The Natural Communities of Georgia

Leslie Edwards, Jonathan Ambrose, and L. Katherine Kirkman
Photographs by Hugh and Carol Nourse

A landmark reference to the ecological diversity of the state


"Back in the late 1970s, the late Dr. Charles Wharton, one of Georgia's most respected naturalists, published Natural Environments of Georgia. . . . Now, inspired by Wharton's earlier work, three of Georgia's top naturalists—Leslie Edwards, Jonathan Ambrose, and Katherine Kirkman—have led a collaborative effort to update, expand and refine the classifications and descriptions of the state's natural habitats. The result is a magnificent new book, the Natural Communities of Georgia, published by the University of Georgia Press."
—Charles Seabrook, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"Anyone interested in Georgia's natural places, plants, and animals will find a treasure trove in this book. But once you open it up, don't expect to sit around for long. You may find that, like me, you now desperately want to visit all 66 of these natural communities."
—Grant McCreary, Atlanta Audubon

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The Natural Communities of Georgia presents a comprehensive overview of the state’s natural landscapes, providing an ecological context to enhance understanding of this region’s natural history.

Georgia boasts an impressive range of natural communities, assemblages of interacting species that have either been minimally impacted by modern human activities or have successfully recovered from them. This guide makes the case that identifying these distinctive communities and the factors that determine their distribution are central to understanding Georgia’s ecological diversity and the steps necessary for its conservation.

Within Georgia’s five major ecoregions the editors identify and describe a total of sixty-six natural communities, such as the expansive salt marshes of the barrier islands in the Maritime ecoregion, the fire-driven longleaf pine woodlands of the Coastal Plain, the beautiful granite outcrops of the Piedmont, the rare prairies of the Ridge and Valley, and the diverse coves of the Blue Ridge.

The description of each natural community includes

  • Traits that make it interesting and significant
  • Physical factors and ecological processes that determine the distribution and characteristics of each community
  • Typical plant communities
  • Representative or noteworthy animals
  • Sidebars that discuss particularly interesting features

With contributions from scientists who have managed, researched, and written about Georgia landscapes for decades, the guide features more than four hundred color photographs that reveal the stunning natural beauty and diversity of the state. The book also explores conservation issues, including rare or declining species, current and future threats to specific areas, and research needs, and provides land management strategies for preserving, restoring, and maintaining biotic communities.

The Natural Communities of Georgia is an essential reference for ecologists and other scientists, as well as a rich resource for Georgians interested in the region’s natural heritage.

Major support for this project was provided by the AGL Resources Foundation.
Additional support was provided by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division.
In-kind support was provided by the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center at Ichauway and Georgia State University.

Page count: 704 pp.
400 color photos, 16 maps, 2 tables, 18 figures
Trim size: 8.5 x 11

Read more about Georgia's longleaf pine ecosystem at the New Georgia Encyclopedia.


List price: $59.95

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Leslie Edwards is a lecturer at Georgia State University. Jonathan Ambrose is an assistant chief in the Nongame Conservation Section, Wildlife Resources Division, of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. L. Katherine Kirkman is a scientist of plant ecology at Jones Ecological Research Center at Ichauway.