The U.S. National Vegetation Classification (USNVC) provides a
hierarchical ordering of vegetation in the Unites States from broad
scale formations like forests to fine-scale plant communities. The USNVC
is organized into an 8-level hierarchy. The upper levels of the
hierarchy are based on dominant and diagnostic growth forms that
reflect environment at global to continental scales. The mid-levels
are based on dominant and diagnostic growth forms and compositional
similarity reflecting biogeography and continental to regional
environmental factors. The lower levels (alliance and association) are
based on diagnostic and/or dominant species and compositional similarity
reflecting local to regional environmental factors.
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Fall in the San Juan Mountains by Michael Menefee.
CNHP tracks natural plant communities at the lowest level of the
USNVC, the “plant association” level. Approximately 750 individual plant
associations have been defined for Colorado, though there is not a
complete statewide map of vegetation at this level and research is
ongoing to refine this list. Read more about CNHP's natural plant community
element occurrences or view our