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Habitats of North Dakota

Quick Facts

Quick Facts
Wetlands are sometimes called “nurseries of life” because they make ideal habitats for countless numbers and different kinds of wildlife.
Wetlands are classified into four major types: temporary, seasonal, semi-permanent, and permanent.
The Wisconsinan glacier, which melted 12,000 years ago, formed the Prairie Pothole Region.
The Prairie Pothole Region is the greatest producer of waterfowl habitat in the world.
The migration route through North Dakota is called the Central Flyway.
North Dakota’s waterfowl include ducks, geese, and swans.
North Dakota produces more ducks than any other state except Alaska.
Ducks can be classified into two main groups—dabbling ducks and diving ducks.
Almost half of North Dakota’s original wetlands have been lost, mostly to agriculture.


Quick Facts
The three types of prairies found in North Dakota are tallgrass prairie, mixed-grass prairie, and shortgrass prairie.
Before Euro-Americans settled in North Dakota, grasslands covered almost the entire region.
North Dakota’s tallgrass prairie has been decreased by over 90 percent.
Western wheatgrass is the official state grass of North Dakota.
The Little Missouri National Grassland in western North Dakota covers over 1 million acres and is the largest grassland in the United States.
The wild prairie rose is common on North Dakota prairies and is the official state flower.
American bison are part of the same family as cattle and goats and thousands once roamed the North Dakota prairies. They are not related to the buffalo family found in Asia and Africa.
Over 80 percent of North Dakota’s prairie has vanished.
Prairies benefit people and communities by providing clean air, clean water, good soil, and income from ranching and tourism.
Prairie grasslands are the most endangered ecosystem in North America.


Quick Facts
The Badlands, located in southwestern North Dakota, cover an area about 20 miles wide and 150 miles long.
Badlands habitats include native prairie, woody draws, sagebrush flats, caves, rock crevices, and trees.
Over 90 percent of the Badlands remains in native vegetation.
Over 1 million acres of land in the Badlands is owned by the public.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, located in the North Dakota Badlands, is divided into the South Unit, the North Unit, and the Elkhorn Ranch and covers 110 square miles.
Big game species in the Badlands include bighorn sheep, elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, and pronghorn.
Habitat destruction is the greatest threat to the Badlands.
Today, dinosaur fossils are being dug up in the Badlands and several museums display these fossils that have been found there.
Some areas of the Badlands contain so many petrified stumps and logs that they are called “petrified forests.”
It is now known that the “barking squirrels” written about by Lewis and Clark were really black-tailed prairie dogs.


Quick Facts
Woodlands are rare in North Dakota and, therefore, are more valuable than in many other states. Only 2 percent of North Dakota is woodlands.
Most of the North Dakota woodlands are deciduous and are found along the rivers in the eastern half of the state.
North Dakota has three types of forest ecosystems: native forests, rural plantings, and community forests.
North Dakota forests are made up of three main layers of vegetation: the canopy, the understory, and the forest floor.
About 1.5 million acres of rural plantings exist in North Dakota.
Trees are divided into two groups: deciduous, or hardwood, and coniferous, or softwood (evergreens).
The waters of Lake Sakakawea destroyed thousands of acres of native woodlands.
The American elm was the most common tree planted by early settlers; it became the state tree in 1947.
At one time, black bears were common throughout the state; today, they are found mainly in the wooded areas of the Turtle Mountains and Pembina Gorge.
Trees are called “Lungs of the Earth” because they produce oxygen, which is necessary for life.
Dutch elm disease, spread by the elm bark beetle, has killed thousands of American elm trees throughout North Dakota.
North Dakota has five state forests.


Riparian Areas
Quick Facts
A riparian area, or riparian zone, is the area of vegetation that borders and is influenced by a stream.
The three river systems of North Dakota are the following with their tributaries: Missouri River, Red River, and Mouse, or Souris River.
The Missouri River is the largest river in North Dakota and the longest river in the United States.
The Red River flows north from Wahpeton and forms the border between North Dakota and Minnesota.
The Souris, or Mouse, River begins in Canada, loops into North Dakota, and goes back into Canada.
Cottonwood is the dominant tree of western North Dakota riparian woodlands.
North Dakota has almost 100 fish species with most being native.
Northern pike have long bodies, pointed snouts, sharp teeth, and one dorsal fin; it became the state fish in 1969.
Riparian areas are among the most productive ecosystems in the world.
Pollution is one of the greatest threats to rivers.