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Habitats and Priority Species

The coastal zone contains the most diverse myriad of habitats of any of the ecoregions of the state and is treated somewhat separately from the other ecoregions because of this complexity. Many habitats within the region that are very important to wildlife species are completely dependent upon the influence of salt water and direct management action, such as coastal impoundments. In some cases it was inappropriate to classify the habitats solely based on vegetation.

Diverse forest types are distributed throughout the extreme eastern portion of the lower coastal plain mainland that is adjacent to estuaries and tidal river basins. Due to this proximity, large coastal zone islands, including barrier islands, sea islands and many hammock islands also support forested habitats very similar to those found in the lower coastal plain. Forested habitats distributed within both the coastal zone and coastal plain include the following: bottomland hardwood, pine woodland, oak-hickory or hardwood dominated, mixed mesic hardwood and bald cypress-tupelo gum swamp. Larger landmasses within the coastal zone also contain grassland and early successional habitats and wet flatwoods. Ponds and depressions, or wetlands isolated from tidal waterways, occur in the coastal zone as well, including interdune ponds that are restricted to dune systems along the Atlantic Ocean beaches.

Forest and Wetland Habitats of the Coastal Plain

General Description and Location Typical coastal plain pine and hardwood forests extend into the coastal zone, sometimes with variations due to coastal influences or land management practices. Included are pine woodland, hardwood bottoms, upland forest and river slopes and bottoms. Cypress-tupelo hardwood bottoms within the coastal zone may be influenced more by tidal activity than by river flows, but the water is typically fresh or nearly so. Cypress-tupelo swamps may also be isolated from rivers and may be remnants of relict ricefield reserves. Several types of ponds and depressions occurring within the coastal plain ecoregion also occur within the coastal zone, including depression meadows, pond cypress ponds, swamp tupelo ponds, pocosins and limestone sinks.

Associated Species

Highest Priority:

High Priority: Moderate Priority

Southern Hognose Snake, Wood Stork, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, American Eel Upland Chorus Frog, Southeastern Bat, Pickerel Frog, Black Swamp Snake : Wood Duck, Snapping Turtle, Pickerel Frog, Black Swamp Snake

Early Successional Habitats of the Coastal Plain

General Description and Location Typical coastal plain upland grasslands or early successional fields extend into the coastal zone, with cover provided by grasses and/or weeds and with few, if any, trees. Also included are meadows, pastures, golf courses and expansive lawns with or without damp depressions.

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