A global map of terrestrial habitat types

Martin Jung, Prabhat Raj Dahal, Stuart H. M. Butchart, Paul F. Donald, Xavier De Lamo, Myroslava Lesiv, Valerie Kapos, Carlo Rondinini & Piero Visconti 

We provide a global, spatially explicit characterization of 47 terrestrial habitat types, as defined in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) habitat classification scheme, which is widely used in ecological analyses, including for quantifying species’ Area of Habitat. We produced this novel habitat map for the year 2015 by creating a global decision tree that intersects the best currently available global data on land cover, climate and land use. We independently validated the map using occurrence data for 828 species of vertebrates (35152 point plus 8181 polygonal occurrences) and 6026 sampling sites. Across datasets and mapped classes we found on average a balanced accuracy of 0.77 (+¯+¯0.14 SD) at Level 1 and 0.71 (+¯+¯0.15 SD) at Level 2, while noting potential issues of using occurrence records for validation. The maps broaden our understanding of habitats globally, assist in constructing area of habitat refinements and are relevant for broad-scale ecological studies and future IUCN Red List assessments. Periodic updates are planned as better or more recent data becomes available.