Habitats of North Carolina
Habitat Group:
Habitat Type:
Members of General Shrublands:
« »
General Shrublands
General Cane Thickets
Habitat Overview Prior to European settlement, vast treeless expanses covered with our native bamboo -- canebrakes -- were striking features of the Southeastern Coastal Plain. Although now drastically reduced in area, cane species themselves are still common in a variety of habitats. Switch Cane (Arundinaria tecta) occurs as small patches within bottomland forests, peatlands, and floodplains, peatlands, and wet longleaf pine flatwoods and savannas. River Cane (A. gigantea) occurs primarily in the bottomlands along larger streams and rivers, and Hill Cane (A. appalachiana) occurs almost exclusively on mesic to dry slopes in the southern mountains, the only cane species to regularly occupy upland habitats and avoid lowlands.

Apart from Hill Cane, mesic to wet soil conditions are required, although prolonged flooding is not tolerated. For Arundinaria tecta, at least, soil chemistry does not appear to be a major factor: populations are found on nutrient-rich alluvial soil along brownwater rivers but also on acidic, nutrient-poor peatlands, blackwater bottomlands, and sandy soils associated with Longleaf Pine communities. River Cane, however, appears to be found only on rich alluvial soils. Hill Cane appears to occupy both acidic, felsic soils alongside heath communities but may also occur in some mafic areas.

Burning or other disturbance that reduce competition with woody shrubs and trees is probably required for all species of cane. Burning on a 4-6 year cycle helps maintain cane populations in the Outer Coastal Plain, but an even higher frequency -- a two year cycle -- may be more natural in the Sandhills (Gray et al., 2016).

Although we have no charismatic vertebrates such as Pandas associated with cane in North Carolina, over 30 species of our insect species are believed to feed only on cane -- for them, the presence of cane is the primary habitat factor although through their dependence on cane they also rely on the moisture and disturbance regimes that favor their host plants. Species whose larvae are borers in the rhizomes may be as immune to the direct effects of fire as their host plants. However, those that feed on the leaves or culms of cane are unlikely to persist through a fire and must consequently depend on recolonization from unburned patches in order to persist in a particular area or region. Reliance on that strategy, however, makes these species highly vulnerable to the effects of habitat fragmentation and they are now likely to be restricted only to the largest and/or best connected cane-containing habitats remaining in the state.

Related NHP Natural Communities In the Classification of the Natural Communities of North Carolina, the term Canebrake is restricted to communities that lack a substantial canopy cover and are dominated by Arundinaria species in the shrub layer. These include Pond Pine Woodland (Canebrake Subtype), Peatland Canebrake, Streamhead Canebrake, and Piedmont/Mountain Canebrake. Other communities that contain Arundinaria sp. as significant components include Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forest (Coastal Plain Subtype), Cape Fear Valley Mixed Bluff Forest, Dry-Mesic Oak-Hickory Forest (Coastal Plain Subtype), Dry Oak–Hickory Forest (Coastal Plain Subtype), Blackwater Bottomland Hardwoods (High Subtype), Sandhill Seep (Wet Subtype), Sandhill Seep (Very Wet Subtype), Wet Pine Flatwoods (Typic Subtype), Coastal Plain Depression Swamp (Mixed Subtype), Montane Alluvial Forest (Small River Subtype), and Montane Alluvial Forest (Large River Subtype) (Schafale and Weakley, 1990; Schafale, 2012).

Defining Species
Taxa Global RankState RankImperilment ScoreHabitat Risk Index
Acrapex relicta - Relict Cane Moth G4S3S41.27
Apameine new genus 2 sp. 1 - A Cane Borer GNRS2S32.060.5825
Apameine new genus 2 sp. 2 - A Cane Borer GNRS3S41.080.3750
Argillophora furcilla - Silver Fork Cane Moth G3G4S3S41.38
Crocidophora pustuliferalis GNRS3S41.080.3750
Leucania calidior - Cane Wainscot G2G4S1S211.460.7475
Papaipema sp. 3 - Southeastern Cane Borer Moth G4S3S41.270.3750
Protapamea danieli - Daniel's Cane Borer GNRS3S41.080.3750
Amblyscirtes aesculapius - Lace-winged Roadside-Skipper G4S41.000.2500
Amblyscirtes carolina - Carolina Roadside-Skipper G3G4S3S41.380.3750
Amblyscirtes reversa - Reversed Roadside-Skipper G3G4S31.900.5000
Lethe creola - Creole Pearly-eye G4S3S41.270.3750
Lethe portlandia - Southern Pearly-eye G4S41.000.2500
Arundanus proprius GNRS2S41.490.5000
Stenocranus similis
Arundinaria gigantea - Giant Cane G5S51.000.0000
Sum: 29.72
ENE Value of 4.4975 * (1 - # of S5: 1 / # Species 15) = 4.20
Average of 15: 1.98

