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.
1.4: 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
Monitoring Manual: Volume 1
Herrick, J.E., J.W. Van Zee, K.M. Havstad, L.M. Burkett and W.G. Whitford. 2009. Monitoring manual for grassland, shrubland and savanna ecosystems. Volume I: Quick Start. Tucson, Arizona: The University of Arizona Press.
Sampling Vegetation Attributes
Couloudon B., et al. 1996. Sampling Vegetation Attributes: Interagency Technical Reference. U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, National Applied Resource Sciences Center, Denver, CO. BLM/RS/ST-96/002+1730. 163 pp.
Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health
Pellant, M., P. Shaver, D.A. Pyke, and J.E. Herrick. 2005.Interpreting indicators of rangeland health, version 4. Technical Reference 1734-6. U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, National Science and Technology Center, Denver, CO. BLM/WO/ST-00/001+1734/REV05. 122 pp.
2007 Vegetation Monitoring-Swan Coastal Plain
Loomes, R., J. Wilson, and R. Froend. 2008.2007 Vegetation Monitoring-Swan Coastal Plain. Center for Ecosystem Management, ECU Joondalup, CEM report no. 2007 – 15.
Blackwood Creek Restoration Project (Phases IIIA & IIIB)
Engelhardt, B., and S. Gross. 2011. Blackwood Creek Restoration Project (Phases IIIA & IIIB)- 2010 Vegetation Monitoring Report. USDA Forest Service, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.
The University of Arizona provides a specific example of how to set land management and monitoring objectives for ranching and grazing: Rangeland Monitoring on Western Uplands
The following videos discuss general monitoring concepts. Click the link to watch the video:
Why Do We Monitor Rangelands?: Lamar Smith, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension
Rangeland Trend Monitoring- A Rancher’s Perspective: Montana USDA-NRCS
The Importance of Range Monitoring: North Dakota State University Extension Service
Introduction (Monitoring): Jeff Herrick, USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range
Land of Contrasts- Ranching’s Commitment to Oregon: Oregon Cattlemen’s Association and Oregon Beef Council