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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Ecoregions of
North Dakota
South Dakota

42. Northwestern Glaciated Plains

42d. Northern Missouri Couteau 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 - Prairie chicken
The prairie chicken, once found throughout the eastern Dakotas, has been extipated from much of its former range.

The Northern Missouri Coteau lies in a transition zone to a more boreal climate to the north and a more arid climate to the west. Willow and aspen, southern outliers of aspen parkland to the north, may occur at wetland margins. Rough fescue, also a northern species, appears in grassland associations. Wetlands tend to dry out earlier in the summer than on the Missouri Coteau (42a) to the south and east. Mixed dryland agriculture is the major land use.


Area (square miles): 1697

Elevation/Local Relief (feet): 2100-2350/10-250

Glaciated. Hummocky, rolling terrain. Stream drainage absent or uncommon. Numerous pothole wetlands.


Surficial Material and Bedrock
Wisconsinan glacial till over Tertiary sandstone and shale.


Order (Great Groups)
Mollisols (Argiborolls, Haploborrolls, Argiaquolls)

Common Soil Series
Zahl, Williams, Parnell, Bowbells

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

Western wheatgrass, green meedlegrass, little bluestem, and needleandthread. Green ash and aspen on broken terrain.

Land Use and Land Cover

Mainly cattle grazing and some haylands. Level areas are culivated.

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