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Lakeshore Beach

Scientific Name: Lakeshore Sand/Cobble Beach; State Rank: S4

This is a new community type in Maine, to describe shallow lakeshores around large lakes and ponds. See the pdf for photos and maps.

Community Description: These low sandy or gravelly lakeshores and associated berms are characterized by a variety of herbaceous plants that are tolerant of significant fluctuations in water level, ice scour, and wave action. Composition varies with substrate, with assemblages on sand possibly including large cranberry, switch-grass, black chokeberry, pinweed, poverty oat-grass, purplish northern panic-grass, and deertongue. On berms, a sparse canopy of trees or shrubs may be present, including common juniper, speckled alder, red maple, white pine, and gray birch. Typical assemblages on cobble or gravel include sweet gale, tufted hairgrass, water parsnip, beggar-ticks, spikerushes, common horsetail, boneset, creeping spearwort, and three square. Back to top.

Soil and Site Characteristics: Beaches typically occur on the perimeters of larger lakes in landscapes of low to rolling terrain, where ice-push, wave action, and natural or anthropogenic drawdown (e.g., from impoundments) have created broad open bands and berms around portions of the lakeshore. Berms may consist of sand or gravel, with organic matter deposited by waves and forming wrack lines. Back to top.

Diagnostics: Herbaceous plants are dominant or co-dominant with shrubs in a lakeshore setting. Back to top.

Similar Types: Outwash Plain Pondshores may have similar soil and site characteristics but contain certain indicators that are not present on other lakeshores, including three-leaved goldenrod, golden pert, and meadow beauty. Aquatic community types are dominated by submerged plants. Back to top.

Conservation, Wildlife and Management Considerations: This is the most frequent lakeshore type for medium and large lakes in Maine. While many lakeshore beaches are protected by fee ownership, easement, or regulation, activities such as ATV use have significantly altered the vegetation at some sites. Hydrologic integrity is also a concern; as water use increases from neighboring homes and businesses, aquifer drawdowns could impair these water dependent systems and lead to vegetational changes. Invasive plants may be a problem at some sites.

Lakeshore Beaches with abundant sections of exposed sand or sand-gravel may provide valuable nesting habitat for resident painted, snapping, and musk turtles if water levels remain relatively stable during the incubation period of June through October. Back to top.

Distribution: Extends east, west, and north from Maine; occurs only as scattered areas southward. Landscape Pattern: Small to large patch, linear. Back to top.

Characteristic Plants: These plants are frequently found in this community type. Those with an asterisk are often diagnostic of this community.

  • Sapling/Shrub
    • Gray birch
    • Red maple
    • Speckled alder
    • White pine
  • Dwarf Shrub
    • Black chokeberry
    • Sweet gale
  • Herb
    • Beggar-ticks
    • Boneset
    • Common horsetail
    • Creeping spearwort
    • Flatsedges
    • Ground juniper
    • Large cranberry
    • Panic grasses
    • Pinweed
    • Poverty oat-grass
    • Spikerushes
    • Sweet gale
    • Switch-grass
    • Swamp candles
    • Three square
    • Tufted hairgrass
    • Water parsnip

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Associated Rare Plants

There are no documented rare plants associated with this natural community.

Associated Rare Animals

  • Black tern

Examples on Conservation Lands You Can Visit

Example County
Fourth Machias Lake Washington Co.
Gero Island Piscataquis Co.