National Park Service


Date of this Version



Ashton, I. W., S. K. Wilson, D. Swanson, M. Prowatzke, and P. Graeve. 2013. Plant community composition and structure monitoring for Agate Fossil Beds National Monument: 2012 annual report. Natural Resource Technical Report NPS/NGPN/NRTR—2013/673. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.


Agate Fossil Beds National Monument (AGFO) plays a vital role in protecting and managing some of the last remnants of native mixed-grass prairie in the region. The Northern Great Plains Inventory & Monitoring Network (NGPN) and Fire Ecology Program (FireEP) surveyed 12 long-term monitoring plots in Agate Fossil Beds National Monument in 2012 as part of an effort to better understand the condition of plant communities in the park. We measured plant diversity and cover, looked for the presence of exotic species that may be newly invading the park, and evaluated the amount of human and natural disturbance at all plots. This effort was the second year in a multiple-year venture to document the current status and long-term trends in plant communities in AGFO. At the end of five years, there will be an in-depth report describing the status of the plant community. In addition to upland plant monitoring, we also sampled vegetation at 12 sites along the riparian corridor at AGFO as part of a pilot study to develop a long-term monitoring approach for this area. The riparian corridor is narrow and not adequately represented in our standard sampling, but is of great ecological and management importance to the park. In 2013, we will also revisit legacy plots that were established as part of the Prairie Cluster prototype monitoring. In this report, we provide a simple summary of our results from sampling in 2012.