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Central tall grasslands

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

Central tall grasslands
Big Bluestem (7449929196).jpg
Big Bluestem
Central Tall Grasslands map.svg
BiomeTemperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands
Bird species228[1]
Mammal species67[1]
Area248,400 km2 (95,900 sq mi)
CountryUnited States
StatesNorth Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin
Habitat loss95.7%[1]


This ecoeregion covers a large area of southern Minnesota, most of Iowa, and a narrow strip from the southeast corner of North Dakota through eastern South Dakota and eastern Nebraska to northeastern Kansas. Rainfall here is 39 inches (1,000 mm) 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.[2]


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 7 feet (2 m) high 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 gerardi), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) and Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans).


This prairie was probably once grazing land for American bison (Bison bison) and elk (Cervus elaphus).

Threats and preservationEdit

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.


  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. ^ "Central tall grasslands". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund.