State University of New York at Morrisville

Dr. Walid H. Shayya
School of Agriculture and Natural Resouces

Course Outline for RREN 420



Spring 2019

Blackboard Access of Course Material On-line (for students enrolled in the course)



Instructors' Contact Information

Dr. Walid H. Shayya, Ph.D.
Prof. Bill Snyder
Prof. Brendan Kelly


RREN 420 involves the presentation of two integrated teaching modules that focus on the application of geospatial technology to forest and wildlife management.  The first module includes the application of geospatial technologies to the integrated management and monitoring of forest land.   The second module utilizes the application of geospatial technology to assess habitat resources for wildlife management.  The two modules incorporate the global positioning system (GPS), geographic information system (GIS), and remote sensing technologies combined with field-tested, scientifically-based principles providing an integrated approach to natural resources management.  The two modules are vertically integrated to result in the Habitat and Natural Resources Inventory System (HANRIS) where field measurements are combined based on common sampling points.  The course is offered during the last ten weeks of the spring semester for students who are finishing their first year in the Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech.) program in Renewable Resources (RREN).

Prerequisite: RREN 303 and junior standing or permission of the instructor
1 credit (1 lecture hour, 2 laboratory hours), spring semester, last ten weeks


Upon the successful completion of RREN 420, students will have

  1. Gained an understanding of how inventory systems can be used to account for standing trees, culls, and snags; herbaceous vegetation; tree regeneration; soils; the presence of wildlife; and anthropomorphic access ways.

  2. Developed an understanding of how to identify and describe existing floral communities as to tier classification, taxonomic grouping, and wetland indicator category status.

  3. Demonstrated the basic skills needed to gather overstory and understory forest inventory data as well as collect cover-type data using field data recorders associated with global coordinate systems.

  4. Working within predetermined project management goals, determined project area boundaries, estimated probable compartment units, and established transect baselines for upland, wetland, and riparian ecosystems.

  5. Analyzed data using appropriate GIS software to delineate boundaries and summarize represented cover types.

  6. Utilized tabulated standards to determine values for wetland areas, riparian buffer strips, wildlife habitat needs, and habitat fidelity.

  7. Developed an understanding of how appropriate goal-oriented management strategies can be devised based on collected data.

  8. Created and presented professional quality reports of their field work and results.


Each of the course instructors has a minimum of five designated office hours per week. The times will be shared with the students during the first class meeting (also posted on the instructor’s office door). If necessary, students are encouraged to make appointments to see any of the instructors at other times.


The following represent some of the many instructional methods to be followed in RREN 420:


RREN 420 is a one-credit hour course that meets during the last ten weeks of the spring semester.  It generally includes two contact hours per week (two for lecture and/or laboratory, except during field work in weeks 11 and 12 when three hours of field work will be expected).  One section of the class is offered during the 2019 Spring semester.  RREN 420 meets on Fridays (2:00 to 3:50 p.m.) in Room 115, Bicknell Hall (or 208 Bicknell as announced by the instructors) for ten weeks from 22 February to 3 May 2019.


Each student must purchase a course manual which is available from the campus bookstore. The manual will include the instructors' lesson plans, PowerPoint presentations (printed in handout format), pertinent reading material, and printouts of the laboratory exercises. Course material will also be available on-line under Blackboard, accessible only by those students who are enrolled in the course. Numerous resources are also available at the college library and on-line. Students are encouraged to be actively involved in acquiring some pertinent knowledge from all available resources. Either of the following publications (utilized in RREN 303) will also serve as reference:

  1. Bolstad, P.  2016.  GIS Fundamentals: A First Textbook on Geographic Information Systems (5th Edition).  XanEdu Publishing Inc. (ISBN: 978-1-50669-587-7).

  2. Law, M. and A. Collins.  2015. Getting to Know ArcGIS (4th Edition, for ArcGIS 10.2 and 10.3).  ESRI Press, Redlands, California (ISBN: 978-1589483828).


  1. Field notebook.

  2. Course manual.

  3. Reference textbooks from previous courses.

  4. Appropriate dress for scheduled laboratory sessions and field work.


Any student who feels s/he may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the Disability Services (DS) office immediately to register for services and receive a Notification of Disabilities form. Once you have this form, we will meet privately, to discuss your specific needs.   Although you may register for services at any time, please attempt to make arrangements within the first two weeks of the semester so all appropriate academic accommodations can be set. 



Evaluation is a shared responsibility between the teacher and the student. The purpose of the evaluation is to demonstrate how well the professor has taught and the student has learned specific course materials, the principles, concepts, and terms relevant to the covered topics.  Evaluation is also intended to assess the student's ability to utilize the acquired knowledge in problem-solving.

