Habitat Types

  • Pocosin


     Pocosins occupy 63,896 acres of the refuge. Pocosin wetlands, also called southeastern shrub bog, are characterized by high organic content peat soils and a dense layer of shrub vegetation. 

  • Bay Forest


    Bay forest, a special type of pocosin wetland, occupies 4,280 acres of the refuge. It has a dominant cover of loblolly bay, sweetbay magnolia, and red bay. Bay forests are late-successional communities, replacing peatland Atlantic white cedar or pond pine woodland after a long absence of fire.  

  • Peatland Atlantic White Cedar Forest


     Atlantic white cedar forest, a special type of Pocosin wetland, occupies 3,124 acres of the refuge. The Nature Conservancy has ranked Atlantic white cedar as an imperiled ecosystem. 


  • Mixed Pine Flatwoods


    Mixed pine flatwoods, another special type of pocosin wetland, occupy 13,649 acres of the refuge. They are located mostly in the northeast corner in the Frying Pan area, and in the area south of Columbia and west of State Route 94 where the organic soils are deeper than 16 inches.

  • Hardwood Swamp Forest


    Hardwood swamp forest occupies 14,045 acres of the refuge, including examples of nonriverine swamp forest and wet hardwood forest.

  • Cypress/Gum Swamp


    Cypress/Gum Swamps occupy 970 acres of the refuge. This habitat type varies greatly in response to past management practices, hydrology, and soils.

  • Freshwater Marsh


    Freshwater Marsh occupies 987 acres of freshwater marshes along the Alligator River and Intracoastal Waterway.

  • Xeric Sandhill Scrub

    Xeric Sandhill Scrub occupies 276 acres on the sandy spoil banks created by excavating the Intracoastal Waterway along the southern edge of the refuge.

  • Cropland


    Cropland occupies 1,250 acres of the refuge, all of which is on the Pungo Unit. It is managed primarily to provide grain and green browse for wintering waterfowl.

  • Moist Soil Units (Managed Wetlands)


    Moist Soil Units occupy 443 acres of the refuge in managed areas on the Pungo Unit of the refuge. There are also about 550 acres of forested wetlands managed for waterfowl.

  • Natural Lake Shoreline


    The majority of the 446-acre natural lake shoreline community on the refuge occurs around Pungo Lake, Phelps Lake, and New Lake. High water levels driven by wind tides prevent the establishment of trees.

  • Open Water


    The 6,740 acres of open water include Pungo Lake and New Lake. The 2,800-acre Pungo Lake is a natural lake, which may have formed by ground fires that burned deep into the peat soils.