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Project Proposal

Mapping the Ecological Communities of the Vassar Ecological Preserve

Keri VanCamp (Biology)

The mapping and characterization of the landscape dramatically improves our understanding of the status and health of habitats. Ecological community maps provide us with valuable information that can be used to protect and restore habitats. By repeatedly mapping the same area over time, we can track changes in the type and quality of habitats that are present. The focus of this URSI project is on mapping the habitats present on the Vassar Ecological Preserve. In 2016, we created a preliminary map of the forested areas on the preserve. This season we will be focusing on mapping early successional habitats and wetlands. We will also be working to improve the accuracy of our 2016 forest map. The project will involve remote sensing, surveying the vegetation and soil, assigning plant communities, creating a dichotomous key to plant communities, and assessing the accuracy of the map we create. We use a format that is compatible with both state and national classification standards. This is part of a pilot project and we are refining methods to map sites throughout the Hudson Valley. This person may also assist with fieldwork for other projects on the preserve.

Pre-requisites: An interest in land management, field botany, and mapping is essential. The successful candidate must enjoy working outdoors, have good organizational skills, and be capable of working in adverse conditions. Experience identifying plants, working with GIS/GPS, and conducting research are highly desirable. 

How should students express their interest in this project? Interested students should email me to express their interest. They should include a brief statement about why they are a good fit for this project. I will set up a time with them to discuss the project.