initially and 23 hours later.
The next soil sample (no 2) was taken- amidst active mosquitoes- from the base of the rich colluvial slope near the trail. This sample was rich in organic matter and dark in color. Plants in the vicinity of the sample included White Ash, Northern Red Oak, Witch Hazel, Poison Ivy, Hog Peanut, Horse Balm (Collinsonia canadensis), Hairy Disporum, Christmas Fern, Marginal Shield Fern, Curtis Goldenrod, White Wood Aster and an Avens ( Geum sp). An initial pH of 5.3 was obtained, but 23 hours later it had changed to 5.6.
The stream was now crossed to the east side and a soil sample (no 3) collected from a 2-3 inch depth in a semi-opening and in a luxuriant stand of Coral Berry. Other species in the vicinity included Sycamore, Sugar Maple, White Pine, Striped Maple, Virginia Creeper, an unidentified dewberry and Wide-leaved Joe-pye Weed. Values of pH obtained were 5.7 initially and 5.5 twenty- three hours later.
Soil sample no 4 was taken from a 2-3 inch depth under a 28 inch (0.67 m) dbh American Basswood in close proximity to Canada Mayflower. Other species in the vicinity were White Ash, Sugar Maple, White Pine, Striped Maple, Poison Ivy, Dutchman's Pipe vine, Ebony Spleenwort (Asplenium platyneuron ), White Wood Aster, Black Cohosh and Creeping Five-leaf. This sample yielded a pH of 5.4 initially and 5.0 twenty-three hours later.
Returning to the west side of the stream, a soil sample (no 5) was taken from next to a plant of Columbine. This Columbine, which was inventoried on our 11-10-98 visit, was located close to the trail under a one foot (0.3 m) dbh White Pine and a 22 inch (0.56 m) dbh American Basswood. Associates were White Ash, Poison Ivy, Dutchman's Pipe vine, Virginia Creeper, Hispid Greenbrier, Poke Milkweed, White Wood Aster, Hairy Sweet Cicely, Calico Aster, White Avens (Geum canadense ), Creeping Five-leaf and a patch of an unidentified species of Mnium moss. This sample, taken from a 2-3 inch depth and rich in organic matter, had an initial pH of 6.7 and 23 hours later this had increased to 7.6. It is possible that these values result in part from limestone gravel on the trail, with reaction continuing over time.
Along the cliff area of the flood plain's western edge Southern Bellflower, Spotted Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) and Thin-leaved Sunflower (Helianthus decapetalus) were in full bloom. A soil sample (no 6) was taken from the bank below the Yellow Birch referred to in our 10-19-98 traverse. This sample consisted of sticky yellow clay from the seep, which flowed on shale. It was low in organic matter and formed such hard lumps on drying that they could not be broken up with the fingers. No initial pH could be obtained due to suspended clay. However a determination made 23 hours later yielded a good value of 4.7.
Small lepidoptera were generally abundant everywhere and large ones such as Swallowtails were common as well. An inch-diameter land snail was also seen in the cliff area.
This walk initiated our extended program of soil temperature measurements at Ramsey's Draft and established a baseline for measurements throughout the Central Appalachians. Here we describe our stations and associated conditions during the first survey. As elsewhere each measurement is assigned a number following the symbol T, designating its position in the total sequence of measurements. For a summary, comparison of these data with others and an interpretation, see our "Soil Temperature and Forest Type." (Mueller, 2002) Except where indicated, all measurements here were on essentially flat aspects and at a depth of 5 inches (13 cm).Source Walk: 6-4-01
General conditions this day included mild temperatures and overcast skies that cleared about !:00 PM. Trees on slopes were leafing out and a number of plants such as Bloodroot and Miterwort were budding, Early Saxifrage was in bloom and Canada Mayflower and May Apple (Podophyllum peltatum) were leafing out. A good number of small birds, some with yellow feathers, and probably warblers, were active in the canopy and shrubbery. It should also be mentioned that contrary to an earlier (1998) impression, the apparent effect of the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid is very great in this forest, particularly in the form of a thinned canopy and dead large trees.
