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Northern Great Plains Network (NGPN)

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Plant Community Monitoring

NGPN vegetation monitoring crew navigating to a plot at Badlands NP
NGPN vegetation monitoring crew navigating to a plot at Badlands NP

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For more information contact: Isabel Ashton

Importance

Plant community composition and structure are important habitat elements in all NGPN parks, and knowing the status and trends of plant communities helps in determining the health of the parks' ecosystems. In addition to providing information about the vegetation in the parks, data from this monitoring will help characterize park-wide ecosystem responses to other environmental drivers, including weather and climate, land cover changes, invasive/exotic plants, and habitat conditions for species of interest (i.e., prairie dogs, bison, deer, etc.).

Ideally, this monitoring will provide an early warning of undesirable changes and allow managers to evaluate the effectiveness of management programs. The over-all goal of plant community monitoring is to detect park-wide trends in the vegetation at the parks; however, Niobrara River and Missouri River will have limited sampling due to multiple ownership of lands within the park boundaries.

Monitoring Objectives

  1. Determine park-wide status and trends in vegetation species composition (e.g. non-native vs. native, forb vs. graminoid, vs. shrub) and structure (cover and height) of herbaceous and shrub species across most NGPN parks (but in limited areas of Niobrara NSR and Missouri NRR parks).
  2. Determine status and trends of tree density by species, height and diameter classes, and fuel loads by fuel class in Black Hill parks (Devils Tower NM, Jewel Cave NM, Mt. Rushmore NP, and Wind Cave NP).
  3. Determine status and trends of tree density by species, height and diameter classes in the riparian lowlands of perennial-river parks (Ft. Laramie NHS, Scotts Bluff NM, Devils Tower NM, Knife River Indian Village NHS, and Theodore Roosevelt NP).
  4. Improve our understanding of external drivers and management actions on plant communities' composition and structure by correlating changes in the vegetation with changes in climate, landscape patterns, atmospheric composition, fire, and invasive plant control.

Parks Monitored

All NGPN Parks

Vital Signs Monitored

Riparian Lowland Plant Communities
Upland Plant Communities
Fire and Fuel Dynamics
Exotic Plant Early Detection
Forest Insects and Diseases


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Last Updated: March 08, 2017 Contact Webmaster