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Andy Stoltman

Southeast Glacial Plains Ecological Landscape

Download the Southeast Glacial Plains chapter [PDF] of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin. This chapter provides a detailed assessment of the ecological and socioeconomic conditions for the Southeast Glacial Plains. It also identifies important planning and management considerations and suggests management opportunities that are compatible with the ecology of the landscape. The tabs below provide additional information.

Landscape at a Glance

Physical & Biotic Environment


7,725 square miles (4,943,731 acres), representing 13.8% of the land area of the State of Wisconsin.


Typical of southern Wisconsin; mean growing season of 155 days, mean annual temperature is 45.9 deg. F, mean annual precipitation is 33.6 inches, and mean annual snowfall is 39.4 inches. The climate is suitable for agricultural row crops, small grains, and pastures, which are prevalent in this Ecological Landscape.  Learn more from the chapter [PDF]


Primarily underlain by limestone and dolomite with some sandstone and shale. Generally covered by a thick layer of glacial deposits (>50 feet). The southernmost exposures of the Silurian dolomite "Niagara Escarpment" occur west and south of Lake Winnebago.  Learn more from the chapter [PDF]

Geology & Landforms

The dominant landforms are glacial till plains and moraines composed mostly of materials deposited during the Wisconsin Ice Age, but the southwestern part of the Ecological Landscape consists of older, pre-Wisconsin till and the topography is more dissected. Other glacial landforms, including drumlins, outwash plains, eskers, kames and kettles are also well-represented kames, eskers, and kettles. The "Kettle Moraine" is an area of rough topography on the eastern side of the Southeast Glacial Plains that marks the areas of contact between the Green Bay and Lake Michigan glacial lobes. Numerous excellent examples of glacial features occur and are highly visible in the Kettle Moraine.  Learn more from the chapter [PDF]


Soils are derived from lime-rich tills overlain in most areas by a silt-loam loess cap.  Learn more from the chapter [PDF]


The Southeast Glacial Plains has the highest aquatic productivity for plants, insects, other invertebrates, and fish of any Ecological Landscape in the state. Significant river systems include the Wolf, Bark, Rock, Fox, Milwaukee, Sugar, Mukwonago, and Sheboygan. Most riparian zones have been degraded. Several clusters of large lakes exist, including the Yahara chain of lakes in and around Madison, and the Lake Winnebago Pool system. Kettle lakes occur within end moraines, in outwash channels, and in ancient riverbeds. This Ecological Landscape contains some huge marshes, as well as fens, sedge meadows, wet prairies, tamarack swamps, and floodplain forests. Many wetlands here have been affected by hydrologic modifications (ditching, diking, tiling), grazing, infestations of invasive plants, and excessive inputs of sediment- and nutrient-laden runoff from croplands.  Learn more from the chapter [PDF]

Current Landcover

Primarily agricultural cropland (58% of Landscape). Remaining forests occupy only 11% of the land area and major covertypes include maple-basswood, oak, lowland hardwoods, and conifer swamps (mostly tamarack-dominated). No large areas of upland forest exist except on the Kettle Interlobate Moraine, where the topography is too rugged to practice intensive agriculture and the soils are not always conducive to high crop productivity. Wetlands are extensive (12% of Landscape, 593,248 acres) and include large marshes and sedge meadows, and extensive forested lowlands within the Lower Wolf River floodplain. Forested lowlands are also significant along stretches of the Milwaukee, Sugar, and Rock rivers.  Learn more from the chapter [PDF]

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Socioeconomic Conditions
(based on data from Calumet, Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Green, Green Lake, Jefferson, Ozaukee, Rock, Sheboygan, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha, Waupaca, and Winnebago counties)


1,519,000, 28.5% of the state total

Population Density

204 persons/ sq. mile

Per Capita Income


Important Economic Sectors

Manufacturing (non-wood) (13.9% v. statewide 11.7%); Government (12.6% v. statewide: 12.1%); Tourism-related (10.6% vs. statewide: 11.2%); Retail trade (9.2% v. statewide: 9.0%) sectors employed the most people in 2007 reflecting high non-wood manufacturing and government service. Although agriculture, residential development (and urbanization) and forestry do not have a large impact on the economy or the number of jobs, they are the sectors that have the largest impact on the natural resources in the Ecological Landscape (in recent years groundwater withdrawals by municipalities to accommodate urban-industrial growth have raised concerns about protecting our water supplies, as well as lakes, stream, and wetlands).

