Central forest-grasslands transition

Central forest-grasslands transition

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The Central forest-grasslands transition are a prairie
Prairie
Prairies are considered part of the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome by ecologists, based on similar temperate climates, moderate rainfall, and grasses, herbs, and shrubs, rather than trees, as the dominant vegetation type...

 ecoregion
Ecoregion
An ecoregion , sometimes called a bioregion, is an ecologically and geographically defined area that is smaller than an ecozone and larger than an ecosystem. Ecoregions cover relatively large areas of land or water, and contain characteristic, geographically distinct assemblages of natural...

 of the central United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, part of the North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

n Great Plains
Great Plains
The Great Plains are a broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe and grassland, which lies west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. This area covers parts of the U.S...

.

Setting


This is a large area covering 407000 square kilometres (157,143.6 sq mi) from central Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

 through most of Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

, eastern Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

, Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

 and into Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

. This area was traditionally a mixture of woodland and prairie which as the soil consists of highly fertile mollisols
Mollisols
Mollisols are a soil order in USDA soil taxonomy. Mollisols form in semi-arid to semi-humid areas, typically under a grassland cover. They are most commonly found in the mid-latitudes, namely in North America, mostly east of the Rocky Mountains, in South America in Argentina and Brazil, and in...

 most of the area has been converted to farmland. Rainfall varies from 600–1040 mm per year and the area is vulnerable to drought and fire. Along with the Upper Midwest forest-savanna transition
Upper Midwest forest-savanna transition
The Upper Midwest forest-savanna transition is a terrestrial ecoregion that is defined by the World Wildlife Fund. An oak savanna plant community located in the Upper Midwest region of the United States, it is a transitory ecotone between the tallgrass prairies to the west and the temperate...

 this ecoregion separates the Central U.S. hardwood forests
Central U.S. hardwood forests
The Central U.S. hardwood forests comprise a Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests ecoregion in the Eastern United States. It has one of the most diverse herbaceous plant floras of ecoregions in North America.-Setting:...

 to the east from the largely treeless Central and Southern mixed grasslands
Central and Southern mixed grasslands
The Central and Southern mixed grasslands are a prairie ecoregion of the central United States, part of the North American Great Plains.-Setting:...

 and Central tall grasslands
Central tall grasslands
The Central tall grasslands are a prairie ecoregion of the Midwestern United States, part of the North American Great Plains.-Setting: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...

 to the west.

Fauna


This ecoregion is rich in reptiles, birds and insects. Birds of the area include the greater prairie chicken
Greater Prairie Chicken
The Greater Prairie Chicken or Pinnated Grouse, Tympanuchus cupido, is a large bird in the grouse family. This North American species was once abundant, but has become extremely rare or extinct over much of its range due to habitat loss. There are current efforts to help this species gain the...

. Reptiles include the Osage copperhead snake (Agkistrodon contortrix phaeogaster
Agkistrodon contortrix phaeogaster
Agkistrodon contortrix phaeogaster is a venomous pitviper subspecies found in the central region of the United States.-Description:Gloyd and Conant gives maximum total lengths of 990/723 mm for males/females, while mentioning that other sources give a maximum total length for this subspecies of...

)
.

Threats and preservation


The area has almost entirely been converted to agriculture, particularly planting corn and soybeans. Remaining blocks of intact habitat are small and include the Emiquon National Wildlife Refuge an important stopover for migrating birds located across the Illinois River
Illinois River
The Illinois River is a principal tributary of the Mississippi River, approximately long, in the State of Illinois. The river drains a large section of central Illinois, with a drainage basin of . This river was important among Native Americans and early French traders as the principal water route...

 from the town of Havana
Havana, Illinois
Havana is a city in Mason County, Illinois, United States. The population was 3,577 at the 2000 census, and 3,260 at a 2009 estimate. It is the county seat of Mason County.-Geography:...

 in western Illinois. Other spots of unspoilt prairie occur in Goose Lake Prairie State Natural Area
Goose Lake Prairie State Natural Area
Goose Lake Prairie State Natural Area is a state park and listed state nature preserve. More than half of the state park is a tallgrass prairie maintained as a natural area of Illinois...

, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie
Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie
The Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is a prairie reserve operated by the United States Forest Service. It is in the Central forest-grasslands transition ecoregion. It is located on the site of the former Joliet Army Ammunition Plant near Elwood, Illinois, and was established by federal law in 1996...

 and the Kankakee Outwash Plain
Kankakee Outwash Plain
The Kankakee Outwash Plain is a flat plain in the Kankakee River valley in northwestern Indiana and northeastern Illinois. It is just south of the Valparaiso Moraine. It was formed during the Wisconsin Glaciation. As the glacier, stopped at the Valparaiso Moraine, melted, the meltwater was carried...

 in Illinois; Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is a U.S. National Lakeshore located in northwest Indiana and managed by the National Park Service. It was authorized by Congress in 1966. The national lakeshore runs for nearly along the southern shore of Lake Michigan, from Gary, Indiana, on the west to Michigan...

 in northwest Indiana; the Cross Timbers
Cross Timbers
The term Cross Timbers is used to describe a strip of land in the United States that runs from southeastern Kansas across Central Oklahoma to Central Texas...

 in southern Kansas and central Oklahoma; and the Osage Plains
Osage Plains
The Osage Plains are a physiographic section of the larger Central Lowland province, which in turn is part of the larger Interior Plains physiographic division. The area is sometimes called the Lower Plains, North Central Plains, and the Rolling Plains...

 in the south of the ecoregion. However these are all highly fragmented although there are many protected areas in the ecoregion including Prairie State Park
Prairie State Park
Prairie State Park is a state park in the US state of Missouri consisting of located in Barton County. It is in the Central forest-grasslands transition ecoregion....

in Missouri.