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  • Quadrats are used for sampling purposes. They are squares of a set size placed in a particular habitat such as a rocky shore or forest floor. Plant and/or animal species within the quadrat are identified and their numbers recorded. Photos of individual quadrats, along with the species information, often form baseline monitoring data or are used to measure changes in species and habitats over time.

    This is a generic activity that explains how to set up and use a quadrat for monitoring or observation purposes.

    The download document lists New Zealand citizen science websites that provide specific monitoring protocols, data collection sheets, field guides and data entry capabilities if you wish to be part of a wider citizen science monitoring project.

    By the end of this activity, students should be able to:

    • construct a 1 m2 quadrat
    • use the quadrat to monitor or observe species within a particular habitat
    • discuss why it is important to use a field guide to identify the species present
    • discuss why it is important to use standardised methods like quadrats when collecting data to be compared over time and place.

    Download the Word file (see link below) for:

    • background information for teachers
    • equipment list
    • setting up a quadrat
    • student instructions
    • extension ideas/prompting questions for teachers.

    Nature of science

    In this activity, students observe the natural world and gather data by measuring and recording species within a habitat. Their actions fit within the Nature of Science ‘Investigating in science’ strand and the science capability ‘Gather and interpret data’.

    Related content

    See our Citizen science section and explore the range of projects – find one that sparks an interest or is local, how about starting with Marine Metre Squared (MM2). Check out these tips for planning your science programme.

      Published 1 June 2017 Referencing Hub articles
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