Public Ownership

Only four percent of the Southeast Glacial Plains is in public ownership (226,230 acres), of which 58% is wetland and 42% is upland. Major public lands include Horicon National Wildlife Refuge and Horicon State Wildlife Area, and the Northern and Southern Units of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. Other state lands here are managed for fish, wildlife, natural areas, and recreation. The Cedarburg Bog, an extensive wetland complex in southeastern Wisconsin, is owned by the University of Wisconsin system and the Wisconsin DNR. County-owned lands are not extensive but include ecologically significant features, including several ecologically important stretches of the Niagara Escarpment. A map entitled "Public Land Ownership and Private land enrolled in the Forest Tax Programs in the Southeast Glacial Plains" can be found at the end of this chapter.

Other Notable Ownerships

The Nature Conservancy, in cooperation with the Wisconsin DNR and others, has a major project designed to protect the Mukwonago River watershed (including Lulu Lake) in the southeastern part of the Ecological Landscape. The Waukesha County Land Conservancy has several active projects aimed at protecting lands of high ecological significance. Other NGOs, including the Madison Audubon Society and groups active in local preservation efforts in other counties, also have active conservation projects in the Southeast Glacial Plains.

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Considerations for Planning & Management

The Southeast Glacial Plains is heavily developed and highly populated. Pressure on natural resources, including ground and surface waters, is high and unlikely to diminish in the short-term. The amount of impervious surface is increasing in some watersheds, raising concerns about our ability to protect sensitive aquatic life and associated wetlands. Fragmentation is severe and isolation of native habitats is a major concern. Many invasive species are now widespread, well established, and have expanding populations here. Public ownership is limited and partnerships between public and private partners will be essential to accomplish long-term management goals and objectives for natural resources.

The Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) has conducted biological inventories for the seven counties in which they have jurisdiction and identified important natural areas and sensitive species populations; all seven of the SEWRPC counties are at least partially located within the Southeast Glacial Plains Ecological Landscape. The Wisconsin DNR has also conducted biological inventory work throughout the Southeast Glacial Plains

While in general reconnecting isolated habitat patches is a positive, and ultimately often necessary, action, when habitats lacking invasives are identified planners and other stakeholders need to be sure be sure that pathways for colonization by invasive species have not been created or increased, and that control measures for both existing and future problems created by these species are anticipated and built into management plans and the budgeting process.

For the two units of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, and at some of the larger wetland complexes (such as those at Horicon, along the Lower Wolf River, Sugar, and Milwaukee rivers, or in the Mukwonago River Watershed, planning at large scales will have many benefits to best ensure long-term viability of the resources present, as those areas offer many opportunities that smaller more isolated sites cannot.  Learn more about management opportunities from the chapter [PDF]

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Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

Species of Greatest Conservation Need

The following species are listed according to their probability of occurring in the Southeast Glacial Plains Ecological Landscape, based on the findings in Wisconsin's 2015 Wildlife Action Plan.

See the key to association scores [PDF] for complete definitions.

Four-toed SalamanderHemidactylium scutatum3
Pickerel FrogLithobates palustris3
Blanchard's Cricket FrogAcris blanchardi2

Ants, wasps, and beesScore
Silphium Terminal Gall WaspAntistrophus silphii3
American Bumble BeeBombus pensylvanicus2
Confusing Bumble BeeBombus perplexus2
Rusty-patched Bumble BeeBombus affinis2
Yellow Bumble BeeBombus fervidus1
Yellowbanded Bumble BeeBombus terricola1

Aquatic and terrestrial snailsScore
Deep-throated VertigoVertigo nylanderi2
Hubricht's VertigoVertigo hubrichti2
Black StriateStriatura ferrea1
Cherrystone DropHendersonia occulta1
Dentate SupercoilParavitrea multidentata1
Eastern Flat-whorlPlanogyra asteriscus1
Transparent Vitrine SnailVitrina angelicae1

