Critical Evaluation of Methods and Outcomes for Habitat/Ecological Systems Classification and Mapping in the Northeast and Midwest U.S.

David D. Diamond, Lee F. Elliott, Don Faber-Langendoen, Regan Smyth, Lesley Sneddon
Posted on: 7/18/2022 - Updated on: 7/18/2023

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A number of large-scale mapping projects have been completed in the U.S., and several cover all or some parts of the footprint of the Northeast Climate Science Center (NECSC). These include maps by the Southeast GAP Analysis (SEGAP) program, the national LANDFIRE program, NatureServe, and The Nature Conservancy. These mapping projects represent a major step forward in describing the current extent of ecosystems on the landscape, and provide resource management agencies and organizations with unprecedented access to spatial information on these systems.

In a number of cases, the ranges of these maps overlap. As a result, staff of resource management agencies and organizations are faced with trying to determine how to use these multiple products to effectively and efficiently meet their needs. To address this question in the northeast and Midwest U.S., the Northeast Climate Science Center (NECSC) funded a project to critically evaluate these ecosystem or habitat mapping methods and to move toward standardization of these maps. The objectives of the project were to:

  • Phase1: Review and compare existing map products
  • Phase II: Extend the map legends & identify legend elements (ecosystems) most vulnerable to climate change Phase III: Develop recommendations for an improved map for the region
  • Phase IV: Produce an improved regional map

The four map products that span all or large parts of this area include:

  1. Southeast GAP (SEGAP)
  2. LANDFIRE EVT (Existing Vegetation Type)
  3. NatureServe
  4. TNC


Diamond, D.D., Elliott, L.F., Faber-Langendoen, D., Smyth, R., Sneddon, L. (2014). Critical Evaluation of Methods and Outcomes for Habitat/Ecological Systems Classification and Mapping in the Northeast and Midwest U.S.

Affiliated Organizations

University of Missouri

Affiliated Organizations

The USGS is a science organization that provides impartial information on the health of our ecosystems and environment, the natural hazards that threaten us, the natural resources we rely on, the impacts of climate and land-use change, and the core science systems that help us provide timely, relevant, and useable information.

The Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center is part of a network of nine Climate Adaptation Science Centers managed by the U.S. Geological Survey National Climate Adaptation Science Center. We work with natural and cultural resource managers to gather the scientific information and build the tools needed to help fish, wildlife, and ecosystems adapt to the impacts of climate change.

NatureServe is a non-profit conservation organization whose mission is to provide the scientific basis for effective conservation action. NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs and conservation data centers are the leading source for information about rare and endangered species and threatened ecosystems.