Nationwide Datasets of Tree Species Distributions Created
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 The documented datasets and assessment results have been archived and are available on the web for download.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.