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Central USA Plains

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Map Legend & Subregion List

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NameColor on MapCEC Code*
Southeastern Wisconsin Till Plains8.2.1
Central Corn Belt Plains8.2.3
Eastern Corn Belt Plains8.2.4
Huron/Erie Lake Plains8.2.2

* This code refers to the CEC's Level 3 ecoregion codes for North America, see here.

About the Central USA Plains

The Central USA Plains is a level II ecoregion of the Midwestern U.S. that is a hodge-podge of different flat regions with a range of soil types, existing in the transition between the largely treeless great plains, and the fully-forested regions to the east. This region contains the eastern part of what is called the "corn belt".

This region has a humid continental climate, with four well-defined seasons. It is positioned more to the south and west of various great lakes, so its climate is less moderated by the lakes than regions to the east of lakes. The northwesternmost parts of this region can irregularly experience extreme cold in winter, whereas the climate gets milder to the south and east. The temperatures are ideal for accumulation of nutrient-rich soils, but differences in soil type can lead to different ecological communities in different subregions.

Historically, this area was mostly covered by hardwood forests, but it also contained significant areas of savannah and wetlands. This area has been heavily altered by agriculture, with much of the swampier regions being drained, and most of the forests cleared. There has also been major urbanization and industrialization in this region; it contains the Chicago metropolitan area and numerous smaller metro areas as well.

This region has a long border with the Mixed Wood Plains to the northwest, north, and northeast, and a long border with the Southeastern USA Plains to the southwest and south, and a short border with the Appalachian Forests to the southeast. The more mountainous Appalachian region is more distinct from this region than the plains to the north or south.