The Indian River Lagoon Species Inventory
Maritime Hammock Habitats
Maritime hammocks, also known as maritime forests,
tropical hammocks or coastal hammocks, are characterized as narrow bands
of forest that develop almost exclusively on stabilized backdunes of
barrier islands, inland of primary dunes and scrub. Maritime forests
occur discontinuously along the entire Atlantic coast of the United
States, interrupted by natural features such as inlets and bays, and
anthropogenic activities such as coastal development and agriculture.
Adjacent maritime forests tend to be vegetatively similar to one
another, but overall vegetation profiles change with latitude.
Generally dominated by species of broad-leaved
evergreen trees and shrubs, maritime hammocks are climax communities
influenced heavily by salt spray. Soils are predominantly composed of
either sand or peat. Sandy soils are more common along forested dune
ridges, while peat is more common among interdune swales and wetlands (Bellis
1995). Chapman (1976) described the progress of sandy soil formation and
dune stabilization through four stages: embryo dunes, yellow dunes, gray
dunes, and mature, vegetated dunes. Embryo dunes are formed by newly
deposited sands accreting on beaches.
Many factors influence whether particular
species will be successful colonizers of the maritime forest. Strong
winds, low nutrients, unpredictable supplies of freshwater, erosion,
sand-blasting, storm exposure, sand migration, and overwash from the
ocean during storm events, are all major influences; however, tolerance
to salt spray has been found to be the principal factor that controls
vegetative cover in maritime forests (Oosting and Billings 1942, Boyce
1954, Proffitt 1977, Seneca and Broome 1981).
Fire is also considered an
"organizer" of forest cover patterns on barrier islands in
Florida (Bellis 1995), and has long been a traditional agricultural tool
for maintaining open areas, improving grazing lands, and eliminating
pest species. Fire characteristics differ between oak-dominated
hammocks, and pine-dominated hammocks.
Maritime forests also have distinctive
hydrological features that affect a barrier island’s natural
communities, as well as help determine whether development can be
sustained. Rainfall is generally the only source of fresh water on
barrier islands, and the maritime forest community acts as the primary
watershed. Precipitation entering the watershed is rapidly drawn deep
into a freshwater lens, which floats above
the denser salt water in the permeable sediments beneath barrier
Beyond effective water management, there are a
variety of other development considerations regarding maritime forest
communities, with habitat fragmentation perhaps being the largest issue.
Because maritime forests occur on the most stable areas of barrier
islands, they are attractive building sites. Clearing lots for houses
involves disturbing or destroying most, if not all, the natural
vegetative cover to make space for homes, parking areas, drainage
fields, and septic systems. Following construction, native vegetation is
often replaced by lawns and ornamental shrubs, many of which are exotic.
Several studies have confirmed that road building on barrier islands affects salt transport patterns into the interior of maritime forests (Eaton 1979, Seneca and Broome 1981). In these studies, floristic composition, tree viability and canopy height remained nearly constant along the ocean-side perimeter of maritime forests where newly established roads had been constructed. However, along the bay-side of the forests, it was observed that significant die back due to increased salt penetration occurred. Over the 4 years of the study, 57% of the original above-ground vegetation died within 2.5 to 3 m from the bayside edge of the forests, with the most severely affected areas showing complete elimination of the forest canopy. However, die-back in trees was observed to have ceased after approximately 27 months, with 43% of trees able to recover to some degree, showing signs of basal sprouting, stump sprouting, and sprouting from underground stems and roots. At the end of the 4 year study, a new but somewhat lower canopy had begun to develop.
The vegetative composition of maritime forests is diverse, and depends heavily on prevailing physical conditions. Greller (1980) mapped the distribution of maritime forests in Florida, and determined that the upland broad-leaved forests of barrier islands fell into 3 major types: temperate broad-leaved forest, also known as evergreen forest; southern mixed hardwood forest; and tropical forest. Temperate broad-leaved forests are dominated by Quercus virginiana (live oak), and Sabal palmetto (sabal palm) communities. Southern mixed hardwood forests are dominated by Magnolia grandiflora (Southern magnolia), Ilex opaca (American holly), Cornus florida (flowering dogwood), Carya glabra (pignut hickory), and Fagus grandiflora (American beech). Tropical forests are dominated by both evergreen and deciduous species such as Mastichodendron foetidissimum (mastic), Eugenia spp. (stoppers), Lysiloma latisiliqua (wild tamarind), and Bersera simaruba (gumbo limbo).
