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Texas-Louisiana Coastal Plain

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NameColor on MapCEC Code‡
Western Gulf Coastal Plain9.5.1

† Status: ✓ = Complete ○ = Needs Image … = Incomplete ∅ = Stub Only

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


Partially Complete
With Images
Complete w/ Images

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About the Texas-Louisiana Coastal Plain

The Texas-Louisiana Coastal Plain a region along the gulf coast, covering the entirety of Texas' coastline and part of Louisiana's, and also extending slightly into Mexico. Although classified as part of the Great Plains and sharing in common with the rest of that region its flat topography and predominately grassland cover, this region shares a lot in common with the coastal plains farther to the east and is more humid than most regions that people think of as part of the Great Plains.

The topography is mostly flat, but diverse, as the landscape is rich in hydrological features, including both freshwater lakes and marshes, and numerous riveres, estuaries, and saltwater marshes. Barrier islands lie along the coast. The climate is humid and subtropical, towards the milder end of a subtropical climate, with hot summers and mild winters, and roughly similar levels of rainfall year-round. Freezing temperatures in winter are possible but uncommon. Moving southwest along the coast, rainfall decreases and winter temperatures become milder; the southernmost part of this region is reliably frost-free and has a seasonal precipitation pattern with wetter summers. Unlike most of the great plains, this region is subjected to frequent hurricanes and tropical storms.

Soils here tend to be sandy, silty, or clayey, and are often highly saline, with salinity increasing towards the southwest, reflecting lower rainfall. Many areas are poorly-drained and have a shallow water table.

Natural cover of this land included abundant wetlands interspersed with forests and prairies, with forest cover increasing to the northeast with increasing rainfall. Current land use includes cropland, pasture, urban development, and fossil fuel extraction, including oil and gas. Agriculture here benefits from the milder winter temperatures, but is limited by poor soils and drainage. The prairies and forests of this area have been most vulnerable to clearing for agriculture and urban development, as they tend to occur on richer, better-drained sites.

All of the borders of this ecoregion represent gradual transitions, with indistinct and somewhat subjective borders. To the north lies the Southeastern USA Plains which are tend to be better-drained and more forested. East along the coast lies the Mississippi Alluvial & Southeast USA Coastal Plains. To the west lies the drier Tamaulipas-Texas Semiarid Plain, and south along the coast lies the Dry Gulf of Mexico Coastal Plains and Hills, a region of tropical dry forest.