Global land-use and land-cover data for ecologists: Historical, current, and future scenarios

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Tainá Rocha
Mariana M. Vale
Matheus S. Lima-Ribeiro


Land-use land-cover (LULC) data are important predictors of species occurrence and biodiversity threat. Although there are LULC datasets available for ecologists under current conditions, there is a lack of such data under historical and future climatic conditions. This hinders, for example, projecting niche and distribution models under global change scenarios at different times. The Land Use Harmonization Project (LUH2) is a global terrestrial dataset at 0.25o spatial resolution that provides LULC data from 850 to 2300 for 12 LULC state classes. The dataset, however, is compressed in a file format (NetCDF) that is incompatible with most ecological analysis and intractable for most ecologists. Here we selected and transformed the LUH2 data in order to make it more useful for ecological studies. We provide LULC for every year from 850 to 2100, with data from 2015 on provided under two Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSP2 and SSP5). We provide two types of file for each year: separate files with continuous values for each of the 12 LULC state classes, and a single categorical file with all state classes combined. To create the categorical layer, we assigned the state with the highest value in a given pixel among the 12 continuous data. The final dataset provides LULC data for 1251 years that will be of interest for macroecology, ecological niche modeling, global change analysis, and other applications in ecology and conservation. We also provide a description of LUH2 prediction of future LULC change through time.


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