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Ecoregions of North Dakota and South Dakota

Introductory text
Literature cited


(NOTE: maps and GIS files may differ. To make sure you are using the most current ecoregion data, download shapefiles of ecoregions)

GIS data (shapefiles, metadata and symbology):
Ecoregions of North Dakota and South Dakota--poster front side
Ecoregions of North Dakota and South Dakota--poster back side
Level III and IV Ecoregions of North Dakota and South Dakota
Level III and IV Ecoregions of North Dakota and South Dakota
Level III and IV Ecoregions of North Dakota
Level III and IV Ecoregions of South Dakota
Ecoregions denote areas of general similarity in ecosystems and in the type, quality, and quantity of environmental resources; they are designed to serve as a spatial framework for the research, assessment, management, and monitoring of ecosystems and ecosystem components. Ecoregions are directly applicable to the immediate needs of state agencies, including the development of biological criteria and water quality standards, and the establishment of management goals for nonpoint-source pollution. They are also relevant to integrated ecosystem management, an ultimate goal of most federal and state resource management agencies.

The approach used to compile this map is based on the premise that ecological regions can be identified through the analysis of the patterns of biotic and abiotic phenomena that reflect differences in ecosystem quality and integrity (Wiken, 1986; Omernik, 1987, 1995). These phenomena include geology, physiography, vegetation, climate, soils, land use, wildlife, and hydrology. The relative importance of each characteristic varies from one ecological region to another regardless of the hierarchical level. A Roman numeral hierarchical scheme has been adopted for different levels of ecological regions. Level I and level II divide the North American continent into 15 and 51 regions, respectively. At level III, the continental United States contains 98 regions (United States Environmental Protection Agency [USEPA], 1996). Level IV regions are more detailed ecoregions for state-level applications; and level V are the most detailed ecoregions for landscape-level or local level projects. However, depending on the objectives of a particular project, ecoregions may be aggregated within levels of the hierarchy for data analysis and interpretation. Explanations of the methods used to define the USEPA's ecoregions are given in Omernik (1995), Griffith and others (1994), Gallant and others (1989), and Bryce and Clarke (1996).

This level III and IV ecoregion map was compiled at a scale of 1:250,000; it depicts revisions and subdivisions of earlier level III ecoregions that were originally compiled at a smaller scale (USEPA, 1996; Omernik, 1987). This poster is the product of a collaborative effort primarily between the USEPA Region VIII, the USEPA National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (Corvallis, Oregon), North Dakota State Department of Health - Division of Water Quality, South Dakota State Department of Environment and Natural Resources (SDDENR), South Dakota State University (SDSU) - Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, the United States Department of Agriculture - Forest Service (USFS), the United States Department of Agriculture - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) (formerly the Soil Conservation Service), and the United States Department of the Interior - U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) - Earth Resources Observation Systems (EROS) Data Center.

This project is associated with an interagency effort to develop a common frame-work of ecological regions. Reaching that objective requires recognition of the differences in the conceptual approaches and mapping methodologies that have been used to develop the most commonly used existing ecoregion-type frameworks, including those developed by the USFS (Bailey and others, 1994), the USEPA (Omernik, 1987, 1995), and the NRCS (United States Department of Agriculture - Soil Conservation Service, 1981). As each of these frameworks is further developed, the differences between them lessen. Regional collaborative projects such as this one in North Dakota and South Dakota, where agreement can be reached among multiple resource management agencies, is a step in the direction of attaining commonality and consistency in ecoregion frameworks for the entire nation.

Literature Cited:

Bailey, R.G., Avers, P.E., King, T., and McNab, W.H., eds., 1994, Ecoregions and subregions of the United States (map) (supplementary table of map unit descriptions compiled and edited by McNab, W.H. and Bailey, R.G.): Washington, D.C., U.S. Department of Agriculture - Forest Service, scale 1:7,500,000.

Bryce, S.A. and Clarke, S.E., 1996, Landscape-level ecological regions: Linking state-level ecoregion frmeworks with stream habitat classifications: Environmental Management, vol. 20, no. 3, p. 297-311.

Gallant, A.L., Whittier, T.R., Larsen, D.P., Omernik, J.M., and Hughes, R.M., 1989, Regionalization as a tool for managing environmental resources: Corvallis, Oregon, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency EPA/600/3-89/060, 152 p.

Griffith, G.E, Omernik, J.M., Wilton, T.F., and Pierson, S.M., 1994, Ecoregions and subregions of Iowa - a framework for water quality assessment and management: The Journal of the Iowa Academy of Science, v. 101, no. 1, p. 5-13.

Omernik, J.M., 1987, Ecoregions of the conterminous United States (map supplement): Annals of the Association of American Geographers, v. 77, no. 1, p. 118-125, scale 1:7,500,000.

Omernik, J.M., 1995, Ecoregions - a framework for environmental management, in Davis, W.S. and Simon, T.P., eds., Biological assessment and criteria - tools for water resource planning and decision making: Boca Raton, Florida, Lewis Publishers, p. 49-62.

U.S. Department of Agriculture - Soil Conservation Service, 1981, Land resource regions and major land resource areas of the United States: Agriculture Handbook 296, 156 p.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1996, Level III ecoregions of the continental United States (revision of Omernik, 1987): Corvallis, Oregon, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory Map M-1, various scales.

Wiken, E., 1986, Terrestrial ecozones of Canada: Ottawa, Environment Canada, Ecological Land Classification Series no. 19, 26 p.

PRINCIPAL AUTHORS: Sandra A. Bryce (Dynamac Corporation), James M. Omernik (USEPA), David E. Pater (Dynamac Corporation), Michael Ulmer, Jerome Schaar (USDA, NRCS), Jerry Freeouf (USFS), Rex Johnson (SDSU), Pat Kuck (DENR/NRSC Liaison), and Sandra H. Azevedo (OAO Corporation).

COLLABORATORS AND CONTRIBUTORS: Lewis M. Cowardin (USGS, Biological Resources Division), Michael Ell (ND State Department of Health - Division of Water Quality), Harold Kantrud (USGS, Biological Resources Division), Kenneth Lindskov (USGS), Thomas R. Loveland (USGS), David J. Ode (SD Game, Fish and Parks), J. Foster Sawyer (SDDENR, Geological Survey), David Schmidt (USDA, NRCS), Anthony Selle (USEPA), Jeffery D. Stoner (USGS), and William Stewart (SDDENR).

CITING THIS POSTER: Bryce, S.A., Omernik, J.M., Pater, D.A., Ulmer, M., Schaar, J., Freeouf, J., Johnson, R., Kuck, P., and Azevedo, S.H., 1996, Ecoregions of North Dakota and South Dakota, (color poster with map, descriptive text, summary tables, and photographs): Reston, Virginia, U.S. Geological Survey (map scale 1:1,500,000).

This project was partially supported by funds from the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Research and Development, Regional Applied Research Effort (RARE) program.

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