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Mississippi State University

Field Research

Vegetation Assessment

We used organism-centered vegetation sampling throughout the study to quantify microhabitat conditions associated with areas selected by each predator. To determine plot location, we either used a single triangulated location or center of activity within use areas to select a point for vegetation sampling. During the study, students quantified microhabitat conditions at bobcat, coyote, and gray fox locations. Within each plot, variables including canopy closure, ground cover diversity, understory density, and tree species composition were assessed at approximately 0.7-m (predator level) using a Nudds Density Board, a Daubenmire frame, forest densiometer, a 10-factor prism, and the Point-Center-Quarter method. Specifically, we used a Daubenmire frame to quantify understory composition and diversity, including percentage of woody vegetation, grass, forb, vine, and debris. Vertical vegetative cover was examined using a Nudds board with 6, 0.3 m squares delineated on the board. We also sampled a random location using the same techniques to ultimately build predictive models for habitat selection.