Field Plant Taxonomy and Conservation

Spring 2017 quarter

Taught by

Frederica Bowcutt
botany, ecology, environmental history
Lalita Calabria
botany, phytochemistry, systematics
  • UG


introductory plant biology that includes evolution of major groups.

How can we identify, track, characterize and measure patterns in floristic diversity? How can plant taxonomists help to assess the health of ecosystems? How can scientists help to protect species and preserve the ecosystems that support them? This program fosters field plant taxonomy skills needed to address such questions for both vascular and non-vascular plants (bryophytes). Lectures topics will include plant systematics, ecology and evolution, as well as plant biodiversity and conservation. Students will learn about the importance of herbaria as the basis for all scientific inquiry and will have the opportunity to learn about how plant specimens that reside in herbaria can serve as both physical and genetic resources for examining patterns in species diversity and distribution.  

In lab, students will learn how to use Hitchcock and Cronquist's Flora of the Pacific Northwest , and other technical keys for identifying unknown plants. We will spend time in the field and laboratory discussing diagnostic characters of plant families with emphasis on both vascular and non-vascular plants. In the field, students will have the opportunity to learn vegetation sampling methods including small and large-scale plots, species-area sampling and transects). Students will also learn the difference between characterizing the average abundance of species in plot data, and getting a complete inventory of plants at a site.

Seminars will provide students with the opportunity to delve deeply into local plant biodiversity and conservation topics, including threats to Pacific Northwest plant communities such as climate change, small and large scale disturbances (e.g., fire, grazing, and air pollution). Individual and group research projects will included an herbarium curation project, as well as a scientific writing and presentation component relating to a rare plant species or habitat from the Pacific Northwest.

A multi-day field trip to Sun Lakes State Park as well as multiple day-long field trips will give students an opportunity to learn about Pacific Northwest plant communities in the field, including sagebrush steppe, prairies, oak woodlands and coniferous forests. Students will be expected to maintain a detailed field journal and will be taught basic botanical illustration skills to support this work. Field trips are an essential part of the program and required. Students will also learn to properly collect plant specimens and prepare museum-quality collections that will be deposited in the Evergreen Herbarium.

Program Details

Fields of Study

botany ecology field studies natural history

Preparatory For

conservation, ecological restoration, floristic research methods, forestry, natural resource management, plant ecology, plant taxonomy, and vegetation ecology.


Spring Signature

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

First class meeting: Monday, April 3 at 10am (Sem II B1105)

Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning


$250 for transportation, meals and lodging for a field trip to Sun Lakes State Park.

May be offered again in



2016-04-14Fees reduced (from $300 to $250) and prerequistes updated (precalculus no longer required).
2016-04-11Description updated.
2016-03-16Lalita Calibria replaces Dylan Fischer. Dylan Fischer will teach Trees.