Wildlife Communities of North America

Though North American wildlife can be divided into groups in an infinite number of ways, the communities listed below represent most of the major types. Some communities are defined by specific plant inhabitants (Cypress Swamp), others, more by location (great Plains Grassland).

If you plan a trip then the list of these wildlife communities will help you to get acquainted with the flora and fauna of a particular area in advance. For example, if you are going to the West Coast, you'll want to look up at least three communities: Pacific Coast forest, Pacific Sandy Shore, and Rocky Pacific Coast with the list of places in the United States and Canada where these communities occur.

The list, of course, is only a sampling; there are many other places where the flora, the fauna, and their interrelationships are essentially the same. Most large areas have more than one type.

Wildlife is not divided into such neat packages as this list implies, and an observant eye will notice that a number of species occur on more than one list. Some, such as many shorbirds and other migrating species, are part of different communities at different times of the year. Others range over much of the continent and live in a variety of habitats; the Black Bear, for example, is listed for six different ones.

  • Great Plains Grassland
  • Tallgrass Prairie
  • Alpine Meadow and Tundra
  • Arctic Tundra
  • Freshwater Marsh
  • Slow-moving River
  • Tidal Marsh
  • Mangrove Swamp
  • Pacific Sandy Shore
  • Eastern Sandy Shore
  • Rocky Pacific Coast
  • Northeastern Coast
  • Cypress Swamp