Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School



Ecological regionalization is a framework for planning and policy making. Ecological frameworks are necessary in the decision making process for resource managers, scientists and policy makers. Until recently, alternative regionalizations such as potential natural vegetation, physiography, climate and soils were used to assist in management decisions (Omernik, 1993: 5). Omernik states, " ... there have been no attempts to map ecosystem regions, so rather than make interpretations, managers have chosen surrogates." Focus now has centered around comprehensive ecosystem management (National Biological Survey, U.S. Dept. of the Interior, 1993: 1). New concepts for resource management have led to the development of ecological regionalizations by numerous government agencres. Regionalization is an approach that generalizes the large amount of information about an ecosystem and makes the data comprehensible when working with large land areas. Regionalizations can be mapped at a variety of scales. de Blij states, "A region can also be conceptualized as a system. Certain regions are marked not by internal uniformity but by a particular activity, or perhaps a set of integrated activities, that interconnects its various parts" (de Blij, 1985: 4). Regions are categorized in a hierarchical fashion. In the United States, we have numerous types of regions, some very general such as the midwest, while others are precisely defined such as political boundaries (Gallent, et al, 1989: 1). Depending on scale, a region depicts an area that shares something in common. Yet, common characteristics within a region can be compared, analyzed and studied. Gallent, et al define a region as a:

... more or less homogeneous area that differs from other
areas. To use a more contemporary jargon, within region
variance is less than between-region variance. The best regions
are those that are based on the greatest amount of

When delineations are made and policies generated on the basis of the regional information from the delineations, the decisions affect the environmental and the social landscape.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Biotic communities -- Minnesota
Biotic communities -- South Dakota
Biotic communities -- North Dakota
Ecology -- Minnesota -- Data processing
Ecology -- South Dakota -- Data processing
Ecology -- North Dakota -- Data processing



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University