Temperate lichen talus barren (S2S3)
Temperate lichen talus barrens are open slopes with large, lichen-covered rocks and little or no vascular plant cover. They often occur in association with the red oak - black birch wooded talus community, and occasionally share scattered individuals of some of the same component species. Lichens that are temperate in distribution are the dominant life form, but invertebrates and small mammals are probably common among the rocks as well. The community is usually found below 1,800 feet elevation, generally south of but also in the White Mountains.
Little soil is able to accumulate on the steep slopes, and drought conditions likely prevail during much of the growing season due to the soil's lack of moisture-holding capacity. Soil that does accumulate is often very nutrient-poor (oligotrophic).
Temperate lichen talus barrens have few northern hardwood and spruce - fir forest associates, and more red oak (Quercus rubra), gray birch (Betula populifolia), black birch (Betula lenta), pale corydalis (Corydalis sempervirens), and other species found at lower elevations. As in montane lichen talus barrens, this community may also contain such species as rock polypody (Polypodium virginianum), gooseberries and currents (Ribes spp.), and common hair-grass (Deschampsia flexuosa).
Good examples of this community can be found at Ellis Hatch Wildlife Management Area (Brookline) and Mt. Wantastiquet (Hinsdale).
Temperate lichen talus barrens sometimes occur as part of a larger temperate ridge - cliff - talus system.
Temperate lichen talus barren at Ellis Hatch Wildlife Management Area (photo by Ben Kimball)