The ability to observe changes in our environment depends on knowledge of what the environment was like in the past. Scientists continually measure changes in the park over time by observing a wide array of indicators, including coral health, nesting of wading birds, vegetation communities, fish abundance and diversity, hydrology and water quality, threatened and endangered species, and cultural sites.
Changes in the environment often lead to management challenges and questions about how to deal with the changes. Original and targeted research typically is necessary to address these questions. The park employs experts that work daily to resolve important management questions and encourages research by third-party agencies and institutions.