Floristic quality assessment

Research scientist Michael Bourdaghs records plant species observations in a Cass County marsh. The vegetation data are used to gauge the overall quality of the wetland with Floristic Quality Assessment metrics and criteria.The floristic quality assessment (FQA) is a vegetation-based ecological assessment approach that can be used for wetland quality monitoring and assessment. FQA is based on the Coefficient of Conservatism (C), which is a numerical rating (0 to 10) of an individual plant species’ fidelity to specific habitats and tolerance of disturbance. Plant species that have narrow habitat requirements and/or little tolerance to disturbance have high C-values and vice versa. FQA metrics derived from on-site vegetation data and the C-values have been found to be effective indicators of wetland quality–similar to Indices of Biological Integrity (IBIs).

The MPCA has fully developed the FQA for use in Minnesota’s wetlands. This includes: assigning C-values to Minnesota’s wetland plant species; developing data-driven benchmarks to translate FQA results into assessments; and developing a ‘Rapid FQA’ geared towards broader usage. The MPCA is currently utilizing the FQA approach to monitor all wetland types in Minnesota through our wetland quality status and trends monitoring.

Rapid floristic quality assessment

The Rapid FQA incorporates a novel sampling approach relying on a limited plant species checklist and meander type sampling that can be done rapidly–coupled with assessment criteria to translate data into meaningful results. It was designed for natural resource professionals with a moderate level of botanical expertise to make scientifically defensible wetland quality assessments within a reasonable timeframe.

The Rapid FQA Manual provides the basic knowledge and guidance to complete a Rapid FQA. Companion files for the Rapid FQA Data Form and the Excel™ Calculator are also provided

The details behind the Rapid FQA including how the sampling methods and assessment criteria were developed are provided in the following report:

Floristic quality assessment for Minnesota wetlands

"Floristic Quality Assessment for Minnesota Wetlands" is the base FQA document that includes C-values for a working list of the 1,266 vascular plant species that occur in Minnesota’s wetlands. State distribution maps for each species and a thorough taxonomic synonymy are also provided with Excel™ data versions of the plant list and synonymy available.

If you have questions about FQA, contact Michael Bourdaghs at 651-757-2239.