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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Ecoregions of
North Dakota
South Dakota

46. Northern Glaciated Plains

46o. Minnesota River Prairie 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.
Thick glacial drift composes the level terrain of the Minnesota River Prairie. Wetlands are common, though they are fewer and less persistent than those in the neighboring stagnation moraines (ecoregions 46e and 46k). The desiccating winds and historic fire regime promoted the prairie ecosystem in this region; however, it is transitional to woodland that occurs to the north and east in Minnesota. Today, the original tallgrass prairie has been replaced by intensive agriculture for grain, corn and soybeans.


Area (square miles): 826

Elevation/Local Relief (feet): 1050-1300/50-100

Glaciated. Level to gently rolling plain. Moderate wetland density.


Surficial Material and Bedrock
Glacial till over undivided Cretaceous sediments (Dakota Sandstone, Carlile and Pierre Shale).


Order (Great Groups)
Mollisols (Haploborolls), Entisols (Udorthents)

Common Soil Series
Heimdal, Svea, Sisseton

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, green needlegrass, western wheatgrass, blue grama. Elm, boxelder, and green ash along river bottoms.

Land Use and Land Cover

Extensively cultivated to small grains, corn, soybeans, and alfalfa.

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