Initial Publication Date: June 16, 2006

Climate and Biota of the Pine Ridge Reservation

This case study was written by Ellen Dockery, a lower division undergraduate student who is not an earth science major, as part of the DLESE Community Services Project: Integrating Research in Education. The pages in this case study reflect the personal views of the student author and not of MSU, SERC or the NSF.
Bison grazing in the Black Hills. Details

With an annual average of 20 inches a year, precipitation in the Black Hills is relatively moderate. Because clouds lose moisture as they pass over the hills, more precipitation occurs when compared to the low precipitation levels of the surrounding prairies. The Badlands have significantly lower precipitation levels when compared to that of the Black Hills, resulting in little vegetation.

Pine Ridge is located in the Great Plains region which encompasses the nation's largest grassland biome, producing nearly a quarter of the nation's agricultural crops and livestock. The varying topography of the Black Hills allows for an abundance of flora and fauna.

In this area, the western species of ponderosa and limber pine coexist with the eastern species of burr oak and American elm. Although rare in this part of the United States, the paper birch, quaking aspen, and white spruce can also be found here.

Black-Footed Ferret. Details

In South Dakota, the pine marten and fringe-tailed myotis bat are endangered species that are unique to the Black Hills. The fauna of the Badlands includes cliff swallows, bighorn sheep, and deer. Although endangered, the black-footed ferret is common here. For more detailed descriptions on the flora and fauna of South Dakota, click here (more info)

Flora and Fauna of South Dakota

Resources about the flora and fauna of South Dakota

Climate of the Pine Ridge Reservation

Resources about the climate of the Pine Ridge Reservation

For ideas on how to use these webpages in a classroom, a Study Guide is provided.