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Individual Highlight

Nationwide Datasets of Tree Species Distributions Created

Photo of These maps depict the distribution of 12 tree species across the state of New York. The maps show where these trees do not occur (gray), occasionally occur (pale green), are a minor component (medium green), are a major component (dark green), or are the dominant species (black) in the forest, as determined by that species' total basal area. Rachel Riemann, USDA Forest ServiceThese maps depict the distribution of 12 tree species across the state of New York. The maps show where these trees do not occur (gray), occasionally occur (pale green), are a minor component (medium green), are a major component (dark green), or are the dominant species (black) in the forest, as determined by that species' total basal area. Rachel Riemann, USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : Geospatial datasets of the relative abundance and distribution of individual tree species have been created by Forest Service scientists for 323 species across the lower 48 United States using an efficient modeling approach that maintains realistic relationships between species at each location. These datasets have been fully documented, assessed for accuracy using a variety of metrics at a range of scales, and officially archived with their accuracy results to make them publicly available for download. Finally, attractive state-level tree species distribution posters have been created that provide both visual and numerical information at an appropriate technical level for both adults and students.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Wilson, Barry T. (Ty)Riemann, Rachel
Research Location : St. Paul, MN and Troy, NY
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 630

Summary

Forest composition, as characterized by tree distribution and abundance, provides essential information for understanding and studying forest processes and services. Datasets depicting the distribution and basal area of 323 individual tree species have been developed by Forest Service scientists for the lower 48 United States by integrating the Forest Service's extensive forest inventory database with vegetation phenology from satellite imagery and relevant environmental parameters, such as topography and climate. Each of these datasets was examined for accuracy using a suite of assessment procedures developed to characterize errors by their location, type, and magnitude across a range of scales. Assessment revealed that these datasets can provide information on individual tree species that are at a sufficient level of spatial detail and accuracy to be useful for many purposes, particularly for common species. The documented datasets and assessment results have been archived and are available on the web for download. Finally, state-level posters are available that are attractive and technically informative for both adults and students. These posters provide visual maps and numeric information for comparing and contrasting multiple tree species within comparing and contrasting multiple tree species within each state, and inspire awareness of and increased access to the geospatial datasets and the science behind them.