Many different animal species inhabit Florida’s barrier island communities. In maritime hammocks, insects, small mammals, reptiles and birds dominate the fauna. Common inhabitants include wading birds such as great blue herons (Ardea herodias), great egrets (Casmerodius albus), snowy egrets (Egretta thula), little blue herons (Egretta caerulea), tricolored herons (Egretta tricolor), night herons (Nycticorax spp.), brown pelicans (Pelicanus occidentalis), various ducks, warblers, and others. Birds of prey such as red-shouldered hawks (Buteo lineatus), Cooper’s hawks (Accipiter cooperii), sharp-shinned hawks (Accipiter striatus), and bald eagles (Haliaetus leucocephalus), also utilize hammocks for feeding, roosting and nesting. Small mammals such as eastern cottontails (Sylvilagus palustris), mice (Mus spp.), Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus); and larger mammals such as river otters (Lontra canadensis), and wild boar (Sus scrofa), may thrive in hammock habitats. Reptiles include softshelled turtles (Frionyx ferox), gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus), cottonmouth snakes (Agkistodon piscivorus), southern black racers (Coluber constrictor priapus), Atlantic saltmarsh snakes (Nerodia spp.), eastern diamondback rattlesnakes (Crotalus adamantus), indigo snakes (Drymarchon corais couperi), as well as a variety of skinks and lizards which prey on the abundant insect, frog, and small mammal population.
Click a highlighted link to read more about individual species:
|Species Name||Common Name||Community Type|
Maritime Hammock Plants:
|Acer rubrum||Red maple||Canopy, Volusia to Indian River Counties; maritime swamp forest, maritime shrub swamp,|
|Acrostichum aureum||Golden leather fern||Herbaceous1, maritime swamp foret, maritime shrub swamp|
|Ampelopsis arborea||Peppervine||Understory vine1 of maritime evergreen forest,|
|Amyris elemifera||Sea torchwood||Understory2 of maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest|
|Ardisia escallonioides||Marbleberry, marlberry||Understory3 of maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest|
|Aristida stricta||Bottlebrush, threeawn||Herbaceous1, maritime evergreen forest, coastal fringe sandhill|
|Arundinaria gigantea||Switchcane||Understory Volusia County, maritime deciuous forest, maritime swamp forest|
|Asplenium platyneuron||Ebony spleenwort||herbaceous2, maritime evergreen forest, coastal fringe evergreen forest|
|Azolla caroliniana||Carolina mosquito fern||interdune ponds1|
|Baccharis halmifolia||Sea myrtle, groundsel tree||Understory1, maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest|
|Berchemia scadens||Alabama supplejack, rattan vine||wetland vine1, maritime evergreen forest, maritime swamp forest, maritime shrub swamp|
|Bignonia capreolata||Crossvine||Understory vine2, Volusia County, maritime evergreen forest|
|Blechnum serrulatum||Blechnum fern, swamp fern||Wet herbaceous1, maritime swamp forest, maritime shrub swamp|
|Boehmeria cylindrica||False nettle, bog hemp||Wet herbaceous1, maritime swamp forest|
|Bursera simaruba||Gumbo-limbo||Canopy3, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest|
|Callicarpa americana||American beautyberry||Understory3, maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest|
|Campsis radicans||Trumpet creeper||Understory vine2, maritime evergreen forest, coastal fringe evergreen forest|
|Carex spp.||Sedge||herbaceous2, maritime swamp forest|
|Carpinus caroliniana||Bluebeech, American hornbeam||Understory2, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest|
|Carya glabra||Pignut hickory||Canopy2, maritime deciduous forest, coastal fringe evergreen forest|
|Ceratophyllum muricatum australe||Prickly hornwart||Interdune pond, Brevard county|
|Chasmanthium laxum||Slender woodoats||Herbaceous2, maritime evergreen forest|
|Chiococca alba||Snowberry||Understory vine3, maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest, maritime swamp forest, maritime shrub swamp|
|Cnidoscolus stimulosus||Finger rot||Understory3, maritime deciduous forest, coastal fringe sandhill|
