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Terrestrial Ecosystems of the Conterminous United States

Metadata Updated: July 6, 2024

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. UPDATE: A newer terrestrial ecosystems datalayer, "World Terrestrial Ecosystems (WTE) 2020", is now available at: This datalayer is a global raster dataset at a 250 m spatial resolution where 431 ecosystem types are identified and mapped. Each ecosystem type is a unique combination of vegetation/land cover, climate region, and landform.

Access & Use Information

Public: This dataset is intended for public access and use. License: No license information was provided. If this work was prepared by an officer or employee of the United States government as part of that person's official duties it is considered a U.S. Government Work.

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Metadata Created Date June 1, 2023
Metadata Updated Date July 6, 2024

Metadata Source

Harvested from DOI EDI

Additional Metadata

Resource Type Dataset
Metadata Created Date June 1, 2023
Metadata Updated Date July 6, 2024
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Identifier USGS:63dc2f7ad34e9fa19a98a377
Data Last Modified 20231218
Category geospatial
Public Access Level public
Bureau Code 010:12
Metadata Context
Metadata Catalog ID
Schema Version
Catalog Describedby
Harvest Object Id 04f0b06c-b0b3-4ec4-afe7-aacbe975630d
Harvest Source Id 52bfcc16-6e15-478f-809a-b1bc76f1aeda
Harvest Source Title DOI EDI
Metadata Type geospatial
Old Spatial -126.0203,23.984,-65.9797,50.0195
Publisher Hierarchy White House > U.S. Department of the Interior > U.S. Geological Survey
Source Datajson Identifier True
Source Hash 12d8ca322771312b4b57589e819040e27b7dfa162851df17e47f9aa353b8ee17
Source Schema Version 1.1
Spatial {"type": "Polygon", "coordinates": -126.0203, 23.984, -126.0203, 50.0195, -65.9797, 50.0195, -65.9797, 23.984, -126.0203, 23.984}

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