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Stockton Island Tombolo

Back to Eastern Lake Superior

Counties: Ashland


Stockton Island Tombolo. Aerial view of tombolo, October 15, 1996 Eric Epstein

Site Description

This site includes the Apostle Islands Sandscapes State Natural Area.

The tombolo is an exceptionally diverse and complex association of rare landforms and natural communities on the southeast end of 10,000 acre Stockton Island. Two sandspits have connected Presque Isle Point, historically an islet, with the main body of the island. The spits enclose a large wetland and lagoon which are traversed by a series of narrow, parallel, sand ridges. The swales between the ridges support a variety of wetland types including submergent aquatic, emergent aquatic, coastal fen, coastal bog, alder thicket, and tamarack swamp communities. Communities associated with the sandspits include Great Lakes beach, Great Lakes dune, Great Lakes barrens, boreal forest, northern dry-mesic forest, and interdunal wetland. Several small streams drain the island's interior and reach Lake Superior via an outlet through the eastern sandspit into Julian Bay. The open mat is dominated by sedges, including twigrush, beak-rush, sweet gale, and buckbean. A boggier mat of Sphagnum mosses, ericaceous shrubs, sedges, and scattered small tamarack trees occur in the drier swales and along the wetland margins. An interdunal pond supports an unusual flora that includes many rare plants. An isolated portion of the wetland in the northwestern sector of the site is quite acidic, dominated by ericaceous shrubs, few-seeded sedge, and beaked sedge.

Additional Comments

A high concentration of rare species (mostly plants and birds) has been documented here. Apart from the many rare species, the diversity, extent, and quality of the natural communities are reflected in the very high overall species diversity at this site. Stockton Island Tombolo is a designated State Natural Area within the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Last revised: Wed, 20 Jun 2012 17:21:11 CDT