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Methods: An ecological ‘walk in the woods’
Option 1: Visiting a nearby wooded area
If you are able to do so, please visit a nearby wooded area (please review the safety
guidelines outlined in the Lab 1 handout). Follow the following procedure to complete
the lab:
 Establish a 10mX10m plot (or 10 large paces X 10 large paces); if possible, mark the
corners of your plot with string, tape, or anything other visible object
 Complete the sheet on page 7 AND take detailed field notes (they will come in
handy when completing the assignment)
 Once your plot is established:
1. Describe the strata at the location (as described above)
2. Identify all tree species in the location (use the tree id kit included in this lab’s
materials, or any number of plant identification apps, such as iNaturalist)
3. Use the key in Appendix 1 of this handout to determine the location’s Ecosite #
 NOTE: Three spaces are provided on the page 7, so that you can practice keying out
up to 3 different locations. Only one site must be keyed-out to complete the
Option 2: A virtual visit to the “Dairy Bush”
If you are unable to visit an outdoor location, then you can complete the following steps:
1. Follow this link to view a high resolution digital image taken of a wooded area in
Guelph, Ontario.
2. Called a “gigapan”, this image will allow you to zoom in to the trees in the area to
identify what species they are (Note: in the image, some trees with green tape
have their foliage attached to the trunk for easier identification)
3. Use the key in Appendix 1 of this handout to determine the location’s Ecosite
NOTE: Tips for proper use of the key in Appendix 1
 The dichotomous key in Appendix 1 uses short forms of tree species names that
are referenced in Appendix 2. For example, Mh is short for “Sugar Maple”, or
“Hard Maple”; Ce is “Eastern White Cedar”, etc.
 At the START: Unless you are in a very wet location with the tree associations
mentioned, then your answer to the first question under “START” is probably
“NO” or “N” and would bring you past “Division 2” (i.e. the 2 inside a circle).
Answering “N” to that first question will keep you on the same page of the key for
the next question that asks about the Overstorey tree species composition. If
you answer “YES” or “Y” to that first question, then you proceed along the arrow
marked “A” to the next page and along past “Division 21”.
 Continue following the questions as you proceed through the key based on the
species composition of the trees that make up the canopy or overstorey (see
page 2)
o For the gigapan, the camera is not directly pointing up at the canopy, but
you should be able to determine the dominant (or most abundant) tree
species that makes up the canopy
 When you get to the bottom of the key, you will reach an Ecosite # that is divided
as #.1 or #.2. Ignore the decimal value, and just use the whole number. For
example, Ecosite 26.1 or 26.2, should simply be considered Ecosite 26
BIOL 2446 Lab 2
page 4 of 10
Assignment: FEC Manual Wildlife Suitability Analysis & Report
Due date: Your lab section during the week of Oct 5, 2020
A Fictitious Proposed Development:
 A developer is proposing to transform the location that you analyzed and
keyed-out in order to build a new shopping centre
 You will write report presenting both your field (or online) observations, and
also data and information from the FEC Manual, as an argument in favour of
the development or against the development
Main Objectives
1. Write a report that connects the field (or online) sampling you conducted with
the information in the FEC Manual documents. It is essential to use both
the actual field (online) information (i.e. methods & site features) and
the FEC documentation (including other external sources) to make an
argument for, or against, the hypothetical proposed development
a. Remember: you did not sample wildlife, so your argument is based on
wildlife habitat suitability indicators, not the actual presence (or
absence) of wildlife
2. Know your audience:
a. This report is being written for:
i. Local government (city councilors, your local MPP, etc.)
ii. Local citizens groups
iii. Members of the public
iv. The construction company under contract to develop the area
v. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Biologists
3. Your report must include:
a. A general explanation for the reader. Remember: your audience has
probably never heard of an “ecosite” or an “FEC Guide”, so your report
has to be written for a “lay” reader
b. Include the following:
i. A description of an FEC Manual
ii. The definition of any FEC Manual-specific vocabulary (for example,
iii. A description of how you used the FEC Manual to “key-out” “Location
iv. Using information from your field notes about “Location #3” about
the types of trees present and their relative abundance, explain why
your group arrived at Ecosite #__ for “Location #3”
v. A detailed description of the potential wildlife suitability of “Location
#3” for all of the wildlife species listed in the FEC Manual’s “Wildlife
Habitat Suitability” information (available in-lab, and on Blackboard)
BIOL 2446 Lab 2
page 5 of 10
vi. Finally, based on the mixture of your field notes and the FEC Manual
information, make an argument about whether – in your opinion – the
development should proceed. When you graduate with a degree
from university and become a “professional” this will be expected of
you in “the real world”, so take this part seriously as a dry run for you
future professional life
Ignoring the following will seriously affect your mark:
1. There are graphs that help to identify the suitability of an ecosite for each wildlife
information that accompanies the graph and EXTRACT the information to write your
report about the suitability of “Location #3” for each wildlife species in the FEC
Remember, the main point here is to connect the information from the wildlife habitat
suitability information to the actual site features at “Location #3”.
a) Make sure that you cite the FEC guide in the text using in-text referencing (for
example, moose require conifer cover for thermal protection in winter
(Chambers et al.1997)).
b) Also you must hand in a References section that includes that references the
FEC Manual (see the Literature Cited section in this handout, pg. 10) and any
other sources you use for your report.
a) You are assessing the potential suitability of wildlife habitat at “Location
#3”. Do not state that any of the 5 animals in the wildlife information
sheets are actually at the location For example, when describing the
suitability of “Location #3” for moose, you should describe the potential
suitability of “Location #3” for moose, DO NOT state that moose actually live
there and use the site (unless you have evidence based on observation or
other empirical data)
1. No more than 2 pages (approximately 500 words). DOUBLE-SPACED! Use
default margins and 12 point font. In-text parenthetical referencing must be used for
all sources (including the FEC Manual). For example, “White-tailed deer prefer a
mix of deciduous and coniferous tree species to provide food supply and protection
from winter temperatures, respectively (Chambers et al. 1997)”. OR “Preferred
nesting habitat for red-shouldered hawk can be found in ecosite 28 (Bellhouse and
Naylor 1996)”.
2. A “References” section on a separate page (or back of page). The heading
“References” should be at the top of the page.
Use the following checklist to make sure that you have included all the
appropriate information and that you have formatted the paper properly.
1. Is your explanation of the FEC Manual, its terminology (such as ecosite, polygon,
overstorey, intolerant hardwoods, etc.), and our field methodology explained well
enough for a layperson (i.e. non-ecologist) to understand?
BIOL 2446 Lab 2
page 6 of 10
2. Have you linked the information from the wildlife habitat suitability sheets to the
actual conditions at “Location #3”?
3. Are you using in-text referencing of the FEC guide (Chambers et al. 1997) and/or
any other external sources of information?
4. Have you included a References section that lists the FEC guide as well as any
other sources of information that you used to write this paper?
5. Is your argument based on the potential suitability of wildlife habitat and not based
on your assumptions about the actual presence of animals on site?
Lateness Policy – Recall from Lab 1:
 Written assignments are to be submitted through Blackboard on, or before,
the specified due date. Assignments must be either a Microsoft Word
document (*.doc or *.docx) or an Adobe “portable document format”


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