Oklahoma’s biological diversity can be explained in part by the state’s geographic
location. It is here that the forests of the moist east meet with the dry plains of the
west. Therefore the species found in Oklahoma are a mix of eastern and western
plants and animals, some are found as far away as the Rocky Mountains. Vegetation
Is often used as one of the defining features of a landscape. Vegetation type is
Important in determining what animals might be living in an area.
In this activity you will investigate how vegetation type relates to environmental
factors such as rainfall, rivers and lakes. You will also see how each of these factors
influence how different ecoregions are determined.
Cypress bottomland found in Pinion - Juniper woodland at Black Mesa in
southeast Oklahoma westernmost Oklahoma
Oklahoma Ecoregions p. 1
1) Open ArcView by double clicking its Icon
2) When ArcView opens you will choose to open an existing project
3) Now navigate to the project that you previously saved. It should be located
the M: Drive.
4) Open your saved project.
5) Before we start now we need to add a new theme to our existing project.
First click the add theme button . Then navigate to the following
location Q:\esri\ecoregions_project_data\game_type.shp , to add the
game_type.shp file. Now click the checkbox next to all themes to show
them on the screen
Now we need to modify the appearance of some of our themes.
6) First move your themes in the order indicated
on the right by clicking and dragging them into
7) Next double click the symbol below county.shp.
This will open the legend editor window.
8) Now double click the symbol. This will open the
Oklahoma Ecoregions p. 2
9) In the fill palette select the black box
(fill color) under the paint bucket tab.
10) Next click the paint brush tab. Select
Foreground from the pulldown menu
next to Color:. For a color select the
white box with an X (no color). Lastly
Now we can see through our counties layer
Lets do the same thing for the game_type
layer. Follow steps 7-10 for the game_type.shp
After clearing the color from the counties and
game_type layers the symbol boxes for each
layer should have no color filled in them. See
the figure on the right to see the no color
Now our data is ready to do some work!
Oklahoma Ecoregions p. 3
Lets start by finding the Southwestern Tablelands ecoregion. First make sure
The ecoregins theme is selected in the left-hand column.
11) Click the Open Table button.
This will open the attributes table.
12) Now we want to sort the table based on the Level 3 name. To do this
select the Level3_nam tab at the top right of the table, then click the
sort ascending button. Now our table is sorted alphabetically
by level 3 ecoregion name. Keep the table open.
13) Scroll down the table until you find the Southwestern Tablelands. Now
click the first entry of Southwestern Tablelands. It should now be yellow.
14) Hold shift and click each of the remaining entries for Southwestern
Tablelands. There should be 8 entries, and they should all now be yellow.
15) After you have selected all 8, and they are yellow, minimize the attributes
table by clicking the - in the upper right of the screen.
You should now be able to see your map of Oklahoma with the Southwestern
Tablelands highlighted in yellow.
Save your work!
Oklahoma Ecoregions p. 4
One of the most interesting geologic structures in the state is Black Mesa. Black
Mesa is topped by a layer of ancient lava, which gives it its black appearance.
The Mesa is also the highest point in the state at 4,972 feet above sea level.
Lets look at some of the vegetative features of the Black Mesa Region.
16) Black Mesa is located in Cimarron County. To find Cimarron county,
first select the County.shp file to make it active.
17) Now click the Open Theme Table button.
18) Click the Name tab at the top of the page, then click the sort by ascending
button. Then select Cimarron county. It should now be yellow.
Now minimize the Attributes table by clicking - at the top right.
Cimarron county should now be yellow. We now need to zoom in to that part of
19) To zoom choose the zoom in tool from the tool bar. Now
click and hold to the zoom tool on the outside upper left hand of Cimarron
County. You are drawing a box around the County with the zoom tool.
Then release the mouse button.
Oklahoma Ecoregions p. 5
Now that we have zoomed in to Cimarron County we can unselect it from the
20) To do this select the Clear Selected Feature button.
You should now be zoomed in to Cimarron County, and be able to see the
features of each theme in more detail.
Question 1: What level 3 ecoregion does the yellow area represent?
Question 2: What level 4 ecoregion does the yellow area represent?
If you don’t remember the answers to these questions you can find out by
doing the following.
21) Select the ecoregions.shp theme from the left hand of your screen. Now
click the identify tool and click the yellow region. An identify results
window will open. Find the answers in the table. After you find the
answer close the window.
Now lets find out what vegetation types are found around Black Mesa.
22) Select the Game_type.shp them from the left hand menu from your
Oklahoma Ecoregions p. 6
23) Now use the identify tool to find at least four of the five vegetation
types. Write the Gametype in the following blanks
You will have to click around the ecoregion to find all five Gametypes.
Oklahoma has a strong rainfall gradient from east to west. Lets look at the
rainfall around Black Mesa.
Question: Which do you think gets more rainfall, east or west? (circle one)
24) Click the them titled Rainfall.shp to make it active. Find the two contour
lines present in Cimarron county that represent rainfall. They will be the
same color of the line in the symbol. Use the identify tool and click each
of the lines. The resulting table has an entry called contour, this is the
amount of rainfall in inches. Record the two numbers below.
Top contour: _____inches
Bottom contour: _____inches
Question: Would you expect to find the same types of vegetation in other parts
of Oklahoma as we found for Black Mesa? Why or Why not?
Oklahoma Ecoregions p. 7
There are several streams in Cimarron County, list the names of at least four
of them in the blanks below.
Are there any lakes in Cimarron county? Yes No (Circle one)
What are their names?
Oklahoma Ecoregions p. 8
Oklahoma Ecoregions p. 7
Oklahoma Ecoregions p. 7