dataset : Terrestrial Ecosystems of the Conterminous United States

U.S. Geological Survey Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center


Terrestrial Ecosystems of the Conterminous United States

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) modeled the distribution of terrestrial ecosystems for the contiguous United States using a standardized, deductive approach to associate unique physical environments with ecological systems characterized in NatureServe's Ecological Systems of the United States classification (Comer et al., 2003). This approach was first developed for South America (Sayre et al., 2008) and is now being implemented globally (Sayre et al., 2007). Unique physical environments were delineated from a massive biophysical stratification of the nation into the major structural components of ecosystems: biogeographic regions (Cress et al., 2008c), land surface forms (Cress et al., 2008a), surficial lithology (Cress et al., 2008d), and topographic moisture potential (Cress et al., 2008b). Each of these structural components was mapped for the contiguous United States and then spatially combined to produce ecosystem structural footprints which represented unique abiotic (physical) environments. Among 49,168 unique structural footprint classes, 13,482 classes which met a minimum pixel count threshold (20,000 pixels) were aggregated into 419 NatureServe ecosystems through semi-automated labeling process using rule set formulations for attribution of each ecosystem.

The spatial range for this dataset is 22.69674° to 51.670907° latitude, and -128.006694° to -65.230305° longitude. map (center)

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