NatureServe Explorer logo.An Online Encyclopedia of Life
Ecological System Comprehensive Report: Record 1 of 1 selected. View Glossary
<< Previous | Next >>

Scientific Name: Western Great Plains Open Freshwater Depression Wetland
Unique Identifier: CES303.675
Classification Confidence: 2 - Moderate
Image 21972
© Don Faber-Langendoen
Summary: This Great Plains emergent marsh ecological system is composed of lowland depressions; it also occurs along lake borders that have more open basins and a permanent water source through most of the year, except during exceptional drought years. These areas are distinct from Western Great Plains Closed Depression Wetland & Playa (CES303.666) by having a large watershed and/or significant connection to the groundwater table. A variety of species are part of this system, including emergent species of Typha, Carex, Eleocharis, Juncus, Spartina, and Schoenoplectus, as well as floating genera such as Potamogeton, Sagittaria, Stuckenia, or Ceratophyllum. The system includes submergent and emergent marshes and associated wet meadows and wet prairies. These types can also drift into stream margins that are more permanently wet and linked directly to the basin via groundwater flow from/into the pond or lake. Some of the specific communities will also be found in the floodplain system and should not be considered a separate system in that case. These types should also not be considered a separate system if they are occurring in lowland areas of the prairie matrix only because of an exceptional wet year.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: This system occurs widely throughout the western Great Plains, but in the arid shortgrass region, it is replaced by North American Arid West Emergent Marsh (CES300.729). Open and emergent marshes may be a separate system from wet meadows and wet prairies. More clarification needs to be made between this system and other depressional wetlands occurring in Wyoming and Montana, such as Inter-Mountain Basins Alkaline Closed Depression (CES304.998), Great Plains Prairie Pothole (CES303.661), and the other western Great Plains depressional wetland systems. In the Texas Systems Map Project, this system may have also been attributed to anthropogenic ponds and lakes.

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES300.729 North American Arid West Emergent Marsh
CES303.666 Western Great Plains Closed Depression Wetland & Playa
CES303.669 Western Great Plains Saline Depression Wetland
CES303.956 Western Great Plains Riparian

Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL001083 Betula occidentalis - Dasiphora fruticosa Wet Shrubland
CEGL001474 Phalaris arundinacea Western Marsh
CEGL001477 Spartina pectinata - Carex spp. Wet Meadow
CEGL001478 Spartina pectinata - Schoenoplectus pungens Wet Meadow
CEGL001484 Panicum virgatum - (Pascopyrum smithii) Wet Meadow
CEGL001569 Glyceria borealis Wet Meadow
CEGL001802 Carex aquatilis Wet Meadow
CEGL001813 Carex nebrascensis Wet Meadow
CEGL001838 Juncus arcticus ssp. littoralis Wet Meadow
CEGL002002 Polygonum amphibium Aquatic Vegetation
CEGL002003 Stuckenia pectinata - Myriophyllum (sibiricum, spicatum) Aquatic Vegetation
CEGL002005 Stuckenia pectinata - Zannichellia palustris Aquatic Vegetation
CEGL002006 Potamogeton richardsonii - Myriophyllum spicatum Aquatic Vegetation
CEGL002010 Typha (latifolia, angustifolia) Western Marsh
CEGL002026 Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani - Typha spp. - (Sparganium spp., Juncus spp.) Marsh
CEGL002027 Spartina pectinata - Calamagrostis stricta - Carex spp. Wet Meadow
CEGL002028 Calamagrostis canadensis - Juncus spp. - Carex spp. Sandhills Wet Meadow
CEGL002030 Schoenoplectus acutus - Typha latifolia - (Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani) Sandhills Marsh
CEGL002032 Typha (angustifolia, domingensis, latifolia) - Schoenoplectus americanus Marsh
CEGL002033 Typha latifolia - Equisetum hyemale - Carex (hystericina, pellita) Seepage Meadow
CEGL002039 Polygonum spp. - Echinochloa spp. - Distichlis spicata Playa Lake Wet Meadow
CEGL002044 Potamogeton spp. - Ceratophyllum demersum Great Plains Aquatic Vegetation
CEGL002187 Cornus sericea - Salix (bebbiana, discolor, petiolaris) / Calamagrostis stricta Shrub Swamp
CEGL002220 Carex atherodes Wet Meadow
CEGL002223 Spartina pectinata - Eleocharis spp. - Carex spp. Wet Meadow
CEGL002225 Schoenoplectus acutus - (Bolboschoenus fluviatilis) Freshwater Marsh
CEGL002228 Typha spp. - Schoenoplectus spp. - Mixed Herbs Great Plains Marsh
CEGL002254 Carex pellita - Calamagrostis stricta Wet Meadow
CEGL002255 Calamagrostis stricta - Carex sartwellii - Carex praegracilis - Plantago eriopoda Saline Wet Meadow
CEGL002257 Carex utriculata - Carex lacustris - (Carex vesicaria, Carex stricta) Wet Meadow
CEGL002258 Carex stricta - Carex spp. Wet Meadow
CEGL002259 Eleocharis palustris - (Eleocharis compressa) - Leptochloa fusca ssp. fascicularis Marsh
CEGL002260 Scolochloa festucacea Marsh
CEGL002262 Carex aquatilis - Carex spp. Wet Meadow
CEGL002267 Carex prairea - Schoenoplectus pungens - Rhynchospora capillacea Fen
CEGL002268 Carex spp. - Triglochin maritima - Eleocharis quinqueflora Marl Fen
CEGL002277 Polygonum pensylvanicum - Polygonum lapathifolium Marsh
CEGL002389 Typha spp. Great Plains Marsh
CEGL002390 Carex interior - Eleocharis elliptica - Thelypteris palustris Fen
CEGL002623 Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani Temperate Marsh
CEGL004182 Cephalanthus occidentalis / Nekemias arborea Ruderal Wet Shrubland
CEGL004525 Sagittaria cuneata - Sagittaria longiloba Marsh
CEGL004528 Ceratophyllum demersum - Stuckenia pectinata Aquatic Vegetation
CEGL004529 Potamogeton nodosus Aquatic Vegetation
CEGL004773 Salix nigra / (Cephalanthus occidentalis) Swamp Forest
CEGL005240 Sagittaria latifolia - Leersia oryzoides Marsh
CEGL005291 Eleocharis palustris Great Plains Marsh
CEGL007835 Ludwigia peploides Aquatic Vegetation