A Colaspis Leaf BeetleColaspis suggona3
A Leaf BeetleCryptocephalus venustus3
A Minute Moss BeetleOchthebius lineatus3
A Predaceous Diving BeetleCybister fimbriolatus3
A Predaceous Diving BeetleLaccornis deltoides3
A Predaceous Diving BeetleThermonectus basilaris3
A Predaceous Diving BeetleColymbetes exaratus3
A Predaceous Diving BeetleCopelatus chevrolati3
A Predaceous Diving BeetleIlybius confusus3
A Predaceous Diving BeetleAgabus aeruginosus3
A Predaceous Diving BeetleHygrotus marklini3
A Riffle BeetleStenelmis quadrimaculata3
A Riffle BeetleStenelmis sexlineata3
A Riffle BeetleStenelmis musgravei3
A Riffle BeetleStenelmis fuscata3
A Water Scavenger BeetleHydrochara leechi3
Cantrall's Bog BeetleLiodessus cantralli3
Douglas Stenelmis Riffle BeetleStenelmis douglasensis3
Robust Dubiraphian Riffle BeetleDubiraphia robusta3
A Leaf BeetlePachybrachis atomarius2
A Leaf BeetleSaxinis omogera2
A Leaf BeetleCryptocephalus cuneatus2
A Leaf BeetleAltica litigata2
A Pear-shaped WeevilFallapion bischoffi2
A Pear-shaped WeevilSayapion segnipes2
A Predaceous Diving BeetleAgabus discolor2
A Predaceous Diving BeetleHygrotus farctus2
A Water Scavenger BeetleAgabetes acuductus2
Ghost Tiger BeetleEllipsoptera lepida2
A Case-bearing Leaf BeetleTriachus vacuus1
A Leaf BeetlePachybrachis peccans1
A Leaf BeetleGlyptina brunnea1
A Leaf BeetleBassareus lituratus1
A Leaf BeetleBrachypnoea convexa1
A Pear-shaped WeevilTrichapion perforicolle1
A Pear-shaped WeevilCoelocephalapion decoloratum1
A Pear-shaped WeevilFallapion impeditum1
A Predaceous Diving BeetlePlatambus confusus1
A Straight-snouted WeevilEutrichapion huron1
Hairy-necked Tiger BeetleCicindela hirticollis hirticollis1
Sandy Stream Tiger BeetleEllipsoptera macra1

American BitternBotaurus lentiginosus3
American WoodcockScolopax minor3
Black TernChlidonias niger3
Black-crowned Night-HeronNycticorax nycticorax3
BobolinkDolichonyx oryzivorus3
Cerulean WarblerSetophaga cerulea3
Common TernSterna hirundo3
DickcisselSpiza americana3
Eastern MeadowlarkSturnella magna3
Forster's TernSterna forsteri3
Grasshopper SparrowAmmodramus savannarum3
Henslow's SparrowAmmodramus henslowii3
Hooded WarblerSetophaga citrina3
King RailRallus elegans3
Least BitternIxobrychus exilis3
Least FlycatcherEmpidonax minimus3
Prothonotary WarblerProtonotaria citrea3
Purple MartinProgne subis3
Red-headed WoodpeckerMelanerpes erythrocephalus3
Red-necked GrebePodiceps grisegena3
Rusty BlackbirdEuphagus carolinus3
Short-eared OwlAsio flammeus3
Vesper SparrowPooecetes gramineus3
Western MeadowlarkSturnella neglecta3
Whooping CraneGrus americana3
Yellow-breasted ChatIcteria virens3
Yellow-headed BlackbirdXanthocephalus xanthocephalus3
Acadian FlycatcherEmpidonax virescens2
Bell's VireoVireo bellii2
Common NighthawkChordeiles minor2
Eastern Whip-poor-willAntrostomus vociferus2
Golden-winged WarblerVermivora chrysoptera2
Lark SparrowChondestes grammacus2
Loggerhead ShrikeLanius ludovicianus2
Northern BobwhiteColinus virginianus2
Red-shouldered HawkButeo lineatus2
Upland SandpiperBartramia longicauda2
Wilson's PhalaropePhalaropus tricolor2
Yellow-crowned Night-HeronNyctanassa violacea2
American Black DuckAnas rubripes1
Black-necked StiltHimantopus mexicanus1
Brewer's BlackbirdEuphagus cyanocephalus1
Long-eared OwlAsio otus1
Worm-eating WarblerHelmitheros vermivorum1
Yellow-throated WarblerSetophaga dominica1

