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Remnant Grassland Vegetation and Ecological Affinities of the Upper Coastal Prairie of Texas

David D. Diamond and Fred E. Smeins
The Southwestern Naturalist
Vol. 29, No. 3 (Aug. 28, 1984), pp. 321-334
DOI: 10.2307/3671363
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3671363
Page Count: 14
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Remnant Grassland Vegetation and Ecological Affinities of the Upper Coastal Prairie of Texas
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Abstract

Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), brownseed paspalum (Paspalum plicatulum), and Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans) dominate remnant upland grasslands of the Upper Coastal Prairie of Texas. Lowlands are dominated by eastern gammagrass (Tripsacum dactyloides) and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum). Composition and flora of uplands are similar to those of communities over loamy Alfisols of the Fayette Prairie, a southern outlier of the Blackland Prairie. Coastal Prairie lowlands are also similar to lowlands of the Fayette Prairie. Fayette Prairie communities over Alfisols show less similarity to Fayette Prairie communities over clayey Vertisols than to Upper Coastal communities over both soil types. Therefore, the Upper Coastal Prairie should be considered part of a north-south continuum of tall grass communities within Texas. Decreased importance of big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) and sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula) and an increased importance of brownseed paspalum in the uplands represent the most significant differences in dominance relationships between Upper Coastal Prairie remnants and remnants over Vertisols within the Fayette Prairie. This shift in dominance relationships may be the result of decreased precipitation inland coupled with variation in soil type.

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