Natural Communities

Natural communities are combinations of native plants and animals that are regularly found together in particular settings. Human-caused disturbance has been minimal, or the natural community has recovered from that disturbance. There are thousands of natural communities in the United States.1

Explore a Natural Community By Park

Explore a Community

Learn about natural communities found in the parks and places featured on this website. The collection will grow as the website expands beyond a few National Parks in the Mid-Atlantic Region of the U.S. 

Tip: When you explore a natural community by name, be sure to follow a “Where to Explore It” link to this community in a park for a look at photos and stories, interactive maps… maybe even a podcast!

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.