|Natural History of the Mt. San Jacinto Mountains|
The word ecology is derived from old Greek. It comes from the words “oikos,” meaning homes and “ology,” meaning the study of. Thus, ecology means the study of homes. This modern scientific term refers to the body of knowledge that deals with the interrelationships between living organisms and their environment. The environment is that part of the Earth that provides physical necessities for plants and animals to survive, such as food, air, water and mineral nutrients. It includes all of the conditions that affect living organisms, from the clouds in the sky which may provide much needed moisture, to the winds that blow and scatter seeds, to the sun that shines on the Earth providing a continuous flow of energy.
There are many different biotic communities in the San Jacinto Mountains, ranging from desert scrub on the east side to pinyon-juniper of the south side around to the oak woodlands of the western slopes culminating with the sub-alpine at the peak. Most of the mountaintop is a mixed conifer forest. Available moisture, temperature and soil conditions greatly influence the types of plants that can survive in an area. In turn, each of the communities supports a different mix of animals, the wildlife community.