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Ecological Systems of Washington

Ecological systems are classification units developed by NatureServe. An ecological system is defined as a group of (existing) plant community types that tend to co-occur within landscapes sharing similar ecological processes, substrates, and/or environmental gradients. The purpose of this classification system is to provide an intermediate scale for mapping efforts, ecological assessments, and for establishing conservation priorities.

We have developed a Draft Field Guide to Washington's Ecological Systems (click to download the 5 mb PDF). It is a tool for identifying and understanding all the Ecological Systems that occur in the state. This guide provides dichotomous keys and brief descriptions of each Ecological System to assist in identification. We are receiving comments on this Draft towards production of a final version.

The Washington Heritage Program has also developed Ecological Integrity Assessments for 67 of Washington's 92 Ecological Systems.  These describe a systematic approach for measuring ecological condition at a variety of spatial scales.

Related links:

Washington Natural Heritage Program -
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Washington Dept. of Natural Resources, PO Box 47014, Olympia, WA 98504-7014