This manual continues the study of landscape components
along the line of a complex landscape profile on the slope of a river or stream valley.
The procedure for a standard geobotanical description of a vegetative cover as well as
general rules for a soil profile and its description are provided. The lesson is aimed at
describing plant associations and underlying soils and their interrelations.
This field study has instructional video
featuring real students conducting the ecological field techniques in nature. Each video
illustrates the primary instructional outcomes and the major steps in accomplishing the
task including reporting the results.
An important aspect of the study of ecological relationships is the determination of
spatial distribution of ecosystem components within the borders of the given territory.
The main task is to reveal interrelations between vegetation and its environment. Such
data can be obtained by two major methods: by making a geobotanical map or as a
result of laying an integrated landscape profile.
The lesson is aimed at describing all plant associations and underlying soils
along the landscape profile, as well as revealing their interrelations.
This study represents a continuation of activities based on laying a profile of a river
valley slope with the help of a leveling survey (Lesson 3, fall). Remember that the
earlier lesson should result in a relief profile of a small river valley slope at a site
of 100-300 meters long with a difference in attitude from 5 up to 15 meters. With the
present lesson, students will study all plant associations found along the profile line
and soils underlying these phytocenoses at the same site.
Additional objects of study may be some components of the animal world (for example,
invertebrates found in ground litter) and microclimate. Larger landscape components (such
as geological foundation, surface waters, vertebrates, etc.) cannot serve as objects for
study due to the small size of studied area.
The following items are required for completion of this educational task: 50
meter measuring tape, previously drawn profile of relief, forms of geobotanical and soil
descriptions (one form for each plant association) and spades.
Laying a Landscape Profile
Information on the procedure of laying down a complex landscape profile is given in the
manual for lesson 3. Here we will only recall the main rules of choosing the site
1. It is advised to choose a site which is not just a slope of a hill or a mountain,
but is a part of the slope of a water-course valley. Ideally, such a site should include
such parts of the valley as: a riverbed, a river channel bank, high floodlands, low
floodlands (for example, a plant-filled old bed of the river), a slope of terrace over the
floodplain, one or several terraces, watershed slope, watershed.
2. It is recommended to choose a site with a slope of about 100-300 meters long with
difference in elevation from 5 up to 15 meters. Study of a shorter site or a site with a
different slope cannot reveal spatial differences in landscape components; whereas studies
of a longer site will be too laborious.
3. It is recommended to make a profile line, along which the leveling survey is carried
out and the soil and geobotanical research will be conducted: a straight line, so that the
whole slope is well observed.
A thoroughly planned profile will allow students to trace plant association
distribution depending on environmental conditions, to understand ecological peculiarities
of plant associations found along the profile, and to carry out their comparative
analysis. If the profile has not been laid in advance and the area of study is flat, it is
recommended to choose a small site (300-500 meters long) with as many different types of
vegetation as possible, with different degrees of wetness or different soil types. It is
always possible to find such a site in any river valley. In any case it is recommended to
pick out a site for studies within a river valley.
Geobotanical Research at the Profile
Geobotanical studies at the profile are aimed at identification of plant associations
and their boundaries along the profile line; geobotanical description of these plant
associations and their mapping on a scheme of the area (in our case, on the profile
(section) of relief).
Geobotanical study starts with the determination of the composition of plant
associations found along the profile line. It is the most “intellectual” part of
work, requiring from students not only the knowledge of certain plant species, but also
familiarization with typical phytocenosis or, conversely, determination of only one plant
association (for example, “forest”). Determining plant associations can be quite
subjective, especially for beginners. In order to make the performance of this initial
stage of work easier for students, a teacher can show and name plant associations along
the profile line.
In a typical case, i.e. when studying a profile along the river valley slope from the
riverbed up to the watershed slope, researchers can find 5-10 plant associations.
They can include, for example, the following plant associations: flood plain meadow (of
2-3 types depending on moisture conditions and composition of plants), floodplain (valley)
This was only the first page from the manual and its full version you can see in the
Ecological Field Studies 4CD Set:
It is possible to purchase the complete set of 40 seasonal Ecological Field
Study Materials (video in mpg + manuals in pdf formats) in an attractive 4 compact disk set.
These compact disks are compatible with Mac and PC computers.
The teacher background information and manuals can be printed out for easy reference.
The videos are suitable for individual student or whole class instruction. To purchase the complete 4CD set
write a request to the authors (in a free form).
Some of these manuals you can also purchase in the form of applications for Android devices on
Ecological Field Studies Demo Disk:
We also have a free and interesting demonstration disk that explains our ecological field studies approach.
The demo disk has short excerpts from all the seasonal field study videos as well as sample text from all the teacher manuals.
The disk has an entertaining automatic walk through which describes the field study approach and explains how field studies meet education standards.
You can also download the Demo Disc from ecosystema.ru/eng/eftm/CD_Demo.iso.
This is a virtual hybrid (for PC and Mac computers) CD-ROM image (one 563 Mb file "CD_Demo.iso").
You can write this image to the CD and use it in your computer in ordinary way.
You also can use emulator software of virtual CD-ROM drive to play the disk directly from your hard disk.
Other Ecological Field Studies Instructive