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
In the past, the physical setting of the Oak – Beech / Heath Forest at Rock Creek Park was shaped by
- geologic fault motion Ecobit: For Fault-Finders in Washington
- water cutting deeply through breaks or weaknesses in the bedrock (creating steep stream valley walls)
Important natural processes in the Oak – Beech / Heath Forest today include
- steep-slope processes (erosion, creep) leading to dry, erosion-prone shallow soils
- bedrock near the surface, leading to shallow rooting, which leads to wind-thrown trees
- canopy gap regeneration
- cooler, shadier microclimate in summer compared to Rock Creek Park’s hilltop natural communities
In the Broader Landscape
The Oak – Beech / Heath Forest is the only natural community in the Hardwood Forest Ecological System in Rock Creek Park. Any other natural communities in this ecological system are beyond the borders of the park.