Ecological Landscape

The ecological landscape is a patchwork of interlocking layers relying on each other for life. While vegetation relies heavily on soil composition and nutrients provided by the underlying bedrock, each association of plants provides habitat to a unique set of animals. Over time, the relationships between these layers become so intertwined that it is impossible to tease apart cause from effect. For example, the wetlands near Jericho Center may have originally formed due to a dip in topography. The pond that resulted may have attracted a particular set of lakeside vegetation. At some point, beavers were attracted to the pond, building dams to ensure the continuation of high water. The dams blocked not only water but also sediments that once again changed the soil composition. Meanwhile, birds and other animals aided in seed dispersal, while new plants provide ideal habitat for a new flock of animals. Habitat for plant and animal alike has been altered so many times—by natural processes—that it is exciting to try to piece together the history of the landscape.

Calling this the “Ecological Landscape” is by no means meant to detract the importance of humans as a part of on-going processes. In fact, some of the most significant changes in the ecological landscape follow patterns of human land use. While populations of chestnut-sided warblers, bobolinks, and other open-space-loving creatures benefited from the rise in agriculture and are on the decline as fields return to forest, other species like bobcat and fisher have shown just the opposite trend.

More information about Jericho’s ecological landscape can be found at The Jericho Field Guide site. This website is maintained by the Jericho community, with information provided by town residents.