Habitats of North Carolina
Habitat Group:
Habitat Type:
Members of Longleaf Pine Woodlands:
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Longleaf Pine Woodlands
Wet, Sandy, Fire-maintained Herblands
General Description Habitats maintained by frequent fire were once one of the most distinctive features of the North Carolina Coastal Plain, with thousands of acres burning every year following lightning strikes. Due to extensive efforts to suppress natural wildfires, however, these communities are now represented mainly by a few relicts that are artificially maintained by prescribed burning. The habitat type described here -- associated with wet, sandy soils -- was once one of the most extensive in the Coastal Plain and still contains one of the richest assemblages of distinctive animals and plants of any habitat in the state.

The plant members of this particular habitat -- including the Venus Flytap, probably our most emblematic species -- are all herbs that are shade-intolerant and consequently that require an open canopy and sparse-to-absent shrub layer to survive. In these habitats, the openness is created and maintained by frequent fire, with sites burning on at least a 3-5 year return interval; many of the plants in this habitat only flower following a fire. Additional requirements are for soils that are fairly wet to constantly moist, but not flooded for extended periods. Species in this particular type of savanna grow on sandy, organic-poor substrates where soil water is acidic. Species associated with mucky peatland soils, often growing in close proximity to the members of this habitat, occupy a different and much larger range of habitats and are treated separately. Savannas that have a high clay or loam content in their soils also possess a different set of defining members and are consequently treated as a different habitat.

Most of the animals belonging in this habitat are Lepidopteran symbionts of the plant species, including the Venus Flytrap Cutworm moth, one of our rarest but most obscure species. The others are either suspected to belong to that category, e.g., the Carolina Schinia are more generalized in their host plants but nonetheless show a high fidelity to this habitat type. All of the Orthopterans fall in the second category, as do some of the Lepidopterans, e.g., Grammia placentia.

Like the plants, these insect species are adapted to frequent fire but unlike the plants, only a few survive through a fire in place, mainly as eggs or pupae located below ground. Most instead probably rely on a metapopulation strategy, involving survival and quick recolonization out from unburned patches of their habitat. Consequently, they typically require larger tracts of habitat than do the plants -- enough to ensure that some unburned patches persist. They also need longer intervals between burns -- sufficient to allow recolonization to keep up with local extirpation. In nearly all cases, these requirements make them far rarer than their host plants.

Abiotic Factors
Biotic Structure
Co-evolved Species Groups Phagic and Competitory Symbioses:
Dionaea muscipula // Hemipachnobia subporphyrea
Liatris species // Schinia sanguinea
Sporobolus brevipilis // Atrytone arogos-Photedes carterae

Several more of the insects in this group are probably also monophagous on plants that are specific to this habitat type but whose relationships have yet to be documented.

