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Open-File Report 2014–1188

Legacy Data for a Northern Prairie Grassland—Woodworth Study Area, North Dakota, 1963–89

By Shelby H. Williams and Jane E. Austin

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (7.16 MB)Abstract

Ecological data commonly become more valuable through time. Such legacy data provide baseline records of past biological, physical, and social information that provide historical perspective and are necessary for assessment of stasis or change. Legacy data collected at the Woodworth Study Area (WSA), a contiguous block of grasslands, croplands, and wetlands covering more than 1,000 hectares of the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota, are cataloged and summarized in this study. The WSA is one of the longest researched grassland sites in the Upper Midwest. It has an extensive history of settlement, land use, and management that provides a deeper context for future research. The WSA data include long-term vegetation transect records, land use history, habitat management records, geologic information, wetland hydrology and chemistry information, and spatial images. Substantial parts of these data have not been previously reported. The WSA is representative of many other lands purchased by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Prairie Pothole Region from the 1930s to the 1970s; therefore, synthesized data from the WSA are broadly applicable to topics of concern in northern grasslands, such as increases in non-native plants, managing for biodiversity, and long-term effects of habitat management. New techniques are also described that were used to preserve these data for future analyses. The data preservation techniques are applicable to any project with data that should be preserved for 100 years or more.

First posted September 17, 2014

For additional information contact:
Director, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
U.S. Geological Survey
8711 37th Street Southeast
Jamestown, North Dakota 58401

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Suggested citation:

Williams, S.H., and Austin, J.E., 2014, Legacy data for a northern prairie grassland—Woodworth Study Area, North Dakota, 1963–89: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2014–1188, 85 p.,

ISSN 2331-1258 (online)




Area Description

Management History

Vegetation Surveys

Preliminary Summary of the WSA Plant Community

Additional Data Resources

Data Management Strategy


References Cited


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