Principles of Vegetation Measurement & Assessment
and Ecological Monitoring & Analysis


Veg Sampling
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Dr. Karen Launchbaugh

UI Rangeland Center
College of Natural Resources
Phone: (208) 885-4394

Sandya R Kesoju

Assistant Instructor
Dept. of Plant, Soil, and Entomological Sciences

Course Elements

Course Structure

As you can see from the Lesson Schedule, this course is divided into 9 modules, each presenting a different topic related to vegetation measurement or assessment. We will spend 1 to 2 week on each topic. In each module you will find the following information:

  1. A list of learning objectives for the module to let you know where you should be headed.
  2. A web page presentation of basic information.
  3. Reading assignments.
  4. Homework assignments covering material from the readings.
  5. A quizzes or assignment covering material from the above sources.
  6. An assignment to summarize or interpret data relevant to the topic presented in each module.

Quizzes and Homework

Each module will include two basic outputs to assess student learning.

  • Most modules will include a series of questions or a quiz on basic elements of the topic.
  • Most modules will include a set of data, usually in Microsoft Excel format, that must be summarized and/or analyzed.  A summary report will be requested based on this exploration of data.

All the quizzes and assignments in the course are open book, open notes, open internet, but NOT "open neighbor"! Even if you live in the same location as a classmate, you must do these alone, individually, by yourself.

Course Information

Course Objectives

A solid understanding of vegetation structure and composition is necessary to determine how activities on rangelands and forested lands will affect wildlife habitat, livestock forage, fire behavior, watershed characteristics, and many other wildland values.


This course will help you gain a foundation of knowledge necessary to:

  1. Recognize the rangeland and forest vegetation attributes that can be measured and quantified.

  2. Make wise decisions about which attributes to assess or monitor based on the limitations or values associated with specific attributes.

  3. Be familiar with major field protocols for measuring vegetation characteristics and be able to select which protocol is most relevant for meeting objectives.

  4. Summarize, discuss, and present assessment results.

Plagiarism and Cheating

Plagiarism is including graphs, pictures, figures, and direct statements from an author without recognizing their contribution.  Plagiarism is not acceptable behavior in this class.  To learn more about plagiarism visit: and guidelines to avoid plagiarism by Dr. Beth Newingham. It is very important that all of your answers be original material written by you. DO NOT CUT AND PASTE material from the readings to answer questions.  I realize this is an often acceptable technique in the workplace. However, it is not acceptable in my class. I would consider such behavior plagiarism and will give students engaging in this behavior a 0 for the assignment and consider giving a Failing grade for the course.

Cheating will also not be tolerated in this class.  You can work with other to get ideas, help with calculation, or get feedback on your final response. However, when you sit down at the computer to compose your assignments. Every word you type needs to be your own. DO NOT get assignments from a friend and just reword a few sentences and state that you wrote it.


Module Content Summary Date Due Data Summary Date Due Total Points
1 - Overview 25 28-Aug - - 25
2 - Sampling 30 04-Sep - - 30
3 - Soils & ESDs 30 13-Sep - - 30
4 - Range Health 30 18-Sep   - 30
5 - Density 25 25-Sep 60 02-Oct 85
6 - Frequency 25 09-Oct 60 16-Oct 85
7 - Biomass & Utilization 25 23-Oct 60 30-Oct 85
8 - Cover 25 06-Nov 60 13-Nov 85
9 - Diversity & Dominance 25 27-Nov 60 04-Dec 85
Summary 60 13-Dec - - 60

Total         600

** All assignments will be accepted by Blackboard. All assignments are due a midnight on Tuesday Nights throughout the semester.

**Late assignments will be accepted for up to 6 days late (till midnight on the Saturday night after the assignment was due) with a 50% point reduction. After 1 week beyond the due date, late assignments will not be accepted.

Evaluation of Assignments

Criteria % of Points
  • Was all requested information included and adequately described?
  • Was information presented correct and accurate?
  • Were results and recommendations presented in a clear decisive way?
Professionalism and Format
  • Free of typos?
  • Format okay?
  • Heading included?
  • Introduction included?
  • Summary included?

Required & Recommended Books

The following books will be referred to as required or background reading for this course.  The following texts are Interagency Technical References that are available free for download:

  • Sampling Vegetation Attributes BLM/ST_96/002+173 ( 18 MB)
    Coulloudon, B. et al. 1999. Sampling Vegetation Attributes, Technical Reference 1734-4, Bureau of Land Management. Denver, Colorado. BLM/RS/ST-96/002+1730
  • Measuring & Monitoring Plant Populations  BLM/RS/ST-98/005+1730 (5.1 MB). 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 

The following books are also excellent references for vegetation measurement and are recommended for purchase:

  • Elzinga C.L., D.W. Salzer, J.W. Willoughby and J.P.Gibbs. 2001. Monitoring Plant and Animal Populations. Blackwell Science.
  • Bonham, C.D. 1989. Measurements for terrestrial vegetation. John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY.