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Ecological Community Information from the Washington Natural Heritage Program

Ecological Systems of Washington
Definition of ecological systems and links to a draft field guide for Ecological Systems of Washington and other sites about community classification.
Ecological Integrity Assessments
EIAs describe a systematic approach for measuring ecological condition at a variety of spatial scales.
An Assessment of the Ecological Characteristics and Ecological Integrity of the Palouse Prairie
Summarizes information on thirty sites in the Palouse Prairie in Washington. Each site includes: (1) ecological systems; (2) ecological condition assessed by EIA rapid assessments (walking or with binoculars); and (3) a description of the biological and ecological characteristics including a stressors evaluation.
Floristic Quality Assessment
FQA calculates the naturalness of an area based on the plant species present and their fidelity to intact ecosystems.
Vegetation Classification of Mount Rainier, North Cascades, and Olympic National Parks
A vegetation classification project for the National Park Service, North Coast Cascades Network Inventory and Monitoring Program.
  • The main report (576 KB PDF) Introduction, study area, methods, results, discussion, and conclusions.
  • The appendices (12,858 KB PDF) An identification key to plant associations, descriptions of 311 plant associations, tables of constancy and cover values, and environmental data.
Known High-Quality / Rare Ecological Communities by County
Lists of the high-quality or rare ecological communities known to occur in each county of Washington state.
Plant Associations in Washington's Puget Trough Ecoregion
Vegetation classification fact sheets, keys, and association tables for plant associations of the Puget Trough Ecoregion.
Plant Associations of Balds and Bluffs of Western Washington
Definitions, processes, management considerations, keys, descriptions, and association tables for plant associations of balds and bluffs in western Washington.
A Riparian Vegetation Classification of the Columbia Basin, Washington
A guide to the riparian and wetland vegetation of Washington's Columbia Basin.
Preliminary Classification of Freshwater Wetland Vegetation in Western Washington
A preliminary classification of native, undisturbed wetlands found in the lowlands of western Washington. It includes impounded, semi-impounded and tidal freshwater wetland plant communities
A Marine and Estuarine Habitat Classification System for Washington State
Marine and estuarine habitats are defined by their depth, substratum type, energy level and a few modifiers. For each combination of these physical variables, species (plants and animals) that are diagnostic
of the habitat are described.
Ecological Communities
in the Continental U.S.

Open NatureServe Explorer and search by common name or scientific name to find information on ecological communities known to occur in the continental U.S.
Natural Heritage Methodology:
Classification of Ecological Communities
Developed by the Natural Heritage Network in conjunction with NatureServe and The Nature Conservancy, this classification is a systematic way of describing and assessing ecological diversity.
Definitions of Listing, Status, and Ranks used in Natural Heritage Data
A list of definitions used in Natural Heritage Methodology.
GIS Data Sets
Spatial information on plant community occurrences is available in the WNHP GIS Data Set. This GIS coverage may be licensed for professional environmental assessment or land management purposes by contacting the Environmental Review Coordinator at (360) 902-1667.
Project Area Report

Information on natural heritage features which have been reported at a specific project location can be provided in a Project Area Report prepared by program staff.

Washington Natural Heritage Program -
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Washington State Dept. of Natural Resources, PO Box 47000,
Olympia, WA 98504-7000  Tel. (360) 902-1000