Go beyond: Plant Survey (Journal Activity)
In this video clip, the scientists discuss the presence of invasive plants introduced by gardeners or city planners. How native are the plants in your neighborhood? Find out.
1. Select an area of your neighborhood to survey. If possible, include a nearby park that has "natural areas" in your survey.
2. Before you visit your study site, record what you expect to find, including: plant locations, most common types of plants, and what percentage of native vs. invasive species.
3. Make a plan. How will you survey your area? Will you count each plant individually or make an estimate of what percentage of total plant cover each species comprises? How will you record your findings? You could use sketches, photographs, charts, or graphs.
4. Carry out your plan. Borrow a botany book from the library, and survey your site using your plan. Be sure to record plant type, abundance, and location.
5.Go deeper. Using resources such as local universities, park rangers, botanists from a garden store, or the Internet find out which of the plants you found are native and which are invasive. Are any considered noxious weeds?
6. Compare your findings with your initial thoughts. Where were you correct in your assumptions, and where were you mistaken? For ideas where you were mistaken, what do you think caused your mistaken impression?
7. Bonus: Be a citizen scientist. Some cities or parks try to track the presence of noxious weeds, so your data could prove useful to the city. Call your local city or park managers and see if they are interested in having your data.