Current Projects

The Panel often has multiple projects and efforts going on simultaneously.  Read on for a snapshot of current and recent projects and initiatives to which various Panel members are contributing:

CVS-061-04-0908-2Completing Division Level Descriptions for the NVC:

There are around 45 Division descriptions that need to be written and reviewed to complete this level of the NVC. As a pilot study to begin accomplishing this work, three Panel members each chose two Divisions (for a total of 6) to test out writing the descriptions using the standard type description template. The template writing is guided by a set of common standards for writing descriptions, and a brief guide to writers will be needed to ensure consistency of style. Next, the ESA Panel will comment on the acceptability of the descriptions, and on the peer review process. Don Faber-Langendoen, Editor-in-Chief of the NVC, plans to solicit a wide range of experts to help complete the descriptions for the remaining 40 or so Divisions. He will draft a plan to guide the work, which will hopefully commence in 2015.

Compiling and Reviewing the NVC Macrogroup Level Descriptions:

The ESA Panel on Vegetation Classification has completed work on a USGS-funded project to compile and review the National Vegetation Classification (NVC) Macrogroup level descriptions. This work, along with recent Panel member efforts to write descriptions for the NVC’s Division level, marks a significant step towards completing peer-reviewed descriptions for all levels of the NVC.

Beginning in late 2013, NatureServe staff drafted a description for ~160 macrogroups that covered all vegetation, from alpine to deserts to forests, grasslands and wetlands.  Then the ESA peer review board solicited peer review comments from over 60 peer reviewers, coordinating the process with Canadian NVC members.  NatureServe staff and ESA board members then collaborated to revise the descriptions, but flagged all macrogroups for which concepts were problematic.  Those macrogroups formed the core agenda for an October 27–29, 2014 meeting in Linthicum Heights, MD, where seven NatureServe staff and 20 peer review board members met to go over issues and produce a resolution.  Based on that meeting, the macrogroup descriptions were revised and are type concepts are now essentially completed.

NVC Peer Review Process Testing:

In 2013 Panel members completed a pilot project in which regional vegetation data were analyzed to develop a proposal for new types to be inducted into the NVC; this pilot developed a peer review process that will be used for future proposed changes to the classification.  Several members of the ESA Panel on Vegetation Classification contributed to this project, including Dr. Robert Peet at UNC-Chapel Hill and Don Faber-Langendoen at NatureServe.

CVS-083-01-1136-DBThis pilot project involved: conducting analyses to identify new types and perform modifications to types currently described in the USNVC, ensuring the data used in the analysis was placed into VegBank (, the Panel’s public and permanent plot archive, managing the peer review process, and reporting the decisions made, process used, and recommendations for a formalized peer review process for the USNVC.

Screening of Alliance Concepts

NatureServe staff and members of the NVC Peer Review Board (PRB) worked together to conduct a review of the NVC’s Alliances.  The Associate Editors that comprise the PRB built out concept sentences for Alliances while looking at their relationship with Groups and Associations.  Associate Editors also helped to finalize recommended changes that came about during the Group Level Review, which was recently completed in summer 2012.

Developing Online Education and Outreach Materials

The Panel’s Education Subcommittee continually creating online materials to help answer common questions from NVC users.  These materials will become available on the Outreach and Education page as they are completed.