502 species recorded
Species Richness: 25%
for Shelby county
but not recorded
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Soil Survey of Shelby County
Ecoregions of West Tennessee
73 Mississippi Alluvial Plain
This riverine ecoregion extends from southern Illinois, at the confluence of the Ohio River with the Mississippi River, south to the Gulf of Mexico. It is mostly a flat, broad floodplain with river terraces and levees providing the main elements of relief. Regionally, the soils tend to be poorly drained, although locally some sandy soils are well-drained. Winters are mild and summers are hot, with temperatures and precipitation increasing from north to south. Bottomland deciduous forest vegetation covered the region before clearance for cultivation.
73a The Northern Mississippi Alluvial Plain within Tennessee is a relatively flat region of Quaternary alluvial deposits of sand, silt, clay, and gravel. It is bounded distinctly on the east by the Bluff Hills (74a), and on the west by the Mississippi River. Average elevations are 200-300 feet with little relief. Most of the region is in cropland, with some areas of deciduous forest. Soybeans, cotton, corn, sorghum, and vegetables are the main crops. The natural vegetation consists of Southern floodplain forest (oak, tupelo, bald cypress). The two main distinctions in the Tennessee portion of the ecoregion are between areas of loamy, silty, and sandy soils with better drainage, and areas of more clayey soils of poor drainage that may contain wooded swamp-land and oxbow lakes. Waterfowl, raptors, and migratory songbirds are relatively abundant in the region.
74 Mississippi Valley Loess Plains
This ecoregion stretches from near the Ohio River in western Kentucky to Louisiana. It consists primarily of irregular plains, with oak-hickory and oak-hickory-pine natural vegetation. Thick loess tends to be the distinguishing characteristic. With flatter topography than the Southeastern Plains (65) to the east, streams tend to have less gradient and more silty substrates. In Tennessee, agriculture is the dominant land use.
74a The Bluff Hills consist of sand, clay, silt, and lignite, and are capped by loess greater than 60 feet deep. The disjunct region in Tennessee encompasses those thick loess areas that are generally the steepest, most dissected, and forested. The carved loess has a mosaic of microenvironments, including dry slopes and ridges, moist slopes, ravines, bottomland areas, and small cypress swamps. While oak-hickory is the general forest type, some of the undisturbed bluff vegetation is rich in mesophytes, such as beech and sugar maple, with similarities to hardwood forests of eastern Tennessee. Smaller streams of the Bluff Hills have localized reaches of increased gradient and small areas of gravel substrate that create aquatic habitats that are distinct from those of the Loess Plains (74b) to the east.
74b The Loess Plains are gently rolling, irregular plains, 250-500 feet in elevation, with loess up to 50 feet thick. The region is a productive agricultural area of soybeans, cotton, corn, milo, and sorghum crops, along with livestock and poultry. Soil erosion can be a problem on the steeper, upland Alfisol soils; bottom soils are mostly silty Entisols. Oak- hickory and southern flooplain forests are the natural vegetation types, although most of the forest cover has been removed for cropland. Some less-disturbed bottomland forest and cypress-gum swamp habitats still remain. Several large river systems with wide floodplains, the Obion, Forked Deer, Hatchie, Loosahatchie, and Wolf, cross the region. Streams are low-gradient and murky with silt and sand bottoms, and most have been channelized.