Population surveys

I’m looking for a methodology course in performing population surveys. I would like to work with park rangers and admin with goal of surveying plant, fungus, and lichen species in a specific plot of land over time. I’m looking for academic courses that might cover mapping of the area, data collection and verification, and statistical analysis. And/or the opportunity to work with rangers and botanists who are performing research-grade population surveys. My research and statistics skills are a bit rusty but could be buffed up. Any thoughts or suggestions? Thanks, jm1812

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I think field stations will be your best bet for a formal, holistic course. For example, the Mountain Research Station offered a Field Methods in Vegetation Ecology course last summer that seems to match your interests. I don’t know of a complete list of field stations, but the membership of the Organization of Biological Field Stations includes many (most?) in North America. I think courses like this during the academic year at a college/university are few and far between. More often, a general intro to these skills is offered in lab exercises associated with ecology (or even wildlife) courses. These probably don’t have the focus/depth that you want.

Another option is to directly participate in research and learn these skills through that experience. I know several colleagues at universities, museums, botanical gardens, and state/national parks who often recruit volunteers from the community to assist with research. For example, many site leaders for the GLORIA network work with local naturalists to conduct their research surveys. ID skills for local plants/fungi/lichen are super valuable contributions. There are fewer immediate hands-on opportunities for experimental design and data analysis, but doing the field data collection could be a entry point.

Based on your iNat observation map, you may be near some folks I could put you in touch with. It’d be better to have that conversation over direct messages or email rather than this forum.

Thanks for great response! Will check out all links and direct message soon.

EarthWatch may have some of what you are looking for. This is their expedition to Cuba to map biodiversity.

The Mountain Research Station has updated the 2024 course info for Field Methods in Vegetation Ecology


To start with, get yourself a copy of the 1999 Elzinga, et all BLM book Measuring and Mapping Plant Populations (that’s a link to a PDF copy).

This is one of the very best and most comprehensive books on the topic, and one that’s used specifically for exactly the sort of work you’re interested in. When I was putting together a plant monitoring protocol for Shenandoah NP (which is still in use) as part of my grad work I referred to this book heavily.

In terms of availability of courses/programs/etc it kinda depends a lot on whether you’re currently a student or not, what your background is, and what your current work is. All of those things will have an effect on what opportunities are available and which ones you can take advantage of, get the most out of, and contribute the most effectively to.