Your browser does not support JavaScript!
About DCR
State Parks
Soil and Water
Dam Safety and

The Natural Communities of Virginia
Classification of Ecological Community Groups

Second Approximation (Version 2.7)
Information current as of February, 2016

Table of Contents Table of Contents

Semipermanent Impoundments

This group encompasses aquatic and shoreline vegetation of both beaver ponds and persistent man-made impoundments (e.g., millponds) along streams in all regions of Virginia. Compared to communities in the Floodplain Ponds and Pools group, semipermanent impoundments are more subject to unpredictable disturbances from flooding, beaver activities, irregular water fluctuations, and breaching of dams. Over time, or more rapidly when drained, these wetlands tend to fill with sediment and undergo invasion by emergent and woody vegetation. Community composition varies greatly with geographic region, disturbance regimes, substrate and water depth. Emergent, non-tidal marshes are characteristic of abandoned but persistent beaver ponds. Dominant species of such marshes in the Coastal Plain include smartweeds (Persicaria spp.), pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata var. cordata), arrow-arum (Peltandra virginica), common rush (Juncus effusus), three-way sedge (Dulichium arundinaceum var. arundinaceum), tussock sedge (Carex stricta), spikerushes (Eleocharis spp.), coastal mannagrass (Glyceria obtusa), Virginia marsh St. John's-wort (Hypericum virginicum), and swamp rose-mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos). In the Piedmont and mountains, American bur-reed (Sparganium americanum), arrow-arum (Peltandra virginica), sedges (Carex spp.), lizard's-tail (Saururus cernuus), common water-purslane(Ludwigia palustris), alternate-leaved seedbox (Ludwigia alternifolia), common cattail (Typha latifolia), southern water-plantain (Alisma subcordatum), woolgrass (Scirpus cyperinus), woodland bulrush (Scirpus expansus), and rice cutgrass (Leersia oryzoides) are more characteristic.

In deepwater impoundments, floating and submerged aquatic plants are typical, including white water-lily (Nymphaea odorata ssp. odorata) and bladderworts (Utricularia spp.) in the Coastal Plain, and common spatterdock (Nuphar advena), water shield (Brasenia schreberi), pondweeds (Potamogeton spp.), large water-starwort (Callitriche heterophylla var. heterophylla), and duckweeds (Lemna spp.) state-wide. Rare peaty or sandy Coastal Plain ponds with abundant seepage inputs support state-rare species such as water bulrush (Schoenoplectus subterminalis), Robbins' spikerush (Eleocharis robbinsii), horsetail spikerush (Eleocharis equisetoides), purple bladderwort (Utricularia purpurea), and big floating heart (Nymphoides aquatica).

Reference: Coulling (2002), McCoy and Fleming (2000), Walton et al . (2001).

Click on the images below to open a larger image in a separate window.

This link opens a new browser window to display a larger photo



Floating aquatic vegetation, including eastern mosquito fern (Azolla caroliniana), swamp water-pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides), and smooth bur-marigold (Bidens laevis), in Sunken Meadow Pond, an old Coastal Plain millpond near Claremont, Surry County. Photo: Gary P. Fleming / © DCR Natural Heritage.

Although a few plots of this group have been sampled as part of landscape-level studies (map), no well-supported, robust community types have been defined. The units listed below are mostly broad conceptual types that appear to match USNVC types defined from a broader range. Because they represent communities that are dynamic, variable, and of generally low conservation concern, semipermanent impoundments will have lower priority for future sampling and classification than other groups. Click on any highlighted CEGL code below to view the global USNVC description provided by NatureServe Explorer.
  • Alnus serrulata Swamp Shrubland
    Smooth Alder Impoundment Swamp
    USNVC: = CEGL005082
    Global/State Ranks: G4G5/SU

  • Peltandra virginica - Alisma subcordatum - Leersia oryzoides Herbaceous Vegetation [Provisional] Pickerelweed Impoundment Marsh
    USNVC: < CEGL004291
    Global/State Ranks: GNR/SU

  • Juncus effusus Herbaceous Vegetation
    Common Rush Impoundment Marsh
    USNVC: = CEGL004112
    Global/State Ranks: G5/SU

  • Nelumbo lutea Herbaceous Vegetation
    American Lotus Aquatic Bed
    USNVC: = CEGL004323
    Global/State Ranks: G4?/SU

  • Hottonia inflata - Ludwigia palustris - Callitriche heterophylla Herbaceous Vegetation [Provisional]
    Coastal Plain Featherfoil Impoundment Pond
    USNVC: = CEGL006102
    Global/State Ranks: GNR/SU

  • Spirodela polyrrhiza - Landoltia punctata - Wolffia columbiana - Azolla caroliniana Herbaceous Vegetation [Provisional]
    Coastal Plain Impoundment Aquatic Bed
    USNVC: < CEGL005451
    Global/State Ranks: G5/SU

back to top of page

next Ecological Group previous Ecological Group