Fundamentals of science-based vegetation surveying and how to include the bryophytes and lichens

September 23, 2020 - 12:00pm to September 24, 2020 - 12:00pm(PDT/PST)
Online portion & field trip in Revelstoke

Event organized by the Columbia Mountains Institute of Applied Ecology

Course Description 

All vegetation surveys should be grounded in science. Surveyors have an ethical responsibility to ensure that sampling is appropriate, avoids bias, and generates results that are reproducible. This course is designed to remind and reinforce vegetation surveyors’ understanding of these tenets of science and how they apply to vegetation surveys: This will ensure that surveyors collect and present defensible baseline data. This course offers a pragmatic, common sense approach to surveying and learning and has a strong component helping surveyors to include bryophytes and lichens in their surveys. A basic understanding of plant identification would be helpful for attendees of the course. Please note that this is not a plant taxonomy course. However, the instructor will be available to help identify plants encountered during the field days.

This course will start with an pre-recorded, online lecture on the basics of science and how it relates to vegetation surveying; how surveyors are acting in the public interest; the ethical responsibilities of surveyors; and the types of survey that should be used to collect baseline data. The course will then move onto a two-day field visit to different habitats where attendees will practice surveying techniques for both floristic and structural surveys. This component will further include a thorough grounding in how to survey for and collect bryophytes and lichens.

As we know that summer is a busy time for field work and other, this course is scheduled for the fall. While this isn’t optimal timing for plant ID this is not a taxonomic course – watch for these come spring time!

Course objectives: 

  • Understand fundamental scientific principles and how they apply to vegetation surveying.
  • Learn about the two different types of survey: Floristic and structural.
  • Gain a practical understanding of how to conduct vegetation surveys in a scientific and defensible manner.
  • Understand how data, when not collected appropriately, can be very easily undermined, or refuted, using science.
  • Learn how to collect bryophytes and lichens for microscopic determination, or identification by third parties.

Course instructor

Peter Whitehead is a trained vegetation ecologist (University of Lancaster, UK) and has a Ph.D. from the University of Reading, UK. For the last 28 years, he has had a successful career working as an ecologist in both Europe and Western Canada. Peter set up the Western Canada Bryophyte and Lichen Interest Group (WCBLIG) in 2009, which currently has over 150 participants. He volunteers teaching plant and bryophyte identification for the Alberta Native Plant Council and through WCBLIG. Peter is also a co-founder of Serious About Science, a consortium of professionals who advocate for science-based baseline data collection. Peter is the director of Cape Ecology Ltd. You can connect with Peter via 

For more information and to register click here.