Name(s):                                                                                        Class:

Habitat Assessment & Biodiversity Survey

There are many different ways to decide if an ecosystem is healthy and if it can function normally.  Today you will conduct a habitat assessment of the wetland by our classroom.  This piece of land collects runoff for the Tualatin River watershed.  Land directly associated with water in a stream is called a riparian area. These areas have plants who are specifically adapted for shady and/ or wet conditions.

Objective: Collect qualitative and quantitative data on a habitat to evaluate if the ecosystem is healthy.

Part A: Habitat Observations

Take a moment to observe the entire defined area.  Complete the following questions for that whole area. In Part B of this study you will focus more specifically on one of 9 smaller areas.

Table 1.1   Habitat Assessment          Complete the following table using your best estimate.

Habitat Type: _________________________________

Down Logs  __ yes  __no        (How many: ____ )

Stumps & Snags   __ yes  __no       (How many: ____ )

Evergreen trees __ yes  __no  

                  #  Less than 6” diameter _____   # Greater than 6” diameter

Deciduous trees __ yes  __no

                  #  Less than 6” diameter _____   # Greater than 6” diameter

Shrubs  __ yes  __no

Invasive species present  __ yes  __no         Types:

Percent cover: Looking at this habitat make your best guess amongst your group

                 % Tree cover: _______

                 % Shrub cover: _______

                 % grass or ground cover: _______

                 % open dirt cover: _______

Describe the various heights/ levels to the habitat:

Standing water present: __ yes  __no
Describe the slope to the area (flat, percent slope):

Part B: Biodiversity Survey

Rather than counting and identifying each plant in the entire habitat, each group will examine one of nine meter wide plots of the habitat areas, collect plant data for those plots, and then evaluate the biodiversity of the entire habitat area using those samples.


  1. With eyes closed, gently toss a hoola-hoop into the designated area.  This area is one of 8 or 9 RANDOMLY selected plots.  *If your hoop hits a tree, adjust the area you monitor to include the tree, as if your hoop could open and close around the tree.

  1. Record each species found within the hoop in Table 2.1.  
  1. If possible identify the species. If the species is unknown, record “unknown” in the table, take a picture and attempt to identify later.

  1. Tally how many times each species is found.

  1. Compare your results with the other 6-8 groups in Table 2.2.  You will be asked to create a graph and assess the biodiversity and health of this ecosystem - WHAT YOU CHOOSE TO GRAPH IS UP TO YOU, BUT YOU WILL NEED DATA FROM OTHER GROUPS, AND THE GRAPH SHOULD HELP TO PRESENT THE DATA COLLECTED.

Table 2.1 - Biodiversity Sample Plot

Species description

Common or scientific name


Native or Non-Native


Example: Spiky purple plant

Oregon Grape



Insect holes and yellowing leaves.  Several groups outside the sample area.

Total Number of species:_______

Abundance:  (example:  25% Himalayan Blackberry, 75% Slough Sedge)

Table 2.2  -  Biodiversity of ALL SAMPLE PLOTS


Total number of species


Species notes










Analysis Questions:

  1. Describe the biodiversity of this ecosystem using the data collected for all 9 sub plots.

  1. Select information from Table 2.2 to graph.  What you graph will depend on what your data shows.  for some groups it may be total species found within the 9 plots, while others may choose to show greatest abundance across plots.  Upload your graph here. 

  1. Analyze some advantages and limitations in analyzing biodiversity with subplots.   Suggest realistic improvements to the survey.


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