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Classification
Scientific Name: Central Mixedgrass Prairie
Unique Identifier: CES303.659
Classification Confidence: 1 - Strong

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Summary: This mixedgrass prairie system ranges from South Dakota into the Rolling Plains and the western Edwards Plateau of Texas. It is bordered by the shortgrass prairie on its western edge and the tallgrass prairie to the east. The loessal regions in west-central Kansas and central Nebraska, the Red Hills region of south-central Kansas and northern Oklahoma are all located within this system. Because of its proximity to other ecoregions, this system contains elements from both shortgrass and tallgrass prairies, which combine to form the mixedgrass prairie ecological system throughout its range. The distribution, species richness and productivity of plant species within the mixedgrass ecological system is controlled primarily by environmental conditions, in particular soil moisture and topography. Grazing and fire are important dynamic processes in this system. The relative dominance of the various grass and forb species within different associations in the system also can strongly depend on the degree of natural or human disturbance. This system can contain grass species such as Bouteloua curtipendula, Schizachyrium scoparium, Andropogon gerardii, Hesperostipa comata, and Bouteloua gracilis, although the majority of the associations within the region are dominated by Pascopyrum smithii or Schizachyrium scoparium. Numerous forb and sedge species (Carex spp.) can also occur within the mixedgrass system in the Western Great Plains. Although forbs do not always significantly contribute to the canopy, they can be very important. Some dominant forb species include Ambrosia psilostachya (grazing increases dominance), Psoralidium tenuiflorum, Echinacea angustifolia, Helianthus species, and Ratibida columnifera. Oak species such as Quercus macrocarpa can occur also in areas protected from fire due to topographic position (usually moister north-facing slopes). This can cause an almost oak savanna situation in certain areas, although fire suppression may allow for a more closed canopy and expansion of bur oak beyond those sheltered areas. In those situations, further information will be needed to determine if those larger areas with a more closed canopy of bur oak should be considered part of Western Great Plains Dry Bur Oak Forest and Woodland (CES303.667). Likewise, within the mixedgrass system, small seeps may occur, especially during the wettest years. Although these are not considered a separate system, the suppression of fire within the region has enabled the invasion of native woody species such as Juniperus virginiana, Juniperus pinchotii, Ziziphus obtusifolia, Prosopis glandulosa, and also allowed for the establishment of Pinus ponderosa in some northern areas.

Classification Approach: International Terrestrial Ecological Systems Classification (ITESC)

Classification Comments: This system is found primarily in the Central Mixed-grass Prairie (TNC Ecoregion 33); it becomes more restricted to mesic lowlands sites to the west and southwest in the shortgrass prairie region of Texas (S. Menard pers. comm. 2005). This is probably a reference to the Llano Estacado region rather than the Southern Shortgrass Prairie (TNC Ecoregion 28) (J. Teague pers. obs. 2005). The Central Mixed-grass Prairie (TNC Ecoregion 33) should be extended south to include the Rolling Plains of Texas; being separated from the Southern Shortgrass Prairie (TNC Ecoregion 28) by the Caprock Escarpment (L. Elliott pers. comm. 2005).

Similar Ecological Systems
Unique Identifier Name
CES303.667 Western Great Plains Dry Bur Oak Forest and Woodland
CES303.668 Western Great Plains Mesquite Scrub Woodland and Shrubland
CES303.670 Western Great Plains Sand Prairie
CES303.672 Western Great Plains Shortgrass Prairie
CES303.673 Western Great Plains Tallgrass Prairie
CES303.674 Northwestern Great Plains Mixedgrass Prairie