Butterflies and mothsScore
Liatris Borer MothPapaipema beeriana3
Poweshiek SkipperlingOarisma poweshiek3
Silphium Borer MothPapaipema silphii3
Swamp MetalmarkCalephelis muticum3
Columbine Dusky WingErynnis lucilius2
Cross Line SkipperPolites origenes2
Leadplant Flower MothSchinia lucens2
Midwestern Fen BuckmothHemileuca nevadensis ssp. 32
Regal FritillarySpeyeria idalia2
A Noctuid MothDichagyris reliqua1
A Noctuid MothBagisara gulnare1
Abbreviated Underwing MothCatocala abbreviatella1
Gorgone Checker SpotChlosyne gorgone1
Gray CopperLycaena dione1
Mottled Dusky WingErynnis martialis1
Ottoe SkipperHesperia ottoe1
Owl-eyed Bird Dropping MothCerma cora1
Whitney's Underwing MothCatocala whitneyi1

A Fingernet CaddisflyWormaldia moesta2

Prairie CrayfishProcambarus gracilis2

Dragonflies and damselfliesScore
Hine's EmeraldSomatochlora hineana3
Pronghorn ClubtailGomphus graslinellus3
Smoky RubyspotHetaerina titia3
Swamp DarnerEpiaeschna heros3
Unicorn ClubtailArigomphus villosipes3
Double-striped BluetEnallagma basidens2
Mottled DarnerAeshna clepsydra2
Slaty SkimmerLibellula incesta2
Delta-spotted SpiketailCordulegaster diastatops1
Lilypad ForktailIschnura kellicotti1
Painted SkimmerLibellula semifasciata1
Plains EmeraldSomatochlora ensigera1
Spangled SkimmerLibellula cyanea1
Spatterdock DarnerRhionaeschna mutata1
Springwater DancerArgia plana1

Gravel ChubErimystax x-punctatus3
Lake ChubsuckerErimyzon sucetta3
Lake SturgeonAcipenser fulvescens3
Least DarterEtheostoma microperca3
Longear SunfishLepomis megalotis3
Ozark MinnowNotropis nubilus3
Pugnose ShinerNotropis anogenus3
Redfin ShinerLythrurus umbratilis3
River RedhorseMoxostoma carinatum3
Slender MadtomNoturus exilis3
Starhead TopminnowFundulus dispar3
Black BuffaloIctiobus niger2
American EelAnguilla rostrata1
Black RedhorseMoxostoma duquesnei1

Grasshoppers and alliesScore
Ash-brown GrasshopperTrachyrhachys kiowa2
Bog ConeheadNeoconocephalus lyristes2
Clear-winged GrasshopperCamnula pellucida2
Delicate Meadow KatydidOrchelimum delicatum2
Handsome GrasshopperSyrbula admirabilis2
Mermiria GrasshopperMermiria bivittata2
Obscure GrasshopperOpeia obscura2
Seaside GrasshopperTrimerotropis maritima2
Short-winged GrasshopperDichromorpha viridis2
Spotted-winged GrasshopperOrphulella pelidna2
Black-striped KatydidScudderia fasciata1
Blue-legged GrasshopperMelanoplus flavidus1
Club-horned GrasshopperAeropedellus clavatus1
Grizzly Spur-throat GrasshopperMelanoplus punctulatus1
Huckleberry Spur-throat GrasshopperMelanoplus fasciatus1
Scudder's Short-winged GrasshopperMelanoplus scudderi1
Speckled Rangeland GrasshopperArphia conspersa1
Velvet-striped GrasshopperEritettix simplex1

