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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 21:24 EDT

Texas Blackland Prairies

The Texas Blackland Prairies are a temperate grassland ecoregion that is located in Texas that stretches roughly from the Red River in North Texas to San Antonio in the south.

This area covers an area of 19,400 square miles, consisting of a main belt of 17,000 square miles and two islands of tall grass prairie grasslands located southeast of the main blackland prairie belt; both the main belt and the islands stretch northeast/southwest. It hosts many different eco-regional organisms.

The main belt is made up of oaklands and savannas and runs from just south of the Red River of the Texas-Oklahoma border through the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area and into the southwestern portion of Texas. The Central forest-grasslands transition lies to the north and northwest, and the Edwards Plateau savanna and the Tamaulipan mezquital the southwest.

The larger of the two islands is the Fayette Prairie, encompassing 6,600 square miles, and the smaller is the San Antonio Prairie of 2,700 square miles. The two islands are separated from the main belt by the oak woodlands of the East Central Texas forests, which border the islands on all sides but the northeast, where the Fayette Prairie assemble with the Piney Woods.

The area was created by frequent wildfires and Plains Bison. Large fires would frequently sweep the area, clearing shrubs and stimulating the forbs and grasses. Some large herds of bison also grazed on the grasses.

Image Caption: Level III ecoregions in Texas, as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Credit: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency/Wikipedia