Our first station, reached at about 11:00, was located about 1/5 mile (0.3 km) southeast of the Mountain House picnic ground on the west side of the flood plain, under a 10 inch (0.25 m) dbh Yellow Birch. Canada Mayflower was a conspicuous ground cover. Taken at a depth of 6 inches in dark organic soil, the temperature reading (T-18) was T = 9.5 deg C, after about five minutes stabilization time. It should be mentioned that this station is in an area in which Hemlock have been profoundly defoiated.
The second station, perhaps 10 meters from the first, was at what would prove to be a deep source spring. A water temperature reading (T - 19) here was T = 8.0 deg C after rapid equilibration.
The third station was perhaps some hundreds of feet east of the first, and virtually on the bank of Ramsey's Draft. The location, also under a clump of Yellow Birch, was in very stony soil, and the measurement (T-20), resulted in T = 11.0 deg C at a depth of 4 inches (10 cm).
We now returned to the picnic ground vicinity and from there continued up - valley, Our next station (no 4) was located just west of the trail under a mature Shagbark Hickory in very stony soil. A measurement (T-21) yielded T = 10.0 deg C after equilibration.
Our fifth station, unlike those previously occupied, was at the base of the mountain slope or western valley side and had an easterly aspect. The site, described in our 8-2-00 inventory and pH determination, is in rich colluvium, resulted in a reading (T-22) of T = 12.5 deg C.
Continuing up-valley, we arrived at the extensive outcrop of red sandstone and a small seep that originates in the base of the mountain slope or valley side. Determination (T-23) of the water temperature of this seep resulted in a value of T = 11.0 deg C. Of interest here also was the presence of a large, dark unidentified salamander.
A little beyond the seep we noted Wild Pink, here in truly pink bloom, as distinguished from the white phase seen elsewhere on the flood plain. Then, beyond the red cliff, we established a station at a low point, under a 5 inch (0.13 m) dbh Yellow Birch that emitted a very cold sap from a wound. The soil temperature (T-24) was found to be T = 10 0 deg C.
Moving up-valley again along the trail, we observed what may have been a Coal Skink (Eumeces anthracinus). Then, just south of the derelict Game Commission building, our next station was chosen among Mountain Laurel and blooming Blunt-lobe Hepatica just west of the trail. A temperature (T-25) of T = 9.0 deg C was obtained.
Our last soil temperature station was located a little north of the Wilderness boundary, where the trail pinched out between the mountain slope and the flood plain. and in the vicinity of where on a 6-7-99 survey we had seen a seedling of Mountain Ash. The reading (T-26), in rich-appearing organic soil among Millet Grass, was T = 10.0 deg C.
Two additional water temperature readings were made on our return down - valley. The first (T-27), was of a branch stream that enters the Draft just north of the picnic ground. A temperature T = 11.0 deg C was obtained. The second (T-28), was of the Draft itself, which had T = 10.0 deg C.
A major objective on this walk again was the determination of soil and water temperatures. To see the result the reader is referred to our "Soil Temperature and Forest Type." The spread in soil temperatures this day was only 12.0-13.0 or one deg C.
Other observations included the relatively infrequent occurrence of Bloodroot, the common occurrence of Wood nettle and Horse Balm in moist areas, the first noted Crooked-stem Aster in these areas as well, and the presence of Virginia Waterleaf with white blooms. An impression was also gained of the rather more common than previously thought occurrence of Red Elderberry, Summer Grape, Shagbark Hickory, White Ash, Woodland Strawberry and White Pine saplings. The infrequent occurrence of Flowering Dogwood was again noted.
Birds recorded either visually or by ear included Red-eyed Vireos, possibly other vireos, Scarlet Tanagers and a number of Ovenbirds. Fish were seen rising in a pool at about 2:30 PM and midges-some biting- as well as mosquitoes were common.
