I know what you’re thinking… it’s either:
- What the heck is a quadrat frame?!?
- Sweet! I need one of those!
If you’re in Camp #1, you need an explanation. A quadrat frame is a tool used by ecologists (aka scientists who study the outdoors) to help them count things; specifically it tells them the boundaries of where to stop counting stuff. If you’re in Camp #2: you’ve come to the right place!
You’ve probably realized that buying a pre-made quadrat frame is pretty unlikely. No one seems to sell these things. We just make our own. Most people seem to make them out of PVC pipes and fittings, which is totally a good way to do it for some ecosystems. For me, it’s not going to work. I need to carry mine long distances, have it fit compactly in the trunk of my car, and be able to be taken apart. Sand would bind up the fittings and carrying a pre-assembled quadrat frame a mile down a beach is not convenient. So, I commissioned an aluminum version from my dad. Here are the details of how this works…
My frame is made of aluminum bars, available at most home improvement stores. You could use wood or plastic too. The trick is cutting them to the right length. My frame is 1 meter square – on the inside. You need to cut your bars the length you need on the inside, plus two times the width of the bar to account for the overlap on each end where the bars connect to each other.
Next, you need to drill holes to connect the pieces. Position them so that the two connecting bars can form a right angle.
Connect all the pieces together with wing nuts and bolts. The wings will make it easier to unscrew the bolts to put it all away. My next post will show you what to hold it all in.
This quadrat frame is quite possibly the coolest quadrat frame on the planet (with perhaps the exception of the other one that my dad made me that matches this one). If you assemble it correctly, it folds up for easy transport. You can carry it in one hand and not trip over it. You can even zip it into your backpack, with the top sticking out, if you need to hike a while. A PVC pipe frame can’t do that!