Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
|43e. Sagebrush Steppe||Level IV Ecoregion|
|Home||The Northwestern Great Plains
ecoregion encompasses the Missouri Plateau section of the Great
Plains. It is a semiarid rolling plain of shale, siltstone, and sandstone
punctuated by occasional buttes and badlands. Native grasslands persist
in areas of steep or broken topography, but they have been largely replaced
by spring wheat and alfalfa over most of the ecoregion. Agriculture
is limited by erratic precipitation patterns and limited opportunities
The Sagebrush Steppe occurs on the dry western edge of North and South Dakota where rainfall rarely exceeds 14 inches per year. Eroded buttes, Hell Creek badlands, scoria (burnt coal) mounds, and salt pans punctuate a thick mat of shortgrass prairie and dusky gray sagebrush. The region is characterized by low human population, minimal cultivation, and relatively high concentrations of wildlife.
Area (square miles): 2457
Surficial Material and Bedrock
Order (Great Groups)
Precipitation - Mean annual (inches)
Potential Natural Vegetation
Dwarf sagebrush, big sagebrush, with western wheatgrass, green needlegass, blue grama, Sandberg bluegrass, and buffalograss.
Land Use and Land Cover
Cattle grazing and wildlife habitat. Grassland and shrub cover.