Principles of Vegetation Measurement & Assessment
and Ecological Monitoring & Analysis


Veg Sampling
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Module 8 - Vegetative Cover

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Lesson Instructions

  1. Read through the Overview and Learning Objectives.
  2. Complete the Required Reading.
  3. Read and review the Lectures.
  4. Visit suggested Internet Sites in the lectures.
  5. Check the schedule for the required Assignment.
  6. Complete assignments and submit by Blackboard:
       Content Summary due by Midnight on Tuesday, November 6.
    Data Summary
    due by Midnight on Tuesday, November 13.

ReadingSuggested Further Reading:


  • Sampling to Estimate Cover, Chapter 12 (pp 219-222), Monitoring Plant & Animal Populations by C.L. Elzinga et al. 2001. (Blackwell Science).

  • Frequency & Cover, Chapter 4 (pp 89-130), Measurements of Terrestrial Vegetation by Charles Bonham (Wiley)

  • Monitoring Vegetation Cover by Sheila Barry. (University of California Davis Cooperative Extension)


Suggested Internet Sites & Recommended readings:


Learning Materials


Required Reading:

Slides Lecture



What this Lesson Covers


Plant density and frequency are relatively easy to measure and can give a land manager a good idea of how the plant community is changing.  However, it is often important to know what plants are actually controlling the resources on a site and covering the soil. Plus, it is often necessary to measure a plant attribute that will allow comparison of plants across species and growth forms.  The solution to these challenges is the assessment of Vegetative Cover.

In this module, we will explore different types of Cover and overview guidelines on how to apply several techniques designed to asses cover.  And, yes, there will be a few tips to assist with analysis.

Learning Objectives

After this module you will be able to:

  • Understand the value of measuring plant cover to describe ecosystem function and assist in making land management decisions.

  • Explain the difference between ground, basal, foliar, and canopy cover.

  • Describe the basic approaches to point-, line-, and plot-based methods for assessing cover.

  • Summarize cover data to compare plant communities over space and time.