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California Environment Information Sources

General Introductions

  • Ecological Subregions of California: Section and Subsection Descriptions: (US Forest Service) 1997 (print copy available in Ref QH 105 C2 E26 1997--includes accompanying map) Contains general descriptions of the environmental characteristics--geomorphology, lithology and stratigraphy, soil taxa, vegetation, fauna, elevation, precipitation, temperature, growing season, disturbance regimes, surface water characteristics, land use and cultural ecology--for all sections and subsection ecological units in California. These units are based on the National Hierarchical Framework of Ecological Units classification system developed by the US Forest Service.

CA - Natural Communities and Habitats Maps

Land Cover Map

  • Bioregions (California Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection, Fire and Resource Assessment Program) Statewide map of bioregion boundaries.
  • California, An Environmental Atlas & Guide (Kreissman) 1991 (ref F 859 K74 1991) Collection of mostly state base maps that show boundaries, management areas, and facilities for federal and state agencies, universities, private organizations, and major physiographic and ecological features. Also has a directory of federal, state, and major private environmental agencies.
  • California Natural Resources Agency Map Server Offers a variety of environmental resource-related interactive map services which can be viewed using such products as ArcGIS Explorer, ArcMap, ArcView, Google Earth, MapInfo, and World Wind.
  • California Ecoregion Browser (California Information Node) Interactive map that displays and identifies USFS ecological subregions. Other base layers are also available for display. See Ecological Subregions of California for further information.
  • California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB) Quick Viewer (California Department of Fish and Game) Interactive mapper that lists all CNDDB species or natural communities that have been documented by the CNDDB to occur within a USGS 1:24,000 topographic quad. Can also create a county list. This list may include both recent and historical records.
  • California Vegetation/Wildlife Habitat Regions (Easter) Classified into 21 classes.
  • Ecological Subregions of California (US Forest Service) Includes maps and descriptions of 19 ecological sections and each of their subsections. A separate print map is also available-- Ecological Units of California: Subsections (U.S. Forest Service) 1994 (map G 4361 D1 1994 U55)
  • GAP Analysis of Mainland California: An Interactive Atlas of Terrestrial Biodiversity and Land Management (California GAP Analysis Project) 1995 (Atlas QH 76.5 C2 C34 1995 cd-rom) Database on cd-rom that provides an assessment of the conservation status of native vertebrate species and natural land cover types in California. Uses medium-scale distribution maps to show 300 dominant plant species, 200 plant communities, predicted distribution of 455 terrestrial wildlife species, 58 wildlife habitat types, and land ownership and management status. Will also display a list of rare or endangered species in a selected 1:24,000 USGS quadrangle. The interactive atlas allows one to make queries, displays, and analyses. Data can be downloaded in Arc/Info export format for use in a local GIS system. Data is available in statewide datasets or in subsets by ecological region. The cd-rom database and GIS coverages can be downloaded from the California GAP Analysis Home Page.
  • Initial Assessment of the Health and Condition of California's Lands and Natural Resources (California Resources Agency) Includes an extensive collection of supporting maps.
  • Land Cover: Multi-Source Data Compiled in 2006 (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection) 2006. Statewide map of 13 land cover classes, aggregated from California Wildlife Habitat Relationships classes
  • Level III Ecoregions of California (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory) Derived from the 1987 map by Omernik. Includes the descriptions of each Level III ecoregion that can be identified through the analysis of the patterns and composition of its biotic and abiotic phenomena (geology, physiography, vegetation, climate, soils, land use, wildlife, and hydrology).
  • National Wetlands Inventory (US Fish & Wildlife Service) (microfiche copies in Docs I 49.6/7-12) Series of maps at scales of 1:24,000 and 1:100,000 for the United States which classify wetlands into 55 different classes using the Classification of Wetlands and Deepwater Habitats of the United States (Cowardin) 1979 (print copy available in Docs I e49.89:79/31). National Wetlands Inventory Maps lists maps available for each state, including California. For additional information see Wetland Mapping and Inventory (US Geological Survey). Wetlands Mapper (US Fish & Wildlife Service) is an interactive mapper that allows one to view National Wetlands Inventory digital data as well as stream and road data. You can also view wetlands digital data using Google Earth and ArcGIS.
  • Wildlife Habitats - California Wildlife Habitat Relationships System (California Department of Fish and Game) Includes a distribution map for each of the 59 wildlife habitat types used in the California Wildlife Habitat Relationships System.
  • Wildlife Habitats: Multi-Source Land Cover Data (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection) 2004. Statewide and county maps that map the 59 California Wildlife Habitat Relationships System habitat classification system.
  • Wildlife Habitats: Gap Analysis Program (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Fire and Resource Assessement Program) 2001. Statewide map of California at a scale of 1:1 million that classifies wildlife habitats using the California Wildlife Habitat Relationships System habitat classification system.

