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A floral survey of cliff habitats along Bull Run at Manassas National Battlefield Park, Virginia, 2014

August 6, 2015

Isolated patches of native vegetation in human-modified landscapes are important reservoirs of biological diversity because they may be the only places in which rare or native species can persist. Manassas National Battlefield Park, Virginia, is an island embedded in a matrix of intensively modified lands; it is becoming increasingly isolated due to growth of the greater Washington, D.C. area. A series of cliffs along Bull Run support an eastern white pine community disjunct from its more typical range in the Appalachian Mountains. Cliffs frequently support vegetation communities that differ from surrounding habitat. In this ecological context, the cliffs along Bull Run are islands of specialized habitat within an island of natural and semi-natural communities (the park), surrounded by a human-dominated landscape. A floral survey of these cliffs was a top priority identified by the National Park Service National Capital Region via the National Resource Preservation Program; in 2014, we completed a floral survey of 11 cliffs in the park. We recorded 282 species in 194 genera and 83 families, including 23 newly documented species for the park.