National Park Service


Date of this Version



Natural Resource Data Series NPS/NGPN/NRDS—2018/1163 / NPS 165/145040, May 2018: vii, 20 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:

Rockwood, S. L. 2018. Plant community composition and structure monitoring at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument: 2017 data summary report. Natural Resource Data Series NPS/NGPN/NRDS—2018/1163. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.


United States government work. Public domain material.



This report presents the results of vegetation monitoring efforts in 2017 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 seventh year of field work conducted by NGPN at AGFO.

In 2017, crew members from NGPN visited six long-term plant community monitoring (PCM) plots and NGPFire visited eight additional PCM and fire plant community monitoring (FPCM) plots to collect data on the 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, riparian, and upland 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 plots. The NGPFire crew collected herb-layer height, native and exotic species abundance, and ground cover data at each of their eight PCM/FPCM plots. An additional eleven riparian community monitoring (RCM) plots were also evaluated for species richness and cover of native and exotic species.

Monitoring crews identified 124 unique plant species from a total of 25 monitoring plots. Of those species, 23 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 four of the eleven RCM plots. Five rare plant species plus two species potentially new to the park were also observed in 2017. Overall, both upland and riparian monitoring plots were more native than exotic in absolute cover. The most common disturbance was small mammal use, recorded in all six upland monitoring plots visited by NGPN.