Natural Features & Ecosystems

The Alaska Coastal Temperate Rainforest is home to a complex web of ecological interactions that allows the organisms within it to thrive. Each participates in a web of life and death that keep the surrounding landscape healthy year after year.
 
A sea otter floating on its back eating from half of a bright orange crab shell.

Sea otters are among the keystone species in the

NPS photo by Paul Killian

Keystones of the Ecosystem

Certain species in an ecosystem drive interactions between ocean, river, and land. Just as an arch would collapse with out the keystone, ecological communities, too, would fail without these all-important animals.

Read more about these important animals.

 
Cloud covered mountains in the far background, calm ocean mid-ground and rocky tidal flats with seaweed, mussels and barnacles in the foreground.

Geologic forces such as glaciers, volcanoes, and tides are still changing Sitka's shoreline and landscape.

NPS photo by Katy Kildee

Geological Formations

Glaciation, deglaciation, volcanic activity, and tidal erosion all shaped Sitka's changing shoreline and landforms. Digging into the soil, geologists can tell how the landscape has changed over the millennia.

Read more about Sitka's changing landforms

 
Indian River on a sunny day, with spruce, hemlock and leaf-bare alder growing along both banks of the river.

Plants, insects, and animals rely upon a number of variables to live and thrive.

NPS photo by Andrea Willingham

Stream Ecology

A healthy ecosystem comprises an interconnected web of organisms. Adequate water flow and direct sunlight are only two of the elements necessary to maintain sufficient energy production for life.

Read more about this wild, watery ecosystem

 
Close-up of a clipboard holding data sheets, a small notebook and a pen.

Researchers work to assess the status and trends of national lands, waters, plants and wildlife.

NPS photo by Katy Kildee

Inventory and Monitoring Program

National Park Service researchers coordinate the design, collection, and analysis of critical scientific information in the park to adapt their local and national management of rapid and large-scale environmental change.

Read more about how the NPS protects these resources.

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