Physical Setting

Plants can't live just anywhere. Certain landscape features of a site give clues to what kinds of plants (and animals!) can thrive there. Recognizing patterns in the physical setting helps ecologists predict what sorts of natural communities may be present.


What types of soils are present? Fertile or infertile? Coarse or fine? Deep or shallow?


What types of bedrock underlie the landscape and what types of nutrients do those rocks contain?


What is the topography like? Is the landscape smooth or rugged, high or low? Does the land face toward or away from the sun?


What are the patterns of precipitation and runoff, and how big is the watershed?

Soils are sustenance for plants. Different soils, different plants.

How do hills and valleys, nooks and crannies create microclimates?

You live in a watershed. (No, it's not an outbuilding.)