Pointe aux Chenes Research Natural Area

[photo:] Back dunes with Pichard’s Thistle and Lake Michigan at Pointe aux Chenes RNA, Tina Hall (09/3/2012)

St. Ignace
Pointe aux Chenes RNA is Michigan’s best example of an interdunal wetland and a coastal marsh with swales and dunes that include some critically important rare plant populations.The RNA contains excellent examples of unique northern fens with microsites adapted to alkaline soil conditions that allow many calciphiles (plants that grow well on lime rich soil) to flourish. The patterned fen located within the RNA is the best example of this habitat type within the Eastern unit of the Hiawatha National Forest.

Ecological Information

Physical and Climatic Conditions

Nearest weather station, with distance and direction from RNA:
Moranstation, (I.D. 205591, latitude 45 ̊59’N, longitude -84 ̊50’W).
Annual precipitation (type, seasonal distribution) :
Annual rainfallaverages 32inches (82cm).
Maximum and minimum temperatures:
Daily maximum temperatures average 52° F; daily minimum temperatures average 31° F; average temperature in the fall/winter is 32° F; : average spring/summer temperature is 51° F
Elevations range from 561 feet (171m) to 639feet (195m) ASL.
Geology and Soils:
The bedrock geology of the RNA is of Pointe aux Chenes shale with a surficial laucustrine sand and gravel, and a thin to discontinuous glacial till over bedrock. The RNA located on an ancient glacial lake shoreline formed between the Lake Algonquin and Lake Nippissing periods. The most common soil types in Point aux Chenes RNA are the Eastport-Leafriver (formerly Roscommon) complex, Markley and Carbondale mucks, and Leafriver (formerly Roscommon) muck.
Aquatic Features:
The Pointe aux Chenes River meanders through the middle of the RNA, bordering and following the alternating wetlands, shallow ponds, and interdunal wetlands, before eventually breaking through the foredune at the Lake Michigan shoreline.

Ecological Classification & Inventory

Eastern Upper Peninsula (212R)
Laurentian-Acadian Alkaline Conifer-Hardwood Swamp (212Re)
Landtype Association
Brevort Pointe aux Chenes (212Re09)
Plant Communities:
  Interdunal Weland GreatLakes Marsh Swale Forests Nothern/Patterned Fen
Class Shrubland and Grassland Shrubland and Grassland Forest and Woodland Shrubland and Grassland
Subclass Temperate and Boreal Shrubland and Grassland Temperate and Boreal Shrubland and Grassland Temperate Forest Temperate and Boreal Shrubland and Grassland
Formation Temperate and Boreal Bog and Fen Temperate and Boreal Freshwater Wet Meadow and Marsh Cool Temperate Forest Temperate and Boreal Bog and Fen
Division North American Boreal Bog and Fen Eastern North American Freshwater Wet Meadow, Riparian, and Marsh Eastern North American Cool Temperate Forest North American Bog and Fen
Macrogroup North American Bog and Fen Eastern North American Wet Meadow and Marsh Northern and Eastern Pine-Oak Forest, Woodland, and Barrens North American Boreal Bog and Fen
Group Eastern North American Boreal Alkaline Fen Eastern North American Wet Meadow Great Lakes Pine-Oak Forest and Woodland Eastern North American Boreal Alkaline Fen

Carex lasiocarpa (Carex rostrata) Equisetume fluvitaile
Herbaceous Vegetation

Calamagrostis Canadensis-Eupatonum maculatum
Herbaceous Vegetation
Pinus banksiana-Pinus resinosa-Pinus storbus
Dune Fores

View or download Complete Plant List (pdf)

MI Natural Community Types:
Based on the Michigan Natural Features Inventory, Point aux ChenesRNA includes the following natural communities: Sand/Gravel Beach, Open Dune, Interdunal Wetland, Great Lakes Marsh, Northern Fen, Northern Wet Meadow, Dry Northern Forest, Rich Conifer Swamp, Patterned Fen, and Mesic Northern Forest.
Common Flora:
Pinus resinosa (red pine), P. banksiana(jack pine), Tsuga canadensis(eastern hemlock), Pinus strobus(eastern white pine), Thujaoccidentalis(northern white cedar), Abies balsamea(balsam fir), Picea glauca(white spruce), Larix laricina(tamarack), Betula papyrifera(paper birch), Carex lasiocarpa, Carex rostrate, Equisetume fluviatile, Calamagrostis Canadensis, and Eupatonum maculatum
Common Mammal Species:
Common mammalsinclude: muskrat (Ondatra zibethic), eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus), red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus), raccoon (Procyon lotor), fisher (Mares pennanti), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), black bear (Ursus americanus), coyote (Canis latrans), redfox (Vulpes fulva),
Common Bird Species:
Commonbirds include: black duck (Anas rubripes), Canada goose (Branta canadensis), common loon (Gavia immer), great blue heron (Ardea herodias), and ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus).
Common Amphibians and reptiles
American toad (Bufo americanus), green frog (Rana clamitans), wood frog (Rana sylvatica), spring peeper (Hyla crucifer), and painted turtle (Chrysemys picta).
Potential Research Topics:
Some potential research topics include piping plover ecology and restoration, climate change impacts on fluctuating lake levels, along with other herpetological, ecological and aquatic wildlife topics.

Related Reports and Publications


Last Modified: August 19, 2021