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Wyoming Natural Diversity Database

Ecological Systems in Wyoming

What are ecological systems?
Ecological systems are vegetation/environment units that can be mapped over areas covering from 10 hectares to thousands of hectares.  Each system is characterized by composition and structure of the vegetation, environmental features (such as landform and hydrology), and disturbance regime.  The classification of ecological systems was developed by ecologists at NatureServe and at individual state and provincial natural heritage programs, as described in the NatureServe document, Ecological Systems of the United States, Executive Summary.

Ecological systems are used in two nation-wide mapping programs, the Gap Analysis Program (GAP) of the U.S. Geological Survey and the  Landscape Fire and Resource Management Planning Tools (LANDFIRE) program of the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service.  In Wyoming, the Game and Fish Department uses ecological systems as the basis for the terrestrial habitat types in the 2010 State Wildlife Action Plan .

Ecological Systems in Wyoming
A list of ecological systems in Wyoming mapped by the U.S. Geological Survey’s Northwestern Regional GAP in their digital landcover layer follows this section along with a link to its NatureServe account, if available (which apply to the ecological systems as they occur throughout North America and are not specific to Wyoming, but they should allow biologists and managers interested in ecological systems in the state to understand what the systems are). We have adopted this as the list of systems in the state because the Northwestern Regional GAP layer is the basis for the terrestrial habitat types in the 2010 State Wildlife Action Plan for Wyoming and because the predictive distribution models that our zoologists at WYNDD have developed for the state’s terrestrial vertebrates also use the ecological systems in that layer.  The list also includes a few map units other than ecological systems.

List of Ecological Systems in Wyoming:

Columbia Plateau Low Sagebrush Steppe

Columbia Plateau Vernal Pool

Cultivated Cropland

Developed, High Intensity

Developed, Low Intensity

Developed, Medium Intensity

Developed, Open Space

Geysers and Hot Springs

Great Basin Foothill and Lower Montane Riparian Woodland and Shrubland

Great Basin Xeric Mixed Sagebrush Shrubland

Great Plains Prairie Pothole

Harvested forest-grass regeneration

Harvested forest-shrub regeneration

Harvested forest-tree regeneration

Inter-Mountain Basins Active and Stabilized Dune

Inter-Mountain Basins Alkaline Closed Depression

Inter-Mountain Basins Aspen-Mixed Conifer Forest and Woodland

Inter-Mountain Basins Big Sagebrush Shrubland

Inter-Mountain Basins Big Sagebrush Steppe

Inter-Mountain Basins Cliff and Canyon

Inter-Mountain Basins Curl-leaf Mountain Mahogany Woodland and Shrubland

Inter-Mountain Basins Greasewood Flat

Inter-Mountain Basins Interdunal Swale Wetland

Inter-Mountain Basins Juniper Savanna

Inter-Mountain Basins Mat Saltbush Shrubland

Inter-Mountain Basins Mixed Salt Desert Scrub

Inter-Mountain Basins Montane Sagebrush Steppe

Inter-Mountain Basins Playa

Inter-Mountain Basins Semi-Desert Grassland

Inter-Mountain Basins Semi-Desert Shrub-Steppe

Inter-Mountain Basins Shale Badland

Introduced Riparian and Wetland Vegetation

Introduced Upland Vegetation - Annual Grassland

Introduced Upland Vegetation - Forbland

Introduced Upland Vegetation - Perennial Grassland

Introduced Upland Vegetation - Shrub

Introduced Upland Vegetation - Treed

Middle Rocky Mountain Montane Douglas-fir Forest and Woodland

North American Arid West Emergent Marsh

North American Glacier and Ice Field

Northern Rocky Mountain Foothill Conifer Wooded Steppe

Northern Rocky Mountain Lower Montane Riparian Woodland and Shrubland

Northern Rocky Mountain Lower Montane, Foothill and Valley Grassland

Northern Rocky Mountain Subalpine Woodland and Parkland

Northern Rocky Mountain Subalpine-Upper Montane Grassland

Northwestern Great Plains Mixedgrass Prairie

Northwestern Great Plains Riparian

Northwestern Great Plains Shrubland

Northwestern Great Plains - Black Hills Ponderosa Pine Woodland and Savanna

Open Water


Quarries, Mines and Gravel Pits

Recently burned forest

Recently burned grassland

Rocky Mountain Alpine Bedrock and Scree

Rocky Mountain Alpine Dwarf-Shrubland

Rocky Mountain Alpine Fell-Field

Rocky Mountain Alpine Turf

Rocky Mountain Alpine-Montane Wet Meadow

Rocky Mountain Aspen Forest and Woodland

Rocky Mountain Bigtooth Maple Ravine Woodland

Rocky Mountain Cliff, Canyon and Massive Bedrock

Rocky Mountain Foothill Limber Pine-Juniper Woodland

Rocky Mountain Lodgepole Pine Forest

Northern Rocky Mountain Lower Montane Riparian Woodland and Shrubland

Rocky Mountain Lower Montane-Foothill Shrubland

Rocky Mountain Poor-Site Lodgepole Pine Forest

Rocky Mountain Subalpine Dry-Mesic Spruce-Fir Forest and Woodland

Rocky Mountain Subalpine Mesic-Wet Spruce-Fir Forest and Woodland

Rocky Mountain Subalpine-Montane Fen

Rocky Mountain Subalpine-Montane Limber-Bristlecone Pine Woodland

Rocky Mountain Subalpine-Montane Mesic Meadow

Rocky Mountain Subalpine-Montane Riparian Shrubland

Rocky Mountain Subalpine-Montane Riparian Woodland

Southern Rocky Mountain Dry-Mesic Montane Mixed Conifer Forest and Woodland

Southern Rocky Mountain Mesic Montane Mixed Conifer Forest and Woodland

Southern Rocky Mountain Montane-Subalpine Grassland

Southern Rocky Mountain Ponderosa Pine Woodland

Western Great Plains Badlands

Western Great Plains Cliff and Outcrop

Western Great Plains Closed Depression Wetland

Western Great Plains Dry Bur Oak Forest and Woodland

Western Great Plains Floodplain

Western Great Plains Foothill and Piedmont Grassland

Western Great Plains Open Freshwater Depression Wetland

Western Great Plains Riparian Woodland and Shrubland

Western Great Plains Saline Depression Wetland

Western Great Plains Sand Prairie

Western Great Plains Shortgrass Prairie

Western Great Plains Wooded Draw and Ravine

Wyoming Basins Dwarf Sagebrush Shrubland and Steppe

Contact Us

Wyoming Natural Diversity Database

1000 E. University Ave.

Department 3381

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 307-766-3023


1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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