An impression was also gained of the pervasive defoliation of Hemlock, especially the larger trees, but also of a type of "epicormic" growth on twigs of the smaller and more vigorous Hemlock, as well as the common presence of cones on these trees, despite their afflicted state. It also seems likely that the abundance of White Pine in the understory is a consequence of thinning of the canopy by the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid.
Source Walk: 6-22-01
Source Walks: 7-28-01, 8-15-01, 9-11-01, 10-11-01 and 11-2 - 01
Our walk this day began at near 10:00 AM. It was immediately apparent that the deep source spring had a stronger flow than on 6-4-01. It was also noted that pollywogs were present in the stream edge.
A soil sample (no 7) was taken from a 2-3 inch depth as close as possible to a blooming plant of Columbine on a flat part of the flood plain just west of the stream and far from a gravel path. Alluvium here was sandstone cobble with sandy, organic matter-rich soil in the interstices. An initial pH value of 5.6 was obtained for this soil, and 28 hours later one of 5.7.
Another soil sample (no 8) was taken from close to a second Columbine not far from the first. The soil here was similar to that at the site of sample 7. This sample was found to have pH values of 6.8 and 7.0 initially and 28 hours later respectively.
These pH values of soils in close proximity to Columbine thus appear to be markedly higher than those obtained in close proximity to other plant species and communities on this flood plain, both aiding in defining the stability field of this species and serving as an illustration of the overriding importance of microhabitats in floristics.
Additional floral observations included noting the common occurrence and association of Wood Nettle and Horse Balm and the first Crinkled Hairgrass (Deschampsia flexuosa), then in bloom. Ovenbirds were heard, as were Red-eyed Vireos, drumming unidentified woodpeckers and American Toads (Bufo americanus) from the stream. Small unidentified birds were common in the canopy. Red - spotted Purple (Limenitis arthemis astyanax) Butterflies were abundant on the road and fritillaries, yellow swallowtails and Spring Azures (Lycanopsis argiolus pseudargiolus ) were also noted. Small, light-colored lepidoptera, whose number is usually an indication of habitat richness, as well as other small insects, including mosquitoes, were all common, if not abundant.
Source Walks: 4-11-02, 4-26-02, 5-15-02, 5-23-02, 6-15 - 02, 7-2-02, 7-27-02, 8-21-02, 9-6-02 and 9-19-02
The following walks were primarily to monitoring soil and water temperatures, and other observations are more or less incidental. With benefit of a year's hindsight, weather conditions during this period were perhaps not far from "normal." especially in light of the 2002 heat wave. As previously noted, data obtained are already posted on our web site.
On 7-28-01 the stream was dry, or rather submerged beneath its bed load, in places, while both the branch stream and small seep were entirely dry. Species noted for the first time were the tick trefoils Desmodium nudiflorum, D. glutinosum and D. viridiflorum, with the first two in bloom and last two restricted to the richest-appearing soil areas, and perhaps influenced by introduced limestone gravels. Also noted for the first time were Basil Balm (Monarda clinopodia), in bloom as well, and, in association with Millet Grass an Enchanter's Nightshade with the characteristics of Quadrisulcata canadensis.
On 8-15-01 the stream was flowing strongly as were the seep and branch stream. A determination of the pH of the Deep Source Spring yielded 4.5. An additional plant recorded on this walk was Wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia) in bloom. On 9-11-01 the seep was dry and on 10-11-01 the seep and branch stream were both dry. On 11-2-01 the seep was again dry and the stream low enough for surface water to be absent in many places.
