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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Ecoregions of
North Dakota
South Dakota

46. Northern Glaciated Plains

46k. Prairie Coteau 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 - Sunflower field
North and South Dakota rank first and second in the nation for the production of sunflowers for oil.

The Prairie Coteau ecoregion, like the Missouri Coteau (42a), is the result of stagnant glacial ice melting beneath a sediment layer. The tightly undulating, hummocky landscape has no drainage pattern; it is perforated with closely spaced semipermanent and seasonal wetlands. However, the Prairie Coteau differs from ecoregion 42a in two ways. It has a chain of large lakes that were formed where there was little ice shear, and higher precipitation levels that allow widespread burr oak woodlands near wetland margins.


Area (square miles): 5229

Elevation/Local Relief (feet): 1500-2010/50-150

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


Surficial Material and Bedrock
Glacial till over Cretaceous Shales


Order (Great Groups)
Mollisols (Argiborolls, Haploborolls, Argiaquolls)

Common Soil Series
Forman, Aastad, Buse, Poinsett, Waubay, Parnell

Temperature/Moisture Regimes


Precipitation - Mean annual (inches)

Frost Free - Mean annual (days)

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

Potential Natural Vegetation

Big and little bluestem, switchgrass, indiangrass, blue grama; woodland surrounding wetlands in northeast section.

Land Use and Land Cover

Rolling areas in pastureland. Flatter areas tilled for small grains, corn, and soybeans.

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