Phagic and Competitory Symbioses: (Arundinaria tecta-Arundinaria gigantea/Acrapex relicta--Amblyscirtes aesculapius-Amblyscirtes carolina-Amblyscirtes reversa-Apameine new genus 2 sp. 1-Apameine new genus 2 sp. 2-Argillophora furcilla-Arundanus proprius-Crocidophora pustuliferalis-Lethe creola-Lethe portlandia-Leucania calidior-Papaipema sp. 3-Protapamea danieli-Stenocranus similis)

Several vertebrates forage on cane or use it for nesting and/or shelter. These include... With the possible exception of Bachman's Warbler, however, none of these species appears to be highly dependent on cane and can occur in other types of habitat where cane is absent.

Candidates for Inclusion The Dismal Swamp Green Stink Bug (Chlorochroa dismalia) has been reportedly observed in association with cane (Hoffman et al., 1998) but it does not appear to be known whether it is an obligate member of this habitat type. Three leaf-mining flies that feed on Arundinaria have also been recently described, all from North Carolina (Eiseman et al., 2019): Agromyza arundinariae, Cerodontha (Poemyza) arundinariella, and Cerodontha (Poemyza) saintandrewsensis.

Habitat Sub-sets
Distribution Map
Survey Coverage Map
Survey Coverage
Survey Priorities
Average Imperilment of Habitat Members
Habitat Conservation Status
High Quality Habitat Occurrence Table
High Quality Habitat Occurrences
Protected Habitat Occurrences
Threats and Trends The vast tracts of canebrakes encountered by Bartram and other early Euopean explorers of the Southeast were probably at least partially maintained by Native American burning and agricutural practices (Platt and Brantley, 1997). Following the demise of native populations, accompanied by decreased fire and land clearing, canebrakes began a decline that was accelerated by European arrival, with large tracts first lost due to foraging by large herds of cattle and hogs, followed by clearance of the remaining areas for cultivation. In the 20th Century, even more cane-dominated habitats were lost due to fire suppression. Currently, less than 2% of the original area once occupied by cane is estimated to still exist (Noss et al., 1995; Platt and Brantley, 1997). With continued fire suppression, cane can be expected to continue to decline, persisting only in areas, such as military bases, national forests, or other large preserves where prescribed burning is used to maintain natural habitats. Within bottomland forests and peatland habitats, however, cane may still decline since these habitat types are rarely, if ever, included in prescribed burns.

Status Summary
Stewardship Recommendations
References DeLong, D.M., 1941. The Genus Arundanus (Homoptera-Cicadellidae) in North America. The American Midland Naturalist 25:632-643

Eiseman, C.S., Lonsdale, O. and Feldman, T.S., 2019. Nine new species of Agromyzidae from North Carolina, USA, with new host and distribution records for additional species. Zootaxa, 4571(3):301-333.

Gray, J.B., Sorrie, B.A. and Wall, W., 2016. Canebrakes of the Sandhills region of the Carolinas and Georgia: Fire history, canebrake area, and species frequency. Castanea, 81:280-291

Hoffman, R. L., S. M. Roble, & E. L. Quinter. 1998. New locality records for the Dismal Swamp green stink bug (Heteroptera: Pentatomidae). Banisteria 12: 29-31

Platt, S.G. and Brantley, C.G., 1997. Canebrakes: an ecological and historical perspective. Castanea 62:8-21

Platt, S.G., Brantley, C.G. and Rainwater, T.R., 2001. Canebrake fauna: wildlife diversity in a critically endangered ecosystem. Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society 117:1-19

Taylor, Jane E. 2006. Arundinaria gigantea. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: https://www.fs.fed.us /database/feis/plants/graminoid/arugig/all.html [2019, July 8].
Updated on 2020-01-07 17:53:08