As previously noted, the 2002 growing season was probably unusually warm and dry, and this was borne out by soil and water temperatures recorded by us at Ramsey's Draft (see our "Soil Temperature and Forest Type, II"). However, the early part of the season deviated from this trend and produced some of the lowest temperatures recorded thus far. Here we again report on observations incidental to the temperature measurements.Source Walk: 9-25-02
4-11-02 was a cool, bright day on which our walk began about 10: 15 Am. Spice Bush, Bluets, Wood Anemone, Bloodroot, Hepatica and Potentilla canadensis were all in bloom, but no Canada Mayflower was yet to be seen. There was strong stream flow and Red-eyed Vireos were heard. Little or no bud swelling was apparent on Tuliptree, White Ash, basswood, Shagbark Hickory, White Pine, Muscletree or Sugar Maple. However the alien Morrow's Honeysuckle ( Lonicera morrowi ) was leafing out.
4-26-02 was again cool but overcast at the 10:15 start of the survey. Species noted included Canada Mayflower, Early Saxifrage, Long-spurred and Smooth Yellow Violets, the first Dog Violet ( Viola conspersa), Great Chickweed (Stellaria pubera ), Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) and Mountain Anemone (Anemone lancifolia) -all in bloom, as well as Rattlesnake Fern. The Blue Cohosh was represented by a single plant found at the base of the colluvial slope near soil temperature station 5.Red-eyed Vireos were heard.
The 5-15-02 walk began cool, sunny and windy at near 9:25 AM. Noted for the first time was Plume Lily (Smilacina racemosa) as well as Deer-tongue Grass, Canada violet and Canada Mayflower, with all still in bloom. An impression was also gained of an abundance of small White Ash and birch saplings, perhaps, like those of the White Pine previously mentioned, attributable to the opening of the canopy by the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid. Birds, as usual, were common and included Red-eyed Vireo, Scarlet Tanager and Ovenbird.
5-23-02, 6-15-02 and 7-2-02 saw a gradual increase in air, soil and water temperatures. At the 9:45 AM start of the 5-23-02 walk it was cool and sunny, and the calls of Ovenbirds were heard. Similarly the start at 9:15 AM on 6-15-02 was under cool, sunny but windy conditions, and for the first time small fish were seen in the deep source spring. Also, pollywogs were present in the stream. The seep was almost dry however and contained no pollywogs. Scarlet Tanagers and Ovenbirds were heard quite frequently. By contrast the 9:15 start on 7-2-02 was under warm and hazy conditions. Fish were again seen in the deep source spring and 3/4 inch (2 cm) pollywogs in the stream. The stream was low, however, and the seep and branch stream dry. A pH reading was done of the deep source spring water and this was found to be 5.2, in marked contrast with the value of 4.5 obtained on 8-15-01 under high water conditions. This result is the expected one given that bases would be more concentrated under the low water conditions of 7-2-02.
7-25-02 saw a 9:15 start under overcast, humid conditions and the seep dry. On 8-21-02 the start at 9:15 was under cool conditions and soil at all stations dry. The deep source spring was low, the seep and branch stream dry. A pH determination of the deep source spring yielded a value of 5.0, in harmony with the spring's low flow volume. Although it was relatively cool at the 9:00 start on 9-6 - 02, soils at all stations this day were very dry, the deep source spring virtually dry, and its water at a very low temperature (15.5 deg C) in comparison with preceding values and its 2001 trend. This low temperature value can be attributed to a shortage of relatively warm shallow waters acting to dilute more deep lying cooler waters. On 9-19-02, at a 10:00 AM start was again relatively cool, but with overcast skies and drizzle. Although the seep and branch stream were still dry, soils were generally moister than on previous visits. The stream pH was found to be 5.1. However, of greatest interest was a one degree C increase in the median soil temperature. One explanation of this increase is a pick-up of exothermic soil respiration feeding on pent up dead organic matter that failed to decay under preceding dry conditions. It is possible that the apparent increase in soil moisture was a consequence of the decrease in the length of the day, slowing evapotranspiration.
