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.
11.2 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
Utilization Studies and Residual Measurements
Coulloudon, B., K. Eshelman, J. Gianola, N. Habrich, L. Hughes, et al. 1996. Utilization Studies and Residual Measurements. Technical Reference 1734-3. Bureau of Land Management. Denver, Colorado. USDI, BLM
Sampling Vegetation Attributes
Coulloudon, B., K. Eshelman, J. Gianola, N. Habrich, L. Hughes, et al. 1996. Sampling Vegetation Attributes. Technical Reference 1734-4. Bureau of Land Management. Denver, Colorado. USDI, BLM
Stubble Height and Utilization Measurements: Uses and Misuses
Heitschmidt, R., et al. 1998. Stubble Height and Utilization Measurements: Uses and Misuses. Station Bulletin 682-E. Oregon State University-Agricultural Extension Service.
Evaluating Zones of Utilization
Anderson, E.W., and W.F. Currier. 1973. Evaluating Zones of Utilization. Journal of Range Management. 26: 87-91.
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 120-132.
The Grazed-Class Method to Estimate Forage Utilization on Transitory Forest Rangelands
Kingery, J.L., C. Boyd, and P.E. Kingery. 1992. The Grazed-Class Method to Estimate Forage Utilization on Transitory Forest Rangelands. Station Bulletin 54. University of Idaho, College of Forestry, Wildlife and Range Science
A Photographic Utilization Guide for Key Riparian Graminoids
Kinney, J.W., and W.P. Clary. 1994. A Photographic Utilization Guide for Key Riparian Graminoids. Report INT-GTR-308. United States Department of Agriculture-Forest Service.
Forage Use: a Tool for Planning Range Management
Lacey, J.R., and W.P. Volk. 1988. Forage Use: a Tool for Planning Range Management. Montana State University Extension Service.
Estimating Range Use with Grazed-class Photo Guides
Schmutz, E.M. 1978. Estimating Range Use with Grazed-class Photo Guides. Bulletin A-73. University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Service and Agricultural Experiment Station.
The University of Arizona-Rangelands West provides an excellent online resource with information about Rangeland Inventory, Monitoring, and Evaluation and specifically about Methods to Determine Utilization under the Management Applications chapter, Utilization section.
The LandscapeToolbox is a useful site for finding tools and methods for effective rangeland management, such as Utilization-Grazed Class Method (photo methods), Utilization-Woody Species Use, Utilization-Key Species Method, and Landscape Appearance Method.
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 utilization. Click the links to watch the videos.