Terrestrial Ecological Systems of the United States
NatureServe has developed a mid-scale ecological classification for uplands and wetlands, useful for conservation and environmental planning. Terrestrial Ecological Systems represent recurring groups of plant communities that are found in similar physical environments and are influenced by similar dynamic ecological processes, such as fire or flooding. Our classification describes over 800 upland and wetland ecological system types found in the United States, and in adjacent portions of Mexico and Canada.
View complete publication, Ecological Systems of the United States. 83 pages. PDF file (4.5M).
Current ecological systems descriptions can be accessed on our NatureServe Explorer website. Click on the Ecological Communities and Systems tab.
To request customized datasets and analyses related to ecological systems, please contact , 703-908-1849. For more information, see our Custom Data Services page.
Terrestrial ecological systems have formed the basis for map legends on national mapping efforts, including the inter-agency Landfire and Gap Analysis Program efforts. NatureServe ecologists have combined results of these efforts into a national map. Since terrestrial ecological systems are linked to the National Vegetation Classification, this national map information may be displayed at multiple levels of the National Vegetation Classification hierarchy.
Download U.S. Ecological Data Maps
You may download these maps as digital files for use in ArcGIS software. They are organized in several forms so that you may download all or portions of the national data to suit your needs. Regional files have been organized by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Administrative regions.
- National Map, Conterminous United States (Updated July 2013) (Compressed file, 1.6GB)
- National Vegetation Map, Regional files
- National Map (pdf, 4MB, 1176 pages)
- Ecological Divisions of the Americas (zip, 13MB)