I’ve always wondered how to find the correct terminology for land cover in a given area. Usually, I just ballpark something along the lines of “oak chaparral”. But now I can use this awesome new map brought to us by the USGS/National Biological Information Infrastructure. The level of detail is amazing, and you can specify the degree of accuracy with a drop down tab (1-3). Now with a high-def US topo map I can see exactly where the largest stands of monterrey pine are (actually it’s a California Coastal Closed-Cone Conifer Forest and Woodland) so I can optimally place my trap this weekend.
This map also makes me pretty sad – If you go over to my home state of Illinois – time yourself on how long it takes to find one pixel of “central tallgrass prairie” After a few minutes of looking for a site I knew, I finally found it. The vast expanse of light tan is cropland… and of course the prairie color is an off-shade of tan that makes it nearly impossible to see. But, there it is, 4 pixels of prairie just to the left of that label and near the tiny red dot.