Geography Field Methods

Geog 314

  • The Field Methods class, taught by Scott Mensing (photo right), has been using the Whittell forest site for more than 10 years to help students learn about Sierra mountain plant species and methods for measuring vegetation and forest structure.
  • Since 2006, after the development of the fuel management plan for wildfire hazard reduction, the class has done repeat study measures of forest structure and density on sites where thinning has taken place.  Mensing teaches the class every other year and has students from one class measure both treated and untreated sites. Untreated sites are selected in conversation with the Forest Director, Steve Vanderwall. These sites are ones where treatment is anticipated within the following two years, so that when Mensing teaches the class again, the next class can resurvey the site and obtain data after treatment. The students write research papers interpreting the results of forest change in relation to the treatments for fire management.
  • Mensing’s field class typically enrolls 15 students. Geog 314 is required of all majors within Geography. The course is designed to give students experience conducting science in the field and learning how to collect and interpret original data.

Results of vegetation analysis before and after fuel reduction treatments at JP-1.

  Before treatment (2006)ent After treatment (2008)
Density (trees/hectare)
Jeffrey pine 207 119.1
Lodgepole pinene 48 18.6
White fir 39 3.7
Aspen 49 3.7
Willow 10 3.7
Total 353 148.8
Cover (%)
Jeffrey pine 80 52
Lodgepole pinene 14 10.7
White fir 4 1.6
Aspen 2 0.4
Willow 0 1