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Study of Forest Invertebrates (Part 2: Grass Layer, Tree Crowns and Air)

© Alexsander S. Bogolyubov, Russia, 2001

© Michael J. Brody, USA, 2003

Study of forest invertebrates (Part 2: grass layer, tree crowns and air)This lesson continues the study of forest invertebrate studies and includes a description of equipment for field studies as well as a description of techniques for collection and census of invertebrates inhabiting grass, tree crowns and shrubs, as well as flying invertebrates.

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.


This field study continues the study of invertebrate animals found in different environments. The first part of the lesson describes the procedures for collecting and censusing insects in the forest litter and wood. Students will learn procedures for collection and censusing of invertebrates inhabiting the grass layer, and tree crowns, as well as flying invertebrates. The introduction of the field study is devoted to general rules of entomological studies and general provisions for procedures of collection and census of invertebrates found in the previous lesson devoted to this topic.

Organization of studies

First, students will learn the different types of habitats of invertebrates and the corresponding ecological groups. The following habitats are found within a forest: soil, forest litter, grass layer, wood (trunks of trees and stumps), crowns of shrubs and trees and the surrounding air environment. Field studies are organized in accordance with this structure; each of these habitats is investigated consecutively.

When preparing for this activity, students should be reminded of the general rules of invertebrate collection, as well as the main techniques and instruments for their collection. We recommend discussing in more detail the ecological groups of invertebrates found in the habitats under study – grass layer, tree crowns and air environment, as well as techniques and instruments of animal collection in these environments.

Practical studies should begin with a lesson devoted to mastering techniques of censusing and collection of invertebrates in grass, tree crowns and in air. The whole group works together during this introductory field session to conduct “demonstrative” censusing following each technique in one of the typical biotopes in the immediate vicinity of the school or field studies center.

The main part of the field research is organized in the following way. The group of students is divided into working teams of 2-3 persons and each team is given an assignment – to study a different biotope within the area under study. When studying a grass layer, habitats can include different types of meadows (for example, a dry meadow at watershed sites and a floodplain meadow), clearings in a forest, agricultural lands, etc. While studying tree crowns they can include crowns of different tree and shrub species or crowns of the same plant species growing in different plant associations, or biotopes. As for the air environment, the diversity of habitats of flying insects is rather high. It is possible to compare forests and open biotopes, natural and urban landscapes, areas at different distances away from a water body, etc.

In regard to techniques for catching and censusing flying invertebrates, it is possible to limit students to two simple methods: a relative route (visual) count of day butterflies and a night census with the help of a light trap (see below). Other techniques for catching flying invertebrates can be used at the discretion of the teacher based on the availability of “student power” resources and time.

One census according to each of the techniques is carried out in each of the biotopes found within the area under study. As in the first part of the field study on forest invertebrates, it is possible to limit the analysis to the following parameters:

- Total taxonomic lists of invertebrates found in different habitats;

- Diversity of species (number of species) in different habitats ...


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 to in a free form.

Ecological Field Studies 4CD Set

Some of these manuals you can also purchase in the form of applications for Android devices on Google Play.

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 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.

Ecological Field Studies Demo Disk


Other Ecological Field Studies Instructive Manuals:

Autumn Season

  1. Orienteering in the Forest
  2. Procedure of the Geological Exposure Description
  3. Plotting a Profile of a River Valley Slope
  4. Simple Procedure of Soil Description
  5. Assessment of the Vital State of a Forest Based on Pine-tree Analysis
  6. Study of Species Composition and Number of Fungi
  7. Study of Species Composition and Census of Birds Using the Line Transect-counting Method
  8. Integrated Study Based on Landscape Profile
  9. Complex Environmental Assessment of Human Impact on an Area
  10. Assessment of Air Pollution by Lichen Indication Method

Winter Season

  1. Making a Campfire
  2. Simple “Eye” Survey of the Field Study Site
  3. Study of Growth Dynamics of Trees Based on Annual Rings
  4. Mapping Forest Vegetation
  5. Green Plants Under Snow
  6. Methods of Observation of a Chickadee Flock's Territorial Behavior
  7. Procedure of Winter Mammals Route Census by Footprints
  8. Study of Mammal Ecology According to Their Tracks
  9. Physical and Chemical Properties of Natural Waters
  10. Study of Snow Cover Profile

Spring Season

  1. Let's Help Birds!
  2. Study of the Ecology of Early Flowering Plants
  3. Phenology of Plant Florescence
  4. Assessment of the Vital State of Coniferous Underbrush
  5. Study of Forest Invertebrates (Part I: Forest Litter, Wood)
  6. Studies of Species Composition and Abundance of Amphibians
  7. Studying Minerals and Rocks in Your Area
  8. Studies of the Day Activity of Singing Birds
  9. Studies of Bird Populations Size by Different Methods
  10. Study of Fauna of Spring Temporary Water Bodies

Summer Season

  1. Making a Herbarium
  2. The Study of Plants in Your Local Environment
  3. Study of the Vertical Structure of a Forest
  4. Study of Forest Invertebrates (Part 2: Grass Layer, Tree Crowns and Air)
  5. Study of Birds’ Nesting Life
  6. Complex Comparative Description of Small Rivers and Streams
  7. The Study of Water Invertebrates in a Local River and Assessment of Its Environmental State
  8. Study of Plankton
  9. Assessment of Ecological Features of Meadows on the Base of Vegetation Cover
  10. Assessment of Environmental State of the Forest Based on Leaves’ Asymmetry

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