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Ecoregions of Indiana

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Map Legend & Subregion List

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NameColor on Map
Pre-Wisconsinan Drift Plains...
Illinois/Indiana Prairies...
Whitewater Interlobate Area...
Northern Indiana Lake Country...
Battle Creek/Elkhart Outwash Plain...
Chicago Lake Plain...
Kankakee Marsh...
Michigan Lake Plain...
Caseyville Hills...
Wabash River Bluffs and Low Hills...
Sand Area...
Clayey High Lime Till Plains...
Loamy High Lime Till Plains...
Valparaiso-Wheaton Morainal Complex...
Maumee Lake Plain...
Middle Tippecanoe Plains...
Lake Michigan Moraines...
Crawford-Mammoth Cave Uplands...
Mitchell Plain...
Knobs-Norman Upland...
Wabash-Ohio Bottomlands...
Glaciated Wabash Lowlands...
Green River-Southern Wabash Lowlands...
Outer Bluegrass...

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About the Ecoregions of Indiana

Indiana is one of the U.S. states whose boundaries correspond exceptionally poorly to ecological borders. Its southern border follows the Ohio River, and the southernmost portion of its western border follows the Wabash river, but the rest of its borders are straight lines that cut across ecological boundaries. Indiana can be divided into 22 ecoregions, and of these, only two are fully contained within the state's boundaries.

Broadly, Indiana intersects three major regions: the Mixed Wood Plains, more specifically the Southern Michigan/Northern Indiana Drift Plains, which only covers a small portion of the northernmost part of the state, the Central USA Plains, which covers the bulk of the state from northwest through central and through most of the east of the state, and the Southeastern USA Plains, covering a significant area in the southwestern part of the state and a tiny portion in the southeast. These three divisions correspond to major changes in climate: the north of the state has a colder continental climate, with harsh winters, and as such many more northerly plant species are found there. The south of the state on the other hand has a humid subtropical climate, with many species characteristic of the southeast and Mississippi Alluvial Plain.

Most of Indiana was glaciated, but there are two separate limits of glaciation: the more recent Wisconsin Glaciation covered a little under two-thirds of the state, in the northern portions. However, earlier glaciations reached farther south, sparing only a small area from the southern border of the state extending slightly north into the state's interior. As such, the northern part of the state is mostly flat, whereas the southernmost portion has much more rugged terrain. The intermediate area covered only in the older glaciation is covered in highly leached till.

The Southern Michigan/Northern Indiana Drift Plains in the north of the state are divided into four different ecoregions: the Michigan Lake Plain is a narrow strip along the southeastern shore of Lake Michigan with sandy soils and a lake-moderated climate. The Battle Creek/Elkhart Outwash Plain covers much of the northernmost reaches of the state; this region is a broad plain with numerous glacial features. Southeast of this, Northern Indiana Lake Country is one of the two ecoregions specific to Indiana, a region with numerous small lakes of glacial origin. Southwest of this is the other Indiana-specific region, the Middle Tippecanoe Plains.

The Central USA Plains can be divided into three sections: the Central Corn Belt Plains in the northwest of the state, the Eastern Corn Belt Plains, making up most of the state, and a small area of the Huron/Erie Lake Plains in the northeast of the state, more specifically the Maumee Lake Plain.

The Central Corn Belt Plains in the northwest of the state can be divided into five ecoregions: the Chicago Lake Plain, the Valparaiso-Wheaton Morainal Complex, Kankakee Marsh, the Sand Area, and the Illinois/Indiana Prairies. All of these regions except Kankakee Marsh extend well into Illinois.

The Eastern Corn Belt Plains which makes up most of the state can be divided into four ecoregions: the Clayey High Lime Till Plains covering a large portion of the northeast of the state, the Loamy High Lime Till Plains covering much of the central region, the small Whitewater Interlobate Area in the east, and the Pre-Wisconsinan Drift Plains in the south.

The Southeastern USA Plains in the south of the state can be divided into two regions, the Interior River Valleys and Hills in the west, and the Interior Plateau in the east.

The Interior River Valleys and Hills consists of four regions, the Wabash River Bluffs and Low Hills which barely enters Indiana only in a small area along the western border, the Wabash-Ohio Bottomlands which stretch along a long length of the Wabash and Ohio rivers, and then the pre-Wisconsin Glaciated Wabash Lowlands, and south of that, the unglaciated Green River-Southern Wabash Lowlands.

The Interior Plateau in Indiana is divided into four regions. Three of them, the Crawford-Mammoth Cave Uplands, the Mitchell Plain, and the Knobs-Norman Upland extend roughly north-south along the length of the south-central section of the state. The fourth, the Outer Bluegrass region, only has a small portion in the southeasternmost part of the state.

References

1. Woods, A.J, Omernik, J.M., Brockman, C.S., Gerber, T.D., Hosteter, W.D., Azevedo, S.H. "Ecoregions of Indiana and Ohio (Poster)", US Geological Survey (1998) Web.