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The Sandhills constitute a unique region formed by the remains of an ancient coastline. The Sandhills also mark an approximate boundary between the Piedmont and Coastal Plain. The topography consists of rolling hills with gentle slopes. The Sandhills range in elevation from 300 to 725 feet above sea level. Soil texture is mostly sandy with some areas of loam, and internal drainage is rapid and even excessive. Sandhills soils are generally low in plant nutrients, moisture and organic material because the soil texture allows rapid leaching. The area receives an average annual rainfall of about 45 inches. The average temperature in January is between 42 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit. The average temperature in July is between 79 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Sandhills receive less rainfall than other regions of the state. This along with the sandy soils found in this region, which drain rainwater rapidly and cannot hold water well, leads to plants in the community that must be adapted to dry soils. The distinctive vegetation is dominated by long leaf pines and turkey oaks, which can survive in dry soils. Most animals in this region are not permanent residents, but migrate in from the moister Piedmont and Coastal Plain regions. Certain types of reptiles, though, such as the box turtle, are well adapted to surviving in arid conditions and are lifelong residents.

The Coastal Plain may be divided into inner and outer subregions because of topographic differences. The Inner Coastal Plain is gently rolling, whereas the Outer Coastal Plain is flatter. Both are underlain by unconsolidated sedimentary rocks. Rivers meander through broad floodplains characterized by cut-off lakes and swamp vegetation. Elevation differences range from 300 feet at the border of the Sandhills to sea level at the border of the Coast. Soils consist of a mixture of sand, clay and organic materials. The area receives an average annual rainfall of about 46 to 52 inches. The average temperature in January is between 42 and 48 degrees Fahrenheit. The average temperature in July is between 79 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Coastal Plain is warm and humid and receives a good deal of rain. This leads to lush vegetation where pine trees and hardwood trees predominate. Because of the flat terrain, the Coastal Plain is the only region in which swamps, marshes and other wetlands can occur. Large areas of flat land provide places for standing water. Animals such as alligators and plants such as cypress trees that are adapted to this type of habitat thrive here.

The Coast is a dynamic merger of land and water and is characterized by wide beaches, barrier islands and marshes. Tides, currents and storms are constantly remolding it, and it is a diverse region. The topography is flat and elevation ranges from sea level to a few feet above sea level. Soils consist of sand and organic material. The area receives an average annual rainfall of about 48 to 50 inches. The average temperature in January is between 46 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The average temperature in July is between 80 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit.

From COASTeam Aquatic Workshops: Mountains (Grade 4); a joint effort between the

COASTeam Program at the College of Charleston and the South Carolina Aquarium – funded by the SC Sea Grant Consortium.

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