Deer in Spring Landscape

Maryland's Natural Communities

This first approximation of Maryland plant communities illustrates the preliminary stages of classification development and provides a framework to continue work. The hierarchy of the classification follows The Nature Conservancy's (TNC) National Classification.

The objective of the National Classification is to partition the biophysical landscape into reasonable units for conservation. The basic unit of the classification is the "community element", a vegetation unit of uniform floristic composition, habitat and physiognomy.

The alliance level presented here is broader in scale. Developed in part for the National Gap Analysis Program, the community alliances are groups of community elements which share one or more diagnostic species and occur in broadly similar habitat. Whereas the community element is homogenous in composition, the community alliance is typically more variable across its range.

Natural Community Reports

Printer-friendly Version
of Classification of Vegetative Communities of Maryland: First Iteration
(PDF file 4.14 MB - Opens with Acrobat Reader)
A 243-page report compiled by Jason W. Harrison
Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Natural Heritage Program

Ecological Classification of Groundwater-Fed Seepage Wetlands of the Maryland Coastal Plain
(PDF file 4.9 MB - Opens with Acrobat Reader)
A 100-page report prepared by Jason W. Harrison and Wesley M. Knapp, Wildlife and Heritage Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, for United States Fish and Wildlife Service
Publication Number 033-1132012-544 - June 2010

Forested Tidal Wetland Communities of Maryland’s Eastern Shore
Identification, Assessment, and Monitoring
(PDF file 7.65 MB - Opens with Acrobat Reader)
A 97-page report prepared by Jason W. Harrison, Peter Stango III & Maria C. Aguirre
Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Maryland Natural Heritage Program
Prepared for the United States Environmental Protection Agency
Clean Water Act 1998 State
Wetlands Protection Development Grant Program

Shrubland Tidal Wetland Communities of Maryland's Eastern Shore
Identification, Assessment, and Monitoring
(PDF file 5.24 MB - Opens with Acrobat Reader)
A 118-page report prepared for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Clean Water Act 1998 State Wetlands
Protection Development Grant Program

Herbaceous Tidal Wetland Communities of Maryland's Eastern Shore
Identification, Assessment, and Monitoring
(PDF file 5.41 MB - Opens with Acrobat Reader)
A 119-page report prepared for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Clean Water Act 1998 State Wetlands
Protection Development Grant Program

Natural Communities at a Glance

Coastal Plain Bogs

Serpentine Grasslands

Shale Barrens