1. Introduction to Vegetation Inventory, Assessment, and Monitoring
The purpose of this section is to explore steps in designing and conducting vegetation monitoring projects. Specific concepts and tools will complete the story in subsequent sections of this course.
2. Sampling Principles
This unit focuses on the principles of sampling: why we sample, the relationship between population parameters and sample statistics, accuracy and precision, types of error and their causes, and using confidence intervals to make inferences about populations. Very simply, we sample so that we can gather accurate and precise information about populations, and to make inferences about populations with confidence.
3. Sampling Design
This module focuses on the elements of sampling design. Sampling design encompasses all of the practical components of a sampling endeavor: where to sample, what to sample, and how to sample!
4. Monitoring Implementation, Data Quality, and Best Practices
Data management is fundamental to any type of data gathering activity. It is a process that includes many steps, each of which provide opportunities to introduce non-sampling errors related to human error. This module focuses on the best management practices that can be used to reduce or eliminate potential errors associated with data management.
5. Indicators, Methods, Descriptors, and Covariates
This section explores the distinctions between indicators and methods, introduces the concepts of site descriptors and covariates that are used to help classify and interpret monitoring data.
This module focuses on plant density: what it is, how it is measured, and how density data are used by land managers to inform resource management decisions. Very simply, density is defined as the number of individuals per unit area, and reflects the closeness of individuals.
This module focuses on plant frequency: what it is, how it is measured, and how frequency data are used by land managers to inform resource management decisions. Very simply, frequency measurements record the presence of species in quadrats or plots placed repeatedly across a stand of vegetation. Frequency reflects the probability of finding a species at any location in the vegetated area.
This module focuses on cover: what it is, how it is measured, and how cover data are used by land managers to inform resource management decisions.
9. Vegetation Height and Structure
This module focuses on vegetation structure: what structure represents, how it is measured, and how information about vegetation structure is used to inform resource management decisions. Very simply, vegetation structure refers to the three-dimensional arrangement of plants and plant materials on a site or across a landscape. Vegetation structure is primarily influenced by plant cover on horizontal and vertical planes.
10. Biomass and Production
This module focuses on plant biomass: what it is, how it is measured, and how biomass data are used by land managers to inform resource management decisions.
This module focuses on plant utilization: what it is, how it is measured, and how utilization data are used by land managers to inform resource management decisions.
12. Composition, Diversity, Similarity
This module focuses on plant community diversity: how it is described, how it is measured, and how diversity is interpreted by land managers to inform management decisions.
13. Remote Sensing for Vegetation Monitoring and Assessment
Remote sensing techniques offer many opportunities to inform, supplement, and sometimes replace traditional field-based aproaches to vegetation assessment and monitoring. This module explores ways in which remote sensing can be used in monitoring and provides example applications.
14. Assessment and Monitoring Programs
This module explores some established rangeland assessment and monitoring programs, describes their protocols, and discusses how the collected data are used in management decision making.
10.4 Additional Learning Resources
For further reading and learning materials on vegetation inventory and monitoring topics, explore the following material:
The following reading materials discuss general and in-depth monitoring concepts and practices. Click the link to read the following materials.
Measuring and Monitoring Plant Populations
Elzinga, C.L., D.W. Salzer and J.W. Willoughby. 1998. Measuring and Monitoring Plant Populations. Technical Reference 1730-1. Bureau of Land Management. Denver, Colorado. USDI, BLM
Plant Frequency Sampling for Monitoring Rangelands
Despain, D.W., and E.L. Smith. 1991. The Comparative Yield Method for Estimating Range Productivity. In: G.B. Ruyle. (ed). Some methods for monitoring rangelands and other natural area vegetation. University of Arizona, College of Agriculture, Extension Report 9043. pp. 27-48.
Smith, E.L, and D.W. Despain. 1991. The Dry-weight Rank Method of Estimating Plant Species Composition. In: G.B. Ruyle. (ed). Some methods for monitoring rangelands and other natural area vegetation. University of Arizona, College of Agriculture, Extension Report 9043. pp. 49-62.
Sampling Vegetation Attributes
Coulloudon, B., K. Eshelman, J. Gianola, N. Habrich, L. Hughes, et al. 1996. Sampling Vegetation Attributes. Denver, Colorado: United States Department of Agriculture- Bureau of Land Management, National Business Center.
Measurements for Terrestrial Vegetation
Bonham, C.D. 1989. Measurements for terrestrial vegetation. John Wiley & Son, New York, NY. pp 49-88.
Range Research: Basic Problems and Techniques
Cook, C.W., and J. Stubbendieck. (eds). 1986. Range research: Basic problems and techniques. Society for Range Management, Denver, CO. pp 215-216.
The University of Arizona provides an excellent online resource with information about sampling and vegetation measurements for inventory and monitoring
The LandscapeToolbox is a useful site for finding tools and methods for effective rangeland management, such as plant production-harvesting, plant production-estimating, and plant production-double sampling.
The USDA-NRCS (2006) National Range and Pasture Handbook provides information on methods of conducting biomass and dry-weight conversion tables.
The following videos discuss concepts and techniques of measuring biomass. Click the links to watch the videos.