Overview of Ecological Communities Data

Overview of Ecological Units Data

NatureServe Explorer provides data for ecological units (associations and systems) primarily in the contiguous United States and Hawaii. Canadian data are provided in NatureServe Explorer where available. Ecological systems for Latin America and the Caribbean are provided on InfoNatura. The completeness of ecological unit inventory and classification work varies widely among states, provinces and regions, and NatureServe Explorer reflects these variations. Ecological units are defined by the International Ecological Classification Standard, primarily composed at present of the International Vegetation Classification (IVC) and the NatureServe Ecological Systems Classification. For details on this standard, see Classification of Standard Ecological Units.

The Comprehensive Report for ecological units contains available information in the following categories: classification; related names; global conservation status; distribution; environmental setting; vegetation structure; dynamic processes; authors and contributors; and references. This information is continually reviewed and updated in the NatureServe Central Databases in order to reflect ongoing inventory and classification efforts, and new status assessments. NatureServe Explorer is updated periodically from the NatureServe Central Databases.

Because of the wide variation in ecological units inventory and classification throughout the United States, it is not possible to make a definitive interpretation of the differences in diversity of ecological units among states or regions. Some states or regions focus efforts on those US-NVC associations that are considered imperiled (conservation ranks G1 or G2), while others, like the western U.S. Forest Service Districts, focus on more common units. Also, while the classification system is intended to develop units with consistent scale, associations are more narrowly defined in some regions, resulting in a greater number of associations than average.

Ecological Association Records in NatureServe Explorer
with U.S. Distribution
with Canadian Distribution
Total Associations
All Associations5,7008765,835
Aquatic Vegetation732875
Desert & Semi-Desert5259525
Forest to Open Woodland2,8293892,900
Polar & High Montane Scrub & Grassland14338148
Rock Vegetation17838188
Shrubland & Grassland1,9203691,965

Ecological System Records in NatureServe Explorer
Systems with
U.S. Distribution
with Canadian Distribution
Total Systems
All Ecological Systems842219877
Forest and Woodland18965203
Woody Wetland15546165
Herbaceous Wetland13327136
Mixed Upland and Wetland461548

Ecological Associations by NatureServe Conservation Status
  Potentially Extinct
(GX, GH)
At Risk (G1, G2, G3) Apparently Secure (G4, G5) Unrankable (GU) Not Yet Ranked(GNR)
Aquatic Vegetation02435214
Desert & Semi-Desert018916713156
Forest to Open Woodland11,75971325402
Polar & High Montane Scrub & Grassland071351230
Rock Vegetation075261275
Shrubland & Grassland11,16840239355

Copyright 2014
Ecological Community data provided by NatureServe. Plant data provided by NatureServe. Invertebrate Data provided by NatureServe. Plant data provided by NatureServe. Invertebrate data provided by NatureServe. Vertebrate data provided by NatureServe.