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Woody Plant Community Structure Change Over Time - Field Trip at Long Bay Regional Park



1.    To practice field techniques, including plant ID.
2.    To answer the question: How does woody plant community structure change over time?

To determine whether there is a change in plant community structure over time, we need to count the woody species in several plots of different ages. This is an example of a chronosequence study – spatially distinct plots of varying ages that are measured at the same time. We should expect to see an increase in species richness (number of different species) and abundance (number of individuals) with increasing time. The older the forest, the more chances for colonization of different species to occur. We want to test this theory at Long Bay Regional Park.

Each plot does involve some ‘off-roading’. You will be going into the bush to get to the plots. When moving onto the next station, rotate clockwise to each spot, so if you’re at station A, go to station B next. If you’re at station D, go to A next.Make sure you use the trigene at station Y before going into the older forests!

Station A – youngest forest plot. These are newly planted plots. Extreme care needs to be taken to ensure no trampling of precious seedlings occurs. 
Station B – younger forest plot. These plots are 5-10 years old. 
Station C, part 1 – old forest plot. These plots are 15 to 20 years old. Care is needed when accessing this site. Focus on the ground.
Station C, part 2 – old forest plot, invertebrate station. On the ground are several wooden disks and on three trees you will find weta hotels.
Station D – remnant forest plot. This is the hardest site to access. If you have trouble going up and down hills, assess whether you can safely access the site before going in. This is also the oldest site and you can see that in the diversity of plants. 


1.    Groups of ten students will travel to 6 areas of the park in a clockwise rotation. You will need 30 minutes in each 

2.    For safety reasons you must remain with your group at all times during the field trip. Please be sure to tell others when leaving the group temporarily, i.e., to go to the bathroom.

At stations A to D (excluding C, part 2)
3.    Record the name of each woody plant species within each plot as well as the number of them in your plot. Have these checked by someone who can help you with identification. 

4.    If the woody species stem is larger than 5 cm in diameter at breast height (1.3m), use the DBH tape provided to measure. Go to 1.3m high on the plant and record the diameter.

5.    At the center of the plot look above you and record the canopy cover %. This can be difficult so ask the helper at your station. Below is an image to help guide the process.

6.    Using the quadrat, count the number of seedlings inside and record.

7.    If there is leaf litter, measure the depth and record At invertebrate station – C, part 2
8.    Gently lift the wooden disks to examine what lives underneath. Discuss with your group:
a.    How many individuals do you see?
b.    What type of insects there are?
c.    What does the ground look like underneath the disk?
d.    What vegetation or leaf litter surrounds the area of the wooden disk?
e.    Is there a difference between the area the wooden disk is on and the number of individuals?

9.    In the weta motel, take care to open the little door. Is there anything inside?

Field Trip Report Assignment

You will write a report on your findings. Instructions will be available for how to do this on the class website from next week. Attendance at the next two labs is compulsory because we will generate the results you need to write your report and we will not have time to help you complete this outside of the assigned lab times. 

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