Below are pdfs of our main sampling protocols. Collaborators should have access to our shared Drive folder which has the most up-to-date versions and additional information. Please get in touch if you need access to our shared Drive folder.

Selecting species and sites to survey

HerbVar Species Selection Plan. This describes our approach to select plant species and/or sites to survey. In brief, we suggest collaborators strive to survey at least 1 new plant family or ecosystem, 1 new species from one of our focal families (Apocynaceae, Asteraceae, Fabaceae, Rubiaceae, and Solanaceae), and 1 survey of one of our three focal species (Taraxacum officinale, Plantago lanceolata, and Plantago major). However, we also encourage you to survey any species you know well and are excited about, and our requirements are flexible because we know not all researchers have access to new families, new ecosystems, focal families, etc.

The Primary Protocol for most species and sites

HerbVar Primary Protocol. This is the primary protocol for HerbVar surveys. We designed this to work for most plant species and sites. If it will not work for your species or site for whatever reason, then please consider one of our alternative protocols or get in touch with the HerbVar Planning Group.

Datasheet - Excel file. This Excel file is a template datasheet designed to work for the HerbVar Primary Protocol. It can be easily modified for use with our alternative protocols (see below).

Datasheet - printable PDF. This is a printable datasheet designed to work for the HerbVar Primary Protocol. It prints well for paper data entry in the field, but because it is a static PDF it is not easily edited.

Reproductive Damage Protocol. If your plants have reproductive tissues (flowers, fruits, seeds), please follow this protocol to quantify damage to these tissues.

Documents to help with herbivory estimation

Damage Estimation Guidelines. This is a detailed walk through the process of estimating herbivore damage on leaves and whole plants, including tips for different types of leaves and damage.

Illustrated Guide to Percent Leaf Damage. This is a visual guide to what different levels of percent damage look like on a leaf. We suggest printing this out and taking it to the field with you to aid in estimation of percent herbivory. Currently, it has leaves of two species, but more are on the way.

Alternative survey protocols, for other plant types

Rare Plants Protocol. If your plants are rare at your site—such that they occur at low densities or abundances—then please refer to this protocol.

Cacti and Other Succulents Protocol. This document discusses issues related to quantifying herbivory on cacti and other succulents and outlines a protocol.

Tree Protocol. This is a protocol for surveying mature trees for HerbVar. It also discusses how to handle seedlings and saplings of tree species.

Rhizomatous Geophyte Protocol. This is a protocol for rhizomatous species for which it is feasible to determine what constitutes a genet by identifying rhizomatous connections and for which genets are small enough that herbivory could feasibly be estimated on 30 genets and their nearest neighbors within a site.


Insect Sampling Protocol. This document discusses if and how to sample insects. All surveys should note internally-feeding herbivores (e.g., gallers and miners), but only some should take the extra time to sample external herbivores.

Cheatsheet to Insect Mines and Galls. This is a brief guide to what insect mines and galls can look like.