Texas blackland prairies

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Texas Blackland Prairies
Texas ecoregions.png
Texas blackland prairies (area 32 on the map)
Realm Nearctic
Biome Temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands
Borders East Central Texas forests (area 33 on the map)[2], Edwards Plateau (area 30 on the map)[2] and Cross Timbers (area 29 on the map)[2]
Bird species 216[1]
Mammal species 61[1]
Area 50,300 km2 (19,400 sq mi)
Country United States
State Texas
Habitat loss 76.458%[1]
Protected 0.64%[1]

The Texas blackland prairies are a temperate grassland ecoregion located in Texas that runs roughly 300 miles (480 km) from the Red River in North Texas to San Antonio in the south. The prairie was named after its rich dark soil.[citation needed]


The Texas blackland prairies ecoregion covers an area of 50,300 km2 (19,400 sq mi), consisting of a main belt of 43,000 km2 (17,000 sq mi) and two islands of tallgrass prairie grasslands southeast of the main blackland prairie belt; both the main belt and the islands extend northeast/southwest.

The main belt consists of oaklands and savannas and runs from just south of the Red River on the Texas-Oklahoma border through the Dallas–Fort Worth metropolitan area and into southwestern Texas. The Central forest-grasslands transition lies to the north and northwest, and the Edwards Plateau savanna and the Tamaulipan mezquital to the southwest.

The larger of the two islands is the Fayette Prairie, encompassing 17,000 km2 (6,600 sq mi), and the smaller is the San Antonio Prairie of 7,000 km2 (2,700 sq mi). The two islands are separated from the main belt by the oak woodlands of the East Central Texas forests, which surround the islands on all sides but the northeast, where the Fayette Prairie meets the East Texas Piney Woods.


This area was shaped by frequent wildfires and Plains Bison. Large fires would frequently sweep the area, clearing shrubs and stimulating forbs and grasses. Large herds of bison also grazed on the grasses.[3]


Because of the soil and climate, this ecoregion is ideally suited to crop agriculture. This has led to most of the Blackland Prairie ecosystem being converted to crop production, leaving less than one percent remaining (and some groups estimate less than 0.5% to less than 0.1% remaining) and making the tallgrass the most-endangered large ecosystem in North America. Small remnants are conserved at The Nature Conservancy's Clymer Meadow Preserve and other sites.


The fauna of the blackland prairie includes fox, frogs, lizards, rattlesnakes, opossoms, coyotes, white-tailed deer, yellow tailed hawk, and striped skunks. The blackland prairie was formerly home to animals such as buffalo, wolves, and jaguars before overhunting and the destruction of most tallgrass ecosystems.

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. ^ a b c "Ecoregions of Texas" (PDF). U.S. EPA. Retrieved 2016-02-06. 
  3. ^ "Post Oak Savannah and Blackland Prairie Wildlife Management: Historical Perspective". Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Retrieved 2008-08-15. 
  • Ricketts, Taylor H., Eric Dinerstein, David M. Olson, Colby J. Loucks, et al. (1999). Terrestrial Ecoregions of North America: a Conservation Assessment. Island Press, Washington DC.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°N 96°W / 32°N 96°W / 32; -96