The United States Geological Survey (USGS), Esri, the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), and the Association of American Geographers (AAG) are pleased to present A New Map of Global Ecological Land Units – An Ecophysiographic Stratification Approach. This paper describes the concepts and methods for delineating ecological land units (ELUs) as distinct physical environments and associated land cover. Detailed and accurate maps of ELUs are presented for the Earth and the continents, as well as regional examples.
The ELUs were developed in response to the need for a high resolution, standardized, and data-derived map of global ecosystems for use in analyses of climate change impacts, assessments of economic and non-economic value of ecosystem goods and services, biodiversity conservation planning, and natural resource management. The work was done in a public/private partnership between USGS and Esri, and was commissioned by GEO as part of an intergovernmental protocol called the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). With this special publication, AAG recognizes the work as a contribution to understanding the physical and ecological geography of the Earth.