Component Associations
Association Unique ID Association Name
CEGL001321 Krascheninnikovia lanata / Bouteloua gracilis Dwarf-shrub Grassland
CEGL001368 Sarcobatus vermiculatus / Sporobolus airoides Wet Shrubland
CEGL001534 Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis / Mixed Grasses Shrub Grassland
CEGL001573 Panicum obtusum - Bouteloua dactyloides Wet Meadow
CEGL001578 Pascopyrum smithii - Bouteloua gracilis Grassland
CEGL001594 Schizachyrium scoparium - Bouteloua curtipendula Western Great Plains Grassland
CEGL001681 Schizachyrium scoparium - Bouteloua (curtipendula, gracilis) - Carex filifolia Grassland
CEGL001701 Hesperostipa comata - Carex inops ssp. heliophila Grassland
CEGL001756 Bouteloua gracilis - Bouteloua dactyloides Grassland
CEGL002034 Pascopyrum smithii - Hesperostipa comata Central Mixedgrass Grassland
CEGL002036 Schizachyrium scoparium - Bouteloua curtipendula Loess Mixedgrass Grassland
CEGL002037 Hesperostipa comata - Bouteloua gracilis - Carex filifolia Grassland
CEGL002162 Quercus macrocarpa / Mixedgrass Sand Wooded Grassland
CEGL002163 Quercus macrocarpa / Mixedgrass Loam Wooded Grassland
CEGL002164 Quercus macrocarpa / Mixedgrass Shale Wooded Grassland
CEGL002238 Hilaria belangeri - Bouteloua curtipendula Grassland
CEGL002246 Schizachyrium scoparium - Bouteloua curtipendula - Bouteloua gracilis Central Plains Grassland
CEGL002247 Schizachyrium scoparium - Bouteloua curtipendula Chalkflat Grassland
CEGL002252 Schizachyrium scoparium - Lesquerella gordonii - Castilleja purpurea var. citrina Grassland
CEGL002253 Hesperostipa curtiseta - Elymus lanceolatus Grassland
CEGL002272 Pleuraphis mutica - Bouteloua dactyloides Grassland
CEGL002675 Yucca glauca / Calamovilfa longifolia Shrub Grassland
CEGL003628 Juniperus virginiana / Schizachyrium scoparium Ruderal Forest
CEGL004066 Juniperus virginiana / Schizachyrium scoparium - Bouteloua curtipendula Great Plains Grassland
CEGL004070 Schizachyrium scoparium - Bouteloua curtipendula - Nassella leucotricha Grassland
CEGL004211 Schizachyrium scoparium - (Sorghastrum nutans) - Sporobolus compositus var. compositus - Liatris punctata var. mucronata Grassland
CEGL004948 Bouteloua dactyloides Modified Grassland
CEGL005219 Cornus drummondii - (Rhus glabra, Prunus spp.) Shrubland



Classifiers

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

Non-diagnostic Classifiers
Primary Classifier Secondary Classifier
Lowland Lowland
Herbaceous  
Temperate Temperate Continental
Shallow Soil  
Loam Soil Texture  
Silt Soil Texture  
Ustic  
F-Landscape/Medium Intensity  
G-Landscape/High Intensity  
Graminoid  

Vegetation Composition (incomplete)
Species Name Rounded Global Status Growth Form Stratum Char-
acter-
istic
Domi-nant Con-stant
Cover Class %
Con-
stancy
%
Ambrosia psilostachya G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Echinacea angustifolia G4 Flowering forb Herb (field)  
 
 
Lygodesmia juncea G5 Flowering forb Herb (field)    
 
 
Aristida purpurea var. longiseta T5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Bouteloua curtipendula G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Bouteloua gracilis G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Hesperostipa comata G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Pascopyrum smithii G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 
Schizachyrium scoparium G5 Graminoid Herb (field)    
 
 


Distribution
Color legend for Distribution Map
Nation: United States
United States Distribution: CO, KS, ND, NE, OK, SD, TX
Global Range: This system is found throughout the central and southern areas of the western Great Plains ranging from southern South Dakota into the Rolling Plains and western Edwards Plateau of Texas.

