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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Ecoregions of
North Dakota
South Dakota

46. Northern Glaciated Plains

46d. Glacial Lake Deltas 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 Glacial Lake Deltas were deposited by rivers entering glacial lake basins (e.g., Glacial Lake Souris, Devils Lake, and Lake Dakota). The heaviest sediments, mostly sand and fine gravel, formed delta fans at the river inlets. As the lake floors were exposed during withdrawal of the glacial ice, wind reworked the sand in some areas into dunes. In contrast to the highly productive, intensively tilled glacial lake plains, the dunes in the delta areas have a thin vegetative cover and a high risk for wind erosion. These areas are used mainly for grazing or irrigated agriculture.


Area (square miles): 1877

Elevation/Local Relief (feet): 1290-1595/6-85

Glaciated. Flat sheets of sand and gravel or rolling sand dunes. Paucity of stream channels.


Surficial Material and Bedrock
Sand and gravel deposited over glacial lake floor


Order (Great Groups)
Mollisols (Haploborolls, Calciaquolls, Endoaquolls), Entisols (Udipsamments, Psammaquents)

Common Soil Series
Hecla, Ulen, Arvilla, Sioux, Serden, Rosewood, Lohnes, Bantry, Hamar

Temperature/Moisture Regimes


Precipitation - Mean annual (inches)
16-19 (north) 19-21 (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) 4/19;58/85 (south)

Potential Natural Vegetation

Prairie sandreed, little bluestem, indiangrass, switchgrass, sand bluestem.

Land Use and Land Cover

Droughty soils mostly used for native pasture. When tiled, used for small grains, flax and fall-planted rye (north), or small grains, sunflowers, and corn (south). Some irrigation.

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