Ecoregions of Alabama and Georgia

Introductory text
Literature cited

Ecoregions of Alabama and Georgia--poster front side
Map (available in PDF format):
Ecoregion Descriptions (MSWord documents):
Ecoregions of Alabama and Georgia--poster back side
Map (available in PDF format):
Ecoregion Descriptions (MSWord documents):
Level III Ecoregions of Alabama
Map (available in PDF format):
Level III and IV Ecoregions of Alabama
Map (available in PDF format):
Level III Ecoregions of Georgia
Map (available in PDF format):
Level III and IV Ecoregions of Georgia
Map (available in PDF format):
Level III and IV Ecoregions of Georgia
Map (available in PDF format):
Ecoregions denote areas of general similarity in ecosystems and in the type, quality, and quantity of environmental resources. They are designed to serve as a spatial framework for the research, assessment, management, and monitoring of ecosystems and ecosystem components. Ecoregions are directly applicable to the immediate needs of state agencies, including the development of biological criteria and water quality standards and the establishment of management goals for nonpoint-source pollution. They are also relevant to integrated ecosystem management, an ultimate goal of many federal and state resource management agencies.

The approach used to compile this map is based on the premise that ecological regions can be identified through the analysis of the spatial patterns and the composition of biotic and abiotic phenomena that affect or reflect differences in ecosystem quality and integrity (Wiken 1986; Omernik 1987, 1995). These phenomena include geology, physiography, vegetation, climate, soils, land use, wildlife, and hydrology. The relative importance of each characteristic varies from one ecological region to another regardless of the hierarchical level. A Roman numeral hierarchical scheme has been adopted for different levels of ecological regions. Level I is the coarsest level, dividing North America into 15 ecological regions. Level II divides the continent into 52 regions (Commission for Environmental Cooperation Working Group 1997). At level III, the continental United States contains 104 ecoregions and the conterminous United States has 84 ecoregions (United States Environmental Protection Agency [USEPA] 2000). Level IV is a further subdivision of level III ecoregions. Explanations of the methods used to define the USEPA’s ecoregions are given in Omernik (1995), Omernik and others (2000), Griffith and others (1994), and Gallant and others (1989).

Alabama and Georgia contain barrier islands and coastal lowlands, large river floodplain forests, rolling plains and plateaus, forested mountains, and a variety of aquatic habitats. Ecological and biological diversity is enormous. There are 7 level III ecoregions and 44 level IV ecoregions in Alabama and Georgia and most continue into ecologically similar parts of adjacent states.

The level III and IV ecoregion map on this poster was compiled at a scale of 1:250,000 and depicts revisions and subdivisions of earlier level III ecoregions that were originally compiled at a smaller scale (USEPA 2000; Omernik 1987). This poster is part of a collaborative project primarily between USEPA Region IV, USEPA National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (Corvallis, Oregon), Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA DNR), and the United States Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Collaboration and consultation also occured with the United States Department of Agriculture-Forest Service (USFS), United States Department of the Interior-Geological Survey (USGS)-Earth Resources Observation Systems (EROS) Data Center, and with other State of Alabama and State of Georgia agencies.

The project is associated with an interagency effort to develop a common framework of ecological regions. Reaching that objective requires recognition of the differences in the conceptual approaches and mapping methodologies applied to develop the most common ecoregion-type frameworks, including those developed by the USFS (Bailey and others, 1994), the USEPA (Omernik 1987, 1995), and the NRCS (U.S. Department of Agriculture-Soil Conservation Service, 1981). As each of these frameworks is further refined, their differences are becoming less discernible. Regional collaborative projects such as this one in Alabama and Georgia, where some agreement has been reached among multiple resource management agencies, is a step toward attaining consensus and consistency in ecoregion frameworks for the entire nation.

Literature Cited:

Bailey, R.G., Avers, P.E., King, T., and McNab, W.H., eds., 1994, Ecoregions and subregions of the United States (map) (supplementary table of map unit descriptions compiled and edited by McNab, W.H. and Bailey, R.G.): Washington, D.C., U.S. Department of Agriculture-Forest Service, scale 1:7,500,000.

Commission for Environmental Cooperation Working Group, 1997, Ecological regions of North America - toward a common perspective: Montreal, Quebec, Commission for Environmental Cooperation, 71 p.

Gallant, A.L., Whittier, T.R., Larsen, D.P., Omernik, J.M., and Hughes, R.M., 1989, Regionalization as a tool for managing environmental resources: Corvallis, Oregon, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA/600/3-89/060, 152 p.

Griffith, G.E., Omernik, J.M., Wilton, T.F., and Pierson, S.M., 1994, Ecoregions and subregions of Iowa - a framework for water quality assessment and management: The Journal of the Iowa Academy of Science, v. 101, no. 1, p. 5-13.

Omernik, J.M., 1987, Ecoregions of the conterminous United States (map supplement): Annals of the Association of American Geographers, v. 77, no. 1, p. 118-125, scale 1:7,500,000.

Omernik, J.M., 1995, Ecoregions - a framework for environmental management, in Davis, W.S. and Simon, T.P., eds., Biological assessment and criteria-tools for water resource planning and decision making: Boca Raton, Florida, Lewis Publishers, p. 49-62.

Omernik, J.M., Chapman, S.S., Lillie, R.A., and Dumke, R.T., 2000, Ecoregions of Wisconsin: Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, v. 88, no. 2000, p. 77-103.

U.S. Department of Agriculture-Soil Conservation Service, 1981, Land resource regions and major land resource areas of the United States: Agriculture Handbook 296, 156 p.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2000, Level III ecoregions of the continental United States (revision of Omernik, 1987): Corvallis, Oregon, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Map M-1, various scales.

Wiken, E., 1986, Terrestrial ecozones of Canada: Ottawa, Environment Canada, Ecological Land Classification Series no. 19, 26 p.

PRINCIPAL AUTHORS: Glenn E. Griffith (NRCS), James M. Omernik (USEPA), Jeffrey A. Comstock (OAO Corporation), Steve Lawrence (NRCS), George Martin (NRCS), Art Goddard (USFS), Vickie J. Hulcher (ADEM), and Trish Foster (GA DNR).

COLLABORATORS AND CONTRIBUTORS: Hoke Howard (USEPA), Jim Harrison (USEPA), Greg Lein (Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources [AL DCNR]), Bruce Pruitt (USEPA), Patti Lanford (GA DNR), Bob Cooner (ADEM), Jon Hornsby (AL DCNR), Dave Melgaard (USEPA), Tom Loveland (USGS), Lawrence McGee (NRCS), Shannon Winsness (GA DNR), Bill Kennedy (GA DNR), Becky Blasius (GA DNR), Kristen Sanford (GA DNR), Dick Rightmyer (USFS), and Ron Stephens (USFS).

REVIEWERS: Burchard Carter (Georgia Southwestern State Univ.), Pat O'Neil (Geological Survey of AL), Cliff Webber (Auburn Univ.), and Larry West (Univ. of GA).

CITING THIS POSTER: Griffith, G.E., Omernik, J.M., Comstock, J.A., Lawrence, S., Martin, G., Goddard, A., Hulcher, V.J., and Foster, T., 2001, Ecoregions of Alabama and Georgia, (color poster with map, descriptive text, summary tables, and photographs): Reston, Virginia, U.S. Geological Survey (map scale 1:1,700,000).

This project was partially supported by funds from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources through grants provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region IV under the provisions of Section 319(h) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act .

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