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Pacing Exercise

We need to calculate distances for a variety of reasons while monitoring plant populations. While it is best to use a tape measure, that method is not always available. Learn how to calculate distance using the pacing method.

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Pacing Exercise

We need to calculate distances for a variety of reasons while monitoring plant populations:

  • Drawing maps and writing directions to the population. For example, "Plant population begins 12 meters south of the southwest corner of the long plank bridge."
  • Estimating how large the population is from one end to the other. This is done by taking two distance measurements, one across the length and the other across the width.

Using a measuring tape to get an exact distance measurement is the preferred method; however, some-times this option in unavailable because:

  • Measuring tape is not available
  • Distance to measure is so long that it would be too time-consuming or cumbersome.
  • Measuring distance along a windy path is very difficult with tape

Pacing is a back-up method of calculating distances, although it's not ideal:

  • Potential error mainly due to inconsistency of step size
  • Different walking speeds can make one's pace greater/smaller
  • We all walk differently on different days
  • Terrain affects how big our steps are

Ways to minimize error:

  • Set a personal, standard step size, e.g. 1 "step" = 0.9 meters. One step can be a single footfall or the combination of both right and left footfalls. Just be consistent.
  • Different walking speeds can make one's pace greater/smaller

Pacing protocols

How to calculate distance

  • Take the number of steps it took to walk the known distancea and back (let's say 40 meters)
  • Divide the number of known meters by the number of your steps to get the number of meters/step (i.e. 40 meters/36 steps = 0.9 meters per step)

How to determine an unknown distance

  • Pace the distance
  • Multiply the number of paces by the number of meters/step (i.e., it takes you 30 steps to the mark, so 30 steps x 0.9 meters/step = 27 meters)