What We Monitor

Long-term monitoring is key to managing parks and understanding ecosystem dynamics. It involves taking repeated measurements of natural resource vital signs over time, following scientifically designed protocols. This information keeps park managers abreast of current conditions and trends. Managers are better able to respond to emerging problems with this scientifically based information. For example, where natural resources, like water quality, have been highly altered, our information can help managers plan effective restoration. Monitoring a variety of natural resources and the relationships between them also helps us understand ecosystem dynamics. We share this improved understanding of park ecosystems with park visitors, other managers and scientists, and the public. Learn more about monitoring in national parks.

The Greater Yellowstone Network monitors seven natural resource “vital signs” of park health. We selected each vital sign based on multiple criteria, including: How well did it represent the overall health of park resources? How well could it alert us to environmental stressors?

The Greater Yellowstone Network’s monitoring plan and its appendices describe our monitoring strategy in detail. Our two-page vital signs brief provides an overview. Watch a presentation describing our science for the Montana Institute on Ecosystems in 2019.

Click on a vital sign, below, to learn more about our network’s monitoring programs.

Vital Signs

Last updated: September 30, 2020