The Natural Communities of Maryland

In August of 2016, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife and Heritage Service, Natural Heritage Program released The Natural Communities of Maryland, 2016 Natural Community Classification Framework (Publication #03-662016-597).  The purpose of the document is to present the current natural community classification framework of 79 ecological community groups and 226 community types recognized by the Program as occurring in Maryland.


Natural communities are best described as recurring assemblages of plants and animals found in particular physical environments.  By doing so, the classification provides natural resource managers with a standard set of terms and concepts to describe habitats.  The organization of the Maryland natural community classification is based on previous classifications developed by the Natural Heritage Program, the Virginia Natural Heritage Program and the North Carolina Heritage Program.

There is currently 79 ecological community groups defined in this classification.  Examples of ecological community groups include Bald Cypress – Gum Swamp, Coastal Plain – Piedmont Bottomland Forest, Delmarva Bay, Tidal Freshwater Marsh and Shrubland and Successional/Modified Terrestrial Forest.  Currently there are 226 community types recognized in the classification, of which 115 (51%) are considered vulnerable to imperiled.

Click on the following link to review and download a PDF of the 34-page document.

Natural_Communities _Maryland_2016_Framework

The following link  is the MD DNR Natural Communities web site.