Virginia lies in the eastern temperate forest region of North America. This ecoregion is defined by its mild to moderate humidity levels, the diverse forests of deciduous trees and needle-leaf conifers that inhabit the area, consistent precipitation throughout the year and the diversity of animal and organism species that make their home here (CEC and McGinley, 2008). What makes this state interesting is that it has five different distinct provinces, which allow me to experience different environments all within close proximity. Each province has distinct elevation, soil, terrain and climate factors that contribute to their flora and fauna. From east to west, these include the Coastal Plain, Piedmont, Blue Ridge, Valley and Ridge and finally Appalachian Plateau provinces (William and Mary, 2011). The variety of habitats that have been created by each province’s features has allowed special relationships to form between its inhabitants and encouraged natural communities to thrive. These natural communities spawned many ecosystems that adapted to each area and incorporate vegetation characteristics from the northern North American and Appalachian areas, as well as from the south eastern Atlantic regions which includes the coastal plains and the Gulf areas (DCR, 2010).
The actual province in Virginia that I live in is the Piedmont, specifically the inner Piedmont which is adjacent to the Blue Ridge province. This area has a rolling hill landscape with an overall slope that ranges from about 160 ft above sea level near the Coastal Plains province to over 2000 ft near the Blue Ridge province (DCR, 2010). The distinct abiotic factor that identifies my area is the seasonal changes we go through. This area experiences all four seasons, and with this, the habitats of the area changes. In fall and winter, we lose a lot of shelter with the shedding of leaves from the deciduous trees. Also, many of the warmer month animal and insect inhabitants migrate or hibernate during the colder months. In addition, the area acquires new inhabitants during the colder months who migrate down from the north. The Piedmont has most of its geologic sources shrouded by a deep layer of soil. Despite this shroud of soil, there is a large supply of what is considered metamorphic and igneous rocks, especially closer to the Blue Ridge regions. In general, the terrain is a mixed limestone-dolomite combination that is covered in soil which ranges from nutrient-poor to calcium-rich (CEC and McGinley, 2008). This physical environment, along with the variety of rivers and lakes found in the area, allow for a variety of flood-tolerant trees to flourish. There are at least 14 different species of trees that call this area home. In addition to the vegetation, we have a wide variety of animals that inhabit the area to include the white-footed mouse, gray squirrel, eastern chipmunk, raccoon, porcupine, gray fox, bobcat, white-tailed deer, black bear along with a wide variety of birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians (CEC and McGinley,