Leafhoppers and true bugsScore
A LeafhopperMemnonia panzeri3
A LeafhopperParaphlepsius nebulosus3
A LeafhopperFlexamia prairiana3
A PlanthopperMyndus ovatus3
A Water StriderNeogerris hesione3
Acuminate Water BoatmanRamphocorixa acuminata3
A LeafhopperCuerna sayi2
A LeafhopperKansendria kansiensis2
A LeafhopperLaevicephalus vannus2
A LeafhopperPrairiana angustens2
A LeafhopperPrairiana cinerea2
A LeafhopperPrairiana kansana2
An Issid PlanthopperBruchomorpha extensa2
Piglet BugAphelonema simplex2
Red-tailed Prairie LeafhopperAflexia rubranura2
Yellow Loosestrife LeafhopperErythroneura carbonata2
A LeafhopperDestria crocea1
A LeafhopperParaphlepsius altus1
A LeafhopperLimotettix elegans1
A Seed BugSlaterobius quadristriata1
An Issid PlanthopperFitchiella robertsonii1
Prairie LeafhopperPolyamia dilata1

Big Brown BatEptesicus fuscus3
Franklin's Ground SquirrelPoliocitellus franklinii3
Little Brown BatMyotis lucifugus3
Eastern PipistrellePerimyotis subflavus2
Northern Long-eared BatMyotis septentrionalis2
Prairie Deer MousePeromyscus maniculatus bairdii2
Prairie VoleMicrotus ochrogaster2
Silver-haired BatLasionycteris noctivagans2
Woodland VoleMicrotus pinetorum2
Water ShrewSorex palustris1

A Brush-legged MayflyHomoeoneuria ammophila3
Winnebago Small Square-gilled MayflyCercobrachys winnebago3
A Common Burrower MayflyPentagenia vittigera2
A Small Minnow MayflyParacloeodes minutus2
Fox Small Square-gilled MayflyCercobrachys fox2
Pecatonica River MayflyAcanthametropus pecatonica2
Wisconsin Small Square-gilled MayflyCercobrachys lilliei2
A Flat-headed MayflyMaccaffertium pulchellum1

Mussels and clamsScore
EllipseVenustaconcha ellipsiformis3
Rainbow ShellVillosa iris3
Slippershell MusselAlasmidonta viridis3
BuckhornTritogonia verrucosa2
ElktoeAlasmidonta marginata2
MapleleafQuadrula quadrula2
Flat FloaterAnodonta suborbiculata1
MonkeyfaceTheliderma metanevra1
Purple WartybackCyclonaias tuberculata1
Salamander MusselSimpsonaias ambigua1
WashboardMegalonaias nervosa1
Yellow & Slough SandshellsLampsilis teres1

Blanding's TurtleEmydoidea blandingii3
Butler's GartersnakeThamnophis butleri3
Eastern MassasaugaSistrurus catenatus3
Ornate Box TurtleTerrapene ornata3
QueensnakeRegina septemvittata3
Eastern RibbonsnakeThamnophis sauritus2
North American RacerColuber constrictor2
Plains GartersnakeThamnophis radix2
Western RibbonsnakeThamnophis proximus1
Wood TurtleGlyptemys insculpta1

