Jump to main content.


Ecoregions of North Carolina and South Carolina

Introductory text
Literature cited
Authors


Downloads

(NOTE: maps and GIS files may differ. To make sure you are using the most current ecoregion data, download shapefiles of ecoregions)

GIS data (shapefiles, metadata and symbology):
Ecoregions of North Carolina and South Carolina--poster front side
Ecoregions of North Carolina and South Carolina--poster back side
Map--
Ecoregion Descriptions (MSWord documents):
Level III and IV Ecoregions of North Carolina
Map--
Level III and IV Ecoregions of North Carolina
Map--
Level III and IV Ecoregions of South Carolina
Map--
Level III and IV Ecoregions of South Carolina
Map--
Ecoregions denote areas of general similarity in ecosystems and in the type, quality, and quantity of environmental resources. They are designed to serve as a spatial framework for the research, assessment, management, and monitoring of ecosystems and ecosystem components. By recognizing the spatial differences in the capacities and potentials of ecosystems, ecoregions stratify the environment by its probable response to disturbance (Bryce and others, 1999). These general purpose regions are critical for structuring and implementing ecosystem management strategies across federal agencies, state agencies, and nongovernment organizations that are responsible for different types of resources within the same geographical areas (Omernik and others, 2000).

The approach used to compile this map is based on the premise that ecological regions are hierarchical and can be identified through the analysis of the spatial patterns and the composition of biotic and abiotic phenomena that affect or reflect differences in ecosystem quality and integrity (Wiken 1986; Omernik 1987, 1995). These phenomena include geology, physiography, vegetation, climate, soils, land use, wildlife, and hydrology. The relative importance of each characteristic varies from one ecological region to another regardless of the hierarchical level. A Roman numeral hierarchical scheme has been adopted for different levels of ecological regions. Level I is the coarsest level, dividing North America into 15 ecological regions. Level II divides the continent into 52 regions (Commission for Environmental Cooperation Working Group 1997). At level III, the continental United States contains 104 ecoregions and the conterminous United States has 84 ecoregions (United States Environmental Protection Agency [USEPA] 2002). Level IV is a further subdivision of level III ecoregions. Explanations of the methods used to define the USEPA’s ecoregions are given in Omernik (1995), Omernik and others (2000), and Gallant and others (1989).

Ecological and biological diversity of the Carolinas is enormous. The two states contain barrier islands and coastal lowlands, large river floodplain forests, rolling plains and plateaus, forested mountains, and a variety of aquatic habitats. There are 5 level III ecoregions and 29 level IV ecoregions in North Carolina and South Carolina and most continue into ecologically similar parts of adjacent states.

The level III and IV ecoregions on this poster were compiled at a scale of 1:250,000 and depict revisions and subdivisions of earlier level III ecoregions that were originally compiled at a smaller scale (USEPA 2002; Omernik 1987). This poster is part of a collaborative project primarily between USEPA Region IV, USEPA National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (Corvallis, Oregon), North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR), South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), and the United States Department of Agriculture-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Collaboration and consultation also occurred with the United States Department of Agriculture-Forest Service (USFS), United States Department of the Interior-Geological Survey (USGS)-Earth Resources Observation Systems (EROS) Data Center, and with other State of North Carolina and State of South Carolina agencies.

The project is associated with an interagency effort to develop a common framework of ecological regions (McMahon and others, 2001). Reaching that objective requires recognition of the differences in the conceptual approaches and mapping methodologies applied to develop the most common ecoregion-type frameworks, including those developed by the USFS (Bailey and others, 1994), the USEPA (Omernik 1987, 1995), and the NRCS (U.S. Department of Agriculture-Soil Conservation Service, 1981). As each of these frameworks is further refined, their differences are becoming less discernible. Regional collaborative projects such as these in North Carolina and South Carolina, where some agreement has been reached among multiple resource management agencies, are a step toward attaining consensus and consistency in ecoregion frameworks for the entire nation.

Literature Cited:

Bailey, R.G., Avers, P.E., King, T., and McNab, W.H., eds., 1994, Ecoregions and subregions of the United States (map) (supplementary table of map unit descriptions compiled and edited by McNab, W.H. and Bailey, R.G.): Washington, D.C., U.S. Department of Agriculture-Forest Service, scale 1:7,500,000.

