A Natural Region's Portrait of Iowa's Vegetation Communities
Mid 1800s surveyors with the United States Government Land Office (GLO) described and mapped an Iowa landscape that was dominated by prairies intermingled with wetlands and woodlands around lakes and along rivers. Since the settlement period, the conversion of more than 90 percent of the original landscape to agricultural and urban land uses has nearly eliminated the natural vegetation heritage. Consequently, there is an urgent need to rediscover, understand, celebrate, protect, enhance, and better manage the beauty, structure, and function of these diverse natural communities.
The purpose of this website is to serve as a guide to the natural vegetation communities that characterize the Iowa landscape. Objectives of this site are: 1. to extend to all Iowans an invitation to visit natural areas and to observe and study their natural vegetation firsthand and 2. to enhance an appreciation for the importance of maintaining and managing high quality examples of all the different types of natural vegetation that typify each natural region within the state, in preserves, in parks, on the farm and in many other places.
Web Site Features
The natural vegetation communities of Iowa evolved over time in response to differing regional and local factors of geology, landforms, soils, climate, other organisms, and human modification of the environment. The state is divided into nine natural regions as shown on the map with descriptions of remarkably different geologic histories and of visual appearances (Prior 1992) and of adapted vegetation (Roosa 1982). A photographic tour, as viewed from low altitude light aircraft and from in the field, of some of Iowas most scenic public/private places (sites) presents a landscape portrait overview of the key vegetation communities, dominant species, and characteristic flora adapted to each. A description of the physical environment and vegetation communities observed accompanies each site.
Prior, J.C. 1991. Landforms of Iowa. Iowa Department of Natural Resources. University of Iowa Press, Iowa.
Roosa, D.M. 1982. "Natural Regions of Iowa" in Iowa's Natural Heritage. Cooper, T.C. (ed). Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and Iowa Academy of Science. Iowa.
How to Navigate this Web Site
The site makes use of the Macromedia Flash Shockwave Web browser plug-in. If you are not sure if you have the plug-in, please verify by checking the Shockwave test page.
Superimposing the cursor and clicking on a selected region, site location, or thumbnail photograph enables the web site visitor to access and read descriptions about the landscape history, visual appearance, physical environment, and adapted vegetation communities for each. Clicking on the site photograph toggles between a full screen view of the image and the descriptive site text. Pictures (JPEG) and text descriptions (Microsoft Word) may be downloaded from the site. The download files are compressed using the ZIP format and can be expanded using Stuff-It Expander or WinZIP.
Intellectual Rights to Maps, Text and Photographs
The maps, text, and photographs on this web site are the intellectual property of Gary L. Hightshoe, Department of Landscape Architecture at Iowa State University, Ames. The use of these low-resolution materials by the web site visitor for any non-profit purpose is free and encouraged. The use of these materials in for-profit publications and exhibits is possible with permission from Hightshoe. Additionally, Hightshoe maintains an extensive (several thousand) library of 35 millimeter conventional color slides (oblique aerial and in the field images) and vertical 9 x 9 inch color aerial photographic transparencies for selected public and private places in each of Iowas natural regions. Permission to select original images from this file for high-resolution publication quality reproduction is probable. Contact Gary L. Hightshoe by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 515.294.8942.