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Techniques and Methods 2-A8

Prepared in cooperation with the North Coast and Cascades Network, National Park Service

Forest Vegetation Monitoring Protocol for National Parks in the North Coast and Cascades Network

By Andrea Woodward and Karen M. Hutten, U.S. Geological Survey; John R. Boetsch and Steven A. Acker, Olympic National Park; Regina M. Rochefort and Mignonne M. Bivin, North Cascades National Park; and Laurie L. Kurth, U.S. Forest Service

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (11.8 MB)BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES

Plant communities are the foundation for terrestrial trophic webs and animal habitat, and their structure and species composition are an integrated result of biological and physical drivers (Gates, 1993). Additionally, they have a major role in geologic, geomorphologic and soil development processes (Jenny, 1941; Stevens and Walker, 1970). Throughout most of the Pacific Northwest, environmental conditions support coniferous forests as the dominant vegetation type. In the face of anthropogenic climate change, forests have a global role as potential sinks for atmospheric carbon (Goodale and others, 2002). Consequently, knowledge of the status of forests in the three large parks of the NCCN [that is, Mount Rainier (MORA), North Cascades (NOCA), and Olympic (OLYM) National Parks] is fundamental to understanding the condition of Pacific Northwest ecosystems. Diverse climate and soil properties across the Pacific Northwest result in a variety of forest types (Franklin and Dyrness, 1973; Franklin and others, 1988; Henderson and others, 1989, 1992). The mountainous terrain of Mount Rainier, North Cascades, and Olympic National Parks create steep elevational and precipitation gradients within and among the parks: collectively, these parks span from sea level to more than 4,200 m; and include areas with precipitation from 90 to more than 500 cm. The resulting forests range from coastal rainforests with dense understories and massive trees draped with epiphytes; to areas with drought-adapted Ponderosa pines; to high-elevation subalpine fir forests interspersed with meadows just below treeline (table 1). These forests, in turn, are the foundation for other biotic communities constituting Pacific Northwest ecosystems.

For additional information contact:
Director, Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
777 NW 9th Street
Corvallis, Oregon 97330

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Suggested citation:

Woodward, Andrea, Hutten, K.M., Boetsch,J.R., Acker, S.A., Rochefort, R.M., Bivin, M.M., and Kurth, L.L., 2009, Forest vegetation monitoring protocol for national parks in the North Coast and Cascades Network: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods 2-A8, 228 p.




Background and Objectives

Sampling Design

Field Methods

Data Handling, Analysis, and Reporting

Personnel Requirements and Training

Operational Requirements

References Cited

SOP1: Workspace Setup and Project Records Management

SOP 2: Hiring Guidelines and Procedures

SOP 3: Preparation of Information Packets, Schedules, Equipment, and Supplies

SOP 4: Preparation of Reports, Datasheets, Maps, and Images

SOP 5: Orientation of Field Crew: Park Buildings, Field Preparation, and Safety

SOP 6: Training Field Crews

SOP 7: Preparing for a Field Tour

SOP 8: GPS Use: Navigation, Data Collection, and Downloading

SOP 9: Reconnaissance Form: Evaluation and Reconnaissance for Plot Selection

SOP 10: Establishing and Marking Permanent Monitoring Plots

SOP 11: Establishment Form: Recording Physical and Biotic Characteristics

SOP 12: Event Log: Recording Plot Visit Details and Taking Digital Photographs

SOP 13: Data: Measuring and Mapping Live and Standing Dead Trees

SOP 14: Vegetation Quadrats: Percent Cover and Tree Sapling Measurements

SOP 15: Herbivory: Estimating Herbivory on Shrubs in 5-m Quadrats

SOP 16: Down Woody Material: Measuring CWD, FWD, Duff, and Litter

SOP 17: Lichen Survey: Timed Survey of Epiphytic Lichens

SOP 18: Field Form Handling Procedures

SOP 19: Procedures Following a Field Tour

SOP 20: Photographic Image Processing and Management

SOP 21: Voucher Specimen Identification and Processing

SOP 22: Data Entry and Verification

SOP 23: End of Field Season Debriefing and Close-Out

SOP 24: Data Quality Review and Certification

SOP 25: Metadata Development

SOP 26: Product Delivery Specifications

SOP 27: Sensitive Information Procedures

SOP 28: Product Posting and Distribution

SOP 29: Revising the Protocol

Appendix A. Cover Estimation Method Comparison

Appendix B. Forest Vegetation Monitoring Protocol Database Documentation

Appendix C. Template for Forest Monitoring Annual Report

Appendix D. Guidelines for Collecting Botanical Specimens

Appendix E. Conifer Forest and Woodland Plant Associations of Mount Rainier, Cascades, and Olympic National Parks

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