The inland pine barrens ecosystem is made up of different ecological communities. Ecological communities are "assemblages of species that occur together in a definable area within a given period, have the potential to interact with one another, and depend on similar ecological processes and conditions to maintain themselves" (APBPC Management Plan, see sidebar).
Like the rooms of a house, the communities of an ecosystem are recognizably different from one another, yet they are connected under one "roof" sharing a common environment including soil conditions, climate and patterns of disturbance. Where they differ is their composition of plants, animals and other organisms. In New York State, ecological communities are defined by the New York Natural Heritage Program. Explore some of the communities of the Albany Pine Bush below.