Professional ecological and arboricultural services applying local knowledge and experience
Tel: 01621 862986
Fax: 01621 862990
E-mail: eecos@essexwt.org.uk
Abbotts Hall Farm, Great Wigborough, Colchester, CO5 7RZ

Botanical surveys

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EECOS ecologists are capable of carrying out botanical surveys for a variety of purposes and using a wide range of survey techniques. As well as being fundamental to site assessment, botanical monitoring can play an important part in habitat management, by establishing a baseline and then monitoring for changes in vegetation structure and composition, and the relative abundance of species. When establishing a new management strategy, determining the species present and identifying those that have conservation significance is a key step in establishing the most appropriate prescriptions.

Examples of botanical survey methodologies include:

  • Species list. A simple list of all of the species present in a given area. Sites are often broken down into sub-compartments for recording purposes, using physical boundaries or habitat differences. These lists can help to describe the habitats present in a site;
  • DAFOR. A scale for measuring frequency and cover using five subjective terms: dominant abundant, frequent, occasional, rare. This system can be used in combination with a species list to give a general impression of a habitat or applied to quadrats;
  • Transect. A transect is a route through a site that is walked for recording purposes. It can be used as the basis of counting particular species, for example orchid spikes, giving a repeatable basis for future comparison. It can also be used to gain a quick impression of the habitats present in a given area;
  • Line transect. This type of transect is most often used to record spatial variations in vegetation, where one habitat grades into another. It comprises a fixed line passing through the gradation, along which the plant species are recorded, either continuously or at intervals;
  • Quadrats. Squares of varying sizes used to mark out sample areas of vegetation to be surveyed. All species within a quadrat are recorded together with a measure of their cover or frequency, such as DAFOR or percentage cover. A number of quadrats are recorded throughout a habitat to gain a representative and fairly detailed picture of its composition;
  • Fixed quadrats. Permanent quadrats can be established in a habitat so that changes over time can be directly recorded, a technique that is especially useful following habitat creation or where dramatic changes in management are planned;
  • Mini-quadrats. These small square frames, usually 10cm by 10 cm, can be used to give a fairly rapid assessment of frequency, with presence or absence of a target species or of all species within the quadrat, recorded. The quadrats are usually selected randomly across the site and at least 100 are recommended to give reasonable accuracy. This method is particularly suitable for recording changes in grassland habitat through management.

Results will typically be presented in a detailed report with clear and accurate mapping, and an assessment of the significance of the findings in a county and national context. GPS in combination with GIS will be used to ensure the accuracy of the results.

If you require a quote please send an email to us at eecos@essexwt.org.uk including site plans, existing records and a brief outline of the purpose of the survey. Alternatively you can contact us in the office on 01621 862986. We can carry out botanical surveys in Essex and surrounding counties, including Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Kent and London.