Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
|42a. Missouri Coteau||Level IV Ecoregion|
|Home||The Northwestern Glaciated
Plains ecoregion marks the westernmost extent of continental glaciation.
The youthful morainal landscape has significant surface irregularity
and high concentrations of wetlands. The rise in elevation along the
eastern boundary defines the beginning of the Great Plains. Land use
is transitional between the intensive dryland farming on Ecoregion 46i
to the east and the predominance of cattle ranching and farming to the
west on the Northwestern Great Plains (43).
Like closely-spaced ocean swells, the rolling hummocks of the Missouri Coteau enclose countless wetland depressions or potholes. During its slow retreat, the Wisconsinan glacier stalled on the Missouri escarpment for thousands of years, melting slowly beneath a mantle of sediment to create the characteristic pothole topography of the Coteau. The wetlands of the Missouri Coteau and the neighboring prairie pothole regions are the major waterfowl production areas in North America. Land use on the coteau is a mixture of tilled agriculture in flatter areas and grazing land on steeper slopes.
Area (square miles): 9122
Surficial Material and Bedrock
Order (Great Groups)
Precipitation - Mean annual (inches)
Potential Natural Vegetation
Western wheatgrass, bluestem, needleandthread, green needlegrass. Prairie cordgrass, northern reedgrass near wetlands.
Land Use and Land Cover
Cattle grazing on steeper land mixed with tilled agriculture of hay and spring wheat. Native prairie remaining on unbroken rangeland. Wetlands provide wildlife habitat.