Water, plant communities, landbirds, and soils—these are some of the park "vital signs" chosen by park and partner scientists for us to monitor. Vital signs are particular species, habitats, landscapes, and abiotic factors (e.g., water, air, soil) that help indicate the overall health or condition of park ecosystems. These key elements, and their associated processes, are part of what park managers are charged with conserving "unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations." Knowing if and how key resources are changing can help park managers develop effective approaches to management, restoration, and mitigation.
To monitor park vital signs, the Northern Colorado Plateau Network uses the protocols shown below.