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

The Nature Conservancy's Conservation Ecoregions
Code Name Occurrence Status
27 Central Shortgrass Prairie Predicted or probable
28 Southern Shortgrass Prairie Predicted or probable
29 Edwards Plateau Confident or certain
32 Crosstimbers and Southern Tallgrass Prairie Confident or certain
33 Central Mixed-Grass Prairie Confident or certain
36 Central Tallgrass Prairie Confident or certain
37 Osage Plains/Flint Hills Prairie Predicted or probable

MRLC 2000 Mapzones
Code Name Occurrence Status
27 Great Plains Tablelands Predicted or probable
29 Wyoming Highlands Never was there
30 Northwestern Great Plains Confident or certain
31 Sandhills Confident or certain
32 Southeastern Great Plains Confident or certain
33 Western Great Plains Confident or certain
34 Southern Great Plains Confident or certain
35 Edwards Plateau Confident or certain
38 Eastern Great Plains Confident or certain
39 Prairie Coteau Lands Predicted or probable
43 Till Plains Predicted or probable

National Mapping
ESLF Code (Ecological System Lifeform): 7104
ESP Code (Environmental Site Potential): 1132
EVT Code (Existing Vegetation Type): 2132

West Landfire Legend: Yes
East Landfire Legend: Yes

Authors/Contributors
Element Description Edition Date: 27May2016
Element Description Author(s): S. Menard, K. Kindscher, L. Elliott and J. Drake

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


References
  • Albertson, F. W., and G. W. Tomanek. 1965. Vegetation changes during a 30-year period in grassland communities near Hays, Kansas. Ecology 46(5):714-720.

  • Barbour, M. G., and W. D. Billings, editors. 1988. North American terrestrial vegetation. Cambridge University Press, New York. 434 pp.

  • Bell, J. R. 2005. Vegetation classification at Lake Meredith NRA and Alibates Flint Quarries NM. A report for the USGS-NPS Vegetation Mapping Program prepared by NatureServe, Arlington, VA. 172 pp. [http://www.usgs.gov/core_science_systems/csas/vip/parks/lamr_alfl.html]

  • Branson, F. W., and J. E. Weaver. 1953. Quantitative study of degeneration of upland mixed prairie. Botanical Gazette 114: 397-416.

  • Collins, S. L., and S. C. Barber. 1985. Effects of disturbance on diversity in mixed grass prairie. Vegetatio 64:87-94.

  • 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. 2011. Draft descriptions of systems, mapping subsystems, and vegetation types for Phases I, II, III, and IV. Unpublished documents. Texas Parks and Wildlife Ecological Systems Classification and Mapping Project. Texas Natural History Survey, The Nature Conservancy of Texas, San Antonio.

  • 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.

  • Eyre, F. H., editor. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Society of American Foresters, Washington, DC. 148 pp.

  • Kindscher, Kelly. Personal communication. Ecologist/Associate Scientist. Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence, KS.

  • LANDFIRE [Landfire National Vegetation Dynamics Database]. 2007a. Landfire National Vegetation Dynamics Models. Landfire Project, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Department of Interior. (January - last update) [http://www.LANDFIRE.gov/index.php] (accessed 8 February 2007).

  • Ricketts, T. H., E. Dinerstein, D. M. Olson, C. J. Loucks, and W. Eichbaum. 1999. Terrestrial ecoregions of North America: A conservation assessment. Island Press, Washington, DC. 485 pp.

  • 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.

  • Shiflet, T. N., editor. 1994. Rangeland cover types of the United States. Society for Range Management. Denver, CO. 152 pp.

  • Weaver, J. E., and F. W. Albertson. 1956. Grasslands of the Great Plains: Their nature and use. Johnsen Publishing Co., Lincoln, NE. 395 pp.

  • Weaver, J. E., and W. E. Bruner. 1948. Prairies and pastures of the dissected loess plains of central Nebraska. Ecological Monographs 18(4):507-549.

  • Weltzin, J. F., S. L. Dowhower, and R. K. Heitschmidt. 1997. Prairie dog effects on plant community structure in southern mixed-grass prairie. The Southwestern Naturalist 42(3):251-258.

  • Whicker, A. D., and J. K. Detling. 1988. Ecological consequences of prairie dog disturbances. BioScience 38(11):778-784.

  • Wright, H. A. 1974. Effect of fire on southern mixed prairie grasses. Journal of Range Management 27(6):417-419.


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