National Park Service


Date of this Version



Natural Resource Data Series NPS/AGFO/NRDS—2019/1248 / NPS 165/165825, December 2019: vi, 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:

Davis, M. B. 2019. Plant community composition and structure monitoring at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument: 2019 data report. Natural Resource Data Series NPS/AGFO/NRDS—2019/1248. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.


United States government work. Public domain material.



This report presents the results of vegetation monitoring efforts in 2019 at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument (AGFO) by the Northern Great Plains Inventory and Monitoring Network (NGPN) and the Northern Great Plains Fire Ecology Program (NGPFire). This was the ninth year of combined monitoring efforts.

In 2019, crew members from NGPN visited 6 long-term plant community monitoring (PCM) plots to collect data on the upland mixed-grass prairie plant communities at AGFO. This work is part of a long-term monitoring program established to better understand the condition of the vegetation community and how it changes over time. NGPN staff collected species richness, herb-layer height, native and non-native species abundance, ground cover, and site disturbance data at each plot. The NGPFire crew visited an additional 8 PCM and Fire Plant Community Monitoring (FPCM) plots in the North Carnegie, River-Middle, and River-South Burn Units to better understand the effects of prescribed fire on vegetation. In 2012, NGPN began monitoring plots within the riparian corridor of the Niobrara River. This year, NGPN evaluated 13 riparian community monitoring (RCM) plots.

In 2019, the monitoring crews identified 123 unique plant species in 27 monitoring plots. Of these species, 22 are exotic species for the park. We observed one species, Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense), that is noxious in the state of Nebraska. Pale yellow iris (Iris pseudacorus), an exotic species of concern for the park, was observed at 5 of the 13 RCM plots monitored. Half of the upland plots had more native than exotic absolute cover, and the majority of riparian monitoring plots had more native than exotic absolute cover. The most commonly observed disturbances were soil disturbance and small mammal activity.