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.

Explore a Natural Community

Explore a Community

On this website, learn about natural communities, their building blocks, and where in the broader landscape they are found. You can now explore natural communities in Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. Stay tuned as the website expands to other parks and places in the Mid-Atlantic and beyond.

Explore stories, interactive maps, photos, podcasts and more, about a natural community at a park. How?

  • On the "Explore a Community" tool, choose a natural community. Then, on that page, under "Where to explore it?", select a park from the list.

About Natural Communities

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.