Determining Species
Neonympha areolatusGeorgia SatyrG3G4S2S20.03699
Atrytone arogosArogos SkipperG2G3SHSH
Atrytonopsis loammiLoammi SkipperG2SHSH
Balduina atropurpureaHoneycomb HeadG2S1S10.33330
Helenium vernaleSpring SneezeweedG4S1S10.33330
Hypoxis sessilisSessile Yellow StargrassG4S1S10.33330
Pinguicula luteaYellow ButterwortG4G5S1S10.33330
Spiranthes longilabrisGiant Spiral OrchidG3S1S10.33330
Xyris floridanaFlorida Yellow-eyed GrassG4G5S1S10.33330
Bartonia vernaWhite ScrewstemG5S2S20.03699
Cirsium leconteiLeConte's ThistleG3S2S20.03699
Dionaea muscipulaVenus FlytrapG2S2S20.03699
Helenium pinnatifidumDissected SneezeweedG4S2S20.03699
Pinguicula pumilaSmall ButterwortG4S2S20.03699
Platanthera integraYellow Fringeless OrchidG3G4S2S20.03699
Polygala brevifoliaLitte-leaf MilkwortG4G5S2S20.03699
Agalinis obtusifoliaTen-lobe False-foxglove, Ten-lobe GerardiaG4S2S3S2S30.01230
Asclepias longifoliaLongleaf MilkweedG4G5S2S3S2S30.01230
Polygala hookeri Hooker's MilkwortG3S2S3S2S30.01230
Tiedemannia filiformis ssp. filiformis Water CowbaneG5TNRS2S3S2S30.01230
Agalinis aphyllaScale-leaf GerardiaG3G4S3S30.00407
Aletris aureaGolden ColicrootG5S3S30.00407
Amphicarpum amphicarponPinebarrens Goober GrassG4S3S30.00407
Asclepias pedicellataSavanna MilkweedG4S3S30.00407
Asclepias rubraRed MilkweedG4G5S3S30.00407
Calopogon barbatusBearded Grass-pinkG4S3S30.00407
Calopogon pallidusPale Grass-pinkG4G5S3S30.00407
Cleistesiopsis divaricataLarge Spreading PogoniaG4S3S30.00407
Helianthus heterophyllusWetland SunflowerG4S3S30.00407
Liatris spicata var. resinosaMarsh BlazingstarG5T3T5S3S30.00407
Lilium catesbyiPine LilyG4S3S30.00407
Lysimachia loomisiiLoomis's LoosestrifeG3S3S30.00407
Oxypolis ternataSavanna CowbaneG3S3S30.00407
Pinguicula caeruleaBlue-flower ButterwortG4S3S30.00407
Platanthera blephariglottisWhite-fringe OrchisG4G5S3S30.00407
Platanthera conspicuaLarge White Fringed Orchid*S3S30.00407
Solidago pulchraCarolina GoldenrodG3S3S30.00407
Solidago vernaSpring-flowering GoldenrodG3S3S30.00407
Trilisa paniculataHairy ChaffheadG5S3S30.00407
Bigelowia nudata var. nudataPineland Rayless-goldenrod +G5T4T5S4S40.00041
Carphephorus tomentosus Wolly ChaffheadG4S4S40.00041
Chaptalia tomentosaWoolly SunbonnetsG5S4S40.00041
Linum floridanumFlorida Yellow FlaxG5S4S40.00041
Marshallia graminifoliaGrass-leaf Barbar's-buttonsG4S4S40.00041
Rhexia luteaYellow Meadow-beautyG5S4S40.00041
Triantha racemosaCoastal False-asphodelG5S4S40.00041
Zigadenus glaberrimusSandbog Death-Camas, Large-flowered CamasG5S4S40.00041
Erigeron vernusWhite-top FleabaneG5S5S50.00000
Asclepias cinereaCarolina MilkweedG4SHSH
Platanthera niveaSnowy OrchidG5SHSH
Xyris serotinaAcid-swamp Yellow-eyed-grassG3G4SHSH
Rhynchospora species 2Croatan BeaksedgeGNRS1S10.33330
Sporobolus teretifoliusWireleaf DropseedG2S1S10.33330
Aristida simplicifloraSouthern Three-awned Grass, Chapman's Three-awned GrassG3G4S1S2S1S20.11107
Andropogon mohrii Bog BluestemG4S2S20.03699
Anthenantia rufaPurple SilkyscaleG5S2S20.03699
Rhynchospora divergensWhite-seeded BeaksedgeG4S2S20.03699
Rhynchospora pusillaHumble BeaksedgeG4G5S2S20.03699
Scleria baldwiniiBaldwin's NutrushG4S2S20.03699
Rhynchospora galeanaShort-bristle BeaksedgeG3S2S3S2S30.01230
Calamovilfa brevipilisPinebarren SandreedG4S3S30.00407
Rhynchospora latifoliaGiant White-top SedgeG5S3S30.00407
Rhynchospora oliganthaFeather-bristle BeaksedgeG4S3S30.00407
Rhynchospora wrightianaWright's BeaksedgeG5S3S30.00407
Syngonanthus flavidulusYellow HatpinsG5S3S30.00407
Muhlenbergia expansaCut-over MuhlyG5S4S40.00041
Ponometia parvulaa bird-dropping moth
Hemipachnobia subporphyreaVenus Flytrap Cutworm MothG1S1S10.33330
Apamea inebriataDrunk ApameaG3G4S1S2S1S20.11107
Amolita roseolaAn erebid mothG5S2S3S2S30.01230
Eubaphe meridianaThe Little BeggerG4S2S3S2S30.01230
Grammia placentiaPlacentia Tiger MothG3G4S2S3S2S30.01230
Leptostales laevitariaRaspberry Wave MothG4S2S3S2S30.01230
Photedes carteraeCarter's Noctuid MothG2G3S2S3S2S30.01230
Schinia carolinensisCarolina SchiniaG3S2S3S2S30.01230
Crambus multilinellusMultinellus Grass-veneer MothGNRS2S4S2S40.00407
Acronicta sinescriptaa dagger mothG3G4SHSH
Argyria nummulalisA crambid mothGNRSUSU0.00202
Eotettix pusillusLittle Eastern GrasshopperG2G3S2S20.03699
Melanoplus nubilusa short-winged melanoplusG2G3S2S20.03699
Melanoplus decorusDecorated Spur-throat GrasshopperG2G3S2S3S2S30.01230
Mermiria pictaLively Mermiria GrasshopperG5S3S30.00407
Nr = Number of Ranked Species = 81
Ner = Number of Extant, Ranked Species = 75
Nv = Number of Historic and Extirpated Species = 6
Nar = Number of Species at Risk of Extirpation (State rank > S5) = 74
Nss = Number of Secure Species (State Rank = S5) = 1
Pss = Proportion of Secure Species (Nss/Ner) = 0.01333
ENE = Expected Number of Extirpations (Sum of PE) = 4.03582
Average PE (ENE/Ner) = 0.05381
Habitat Risk Index = (Nar+Nv) x Average PE = 80 x 0.05381 = 4.3048

Estimated Risk to the Determining Species
Estimated Risk to the Co-evolved Species Groups
Estimated Security of the Habitat
Index of Habitat Imperilment
Identified Risks
Observed Trends
Distribution Map
Major Conservation Reserves
Priority Areas for Surveys and Conservation Protection
Stewardship and Management Recommendations
References LeBlond, R.J., 2001. Endemic plants of the Cape Fear Arch region. Castanea 66:83-97

Sorrie, B.A., 2011. A field guide to wildflowers of the Sandhills Region: North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Univ of North Carolina Press.

Sorrie, B.A. and Weakley, A.S., 2001. Coastal plain vascular plant endemics: phytogeographic patterns. Castanea 66:50-82.

Sorrie, B.A. and Weakley, A.S., 2006. Conservation of the endangered Pinus palustris ecosystem based on Coastal Plain centres of plant endemism. Applied Vegetation Science 9:59-66.
Updated on 2022-01-01 00:08:45