Scientific research is key to protecting the natural and cultural wonders of our national parks. To make sound decisions, park managers need accurate information about the resources in their care. They also need to know how park ecosystems change over time, and what amount of change is normal. But park staff can’t do it alone.
Like a physician monitoring a patient's heartbeat and blood pressure, scientists with the National Park Service’s Northern Colorado Plateau Network track ecosystem health by monitoring Hovenweep’s “vital signs.” They collect long-term data on key resources, like climate, phenology, and water quantity and quality. Then they analyze the results and report them to park managers. Knowing how key resources are changing can provide managers with early warning of potential problems. It can also help them to make better decisions and plan more effectively.
Studying park vital signs is only part of the picture. Scientific research is also conducted by park staff, other state and federal scientists, university professors and students, and independent researchers. Because many parks prohibit activities that occur elsewhere, scientists can use the parks as areas for determining the effects of these activities where they do occur. Especially in the American West, national park lands often serve as the best model for what a relatively undisturbed landscape looks like.
You can learn about recent research or generate a park species list below.
Park Species Lists
Last updated: May 17, 2021