Course Archive

BIOL 475/689: Vegetation Description and Analysis (3 credits)

Fall 2012 - Syllabus: General information & grading - Course schedule - Full Syllabus (PDF, revised Nov. 20)
Additional Information: Lab Handouts & Reading materials (PDFs) - Plant List - Plant Characteristics - Plant Keys

Course schedule and reading assignments

Kent = Kent, M. 2012. Vegetation Description and Data Analysis: A Practical Approach. Wiley-Blackwell. New York.

MD&E = Mueller-Dombois, L.D., Ellenberg, H. 1974. Aims and Methods of Vegetation Ecology. John Wiley and Sons. New York. 547.

McC&G = McCune, B., Grace, J.B., Urban, D.L. 2002. Analysis of Ecological Communities. MJM Software Design. Gleneden Beach, OR. 304. MJM Software Design.

DateTopics/ActivitiesReading assignmentsAssignments DUE
 Labs are highlighted in gray.  
Wed 5 Sept
  1. Lecture 1 (1 hr): Introductions, Overview of course
  2. Lecture 1, Introduction
  3. Lab 1a (2 hr): Site selection and species identification in North Campus Lands
  4. Wear appropriate clothing for being outside for several hours. Rain gear (jacket and pants), water-proof boots, coat, hat, gloves, small pack, water, snack.
  5. Bring hand lens, 8.5 x 10-inch notebook, pencil.
  6. Relevé data forms
  7. Vegetation Field Descriptions Handout
  1. Course syllabus
  2. Kent, Chapter 1, (p. 1-21), "Quantitative plant ecology and vegetation science"
  3. Relevé data forms
  4. Vegetation Field Descriptions Handout
  5. MD&E Chapter 5, (45-66). The Releve Method (optional)
Mon 10 Sept Lab 1b, Relevé method, Plot 1
Goal is to collect 4 relevés from each position along the toposequence (hill crest or shoulder, side slope, footslope, 12 relevés total). Be sure to carefully mark corners of plots with pin flags and get GPS coordinates so you can return to these sites.
Kent, Chapter 2, (p. 23-48), "Environmental gradients, plant communities and vegetation dynamics". 
Wed 12 SeptLab 1c: Relevé method, Plot 2
  1. Kent, Chapter 3. Focus on p. 60-65 ("Quadrats")
  2. Be familiar with identification of common boreal plants. Review trees, and shrubs at Plant List.
Hand in relevé sheets at end of class for check.
Mon 17 SeptLab 1d, Relevé method, Plot 3
  1. Kent, Chapter 3, (p. 65-78) "Measures of species abundance"
  2. Appendices for USNVC approach, Appendix 2A (beginning on page 2A-1), "Example Field Forms and Instructions"
  3. ***Supplementary material for graduate students: Westhoff, V. and E. van der Maarel. 1978. The Braun-Blanquet approach. Pages 287-399 in R. H. Whittaker, editor. Classification of Plant Communities. W. Junk, Den Haag. To be read during next several lessons
Hand in relevé sheets at end of class for check
Wed 19 Sept Lab 1e, Relevé method, Plots 4 and 10  Hand in relevé sheets at end of class for check
Mon 24 Sept Lab 1f, Relevé method, Plots 5 and 11
Relevé data forms
Vegetation Field Descriptions Handout
Relevé data forms
Vegetation Field Descriptions Handout
Field description 1, due Wed 24 Sep
Wed 26 Sept Lab 1g, Relevé method, Plots 6 and 12 Review relevé method and compare with Appendix D in USNVC approach (NOTE: this link has been updated to 2008, version 2) Field description 2, due Mon 1 Oct
Mon 1 Oct Lab 1h, Relevé method, Plots 7, 8, and 9.   Field description 3, due Fri 5 Oct
Wed 3 Oct. Lab 1i, Collect soils from all relevés and clean up plot markers NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service). 2004. Soil survey of the greater Fairbanks area, Alaska
