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Exploring Grasslands

Grass Identification training with Josh Styles.

On a bright and breezy morning, the ecology team gathered for a training session with Josh Styles to improve their grass species identification skills and understanding of key anatomical features to aid keying out specimens and separating species.

The day promised a deep dive into the subtleties of grass species, equipping the team with additional skills for their BNG condition assessments, NVC surveys and Preliminary Ecological Appraisals, improving the standard of understanding of grassland habitats across the team from graduate to Senior ecologist level.

Morning Session: Mastering the Basics

The day kicked off with an engaging morning session focused on the identifiable characteristics of various grass species.  Using a combination of vegetative keys, hand lenses and live specimens, Josh broke down the key features used to identify different species. The team discussed identification of grasses by their leaf blades, ligules, auricles, and seed heads. Intricacies such as the texture, colour, and venation of leaves were also discussed, alongside more subtle differences in flower structures and growth habits.

Afternoon in the Wildflower Meadow

After a morning packed with learning, the team were eager to put their skills to the test. The group made their way to a nearby wildflower meadow, bursting with life and colour the meadow served as the perfect field lab for the afternoon’s practical exercise.

The team separated into smaller groups of differing botanical ability and set up quadrats across the meadow, ready to identify as many grass species as possible. Josh moved among the groups, providing guidance, and answering questions. The team encountered a variety of species – including 12 species of grass, including the often overlooked, spreading meadow grass (Poa humilis).

The meadow setting not only offered ample opportunities for practice but also underscored the real-world applications of their skills. Identifying grasses in situ, amidst other plants and natural features, highlighted the complexity and beauty of these often-overlooked species. The exercise reinforced the importance of context in ecological studies and the role of grasses in maintaining healthy ecosystems.

Reflections and Future Applications

Accurate identification of grass species and habitats is crucial for baseline habitat assessments and determining the value of grassland habitats to inform BNG, landscape design and accurate monitoring of effects of habitat creation and biodiversity monitoring. Brindle and Green are passionate about understanding the quality of baseline habitats, and promoting retention and creation of open space habitats which are in keeping with the landscape character and species diversity recorded within the area.

We are providing further training during the year to allow all our ecology team the opportunity to undertake their FISC assessment so we can accurately advertise the level of expertise within the department.

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Posted on: 21 May 2024
Posted in: Company News Staff News,

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