Cutthroat Grass Communities

Cutthroat grass dominated communities fall within four distinct natural community classes. Since the landscape position, hydrology, soil types, and community composition differ significantly between each of these types, they are best discussed as distinct sets of natural communities. Plant nomenclature essentially follows Wunderlin et al. (1996). The most distinct set of cutthroat grass communities can be described as falling within the category of "seepage slopes." These will be the primary focus of this account. However, cutthroat grass communities also occur within the community classes of flatwoods, wet prairies, and depression marshes. It is important to recognize and discuss these communities to make it clear that not every occurrence of cutthroat grass, or even of cutthroat grass dominance of a plant community, is by definition a "cutthroat seep slope."

The structure of most fire-maintained cutthroat grass seepage slopes is a densely vegetated, single-layer grassland community. Only rarely are trees and shrubs present, and these tend to be correlated with particular zones, mostly at the ecotones of cutthroat seep slopes with other communities. Cutthroat grass is a stiff, strongly rhizomatous, turf-forming grass, which results in a large amount of both above-and below-ground biomass production of this species in a relatively short time period after fire. This tends to result in overwhelming dominance of cutthroat grass in the ground cover of almost all cutthroat grass communities. This is in distinct contrast to the ground cover dominance relationships of most central Florida flatwoods, wet prairies, and sandhills, in which several grass, forb, and low shrub species share dominance in the most natural, fire-maintained, stands. The cutthroat flatwoods community types differ in structure primarily in having an open canopy of widely spaced pines, mostly slash pine (Pinus elliottii var. densa) , but with some longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) on the mesic flatwoods sites.

Taken from: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1999. South Florida Multi-Species Recovery Plan.   Atlanta, Georgia. Pp.3:351-352.

Listed Species Occurring in Cutthroat Grass Communities Habitat

  • Eastern Indigo Snake