© 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


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.”

To identify the network of large natural areas and corridors this map focuses on four mappable resources: the lotic core network (rivers and streams), lentic core network (lakes and ponds), aquatic buffers, and a terrestrial core-connector network. The map was primarily produced by the North Atlantic Land Conservation Cooperative in consultation with the Regional Conservation Opportunity Areas Team of the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. The Chesapeake Bay Program Habitat Goal Team also intends to use this map as the basis for additional collaboration with these same groups.

The data layer includes the following:

Aquatic Core Network: This dataset is one of a suite of products from the Nature’s Network project. Lotic core areas represent intact, well-connected rivers and stream reaches in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region that, if protected as part of stream networks and watersheds, will continue to support a broad diversity of aquatic species and the ecosystems on which they depend. The combination of lotic core areas, lentic (lake and pond) core areas, and aquatic buffers constitute the “aquatic core networks” of Nature’s Network. These and other datasets that augment or complement aquatic core networks are available at  A detailed technical guide to aquatic core networks is available at:


The lotic cores include especially intact, resilient examples of each major stream class across the region, along with habitat for priority aquatic species. The cores offer guidance for conserving aquatic biodiversity and ecological function into the future by providing tools to help identify, prioritize, protect, and effectively manage the full range of aquatic systems in the region along with representative and priority fish and wildlife species.  The core areas are based on the Index of Ecological Integrity and are scaled to HUC 6 watersheds and were developed through “a set of regional analyses that assess the physical and biological value of aquatic systems and species across the Northeast region.” (See: ( and (

Aquatic buffers: Aquatic buffers surround the aquatic (both lotic and lentic) cores. Buffers represent the areas estimated to have a strong influence on the integrity of the aquatic cores based on watershed processes.

Terrestrial core-connector network:* The terrestrial core-connector network is one of a suite of products from the Nature’s Network project. This product consists of two components: core areas and connectors. Terrestrial and wetland core areas are intact, well-connected places that, if protected, will support a diversity of fish, wildlife, and plants, and the ecosystems they depend upon. Each core area contains important or unique features, including intact, resilient examples of each major ecosystem type in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. The connectors are designed to enable the movement of animals and plants between core areas and across the landscape into the future. Core areas are stratified by HUC 6 watersheds. Core areas are linked together by a network of connectors. The connectors allow movement of animals and plants from one core area to another, and establish a flow pattern for ecological features and processes, as landscape conditions and climate change. (See:   A detailed technical guide to the terrestrial core-connector network is available at:

*Note: The initial terrestrial core-connector network did not seem to sufficiently address landscape features adjacent to tidal waters that contribute to tidal aquatic habitat integrity. To partially address this, a National Wetlands Inventory derived potential Black duck habitat layer developed by ACJV using a methodology developed by UMASS was used to supplement the terrestrial core network. Future deliberations of the partnership will consider ways to strengthen, assess and prioritize the habitat conservation value of wetlands and terrestrial habitat adjacent to tidal waters.   

How to get the data layer

Contact Jeff Allenby, Chesapeake Conservancy,

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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