Source Walk: 6-10-03
The major objective of our walk this day was an inventory of the Aster Family (Asteraceae) of lower Ramsey's Draft but also other species of opportunity. However, three soil temperatures and the stream temperature were also determined. Weather conditions were sunny and pleasant at the 9:45 AM start of our walk, but we ended in light rain in the late afternoon. Of some interest was the observed decrease in soil temperatures after their anomalous rise on 9-19 - 02.
Plants successively noted in the vicinity of the Wilderness parking lot were Blue Wood Aster, White Wood Aster, Crooked-stem Aster, Curtis Goldenrod, White Snakeroot and the first Wrinkle-leaf Goldenrod (Solidago rugosa) and Tall Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata).
Now arriving at soil temperature station no 4, the first in this series, in close proximity to a Shagbark Hickory, a determination (T-580) of T = 17.0 deg C was obtained. Then moving on to station no 5 at the base of the colluvial slope, a determination (T-581) again yielded T = 17.0 deg C in moist soil. Still moving generally up - stream, but in a shallow loop through the forest to the east of the trail, we encountered Mad-dog Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) and Veiny Peavine (Lathyrus venosus). Then, along the trail again, we saw Tall Goldenrod (Solidago altissina or S. canadensis var scabrum ), Cudweed (Gnaphalium obtusifolium ), Common Beggar-ticks ( Bidens vulgata), Horseweed (Conyza canadensis or Erigeron canadensis ), Common Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia), Great Ragweed (A. trifida), Woodland Sunflower, Carrion Flower, Four-leaf Yam (Dioscorea quaternata) and Cut-leaf Goldenrod (Solidago arguta var arguta ). The presence of Saw Brier was also confirmed.
At station no 6, the stream, our determination (T-582) found a water temperature of T = 17.0 deg C as well. Seen here at the cliff base was Ebony Spleenwort and Carex platyphylla with the broadest and longest leaves any of us had ever seen on this sedge.
It should be mentioned that temperature station no 7, at a seep, is omitted here because the seep was dry.
Passing through the open area at the cliff base and over large cobbles, we encountered the tick- trefoil Desmodium paniculatum in the dry stream bed, while nearby grew Silverrod (Solidago bicolor), Grass-leaved Goldenrod (Euthamia graminifolia ), beautifully blooming Wrinkle-leaf Goldenrod (photo), Woodland Sunflower, Heath Aster (Aster pilosus) and, at the water's edge, Carex scabrata.
Pausing at soil temperature station no 8, we recorded (T-583) yet another value of T= 17.0 deg C for the soil, then continued to make our way along the trail. A spot inventory was subsequently done in the vicinity of the derelict Game Commission buildings. Bearing in mind that the flora here likely reflects the presence of limestone gravel, we tallied Purple-top Grass (Triodia flava), Wingstem, Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa ), the tick -trefoil Desmodium viridiflorum, Cutleaf Grapefern ( Botrychium dissectum ), the aliens Coltsfoot ( Tussilago farfara), Spotted Knapweed (Centaurea maculosa) and Smooth Crabgrass (Digitaria ischaemum) as well as Tree Moss.
In the afternoon another traverse was made up-valley and the stream was crossed to the valley's east side, about half way between the Game Commission buildings and the Wilderness boundary to the north. Still moving up-valley we noted a little of the alien grass Microstegium vimineum. and the edible fungus "Chicken-of-the - woods" (Laetiporus sulphureus), which we later consumed for supper.
We now proceeded up-stream on a low terrace composed of boulder cobbles and with a springbrook at its eastern edge. Carex scabrata was exceptionally abundant along this brook.
We soon came to several beaver dams, one above the other, on the brook. The largest and farthest up-stream of the ponds behind the dams contained a lodge as well (photo). Freshly pealed sticks indicated that the lodge was still occupied.
