To kick off his signature module Vegetation Survey and Assessment (VSA) Dr M will be taking students on a tour of the University of Reading award-winning campus to collect leaves and twigs from as many trees and shrubs as they can find.
Back in the lab, students will be asked to sort these into genera using existing knowledge supplemented with hard copy keys and online keys and at least one of the available apps for identifying trees.
Dr M will ask his students to focus on one each each of the three ID aids (click the link to visit the resource):
- Hard copy keys: The field Studies Council key to winter twigs
- Online keys: The NHM interactive guide to British trees
- ID Apps: Leafsnap UK
Other ID aids exist, but for this first session Dr M wants to keep things as simple as possible.
Indeed is our technological, internet-driven and wonderful Web 2.0 world there is a growing list of other ID aids available.
Dr M always encourages his students to check these out and find out what works or not and what works best for them:
For trees and shrubs in Britain which comprise a relatively small group of species (especially if we include only native species) then web tools can be a significant help in getting an answer to our ID questions.
BUT: helping get an answer does not necessarily equal helping students to learn the reasons why a particular plant fits in the family, genus and species that it does.
For intermediate and advanced plant ID, Dr M is not expecting that the tried and tested plant ID learning aids such as the veg key, the wildflower guides and the Book of Stace, to be displaced from the field botanists tool kit any time soon!