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
Agalinis auriculata Earleaf Foxglove 3
Agrimonia parviflora Swamp Agrimony 3
Anemone multifida var. multifida Cut-leaved Anemone 3
Anticlea elegans ssp. glaucus White Camas 3
Arnoglossum plantagineum Prairie Indian-plantain 3
Asclepias hirtella Green Milkweed 3
Asclepias sullivantii Prairie Milkweed 3
Besseya bullii Kitten Tails 3
Boechera dentata Short's Rock-cress 3
Carex gracilescens Slender Sedge 3
Carex suberecta Prairie Straw Sedge 3
Carex swanii Swan Sedge 3
Carex sychnocephala Many-headed Sedge 3
Conioselinum chinense Hemlock-parsley 3
Cuscuta glomerata Rope Dodder 3
Cypripedium candidum White Lady's-slipper 3
Cypripedium parviflorum var. makasin Northern Yellow Lady's-slipper 3
Echinacea pallida Pale Purple Coneflower 3
Eleocharis compressa var. compressa Flat-stemmed Spike-rush 3
Eleocharis equisetoides Horsetail Spike-rush 3
Eleocharis rostellata Beaked Spike-rush 3
Epilobium strictum Downy Willow-herb 3
Eurybia furcata Forked Aster 3
Gymnocladus dioicus Kentucky Coffee-tree 3
Houstonia caerulea Azure Bluets 3
Hydrastis canadensis Golden-seal 3
Hypericum sphaerocarpum Round-fruited St. John's Wort 3
Juglans cinerea Butternut 3
Lespedeza leptostachya Prairie Bush Clover 3
Napaea dioica Glade Mallow 3
Nuphar advena Yellow Water Lily 3
Platanthera leucophaea Eastern Prairie White Fringed Orchid 3
Platanus occidentalis Sycamore 3
Polytaenia nuttallii Prairie Parsley 3
Prenanthes aspera Rough Rattlesnake-root 3
Ptelea trifoliata ssp. trifoliata var. trifoliata Wafer-ash 3
Ruellia humilis Hairy Wild Petunia 3
Scleria verticillata Low Nutrush 3
Scutellaria parvula var. parvula Small Skullcap 3
Sisyrinchium albidum White Blue-eyed-grass 3
Spiranthes magnicamporum Great Plains Lady's-tresses 3
Teloschistes chrysophthalmus Gold-eye Lichen 3
Thalictrum revolutum Waxleaf Meadowrue 3
Triantha glutinosa False Asphodel 3
Trichophorum cespitosum Tufted Bulrush 3
Triglochin palustris Slender Bog Arrow-grass 3
Valeriana edulis var. ciliata Hairy Valerian 3
Verbena simplex Narrow-leaved Vervain 3
Ammannia robusta Scarlet Loosestrife 2
Asclepias lanuginosa Woolly Milkweed 2
Asclepias purpurascens Purple Milkweed 2
Baptisia tinctoria Yellow Wild-indigo 2
Callitriche heterophylla Large Water-starwort 2
Camassia scilloides Wild Hyacinth 2
Carex festucacea Fescue Sedge 2
Carex formosa Handsome Sedge 2
Carex torreyi Torrey's Sedge 2
Chaerophyllum procumbens Spreading Chervil 2
Cirsium hillii Hill's Thistle 2
Cuscuta coryli Hazel Dodder 2
Cuscuta pentagona Field Dodder 2
Cuscuta polygonorum Knotweed Dodder 2
Cystopteris laurentiana Laurentian Bladder Fern 2
Desmodium perplexum Perplexed Tick-trefoil 2
Dichanthelium wilcoxianum Wilcox's Panic Grass 2
Draba arabisans Rock Whitlow-grass 2
Drosera linearis Linear-leaved Sundew 2
Eleocharis engelmannii Engelmann's Spike-rush 2
Eleocharis quinqueflora Few-flowered Spike-rush 2
Erigenia bulbosa Harbinger-of-spring 2
Fraxinus quadrangulata Blue Ash 2
Hydrophyllum appendiculatum Great Water-leaf 2
Malaxis monophyllos var. brachypoda White Adder's-mouth 2
Melica nitens Three-flowered Melic Grass 2
Muhlenbergia richardsonis Mat Muhly 2
Oenothera serrulata Yellow Evening Primrose 2
Paronychia canadensis Smooth Forked Nail-wort 2
Penstemon hirsutus Hairy Beardtongue 2
Phlox bifida ssp. bifida Cleft Phlox 2
Poa paludigena Bog Bluegrass 2
Poa sylvestris Woodland Bluegrass 2
Polygala incarnata Pink Milkwort 2
Polystichum acrostichoides Christmas Fern 2
Rhus aromatica Fragrant Sumac 2
Salix sericea Silky Willow 2
Schoenoplectus hallii Hall's Bulrush 2
Schoenoplectus heterochaetus Slender Bulrush 2
Scirpus pallidus Pale Bulrush 2
Scleria triglomerata Whip Nutrush 2
Stuckenia filiformis ssp. alpina Northern Slender Pondweed 2
Stuckenia vaginata Sheathed Pondweed 2
Thaspium trifoliatum var. flavum Purple Meadow Parsnip 2
Trillium nivale Snow Trillium 2
Valeriana uliginosa Marsh Valerian 2
Agalinis gattingeri Roundstem Foxglove 1
Aplectrum hyemale Putty Root 1
Arnoglossum reniforme Great Indian-plantain 1
Asclepias ovalifolia Dwarf Milkweed 1
Carex livida Livid Sedge 1
Cypripedium arietinum Ram's-head Lady's-slipper 1
Eleocharis flavescens var. olivacea Capitate Spike-rush 1
Equisetum palustre Marsh Horsetail 1
Glycyrrhiza lepidota Wild Licorice 1
Juncus marginatus Grassleaf Rush 1
Juncus vaseyi Vasey's Rush 1
Minuartia dawsonensis Rock Stitchwort 1
Myosotis laxa Small Forget-me-not 1
Najas gracillima Thread-like Naiad 1
Nothocalais cuspidata Prairie False-dandelion 1
Opuntia fragilis Brittle Prickly-pear 1
Orobanche fasciculata Clustered Broomrape 1
Pediomelum esculentum Prairie Turnip 1
Penstemon pallidus Pale Beardtongue 1
Phemeranthus rugospermus Prairie Fame-flower 1
Phlox glaberrima ssp. interior Smooth Phlox 1
Platanthera flava var. herbiola Pale Green Orchid 1
Potamogeton oakesianus Oakes' Pondweed 1
Rotala ramosior Toothcup 1
Senna hebecarpa Northern Wild Senna 1
Triphora trianthophora Nodding Pogonia 1
Viburnum cassinoides Northern Wild-raisin 1
Viburnum prunifolium Smooth Black-haw 1
Viola striata Striped Violet 1

