Central tall grasslands
|Central tall grasslands|
|Biome||Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands|
|Area||248,400 km2 (95,900 sq mi)|
|States||North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin|
This ecoeregion covers a large area of southern Minnesota, most of Iowa, a small part of eastern South Dakota and a narrow strip through eastern Nebraska and northeastern Kansas. Rainfall here is 1000mm per year, higher than most of the Great Plains. The Northern tall grasslands lie to the north and have fewer and different species of grass, while the Flint Hills tall grasslands to the south have a rockier landscape.
The high rainfall and long summer allows a rich plant cover and this area was once the largest area of tallgrass prairie in the world, with grasses reaching up to 2m in height and interspersed with many wildflowers. For example 265 species of plants were recorded in Iowa, 237 in a square mile near Lincoln, Nebraska, and 225 in the Missouri River Valley. However the soil is rich here and the original grasslands have now largely been converted to farmland, much more so than in the neighbouring Flint Hills tall grasslands for example. The central tall grasslands are now a large part of the Corn Belt of the Midwest and covered with fields of corn and soybeans. Grasses of the area include big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) and Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans).
Threats and preservation
No substantial areas of original grassland remain in this ecoregion, only fragmented remnants but prairie restoration is happening, for example, at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Jasper County, Iowa.
- Hoekstra, J. M.; Molnar, J. L.; Jennings, M.; Revenga, C.; Spalding, M. D.; Boucher, T. M.; Robertson, J. C.; Heibel, T. J. et al. (2010). Molnar, J. L., ed. The Atlas of Global Conservation: Changes, Challenges, and Opportunities to Make a Difference. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-26256-0.
- "Central tall grasslands". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund.