Fundamentals of science-based vegetation surveying. How to include the bryophytes and lichens

  • Start Date: September 23, 2020
  • End Date: September 24, 2020
  • Time: 9am-4:30pm
  • City: Revelstoke BC
  • Venue: TBD
  • Instructor: Dr. Peter Whitehead
  • The dates noted above are for the field component of this course. There is an additional on-line lecture to complete prior to the field days that students may complete at a time that works best for them

PHOTOS: Peter Whitehead

Course Description

All vegetation surveys should be grounded in science. Surveyors have an ethical responsibility to ensure that sampling is appropriate, avoids bias, and generates results that are reproducible. This course is designed to remind and reinforce vegetation surveyors’ understanding of these tenets of science and how they apply to vegetation surveys: This will ensure that surveyors collect and present defensible baseline data. This course offers a pragmatic, common sense approach to surveying and learning and has a strong component helping surveyors to include bryophytes and lichens in their surveys. A basic understanding of plant identification would be helpful for attendees of the course.

This course will start with an pre-recorded, online lecture on the basics of science and how it relates to vegetation surveying; how surveyors are acting in the public interest; the ethical responsibilities of surveyors; and the types of survey that should be used to collect baseline data. The course will then move onto a two-day field visit to different habitats where attendees will practice surveying techniques for both floristic and structural surveys. This component will further include a thorough grounding in how to survey for and collect bryophytes and lichens.

Please note that this is not a plant taxonomy course. However, the instructor will be available to help identify plants encountered during the field days. As we know that summer is a busy time for field work and other, this course is scheduled for the fall. While this isn’t optimal timing for plant ID, this is not a taxonomic course – watch for these come spring time!

Course objectives: 

  • Understand fundamental scientific principles and how they apply to vegetation surveying.
  • Learn about the two different types of survey: Floristic and structural.
  • Gain a practical understanding of how to conduct vegetation surveys in a scientific and defensible manner.
  • Understand how data, when not collected appropriately, can be very easily undermined, or refuted, using science.
  • Learn how to collect bryophytes and lichens for microscopic determination, or identification by third parties.


Our Instructor

Peter Whitehead is a trained vegetation ecologist (University of Lancaster, UK) and has a Ph.D. from the University of Reading, UK. For the last 28 years, he has had a successful career working as an ecologist in both Europe and Western Canada. Peter set up the Western Canada Bryophyte and Lichen Interest Group (WCBLIG) in 2009, which currently has over 150 participants. He volunteers teaching plant and bryophyte identification for the Alberta Native Plant Council and through WCBLIG. Peter is also a co-founder of Serious About Science, a consortium of professionals who advocate for science-based baseline data collection. Peter is the director of Cape Ecology Ltd. You can connect with Peter via


“Meet” Peter here in this introductory video that tells you a bit about what you can expect in this course!


Preparation and what to bring

There is no mandatory pre-reading; this is a foundation course. Recommended supplementary reading:

To view the on-line lecture students will require a computer with a stable internet connection and audio controls.

For the field component of the course students should come prepared to spend the entire day outside therefore dressing accordingly. Students will be provided with hand lenses and course notes.

Due to precautions being taken for COVID19 we will not be providing any catering in this course. Students are asked to come prepared with their own lunches, snacks, hot drinks, and water bottles for the field component of this course.

Students will be responsible for providing their own transportation to field sites – due to COVID19 we will discourage carpooling. All students are asked to bring a mask that covers the mouth and the nasal passageway for protection from COVID19. A list of any extra provisions needed for this course will be sent to students upon registration.



CMI Member: $440

Non-member:  $485

Bagged lunches $15 (optional)

There will be an option to pre-order bagged lunches from La Baguette. Lunches will include a wrap, a muffin, a bar and a piece of fruit. Due to COVID19, we’re sorry, we can’t offer coffee service as we normally do.

NOTE: You can purchase your $40 membership at the same time as you register.  See more about membership here.

Due to COVID-19 enrollment for this course will be kept small so be sure to register right away to secure your spot.

Course registration is full.  You can email Hailey and ask to be placed on a cancellation list:   Anyone on this list will be contacted if we run the course again next season.


Where to stay?

We have set up a discounted group rate at the Stoke Hotel of $99 + tax /night, or $109+tax /night for double queen room. Hot breakfast included, outdoor hot tub on site. When booking your room ask for the “CMI rate.”


COVID19 Protocol

CMI will be following the guidelines provided by the Centre for Disease Control and the government of British Columbia to keep us all safe during the COVID19 Pandemic. See here for current protocols – all students must review this document before the field component of this course.







PHOTOS: Peter Whitehead


  • Phone 250-837-9311
  • Fax 250-837-9311
  • Email

Mailing Address

  • P.O. Box 2568
  • Revelstoke, British Columbia V0E 2S0
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