© Chesapeake Bay Program (Chesapeake)

Chesapeake Bay: Habitats


This map depicts the network of large natural areas and corridors that have been identified as needed for sustaining native wildlife and responding to a changing climate.  

Data Layer Description


Chesapeake Conservation Partnership and Nature's Network


Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia.


The map depicts important habitat related to the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership long-term habitat conservation goal: “Protect a network of large natural areas and corridors sufficient to allow nature to respond to a changing climate and land development and to support thriving populations of native wildlife, migratory birds, fish and plants and sustain at-risk species.”

This is an interconnected network of lands and waters that, if protected, will support a diversity of fish, wildlife, and natural resources that the people of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region depend upon. This map outlines some of the most important natural areas in the region and provides an entry point to learn more about the information used to identify them. This work represents represents a combination of three Nature’s Network products: 1) the terrestrial core-connector network, 2) aquatic core areas, and 3) core habitat for imperiled species.

The data layer includes the following:

Terrestrial Core-Connector Network: The terrestrial core-connector network is made up of  two components: 1) terrestrial and wetland core areas, and 2) connectors. Terrestrial and wetland core areas are intact, well-connected places that have the potential to support wildlife and plants that occur in terrestrial settings (such as upland forests) or in wetlands (such as marshes). These core areas contain important or unique features, including intact, resilient examples of every major ecosystem type in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Core areas contain widespread ecosystems (such as hardwood forests), rare natural communities (such as bogs), and important habitat for a variety of fish, wildlife, and plants. By design, they encompass approximately 25% of the landscape of the region. Core areas are linked together by a network of connectors. If protected, the connectors will foster the movement of animals and plants between core areas and across the landscape into the future. Another product associated with terrestrial and wetland core areas that you may wish to explore is the set of road-bounded natural blocks, which are natural areas that surround and help support the integrity of core areas. This set of products also includes a network of core areas for grassland birds. Due to their unique association with habitat that has been created and maintained for human use, grassland birds are treated separately from wildlife that use habitat such as forests and wetlands. A subset of the grassland bird core areas, those representing the top 10% of grassland habitat of the region, are incorporated into Nature’s Network Conservation Design.

Aquatic core areas: Aquatic core areas are intact, well-connected stream reaches, lakes, and ponds in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region that, if protected as part of stream networks and watersheds, will support a broad diversity of aquatic species and the ecosystems on which they depend. They serve as the aquatic counterpart to terrestrial and wetland core areas. They feature intact, resilient examples of every major aquatic ecosystem in the region and also are designed to incorporate habitat for important species such as brook trout, American shad and Atlantic salmon. By design, aquatic core areas encompass approximately 30% of both the region’s river and stream miles (lotic core areas) and the region’s area of lakes and ponds (lentic core areas). A product associated with aquatic core areas that you may wish to explore is the set of aquatic buffers, which are upslope and upstream areas that have a strong influence on the integrity of the aquatic cores.

Core habitat for imperiled species: Core habitat for imperiled species can be viewed as relatively intact areas that contain habitats likely to support high levels of imperiled terrestrial and aquatic species. This product represents a regional network of habitats critical for sustaining populations of imperiled species, based on over 600 Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN). Core habitat for imperiled species is intended to complement aquatic core areas and terrestrial and wetland core areas by highlighting ecosystem (habitat) types where they are closely associated with high numbers of imperiled species. By design, core habitats encompass approximately the top 10% of natural landscapes estimated to be most important for sustaining imperiled species. If you wish to further explore the value of habitats for imperiled species, the product habitat condition for imperiled species depicts the ecological condition of ecosystem types most important for imperiled species.

How to get the data layer


How you might make use of this data layer

This dataset shares important habitat layers for long-term conservation. This information may be useful in planning and supporting various collaborative conservation efforts.

How to get more information

For more information about the Chesapeake Conservation Partnership contact: John Griffin, Program Manager,

For more information about the data sets in this map, contact: BJ Richardson, US Fish and Wildlife Service,

Access and use constraints

Attribution No Derivatives (BY-ND)


2017, Chesapeake Conservation Partnership, North Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative, and Chesapeake Conservancy.

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