Read p. 11-15, skim rest of document
Mon 8 Oct Lab 2: Forest sampling, plotless sampling, point-centered quarter method
Lab 2 handout, including calculation of importance values
  1. MD&E Chapter 7 (p. 93-135) "Count plot method and plotless sampling methods"
  2. Lab 2 handout, including calculation of importance values
Wed 10 Oct Lab 3: Point-intercept sampling approach, Buckner optical sighting device, and tree heights
Lab 3 handout. Including sampling protocols for Optical Sighting Device and Sunto clinometer
  1. MD&E. Chapter 6, (p. 84-92), "Point intercept method"
  2. Lab 3 handout. Including sampling protocols for Optical Sighting Device and Sunto clinometer
Mon 15 Oct
  1. Lecture 2: Community Concepts
  2. Lecture 2: Community Concepts
  3. Review revised syllabus and grading criteria
  4. 3. Labs 1, 2, & 3 status
  5. Mid-term notebook check
  6. Discussion of Final Presentation ideas
  1. Kent, Chapter 1 (p. 1-21) "Quantitative plant ecology and vegetation science")
  2. Kent, Chapter 2 (p. 23-48), "Environmental gradients, plant communities and vegetation dynamics"
Mid-term notebook check
Wed 17 Oct
  1. Lecture 3: Vegetation sampling. Subjective vs. objective sampling, Relevé sampling, USNVC sampling, minimal area, measuring cover, frequency, density
  2. Lecture 3: Vegetation Sampling
  3. Lab 4: Data entry of relevé data (Bring your lap tops)
  1. Kent, Chapter 3. Focus on p. 60-65 ("Quadrats")
  2. Kent, Chapter 3, (p. 65-78) "Measures of species abundance")
  1. Lab 2 (PCQ method) due Mon 17 Oct
  2. Lab 3 (Point sampling and tree heights) due Wed 17 Oct
Mon 22 Oct Lecture 4: Soils
Lecture 4: Soils
  1. Barbour et al. (1987). Chapter 17. Soils, p. 407-433.
  2. see also: Web soil survey (select large green button at top, "Start WSS")
Wed 24 Oct Lab 4: Herbarium: plant identification
Museum Herbarium.
Lab 4 Handout (Herbarium Lab)
  1. Lab 4 Handout (Herbarium Lab)
  2. Flora of Alaska boreal forests and tundra, plant identification keys
  3. Be familiar with identification of common boreal plants at Plant List
  1. Replace temporary species names with confirmed species names on relevé forms. Submit for checking.
  2. Proposals for final papers (25 points)
Mon 29 Oct Lecture 5: Ordination 1: Direct gradient analysis, weighted averaging
Lecture 5, Ordination 1
  1. Kent, Chapter 6 "Ordination methods" through "the continuum index and weighted averages ordination" (p. 171-178)
  2. McC&G, Chapter 5 "Species on environmental gradients" (p. 35-43)
Wed 31 OctLab 5: Soils analyses: pH, grain size, soil color
(Soils Lab, 335 O'Neil Bldg).
Lab 5 handout (Soils)
  1. Barbour et al. (1987). Chapter 17. Soils, p. 407-433
  2. Lab 5 handout (Soils)
  1. Preliminary outlines final papers and oral presentations (25 points)
  2. Turn in soils data for checking (Volunteers needed for keypunching)
Mon 5 NovLecture 6: Ordination 2: Indirect ordination: Bray and Curtis ordination (polar ordination, PO).
Lecture 6, Ordination 2
Kent Chapter 6, "Ordination methods" through "Bray and Curtis (polar) ordination" (pp. 178-194). 
Wed. 7 NovLab 6: Species and environmental data matrices, relevé data entry and preparation for ordination with PC-Ord
(computer lab, 301 Bunnell Bldg.).
Kent Chapter 4 "Nature and properties of vegetation data", pp. 101-120 Submit Lab #6 Final species and environmental data matrices at end of lab for check.
