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Biology 346: Plant Taxonomy

Floristic Quality Assessment of Minnie Skwarek Nature Preserve,
Spring Lake Township, Ottawa County, Michigan

Fall 2008

Prof. David Warners

As more and more land is developed for cities and subdivisions it is necessary to recognize the importance of natural habitats and work to preserve their presence especially within landscapes that are dominated by human activity.  These areas are home to many species of animals and plants that are key components for maintaining ecosystem health.  Natural areas also provide aesthetic, recreational, spiritual and pedagogical value.  They are constant reminders that the world is much bigger and more beautiful than what human beings can create.  We show much wisdom when we ensure their perpetuation long into the future.

However, given the constraints and compromises inherent in land preservation efforts, when met with limited resources, it is important to be able to evaluate which areas are most valuable to protect.  A good tool for helping to assess a site’s natural quality and integrity is the Floristic Quality Index (FQI).  This index is based upon a botanical inventory of a particular site.  To learn more about this process and to improve on the Land Conservancy of West Michigan’s (LCWM) understanding of one of its preserves, students from the Plant Taxonomy class (Biology 346) at Calvin College conducted a botanical inventory to generate an FQI for Minnie Skwarek Nature Preserve (located in Ottawa County, Michigan, on Leonard St. between 148th and 152nd).  This 24 acre preserve was acquired in 2001 by LCWM and to date had only been evaluated with a preliminary survey by Doug Powless and Heather Sahli.  The class made three trips to Minnie Skwarek Preserve in the fall of 2008: October 2, 16 and November 6. The first visit was used to become acquainted with the area, while the second and third visits were designated for plant collection and identification.


Prof. David Warners

A floristic survey of the Plaster Creek watershed was performed by this course.  Uncommon, threatened, native and non-native were noted.  The watershed was broken up into six sections for six different groups.  Each group calculated their section’s floristic quality according to the Floristic Quality Index.  The information that they collected went towards a document that was given over to a Plaster Creek neighborhood organization.  The document suggested areas to target for conservation and contaminated areas that needed to be cleaned.    


CEAP General Report on Floristic Quality: Assessment of Natural Areas on Calvin's Main Campus
Contact Person: David Warners, Biology Department
Work done by: Biology 346 (Plant Taxonomy) class Fall semester, 1998
Autumn Plant Inventory of Calvin College Natural Areas
Biology 346 Class Project, Fall 1998