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

46c. Glacial Lake Basins 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.

GIF - Pheasant
In cultivated areas, the introduced ring-neck pheasant has replaced the prairie chicken as the dominant gamebird. Photo by South Dakota Tourism

The Glacial Lake Basins were once occupied by Lake Souris, Devils Lake, and Lake Dakota. These proglacial lakes were formed when major stream or river drainages were blocked by glacial ice during the Pleistocene. The smooth topography of the Glacial Lake Basins, even flatter than the surrounding drift plains (ecoregions 46g, 46i, and 46n), resulted from the slow buildup of water-laid sediments. The level, deep soils on the lake plains are intensively cultivated. In the north, the primary crops are spring wheat, other small grains, and sunflowers; in the Lake Dakota basin of South Dakota, corn and soybeans are more prevalent.


Area (square miles): 3584

Elevation/Local Relief (feet): 1300-1585/0-30

Glaciated. Very level glacial lake floors. Low wetland density.


Surficial Material and Bedrock
Glacial lake deposits


Order (Great Groups)
Mollisols (Calciaquolls, Endoaquolls, Haploborolls, Natriborolls)

Common Soil Series
Hegne, Fargo, Bearden, Overly, Embden, Gardena, Glyndon, Great Bend, Aberdeen

Temperature/Moisture Regimes


Precipitation - Mean annual (inches)
16-19 (north) 20-22 (south)

Frost Free - Mean annual (days)
95-120 (north) 120-140 (south)

Mean Temp. - Jan. min/max; July min/max, (°F)
-10/10;54/80 (north) 1/21;60/85 (south)

Potential Natural Vegetation

Western wheatgrass, needleandthread, blue grama, green needlegrass.

Land Use and Land Cover

Extensively tilled for durum and spring wheat, sunflowers, and flax. Corn and soybeans south.

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 04:50:17 EST
Menlo Park, CA [caww55]