Sunday, July 22, 2012

Vegetative Transects

You ask, "What is that?"  We did...well here goes.  Just another one of our jobs while here at Arapaho NWR.

Armed with all the gear we would need to accomplish our task:  Trimble (gps), survey sheets, orange measuring pole, measuring tape, chair, compass and metal detector.  Wallace is putting in the information on the gps to get started locating this little round metal device called a monument.  The size of a half dollar.  No easy task.

It's kinda like looking for a needle in a haystack!!!  Once it is found, we place a spike in the ground on the right side and attach the measuring tape to it.  We then set the compass to a pre-determined heading, then walk straight out 100 feet and secure the tape at the other end with another spike.  Now the fun begins...Wallace has the hard part.  He now uses the orange measuring pole, puts it straight down the mark that is on the measuring tape and tells me what plant, the height and what is touching the bottom of the pole.  Everything that touches this orange pole gets recorded.

There are 100 readings, and it is backbreaking work!!!  He is the brain and the brawn in this effort...I am just the scribe.

Sound like fun?  There are over 200 transects and everybody pitches in at different areas on the refuge.  These are upland transects.  Next we will be doing them in the meadows and riparian areas.  Anyway, it is something else new we have learned how to do.  Variety, the spice of life.


  1. What fun (??). They are just starting to do some transects here at this refuge, but are using different methods. One uses two striped poles that are connected by a string and placed a certain distance apart. Then looking down the string they see how much of the opposite pole is hidden by vegetation. It is some sort of a density measurement. They also have some PVC frames that are placed on the ground, and all plants inside the frame are counted. The interns are doing it so Teri and I haven't been involved.

    It is interesting to do different tasks though...


  2. Sounds pretty interesting to me.... except I'd be concerned I didn't know what species the plants are.... Guess that bending over would be good for the waist but hard on the back ;-)

    1. We are also taught what the plants are. If it is grass, we don't have to know the species. If it is a flower, it is a forbe, etc. We were taught sedges have edges, rushes are round and grasses are hollow.

  3. I learned it as "Sedges have edges, Rushes are round, and Grasses have leaves all the way to the ground." Catchy, huh??


  4. Don't you wonder what they do with the data? Are you finding new vegetation, showing the varieties are decreasing (with drought) or changing? I hope you are learning why you are doing this back-breaking job.