Rangeland Ecology & Management

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Counting Individual Plants

Counting plants within clearly defined sample units is one of the earliest techniques used to determine density rangeland vegetation. Counting individuals is usually adopted for herbaceous or small shrub species, because it is easy to count all individual plants in the small sample unit required to accommodate these compact and relatively common species. However, counting becomes more complicated as sample unit size expands to conform to the scale of larger plants, due to problems of defining quadrat or transect boundaries, bias arising from boundary decisions, and our ability to systematically inventory an extensive area.

References and Further Reading

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Becker, D.A., and J.J. Crockett. 1973. Evaluation of sampling techniques on tallgrass prairie. Journal of Range Management 26:61-65. (pdf)

Bonham, C.D. 1989. Measurements for terrestrial vegetation. John Wiley Sons, New York, NY. pp. 141-148.

Cook, C.W., and J. Stubbendieck. (eds). 1986. Range research: Basic problems and techniques. Society for Range Management, Denver, CO. p. 62.

Laycock, W.A. 1985. Density as a method for measuring rangeland vegetation. In W.C. Krueger (Chairman) Symposium on use of frequency and density for rangeland monitoring. Proceeding 38th Annual Meeting, Society for Range Management, Salt Lake City, UT, February 1985. pp. 92-93.

Mueller-Dombois, D., and H. Ellenburg. 1974. Aims and methods of vegetation ecology. John Wiley Sons, New York. pp. 68-70.