Science Supporting Parks

The National Park Service cares for our parks and the diverse life they support, so that future generations can enjoy and learn from them just as we do. 

In 32 Inventory and Monitoring networks across the country, we gather and analyze information on specific park natural resources—the plants, animals, and ecosystems that can indicate the overall biological health of parks. Inventories help us understand the range of natural resources in and around parks. Monitoring helps us understand how these resources are doing over the long term. 

Good decisions start with good information. The information we collect helps parks make sound, science-based management decisions that help us preserve America's special places.


One person holding up a clump of algae while another snaps a picture with a phone.

A set of basic inventories, including vegetation, species, landforms, air, and water, gives us a common starting point for monitoring.

Scientist inserting a probe into a glacier in North Cascades National Park.

Through careful, consistent long-term monitoring, we can detect if park resources are stable or might be changing.

A pika perched on a rock in a boulder field.
Monitoring for Climate Change

When coupled with climate trends, long-term monitoring can help park managers make decisions in the context of a changing climate.

A cartoon of a ranger taking the Earth's vital signs.
Taking the Pulse of U.S. National Parks

How do we know if parks are healthy? We measure their vital signs, of course!

Two people smiling as they look up at a tall, flowering tropical plant.
Who We Are

Who is Inventory & Monitoring? We're over 300 National Park Service staff from across the country. Get to know us a little better!

Person sharing a small inflatable boat with a pile of water sampling equipment.
How We Work

What does our inventory and monitoring work entail? What tools and techniques do we use? Some of the answers might surprise you!

National Par Service scientist collecting data in a grassland habitat.
Making a Difference

Discover real-world examples of how Inventory & Monitoring helps support park management and decisionmaking.

Last updated: May 10, 2024