Research Professor University of New Mexico, Natural Heritage NM, United States
Background/Question/Methods The hierarchy of the International Vegetation Classification (IVC) offers a practical structure for organizing global to local knowledge of vegetation structure, composition, and ecology into units that may be mapped and assessed for their dynamics. The hierarchy facilitates mapping distributions of vegetation types at multiple scales to track trends in extent and condition over time, and vegetation types can be integrated with state-and transition models for describing multiple scales of vegetation dynamics. We will present several case studies from around the world where the IVC hierarchy has been used to organize continental to national patterns of existing vegetation. We will also highlight applications of the classification to ecosystem assessment, such as assessing trends in extent, condition, and conservation. These diverse experiences encompass polar to tropical latitudes and spanning wide ranges of data and knowledge.
Results/Conclusions With the longest history of development in the U.S., the IVC applies nationally to mapping current type distributions and assessing condition at national to local scales. Across Latin America, classification and mapping at the macrogroup level has supported assessment of ecosystem loss and protected representation across the continent, and within individual countries. The IVC hierarchy was used to organize disparate national classifications and support initial mapping across the African continent. Ongoing efforts in both Canada and Australia are integrating existing classification concepts into unified taxonomies for their respective countries.