National Park Service


Date of this Version



Natural Resource Data Series NPS/NGPN/NRDS—2019/1203 / NPS 165/150548, February 2019: vii, 19 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:

Manuel, R. M. 2019. Plant community composition and structure monitoring at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument: 2018 data report. Natural Resource Data Series NPS/NGPN/NRDS—2019/1203. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.


United States government work. Public domain material.



This report presents the results of vegetation monitoring efforts in 2018 at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument (AGFO) by the Northern Great Plains Inventory and Monitoring Network (NGPN) and the Northern Great Plains Fire Effects Program (NGPFire). This was the eighth year of field work conducted by NGPN at AGFO.

In 2018, crew members from NGPN visited six long-term plant community monitoring (PCM) plots, four legacy plant community monitoring (LPCM) plots, and NGPFire visited one additional PCM plot to collect data on plant communities at AGFO. This collaborative effort is part of a long-term monitoring program established to better understand the condition of the mixed-grass prairie and riparian regions in AGFO. NGPN staff collected species richness, herb-layer height, native and exotic (non-native) species abundance, ground cover, and site disturbance data at each of the six PCM plots. The NGPFire crew collected herb-layer height, native and exotic species abundance, and ground cover data at their PCM plot. An additional eleven riparian community monitoring (RCM) plots were evaluated for species richness and cover of native and exotic species.

Monitoring crews identified 143 unique plant species from a total of 22 monitoring plots. Of those species, 25 were exotic species and one, Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense), is a noxious species in Nebraska. Pale yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus), which is monitored as an exotic species of concern, was found in five of the eleven visited RCM plots. Overall, both upland and riparian monitoring plots were more native than exotic in absolute cover. The most common disturbances recorded in plots visited by NGPN were small mammal use and soil disturbances.