What We Monitor

Monitoring involves repeated measurements over time, using the same methods every time. The Mediterranean Coast Network monitors particular species, habitats, and other environmental factors which serve as “vital signs” for overall ecosystem health. Information obtained through monitoring can help park managers understand how ecosystems might be changing. Such knowledge is useful for developing effective approaches to resource management that further the National Park Service mission of preserving parks "unimpaired for future generations."


  • California newt being scooped from the water along a monitoring transect
    Aquatic Amphibians & Invasive Species

    Monitoring the status of native stream-dwelling amphibians in the Santa Monica Mountains helps us to detect changes over a broad landscape.

  • Blainville's horned lizard, a small spiky reptile with a wide, flat body, in a person's hand
    Terrestrial Amphibians & Reptiles

    More than thirty species can be found in the Santa Monica Mountains and Point Loma peninsula. Five occur in Channel Islands National Park.

  • Small gray and olive songbird moving fast over a flowering shrub

    Park researchers have been monitoring land bird populations on the Channel Islands since 1993.

  • Brown pelican flying low over the water

    The Channel Islands are home to the largest seabird colonies in southern California.

  • Gray mouse with large dark eyes climbing up onto pink flowers. © Cathy Schwemm
    Deer Mouse

    Each of the five Channel Islands is home to an endemic subspecies of deer mouse.

  • Small gray-brown and orange fox hunting among tall, dry grass
    Island Fox

    Occurring only on six of California's eight Channel Islands, each island population is recognized as a separate endemic subspecies.

Ecosystems & Ecosystem Drivers

  • Person standing alongside a weather station atop a hill overlooking the ocean in Channel Islands NP
    Climate & Weather

    Park researchers have established four automated real-time weather stations on the Channel Islands.

  • Person extending a measuring tape through the grass for vegetaion monitoring in Channel Islands NP
    Invasive Plants

    The extent and number of invasive plant species in an ecosystem are indicators of the health and integrity of the ecosystem.

  • Looking up through a giant kelp forest teeming with fish
    Kelp Forest Communities

    The nearshore waters along the coastline southern California host one of the most productive marine ecosystems on earth, giant kelp forests.

  • Mountaintop view of the meeting of natural and urban areas in the Santa Monica Mountains
    Landscape Dynamics

    Landscape dynamics refer to a broad suite of ecological and geomorphological processes occurring across broad spatial scales.

  • Park staff recording native plant communities data on a Santa Monica Mountains hillside
    Native Plant Communities

    Detecting changes in species composition can help guide future land management decisions.

  • Two crouching people recording rocky intertidal data along the Cabrillo National Monument coast
    Rocky Intertidal Habitat

    Despite the intertidal community's resistance to the drying sun and pounding surf, it is vulnerable to impacts caused by humans.

  • Two scientists wading through a stream carrying nets
    Stream Condition

    The Santa Monica Mountains and Channel Islands are graced with numerous streams that support a diverse aquatic community.

Vital Signs On Hold

  • Section of sandy beach occupied by multiple pinniped species

    Pinnipeds are top level carnivores at the Channel Islands and are sensitive to prey population changes, weather, pollution, and disturbance.

  • Winding channel of Old Ranch Canyon Lagoon with a sandy beach beyond
    Sandy Beaches & Lagoons

    Park researchers use a variety of sampling techniques to monitor the population dynamics of beach and lagoon organisms.

Last updated: January 27, 2023