Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard (CMECS)

Presentation on the Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard by Kathy Goodin of NatureServe (April 5, 2011).  Coastal planners and resource managers working in the marine environment routinely face challenges related to data availability and consistency. Often, different types of data from multiple sources must be integrated to fully characterize an area. The Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard (CMECS) is an ecological classification system that provides a framework for this integration.  It is universally applicable for coastal and marine systems and complementary to existing wetland and upland systems.  CMECS Version 3.1 broadly classifies the environment into aquatic settings, or systems differentiated by salinity, tidal zone, geomorphology, and depth. Within these systems are five underlying components (benthic biology, substrate geology, geologic formations, sub-benthic soils, and the water column) that describe different aspects of the seascape. These components can be identified and mapped independently or combined as needed.  CMECS is currently being considered for approval as a national standard by the Federal Geographic Data Committee.  It has been developed by a coalition of organizations including NOAA, NatureServe, EPA, and USGS.  Learn more at

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