In this workshop you will learn to sample and analyze plant populations through hands-on classroom and field exercises, and how to develop good management objectives that can help ensure a future for California’s native plants and natural habitats. Read on for details.

Measuring & Monitoring Plant Populations

April 24-26, 2019
San Luis Obispo, CA
Taught by Charley Knight
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CNPS Members $435 / Non-Members $455
Capacity: 20 participants
Last Day to Register: April 9, 2019



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

Full 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 learn:

  • The skills required to monitor plant populations with confidence
  • The types of monitoring practices and the tools you can use to develop good objectives
  • Principles of sampling and the importance of setting good sampling objectives for monitoring studies that involve sampling
  • The most common sampling designs used to monitor plant populations and when each design is appropriate
  • Field techniques used to measure plant populations, and their advantages and disadvantages
  • Data analysis procedures associated with the different types of management/sampling objectives
  • Best practices in analysis and graphical presentation of monitoring results
  • Different resources and approaches towards learning the local flora when conducting a study

Schedule & Locale

Wednesday, April 24

Meet at Montaña de Oro State Park. All day in the field.

9:00 am
Meet and greet; welcome and orientation

9:30 am
Introduction to sampling concepts, practice sampling in coastal sage scrub

Lunch break (please bring your own lunch and water)

1:00 pm
Continued sampling practicum

5:00 pm
Break for the day

Thursday, April 25

Meet at the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden. Morning in the classroom, afternoon in the field.

9:00 am
Analysis and graphical presentation of field-collected data from Montaña de Oro

Lunch break (please bring your own lunch and water)

1:00 pm
Meet at Poly Plant Shop parking on Cal Poly Campus, hike up Horse Canyon to practice sampling in post-fire grassland

4:00 pm
Cal Poly herbarium tour

5:00 pm
Break for the day

Friday, April 26

Meet at the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden. Morning in the classroom, afternoon in the field.

9:00 am
Analysis and graphical presentation of field-collected data from Horse Canyon

Lunch break (please bring your own lunch and water)

1:00 pm
Practice sampling in the Sargent cypress on West Cuesta Ridge

4:30 pm
Workshop evaluations

5:00 pm
Workshop concludes

Schedule subject to change.

Venue: On Wednesday, we will meet in the parking lot at the end of Sandspit Road (off Pecho Valley Road) in Montaña de Oro State Park. On Thursday and Friday mornings, we will meet in the Oak Glen Pavilion at the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden, located at 3450 Dairy Creek Road, San Luis Obispo, CA 93405. We will then visit field sites both afternoons. Additional details will be provided to registered participants about a week before the workshop.

Materials & Requirements

Please bring...

  • A laptop with Excel
  • Hand lens
  • Clipboard, field notebook, pencils, and scotch tape
  • Metric ruler
  • Sturdy shoes or boots
  • Hat & field clothing appropriate for the weather and conditions (e.g. protection from poison oak, rain, sun, heat/cold, insects, etc.)
  • Packable lunches, plenty of water, and snacks for all 3 days
  • Optional, but strongly recommended: Matt Ritter’s Plants of San Luis Obispo: Their Lives and Stories, available from the CNPS SLO chapter at
    Optional: range finder, if you have one
    Optional: the 2nd Edition of The Jepson Manual

Materials Provided: CNPS will provide handouts, including a methods of sampling manual. Participants will get to build and take home a quadrat.

Physical Requirements: Participants should be physically able to walk up to 2 miles at a time along uneven paths and trails, including a steeper hike in Horse Canyon, and remain outside for 8 hours at a time. This workshop will be held rain or shine. We will spend approximately 2/3 of the time in the field.

About the Instructor

Charley Knight

Charley Knight has been a member of the Biological Sciences faculty at California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo since 2003, where he has taught courses on plant physiology, plant ecology, evolution, ecosystem ecology, research methods, and general biology. He earned a B.S. in biology from Western Washington University in 1996, followed by a Ph.D. in Plant Ecology and Evolution from Stanford University in 2001, working in the California chaparral. His post-doctorate work was completed at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany. His areas of expertise include plant biology, ecology, and evolution, and statistical methods in ecology.


Before registering, please review our full workshop cancellation policy and participant expectations. The last day to cancel your registration for this workshop and receive any refund (less the cancellation fee) is Tuesday, March 26, 2019. For other ways to register, please see our full registration & payment policy.

Did you know CNPS members get discounts on workshops? If you’re not a current member, you can join or renew now before completing the registration form below to qualify for special members-only rates!

The Measuring & Monitoring Plant Populations workshop is full. Contact to be placed on the wait list.