Appalachian Plateaus, New England lowlands, mid-Atlantic coastal plain, Piedmont Plateau, 104,500 mi2 (270,700 km2)
Land-surface form.--This province includes topography of diverse nature and origin. The northern part has been glaciated. West of the Appalachian Mountains are the Appalachian Plateaus. The sedimentary formations there are nearly horizontal, a typical plateau structure, but they are so elevated and dissected that the landforms are mostly hilly and mountainous. Altitudes range from about 1,000 ft (300 m) along their western edge to somewhat more that 3,000 ft (900 m) on the eastern edge. East of the mountains is the Piedmont Plateau and coastal plain, where altitudes range from sea level to about 1,000 ft (300 m).
A grove of yellow-poplar in the Eastern Broadleaf Forest (Oceanic) Province, Chattahoochee National Forest, Georgia.
Climate.--The continental climatic regime here ensures a strong annual temperature cycle, with cold winters and warm summers. Average annual temperatures range from 40 to 60F (4 to 15C). There is year-round precipitation, averaging from 35 to 60 in (890 to 1,530 mm) per year. Precipitation is markedly greater in the summer months, when evapotranspiration is great and moisture demands are high. Only a small water deficit is incurred in summer, whereas a large surplus normally develops in spring.
Vegetation.--This province is characterized by a winter deciduous forest (sometimes called temperate deciduous forest) dominated by tall broadleaf trees that provide a dense, continuous canopy in summer and shed their leaves completely in winter. Lower layers of small trees and shrubs develop weakly. In spring, a luxuriant ground cover of herbs quickly develops, but is greatly reduced after trees reach full foliage and shade the ground. Forest vegetation is divided into three major associations: mixed mesophytic, Appalachian oak, and pine-oak.
Mixed mesophytic vegetation, the deciduous forest with the greatest diversity, occupies moist, well-drained sites in the Appalachian Plateaus. Widespread dominants include American beech, tuliptree (also called yellow-poplar), several basswoods, sugar maple, sweet buckeye, red oak, white oak, and eastern hemlock, in addition to 20-25 other species. The best indicators of this association are buckeye and basswood.
The Appalachian oak association occurs east of the mountains. The dominant species are white oak and northern red oak. Chestnut formerly was abundant, but a blight has destroyed most of this species.
Pine-oak forest--sometimes called "Pine Barrens"--occupies dry sandy soils that are frequently exposed to naturally occurring fires along the northern Coastal Plain. There is a thick shrub layer beneath the pines. Atlantic white-cedar swamps occur on mesic sites.
Soils.--The pedogenic process associated with deciduous forest is podzolization, moderated by warm wet winters. As a result, soils are characteristically Alfisols. Toward lower latitudes, the tendency to laterization becomes stronger and Ultisols are encountered. Inceptisols are found on the plateaus. In the deciduous forests, a thick layer of leaves covers the ground and humus is abundant.
Fauna.--Important mammals include the whitetail deer, black bear, bobcat, gray fox, raccoon, gray squirrel, fox squirrel, eastern chipmunk, white-footed mouse, pine vole, shorttail shrew, and cotton mouse.
Bird populations are large. The turkey, ruffed grouse, bobwhite, and mourning dove are game birds in various parts of the province. The most abundant breeding birds include the cardinal, tufted titmouse, wood thrush, summer tanager, red-eyed vireo, blue-gray gnatcatcher, and Carolina wren.
Characteristic reptiles include the box turtle, common garter snake, and timber rattlesnake.