What We Monitor

Rocky Mountain Network uses long-term ecological monitoring to track changes to key physical, chemical, and biological elements called "vital signs." Our 12 vital signs were selected by park managers, resource managers, scientific partners, and network staff to represent the overall health or condition of network parks.

Vital signs monitoring information keeps park managers abreast of current conditions and trends and helps managers respond to emerging problems. It also provides a basis for park managers to develop effective approaches to adaptively manage and restore park ecosystems. We share inventory and monitoring information with park staff, partners, and the public to promote educational and interpretive opportunities and foster public understanding of park natural resources.

The Rocky Mountain Network’s monitoring plan describes our monitoring strategy in detail. Because many Rocky Mountain Network vital signs are interrelated, and are important components in multiple ecosystems, we grouped common elements together into a series of protocols that will be central to Rocky Mountain Network monitoring. This approach allows the Rocky Mountain Network to report status and trends for specific vital signs, by ecosystem, and by protocol. The network monitors park vital signs using the seven protocols below.

Learn more about monitoring across the national park system.


Vital Signs

Last updated: August 23, 2023