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Terrestrial Vegetation of the United States: Web resources

Designed to provide information sources and search ideas for students in Plant Ecology, 21:120:370:01


Mid-Atlantic Ecoregions

This is part of the U.S. EPA Environmental Atlas project, covering DE, MD, NJ, NY, NC, PA, VA, WV, and the District of Columbia. (http:/

Plant Communities of the Midwest

This online publication describes the vegetation types and distribution for twelve Midwest states: IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, NE, ND, OH, SD, and WI. Note that this is a PDF file which will require the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Scientists from the Natural Heritage Network in those states have collaborated on this document that describes in detail 588 plant communities/associations. The work also points out their relationships to one another by organizing the associations into major ecological groups. (

USDA Forest Service ECOMAP

The Forest Service uses an ecoregion approach to classify the results of their mapping projects. The ecoregions vegetation mapping model was developed by Robert Bailey, a Forest Service biologist, to record existing vegetation.  Coordinating the efforts of state foresters and USFS staff to map land types and vegetation, the ECOMAP initiative is based on ecological units or ecoregions rather than states.  Click on the Provinces map and approximate your state’s boundaries to find the ecoregions.  The detailed color coded legend includes links to descriptions of the ecoregion.  The text is also available as a publication, Description of “Ecological Subregions: Sections of the Conterminous United Statesat

US Geological Survey National GAP Analysis Program.  National Inventory of Vegetation and Land Use.

          The result of a collaboration between the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture, the National Inventory provides detailed information through maps about land cover, fire risk, and land use.  The ecosystems are classified using the U. S. National Vegetation Classification which is based on NatureServ’s Ecological Systems Classification ( When you go to the Inventory, you’ll be able to select a state on the left sidebar and, in the next section, Select NVC Level or Land Use Class, please click on the third choice, Ecological system.  When the state map displays, you can mouse over various areas and see the type of ecosystem.  When you click on the area while the name displays, a description will appear.  There is a helpful legend pairing color with ecological system in the left sidebar.  (

University of California, Berkeley, Garth Sciences and Map Library. Checklist of Online Vegetation and Plant Distribution Maps

This site, created by the geology librarians at Berkeley, includes locations of maps for vegetation throughout the world. In the US section, maps of the entire country show Kuchler's Potential Natural Vegetation types as well as the extent of land coverage by a particular plant or plant community. Additional maps are listed by tate and county or national park with the state. (

As more regional and local agencies post their reports and other publications to the Web, a Google search can result in more information. ( You might use the subject headings suggested for locating books in combination with your state.  As an example, a recent search using the terms, "plant communities" and Wisconsin resulted in the USGS publication, "Wetland plants and plant communities of Minnesota and Wisconsin". ( A second search using "plant communities" and California uncovered a table with the community name, distribution, climate information, soil type and diversity. (


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