Ecological systems represent recurring groups of biological communities that are found in similar physical environments and are influenced by similar dynamic ecological processes, such as fire or flooding. They are intended to provide a classification unit that is readily mapable, often from remote imagery, and readily identifiable by conservation and resource managers in the field. Ecological systems include both native, natural vegetation and non-native, human influenced vegetation.
As a mid-scale classification system, ecological systems are ideal for conservation assessment, inventory and mapping, land management, ecological monitoring, and species habitat modeling. Wetland condition assessment methods developed by CNHP are based on the ecological systems classification, with metrics specific to certain systems.
Most of Colorado’s wetlands and riparian areas fit within fifteen ecological systems. Detailed descriptions of the types can be found below along with a key to differentiate between types.