Land Cover Class: Herbaceous Wetland
Spatial Pattern: Small patch
Natural/Seminatural: No
Vegetated ( > 10% vascular cover):
Upland: No
Wetland: Yes
Isolated Wetland: Partially Isolated

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Isolated Wetland Partially Isolated
Saturated Soil  

At-Risk Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
NatureServe Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status
Schoenoplectus hallii
  (Hall's Bulrush)

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Calamagrostis stricta G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
Carex aquatilis G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
Carex pellita G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
Schoenoplectus acutus G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
Spartina pectinata G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
Typha angustifolia G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
Stuckenia pectinata G5 Aquatic herb Submerged aquatic    

Animal Species Reported for this Ecological System
Scientific Name
  (Common Name)
Global Status U.S. Endangered Species Act Status Charact-
Ambystoma mavortium
  (Barred Tiger Salamander)
Chelydra serpentina
  (Snapping Turtle)
Chrysemys picta
  (Northern Painted Turtle)
Ondatra zibethicus
  (Common Muskrat)
Pituophis catenifer
Thamnophis radix
  (Plains Gartersnake)

Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: CO, KS, MT, ND, NE, OK, SD, TX, WY
Global Range: This system can occur throughout the Northwestern Great Plains Division but not in the arid shortgrass region.

Biogeographic Divisions
Division Code and Name Primary Occurrence Status
205-Eastern Great Plains P: Predicted or probable
303-Western Great Plains C: Confident or certain

The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Ecoregions
Code Name Occurrence Status
26 Northern Great Plains Steppe Confident or certain
28 Southern Shortgrass Prairie Confident or certain
29 Edwards Plateau Confident or certain
33 Central Mixed-Grass Prairie Confident or certain
34 Dakota Mixed-Grass Prairie Confident or certain
37 Osage Plains/Flint Hills Prairie Possible
66 Aspen Parkland Possible
67 Fescue-Mixed Grass Prairie Possible

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
20 Missouri River Plateau Never was there
22 Wyoming Basin Never was there
25 Rio Grande Basin Predicted or probable
26 Chihuahuan Desert Confident or certain
27 Great Plains Tablelands Confident or certain
29 Wyoming Highlands Confident or certain
30 Northwestern Great Plains Confident or certain
31 Sandhills Confident or certain
33 Western Great Plains Confident or certain
34 Southern Great Plains Confident or certain
38 Eastern Great Plains Confident or certain

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 9218

West Landfire Legend: No
East Landfire Legend: No

Element Description Edition Date: 14Jan2014
Element Description Author(s): S. Menard, K. Kindscher, J. Drake

Ecological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

  • Comer, P., D. Faber-Langendoen, R. Evans, S. Gawler, C. Josse, G. Kittel, S. Menard, C. Nordman, M. Pyne, M. Reid, M. Russo, K. Schulz, K. Snow, J. Teague, and R. White. 2003-present. Ecological systems of the United States: A working classification of U.S. terrestrial systems. NatureServe, Arlington, VA.

  • Elliott, L. 2013. Draft descriptions of systems, mapping subsystems, and vegetation types for Phases VI. Unpublished documents. Texas Parks and Wildlife Ecological Systems Classification and Mapping Project. Texas Natural History Survey, The Nature Conservancy of Texas, San Antonio.

  • Gleason, R. A., and N. H. Euliss. 1998. Sedimentation of prairie wetlands. Great Plains Research 8(1). Paper 363.

  • Hoagland, B. 2000. The vegetation of Oklahoma: A classification for landscape mapping and conservation planning. The Southwestern Naturalist 45(4):385-420.

