The classification of the natural communities of Massachusetts was written in order to provide a basis for discussing and conserving the diversity of our types of natural communities and the species they support. The primary aim is to describe the natural communities of conservation interest, while also including all the types in the state.
This classification divides natural community types into three major sections: Terrestrial, Palustrine, and Estuarine. Because of the total size of the classification document, each community type is available individually. An additional section with the Introduction, overall Table of Contents, and References is included separately. The classification is provided as PDF files. To view these files you will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.
The preferred citation for the Classification of the Natural Communities of Massachusetts is:
Swain, P.C. and J.B. Kearsley. 2011. Classification of the Natural Communities of Massachusetts. Version 1.4. Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Westborough, MA. URL: http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/dfw/natural-heritage/natural-communities/classification-of-natural-communities.html#
NOTE: NHESP is in the process of revising and updating The Classification of the Natural Communities of Massachusetts including the descriptions and associated fact sheets for each community type. As part of the natural community revisions, we have updated the NHESP Natural Communities datalayer on MassGIS. The June 2016 MassGIS datalayer reflects the increased number of natural community occurrences in the NHESP database, previously updated in 2011. The 2016 datalayer uses the revised community names, ranks, and descriptions from the not-yet- released Classification of Natural Communities of Massachusetts Version 2.0. We expect to post a working version of the Classification soon.