Terrestrial Vegetation Monitoring Protocols

Recently, concerns about the impact of climate change, toxins in the environment, and land-use change have raised public concern about the potential loss of certain valued species or ecosystems and the effect this might have on future human health and economic well-being. Long-term ecological monitoring is one way to document changes in plant ecosystems, at what rate, and with what results. Monitoring results can also potentially provide indicators of system changes that are likely to occur, and thus allow for preventative or adaptive action. The protocols presented here are a set of robust methods recommended for long-term monitoring of plant species diversity. The use of these protocols will enable observers to document changes in species and therefore ecosystem change over the long term. They are to be used in conjunction with protocols for monitoring other terrestrial organisms living above or below ground, and for monitoring selected climatic and other abiotic variables. The focus of this set of protocols is the above ground vegetation components of forest and non-forest ecosystems. In the future, methods for monitoring other plant groups are an intended addition. These protocols all yield useful information on community composition and performance of the plant species that make up Canadian ecosystems.

  • Author: Patricia Roberts-Pichette and Lynn Gillespie
  • ©1999 Ecological Monitoring Coordinating Office
  • Pages: 142