MBS Program Information

MBS survey procedures



Procedures - sites and native plant community surveys

1. Review of existing information

Within each survey region (county or ECS subsection), site and native plant community surveys begin with a review of existing records and information about areas of native vegetation. Among the sources consulted are:

MCBS botanist Chel Anderson checks her map

MBS plant ecologist Chel Anderson navigating through a forest while conducting a field survey in northeastern Minnesota. Photo by Carmen Converse.

2. Site selection

Sites that appear to be have important areas of native vegetation or habitat are delineated on topographic maps and digitized in a geographic information system (GIS), using aerial photography, satellite imagery, and other related resource maps and data to determine boundaries. These sources also provide preliminary information about the types of native plant communities present within each site.

MCBS mcbs site drawn on topo map

a Topographic map (1:24,000 scale) with delineated sites.

3. Field surveys

Plant ecologists conduct field surveys of sites identified through the survey selection process, recording notes about the type and structure of vegetation present, common and "indicator" plants, and evidence of disturbance, such as cut stumps, soil erosion, and presence of non-native invasive plant species.

a relevé sampling plot

Vegetation data are collected using a relevé plot.

4. Information management

After site and native plant community surveys are completed, ecologists finalize site and community boundaries and determine which sites and native plant communities meet minimum MCBS standards for size and quality. Poor quality sites are eliminated from further consideration. For good quality sites, ecologists enter information collected during surveys into databases in the Natural Heritage Information System.