Natural Resource Monitoring at Prince William Forest Park

In a forest, a man stretches a yellow measuring tape around a tree trunk.
Measuring the diameter of a tree as part of forest vegetation monitoring. Photo: NPS/Paradis.

The National Capital Region Inventory & Monitoring Network monitors air quality, amphibians, birds, forest pests, vegetation, invasive plants, stream water, and stream fish and macroinvertebrates at Prince William Forest Park. The results of that monitoring provide park managers with scientific information for decision-making.

Prince William Forest Park sits at the transition from the rolling Piedmont Plateau to the low-lying Atlantic Coastal Plain and protects the largest piedmont forest ecosystem in the national park system. It is home to unique geological features like waterfalls and rock outcroppings, and several rare plant communities.

The park’s main natural resource management concerns are invasive plants and diseases, overpopulation of deer, and encroaching urban development. Regional air quality and land use patterns can have strong effects on park resources. Regional air quality and land use patterns can have strong effects on park resources.

What’s Happening in Prince William Forest Park

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    NCRN Monitoring at Prince William by the Numbers

    *Site numbers as of 2022. These can change over time.
    What We Monitor Sites at Prince William* Monitoring Frequency Information We Collect
    Amphibians 120 known wetland pools

    72 known stream transects
    Annual sampling on a subset of known wetlands
    • Species occupancy and richness for salamanders, frogs, and toads in vernal pools
    Birds – forest only 132 (forest bird) Forest plots are monitored twice a year
    • Forest bird species and abundance
    • Bird habitat quality
    Forest vegetation 145 (forest vegetation) Approximately a quarter of plots each year on a four-year cycle
    • Deer browse
    • Fallen and standing woody debris
    • Targeted diseases and pests
    • Targeted invasive plant species
    • Trees, shrubs, vines, and specific non-woody plants
    Stream biota – fish and macroinvertebrates At streams listed below Periodic sampling 2007-2014, 2019-2023
    • Aquatic macroinvertebrates taxa and abundance
    • Fish species and abundance
    • Stream physical habitat including bank stability, stream shading, and distance from developed areas
    Stream water quality 9 (stream sites) on Boneyard Run, Carters Run, Mary Bird Branch, Mawavi Run, North Fork Quantico Creek, Orenda Run, South Fork Quantico Creek, Sow Run, and Taylor Run Stream sites are monitored every other month

    Wetland sites are monitored twice per sampling period
    • Acid neutralizing capacity
    • Dissolved oxygen
    • pH
    • Salinity/specific conductance
    • Stream width, depth, flow, and discharge
    • Total nitrate and phosphorus
    • Water temperature

    Last updated: May 19, 2022