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Ecoregions of
North Dakota
South Dakota

42. Northwestern Glaciated Plains

42b.Collapsed Glacial Outwash Level IV Ecoregion


North Dakota Ecoregions

South Dakota Ecoregions

42a. Missouri Coteau

42b. Collapsed Glacial Outwash

42c. Missouri Coteau Slope

42d. Northern Missouri Coteau

42e. Southern Missouri Coteau

42f. Southern Missouri Coteau Slope

42g. Ponca Plains

42h. Southern River Breaks

42i. Glaciated Dark Brown Prairie

  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).

GIF - A prairie wetland
A combination of topographic, geologic, and hydrologic factors create varied prairie wetland habitat.

Areas of Collapsed Glacial Outwash formed from gravel and sand deposited by glacial meltwater and precipitation runoff over stagnant ice. Many large, shallow lakes are found in these areas; these lakes and wetlands tend to be slightly to very alkaline depending upon the flowpath of groundwater moving through the permeable outwash deposits. They attract birds preferring large areas of open water, such as white pelicans, black terns, and Forster's terns, as well as those living in brackish water, such as avocets and tundra swans.


Area (square miles): 1771

Elevation/Local Relief (feet): 1650-2100/30-120

Glaciated. Irregular plains left by glacial outwash deposited over stagnant ice. Broad, shallow, brackish wetlands and lakes.


Surficial Material and Bedrock
Late Wisconsian glacial outwash deposits over Tertiary sandstone and shale and Cretaceous Pierre Shale.


Order (Great Groups)
Mollisols (Natraquolls, Haploborolls, Calciaquolls, Haplaquolls, Argiaquolls)

Common Soil Series
Ruso, Bowdle, Lehr, Wabek, Telfer, Lihen, Sioux, Parshall, Arvilla, Southam, Divide, Harriet

Temperature/Moisture Regimes
Frigid/Udic, Ustic


Precipitation - Mean annual (inches)

Frost Free - Mean annual (days)

Mean Temp. - Jan. min/max; July min/max, (°F)

Potential Natural Vegetation

Needleandthread, plains muhly, prairie muhly, prairie junegrass, blue grama. Saltgrass in alkaline areas.

Land Use and Land Cover

Small grains, sunflowers, alfalfa, and corn on deeper soils. Grazing land on shallow soils over gravel. Sand and gravel quarries. Wetlands provide wildlife habitat.

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