Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
|43k. Dense Clay Prairie||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 Dense Clay Prairie differs from the surrounding ecoregions in its lack of vegetative cover. The grassland in this ecoregion is missing its short- and mid-level layers. Only the tall grasses show thinly against the dark-colored clay. Riparian woodland is absent from draws and stream corridors. This fragile landscape must be managed carefully to avoid erosion and blowing soil. Sheep farming is the major land use.
Area (square miles): 1378
Surficial Material and Bedrock
Order (Great Groups)
Precipitation - Mean annual (inches)
Potential Natural Vegetation
Western wheatgrass with no shortgrass understory.
Land Use and Land Cover
Sheep and cattle ranching. Fragile grassland cover.