Many class periods will have a graded component or exercise. These may be written assignments, in-lab assignments, homework, or the evaluation of the student's participation and attitude. These components will total twenty percent (20%) of the total course grade. It is important that students complete their assignments accurately, neatly, and submit them on time. Assignments received past the due date will be devalued for any late assignment. No class assignment of any student will be graded (for credit) once the same assignment is corrected and returned to the class.

Several quizzes will be given in this course. These will be generally given at the beginning of the class and will be worth twenty percent (20%) of the overall course grade. No make-up quizzes will be given without a written medical excuse, family emergencies, or prior permission from the instructor. Students are responsible for all material covered in the class whether presented orally during the lectures/ laboratories or assigned.

Each student will contribute to a group project defined by the instructors. Two class presentations of the project will be expected during the semester (please refer to the Outline of Topics below).  In addition, two reports will be expected on the term project which will be worth sixty percent (60%) of the final grade.

The breakdown of grading in this course will be as follows: 

The distribution of grades in this course will be based on the A-F College grading scheme. The letter grades correspond to the following percentage scale: A (90-100%), A- (87-89.9%), B+ (83-86.9%), B (80-82.9%), B- (77-79.9%), C+ (73-76.9%), C (70-72.9%), C- (67-69.9%), D+ (63-66.9%), D (60-62.9%), and F (<60%).




22 February
- Pre-test (first 30 minutes)
- Introduction to RREN 420 (Prof. Shayya)
- Assignment of Project Teams and General Location (Profs. Snyder, Kelly, and Shayya)
- Review of Pre-test Concepts (Profs. Snyder and Kelly)
29 February
- Data Mapping Codes (Prof. Snyder)
- Vegetative Inventory for Forestry Management (Prof. Kelly)
   • Important Terms
   • Field Sampling of Attributes
   • Fixed Plot Sampling
   • Variable Plot Sampling
   • Data Collection Using Variable Plots
8 March
- Determining Stocking Densities (Prof. Snyder)
- Review of USDA Plant Species Codes (Profs. Snyder and Kelly)
- Overview of Field Equipment (Profs. Snyder and Kelly)
Week 8 (15 March) - Spring Break (No classes)
22 March
- Intro. to the Habitat and Natural Resources Inventory System (HANRIS) (Prof. Shayya)
   • Vegetative Data Collection Using MS Excel
   • Collecting Vegetative Data in the Field
   • Fixed Plot Regeneration Data Collection
   • Variable Plot Data Collection
- Creating Sampling Plots in ArcGIS (Prof. Shayya)
   • GIS Data Acquisition and Entry
   • Editing Data
   • Data Quality and Management
   • Geo-referencing and Map Projections
   • Delineating Plot Areas
   • Creating Sampling Plots Using Point Features
   • Adding Point Features to ArcGIS as an Event Layer
- Project Reminders (Profs. Snyder, Kelly, and Shayya)
29 March
- Interfacing of the GPS and GIS Technologies (Prof. Shayya)
   • Using Feature Construction Tools
   • Deleting and Modifying Features
   • Uploading Features into a GPS Unit
   • Downloading Features from a Garmin GPS unit
- Addressing Questions on Project (Profs. Snyder, Kelly, and Shayya)
11/Lab. (2:00 to 4:50 p.m.)
5 April
- First Field Application (Class Exercise) (Profs. Snyder, Kelly, and Shayya)
   • Vegetative Inventory for a Sampling Plot
   • Forest Overstory and Understory Inventory
   • Collecting Vegetative Data
   • Fixed Plot Regeneration Data Collection
   • Variable Plot Data Collection
12/Lab. (2:00 to 4:50 p.m.)
12 April
- Second Field Application (Individual Group Exercise) (Profs. Snyder, Kelly, and Shayya)
   • Vegetative Inventory for a Sampling Plot
   • Forest Overstory and Understory Inventory
   • Collecting Vegetative Data
   • Fixed Plot Regeneration Data Collection
   • Variable Plot Data Collection
- Submission of Sampling Plots and Initial Map Report
19 April
- Compiling Sampling Plot Data and Editing Features (Basic Analysis) (Prof. Shayya)
   • Compiling Field Data on Sampling Plots
   • Analyzing Collected Field Data
   • Producing Non-spatial Data for Inclusion in GIS 
   • Joining Field-collected Attribute Data and Feature Attributes
   • Calculating and Editing Feature Attribute Values
- Feedback on Sampling Plots and Initial Project Reports (Profs. Snyder, Shayya, and Kelly)
- Review of PowerPoint Presentations Outline
26 April
- Evaluation of Course and Project Team Members
- Class Presentations to Instructors and Instructors' Feedback (electronic copy to be submitted by 12:00 noon)
3 May
- Project Oral Presentations (open to the public)
- Submission of Final Sampling Plots and Map Report (electronic and hardcopy)

*The topics and corresponding dates listed in the table above are tentative and may be subject to change during the semester.