Only tiny remnants of unploughed natural meadows remain in the eastern part of the state of North Dakota, and in Canada from eastern Saskatchewan to Manitoba. Those west of Lake Manitoba and the Red River Valley are characterized by their distinctive fauna of insects, principally leafhoppers and planthoppers (Homoptera: Auchenorrhyncha). These true bugs include hundreds of species invariably associated with North American grasslands. The distributions of those with the most limited dispersal abilities reflect long-term patterns of dominance and contiguity of native grass stands in prairies. These bug distributions indicate that bluestem-dominated grasslands in Canada, which usually are under 0.5 meter (20 inches) in height, are equivalent to tallgrass prairie from Illinois. This prairie once extended as much as 400 kilometers (250 miles) northwest of its previously known distribution. These bugs help differentiate tallgrass prairie from sites in southwestern Manitoba and adjacent North Dakota, which are more arid, and from sites east of Lake Manitoba and southward in the Red River Valley, which were formerly oak savanna.
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