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Natural communities of the bioregion

The links below introduce a selection of the region’s many natural communities. They are all distinctive, as if they have unique personalities. When you visit them, you know you are in the presence of something special. And it’s amazing that you can see them all so close to home. That’s the magic of the Lake Erie Allegheny region’s biodiversity.

So seek these places out. Appreciate them. Learn how to care for them. For these are the
original building blocks of nature in the region.

(The following descriptions come from A Legacy of Living Places: Conserving the Diversity of Nature in the Lake Erie Allegheny Ecoregion, published in 2007 by The Cleveland Museum of Natural History and edited by David Beach.)

Beech-Maple Forest
Sugar Maple-Ash-Basswood Northern Rich Mesic Forest
Mixed Oak Forest
Black Oak Savannah/Midwest Sand Barren
Great Lakes Hemlock-Beech Hardwood Forest
Lake Plain Swamp Forest
Silver Maple-Elm Floodplain Forest
Emergent Deep Marsh
Kettlehole Bog
Rich Shrub Fen
Lake Plain Prairie
Great Lakes Palustrine Sand Plain
River and Stream Aquatic Community
Lake Erie Open Water Community

<br />Purple coneflowers in the courtyard of The Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Threats to our natural heritage

Although we are blessed with a rich natural heritage in the Lake Erie Allegheny region, this biological diversity is under great stress. More than 200 years of timbering, farming, industry,
and urban development have transformed the landscape. Nature has been squeezed into small, fragmented, vulnerable patches. 

Many of the natural communities that existed prior to European settlement have been degraded or lost. Some have disappeared suddenly, plowed under for farming or, more
recently, bulldozed for a shopping center or a subdivision. Others have declined gradually from the impacts of pollution, livestock grazing, overabundance of white-tailed deer, or the
invasion of exotic species such as purple loosestrife or zebra mussels. Still others have been altered by the effects of global climate change.

In response, people are coming together in local communities and watersheds to conserve the best places remaining—and restore those that have been degraded. They are protecting
endangered species, establishing greenways, restoring river watersheds, and expanding parklands.

The motivations are obvious. People want a healthy environment. They want their children to have the opportunity to experience the wonders of nature. And they know that nature contributes to overall quality of life, which in turn will help stimulate the economic recovery of the region.

Major threats to biodiversity

  • Habitat destruction from development
  • Alteration of physical processes, such as lake levels, stream flows, and groundwater hydrology
  • Altered species interactions, particularly competitive pressure from invasive, non-native species and the browsing of overabundant white-tailed deer
  • Global climate change 
  • Pollution from industry, agriculture, and urbanization

Ohio’s 10 worst non-native plants

  • Autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata)
  • Buckthorns (Rhamnus sp.)
  • Common reed grass (Phragmites australis)
  • Eurasian honeysuckles (Lonicera sp.)
  • Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
  • Japanese knotweed (Polygonum sp.)
  • Narrow-leaved cattail (Typha angustifolia)
  • Purple loosestrife (Lythrum sp.)
  • Reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea)
  • Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
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