The ecological landscape is comprised of a diversity of associations of plants and animals and their related processes and interactions – what are referred to as natural communities. However, these natural communities do not exist as isolated entities. Rather, their composition and distribution across the landscape are directly related to the combination of underlying physical characteristics and ongoing human influences.
In Dummerston, the distinct rock types, surficial materials, soils, hydrologic flows, micro-climate patterns, and cultural land use choices interact to result in unique ecological expressions of plants and animal habitats that vary throughout town – the likes of which will be discussed in the following sections. Yet lest we think that we've got the natural world all figured out, it's worth remembering that ecological processes are in a constant state of flux, whether it be due to daily or seasonal weather cycles, or longer term alterations in climate. Therefore, the patterns of plants and wildlife communities we are so familiar with on the Dummerston landscape today have changed throughout the earth's history, and they will continue to vary in the eons yet to come.