  • Lauver, C. L., K. Kindscher, D. Faber-Langendoen, and R. Schneider. 1999. A classification of the natural vegetation of Kansas. The Southwestern Naturalist 44:421-443.

  • Preston, T. M., R. S. Sojda, and R. A. Gleason. 2013. Sedimentation accretion rates and sediment composition in prairie pothole wetlands under varying land use practices, Montana, United States. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 68:199-211.

  • Rolfsmeier, S. B., and G. Steinauer. 2010. Terrestrial ecological systems and natural communities of Nebraska (Version IV - March 9, 2010). Nebraska Natural Heritage Program, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Lincoln, NE. 228 pp.

Use Guidelines and Citation

The Small Print: Trademark, Copyright, Citation Guidelines, Restrictions on Use, and Information Disclaimer.

Note: All species and ecological community data presented in NatureServe Explorer at were updated to be current with NatureServe's central databases as of March 2019.
Note: This report was printed on

Trademark Notice: "NatureServe", NatureServe Explorer, The NatureServe logo, and all other names of NatureServe programs referenced herein are trademarks of NatureServe. Any other product or company names mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.

Copyright Notice: Copyright © 2019 NatureServe, 2511 Richmond (Jefferson Davis) Highway, Suite 930, Arlington, VA 22202, U.S.A. All Rights Reserved. Each document delivered from this server or web site may contain other proprietary notices and copyright information relating to that document. The following citation should be used in any published materials which reference the web site.

Citation for data on website including State Distribution, Watershed, and Reptile Range maps:
NatureServe. 2019. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available (Accessed:

Citation for Bird Range Maps of North America:
Ridgely, R.S., T.F. Allnutt, T. Brooks, D.K. McNicol, D.W. Mehlman, B.E. Young, and J.R. Zook. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Birds of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Bird Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE."

Citation for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
Patterson, B.D., G. Ceballos, W. Sechrest, M.F. Tognelli, T. Brooks, L. Luna, P. Ortega, I. Salazar, and B.E. Young. 2003. Digital Distribution Maps of the Mammals of the Western Hemisphere, version 1.0. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Mammal Range Maps of North America:
"Data provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Bruce Patterson, Wes Sechrest, Marcelo Tognelli, Gerardo Ceballos, The Nature Conservancy-Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International-CABS, World Wildlife Fund-US, and Environment Canada-WILDSPACE."

Citation for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2004. Global Amphibian Assessment. IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe, Washington, DC and Arlington, Virginia, USA.

Acknowledgement Statement for Amphibian Range Maps of the Western Hemisphere:
"Data developed as part of the Global Amphibian Assessment and provided by IUCN-World Conservation Union, Conservation International and NatureServe."

NOTE: Full metadata for the Bird Range Maps of North America is available at:

Full metadata for the Mammal Range Maps of North America is available at:

Restrictions on Use: Permission to use, copy and distribute documents delivered from this server is hereby granted under the following conditions:
  1. The above copyright notice must appear in all copies;
  2. Any use of the documents available from this server must be for informational purposes only and in no instance for commercial purposes;
  3. Some data may be downloaded to files and altered in format for analytical purposes, however the data should still be referenced using the citation above;
  4. No graphics available from this server can be used, copied or distributed separate from the accompanying text. Any rights not expressly granted herein are reserved by NatureServe. Nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring by implication, estoppel, or otherwise any license or right under any trademark of NatureServe. No trademark owned by NatureServe may be used in advertising or promotion pertaining to the distribution of documents delivered from this server without specific advance permission from NatureServe. Except as expressly provided above, nothing contained herein shall be construed as conferring any license or right under any NatureServe copyright.
Information Warranty Disclaimer: All documents and related graphics provided by this server and any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server are provided "as is" without warranty as to the currentness, completeness, or accuracy of any specific data. NatureServe hereby disclaims all warranties and conditions with regard to any documents provided by this server or any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server, including but not limited to all implied warranties and conditions of merchantibility, fitness for a particular purpose, and non-infringement. NatureServe makes no representations about the suitability of the information delivered from this server or any other documents that are referenced to or linked to this server. In no event shall NatureServe be liable for any special, indirect, incidental, consequential damages, or for damages of any kind arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information contained in any documents provided by this server or in any other documents which are referenced by or linked to this server, under any theory of liability used. NatureServe may update or make changes to the documents provided by this server at any time without notice; however, NatureServe makes no commitment to update the information contained herein. Since the data in the central databases are continually being updated, it is advisable to refresh data retrieved at least once a year after its receipt. The data provided is for planning, assessment, and informational purposes. Site specific projects or activities should be reviewed for potential environmental impacts with appropriate regulatory agencies. If ground-disturbing activities are proposed on a site, the appropriate state natural heritage program(s) or conservation data center can be contacted for a site-specific review of the project area (see Visit Local Programs).

Feedback Request: NatureServe encourages users to let us know of any errors or significant omissions that you find in the data through (see Contact Us). Your comments will be very valuable in improving the overall quality of our databases for the benefit of all users.

Copyright 2019
Version 7.1 (2 February 2009)
Data last updated: March 2019