Field Plant Taxonomy and Biodiversity Conservation (remote/in-person*)

Spring 2021
Junior - Senior
Class Size: 50
16 Credits per quarter
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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 restore the ecosystems that support them? This program fosters field plant taxonomy skills needed to address such questions for both vascular plants (flowering plants, conifers, ferns and fern allies) and non-vascular plants (bryophytes). Lecture 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 scientific inquiry including how plant specimens that reside in herbaria can serve as both physical and genetic resources for examining patterns in species diversity and distribution. This offering will prepare students for careers and advanced study in: conservation, ecological restoration, floristic research methods, forestry, natural resource management, plant ecology, plant taxonomy and vegetation ecology.

In weekly virtual labs, students will learn how to use technical dichotomous keys for identifying unknown plants. We will spend time discussing diagnostic characters of plant families with emphasis on both vascular and non-vascular plants. Students will have the opportunity to apply their new identification skills to a floristic inventory of bryophytes and will learn how to properly collect and curate plant specimens.

Seminars will provide students with the opportunity to explore plant biodiversity and conservation topics, including threats to Pacific Northwest plant communities such as climate change as well as small- and large-scale disturbances (e.g. fire, grazing, and air pollution). Through reading assignments, discussions, and lectures, students will also learn about the historical ecology and ecological restoration of various Pacific Northwest plant communities, including prairies, oak woodlands, wetlands, and coniferous forests. Weekly solo plant walks are critical to the work of the program and active engagement in this weekly activity is required. Students’ needn’t go far, even a backyard or roadside can offer new plant discoveries. Through detailed notes and botanical drawings, students will document their observations in their lab/field journal and pocket sketchbook.

*This program will be taught primarily online, with limited, on-campus field work during the first few weeks of the quarter. Students can expect our remote teaching to be a blend of 29 hours/week of asynchronous (self-paced) and 11 hours/week of synchronous (scheduled) work. For example, there will be written assignments and discussions using Canvas, videos that students watch on their own time, live online lectures, virtual labs, and discussions on Zoom as well as virtual one-on-one consultation. To successfully participate in this program, students will need a quiet place to read and write, as well as access to a computer with a reliable internet connection and word processing software.


Anticipated Credit Equivalencies: 

4* - Bryophyte Taxonomy

4* - Bryophyte Ecology

4* - Field Plant Taxonomy

4* - Ecological Restoration Seminar



Introductory plant biology that included morphology, evolution, and systematics. Also, the ability to write a college-level expository essay. Students are encouraged to email faculty to confirm that they have met the prerequisites.

Spring 2021 Registration


Course Reference Numbers

Jr - Sr (16): 30027

Academic details

Preparatory for studies and careers in

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

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing
Special Expenses

Students may need to spend up to $95 on supplies, but many will have items needed on hand already. 

Upper Division Science Credit

Up to 16 upper-division science credits may be earned in field plant taxonomy, historical ecology, floristic research, and restoration ecology.


Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting