Level III and IV Ecoregions of the Continental United States

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Western Ecology Division
Publication Date: 
2011

Ecoregions denote areas of general similarity in ecosystems and in the type, quality, and quantity of environmental resources. They are designed to serve as a spatial framework for the research, assessment, management, and monitoring of ecosystems and ecosystem components. These general purpose regions are critical for structuring and implementing ecosystem management strategies across federal agencies, state agencies, and nongovernment organizations that are responsible for different types of resources within the same geographical areas. The approach used to compile this map is based on the premise that ecological regions can be identified through the analysis of patterns of biotic and abiotic phenomena, including geology, physiography, vegetation, climate, soils, land use, wildlife, and hydrology. The relative importance of each characteristic varies from one ecological region to another. A Roman numeral hierarchical scheme has been adopted for different levels for ecological regions. Level I is the coarsest level, dividing North America into 15 ecological regions. Level II divides the continent into 52 regions (Commission for Environmental Cooperation Working Group, 1997). At Level III, the continental United States contains 104 regions whereas the conterminous United States has 84 (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2005). Level IV ecoregions are further subdivisions of Level III ecoregions. Methods used to define the ecoregions are explained in Omernik (1995, 2004), Omernik and others (2000), and Gallant and others (1989).

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