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Farris, M.A. 1995. The effects of rock climbing on the cliff flora of three Minnesota state parks. Final report submitted to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 16+ pp.


I examined cliff vegetation at Blue Mounds, Interstate, and Tettegouche State Parks to test for the effects of rock climbing on the vegetation. A total of 83 transects were established and 249 permanent unmarked plots (0.25m2) were located along these transects. Half of the transects and plots were found in areas frequented by climbers and half in unclimbed areas of the cliffs. Each plot was photographed and mapped for future relocation. A grid of 96 points was superimposed over each plot and the identity of each organism found under the points was determined. A total of 23,904 points were examined. Data were examined using univariate statistical techniques and multivariate techniques (ordination and classification). There were significant differences between treatments in total vegetation cover, number of species per plot, and the relative frequency of some individual species. Ordination and classification showed some differences between climbed and unclimbed areas, but the results were not consistently clear. The causal factors for the differences seen could have been climbers or differences in the habitat or environment. Each cliff has a number of areas that are essentially undisturbed and which will likely serve as refuges for species directly impacted by climbers.

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