What We Monitor

Close up of two people's hands over a bucket of water in a stream holding plant material with invertebrates on the plants
Aquatic invertebrate monitoring at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument.


Monitoring is the repeated observation and measurement of specific park natural resources and is essential for managing parks. In the Northern Great Plains, we track specific physical, chemical, and biological elements, or "vital signs," that can indicate the overall health or condition of park resources.

Methodical, careful measurements, year after year, of these vital signs are key to understanding if or how an ecosystem might be changing. Network vital signs are a subset of the total suite of natural resources that park managers need to preserve "unimpaired for future generations."

The Northern Great Plains Network Monitoring Plan provides a detailed description of our monitoring strategy and our selected vital signs. Learn more about vital signs and how they've been established in 32 networks across the country.

Last updated: February 1, 2021