Indiana’s Natural Regions – The Starting Point

So where to begin my 2018 Natural History adventure? Well, seeing as the three Field Guides I currently own from the Indiana Natural Science Series begin with an introduction to Indiana’s Natural Regions, I’ll start there.

First the three books:

  1.  Jeffrey E. Belth РButterflies of Indiana
  2. Marion T. Jackson – 101 Trees of Indiana
  3. Michael A. Homoya – Wildflowers and Ferns of Indiana Forests

All are published by Indiana University Press.

Indiana Natural Regions

Did you know Indiana is composed of 12 Natural Regions? But first, what is a Natural Region? From Homoya, et. al. 1985 “A natural region is a major, generalized unit of the landscape where a distinctive assemblage of natural features is present.”

Natural Regions, 1984 – Shows the natural regions and their subsections (Indiana Natural Heritage Data Center, IDNR) – (Lake Michigan and Large Rivers Regions not on key) Marion and Johnson Counties outlined in blue.

Each of the books goes into detail how each natural region pertains to their particular topic. Be it butterflies, trees, or wildflowers.

But to start my adventure I’ll concentrate on the section where Marion and most of Johnson County are located. Section 5B – the Central Till Plain section. According to the authors “This is the largest natural region in Indiana… and is topographically homogeneous. The section is a mostly undissected plain formerly covered by an extensive beech-maple-oak forest.” The better drained southern section where Marion and Johnson County are located supported American Beech, Sugar Maple, and Tulip Popular. One other point to note from the field guides is because of the section’s location and the scarcity of specialized natural communities, there are no restricted species.

In other words, since there are no unique land formations present as there are in the southern and northern sections of the state, there are no unique butterflies or trees.

But the Central Till Plain contains a large majority of the state’s “common” (I hate that term) flora and fauna. This will give me a great opportunity to learn those species before setting off to search for unique ones in other parts of the state.

And remember the only way to know a unique or rare species is to really know the “common” species.