National Park Service


Date of this Version



Natural Resource Data Series NPS/NGPN/NRDS 2016/1074 / NPS 165/135803, December 2016: vii, 23 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:

Rasor, A. T., D. J. Swanson. 2016. Plant community composition and structure monitoring for Agate Fossil Beds National Monument: 2016 data report. Natural Resource Data Series NPS/NGPN/NRDS—2016/1074. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.


United States government work. Public domain material.



This report presents the results of vegetation monitoring efforts in 2016 at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument (AGFO) by the Northern Great Plains Inventory and Monitoring Network (NGPN).

During the sixth full year of field work, crew members from NGPN visited six long-term plant community monitoring (PCM) plots and the Northern Great Plains Fire Effects Crew (NGPFire) visited nine fire plant community monitoring (FPCM) plots to collect data on the plant communities at AGFO. This 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 six PCM plots. The NGPFire crew collected species richness and native and exotic species cover data at each of the nine FPCM plots. An additional seventeen riparian community monitoring (RCM) plots were also evaluated for species richness and cover of native and exotic species.

Our 2016 findings can be summarized as follows: Monitoring crews identified 92 plant species in fifteen combined plots (six PCM plus nine FPCM) visited in 2016 at AGFO and twelve of these species were exotic. None of the exotic species identified in upland plots were on the target list for the early detection and rapid response program in the Northern Great Plains Network parks. Ten rare native species were also identified. The most common disturbances observed in monitoring plots were prescribed fire and animal use. In riparian monitoring plots, 80 plant species were identified, of which 17 species were exotic in this area. One exotic species identified in the RCM plots, pale yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus), is on the target list for the early detection and rapid response program. That invasive exotic species was identified in eleven out of the seventeen RCM plots. Eight rare native species were identified in thirteen RCM plots.