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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Ecoregions of
North Dakota
South Dakota

46. Northern Glaciated Plains

46n. James River Lowland 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 - Aerial view of wetlands in a field
On the drift plains (46g, 46i, and 46n), cultivation occurs around or through the numerous temporary and seasonal wetlands.

The boundary between the James River Lowland and the Drift Plains (46i) to the north represents a broad phenological and climatic transition zone. This ecoregion is characterized by mesic soils, warmer temperatures, and a longer growing season than the Drift Plains (46i). These differences are reflected in the crop types of the region. Winter wheat, corn, and soybeans are more prevalent in this ecoregion's milder climate.


Area (square miles): 9227

Elevation/Local Relief (feet): 1200-1850/10-150

Glaciated. Level to slightly rolling plain composed of glacial drift. Dense concentrations of temporary and seasonal wetlands.


Surficial Material and Bedrock
Glacial till over Cretaceous Pierre Shale and sandstone of Niobrara Formation.


Order (Great Groups)
Mollisols (Argiustolls, Haplustolls, Natrustolls)

Common Soil Series
Beadle, Dudley, Hand, Bonilla, Houdek, Prosper

Temperature/Moisture Regimes


Precipitation - Mean annual (inches)

Frost Free - Mean annual (days)

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

Potential Natural Vegetation

Western wheatgrass, green needlegrass, big bluestem, blue grama.

Land Use and Land Cover

Extensively tilled for spring wheat, sunflowers, corn, and soybeans.

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