Northern Short Grasslands

The Northern short grasslands is only 1 of 867 terrestrial ecoregions defined by the World Wide Fund for Nature. This ecoregion includes portions of the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, and the American Great Plains states of Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.

The Northern short grasslands have a semi-arid climate, with the annual average precipitation ranging from 270mm to 450mm. The winters here are cold, with an average temperature of 14 degrees Fahrenheit, but Chinook winds, most common in the western portion of the region, closest to the Rocky Mountains, ameliorate the cold for the time being when they pass over. The summers fluctuate from warm to hot, with the average temperature being 61 degrees Fahrenheit.

Blue grama, needle grass and spear grass are the dominant grasses. Big sagebrush is common in the southwest area, but almost non existent in the north, northeast and east, where silver sagebrush is very frequently seen. Prickly pear and yellow cactus can be found in the drier areas, especially in the badlands areas that can be found across the ecoregion. Within the wettest areas, along water bodies, plains cottonwood, trembling aspen, willows and other trees can be seen, along with various aquatic plants.

Image Caption: Recovered prairie SW of Brooks, Alberta. Credit: Brett Snyder/Wikipedia (CC BY 1.0)