Vegetation Sampling and Analysis for Wetlands

Authored by: Ralph W. Tiner

Wetland Indicators

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  December  2016

Print ISBN: 9781439853696
eBook ISBN: 9781315374710
Adobe ISBN:


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Various techniques have been used to characterize wetland vegetation. Some are simply visual observations for general descriptions (e.g., for state wetland reports by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wetlands Inventory) or for routine wetland determinations for regulatory purposes (see Chapter 6). For ecological studies or more qualitative regulatory assessments, several vegetation sampling techniques are used, including plot-based methods and plotless methods. The following review summarizes the more commonly used techniques, with particular emphasis on their use for wetland identification and delineation. Some tips on vegetation sampling in wetlands are offered. Examples of plant community data are presented to demonstrate how to analyze such data for identification of potential hydrophytic vegetation. Accompanying exercises are given at the end of the chapter to help readers make sure that analysis procedures are fully understood. For more complete reviews of scientific methods for characterizing vegetation, consult Mueller-Dombois and Ellenberg (1974), Barbour et al. (1980), Gauch (1982), Kent and Coker (1992), Gregoire and Valentine (2007), Kent (2012), and Bonham (2013). This chapter is intended to give readers a good understanding of the techniques that form the basis for vegetation sampling used in various wetland delineation manuals (Chapter 6) and a better idea of how to select representative areas and to use certain measures for determining dominant species and for characterizing plant communities.

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