|Black spruce / Labrador tea|
|Picea mariana / Ledum palustre ssp. decumbens|
|n = 46|
|I.A.2.f. Black Spruce Open Needleleaf Forest|
|Ecosystem: Relict Lakebed / Drainageway, Kettle, Discharge Slope, Depression|
This is a common Alaskan vegetation type however, it is not reported by either DeVelice et. al. (1999), on Chugach National Forest or Boggs (2000) on the Copper River Delta. Nominally, it is closest to the Black spruce (Picea mariana) / Labrador tea (Ledum palustre) / feathermoss (Hylocomium splendens) type described for interior Alaska floodplains (Viereck, 1989). However, on the Kenai lowlands, it occupies a significantly different landscape position and typically has sphagnum moss as the dominant ground cover.
On the Kenai lowlands, Black spruce / Labrador tea (Ledum palustre ssp. decumbens) is most frequent on areas of deeper peat on relict glacial lakebed and kettle fringes. Two sites are located on kame-like features with shallow organic horizons. It occurs most commonly on north of Ninilchick, where black spruce is more common, but a few locales in the south also support this community.
The black spruce canopy is generally open, with an open, low Labrador tea shrub layer. Dwarf birch (Betula nana) is common, bog blueberry (Vaccinium uliginosum) is often present, and crowberry (Empetrum nigrum) may be abundant. Cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus) is typically the only abundant forb; but bluejoint grass (Calamagrostis canadensis) occurs in about half the plots, usually in trace amounts.
A thick organic layer usually supports a water table less than 20 cm from the surface. The pH can vary widely, from very strongly acid to neutral. Only one site of the 46 visited, located on an unusual kame-like feature near Kenai, did not meet the soil criteria for a jurisdictional wetland.
Table 1. Frequency of soil series occurrence and hydric status at NRCS holes. Bold type indicates soils on the NRCS Alaska hydric soils list.
|STARICHKOF||16||1, 2B2, 3|
|1Proposed series, definitely hydic.|
Table 2. Summary of plant frequency and average cover for plants occurring
in more than 50% of plots.
Table 2. Summary of plant frequency and average cover for plants occurring in more than 50% of plots.
|Wetland Indicator Status|
|Picea mariana||1.0||18.1||FACW||FACW-, FACW|
|Empetrum nigrum||1.0||24.2||FAC||FACU, FACW|
|Ledum palustre ssp. decumbens||1.0||20.5||FACW||FACW
|Betula nana||1.0||12.6||FAC||FAC, OBL|
|Vaccinium uliginosum||0.9||5.3||FAC||FACU+, FACW
|Contact: Mike Gracz Kenai Watershed Forum PO Box 15301 Fritz Creek, AK 99603 907-235-2218||
Alaska Natural Heritage Program
and Natural Resource Institute
707 A Street, Suite 101
Anchorage, Alaska 99501
04 May 2007 09:53