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Map of midwestern plant biomes.
The American Bottom lies within the Oak-Hickory forest biome. Although comprised of numerous ecosystems, this biome is dominated by well-drained uplands and thus contains an abundance of plants prefering well-drained soils. Like other river bottom ecosystems, however, the vegetation of the American Bottom differs markedly from both the surrounding upland oak-hickory forests and the prairies to the east and north.

Deposition of fluvial, glacio-fluvial, and lacustrine sediments during the Pleistocene and Holocene created a canvas with decidedly minimal topographic relief, but the variety of soils and drainage characteristics of the deposits created a rich diversity of habitats. Thus, plant species with a wide range of tolerance limits for soil moisture and drainage characteristics can be found here.

Aquatic vegetation in an American Bottom wetland.

Floodplain prairie at stream's edge with Oak-hickory forest on elevated ridge in background.

Although not readily apparent to travellers today, the American Bottom still contains a rich diversity of habitats, that until their historic reduction in size, contributed to the great species diversity and biotic productivity of this great American floodplain.

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