Central Great Plains
Central Great Plains (area 27 on the map)
BiomeTemperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands
Bird species228[1]
Mammal species88[1]
CountryUnited States
StateTexas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska
Climate typeHumid continental (Dfa) and humid subtropical (Cfa)
Habitat loss50.68%[1]
Designated as Central and Southern Mixed Grasslands by the World Wildlife Fund

The Central Great Plains are a semiarid prairie ecoregion of the central United States, part of North American Great Plains. The region runs from west-central Texas through west-central Oklahoma, central Kansas, and south-central Nebraska.

It is designated as the Central and Southern Mixed Grasslands ecoregion by the World Wide Fund for Nature.


This large grassland area with very few trees runs north–south from central Nebraska through central Kansas and western Oklahoma to north-central Texas, covering 109,000 sq mi (282,000 km2). It is a transition zone between the Central tall grasslands and Central forest-grasslands transition ecoregions to the east and the Western short grasslands to the west, while to the north lie the Northern mixed grasslands, which have a cooler temperature and a much shorter growing season.[2] The Edwards Plateau Savannas lie to the south.



The predominant vegetation of the Central Great Plains ecoregion is a rich mixture of prairie Central and Southern mixed grasslands of medium height. The ecoregion is encompassed by the tallgrass and shortgrass prairies — this region has a mix of both tallgrass and shortgrass. Wildflowers occur among the grasses, but very few trees and shrubs do. The grasslands are heavily grazed and frequently disturbed by drought and fire. Other vegetation is drought-tolerant species honey mesquite and prickly pear cacti.


The Central Great Plains prairie is part of the historical native rangeland of the Great Plains endemic American bison. It has been converted for use as grazing land for cattle since the 19th century.

The grasslands are home habitat for resident prairie birds, while the wetlands of the region are important stopovers for birds migrating between North America and Mexico. The Cheyenne Bottoms near Great Bend, Kansas, and the Platte River in Nebraska are particularly important for migrating sandhill cranes and other waders.

The region is home to a large number of reptiles. Some of the prevalent wildlife in the southern area are coyotes, striped bark scorpions, prairie rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis), and Great Plains skink (Plestiodon obsoletus).


Most of the grasslands have been converted for agriculture, with only about 5% of natural habitat remaining. Indeed, this area was so heavily overcultivated that it was damaged during the 1930s Dust Bowl period in which the topsoil was blown away in dust storms. The grasslands have since recovered, but are cropland and managed grazing ranges rather than unspoiled native grasses and perennials pasture.

Protected areas

The small remaining blocks of intact habitat include:

These protected areas consist of patches of intact native grassland amid cultivated rangeland, and most of the remaining natural habitats of the Great Plains are unprotected. The two largest protected areas are the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge for bison and black-capped vireo, and the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Hoekstra, J. M.; Molnar, J. L.; Jennings, M.; Revenga, C.; Spalding, M. D.; Boucher, T. M.; Robertson, J. C.; Heibel, T. J.; Ellison, K. (2010). Molnar, J. L. (ed.). The Atlas of Global Conservation: Changes, Challenges, and Opportunities to Make a Difference. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-26256-0.
  2. ^ World Wildlife Fund, ed. (2001). "Central and Southern mixed grasslands". WildWorld Ecoregion Profile. National Geographic Society. Archived from the original on 2010-03-08.

38°N 98°W / 38°N 98°W / 38; -98