Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard

The Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard (CMECS) provides a national framework for organizing information about coasts and oceans and their living systems. It provides a structure for developing and synthesizing data so that ecosystems can be identified, characterized, and mapped in a standard way across regional and national boundaries. CMECS also supports status and trend monitoring activities, policy development, restoration planning, and fisheries management. The standard complements existing wetland and upland classification systems.

The six components of the classification standard represent the different aspects of the seascape (water column, geoform, substrate, biotic communities, biogeographic setting, and aquatic setting), starting with the broadest systems (marine, estuarine, and lacustrine) and narrowing to the most detailed physical and biological elements associated with a specific habitat type (biotic community).

CMECS is periodically updated to reflect the best science and the needs of the coastal management communities. The framework of a dynamic standard process has been developed to receive input from researchers and users of the standard and to accomplish modifications to the classification system.

A supporting online catalog of units is available to browse the CMECS classification and to get definitions for individual CMECS units.

CMECS was approved as a dynamic content standard by the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) in August 2012.

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