Central Great Plains (ecoregion)

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Central Great Plains
Level III ecoregions, United States.png
Central Great Plains (area 27 on the map)
Realm Nearctic
Biome Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands
Bird species 228[1]
Mammal species 88[1]
Country United States
State Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska
Habitat loss 50.68%[1]
Protected 0.48%[1]
Designated as Central and Southern Mixed Grasslands by the World Wildlife Fund

The Central Great Plains are a semi-arid prairie ecoregion of the central United States, part of North American Great Plains. The region runs from west-central Texas through west-central Oklahoma, central Kansas, and south-central Nebraska.

It is designated as the Central and Southern Mixed Grasslands ecoregion by the World Wildlife Fund.


This is a large grassland area with very few trees running north-south from central Nebraska through central Kansas and western Oklahoma to north-central Texas, covering 282,000 km2. This is a transition zone between the Central tall grasslands and Central forest-grasslands transition ecoregions to the east and the Western short grasslands to the west, while to the north lie the Northern mixed grasslands which have a cooler temperature and a much shorter growing season.[2]


Cities located within the Central Great Plains ecoregion include:



The prevalent vegetation of the Central Great Plains ecoregion is a rich mixture of prairie mixed grass of medium height tallgrass and shortgrass. The ecoregion is encompassed by the tallgrass and shortgrass prairies. There are wildflowers among the grasses but very few trees and shrubs. The grasslands are heavily grazed and frequently disturbed by drought and fire. Other vegetation is drought-tolerant tree species (mesquite) and prickly pear cacti.


The Central Great Plains prairie is part of the historical native rangeland of the Great Plains endemic American bison. It has been converted for use as grazing land for cattle since the 19th century.

The grasslands are home habitat for a resident prairie birds, while the wetlands of the region are important stopovers for birds migrating between North America and Mexico. The Cheyenne Bottoms near Great Bend, Kansas and the Platte River in Nebraska are particularly important for migrating sandhill cranes and other waders.

The region is home to a large number of reptiles. Some of the prevalent wildlife in the southern area are coyote, striped bark scorpions, rattlesnakes, and common house geckos.


Most of the grasslands have been converted for agriculture with only about 5% of natural habitat remaining. Indeed, this area was so heavily overcultivated that it was damaged during the 1930s Dust Bowl period in which the topsoil was blown away in dust storms. The grasslands have since recovered but are cropland and managed grazing ranges rather than unspoiled native grasses and perennials pasture.

Protected areas[edit]

The small remaining blocks of intact habitat include:

These protected areas consist of patches of intact native grassland amidst the cultivated rangeland, and most of the remaining natural habitats of the Great Plains are unprotected. The two largest protected areas are the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge for bison and black-capped vireo, and the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Hoekstra, J. M.; Molnar, J. L.; Jennings, M.; Revenga, C.; Spalding, M. D.; Boucher, T. M.; Robertson, J. C.; Heibel, T. J.; Ellison, K. (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. 
  2. ^ World Wildlife Fund (2001). "Central and Southern mixed grasslands". WildWorld Ecoregion Profile. National Geographic Society. Archived from the original on 2010-03-08. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°N 98°W / 38°N 98°W / 38; -98