Fish, some perhaps 10 inches (25 cm) in length, were present in these ponds. Tentatively identified by R. Hunsucker were Black-nose Dace (Rhinichthys atratulus) and Northern Hog Sucker ( Hypertelium nigricans). A frog of unidentified species leapt into the water from the lodge. One of the few bird signs was the call of a Red-shouldered Hawk. Also present in the ponds were Larger water Starwort (Callitriche heterophylla) and an unidentified species of the alga Nitella, while American Water Pennywort (Hydrocotyle americana) occurred on the bank. Of particular interest was the occurrence, in association with Mountain Laurel, of a single seedling of Great Rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum), in the first appearance of this species here, and only the second in the Shenandoah Mountain area (see our section on The North River Valley) !
Here we found ourselves in a generally mature, if not old growth forest, dominated by severely defoliated Hemlock and White Pine, with a number of smaller deciduous species, in particular Black Birch. The sparse shrub layer was dominated by Mountain Laurel and the ground flora by Intermediate Shield Fern. A number of quite large trees, particularly Black Birch, had been felled by Beavers, resulting in many crossed down boles
After terminating our traverse in this exceedingly difficult terrain, we re-crossed the stream and returned to the trail on the valley's west side. On our return along the trail we identified Robin's Plantain ( Erigeron pulchellus), the grass Cinna arundiacea, Tall White Lettuce (Prenanthes altissima) and Common Joe - pye Weed (Eupatorium fistulosum).
Tests were also done to determine the acidity of the "soil" immediately beneath well rotted down wood. The first specimen ( sample no 9) was taken from beneath a decayed stump, possibly Hemlock. pH values obtained were 4.8 and 5.7 initially and after 21 hours respectively. The second specimen (sample no 10) was taken from beneath a well rotted down bole, and an initial pH value of 5.7 was obtained. However, after 21 hours this had increased to 7.2.
On this day two inventories were conducted, the first down-Valley from Mountain House in the vicinity of the Deep-source Spring of our soil and water temperature program, the other up-Valley from the Wilderness parking lot, along the NW Valley side to the vicinity of the derelict Game Commission buildings. A major objective was a survey of sedges
On our way down-Valley we noted an Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea). Sensitive Fern, One-flowered Broomrape, Carex digitalis, C. platyphylla, C. communis, and, at the Spring, abundant Spice Bush, Canada Mayflower, Star Flower and Medeola, as well as Bluets, Wood Anemone (including the form sometimes referred to as "A. lancifolia") and Carex. appalachica, with swollen (and presumably diseased) perigynia. Also seen in the Spring vicinity were the wood rush Luzula acuminata, Carex laxiflora, C. prasina, New York Fern (Thelypteris noveboracensis), the forest grass Brachyelytrum erectum, Mad-dog Skullcap, Nodding Fescue and Deer-tongue Grass; while at its wet edge were Carex scabrata Fowl Manna Grass (Glyceria striata), the manna grass G. melicaria and Pennsylvania Bittercress ( Cardamine pensylvanica ). On the bank of the "Adjacent Spring" we saw a little stunted Columbine and Lance-leaved Aster (Aster lancifolia).
A moss flora collected from the edge of the Deep-source Spring consisted of Mnium hornum, Dicranella heteromalla, Tetraphis pellucida, Hypnum pallescens, Amblystegium fluviatile (on stones submerged in shallow water), Sematophyllum marylandicum and Dicranum fuscescens, then from the "adjacent Spring", submerged Fontinalis novae - angliae and Amblystegium fluviatile.
Now, moving to our up-Valley site, we proceeded northeast along the Valley side, as on a number of previous occasions, noting Carex radiata, C. appalachica, Maryland Figwort (Scrofularia marilandica) and on rotting sticks, the small red cup fungus Scarcoscypha occidentalis. These were followed by Carex cephalophora, Poke Milkweed, the blue-eyed Grass Sisyrinchium angustifolium and the first Smooth Sweet Cicely (Osmorhiza longistylis) seen by us in the Draft. We had now reached the open rock terrace that forms the stream's right bank and which is in turn bordered by the red siltstone and sandstone cliffs referred to in our other inventories. Here, for the first time, we tallied Purple-leaved Willow-herb (Epilobium coloratum), the alien Mouse-ear Chickweed (Cerastium vulgatum) and Indian Tobacco (Lobelia inflata) ; then Carex communis, Carex torta in the stream bed, Smooth Rockcress. and a large land snail. Associated more with the cliff were Long-flowered Alumroot (Heuchera longiflora), Southern Bellflower, Phlox glaberrima, Wood anemone, Carex swanii, Golden Alexanders (Zizia aptera), Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis ), Woodland sunflower and Allegheny Blackberry with some characteristics of Pennsylvania Blackberry. Before terminating our traverse, and within the forest, we noted Carex sparganoides, a somewhat northern species and, according to Strausbaugh and Core (1977), characteristic of "rich woods."
Additionally, determinations were made of the pH of the well-rotted wood beneath the bryophyte cover of three down boles. The first of these boles was of the order of 25 cm in diameter and was sparsely covered by unidentified bryophytes. This sample (no 11) had a pH of 5.0 initially, but after three days, one of 4.8, an insignificant change. The second sample (no 12) was taken from beneath what appeared to be the moss Thuidium delicatulum that formed a patchy cover on a bole of a diameter similar to the first. A pH value of 4.8 was obtained both initially and after three days. The third sample (no 13) came from beneath a luxuriant cover of bryophytes from a somewhat larger down bole that included a very long stemmed and robust but unidentified species of the moss Mnium. The wood of this sample also appeared to exhibit a greater degree of decay than the other samples. An initial pH value of 5.3 was obtained, but after three days this had increased to 5.8. If these values are compared to the pH values obtained earlier for "soil" from beneath well rotted down wood (sample nos 9 and 10), there is a suggestion that, at least in this case, alkalinity increases as decay progresses.
Ramsey's Draft 9-6-03
Ramsey's Draft 9-6-03
Ramsey's Draft 9-6-03
Ramsey's Draft 5-20-03
Photo by Mike Jones
Ramsey's Draft 5-20-03
Photo by Mike Jones
Ramsey's Draft 5-20-03
Photo by Mike Jones
Ramsey's Draft 5-20-03
Photo by Mike Jones
Ramsey's Draft 5-20-03
Photo by Mike Jones
For a number of species the lower Ramsey's Draft watershed mirrors the climatic zone of the highest elevations. The Yellow Birch already referred to is joined by a number of other cold-climate species, including Wild Sarsaparilla, Canada Mayflower, Star Flower, Millet Grass, Red Elderberry, Choke Cherry, Mountain Holly, Mountain Ash and White Wood Sorrel. Also, even our brief inventories already disclosed species such as Columbine, Millet Grass, Long-spurred and Canada Violets and others with more demanding soil requirements than any found in the upper watershed. This result is to be expected since the alluvial deposits in the lower watershed draw upon a far greater variety of rock types, and most particularly the weaker, frequently concealed and more nutrient-rich shales, mudstones and possible minor carbonate beds. These differences are also reflected in the soil pH values, which are much higher in the lower Draft than in the RNA. In this regard the species and communities in both the upper and lower watershed should be viewed in terms of their inferred stability relations (Mueller, 2000). Also, the transported material has been subject to greater modification by soil-building organisms than the raw rock fragments that dominate the cold, dry soils of higher elevations. Additionally, the greater species richness of the lower watershed-which so far includes more than 200 species- presents more opportunities to study microhabitats and the effect of terrain nuances such as we observed in the case of Yellow Birch.
It is interesting to view the area in terms of Rawinski's (1992) system of classification based on nutrient regimes represented by the floras. In this system, which is of considerable utility as an overview of a variety of forest types, the following sequence of decreasing nutrient availability descriptors is used:
Species which fall under these descriptors were determined by consultations with a variety of knowledgeable observers. It should be mentioned that this system has as its basis the same assumptions that underlie the stability field approach espoused here, but in rule-of-thumb form.
