National Park Service


Date of this Version



Natural Resource Data Series NPS/NGPN/NRDS—2019/1213 / NPS 317/150784, March 2019: vii, 18 pages

Published by the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Natural Resource Stewardship and Science, Fort Collins, Colorado

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Please cite this publication as:

Ashton, I. W., D. J. Swanson, and C. J. Davis. 2019. Plant community composition and structure monitoring at Scotts Bluff National Monument: 2018 data report. Natural Resource Data Series NPS/NGPN/NRDS—2019/1213. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.


United States government publication. Public domain material.



This report presents the results of vegetation monitoring efforts in 2018 at Scotts Bluff National Monument (SCBL) by the Northern Great Plains Inventory and Monitoring Network (NGPN) and Fire Ecology Program (NGPFire). This was the eighth year of combined monitoring efforts.

Crew members from NGPN visited eight long-term monitoring plots to collect data on the plant communities at SCBL. This work is part of a long-term monitoring effort designed to provide a better understanding of the condition of the vegetation community and how it changes over time. NGPN staff measured species richness, herb-layer height, native and non-native species abundance, ground cover, and site disturbance at each of the plots. In plots where woody species were present, tree regeneration, tall shrub density, tree density, and woody fuel loads were also measured. An additional four plots were visited that had been originally established by the Heartland Network to evaluate the effectiveness of a restoration project. The NGPFire crew visited an additional eleven plots in the Eagle Rock and South Bluff Burn Unit to better understand the effects of prescribed fire on vegetation. The NGPFire crew measured herb-layer height, native and non-native species abundance, ground cover, and site disturbance at each of the plots.

In 2018, the monitoring crews identified 103 unique plant species in 23 monitoring plots. Of those species, 17 were exotic species. On average, the absolute cover of exotic species was much greater than the absolute cover of native species. A number of species considered rare in Nebraska were observed in the plots, including spotted frittilary, Fritillaria atropurpurea. These species are more common globally but western Nebraska is the edge of their range.