National Park Service


Date of this Version



Natural Resource Data Series NPS/NGPN/NRDS 2015/774 / NPS 165/128159, March 2015: vi, 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:

Prowatzke, M. and S. K. Wilson. 2015. Plant community composition and structure monitoring for Agate Fossil Beds National Monument: 2014 annual report. Natural Resource Data Series NPS/NGPN/NRDS—2015/774. National Park Service, Fort Collins, Colorado.


United States government work. Public domain material.



This report presents the results of vegetation monitoring efforts in 2014 at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument (AGFO) by the Northern Great Plains Inventory and Monitoring Network (NGPN).

During the fourth full year of field work, crew members from NGPN visited six plant community monitoring plots to collect data on the vegetation at AGFO. This is part of a long-term monitoring effort that will sample six of 15 randomly located upland plots every year, so that each plot is visited for two consecutive years and then rested for three years, on a five-year rotating basis. NGPN staff captured data relating to species richness, herb-layer height, abundance of individual native and non-native species, ground cover, and site disturbance on each of the six plots. In addition, NGPN captured an abbreviated collection of similar data at 12 sites in the riparian areas. Further data was collected at five sites using a protocol carried over from the Heartland Inventory and Monitoring Network to provide continuity of a long-term data set.

Our 2014 findings can be summarized as follows: The crew observed 172 vascular plant species in upland plots, with an average of 9.5 native species occurring within any given 1 m2 quadrat sampled. Grasses, sedges, and shrubs made up the bulk of the plant cover, while non-native species represented about 22.6% of cover. Riparian areas seemed to be in similar condition to upland areas, though species assemble was considerably different. The mixed-grass prairies of AGFO seem to be in fair condition, though exotic plants, particularly prickly Russian thistle (Salsola tragus) present challenges to management.