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Terrestrial Landscape Features

Land cover types common to several existing terrestrial classification systems were the basis for most of the 43 terrestrial landscape features (see table below). Natural communities (MNFI 2003), the DNR's multi-scaled vegetation inventory (Donovan et al. 2004), general wetland types (USEPA 2005a), and other information were considered in the development of terrestrial features.

A description of the relationships between natural communities and terrestrial landscape features (Appendix C) was completed to help conservation partners identify how landscape features correspond with ongoing conservation efforts. These relationships also are included in the Landscape Feature Summaries. Many terrestrial landscape features correspond closely to higher-level natural community groupings (e.g., lowland shrub, savanna, bog). Review of scientific literature revealed that some land cover types not incorporated within the natural community classification are important to SGCN (e.g., agricultural lands) or highly prevalent within the State (e.g., urban and suburban/small town).

The terrestrial landscape features also correspond to many classes in the DNR's multi-scaled vegetation inventory (e.g., upland conifer forest, upland shrub, urban). However, some classes, including many forest classes, were too fine for use within this edition of the WAP because the information needed to differentiate their importance to SGCN was unavailable in the scientific literature. Other classes, such as 'herbaceous open land,' were too coarse; for example, the importance to SGCN and the susceptibility to threats of native grasslands differ from those of agricultural grasslands.

In addition to the land covers already discussed, several other landscape components and characteristics were identified through scientific literature review as important to a significant number of SGCN and at risk to threats. These landscape features, such as 'down woody debris' and 'large contiguous natural landscape,' are not captured by land covers and generally occur at scales much larger or smaller than the previously discussed terrestrial landscape features.

Location/distribution maps of terrestrial landscape features were generated using DNR and MNFI spatial data (DNR 2003a, DNR 2003b, Donovan et al. 2004, MNFI 2005) and are included in the Landscape Feature Summaries.

Prairie Natural grassland with <5% canopy cover
Idle/old field Grassland community of opportunistic species that colonized following cessation of long-term human disturbance (e.g., agriculture)
Hayland Agricultural grassland from which the ‘grass' is harvested (including small grain crops)
Pasture Agricultural grassland used for grazing of livestock
Row crop Agricultural fields planted with a single species in evenly spaced rows and harvested annually
Right-of-way Linear grassland associated with roadways, railways, powerlines, pipelines and other linear human structures
Fence row A linear area of idle vegetation that interrupts large blocks of continuous grassland
Savanna Non-agricultural grassland with 5-60% tree canopy cover
Orchard Agricultural land with linear rows of fruit-bearing or early harvested trees, such as Christmas tree farms
Lowland shrub Dominated by woody shrub vegetation in seasonally or permanently saturated soils
Upland shrub Dominated by woody shrub vegetation in moist to dry soils
Lowland hardwood Seasonally or permanently saturated area dominated by moisture-tolerant hardwood trees and hydric soils
Mesic hardwood Hardwood forest characterized by moist soils
Dry hardwood Hardwood forest characterized by dry (xeric) soils
Lowland conifer Seasonally or permanently saturated area dominated by moisture-tolerant conifer trees and hydric soils
Mesic conifer Conifer forest characterized by moist soils
Dry conifer Conifer forest characterized by dry (xeric) soils
Forest opening Area of little to no canopy cover surrounded by forest; may be grassland or wetland
Inland wetlands/water
Bog Characterized by floating or surface vegetative mats, such as sphagnum moss mats, and most of water is provided by precipitation
Inland emergent wetland Area frequently or continually inundated with water and dominated by non-woody vegetation that breaks the surface (e.g., marshes)
Submergent wetland Area with permanent water dominated by vegetation that does not break the surface, generally occurring at edges of ponds, lakes and rivers
Fen Nutrient-rich wetland fed primarily through ground and surface waters
Ephemeral wetland Semi-permanent wetlands in which water levels vary dramatically seasonally or annually
Swamp Areas dominated by trees or shrubs with saturated soils during part of the year and standing or slowly moving water at other times
Pond Open water <5 acres
Inland lake Open water >5 acres
Inland island Island within an inland lake or river
River/stream/riparian/ floodplain corridor River or stream and the linear vegetation zone that borders and interacts with it
Great Lakes/coastal
Great Lakes offshore Great Lakes area >30 m deep
Great Lakes nearshore Great Lakes area 3-30 m deep
Coastal emergent wetland Great Lakes shoreline 0-3 m deep with vegetation dominated by non-woody plants (e.g., bulrush, cattail)
Coastal dune/beach Great lakes coastal, open landscape with minimal to moderate vegetation; includes sand, gravel and cobble substrates
Alvar/rock Various rocky shoreline along the Great Lakes, including bedrock lakeshores and rocky cliffs
Great Lakes island Island within a Great Lake
Other features
Edge Transitional area between feature types
Inland rock/cliff/ledge Rocky area not located along the Great Lakes, such as cliffs or a rock outcropping
Urban High-density urban area
Suburban/small town Low-density urban area
Cave/mine Natural or artificial subterranean structure
Terrestrial characteristics
Snag/cavity Standing dead trees or live trees with cavities
Large contiguous unfragmented landscape A relatively large area of a particular land-cover or a mosaic of land-covers that is unfragmented by industrial, residential or urban (low- or high-density) development
Late successional forest Characterized by a multi-layered canopy and complex structure, with trees of a diverse age-class distribution
Down woody debris Characterized by decaying wood matter of multiple decomposition classes and sizes