Minnesota’s four biomes

Minnesota is at the center of four ecological province, or biomes.  The four Minnesota biomes are as follows:

Minnesota's four biomes (236px)Northeastern Minnesota is dominated by the Laurentian Mixed Forest, which for many is synonymous with the north woods or boreal forest.  The Laurentian Mixed Forest province is dominated by aspen, pine, spruce, and fir, with pockets of northern hardwoods (generally caused by climatic variation).  You can find much more information about the common species and landforms of this biome at the Minnesota DNR’s Laurentian Mixed Forest page.

The Eastern Broadleaf Forest province runs in a narrow band through the center of the state.  As the name suggests, you’ll find fewer conifers in this area and more hardwoods like oaks, hickories, maples, and basswood.  This province contains Minnesota’s famous Big Woods community before extensive settlement and development.  You can find much more information about the common species and landforms of this biome at the Minnesota DNR’s Eastern Broadleaf Forest page.

The Prairie Parkland province is in southern and western Minnesota.  Once dominated by native prairie, this province now includes some of Minnesota’s most productive agricultural land.  A few remnants of the prairie still exist, primarily in state parks and other protected areas.  You can read much more at the Minnesota DNR’s Prairie Parkland page.

Finally, the Tallgrass Aspen Parklands province extends into northwestern Minnesota from the north.  The Tallgrass Aspen Parklands are characterized by an open aspen savanna with tallgrass prairie vegetation mixed in.  You can read much more at the Minnesota DNR’s Tallgrass Aspen Parklands page.

For more information:

The Minnesota DNR’s Ecological Classification System site has excellent resources on the sections, subsections, and land type associations within each biome.

Eli 's work addresses Minnesota forest ecology & management. He's based in St Paul.

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3 Comments

  1. Ms . Youakim my 7th grade Life Science teacher was wrong . She said there was only 3 biomes in Minnesota , not 4

    1. Hi Victoria. Poor Ms Youakim! I can only say that she is not alone in that view. It was only a few years ago that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources added the fourth biome (tallgrass aspen parklands) to their poster and online materials. Aspen parklands occupies a relatively small area in Minnesota and there has been some debate among natural resources folks about whether or not it constitutes a distinct biome in our state. So, I’m sure that she was told that there were three. But: I suggest that you order a copy of the new Minnesota Biomes poster for the classroom! There is no charge and you need only to email the DNR Information Center at info.dnr@state.mn.us to order one. You will need to provide either your address if you plan to deliver it to her or the school’s address if not.

      Thanks for the comment!
      -eli