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Temperate Prairies

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Map Legend & Subregion List

This list will help you navigate the regions in case you have problems with viewing or clicking the interactive map above.

NameColor on MapCEC Code*
Central Irregular Plains9.2.4
Northern Glaciated Plains9.2.1
Western Corn Belt Plains9.2.3
Lake Agassiz Plain9.2.2

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

About the Temperate Prairies

The Temperate Prairies are a Level II ecoregion representing the northeasternmost portion of the Great Plains. Entering them from the east, they represent the first region in which forests are not the dominant cover, and instead grasslands dominate. This region stretches over a long, but somewhat narrow expanse from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba in Canada, south through the eastern Dakotas and western/southern Minnesota, and south to northeastern Oklahoma. Iowa is the only state mostly contained within this region, which cuts through narrow bands of many states and provinces.

This region is mostly flat, although it does have gently-rolling hills. The climate is continental, and moisture levels range from subhumid to semiarid in the north, to humid in the south. To the south, higher evapotranspiration associated with warmer temperatures and greater sunlight demand more water to sustain similar vegetation cover. The weather is unpredictable and can be extreme, with large temperature swings being common at all times of year, as well as prolonged periods of drought.

The natural cover in this region is mostly grasslands, with only scattered trees, mostly along streams and other bodies of water. However, this region has been heavily utilized for agriculture, and cropland is now the dominant cover, with significant pastureland as well. This region is not as heavily populated as areas to the east, but it does contain major metro areas including Kansas City, part of the Twin Cities metro area, and Calgary and Edmonton, AB.

In the north of this region, it is bordered to the south and west by the more arid West-Central Semi-Arid Prairies, and in the south, it is bordered to the southwest by the South Central Semi-Arid Prairies. The far north of this region borders the Boreal plain, and the northeast borders the Mixed Wood Shield and Mixed Wood Plains, whereas to the southeast lie the Southeastern USA Plains and the Ozark-Oauchita Forests.