Guides and Bibliographies

  • Forest Service Research Natural Areas in California (Cheng) 2004 (US Forest Service General Technical Report PSW-188) (print copy available in Docs A 13.88: PSW-188) Contains summaries of the ecological descriptions of 98 established or proposed research natural areas (RNAs) in California. RNAs are selected to reflect the natural diversity of vegetation types on USFS lands in California.  The summaries are based on ecological surveys conducted from 1975 through 2000. Each RNA description includes location, target elements, distinctive features, physical characteristics, plant communities, plant diversity, and conflicting impacts.

  • Guide to Wildlife Habitat Types of California (Mayer and Laudenslayer) 1988 (print copy available in Cal Doc F770 H32). Contains descriptions of the 59 terrestrial and aquatic habitat types used in theCalifornia Wildlife Habitat Relationships System. For each habitat includes vegetation, habitat stages, biological and physical settings, range map and bibliographic references. Includes a correlation with other vegetation classification systems.Inventory of California Natural Areas (Hood) 1975-1986 (ref QH 76.5 C2 C35) First major statewide inventory of important biological, geological and paleontological sites. Produced by the California Natural Areas Coordinating Council this 15 volume set lists by county more than 1,500 California natural areas ranging in size from less than one acre to over one million acres. For each natural area gives name of area, reference number, one-line description of the major features of the area, county, geographic coordinates, USGS topographic quads, PLSS coordinates, size, elevation range, ownership, maximum of two pages describing the area's natural history, past and present use and condition, and references. Includes alphabetical list of all natural areas and index of species included in natural area descriptions.

    • Habitat Types by Owner (California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Forest and Range Assessment Program) lists the acreages by broad owner class (private, USFS, BLM, NPS, other public) Separate tables are found for each county along with a statewide table.
    • California Wildlife Habitats by County (California Department of Fish of Game-California Wildlife Habitat Relationships System) lists the terrestrial and aquatic habitat types found in each county without acreages.
  • List of California Terrestrial Natural Communities Recognized by the California Natural Diversity Database (California Department of Fish and Game) 2003. List of California terrestrial natural communities based on the classification used in the Manual of California Vegetation and structured to be compatible with previous CNDDB lists. An asterisk (*) denotes communities that are either known or believed to be of high priority for inventory in the CNDDB.

Reviews and Assessments

Data Compilations

  • California Natural Diversity Database (California Department of Fish & Game) A fee-based database that contains location-specific information on California's endangered, threatened, and rare plants, animals, and natural communities. Data can be used to make conservation decisions, aid in better siting of development projects,and provide baseline data helpful in recovering endangered species and for research projects. Information can be retrieved by taxa, county, or USGS 1:24,000 scale topographic quadrangle. Products include text reports, detailed 1:24,000 quad overlays, gis layers, the standalone Rarefind application, and the free California Natural Diversity Database (CNDDB) Quick Viewer interactive mapper that lists species or natural communities that have been documented to occur within a county or a a 1:24,000 topographic quad.
  • CalPhotos: Landscapes and Habitats (University of California, Berkeley Digital Library Project) Emphasis is on California. Retrieve photos by location or habitat.
  • NatureServe Explorer (NatureServe) Searchable database containing information on 70,000 animals, plants and natural communities of the U.S. and Canada. Emphasis is on rare and endangered species and communities. Users can easily search and create a list of California species, broken down by group and conservation status, view distribution maps for each species, and read extensive information on the life history and conservation needs of each species.