Breath of Clarity

Ecology Discussion #2: A

Overall, it is important to follow the basic guidelines for completing a biological assessment outlined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The first step is to define the project area’s population which includes all areas impacted by the action I am proposing. It encompasses the geographical extent of environmental changes (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2009). I selected my population on the basis of preexisting information about Nisene Marks from a General Plan for upcoming projects that mapped out the park as well as identified the native and non-native species present (The Forest of Nisene Marks 2003). It is how I determined the study’s focus. Similar to the study to measure the feasibility of a proposed East Mesa sports complex in New Mexico, I am also interested in looking at listed threatened or endangered plant species and plan to directly survey the area as a vegetation analysis (Kay 2002). I am interested in classifying vegetation in terms of physical disturbance levels.

I am investigating the impact of non-native plants on the distribution of native species through systematic grid sampling. I am going to position quadrats along a set of line transects. I plan on placing a quadrat every two meters along the transect starting from the non-native plant. I want to use the quadrats because, similar to the clover, it is difficult to count the individual plants considering they will merge into one. A grid quadrat makes it easier to notice the percentage of the square covered (Biology Practicals and Revision Biology Tutor). This method works well for my project because the transect needs to be placed based upon the presence of the non-native plant and therefore cannot be completely random. I am also interested in observing animals, including humans, in the designated area. Along with interest in the impact of non-native species on the native plants, I am also curious about how the animals have effects on vegetation structure and succession. I can use the wandering-quarter method to determine activity or inactivity on the basis of signs of recent activity such as tire marks or footprints. The wandering-quarter method is a transect method of density estimation (Andersen and Kay 1999). That way, I can have a thorough understanding of how the biodiversity impacts non-native and native plant growth.


Andersen, Mark C., and Fenton R. Kay. 1999. “Banner-tailed kangaroo rat burrows mounds and desert grassland habitats.” Journal of Arid Environments 41:147-160.

Biology Practicals and Revision Biology Tutor. “Transect, Quadrats and Percentage Cover to investigate the Distribution of Clover”. Video. Accessed September 21, 2020.

Kay, F.R. 2002. “Results of a Biological Survey for a Proposed East Mesa Sports Complex near Las Cruces, Doña Ana County, New Mexico.” Prepared for Zia Engineering and Environmental Consultants.

The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. 2003. “Preliminary General Plan”. Accessed September 21, 2020.