Community opportunities

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

Natural community management opportunities

The Southeast Glacial Plains Ecological Landscape contains opportunities to manage for the following natural communities, based on the findings in the 2015 Wildlife Action Plan (originally presented by the Ecosystem Management Team).

See the key to association scores [PDF] for complete definitions.

Natural Community Type Opportunity
Bog RelictMajor
Calcareous FenMajor
Caves and Subterranean CulturalMajor
Dry CliffMajor
Dry PrairieMajor
Dry-mesic PrairieMajor
Emergent MarshMajor
Ephemeral PondMajor
Floating-leaved MarshMajor
Floodplain ForestMajor
Mesic PrairieMajor
Oak OpeningMajor
Oak WoodlandMajor
Riverine Mud FlatMajor
Shrub CarrMajor
Small Lake--otherMajor
Southern Dry ForestMajor
Southern Dry-mesic ForestMajor
Southern Sedge MeadowMajor
Southern Tamarack Swamp (rich)Major
Surrogate GrasslandsMajor
Warmwater riversMajor
Warmwater streamsMajor
Wet PrairieMajor
Wet-mesic PrairieMajor
Coolwater streamsImportant
Lacustrine Mud FlatImportant
Large Lake--deep, hard, drainageImportant
Large Lake--deep, hard, seepageImportant
Large Lake--deep, soft, drainageImportant
Large Lake--deep, soft+, seepageImportant
Large Lake--shallow, hard, seepageImportant
Large Lake--shallow, soft, drainageImportant
Large Lake--shallow, soft, seepageImportant
Moist CliffImportant
Northern Hardwood SwampImportant
Northern Sedge MeadowImportant
Northern Wet-mesic ForestImportant
Patterned PeatlandImportant
Riverine Impoundment - ReservoirsImportant
Small Lake--hard, bogImportant
Southern Hardwood SwampImportant
Southern Mesic ForestImportant
Spring Pond, Lake--SpringImportant
Springs and Spring Runs (Hard)Important
Springs and Spring Runs (Soft)Important
Submergent MarshImportant
Wild Rice MarshImportant
Alder ThicketPresent
Coldwater streamsPresent
Conifer PlantationPresent
Eastern Red-cedar ThicketPresent
Forested SeepPresent
Northern Dry Mesic--late seralPresent
Poor FenPresent
Riverine Lake - PondPresent
Sand PrairiePresent

General opportunities

General management opportunities 1

Although large portions of the Southeast Glacial Plains are now intensively developed agricultural or urban-industrial lands, there are major opportunities to maintain natural communities and provide critical habitat for many native species. Opportunities for managing on a larger scale are limited to a few areas.

