White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), De Soto NWR, Indiana.

Wild, Wild East - Part 4

The area between the Appalachian Mountains and the Great Plains is a transitional zone. Prior to the European invasion, much of it was maintained as tallgrass prairie by native peoples, who periodically set fires to keep forests from spreading westward.
Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) often forms the
western edge of the forest. Schramm Park, Nebraska.
Now this land is mostly forested, but still dotted with hundreds of ancient mounds. Some of them are animal-shaped; a good place to see them is Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa. mound
Indian burial mounds near Canadian River,
bird bird bird owl bird bird bird
Birds of southern Midwest, left to right: scissor-tailed flycatcher (Tyrannus forficatus), Eastern screech-owl (Otus asio), Mississippi kite (Elanus mississippiensis). Alebaster Caverns State Park, Oklahoma.
Many of the most beautiful flowers of the Midwest
belong to aster family (Asteraceae). Bush
coneflower (Echinacea paradoxa), Ozark Nat'l
Forest, Arkansas.
The westernmost outposts of the Eastern flora and fauna are deep canyons that penetrate Llano Estacado, the elevated part of the Great Plains in Texas. Birds, trees and reptiles inside the canyons are mostly of Eastern origin. flower
Just in one genus, Echinacea, there are at least
twenty colorful species. Purple coneflower (E.
), Ozark Nat'l Forest, Arkansas.
Palo Duro Canyon in Texas.
But if you climb to the canyon rim, you find yourself in the West - with its cacti, pronghorn antelopes (Antilocapra americana), and other desert stuff. Such mixture creates a lot of diversity in small areas. mantis
Tenodera mantis, Palo Duro.
butterfly butterfly butterfly
Butterflies of the Midwest, left to right: Papilio multicaudata, P. philenor, Epargyreus clarus. Ozark Nat'l Forest, Arkansas.
aoudad aoudad aoudad deer
Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lerva), introduced from Northern Africa, and fallow deer (Cervus dama), introduced from the Mediterranean, Fossil Rim, Texas
Diapheromera walking-sticks, Palo Duro.
Texas also has a lot of introduced species. Two large mammals - fallow deer and Barbary sheep - are more easy to see here than in their original range. deer
Fallow deer, Colorado Bend, Texas
aoudad aoudad aoudad aoudad
Barbary sheep, Palo Duro Canyon, Texas
Red wolf (Canis rufus),
Fossil Rim, Texas
Not all native mammals of the East are doing as good as the introduced ones. Red wolf (Canis rufus) has barely escaped extinction. Marine mink (Mustela ), Pennsylvanian bison (Bos bison pennsylvanicum), Eastern elk (Cervus elaphus americanus) and some others haven't been so lucky - they are as dead as dinosaurs, without even fossilized tracks left. tracks
Apatosaurus tracks,
Dinosaur Valley, Texas
mouse mouse mouse
White-footed mouse (Peromyscus leucopus) is one of the most widespread mammals in the East, but some races are now extinct or endangered. Hoosier National Forest, Indiana.
Tolype sp, Kansas.
Well, at least all insects are still there, a lot of them. Many butterflies, moths, and grasshoppers of the East look very tropical. Those huge creatures look totally out of place in the temperate forests and grasslands of the Midwest, and even more so in the Northeast, where giant dobsonflies (Corydalus) and cecropia moths (right) also occur. moth
Hyalophora sp., Kansas.

Halysidota caterpillar, Daniel Boon State Forest, Missouri.

Part 5. Big Bend

Back to Part 3