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Selecting Sites

Study Sites and Stations

A study site is a location that is monitored. This site can be a stream, lake or wetland. A station is a location within the study site that is visited to record observations.

If the site is large or long (i.e., large stream, river or lake), then stations should be assigned. If the site is small, then data can be gathered from one area (station).


It often helps to look at the bigger picture in order to decide how to classify a habitat. For example, if you see a salmon in a stream, is the stream in a conifer forest or in your backyard?

plane view

NatureMapping looks at habitats the size of football fields or larger. Streams and ponds may be smaller than the size of a football field. So, knowing what is surrounding the water habitats is very important. This means, 2 habitat codes need to be reported; the water habitat and the surrounding land habitat.

The best way to decide the type of habitat is to look down from space as if you were in a hot air balloon. Plants and animals (and humans) respond to the amount of light that reaches them. Taking a bird's-eye view gives a different perspective than being on the ground and looking around. For example, you can see from a plane where there is high density development, forests, tree savannas and open water.

How To Select The Surrounding Habitat

multiple habitats

This example has 4 distinct habitats

  1. 221-moderate developed,
  2. #2 on the picture would be another area (station) to collect data
  3. 524-pond,
  4. 225-developed grass, and
  5. 972-closed canopy, intermediate age conifer forest that are as large or larger than a football field: the highly developed building site, open grassland playing field, a conifer forest, and a pond surrounded by conifer trees.

    The forest surrounds the pond and is larger than a football field. Therefore, 972 would be the surrounding habitat.

    Smaller Habitats

    If the site has habitats that are smaller than a football field, (for example, a line of trees instead of a forest, then the dominate surrounding habitat would be selected, which in the above example would be the open grassland playing field (225).

    Multiple Habitats Along Rivers

    There may be mulitple habitats along a river. Stations should be set up in those areas along the river. Each station would report a different surrounding habitat code.

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