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Classification of Wetlands and Deepwater Habitats of the United States

Regionalization for the Classification System


In this classification system, a given taxon has no particular regional alliance; its representatives may be found in one or many parts of the United States. However, regional variations in climate, geology, soils, and vegetation are important in the development of different wetland habitats; and management problems often differ greatly in different regions. For these reasons, there is a need to recognize regional differences. Regionalization is designed to facilitate three activities: (1) planning, where it is necessary to study management problems and potential solutions on a regional basis; (2) organization and retrieval of data gathered in a resource inventory; and (3) interpretation of inventory data, including differences in indicator plants and animals among the regions.

We recommend the classification and map (Fig. 7) of Bailey (1976) to fill the need for regionalization inland. Bailey's classification of ecoregions is hierarchical. The upper four levels are domain (defined as including subcontinental areas of related climates), division (defined as including regional climate at the level of Köppen's [1931] types), province (defined as including broad vegetational types), and section (defined as including climax vegetation at the level of Küchler's [1964] types). On the map, the boundaries between the different levels are designated by lines of various widths and the sections are numbered with a four-digit code; digits 1 through 4 represent the first four levels in the hierarchy. The reader is referred to Bailey (1976, 1978) for detailed discussion and description of the units appearing on his map, reproduced in our Fig. 7.

The Bailey system terminates at the ocean, whereas the present wetland classification includes Marine and Estuarine habitats. Many workers have divided Marine and Estuarine realms into series of biogeographic provinces (e.g., U.S. Senate 1970; Ketchum 1972). These provinces differ somewhat in detail, but the broader concepts are similar. Figure 7 shows the distribution of 10 Marine and Estuarine provinces that we offer for North America.

Use of Bailey's sections for the Riverine, Lacustrine, and Palustrine Systems and the Provinces defined above for the Marine and Estuarine Systems provides a regional locator for any Wetland in the United States.
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