The Kettle Moraine region features the least developed uplands in the entire landscape, much of it within the units of the Kettle Moraine State Forest (KMSF). Collectively, the KMSF arguably comprises the largest and most ecologically important public landholding in this part of the state. The Northern Unit of the KMSF features extensive upland forests, conifer and ash swamps, lakes, springs, marshes, Ephemeral Ponds and significant stretches of the Milwaukee River and its tributaries. This area is now southeastern Wisconsin's major breeding site for forest interior species, especially birds. There are opportunities here to develop, maintain and enlarge blocks of contiguous forested habitat that include large patches of older mesic and oak-dominated forests, patches of young forest, dense brush and areas where high contrast edge has been reduced.

The Southern Unit of the KMSF is a major repository of rare and diminished natural communities, especially oak savannas and woodlands, wet prairies, fens, sedge meadows and relict bogs. Each of these is a high priority for conservation because they are rare on state or global levels, include the best remaining occurrences and/or support many rare native plants and animals. Wisconsin's largest native grassland protection and restoration project, the Scuppernong River Habitat Area, is located within the KMSF - Southern Unit. Fire suppression, successional processes and tree planting have created blocks of forest in the Southern Unit of the KMSF that are now large enough to provide critical nesting habitat for forest interior species. Determining where to maintain such semi-natural habitats versus where to actively restore the globally rare savanna and woodland communities can be challenging and controversial, even where the protection and maintenance of biodiversity is a primary management objective.

Some wetlands in the Southeast Glacial Plains are large, in good condition and provide critical habitat for a host of sensitive species including large populations of breeding and migratory waterbirds, as well as other wetland inhabitants. Emergent marsh (including Horicon Marsh, the Upper Midwest's largest cat-tail marsh) is especially well-represented, but sedge meadow, calcareous fen, wet prairie and tamarack swamp are also important. The large complex of sedge meadow, marsh and wet prairie associated with the White and Puchyan rivers is also outstanding in terms of size and quality. The Lower Wolf River corridor features the most extensive forested floodplain in eastern Wisconsin and one of the largest emergent marshes.

The Mukwonago River watershed is the most intact watershed in this Ecological Landscape, as it features a spring-fed river system supporting a high diversity of fishes and aquatic invertebrates, extensive and floristically rich wetlands and is associated with remnant rare natural communities such as tallgrass prairie, calcareous fen, oak openings, oak woodland and relict bogs. Many rare species have been documented here. Private and public partners are working to protect, manage and restore many components of this watershed.

Lakes are concentrated in several areas, sometimes in association with end moraines, other times occupying glacial lakebeds and outwash channels. Shallow lakes are well-represented, and some of these are associated with extensive wetlands of marsh, sedge meadow and shrub-carr. Noteworthy warmwater streams include the Wolf, Mukwonago (some of the upper stretches are classified as "Coolwater"), Rock, Crawfish, Sugar, Milwaukee and Bark rivers. Most lakes here are now heavily developed.

Miscellaneous features of significance include southern Wisconsin's westernmost stands of mesic maple-beech forest, hardwood swamps, bog relicts and scattered surrogate grasslands. The southern extremities of the Niagara Escarpment occur here and provide habitat for rare invertebrates and plants, as well as the largest bat hibernaculum in the Upper Midwest.

1. The text presented here is a summarized version of a longer section developed for the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.


Southeast Glacial Plains Landtype Associations

Landtype Associations (LTAs) are units of the National Hierarchical Framework of Ecological Units (NHFEU), a hierarchical ecological land classification system. LTAs are much smaller than Ecological Landscapes, ranging in size from 10,000 and 300,000 acres. In Wisconsin, they are usually based on glacial features like individual moraines or outwash plains. LTAs can be very useful for planning at finer scales within an Ecological Landscape.

The following are the LTAs associated with the Southeast Glacial Plains Ecological Landscape. The Southeast Glacial Plains LTA map [PDF] can be used to locate these LTAs. Clicking on an LTA in the list below will open a data table for that LTA in PDF format. Descriptions are included, where available.

Last Revised: July 16, 2020

Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition