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For information on Wisconsin's natural communities, contact:
Ryan O'Connor
Natural Heritage Inventory Ecologist

Mesic Floodplain Terrace

State Rank: S2     Global Rank: GNR   what are these ranks?


General natural community overview

Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for Mesic Floodplain Terrace in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database.

Mesic floodplain terraces are deciduous forests developed on alluvial terraces along rich, infrequently flooding (or flooding only for a very short period) rivers draining into Lake Superior. The dominant trees are usually sugar maple (Acer saccharum), basswood (Tilia americana), and sometimes ashes (Fraxinus spp.). There is a diverse spring ephemeral flora, which in Wisconsin includes many southern species at their northern range limits. By late spring, however, these may be overtopped by dense stands of ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) and wood-nettle (Laportea canadensis).

Rare animals

Species of Greatest Conservation Need

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

The following Species of Greatest Conservation Need are listed according to their level of association with the Mesic Floodplain Terrace natural community type, based on the findings in Wisconsin's 2015 Wildlife Action Plan.

Scores: 3 = high association, 2 = moderate association, and 1 = low association. See the key to association scores for complete definitions.

Four-toed SalamanderHemidactylium scutatum3
Pickerel FrogLithobates palustris2
Mink FrogLithobates septentrionalis1

Aquatic and terrestrial snailsScore
Eastern Flat-whorlPlanogyra asteriscus3
Boreal TopZoogenetes harpa2
Broad-banded ForestsnailAllogona profunda1
Deep-throated VertigoVertigo nylanderi1

A Predaceous Diving BeetleAgabus leptapsis2
A Water Scavenger BeetleAgabetes acuductus1

Least FlycatcherEmpidonax minimus3
American WoodcockScolopax minor2
Black-backed WoodpeckerPicoides arcticus1
Long-eared OwlAsio otus1
Northern GoshawkAccipiter gentilis1
Red-shouldered HawkButeo lineatus1

Grasshoppers and alliesScore
Crackling Forest GrasshopperTrimerotropis verruculata1
Spotted-winged GrasshopperOrphulella pelidna1

Little Brown BatMyotis lucifugus3
Northern Flying SquirrelGlaucomys sabrinus2
Northern Long-eared BatMyotis septentrionalis2
Silver-haired BatLasionycteris noctivagans2
Water ShrewSorex palustris2
American MartenMartes americana1
Big Brown BatEptesicus fuscus1
Woodland Jumping MouseNapaeozapus insignis1

Wood TurtleGlyptemys insculpta3

Please see Section 2. Approach and Methods of the Wildlife Action Plan to learn how this information was developed.

Rare plants

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

Scores: 3 = "significantly associated," 2 = "moderately associated," and 1 = "minimally associated."
Scientific Name Common Name Score
Cardamine maxima Large Toothwort 3


The following Ecological Landscapes have the best opportunities to manage for Mesic Floodplain Terrace, based on the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin Handbook.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Ecological LandscapeOpportunity
Superior Coastal PlainImportant

Major (3 on map)
A major opportunity for sustaining the natural community in the Ecological Landscape exists, either because many significant occurrences of the natural community have been recorded in the landscape or major restoration activities are likely to be successful maintaining the community's composition, structure, and ecological function over a longer period of time.

Important (2 on map)
Although the natural community does not occur extensively or commonly in the Ecological Landscape, one to several occurrences do occur and are important in sustaining the community in the state. In some cases, important opportunities may exist because the natural community may be restricted to just one or a few Ecological Landscapes within the state and there may be a lack of opportunities elsewhere.

Present (1 on map)
The natural community occurs in the Ecological Landscape, but better management opportunities appear to exist in other parts of the state.


Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

What are conservation actions?

Conservation actions respond to issues or threats, which adversely affect species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) or their habitats. Besides actions such as restoring wetlands or planting resilient tree species in northern communities, research, surveys and monitoring are also among conservation actions described in the WWAP because lack of information can threaten our ability to successfully preserve and care for natural resources.

Threats/issues and conservations actions for natural communities


Mesic Floodplain Terrace Photos

Mesic Floodplain Terrace Photo

Low Black River terrace with mesic to dry-mesic to wet-mesic forest near mouth of Morrison Creek, Jackson County.

Photo by Eric Epstein.

Mesic Floodplain Terrace Photo

Photo by Drew Feldkirchner.

Note: photos are provided to illustrate various examples of natural community types. A single photograph cannot represent the range of variability inherent in a given community type. Some of these photos explicitly illustrate unusual and distinctive community variants. The community photo galleries are a work in progress that we will expand and improve in the future.

Last revised: Tuesday, August 30, 2022