USGS - science for a changing world

Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

  Home About NPWRC Our Science Staff Employment Contacts Common Questions About the Site

Ecoregions of
North Dakota
South Dakota

46. Northern Glaciated Plains

46a. Pembina Escarpment Level IV Ecoregion


North Dakota Ecoregions

South Dakota Ecoregions

46a. Pembina Escarpment

46b. Turtle Mountains

46c. Glacial Lake Basins

46d. Glacial Lake Deltas

46e. Tewaukon Dead Ice Moraine

46f. End Moraine Complex

46g. Northern Black Prairie

46h. Northern Dark Brown Prairie

46i. Drift Plains

46j. Glacial Outwash

46k. Prairie Coteau

46l. Prairie Coteau Escarpment

46m. Big Souix Basin

46n. James River Lowland

46o. Minnesota River Priaire

  The Northern Glaciated Plains ecoregion is characterized by a flat to gently rolling landscape composed of glacial drift. The subhumid conditions foster a grassland transitional between the tall and shortgrass prairie. High concentrations of temporary and seasonal wetlands create favorable conditions for duck nesting and migration. Though the till soil is very fertile, agricultural success is subject to annual climatic fluctuations.
The Pembina Escarpment is a rugged, forested slope that marks the boundary between the Northern Black Prairies (46g) and the Lake Agassiz Plain (48). Though small, it is a distinctive level IV ecoregion. Originally formed by the undercutting of Cretaceous sandstones by the ancestral Red River, the escarpment was later steepened by glacial scouring. The vista today, of wooded hills with small farms tucked into valleys, is reminiscent of pastoral sections of New England. Streams flowing off the escarpment have high gradients and a cobble substrate.


Area (square miles): 274

Elevation/Local Relief (feet): 1225-1580/100-400

Glaciated. Steep, dissected escarpment. High gradient perennial streams.


Surficial Material and Bedrock
Glacial till over Tertiary sandstone and shale.


Order (Great Groups)
Mollisols (Haploborolls, Argiborolls, Calciborolls), Alfisols (Eutroboralfs)

Common Soil Series
Rollette, Olga, Kloten, Waukon, Kelvin, Buse, Walsh, Edgeley

Temperature/Moisture Regimes


Precipitation - Mean annual (inches)

Frost Free - Mean annual (days)

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

Potential Natural Vegetation

Burr oak dominant; some aspen and paper burch. Understory plants: beaked hazel, highbush cranberry (pembina), service berry, red osier dogwood.

Land Use and Land Cover

On steep slopes, woodland retained for woodland grazing and wildlife habitat. In flatter areas, cleared areas used for small grain, sunflowers and flax.

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: Webmaster
Page Last Modified: Saturday, 02-Feb-2013 04:50:15 EST
Sioux Falls, SD [sdww55]