US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Bioloogical Report 85(7.28); September 1989

Published by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service & U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


This description of prairie basin wetlands of the Dakotas is part of a series of community profiles on ecologically important wetlands of national significance. The shallow wetlands of the Dakotas form the bulk of the portion of the Prairie Pothole Region lying within the United States. This region is famous as the producer of at least half of North America's waterfowl and an unknown, but large, proportion of other prairie-dwelling marsh and aquatic birds. The wetlands described here lie in relatively small, shallaw basins that vary greatly in their ability to maintain surface water, and in their water chemistry, which varies from fresh to hypersaline. These wetlands occur in a wide variety of hydrological settings, in an area where annual and seasonal precipitation varies greatly in form and amount. Thus the presence of surface water in these wetlands is largely unpredictable. Superimposed on these phenomena are the effects of a variety of land uses, including pasture, cultivation, mechanical forage removal, idle conditions and burning. All those factors greatly affect the plant and animal communities found in these basins.