This map layer shows Omernik's Level III ecoregions, derived from a 1:7,500,000 map created by J.M. Omernik in 1987 and from refinements of Omernik's framework that were made for other projects. Ecoregions describe areas of general similarity in ecosystems and in the type, quality, and quantity of environmental resources. Omernik's ecoregions are based on the premise that a hierarchy of ecological regions can be identified through the analysis of the patterns and the composition of both living and nonliving phenomena, such as geology, physiography, vegetation, climate, soils, land use, wildlife, and hydrology, that affect or reflect differences in ecosystem quality and integrity. All the characteristics are considered when determining ecoregions, but the relative importance of each characteristic may vary from one ecoregion to another. Level III is the most detailed level available nationally for this system of ecoregions.