Species lower in the sequence may also be present in a given flora higher in the sequence, but not the reverse. Although, in its classic manifestation, forest types that fall under this system occur as distinct stands, plant species indicators of all five descriptors occur in the lower Ramsey's Draft, usually as part of a complex mosaic of microhabitats. Thus the observed Millet Grass is regarded as eutrophic, although, it is also recognized as part of a boreal flora. Additionally, according to Rawinski, the sedge Carex scabrata, which is common along springbrooks and at places on the banks of Ramsey's Draft, is regarded part of the eutrophic water saturated class, although, in the opinion of this reporter, this position is probably too high in the sequence. The observed Canada Violet and Blue Cohosh are regarded as defining permesotrophic floras if Millet Grass is absent from the microhabitats in which they occur, and Black Cohosh a mesotrophic flora in the absence of the previously mentioned species or others higher in the sequence. Although it is permissible for many diagnostic species of lower members of the sequence to occur in higher member floras, such occurrences are constrained by the stability relations of the species represented. Thus Mountain Laurel, an oligotropic species, would not be expected to be stable in a eutrophic community, because, for one, its required pH is probably too low. However it might occur stably in a mesotrophic or submesotrophic community.
The relations between the various species of bryophytes and habitat is less clear. As an example, the mosses Hypnum cupressiforme and Rhytidiadelphus triquetrus, calciphiles on soils in at least parts of their ranges (Crum and Anderson, 1981; Conard, 1974), - whether through failure to detect or not-were not observed by us in the calcareous terrain of Blowing Springs, but occur here on dead and possibly living trees.
We greatly appreciate the assistance of Dr. Dana Griffin III, bryologist/naturalist of the Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville in the identification of bryophytes. As always, the extraordinary contributions of R. Hunsucker to many aspects of this project deserve special mention and are happily acknowledged. The many contributions of Dorothy Simkins, as a sharp-eyed observer, are also greatly appreciated.
Conard, Henry S., (revised by Paul L. Redfearn, Jr) 1979, How to Know the Mosses and Liverworts, Wm. C. Brown Co. publisher, Dubuque, Iowa.
Crum, Howard A. and Lewis E. Anderson, 1981, Mosses of Eastern North America ,in two volumes, Columbia University Press, New York.
Fansler, W. W. III, 1984, A floristic study of Ramsey's Draft Wilderness Area, Augusta County, Virginia, MS Thesis, Marshall Univ., Huntington West Va.
Mueller, R. F., 1991, Central Appalachian Wilderness in Perspective, The George Washington National Forest, Wild Earth, 1 (3), 62-67.
Mueller, R. F., 1998, Exploring Nature's Multidimensional Space, the Forest Example, Forests of the Central Appalachians Project, Virginians for Wilderness Web Site..
Mueller, Bob, 1999, A Wilderness for Ernie. Wild Earth, 9 (1), 84.
Mueller, R. F. 2000, Stability Relations in Forests, Forests of the Central Appalachians Project, Virginians for Wilderness Web Site.
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Rawinski, Thomas J. 1992, A Classification of Virginia's Indigenous Biotic Communities: Vegetated Terrestrial, Palustrine, and Estuarine Community Classes. Technical Report # 92-21. Div. of Natural Heritage, Dept. of Conservation and Recreation, Richmond, Va.
Rawinski, Thomas J., Gary P. Fleming and Francine V. Judge, 1994, Forest vegetation of Ramsey's Draft and Little Laurel Run Research Natural Areas, Virginia: baseline ecological monitoring and classification, Natural Heritage Tech. Report 94-14, Div. of Natural Heritage, Richmond, Va., 45 pp plus appendicies.
Robbins, Charles S. (senior editor) and Eirik A. T. Blom (project coordinator) 1996, Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Maryland and the District of Columbia, Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA.
Strausbaugh, P. D. and Earl L. Core, 1977, Flora of West Virginia, second edition, Seneca Books Inc. Grantsville, West Virginia.