Pine Barrens Ecosystem

  State Rank: S1

Sandy glacial outwash or till areas with nutrient-poor, excessively well-drained soils, flat to undulating topography, and a patchy canopy dominated by pine (generally a single species, either pitch pine, jack pine, or red pine), or, in more boreal settings, spruce (usually black spruce). Historically, at least, pine barrens burned frequently due to the dry conditions and flammability of the vegetation; species able to withstand fire or regenerate quickly after a fire (as well as being tolerant of low nutrient conditions and dry soil) are therefore typical. More recently, many pine barrens have been maintained in an early successional stage (represented by the Little Bluestem - Blueberry Sandplain Grassland and Blueberry - Lichen Barren communities) through biennial burning for blueberry production. The actual vegetation of a barren depends on how recently or frequently it burned. Many pine barrens have a layer of heath shrubs (<0.5 m tall) below the canopy, with occasional grassy openings among the shrubs. The overstorydominants of Maine barrens range from pitch pine in the southwestern Maine barrens, to red or white pine in the eastern Maine blueberry barrens, to spruce in far northwestern Maine.

Natural Communities Associated with Pine Barrens Ecosystem