|Coccoloba diversifolia||Pigeon plum, tie tongue||Canopy3, maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest|
|Coccoloba uvifera||Sea grape||Canopy1, maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest|
|Cornus foemina||Swamp dogwood||Understory2, maritime swamp forest, maritime shrub swamp|
|Dahlbergia ecastophyllum||Coinvine||Understory vine3, maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest, maritime swamp forest|
|Dichanthelium commutatum||Variable witchgrass||Herbaceous1, maritime evergreen forest|
|Erythrina herbacea||Eastern coralbean, Redcardinal||Understory3, maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest, coastal fringe sandhill|
|Eugenia foetida||Spanish stopper||Canopy3, maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest|
|Euphorbia ipecacuanhae||American euphorbia||Herbaceous, coastal fringe sandhill, wetlands|
|Exothea paniculata||Inkwood||Canopy3, maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest|
|Ficus aurea||Strangler fig||Canopy3, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest|
|Galium hispidulum||Coastal bedstraw||Understory2, maritime deciduous forest|
|Galium pilosum||Hairy bedstraw||Herbaceous2 Volusia County, maritime evergreen forest|
|Gaylussacia dumosa||Dwarf huckleberry||Understory1, coastal fringe sandhill|
|Gaylussacia frondosa||Blue huckleberry||Understory Volusia County, maritime deciduous forest|
|Gelsemium sempervirens||Yellow jessamine, Carolina jessamine||Understory vine2, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest, coastal fringe evergreen forest|
|Ilex glabra||Inkberry, Gallberry||Understory1, coastal fringe sandhill|
|Ilex opaca||American Holly||Understory2, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest, coastal fringe evergreen forest|
|Ilex vomitoria||Yaupon||Understory2, maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest, coastal fringe evergreen forest, coastal fringe sandhill|
|Juniperus virginiana||Eastern redcedar||Understory2, maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest, coastal fringe evergreen forest|
|Liquidambar styraciflua||Sweetgum||Canopy2, maritime deciduous forest, maritime swamp forest|
|Magnolia virginiana||Sweetbay||Understory1, coastal fringe evergreen forest, maritime swamp forest|
|Metopium toxiferum||Poisonwood||Canopy Martin County, maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest|
|Mitchella repens||Twinberry, partridgeberry||Herbaceous, Volusia and Martin Counties, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest, coastal fringe evergreen forest, maritime swamp forest|
|Morus ruba||Red mulberry||Canopy1, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest, maritime swamp forest|
|Myrcianthus fragrans||West Indian nakedwood||Understory4, threatened species,|
|Myrica cerifera||Wax myrtle||Understory3 of maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest, coastal fringe evergreen forest, coastal fringe sandhill, swamp forest,|
|Nephrolepis biserrata||Sword fern||Herbaceous Martin County, threatened, maritime swamp forest, maritime shrub swamp|
|Nephrolepis exaltata||Boston fern||Herbaceous3, maritime swamp forest, maritime shrub swamp, coastal fringe sandhill|
|Nyssa sylvatica||Swamp tupelo||Canopy, Volusia and St. Lucie Counties, coastal fringe sandhill, maritime swamp forest|
|Octoea (Nectandra) coriaceae||Lancewood||Canopy1, maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest|
|Osmanthus americanus||Wild olive||understory2, maritime evergreen forest, coastal fringe sandhill|
|Osmunda cinnamomea||Cinnamon fern||Herbaceous1, maritime swamp forest, maritime shrub swamp|
|Osmunda regalis||Royal fern||Herbaceous1, maritime swamp forest, maritime shrub swamp|
|Palafoxia feayi||Feay's palafox||Herbaceous1, maritime swamp forest, maritime shrub swamp|
|Parthenocissus quinquefolia||Virginia creeper||Understory vine3, maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest|
|Persea borbonia||Redbay||Canopy1, maritime evergreen forest, coastal fringe evergreen forest, maritime swamp forest|
|Physalis spp.||Ground cherry||Understory3, maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest|
