Master of Environmental Studies Capstone Projects

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Ann F. Rhoads, Ph.D., Primary Reader


The Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania is a public garden and educational institute located in the northwest corner of Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. This project has assembled an adaptive management plan for the Natural Lands Section of Morris Arboretum. The framework for an adaptive management plan includes the following steps: (1) assessment of the current status of the site; (2) determination of future desired conditions with measurable objectives; (3) design and implementation of ways to accomplish desired objectives; and (4) monitoring and evaluation.

Physical conditions including geology, hydrology, soils and topography were obtained to gain information about the Natural Lands Section. A botanical survey of the canopy, understory and herbaceous layers was conducted to gather baseline data on the abundance and diversity of plant species. With existing knowledge and data gained through the survey, descriptions of the desired conditions with measurable objectives were described in moderate detail. Monitoring and evaluation is a critical component of an adaptive plan, however the timeline for the task is beyond the scope of this project. The results of this project further reveal the ecological issues associated with an urban landscape disturbed by the negative impacts from overpopulation of deer and invasive plant species. Overall, this project has assembled an adaptive management plan for a variety of purposes including operational management, planning, and fundraising for future development.



Date Posted: 16 February 2015