Ecological Communities of Ichauway

Ecological Communities of IchauwayIchauway is a forested island surrounded by large-scale agricultural land use. The site is comprised of extensive longleaf pine forests, slash pine forests, oldfield loblolly pine stands, mixed pine hardwoods, riparian hardwood forests, live oak depressions, isolated depressional wetlands, creek swamps, agricultural fields, shrub-scrub uplands, human cultural zones, and rivers and creeks.

Forest communities range from dry longleaf pine-wiregrass upland forests to cypress-gum ponds with a diversity of habitats in between. The fire-maintained longleaf pine ecosystem is a remnant of the once dominant forest type in the southeastern Coastal Plain. Much of the ground cover of the 18,000 acres of this forest at Ichauway has not been disturbed by previous agricultural tillage and consequently harbors some of the most species-rich habitats in North America. More than 1,100 vascular plant species have been documented on Ichauway. The ground cover under longleaf pines is extremely diverse with more than 50 different species sometimes found in an area of approximately a square yard. These rich vegetative communities support numerous faunal species. Over 280 vertebrate species have been documented on Ichauway.

Just over 15 miles of Ichawaynochaway Creek flow through Ichauway, and the Flint River forms 13 miles of the property's eastern boundary. Aquatic and wetland habitats range from cypress-gum ponds and grassy, ephemeral wetlands to riverine habitats including cypress sloughs, deep pools, gravel riffles, and large stone, rapid water shoals. Diverse hardwood forests, called hammocks, are found on alluvial soils adjacent to the river and the creek. The aquatic habitats and their adjacent uplands are critical habitats for many rare species of plants, amphibians, reptiles, and birds. The limestone geology of Ichauway and the resulting riverine habitats are unusual in the southeastern Coastal Plain because the stream channels are rocky with many shoals and significant amounts of groundwater input as seepage from fissures in bedrock.