Mon 12 NovLecture 7: Ordination 3: Principal components analysis (PCA), Correspondence analysis (CA), Reciprocal Averaging (RA), Detrended correspondence analysis (DCA).
Lecture 7
Kent, Chapter 6, "Ordination methods" through "Principal components analysis (PCA)" (pp. 194-214).  
Wed 14 NovLab 7: Introduction to PC-ORD - Polar ordination.
Lab 7 Handout (Polar ordination)
  1. Lab 7 Handout (Polar ordination)
  2. McC&G, Chapter 13, "Introduction to Ordination" (p. 102-113).
  3. McC&G, Chapter 17, "Bray and Curtis (Polar) ordination" (p. 143-148)
  4. McC&G, Chapter 14, "Principal components analysis" (p. 114-121)
Submit Lab #7 "Polar Ordination" at end of lab for check.
Mon 19 Nov Lecture 8: Ordination 4: Reciprocal Averaging (RA), Correspondence analysis (CA), Detrended correspondence analysis (DCA).
Lecture 8
Kent Chapter 6, through "Detrended Correspondence Analysis" (pp. 214-236).  
Wed 21 Nov Lab 8: PC-ORD – Ordination using eigenvector methods; Detrended correspondence Analysis (DCA). Exploration of NMDS, CCA, dendrograms and TWINSPAN in PC-ORD.
Ina Timling's figure
(computer lab, 301 Bunnell Bldg.).
Lab 8 Handout
  1. Lab 8 Handout
  2. Kent Chapter 6, through "Ordination and multivariate analysis as panacea" (pp. 237-254).
  3. Kent Chapter 8, "Numerical classification, cluster analysis and phytosociology" (p. 307-338).
Write up of Lab 7-8 (Indirect ordination) is due Monday 26 Nov.
22-25 Nov   -- THANKSGIVING BREAK --
Mon 26 NovLecture 9: Overview of:
  1. Braun-Blanquet Table analysis & syntaxonomy
  2. US National Vegetation Classification
  3. Lecture 9
  1. Kent, Chapter 7, (p. 243-275), Phytosociology and the Zurich-Montpellier (Braun-Blanquet) school of subjective classification
  2. Faber-Langendoen, D., R. H. Crawford, and D. L. Tart. 2009. Contours of the revised U.S. national vegetation classification standard. Bull. Ecol. Soc. Am.:87-93
  3. Assign readings for Monday 3 Dec.
Submit Lab 7-8 "Indirect Ordination" for grade (100 pts).
Wed 28 Nov Lab 9 – Table sorting and classification of class data using Excel. (computer lab, 301 Bunnell Bldg.)
Lab 9 handout
  1. Lab 9. Sorted Table analysis.
  2. MD&E Chapter 5, 45-66, The relevé method.
  1. Notebooks due for grade (200 pts).
  2. Submit Lab 9 Sorted Table analysis for check.
    Note: Final Table is due Wednesday 5 Dec.
Mon 3 DecLecture 10: Discussion of Hollingsworth et al. (2006) (PDF); and Schickhoff et al. (2002) papers (PDF).
  1. T. N. Hollingsworth, M. D. Walker, F. S. Chapin III, and A. L. Parsons, "Scale-dependent environmental controls over species composition in Alaskan black spruce communities," Canadian Journal of Forest research, vol. 36, no. 7, pp. 1781–1796, 2006.
  2. U. Schickhoff, M. D. Walker, and D. A. Walker, "Riparian willow communities on the Arctic Slope of Alaska and their environmental relationships: A classification and ordination analysis," Phytocoenologia, vol. 32, no. 2, pp. 145–204, 2002.
Wed. 5 DecLab 10 - Table sorting, analyses for final paper
(computer lab, 301 Bunnell Bldg.).
  Submit Lab 9 "Sorted Tables" for grade (100 pts).
Mon. 10 Dec.Questions and writing on papers. First draft of papers due for check of progress.
Wed Dec 12Student oral presentations.  Send copy of oral presentations to Skip (100 pts for undergraduates, 200 pts for graduate students).
Fri 14 Dec.  Final papers due.
Send .doc file to Skip (100 pts for undergraduates, 300 pts for graduate students).

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