Toolkit: Appendix E Data Basin

Data Basin-Ecosystems of the Western Hemisphere is a similar interactive map application that relies on the same underlying ecosystems database and a similar automated map-making process as the USGS Viewer, but displays ecosystems only at the Macrogroup and Ecological Systems levels.


It covers ecological systems in the U.S., Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, portions of South America, and the temperate regions of southern Canada where most agriculture in that country is concentrated. It is especially useful for places outside the U.S., which are beyond the scope of the USGS Viewer.

In addition to ecological systems, this application has several other useful features, such as the ability to display IVC Macrogroups – larger, landscape-scale collections of broadly similar ecosystems – such as ‘California Forest and Woodland’ or “Midwestern Tall Grass Prairie”, which in some instances may be simpler to interpret and use for verification purposes than the more numerous and detailed ecological systems.

Another useful feature is called “potential ecological systems”, which shows what would be expected at a site in the absence of disturbance, or, in the words of its creators, “the map depicts the location and extent of each [ecosystem] had there been no intensive human land uses in recent centuries”. In our experience, this feature helps cut through the clutter of many, tiny (often a single pixel or two) ecosystem remnants that typify historically disturbed and fragmented agricultural landscapes, and focuses on the dominant type(s) of ecosystems that were once present and may still be visually recognizable in small patches on site, and would thus be subject to this regulation.

Watch the video demonstration on how to use this tool.