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Simple УEyeФ Survey of the Field Study Site

© Alexsander S. Bogolyubov, Russia, 1999

© Michael J. Brody, USA, 2003

Simple УEyeФ Survey of the Field Study SiteThis manual describes a procedure for creating a simple "eye" survey of a field study site leading to a large-scale map of the study area. It contains several different techniques of complex surveying including: field sketching, a method of detour, polar method, a method of intersections and a method of perpendiculars.

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.


Conducting ecological field studies creates the need to plot observed objects, phenomena and sites on a map. That, in turn, entails mastering skills of correct map-and plan making and their proper usage.

The simplest methods of field site survey are usually applied in the course of ecological studies; they do not require special equipment or precise instruments. Such studies usually involve large-scale surveying, i.e. survey of small field sites with high detail.

A draft, where a horizontal projection of a small site is taken as being flat and plotted in a reduced and similar form is called a plan.

A draft, where a large site or the whole area is plotted taking into consideration its general contour or relief, is called a map.

A survey that allows a person to make a plan or a map without taking into account relief and crookedness of the surface is called plane survey.

A survey that allows the study of heights of certain sites is called vertical surveying or leveling.

Students will master the simplest skills of plane surveying with the help of only a compass and by counting steps at the given practical part of the lesson. They will not require any other equipment or instruments except a tape measure and a stable flat surface.

Introductory part of the lesson

The lesson should begin with some instruction: students should review concepts of a plan, a map, scale and conventions, which have been learned earlier in the lesson devoted to orienteering (Lesson #1, fall).

The introductory or theoretical part of the lesson should contain an explanation of techniques for eye surveying an area Ц making a field sketch, a method of detour, a polar method, method of intersections and a method of perpendiculars. The subsequent fieldwork will likely include all or some the above-mentioned techniques depending on the structure of the area and objects for surveying. Each of the techniques is described below in corresponding chapters.

Students should again master the practical skills of angles (azimuths) measurement (reminder: an azimuth is an angle between the direction to the North and the direction to the desired object, which is measured clockwise) as well as skills of distance measurement by counting steps (see Lesson #1, fall).

Structure of the field studies

Objectives of the present practical lesson include making a plan of the site in the immediate vicinity of the school or ecological field study center, onto which the main landmarks are plotted: forest tracks, water-bodies, roads, paths, forest cuttings, buildings, power transmission lines, etc. The size of the site for surveying depends on the number of students who accomplish the task and the structure of the site, i.e. the УsimplicityФ of the given area.

Students usually work in groups of 10-12 people in the Ecological Field Study Center УEcosystem," which is located in a forest massif. They make a survey of part of a forest site that measures 500 m x 500 m. At the same time, a group of the same number of students conducts a survey of another site, located in the river floodplain, with a size of only 50 m x 100 m. It is obvious that the time spent on surveying depends on the number of details that have to be plotted on a map. There are only two glades, one path and four forest cuttings along the perimeter of the forest site, whereas a small site in the floodplain contains a meandering shoreline, a stream, several paths, a lake, a slope of the terrace located above the floodplain, etc. In other words, the teacher determines the size of the site for surveying according to the complexity of the task.

The number of students who work together also depends on the structure of the site. When surveying a complex site, for example, a river floodplain, it is optimal to divide the group into teams of 3-4 students. Each team should be given a certain site for surveying so that the surveyed sites can be combined into one general plan of the area at the closing part of the lesson.

When surveying a simple but vast site, for instance, a rectangular forest massif, it is advised to divide the group into smaller teams of two students and each of them is ...


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 УEyeФ 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 BirdsТ 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 LeavesТ Asymmetry

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