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Quadrat Analysis

Quadrat Analysis

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Published by Dan Lockward
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Published by: Dan Lockward on Mar 11, 2013
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Analysis of Species in a Transitional and Upland Forest Using QuadratSampling
Daniel LockwardThe Richard Stockton College of New Jersey13 December 2011
The New Jersey Pine Barrens are home to several species of woody plants. In order to further understand their ecological role in the ecosystem, certain methods of sampling can be used.Quadrat sampling of several plots is popular because the data it yields provide specificinformation used to make conclusions about various species. For this study, the goal was tosample an upland forest and transitional forest located on the campus of The Richard StocktonCollege of New Jersey. Beforehand, it was predicted that the transitional forest would not bedominated by pitch pines (
 Pinus rigida)
since it is closer to a wetland ecosystem.
77 plots in a designated upland forest and 46 plots in a transitional forest were sampled per 100m
according to specific strata for trees, saplings, and large shrubs, 10 m
for small shrubs, and 1m
for ground cover.
One plot was removed from each to provide variations in the researchers’
data. To determine whether every individual was a tree or sapling, the diameter breast height wasrecorded using a special roll of measuring tape. A random table of numbers in Geller (2010)determined how many paces to use when selecting different plots in order to avoid overlappingduring sampling. Data was recorded to determine density, frequency, coverage, and importancevalues for each stratum in Excel as per instructions in Geller, (2010). A species area curve, performance curve, and species abundance curve were contrived via these data as graphicalmodels, also per instructions in Geller, (2010).
Both the Upland and Transitional communities were sampled effectively. After the 34
plot, nonew species were found in the upland forest (Figure 1a). In the transitional forest, the bulk of species were found in the first 12 plots with only a select few discovered through plot 46 (Figure1b). A performance curve for pitch pines and white oaks (
Quercus alba
) of the upland forestyielded a steady running average of ~4 and ~2 (Figure 2a). For black gum (
 Nyssa sylvatica
) of the transitional forest, the running average balanced out to ~3 (Figure 2b). All of these datareinforce sample effectiveness.In the upland forest, white oaks and pitch pines made up ~80% of the tree species, indicating thelack of species evenness (Table 2a). Since there were a lot of species that were barelyrepresented, this area also has low species richness. Among the low numbers were the scarlet oak (
Quercus coccinea
), chestnut oak (
Quercus prinus
), post oak (
Quercus stellata
), and sassafras(
Sassafras albidum
) (Table 2a). For saplings, the numbers were a little more even with black gum, white oaks, and pitch pines representing ~5% of species (Table 2a). The same holds true
for shrubs with bayberry (
 Myrica pensylvanica
), huckleberry (
Gaylussacia baccata
), and blueberry (
Vaccinium vacillans
) which represent only .4% of species (Table 2a). The rest of the8 shrubs represent .17% (Table 2a). The transitional forest had higher species richness and lowspecies evenness. Black gum trees dominated at ~29%, and sweet bay magnolia (
), pitch pine, and white oak made up another ~40% (Table 2b). Black gum dominatedin saplings with ~66% representation and tall huckleberry in shrubs with ~50% (Table 2b). In both the upland and transitional forests, trees are the most diverse (Figure 3a, 3b). However, onecannot determine how the diversity of the communities compares to each other because a few plots in the upland forest were not sampled completely and/or thoroughly enough to account for every species. There is insufficient data in this case.According to the coefficient of community similarity, 46% of the species are common in bothcommunities. In the upland forest, the white oak and pitch pine were the most distributed with a75% and 92% occurrence between all of the plots sampled, respectively (Table 1a). In thetransitional zone, these two species measured out at a 55% and 80% occurrence level (Table 1b).Other dominant species include black gum and sweet bay magnolia, which, like the white oaks,do not occur in the same amount in the upland zone (Table 1a, 1b). Taking these data intoconsideration, the two communities are more different than not.
Being that pitch pines accounted for 33% and 57% of relative coverage in the transitional andupland forests respectively, they were dominant in both domains (Figure 2a, 2b). This means thatthe hypothesis stating that pitch pines would not dominate the transitional forests was incorrect.Even though the percentage spread of the species in the transitional zone was greater, no other species had a higher percentage. Pitch pines are not very specialized, so this explains their  presence in both communities. They are able to tolerate soils with varying moisture and a widerange of environmental conditions.In order to obtain better results for community diversity, it would be necessary to resample theupland area with complete relative coverage data. Also, more transitional plots could be sampled because the proportion of transitional data to upland data was uneven and therefore couldaccount for some error in the study. The Shannon index for the upland forest was 2.47 and 3.85for the transitional forest (Table 3a, 3b). The discrepancy between these numbers can beexplained by the amount of error in the study. For each stratum in the upland zone, the indiceswere calculated to be low and did not coincide with raw data, bringing the index for the wholecommunity down.
Fau, Andrew, 2011. Woody plant data from transitional forest. Richard Stockton College,Pomona, NJ.Geller, M. D. 2010. Manual for Ecological Principles Laboratory, ENVL 2205, Fall 2010.Richard Stockton College of NJ. Pomona, NJ.
   C   u   m   u    l   a   t   i   v   e   #
Figure 1a:
Species Area Curve - Upland Forest
   R   u   n   n   i   n   g   A   v   g .
Plots Sampled
Figure 2a:
Performance Curve for PitchPines and White Oaks in an Upland Forest

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