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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

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

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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; Figure 21). These include maps by the Southeast GAP Analysis (SEGAP) program (Jennings et al. 1993, Kleiner 2007), the national LANDFIRE program (Rollins et al. 2006, Rollins 2009), NatureServe (Comer et al. 2003, NatureServe 2009, Smyth et al. 2013), and The Nature Conservancy (Ferree and Anderson 2013). 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