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Protocol for Performing a Modified Whittaker Survey

  Robert Harding Whittaker  (December 27, 1920 – October 20, 1980): Plant Ecologist and creator of this method. 

Robert Harding Whittaker (December 27, 1920 – October 20, 1980): Plant Ecologist and creator of this method. 

Members of the Team

Team Supervisor (TS) 

Survey Technician (ST)

Field Technician (FT)  

The following protocol assumes you have already followed the instructions to build a modified Whittaker plot. Follow the link if these instructions are still needed: here


Surveying Subplots 1-10

  1. (TS/FT): Using new data table, write the location, date, and page# on the header of the data table.

Starting at subplot #1 located 4 meters to the east of the SW flag

  1. (TS/FT): Place the upper right corner of the  1 x 0.25 m wooden subplot on flag #1 (31 m mark).
  2. (TS/FT): Make sure subplot box is flush with meter tape. 
  3. (TS/FT): Write the plot#, location, and date on the laminated piece of card-stock with dry erase marker.
  4. (TS/FT): Without obscuring view of the subplot interior, affix the card to the wooden subplot.
  5. (ST): takes photo of subplot and file into appropriate folder. 
  6. (TS/FT): Make tentative identifications of plant species in the subplot and write into Data Sheet.
  7. (TS/FT): Visually estimate percent cover of each plant, rocks, and bare ground in the subplot and log it into Data Sheet.
  8. (TS/FT): Using meter stick, measure heights of up-to 10 members of each species and log into Data Sheet.
  9. (ST): take pictures of each plant in-situ (capture how stems or grass culms grow in relation to the ground, flowers, leaves, etc.); file into an appropriate folder.
  10. (ST): Take one sample of each plant identified in the subplot and a voucher species in the vicinity (outside colony is fine) bearing flowers, fruit, and seed if available. 
  11. (ST): For each species, place all collected examples into folds of newspaper.
  12. (ST): Label the folded newspaper with the following information: location, date, picture file names (if applicable), and field moniker. 
  13. (ST): File all pictures from subplot #1 into a folder labeled Colony [#] Subplot 1.
  14. (ALL): Repeat the above process modified for subplots 2-10

Surveying Subplots 11 & 12

  1. (TS/FT): Make tentative identifications of plant species in subplots 11 & 12 and write into Data Sheet.
  2. (ST): Take a photo of plot 11 &12 and collect specimens as done in subplots 1-10.

Surveying the Subplot 13

  1. (TS/FT): Make note of any formerly unencountered plants in plots 1-12 inside the rest of the Whittaker plot (subplot 13).
  2. (ST): Collect any previously unencountered plants.

Finishing Up

  1. (TS/FT): Pack the plot away
  2. (ST): Compress the collected plants in the field press. 

Extend right and left jazz hands and exclaim "tuhdahhhh!" 

Written by Kevin D. Healey


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