Ecological land classification

Ecological land classification is a cartographical delineation or regionalisation of distinct ecological areas, identified by their geology, topography, soils, vegetation, climate conditions, living species, habitats, water resources, and sometimes also anthropic factors.[1] These factors control and influence biotic composition and ecological processes.


The expression "ecological land classification" as understood in this article, is approximate with the biogeographical and ecological regionalisations in a scientific context (see biogeographic units).

However, its actual usage is more approximate with a tool used for land management, in the context of environmental resource management.[2][3]

In Canada ecological land classification schemes are commonly used.[4] Provincial authorities have adopted methods to classify ecosystems within various ecoregions of the province. Ontario is one such province that uses an extensive method to define ecological units.[5] Improvements in hand held technology have allowed for more efficient collection of vegetation and physiological data in the field, such as with the ELC eTool.[6]

Classification types

Many different lists and ecological land classification schemes have been developed.[7][8][9]

Classification schemes

Following, a comparison of classification schemes and terms used in the study of the biotic and abiotic components of ecosystems and the Earth in ecology and other fields.


In ecology:


In biogeography:


Realm- or Ecozone-related

Main article: Ecozone


In zoogeography:


In phytogeography:


Main article: Floristic region


For the physiognomic approach, see Vegetation#Classifications.

For the assoociation (phytosociological) approach, see Phytosociology#Classificatory traditions.


In physiography:


In Geology:


In pedology (soil study):


Köppen (1884)


See also


  1. Kellogg, Charles (February 1933). "A Method for the Classification of Rural Lands for Assessment in Western North Dakota". The Journal of Land & Public Utility Economics. 9 (1): 12. JSTOR 3138756.
  2. Miller, M.R. 1981. Ecological land classification terrestrial subsystem: a basic inventory system for planning and management on the Mark Twain National Forest. USDA Forest Service, Eastern Region. 56 pp., .
  3. Williamson, J. C., Bestelmeyer, B. T., McClaran, M. P., Robinett, D., Briske, D. D., Wu, X. B., & Fernández-Giménez, M. E. (2016). Can ecological land classification increase the utility of vegetation monitoring data?. Ecological Indicators 69: 657-666.
  4. Wicken, E. B. 1986. Terrestrial ecozones of Canada. Environment Canada. Ecological Land Classification Series No. 19. Lands Directorate, Ottawa. 26 pp.
  5. .
  6. .
  7. Part of the list proposed below is inspired by Miklos Udvardy classification of the Biographical Provinces in the World which was prepared by Unesco's Man and the Biosphere program, published in 1975 and updated in 1982.
  8. Udvardy, M. D. F. (1975). A classification of the biogeographical provinces of the world. IUCN Occasional Paper no. 18. Morges, Switzerland: IUCN, .


External links

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