|Pisonia aculeata||Devil’s claw||Understory vine3 Martin County, maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest|
|Prunus caroliniana||Carolina laurelcherry||Understory1, maritime evergreen forest|
|Psychotria nervosa||Shiny-leaved wild coffee||Understory3, maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest|
|Psychotria sulzneri||Soft-leaved wild coffee||Understory3, maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest|
|Pteridium aquilinum||Bracken fern||Herbaceous1, maritime deciduous forest|
|Quercus geminata||Sand live oak||Canopy1, maritime evergreen forest, coastal fringe forest, coastal fringe sandhill|
|Quercus incana||Bluejack oak||Understory, Brevard County, maritime evergreen forest, coastal fringe sandhill|
|Quercus laevis||Turkey oak||Canopy, Brevard and Martin Counties, maritime evergreen forest, coastal fringe sandhill|
|Quercus laurifolia||Laurel oak||Canopy1, maritime evergreen forest, coastal fringe evergreen forest, coastal fringe sandhill|
|Quercus myrtifolia||Myrtle oak||Canopy2, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest, coastal fringe evergreen forest|
|Quercus nigra||Water oak||Canopy, Volusia and Indian River Counties, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest, coastal fringe evergreen forest,|
|Quercus virginiana||Live oak||Canopy4, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest, coastal fringe evergreen forest, coastal fringe sandhill,|
|Randia aculeata||White indigoberry||Understory1, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest, coastal fringe evergreen forest, maritime swamp forest|
|Rhus copallina||Shining sumac, dwarf sumac||Understory3, maritime deciduous forest|
|Rhus copallinum||Winged sumac||Understory1, maritime deciduous forest,|
|Rhynchospora spp.||Beaksedge||Herbaceous1, coastal fringe sandhill|
|Rivina humilis||Rougeplant, bloodberry||Understory3, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest|
|Rumex hastatulus||Sorrell||Herbaceous3, maritime forest, maritime swamp forest, maritime shrub swamp|
|Sabal minor||Dwarf palmetto||Understory, Volusia and St. Lucie Counties, maritime evergreen forest, coastal fringe evergreen forest|
|Sabal palmetto||Cabbage palm||Canopy1, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest, coastal fringe evergreen forest, coastal fringe sandhill|
|Sassafras albidum||Sassafras||Understory, Volusia County, maritime deciduous forest, coastal fringe evergreen forest, coastal fringe sandhill|
|Saururus cernuus||Lizard’s Tail||Herbaceous1, maritime swamp forest|
|Schizachyrium (Andropogon) scoparium||Little bluestem||Understory2, maritime deciduous forest|
|Serenoa repens||Saw palmetto||Understory1, maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest, coastal fringe sandhill|
|Sideroxylon tenax||Tough bumelia, tough bully||Canopy2 or understory3, maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest, coastal fringe sandhill|
|Sideroxylon foetidissimum||False mastic||Canopy, maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest|
|Smilax spp.||Greenbriar||Understory1, maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest, coastal fringe evergreen forest, maritime shrub swamp|
|Solidago spp.||Goldenrod||Herbaceous2, maritime deciduous forest|
|Stipulicida setacea||Pineland scalypink||Herbaceous1, coastal fringe evergreen forest, coastal fringe sandhill|
|Stylisma patens||Coastalplain dawnflower||Herbaceous1, Volusia County, coastal fringe sandhill|
|Swietenia mahogani||Mahogany||Hardwood canopy3, rare in IRL, Maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest|
|Taxodium distichum||Bald cypress||Wetland canopy1, maritime swamp forest|
|Thelypteris palustris var. pubescens||Marsh fern||Herbaceous1, maritime shrub swamp, interdune ponds|
|Toxicodendron radicans||Eastern poison ivy||Understory vine1, maritme shrub, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest, maritime swamp forest, maritime shrub swamp|
|Vaccinium arboreum||Sparkleberry, farkleberry||Understory2, maritime deciduous forest, coastal fringe sandhill|
|Vaccinium corymbosum||Highbush blueberry||Wet understory, Volusia County, maritime swamp forest|
