Natural processes shape the land, create soil and topsoil, influence the water supply, and help determine the plants and animals that live in each natural community. Some natural processes act on large scales and affect more than one natural community at a time.
In This Community
Important natural processes in the Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forest include
- soil formation
- canopy gap regeneration
- processes that create soils that are not too wet, not too dry
In the Broader Landscape
Some natural processes act on large scales and affect more than one natural community at a time. For example, in Rock Creek Park three natural communities are found in similar positions in the landscape. The Mesic Mixed Hardwood Forest, the Basic Mesic Hardwood Forest, and the Coastal Plain Oak Forest all occur on rolling uplands and lower slopes of ravines, where they are protected from extreme weather conditions—such as the exposure to sun and wind at higher elevations, and flooding at lower elevations.
In fact, these three natural communities are all part of a larger unit that ecologists refer to as the Mesic Hardwood Forest Ecological System. An ecological system is a group of several natural communities that share many of the same natural processes and aspects of physical setting. By extension, they may also share many of the same plant and animal species.