Northeast Temperate Network Ecosystems

The onset of fall in the northeast brings a remarkable display of colors.

Ed Sharron

About the Natural Resources Studied and Managed in Our Parks

Diverse arrays of ecological communities occur in Northeast Temperate Network (NETN) parks. Tidal wetland and other coastal ecological communities occur only at Acadia and Boston Harbor Islands, many of which are considered management priorities and are potentially stressed by global climate change and visitor impacts. Freshwater wetlands and vernal pools were identified as management priorities for 9 of the 13 parks on which they occur. Deciduous, mixed, and hemlock forests were also listed as high management priorities by park staff and all parks have some type of forest ecosystem within park boundaries.

All the parks in the NETN are located within the temperate deciduous forest biome. Temperate deciduous forests are located in the mid-latitude areas between the polar regions and the tropic areas of the Earth. Deciduous forest regions are exposed to warm and cold air masses, which cause this area to have four distinct seasons. Temperature varies widely from season to season with cold winters and hot, wet summers. The average yearly temperature is about 10° C. The areas in which deciduous forests are located get about 750 to 1,500 mm of precipitation spread fairly evenly throughout the year. The temperate deciduous forest biome in North America occupies most of the eastern part of the United States and a small strip of southern Ontario. Dominant trees are broadleaf trees such as oak, maple, beech, hickory and chestnut.

AT scenery in CT
A foggy morning along the Appalachian Trail in Connecticut.

McDowell Crook

NETN contains 13 parks with diverse cultural and natural resources in seven states (ME, NH, VT, MA, CT, NY, and NJ) and two ecological divisions. Parks in the Network range from Acadia NP along coastal Maine to Morristown NHP in central New Jersey, an area where 61 ecological systems have been identified. NETN parks range in size from about 9 acres (Saugus Iron Works) to the roughly 85,000 acres covered by the Appalachian Trail (NPS lands from ME-MD). Park sites include the beginning and end of the Revolutionary War (Minute Man NHP and Saratoga NHPrespectively), and a strategic military location for General George Washington (Morristown NHP). Two National Historic Sites commemorate the lives of artists (Saint-Gaudens NHS and Weir Farm NHS), and the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites celebrate the lives of Franklin Delano & Eleanor Roosevelt and the Vanderbilts of the "Gilded Age". Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller NHP and Boston Harbor Islands NRA are both relative newcomers to the NPS and unique in their establishment and mandates. Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller NHP is the only national park to focus on conservation history and the evolving nature of land stewardship. Boston Harbor Islands NRA is a culturally and naturally diverse set of 34 drowned drumlins in the Massachusetts Bay managed by a 13 member partnership. Saugus Iron Works marks the site of the first integrated iron works in North America which gave rise to the industrial revolution and is known as the forerunner of America’s industrial giants. Acadia NP is the only National Park in the NETN and hosts a diverse array of cultural, natural, and geologic resources. The Appalachian Trailcrosses some of the most diverse ecological communities in the Northeast and is managed by a unique partnership with the NPS and the Appalachian Trail Conference. The AT provides an exciting opportunity for ecological monitoring across its 2,100 miles of habitat representative of the entire east coast of the US.

Last updated: June 1, 2018