Natural Communities

About Natural Communities

A natural community is a combination of native plants and animals repeatedly occurring together in a particular natural environment that has experienced minimal human-caused disturbance or has recovered from that disturbance.

Certain plants consistently grow together in the same or similar environments because they share a preference or tolerance for such things as:

  • their position in the landscape,
  • the kind of soil, rock, or water in which they grow,
  • their water supply (how much? how often?),
  • protection from or exposure to sun, weather events, fire, and other natural processes.

Some plants can only grow in certain environments with other types of plants buffering or protecting them from direct sunlight or other features of the environment.

In each natural community, the plants, animals, geology, natural processes, water, and many other factors are related in somewhat predictable ways that allow us to classify and name these communities.

On this website, learn about natural communities, their building blocks, and where in the broader landscape they are found. Ecobit: Explore Natural Communities in the Mid-Atlantic

Explore a Community


<<    In the tool at left, select a natural community to explore it further on this website... or in the wild!

Natural communities cluster together in certain patterns in the landscape. Learn why.

Explore how plants, animals, physical setting, and natural processes each have a role to play, in Ecology Basics.

Photo credits  Rocky hillside above Rock Creek (cropped) – Gary Fleming; Potomac River (cropped) – NatureServe;  Maroon flower of common paw paw (cropped) – Matt Jones