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Registration open until March 27

Education Program - Workshops and Professional Training

Measuring & Monitoring Plant Populations for Adaptive Management

April 3-6, 2016 (Sunday - Wednesday)
CSU Desert Studies Center, Zzyzx, CA

Instructor: John Willoughby, Independent Ecological Consultant

Download the print-friendly flyer for this workshop (pdf)

Target Audience: Professional botanists, ecologists, land managers, resource specialists, and conservationists.

Description: Using classroom and field exercises, this workshop will focus on the role of plant population monitoring for adaptive management. Participants will learn how to develop good management objectives. Topics cover principles of sampling and several sampling designs, field techniques for measuring vegetation, analysis of monitoring data, and presentation of results. Participants will receive a copy of the BLM-published book, Measuring and Monitoring Plant Populations, by Caryl Elzinga, Dan Salzer, and John Willoughby, a binder with all of the material presented at the workshop, and a CD containing helpful computer programs, papers, and other materials.

Participants can expect to:

  • Acquire a higher level of knowledge and confidence in monitoring plant populations
  • Learn the two basic types of management objectives and the tools you can use to develop good objectives
  • Understand the principles of sampling and the importance of setting good sampling objectives for monitoring studies that involve sampling
  • Learn about the most common sampling designs used to monitor plant populations and when each design is appropriate
  • Become more familiar with the field techniques used to measure plant populations in the field and their advantages and disadvantages
  • Understand the data analysis associated with the two types of management/sampling objectives
  • See examples of different ways to present monitoring results.


Registration is now open! Last day to register is March 27.

Registration fees are discounted for CNPS members. If you are not a CNPS member, visit to join now and save!

Please note: class size is limited to 25 participants.

  Date CNPS Members Non-members
Measuring & Monitoring Plant Populations (3-day course)
April 3-6 $610 $640

*Includes $178 for meals & lodging, plus $432 Member / $462 Non-Member registration fee. Sorry, we are unable to provide any discounts for staying offsite.

Cancellation Policy: The last day to cancel your registration and receive any refund is Monday, March 21, 2016. Refunds may be subject to processing fees. Please send cancellation requests by e-mail to Becky Reilly, . Click here for more details on the cancellation policy for CNPS workshops.


Arrival - Sunday, April 3
Arrive at Desert Studies Center any time after 3:00 PM. Dinner will be provided at 7:00 PM.

Day 1 - Monday, April 4

7:00 am Breakfast provided
8:00 am Meet & greet, introductions
8:30 am Introduction to monitoring and adaptive management
10:30 am Setting management objectives
12:00 pm Lunch break (boxed lunches provided)
1:00 pm Field techniques (classroom presentation)
2:30 pm Field techniques (field demonstration)
4:30 pm Discussion and wrap-up
5:00 pm End of day 1
6:00 pm Dinner provided

Day 2 - Tuesday, April 5

7:00 am Breakfast provided
8:00 am Questions on material covered on day 1
8:30 am Principles of sampling
11:30 am Sampling objectives
12:00 pm Lunch break (boxed lunches provided)
1:00 pm Sampling design
3:00 pm Field discussion of rare plant monitoring
5:00 pm End of day 2
6:00 pm Dinner provided

Day 3 - Wednesday, April 6

7:00 am Breakfast provided
8:00 am Questions on material covered on day 2
8:30 am Analysis and presentation of results
12:00 pm Lunch break (boxed lunches provided)
1:00 pm Demography
2:00 pm Questions and classroom discussion of monitoring issues faced by participants
4:30 pm Workshop evaluations
5:00 pm Workshop concludes


Venue: This workshop will be held at the Desert Studies Center, run by California State University, Fullerton, located in the town of Zzyzx within the Mojave National Preserve. We are hoping that winter rains will burst the desert wildflowers into full bloom, providing a spectacular setting for this workshop! Maps and directions will be provided to registered participants about a week before the workshop. For more details on the center, visit

Meals & Lodging: Registration fees include all catered meals and dorm-style lodging (separated by gender) at the center for the nights of April 3, 4 and 5. Please bring bedding for the dorm beds (fitted sheet, pillow, and sleeping bag recommended).

Materials Required: Please bring...

  • Hand lens
  • Clipboard
  • Notebook and pencil
  • Sturdy boots and field clothing appropriate for the weather and conditions
  • Drinking water (or a refillable water bottle) and snacks for the field
  • Camera
  • Fitted sheet, pillow, and sleeping bag for beds

Materials Provided: Participants will receive...

  • A copy of the BLM-published book, Measuring and Monitoring Plant Populations, by Caryl Elzinga, Dan Salzer, and John Willoughby
  • A binder with all of the materials presented at the workshop
  • A CD containing pertinent papers and computer programs that will help participants design and conduct their own monitoring programs

Physical Requirements: Participants should be physically able to hike over uneven terrain and remain in the field for several hours at a time. This workshop will be held rain or shine. We will spend approximately 20% of the time in the field.

About the Instructor

John Willoughby, M.A., is a consulting botanist, recently retired from the Bureau of Land Management, where he served as California State Botanist for 28 years. He is the coauthor of two widely cited textbooks on the monitoring of plant populations and vegetation, and has instructed dozens of workshops on the subject. He served as an adjunct professor at California State University, Sacramento, for more than 20 years, and has experience and training in statistical sampling techniques, nonparametric statistics, multivariate analysis, population modeling, and remote sensing of vegetation. He has designed many monitoring studies, including one of the largest and most intensive plant monitoring efforts ever implemented, involving 10 years of rare plant monitoring in the Algodones Sand Dunes.


If you have questions about this or any other CNPS workshops, please contact Becky Reilly, CNPS Events Coordinator, at 916-447-2677 x207 or .

View the complete schedule of CNPS Plant Science Workshops


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