Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge
Southeast Region
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Habitats

White fringless orchid. Credit: USFWS

White fringless orchid. Credit: USFWS

Choccolocco and the adjacent Talladega Mountains are often identified as the southern reach of the Blue Ridge, where species characteristic of the Southern Appalachian Mountains reach the southern limits of their range.  The Blue Ridge in Alabama represents a southern disjunct extension of one of the most biologically important regions of North America.

Plants typical of mountains to the north, such as mountain blueberry (Vaccinium pallidum), mountain juniper (Juniperus communis) and Fraser’s loosestrife (Lysimachia fraseri) can be found within the refuge’s rugged landscape.

Scarlet tanagers and ovenbirds nest on the refuge and reach their southern breeding limits in the surrounding mountains.  Another Appalachian endemic, Appalachian cottontail (Sylvilgus obscurus ), historically occurred in the area and has been identified on the refuge.

While biologically connected to the Appalachian region, there is an unanswered anomaly to the region’s natural communities.  Longleaf pine forests, typical of the Coastal Plain, extend from the south into this mountainous region.  This northern extension of the longleaf forests is referred to as Mountain Longleaf Pine and it exists nowhere else in the country.  Here, you can find longleaf pine along with northern disjunct populations of turkey oak (Quercus laevis).

The endangered Red-cockaded woodpecker, a close associate of the longleaf pine, inhabited refuge forests in recent years and is still found in the surrounding mountains.

 

Ground juniper. Credit: Bill Garland, USFWS
Ground juniper. Credit: Bill Garland, USFWS
Diana Fritillary butterfly. Credit: Bill Garland, USFWS
Diana Fritillary butterfly. Credit: Bill Garland, USFWS
Diana Fritillary butterfly. Credit: Bill Garland, USFWS
Diana Fritillary butterfly. Credit: Bill Garland, USFWS

 


The refuge represents an overlap of northern and southern natural communities that enhance the regions unique and rich species diversity.

 

Last updated: February 22, 2010