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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Ecoregions of
North Dakota
South Dakota

46. Northern Glaciated Plains

46b. Turtle Mountains 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.

JPG - Turtle Mountains
The Turtle Mountains (46b pictured above) and the Pembina Escarpment (46a) are the only wooded level IV ecoregions in the Dakotas.

The undulating landscape and abundant wetlands of the Turtle Mountains are similar to the Missouri Coteau (42a). However, the Turtle Mountains contain larger, deeper, and more numerous lakes. Additionally, this ecoregion receives about 10 inches more precipitation than the surrounding drift plains; thus, it supports a forest cover of aspen, birch, burr oak, elm, and ash. The forest soils are erodible and poorly suited for cropland, though there is some clearing for pastureland.


Area (square miles): 409

Elevation/Local Relief (feet): 2000-2550/40-180

Glaciated. Platform of hummocky, rolling terrain above surrounding drift plains. Stream network lacking. High conentration of large lakes and wetlands.


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


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

Common Soil Series
Bottineau, Buse, Rolla, Kelvin, Metigoshe

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 on side slopes, aspen on top. Other species present: green ash, paper birch, boxelder, sumac, serviceberry, snowberry.

Land Use and Land Cover

Native woodland and pasture clearings. Some hay and small grains on gentler soils.

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