Bryce, S.A., Omernik, J.M., and Larsen, D.P., 1999, Ecoregions - a geographic framework to guide risk characterization and ecosystem management: Environmental Practice, v. 1, no. 3, p. 141-155.

Commission for Environmental Cooperation Working Group, 1997, Ecological regions of North America - toward a common perspective: Montreal, Quebec, Commission for Environmental Cooperation, 71 p.

Gallant, A.L., Whittier, T.R., Larsen, D.P., Omernik, J.M., and Hughes, R.M., 1989, Regionalization as a tool for managing environmental resources: Corvallis, Oregon, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA/600/3-89/060, 152 p.

McMahon, G., Gregonis, S.M., Waltman, S.W., Omernik, J.M., Thorson, T.D., Freeouf, J.A., Rorick, A.H., and Keys, J.E., 2001, Developing a spatial framework of common ecological regions for the conterminous United States: Environmental Management, v. 28, no. 3, p. 293-316.

Omernik, J.M., 1987, Ecoregions of the conterminous United States (map supplement): Annals of the Association of American Geographers, v. 77, no. 1, p. 118-125, scale 1:7,500,000.

Omernik, J.M., 1995, Ecoregions - a spatial framework for environmental management, in Davis, W.S., and Simon, T.P., eds., Biological assessment and criteria-tools for water resource planning and decision making: Boca Raton, Florida, Lewis Publishers, p. 49-62.

Omernik, J.M., Chapman, S.S., Lillie, R.A., and Dumke, R.T., 2000, Ecoregions of Wisconsin: Transactions of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, v. 88, no. 2000, p. 77-103.

U.S. Department of Agriculture-Soil Conservation Service, 1981, Land resource regions and major land resource areas of the United States: Agriculture Handbook 296, 156 p.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2002, Level III ecoregions of the continental United States (revision of Omernik, 1987): Corvallis, Oregon, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Map M-1, various scales.

Wiken, E., 1986, Terrestrial ecozones of Canada: Ottawa, Environment Canada, Ecological Land Classification Series no. 19, 26 p.

PRINCIPAL AUTHORS: Glenn E. Griffith (NRCS), James M. Omernik (USEPA), Jeffrey A. Comstock (Indus Corporation), Michael P. Schafale (NCDENR), W. Henry McNab (USFS), David R. Lenat (NCDENR), Trish F. MacPherson (NCDENR), James B. Glover (SCDHEC), and Victor B. Shelburne (Clemson University).

COLLABORATORS AND CONTRIBUTORS: James E. Harrison (USEPA), David L. Penrose (NCDENR), Ronald C. Ahle (South Carolina Department of Natural Resources [SCDNR]), Roy L.Vick, Jr. (NRCS), Ben Stuckey, Jr. (NRCS), Dennis L. Law (USFS), Robert K. Peet (University of North Carolina), Richard T. Renfrow (SCDHEC), Paul G. Nystrom (SCDNR), Richard L. Scharf (SCDNR), Chip Smith (NRCS), Alan J. Woods (Dynamac Corporation), and Thomas R. Loveland (USGS).

REVIEWERS: Stanley W. Buol (North Carolina State University), Berman D. Hudson (NRCS), Charles F. Kovacik (University of South Carolina), Rudy E. Mancke (University of South Carolina), and Gerard McMahon (USGS).

CITING THIS POSTER: Griffith, G.E., Omernik, J.M., Comstock, J.A., Schafale, M.P., McNab, W.H., Lenat, D.R., MacPherson, T.F., Glover, J.B., and Shelburne, V.B., 2002, Ecoregions of North Carolina and South Carolina, (color poster with map, descriptive text, summary tables, and photographs): Reston, Virginia, U.S. Geological Survey (map scale 1:1,500,000).

This project was partially supported by funds from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control through grants provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region IV under the provisions of Sections 104(b) and 319(h) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.


small pdf iconPlease note: In order to ensure cross platform compatibilty (MAC v.s PC) and to provide you with downloadable and printable versions of the maps, the maps themselves are available for download in .pdf (portable document format) format. In order to be able to view and/or print the documents, you will need
Adobe Acrobat Reader, a free download that can be found at
http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html Leaving EPA Ecoregions website

Get Acrobat reader


Ecoregion Links
Ecoregion Home  |  Level I  |  Level II  |  Level III  |  Level IV  |  Publications  |  FTP Site  |  Links  |  Contacts

 

ORD Home | NHEERL Home


Local Navigation


Jump to main content.