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Ecoregions of Connecticut

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About the Ecoregions of Connecticut

Connecticut is a small state in New England that can be divided into 8 different ecoregions, all of which extend well outside the state's borders. It is one of the states whose borders make the least sense with respect to ecological boundaries.

The state straddles one major ecological border, between the cooler, conifer-dominated Northern Forests in the northwest of the state and the more deciduous-dominated Eastern Temperate Forests in the rest of the state. These regions are further subdivided based on differences in climate and topography.

The climate here is transitional between a humid subtropical and humid continental climate. Temperatures are mildest along the coast and slightly inland in the more lowland regions, and coldest in the more inland, upland areas. Precipitation is high year-round and varies little throughout the state.

The southern coast of the state is within the Long Island Sound Coastal Lowland, a region that also includes the opposite shore of Long Island, and most of the western shore of the island. This region features a water-moderated climate and soils formed on glacial till. In Connecticut, this is the most populated region, with extensive urban and industrial development as well as coastal wetlands. Inland in the middle of the state, the Connecticut Valley, extending north through Massachusetts, is the next-most-populated part of the state, and also heavily developed for agriculture. It is flat, low-lying, and has the richest soils for farming, although it is also interspersed with some rugged, forested ridges throughout its length.

Slightly inland from the coast, and on either side of the Connecticut Valley lie the Southern New England Coastal Plains and Hills, a rockier, more irregular region that tends to be more forested, but still have some farms and cities. This region extends into Massachusetts and New York state. The northernmost part of the east half of Connecticut contains a small portion of the Lower Worcester Plateau/Eastern Connecticut Upland, a relatively-flat upland area that is mostly sparsely-populated and forested, and has some wetlands.

The northwestern part of the state contains the beginnings of the Northeastern Highlands, a more rugged, cooler, mountainous region making up much of the inland parts of New England. This region begins with the Berkshire Transition, a region cooler, more rugged, and sparsely-populated than areas to the southeast. North of this are the Lower Berkshire Hills, also mostly forested, extending into Massachusetts. The Western New England Marble Valleys, a lowland heavily utilized for farming, cuts through the northwestern corner of the state, and on the other side of these valleys, the very northwestern corner contains a tiny portion of the Taconic Mountains, which run north-south along eastern New York State, into western Massachusetts and Vermont.

References

1. Griffith, G.E., Omernik, J.M., Bryce, S.A., Royte, J., Hoar, W.D., Homer, J.W., Keirstead, D., Metzler, K.J., and Hellyer, G. "Ecoregions of New England (Poster)", U.S. Geological Survey (2009) Web.