|Vaccinium fuscatum||Highbush blueberry||Wet understory Volusia County, maritime swamp forest|
|Vaccinium stamineum||Deerberry||Understory1, maritime deciduous forest, coastal fringe sandhill, maritime swamp forest|
|Vitis rotundifolia||Muscadine grape||Understory vine1, maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest, coastal fringe evergreen, maritime swamp forest|
|Woodwardia areolata||Netted chain fern||Wet herbaceous1, maritime swamp forest, maritime shrub swamp|
|Woodwardia virginica||Virginia chain fern||Wetland herbaceous1, maritime swamp forest, maritime shrub swamp|
|Yucca aloifoilia||Spanish bayonet||Understory1, maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest, coastal fringe sandhill, coastal fringe evergreen forest|
|Zamia pumila||Coontie, Florida arrowroot||Understory2, maritime evergreen forest, maritime deciduous forest|
|Zanthoxylum clava-herculis||Hercules club||Canopy2, maritime shrub, maritime evergreen forest|
Maritime Hammock Animals:
|Accipiter cooperii||Cooper’s hawk|
|Accipiter striatus||Sharp-shinned hawk|
|Actitis macularia||Spotted sandpiper|
|Aix sponosa||Wood duck|
|Anolis carolinensis carolinensis||Green anole|
|Anolis sagrei||Brown anole|
|Ardea herodias||Great blue heron|
|Aythya collaris||Ring-necked duck|
|Bubulcus ibis||Cattle egret|
|Buteo lineatus||Red-shouldered hawk|
|Butorides virescens||Green heron|
|Cardisoma guanhumi||Land crab, blue land crab|
|Ardea alba||Great egret|
|Cathartes aura||Turkey vulture|
|Coccyzus americanus||Yellow-billed cuckoo|
|Colaptes auratus||Common flicker|
|Coluber constrictor paludicola||Everglades racer||Cape Canaveral region and Everglades|
|Coluber constrictor priapus||Southern black racer||Throughout Florida|
|Corvus brachyrhynchos||Common crow|
|Corvus ossifragus||Fish crow|
|Crotalus adamanteus||Eastern Diamondback rattlesnake|
|Cryptotis parva||Least shrew|
|Dendroica discolor||Prairie warbler|
|Dendroica petechia||Yellow warbler|
|Diadophis punctatus punctatus||Southern ring-neck snake|
|Didelphis virginiana||Virginia oppossum|
|Drymarchon corais couperi||Indigo snake|
|Dumetella carolinensis||Gray catbird|
|Egretta caerulea||Little blue heron|
|Egretta thula||Snowy egret|
|Egretta tricolor||Louisiana heron, tricolored egret|
|Elaphe guttata guttata||Corn snake|
|Elaphe obsoleta quadrivittata||Yellow rat snake, chicken snake||Peninsular Florida|
|Eumeces inexpectatus||Southeastrn five-lined skink|
|Felis catus||Domestic cat, house cat|
|Frionyx ferox||Softshell turtle|
|Fulica americana||American coot|
|Gallinago gallinago||Common snipe|
|Gallinula chloropus||Common gallinule|
|Geothylpis frichas||Common yellowthroat|
|Gopherus polyphemus||Gopher tortoise|
|Hemidactylu garnoti||Indo-Pacific gecko|
|Hyla squirella||Squirrel treefrog|
|Lampropeltis getulus||Eastern kingsnake|
|Lasiurus borealis||Red bat|
|Lontra canadensis||River otter|
|Lophodytes cucullatus||Hooded merganser|
|Magaceryle alcyon||Belted kingisher|
|Mus musculus||House mouse|
|Myiarchus crinitus||Great crested flycatcher|
|Neofiber alleni||Roundtailed muskrat|
|Nerodia clarkii taeniata||Atlantic saltmash snake|
|Nerodia fasciata taeniata||Atlantic saltmarsh snake|
|Nycticorax nycticorax||Black-crowned night heron|
|Nycticorax violaceus||Yellow-crowned night heron|
|Odocoileus virginianus||White-tailed deer|
|Opheodrys aestivus||Rough green snake|
|Ophisaurus compressus||Island glass lizard|
|Osteopilius septentrionalis||Cuban treefrog|
|Otus asio||Screech owl|
|Peromyscus gossypinus palarius||Cotton mouse|
|Pipilo erythrophthalmus||Rufous-sided towhee|
|Podilymbus podiceps||Pied-billed grebe|
|Rallus elegans||King rail|
|Rana sphenocephala||Southern leopard frog|
|Rattus norvegicus||Norway rat|
|Sciurus carolinensis||Gray squirrel|
|Scolopax minor||American woodcock|
|Sus scrofa||Wild boar|
|Sylvilagus floridanus||Eastern cottontail|
|Sylvilagus palustris||Marsh rabbit|
|Thryothorus palustris||Marsh wren|
|Turdus migratorius||American robin|
|Vireo griseus||White-eyed vireo|
|Vireo olivaceus||Red-eyed vireo|
1 Found throughout the IRL
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