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Flatwoods/Blackland Prairie Margins

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About the Flatwoods/Blackland Prairie Margins

The Flatwoods/Blackland Prairie Margins are an irregularly-shaped region of the Southeastern Plains extending in a roughly crescent shape of discontinuous portions, through Alabama, northeast Mississippi, and barely into Tennessee. In some documents this region is referred to as the Flatwoods / Alluvial Prairie Margins. This region combines two slightly different areas that end up having a similar ecology and vegetation cover: the Flatwoods consist of low, flat areas which are poorly-drained in large part due to their topography. The Blackland Prairie Margins are slightly more varied in their topography, but have heavy soils made from extremely fine particles, which tend to be poorly-drained.

This region ranges from completely flat to gently rolling terrain. Streams tend to be slow-flowing, low-gradient, and have clay or sand bottoms. This region is underlain by clay, calcareous clayey sand, fine sand, chalk, and marl. Soils in the flatwoods tend to be deep, clayey, poorly-drained, and acidic. Soils on the blackland prairie margins tend to expand and become sticky when wet, and crack and harden when dry, but can be less acidic on some sites due to their higher calcium content.

Currently this region has a mix of land use, with some wild forests, some pine plantations, and a mix of pastureland and cropland, mostly producing hay. This region is mostly rural, but also has significant population. It spans some cities and towns, some of which are built inside this region, some of which straddle its border, and some of which are just outside it. The largest city mostly contained in this region is Montgomery, AL.

Most of this region borders the Blackland Prairie, a region distinguished by the fact that the expanding and contracting of fine soil particles becomes so severe that it limits plant growth and the forest opens to prairie. Along the major rivers, this region also borders the Southeastern Floodplains and Low Terraces. At the north end, this region borders the more rugged, upland Northern Hilly Gulf Coastal Plain. Over much of its length, it is bordered to the southwest or south by the Southern Hilly Gulf Coastal Plain. To the east and north, much of this region borders the Fall Line Hills.

References

1. Griffith, G.E., Omernik, J.M., Comstock, J.A., Lawrence, S., Martin, G., Goddard, A., Hulcher, V.J., and Foster, T. "Ecoregions of Alabama and Georgia (color poster with map, descriptive text, summary tables, and photographs)", U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA (2001) Web.