Geospatial statistical modelling and thematic maps have recently emerged as effective tools for the management of natural areas at the landscape scale. Traditional methods for the collection of field data pertaining to questions of landscape were developed without consideration for the parameters of these applications. We introduce an alternative field sampling design based on smaller unbiased random plot and subplot locations called the pixel nested plot (PNP). We demonstrate the applicability of the PNP design of 15 m x 15 m to assess patterns of plant diversity and species richness across the landscape at Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), Colorado, USA in a time (cost)-efficient manner for field data collection. Our results produced comparable results to a previous study in the Beaver Meadow study (BMS) area within RMNP, where there was a demonstrated focus of plant diversity. Our study used the smaller PNP sampling design for field data collection which could be linked to geospatial information data and could be used for landscape-scale analyses and assessment applications. In 2003, we established 61 PNP in the eastern region of RMNP. We present a comparison between this approach using a sub-sample of 19 PNP from this data set and 20 of Modified Whittaker nested plots (MWNP) of 20 m x 50 m that were collected in the BMS area. The PNP captured 266 unique plant species while the MWNP captured 275 unique species. Based on a comparison of PNP and MWNP in the Beaver Meadows area, RMNP, the PNP required less time and area sampled to achieve a similar number of species sampled. Using the PNP approach for data collection can facilitate the ecological monitoring of these vulnerable areas at the landscape scale in a time- and therefore cost-effective manner. ?? 2007 The Authors.
Additional publication details
Rapid plant diversity assessment using a pixel nested plot design: A case study in Beaver Meadows, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA