Inventory & Monitoring
To make sound management decisions, park managers need to know how and why natural systems change over time, and what amount of change is normal. National Park Service scientists monitor the “vital signs” of national park ecosystems—much like a physician measures a patient’s heartbeat and blood pressure to determine well-being and help diagnose problems.
The Northern Colorado Plateau Network (NCPN), which is part of the National Park Service’s Inventory & Monitoring Program, collects long-term data on a variety of natural resources. Ecologists then organize, analyze, and synthesize those data and provide the results to park staff. The information collected can provide early warning of ecosystem changes, allowing park managers to develop mitigation measures and reduce management costs.
At Canyonlands National Park, the network monitors air quality, big rivers, climate, land surface phenology, landbirds, landscape dynamics, springs and seeps, uplands, and water quality. To complete its work, the network collaborates with—and relies on help from—park staff as well as staff from other federal and state agencies, non-profit organizations, and universities. To learn more, visit the network’s web site or review Annual Reports of this and other research here.
Did You Know?
Pinyon pines do not produce pine nuts every year. These delicious nuts can only be harvested every three to seven years. This irregular schedule prevents animals from adapting to an abundance of pine nuts and guarantees that at least some nuts will become new pine trees instead of a quick meal.