WWETAC Projects

Project Title: Inyo National Forest Terrestrial Ecological Unit Inventory

Principal Investigator:   Michèle Slaton, US Forest Service, Inyo National Forest


Collaborators:   Region 5 Remote Sensing Lab

Key Issues/Problem Addressed:              

The US Forest Service classifies ecological types consistently throughout the nation using a system called Terrestrial Ecological Unit Inventory (TEUI). Within this system, spatial regions are uniquely classified based on their climate, geology, geomorphology, soils and vegetation. We will expand upon a TEUI conducted by the by Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) to create an updated R5 Terrestrial Ecological Unit Inventory (TEUI) User Guide with specific applications for climate change planning, as well as a completed TEUI for the Inyo National Forest. We will implement a standardized, objective, and repeatable process, which is as quantitative as possible, and which is based upon a set of data inputs common to all National Forests, but flexible enough to incorporate better information where it exists.

Setting and Approach:  

A pilot study was conducted in 2006 in the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) that provided a Landtype Assocation (LTA) scale TEUI, with a description and map of landscape units which were nested within the National Hierarchical Framework of Ecological Units. We propose to expand and update the 2006 pilot study methodology as developed in the LTBMU, based on findings from the Inyo and Los Padres NF TEUIs, input from R5 Remote Sensing Lab staff, and upon recent enhancements in climate data. We will also append the 2010 R5 Climate trend assessments as an interpretation that may be queried in the dataset; currently, the trend assessment findings are not available in a georeferenced dataset.

Progress to Date:            

Ecological units within the National Hierarchical Framework of ecological units have been delineated for the entire Inyo National Forest (2,038,324 acres). The classification consists of 176 ecological types, each comprised of unique combinations of vegetation, geology, geomorphology, soils, and climate (see attached figure). Ecological types were grouped together into Landtype Assocations (LTAs), or geographically distinct areas with uniform management considerations. Descriptions for each LTA include climate change scenarios, which can be used in the Forest Planning process to anticipate landscape scale ecosystem changes and altered disturbance regimes, such as insect outbreaks.


Although a single product cannot be expected to answer every question, TEUI protocol is inherently broad and interdisciplinary, enabling queries of natural resources in land units for scientific analysis or for evaluating sociocultural services. By providing flexibility in the process while setting appropriate boundaries, we expect the deliverable to be applied over a broad geographic area, including R5 and elsewhere in the US. The product of this proposal will have incorporated results from numerous R5 Forests, thereby ensuring that the methodology will be applicable across much of the western US, and potentially elsewhere. In addition, because the deliverable will be the first tool that systematically incorporates climate change scenarios into a Forest Service geospatial protocol, we anticipate broad use in Forest plan revision.

WWETAC ID:      FY11NG102