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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Ecoregions of
North Dakota
South Dakota

46. Northern Glaciated Plains

46l. Prairie Coteau 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 Prairie Coteau Escarpment ecoregion, though small, is a distinctive ecosystem, rising 300 to 600 feet in elevation from the Minnesota River valley to the brow of the Prairie Coteau (46k). The elevation, broken topography, and sufficient precipitation favor dense deciduous forest growth in riparian areas. Cool, perennial streams flow off the escarpment, providing habitats and oxygenated water not found elsewhere in eastern South Dakota.


Area (square miles): 415

Elevation/Local Relief (feet): 1250-2000/250-600

Glaciated. Dissected topography along face of 300-600 ft. escarpment, incised by high gradient perennial streams.


Surficial Material and Bedrock
Thin glacial till over Cretaceous limey shale (Niobrara Formation)


Order (Great Groups)
Mollisols (Argiborolls, Calciborolls)

Common Soil Series
Peever, Forman, Sieche, Buse

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, green ash, elm, aspen, basswood, chokecherry, sumac with openings of little bluestem, green needlegrass, western wheatgrass, and blue grama.

Land Use and Land Cover

Steepest areas in native woodland, used for pasture. Flatter areas tilled for small grains, corn, sunflowers, and alfalfa or used for pasture.

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